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Archive for the ‘Fantasy’ Category

Roderick and the Wizard of Endor by F.M. McQueen.

May 16, 2019 Comments off

wizard endorRoderick and the Wizard of Endor by F.M. McQueen. Pub. Tross Publishing, 2019.

Jolly little tale or quest this, with good values, lively characters and a plot that includes action, magic and drama.

It does have a green, conservation, climate change agenda too but that enhances it’s appeal. Concisely written with a lot of old world philosophy and structured in short sharp chapters that will keep the reader involved.

Roderick is a large marmot like creature and his friend Pepin is a squirrel like creature. They meet an invisible human named Percy who has become invisible because he took some leprechauns gold from the crock at the end of the rainbow. Don’t do this.

The result is Percy is invisible and Roderick and Pepin touch the gold and become invisible too. The upside is that they can now see the fairy world that is invisible to the human world. How can they become visible again? The answer is the Wizard of Endor.

The three  now go on a quest to find the Wizard who lives in a castle high up in the Mountains of Endor. This journey provides action and drama and we visit places like the Poisoned Forest, Findels gap, the Land of Blue Ice and meet elves  and a huge snake called Hestrum.

A map and a picture at the start show the route and the characters. Good fantasy, but will they find the Wizard and lose their invisibilty?  A sequel is set up.

A good read-a-loud for juniors and fantasy for primary and intermediate readers.

A Place of Stone and Darkness by Chris Mousdale.

May 1, 2019 Comments off

stone & DarknessA Place of Stone and Darkness by Chris Mousdale. Pub. Penguin Random House, 2019.

Released 7 May

At last a fantasy novel with some depth. Deep not because it is set almost totally underground but because it has a lot of significant observations about the Human condition, and it is a very good tale.

Thousands of years ago Humans hounded the Strigg people out of the forests and into underground caves where their culture survived and thrived out of Human knowledge. The Striggs are a bird like creature that has lost it’s ability to fly as their wings have evolved into arm like structures with claws.

Striggworld is now under threat from polluted water from the earth above and from lack of drinking water as wells dry up. Their food supply which is a mushroom like product, morra, has also begun to be scarce and the Elders of the Striggs are contemplating a move North. They would love to go back to the surface but it is too dangerous.

On the eve of a spangletime ceremony which celebrates the move from childhood to adulthood, a young Strigg, Ellee, discovers a human boy called Blue who has fallen down a well into the underground. She saves him and with the help of her academic brother, Sidfred, brings him back to home.

When Blue is discovered by the Strigg Elders panic hits the small community. Some including Kass a fierce warrior type want to kill him to avoid other Humans finding a way underground but the Elders view is that is not our way and never will be our way.

They decide to return Blue to to Uptop or the surface, where all the Toppas live. The action begins and it will have you spellbound. Read it and find out what happens.

If there is a catchphrase that describes this novel it is “It is amazing what eventually ends up underground”. We should take heed of that. It says a lot about the Human condition of treating the Planet and every other creature on it as if it is ours alone to use. The Striggs know all about us and our destructive ways.

Excellent story, descriptively written and with a message for all Humankind.

Chris Mousdale creates an imaginative World that is totally believable, the Striggs are believable The Strigg way contrasts with that of Humans and puts us to shame. And his illustrations are superb. One of the best of the year.

Suitable for Intermediate and High school readers.

Bloom by Nicola Skinner.

April 1, 2019 Comments off

bloomBloom by Nicola Skinner. Pub. HarperCollins, 2019.

This is the most bizarre children’s book for primary and intermediate children that I have read for a long time.

It is set in an old town called Little Sterilis that has now been concreted over throughout the centuries by a ruthless family called the Valentinis. It once was a settlement around  a lovely cottage called Little Cherrybliss now resided by the hero and narrator of this novel Sorrel Coriander Fallowfield. Yes it is a garden herbal name and that is the point of the story.

Sorrel is the perfect student, doesn’t cause trouble and goes to Grittysnit School run by a crazy headmaster with a control freak mentality Mr Grittysnit. The two are going to clash.

The novel rolics along at a rate of knots as Sorrel is one of those gushy, enthusiastic girls who has a good heart and amplifies everything.

When Sorrel’s cottage suddenly erupts and discards a packet of Surprising Seeds, the whole world of Little Sterilis changes and so does Sorrel. Bizarrely Sorrel her friend Neena and her mother scatter the seeds on their heads and they begin to grow. This starts a sequence of events that are over the top but have a conservation and environmental message  underneath.

History comes back to haunt the present.Read it and see what happens

The Fork, The Witch and the Worm. Tales from Alagaesia by Christopher Paolini.

December 31, 2018 Comments off

fork witch wormThe Fork, The Witch and the Worm. Tales from Alagaesia by Christopher Paolini. Pub. Penguin Random House, 2018.

I have loved dragon stories since I first read the Hobbit too many decades ago. The fact that I am still reading about dragons pleases me immensely and this addition to the tales of Eragon and the Dragon Riders is superb.

