Archive for the ‘Fantasy’ Category

Last Chance by Gregg Hurwitz

February 14, 2018 Comments off

last chanceLast Chance by Gregg Hurwitz. Pub. Penguin Random House, 2018.

This sequel to The Rains reviewed earlier on this blog is thrilling action writing at its best from an author who has written for Marvel and DC comics and the Orphan X novels amongst others.

After every adult over 18 years was infected by pollen from seeds spread about the Earth by asteroids, they turned into zombie like creatures called Hosts whose function was to capture all the children and to map the Earth for the alien invaders. Now these Hosts are rotting away and been replaced by a more daunting enemy the Hatchlings.

The children were collected to have eggs implanted inside them and give rise to the alien invaders who have been bred to survive in Earth’s conditions. They are flesh eating and are designed to finish humans off and prepare the planet for what? Read it and find out’

Once again the novel is narrated in diary form by 15 year old Chance Rains who with his 18 year old brother Patrick and Alex a 17 year old girl who provides the romantic conflict in this novel, basically fight the enemy single handedly.

These three have a special status within the young survivors of the Dusting and are going to find out that they have a bigger role than they could ever have conceived. They meet with one of the aliens who tells them a story that will blow their minds. .

Meanwhile the action continues as they fight tthe Hosts and Hatchlings to protect their commune set up inside a fenced off high school which has internal power struggles of it’s own. Can the enemy be defeated and the World saved? It’s the stuff of heroes. To tell you any more would ruin the novel for you.

The science is mind boggling and the ending may owe something to John Wyndham’s Day of the Triffids.

Compulsive reading for lovers of zombie books and of science fiction. Not unlike the 5th Wave novels also reviewed on this blog. Check it out, your mad if you don’t.

The 1000 year old Boy by Ross Welford.

February 4, 2018 Comments off

1000 year boyThe 1000 year old Boy by Ross Welford. Pub. HarperCollins, 2018.

This is storytelling of the highest order. It is the sort of story that keeps me reading children and young adult literature. To be able to write like this is a gift to behold.

Alfie is more than a 1000 years old and he was 11 years old when the Vikings attacked northern England. In fleeing them his father is killed.  His father had acquired magical pills called life-pearls which had the power to stop the aging process but not to stop death by accident or by killing.

Alfie and his mother mix the life-pearl oil with their own blood in the traditional way of slashing two stripes across the upper arm and rubbing the oil in. They are now Neverdeads. For more than a 1000 years they  wander Britain, never aging and keeping to themselves. It is a stressful life and not wise to be discovered.

The only way to stop the aging process is to use another life-pearl and administer it the same way, then the aging process will start again with the finality of death. There is only one life-pearl left which they hide in the event that one of them is killed. They don’t want to leave the other alone.

A tragic fire leaves Alfie alone and taken into care by the authorities, but before he is taken away he sees a bearded man who has the same two scars that he has.  The man yells at Alfie in old Norse “keep your mouth shut”. The tension builds.

Alfie wants to find the remaining Life-pearl so he can age and live a normal life and you guessed it, so does the bearded man, but to find it Alfie is going to need a boat.

Superbly written in 105 short chapters with hooks at the end of each chapter to keep you keen. Alfie is a marvelous character who doesn’t want to live for ever. Who does?

Good readers at primary level, intermediate school readers, and junior high school readers will devour this highly imaginative and thought provoking novel. What not to do if you turn Invisible by Ross Welford is also reviewed on this blog.

Harry Potter. A Journey Through A History of Magic.

December 18, 2017 Comments off

potter magicHarry Potter. A Journey Through A History of Magic. Pub. Bloomsbury, 2017.

For enthusiastic readers who want to know all about the magic in the Harry Potter Series.

This well illustrated and very informative book has the original synopsis of the Harry Potter series that was sent to Bloomsbury and the rest is the history of magic throughout history that formed the basis of the magic curricula of Hogwarts as taught to Harry and his fellow students.

References to the text of the 7 books are illustrated by the roots of the magic from Leonardo da Vinci to the earliest atlas of the stars and the magical creatures.

Potions and Alchemy, Herbology, Charms and Defence against the dark Arts are covered. Does a mandrake root really scream when you pull it out of the ground? Is there a potion that can make you fall in love or tell the truth? When was the beginning of Palm reading.

The highlight for me was the original hand written scripts in JK Rowling’s own handwriting with alterations and some which never made it into the books.

Totally fascinating.

The Rogues: Accidental Heroes by Lian Tanner.

October 17, 2017 Comments off

rogues accidentalThe Rogues: Accidental Heroes by Lian Tanner. Pub. Allen&Unwin, 2017.

