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Archive for the ‘Fantasy’ Category

The Rise of the Remarkables Bk1. Brasswitch and Bot by Gareth Ward.

August 7, 2020 Comments off

brasswitchThe Rise of the Remarkables Bk1. Brasswitch and Bot by Gareth Ward. Pub. Walker Books, 2020.

This is a steam punk novel for intermediate and High school readers of science fiction and fantasy, that will blow your mind. If you have read Gareth Wards other novels you will know what I mean. Highly imaginative, full of weird creatures and situations and full of action that will leave you breathless. AND it is only part 1.

Wrench is a teenage girl who feels responsible for her parents death in a train accident. She lives in York and is an apprentice machine operator. She believes in machines, the laws of Physics and the science of engineering but she doesn’t realise that she is a Brasswitch. A Brasswitch is someone who has the power touch a machine, get inside it and knows how it works and if anything is wrong with it. She also needs to get to grips with magic.

Then she is held captive by a regulator called Flemmington, who hunts weird creatures in this weird world including brasswitches. He puts her to the test in which she either reveals her powers or dies.

Bot, a robotic Automaton comes to her rescue. He is powerful, has swagger and tends to wade into any situation with guns blazing. He needs a Brasswitch to help him fight Aberrations or weird and dangerous creatures from other dimensions who have entered the World through a Rupture over the city of York. The Rupture has been sealed or has it?

It is a dangerous World and their are some stupendous battles. At the heart of this first part is for Wrench to find out who and what she is and find out the truth behind her parents death. Fortunately she has an ally in Bot but also a tentacle ridden woman with soothing powers called Octavia and a boy with magic called Plum.

This novel won the sir Julius Vogel Award for children’s literature in NZ this year. You would be mad to miss this one.

The Silver Arrow by Lev Grossman.

July 14, 2020 Comments off

silver arrowThe Silver Arrow by Lev Grossman. Pub. Bloomsbury Children’s Books, 2020.

September release.

This is superb storytelling for primary and intermediate readers. It is fantasy/adventure with a message for the modern world about endangered animals who are just trying to survive in a World that has lost it’s balance.

Eleven year old Kate and her nine year old brother Tom have never met their uncle Herbert. Their mother never mentions him but she did say that he was very rich and totally irresponsible. It is Kate’s birthday in a few days so she writes to her uncle Herbert and suggests he buy her a birthday present. Very brazen I thought.

On her birthday a flat decked truck pulls up with 102.36 ton steam train on it and it is put on some railway lines in Tom and Kate’s backyard. Uncle Herbert says it is for their enjoyment. Kate’s parents are not amused and use words that should never appear in a children’s book(they don’t in this book).

The children are sent to their bedrooms but in the night the train starts up, the children get on board and the train hurtles off into the night. At the first station a whole lot of animals get on board , they have been waiting ages for the train to come among them is a porcupine, a fishing cat and other endangered animals.

That’s all I am going to tell you you will have to read it to find out but it is thrilling. This is easy to read and would be a great read-a loud. The ending will have you on tenterhooks. The good thing is that Kate and Tom make mistakes, face responsibility and never give up sometimes in dire circumstances.

Starfell. Willow Moss and the Forgotten Tale by Dominique Valente.

July 12, 2020 Comments off

StarfellStarfell. Willow Moss and the Forgotten Tale by Dominique Valente. Pub. HarperCollins, 2020.

Its good to read children’s fantasy again and this is very suitable for primary and intermediate readers especially girls but not exclusively so.

It is set in a double sided land. Starfell is on top and contains such thought provoking places as the Mists of Mitlaire, the Lake of the Undead and Wisperia a place where you are never safe especially if you are a witch.

The bottom land and the dark reverse of Wisperia and Starfell is Netherfell. The answers to all Starfell’s problems lie in Netherfell which has the answer to the Forgotten tale.

Willow Moss is a witch with the talent of being able to find lost things but her magic has struck problems and things keep disappearing. Willow and her Kobold, a cat like creature with the habit of saying “my greedy aunt” set off with Willow’s broom stick Whisper to find a friend, Nolin Sometimes who has sent Willow a distress call. On the way she meets a boy called Sprig who can turn into a raven.

Their travels will take them into Wisperia through the Mists of Mitlaire to the Netherfell where they learn of the Forgotten Tale. Complicated in parts but the action keeps happening.

There is a map at the start so you can follow Willows journey. Willow is a good role model.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by J.K Rowling, illus. Olivia Lomenech Gill.

May 4, 2020 Comments off

FantasticFantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by J.K Rowling, illus. Olivia Lomenech Gill. Pub. Bloomsbury, 2020.

A magnificent piece of work this and a companion to the Harry Potter stories for primary secondary and young adult readers.

It is told by Newt Scamander a graduate of Hogwarts and close friend of Albus Dumbledore. He specialises in Fantastic magical beasts and developed policy to hide the beasts from muggles for the protection of both. he gives a brief history of this project then gets down to tell you about the magical beasts themselves.

Some of my favourites were The Demiguise a sort of orangatan with a white hairy coat from which invisibility cloaks are made. There are ten different dragons plus the Unicorn, the centaur, the Sphinx and my next favourite the Runespoor. This is a three headed snake – the left head is the planner, the middle head the dreamer and the right head the critic. In many cases the right head is missing, killed by the other two heads.

Star of the show are the illustrations. Absolutely superb. Each magical beast is drawn with a bio underneath. This is a book you can pick up and put down again, get engrossed in the beast then move to another once you have fantasised but the previous one.