It is four tales really, all based around the magical world of Alagaesia in which Eragon and his dragon Saphira appear but are not main characters. The tales emanate from Eragon’s home on Mount Arnour and feature characters that fans of the Inheritance Cycle have read before.

I am only going to allude to the final story about the Worm which is another name for a dragon, in this case it is Vermund The Grim, a bloodthirsty destructive and powerful dragon.

Vermund attacks, devours and practically destroys the valley of the Horned Skgaro. They are a strong tribe with horns growing on their heads but find they have no answer to Vermund.

Ilgra is a strong determined character who loses her father and all her possessions in a brilliantly described attack on the Skgaro by Vermund. My hackles were raised and so will yours. Ilgra plots to kill Vermund while he is sleeping on  the Kulkaras mountains by thrusting her spear into his big red eye. Can she do it? Read it and find out.

Behind all Ilgra’s determination lies something  deeper – “are there some things in life that can never be changed?”  and is revenge worth it?

Great cover, a dragon wrapped around a mountain.

Eragon has many fans in New Zealand, the novel sold 42,000 copies here so this will also be popular. Read it over the holidays, it takes you to another land.

The Restless Girls by Jessie Burton, illus. Angela Barrett.

October 16, 2018 Comments off

restless girlsThe Restless Girls by Jessie Burton, illus. Angela Barrett. Pub. Bloomsbury Children’s Books, 2018.

From the people that brought you Harry Potter comes this superb hardback novel that is old yet new at the same time.

It is old because it is about a king with 12 daughters who believes girls are not as important as boys and shouldn’t have license to explore their talents and imagination. It is new because the girls will not be subjected to the king’s decisions and use imagination to change things.

After their bright and breezy mother, Queen Laurelia is killed in a car accident while driving around the beautiful kingdom of Kalia, the King, Alberto, goes into grieving and takes away all the rights and privileges from his 12 daughters. The Palace becomes like a morgue and the girls are unhappy.

Led by eldest and very intelligent and creative daughter Princess Frida, the Princesses use imagination to visit a wondrous land where they party and dance till dawn. Unfortunately the dancing wears their shoes out and poses a mystery that the king needs to solve.

When the girls refuse to tell him how their shoes became worn he banishes Frida from the kingdom and offers one of his daughters and the crown of Kalia to any man who can solve the problem. Find out what happens, it is brilliant.

The illustrations are superb and leave room for your own imagination. Easy to read for primary and intermediate students. Adults will love it too.

The Quest Series Pt1. How to set the World on Fire by T.K. Riggins.

October 2, 2018 Comments off

world on fireThe Quest Series Pt1. How to set the World on Fire by T.K. Riggins. Pub. Franchise Publishing Vancouver, 2017.

After reading literally hundreds of fantasy novels it is refreshing to read a really good one. For fantasy to be successful with me it must have  a number of things -firstly mythical dragon like creature or a unicorn. This novel has both. A half lion half dragon beast called a langara which is the guardian of the Forest of Morais and two unicorns one white one black.

Secondly it must have magic. There must be magicians who can do wonderous things, and thirdly there has to be bad things and bad people that need to be overcome to return a troubled land or society to peace and harmony.

This novel has them all, and there is the sage mirror. Find out what it is.

Kase wants to be a warrior and him and his elder sister Cali, who is a scholar, go to a school called the Academy. The Academy caters for warriors, scholars and wizards but never the twain shall meet until now.

Every year the Academy has the Quest for older students before they leave school and teams of all scholars, all warriors, all wizards are the norm. This year is different. Kase Cali, Lena and Talen are not in their final year, not all from one class and they form a team called Liberati to contest the Q. Their first task is to bring hot lava back in it’s natural condition without it solidifying. Tough stuff.

How will they do against older teams? What about school bad boy Niveous? What about the unicorns and the langara? I am not going to tell you any more, you will have to read it yourself. And it is very good.

Great introduction to fantasy for kids from 8-15 years. Good values too. Friendship, families, teamwork, leadership and selflessness are themes. Lots of science and problem solving.

The second book in the series Money Jane is already out.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone illustrated by Jim Kay

August 23, 2018 Comments off

illustrated potterHarry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone illustrated by Jim Kay. Pub. Bloomsbury, 2018.

What a way to start off a new generation of Harry Potter readers with the first novel illustrated as superbly as this volume.

It is a larger volume than the original books so that each illustration can have a whole page for the young reader to indulge over.

The Dursleys with their obnoxious son Dudly are first up along with Hagrid and Hedwig the owl. Later there are portraits of Snape in front of his potions, Malfoy with his intentness, the trolls, a beautiful unicorn, the three headed dog Cerebus and the scarily wicked man with two faces.

Of course there is a happy portrait of Harry, Hermione, Ron and co plus Diagon Alley and a host of others. A poster in the back shows the Norwegan Ridgeback Dragon that adds to a very positive reading experience.