From the pen of the author who wrote The Keepers and The Hidden series comes book one in a new fantasy series The Rogues. It is very good and you must read it.

Duckling is a young girl who has been used by her grandfather lord Rump to pull off many a fraudulent scheme to survive. Now they are at the city of Berren which surrounds a huge castle called The Stronghold. It was built on a magical  rock called the Grimstone and is inhabited by the rulers the Margrarve and Margravine of Neuhalt.

The Stronghold is protected by magic created by the Bayam of the magical people the Saaf, no-one can leave the Stronghold although people can get in.

The people of Berren have made magic illegal although evidence of it is all around them which they refuse to believe. They call it witchery and to believe it is considered disloyal and punishable by death.

Into the story come Duckling, her Grandfather and an ordinary farm boy called Pummel. Grandfather has heard of a plot to kill the Heir to the Margrave of the Stronghold and involves Duckling and Pummel to assist in stopping it. Or is he?

Duckling is quite devious herself and Pummel is as innocent as the day is long. They both discover they have magic powers but can they work together and prevent the assassination of the heir by a cruel and powerful baddie called the Harshman.

Read the novel and find out. Excellent characterisation by Lian Tanner, Pummel and Duckling will identify with a lot of children of primary and intermediate age, and of course this is only part one.

First Day at Skeleton School by Sam Lloyd.

October 10, 2017 Comments off

skeleton schoolFirst Day at Skeleton School by Sam Lloyd. Pub. Bloomsbury Children’s Books, 2017.

Deep in the dark forest, lurking amongst the trees there is a creepy night-time school for  spooky girls and boys. Are you one of them?

It is a school like the one you go to, except it is for ghouls, monsters, skeletons, werewolves and other spooky creatures. There is a sign in the boys toilet saying No Wee Wees out the Window, and you are not allowed to do daredevil stunts in the library.

If this is the type of school you would like to go to then read this book or contact the headmaster Mr Bones and you might just get in.

A fun picture book with big colourful illustrations of monstrous things going on and rhyming text. There is even a pair of frilly knickers and a plan of the school for first day pupils.

Check it out.

Birthday Boy. What if it was every Day? by Davis Baddiel.Illus. Jim Field

October 9, 2017 Comments off

birthday boyBirthday Boy. What if it was every Day? by Davis Baddiel. Illus. Jim Field. Pub. HarperCollins, 2017.

It is often said that if you see a shooting star you should make a wish and it will come true and wouldn’t it be great if it was your birthday every day. Combine these two ideas and you have an outline of the plot of this book.

This all happens to Sam Green and while he enjoys it for a while he soon learns that it is not all beer and skittles. It is all a bit selfish and imposes hardship on family and friends especially his younger sister Ruby who is the feel good character in this book.

Then Sam decides he doesn’t want his birthday every day and his Grandpa Sam who suffers from dementia goes missing. Is there a link? A gripping adventure follows as Sam and Ruby try to reverse the wish and find grandpa.

Very much written in the style of David Walliams and why not it is a winning formula.

Jim Field’s illustrations play a starring role in this novel but for me the best parts involved the four grandparents who squabbled and battled throughout.

This book will appeal to reluctant readers with great sense of humour and imagination and of primary and intermediate age. Get it it is a laugh.

The Wonderling by Mira Bartok.

September 11, 2017 Comments off

WonderlingThe Wonderling by Mira Bartok. Pub. Walker books, 2017.

Every now and then  there is published a book that raises the bar in Children and Young adult literature. This is such a book.

There is nothing new in  characters going through total misery in their quest to find out who they are or in the fact that the strong will dominate the weak. What is unique about this novel is in the superb way in which the story is told and in the richness of the language used.

The character who we learn later as the Wonderling was not always called this. He was abandoned at a young age with the number 13 on a metal disc around his neck which becomes his first name. He is a fox like creature with one ear and only 3 feet tall who is put in The Home for abandoned creatures run by a Dahlesque character Miss Clementine Carbunkle who feels hard done by.

The Home is a Dickensian type establishment where ill treatment of inmates is a daily occurrence. Number 13 barely survives until he saves a kiwi type bird creature named Trinket who masterminds his escape into the wild world to find out his identity.

His task is fraught with danger as he makes his way to Lumentown where danger lurks in every corner. He is driven by a love of music and knows that in music there is the answer to where he comes from. He is determined even when he is forced to hide in the underground city of Gloomintown from which there is no escape. See how he gets on.

Superbly written in three parts with maps and excellent sketches of all the characters. You will feel every emotion as you read this novel, you cannot help but become involved.

For fantasy/adventure readers from primary through to secondary. You will love it.