A very classy publication.

Burn by Patrick Ness

March 24, 2020 Comments off

burnBurn by Patrick Ness. Pub. Walker Books, 2020.

RELEASED MAY 2020

This is a Young Adult novel out of the top draw. It is a novel of parallel worlds, of dragons, of the human condition, of action and ultimately a love story.

It is the year 1957 and the Cold War is heating up so to speak. The Russians are on the verge of putting a satellite into space and the Americans are worried about the spying implications of such a satellite.

This is real history but there is an additional element -DRAGONS. Yes dragons inhabit this planet living in the waste lands of Russia of Asia of Europe and the Americas. Humans and dragons rarely meet. They have lived a peaceful but uneasy existence for centuries but that is all about to change with the launch of the Russian satellite.

There is a prophecy that nuclear war will break out between men and rid the planet of humans thus allowing dragons who are immune from radiation to fly free. The satellite launch is going to be used to trigger the war.

Enter a religious cult of dragon worshipers called Believers in the person of Malcolm a ruthless 17 year old, gay killer whose job is to assassinate a teenage girl called Sarah Dewhurst as she is prophesised to stop the dragons.

The action and plot turns are staggering. Written in two parts the end of the first part seeming to be the end of the world. After a torrid conflict a claw of a dragon known as The Spur is used to transfer all the action into a parallel world where every character in the first part has a different life in the second world.

This is a brilliant transition but will the prophecy be true in this second world and is there hope for human kind and dragons?

Superbly told, totally compelling. If you miss this you will miss the best book of the year.

Orphans of the Tide by Struan Murray.

January 31, 2020 Comments off

orphansOrphans of the Tide by Struan Murray. Pub. Puffin, 2020.

RELEASED 18 FEB. 2020

Always nice to read a children’s novel by a new author who has a great imagination.

Struan Murray creates a totally believable world that has been through the Drowning. The sea has risen enormously and the only known city left is built on a mountain and is called the City. The City is a character in it’s own right in this novel.

The plot is mysterious and action packed and it is about survival in this watery world. It begins when a whale is washed up on the roof of a house close to the waterfront. Ellie the main character knows that whales start decomposing in the stomach which produces gas and needs to be opened up before it explodes.

The opening starts a panic in the town. Ellie slices the whale open and a boy is extracted from the intestines. Ellie names him Seth and wants to protect him from the townsfolk who have judged him to be a Vessel for the main foe of the people who they call the Enemy.

The Inquisitors in the City have the job of hunting the Vessel down and killing it. Seth is the first Vessel in 23 years, but Ellie, her friend Annie and mysterious character Finn have other ideas.

Between chapters there is the story of the previous Vessel who has left the Diary of Claude Hestermeyer. Does it hold the secret to what is going on?

Ellie is a superb character. Her mother was an inventor and she herself has many skills and a respected role in the town. But she has a deadly secret which you can find out about by reading this novel. The last 50 pages are gripping.

Highly descriptive  novel for intermediate and junior high school students that will make you think. There is a map in the front to guide you. A great start to my reading year.

 

Infinity Son by Adam Silvera.

January 11, 2020 Comments off

infinity sonInfinity Son by Adam Silvera. Pub. Simon & Schuster, 2020.

This novel is mind blowing. Sometimes it reads like one of those super hero action stories when total chaos reigns, at other times it is a family story of brothers and kin.

The start is confusing as the reader is introduced to a New York world that is totally bizarre. The general human population are called Celestials and everybody is totally connected through social media. It’s how everybody follows the news and tries to earn a living.

Celestials aspire to have super powers and there are beings called Blood Casters who use an Alchemy like science by using blood of various creatures like the Phoenix and the Hydra to creature super power creatures called Specters and Spell Walkers. A gang like battle wages through New York between these creatures.

Then things come to a crisis. A new Constellation swims into the Earths skies called the Crowned Dreamer and weird things start happening. Twins Emil and Brighton are about to turn eighteen. Brighton is successful as a Social Media star and Emil has always dreamed of being a super hero.

In the middle of a weird battle Emil while under considerable pressure sees total rage and displays fire creating skills of a Spell Walker with Phoenix blood. His display is seen by everybody on Social media and he is an immediate star and all the groups want him.

It turns out that he is possibly the reincarnation of the man who created the Spell Walkers centuries ago and he is destined to play a critical role in the battles that are to come.

But that’s not all. He is gay. I can tell you no more, read it for yourself.

I was fascinated by it all, struggled to get a grip in parts but the action and the story is compelling. For senior students and young adults. It is like nothing I have read before.

 

Pages & Co. Tilly and the Lost Fairy Tales by Anna James.

November 14, 2019 Comments off

pagesPages & Co. Tilly and the Lost Fairy Tales by Anna James. Pub. HarperCollins, 2019.

A brilliantly conceived novel for primary and intermediate readers about fairy tales.

Tilly and Oskar are friends who belong to the British UnderLibrary which caters for those who have the power of bookwandering. It is a skill that allows children and adults to enter books and relate to the characters in them. I would love that.

Bookwandering is controlled by librarians and like all librarians I have associated with professionally they are ridden with ego and patch protection foibles. There is a power struggle going on in the underlibrary world, a new head, Melville Underwood, has been elected in dubious circumstances and he has put curbs on bookwandering.

A rebel bookwanderer named Enoch Chalk has created havoc in the fairy tale world with some fairy tales missing and others irrevocably altered. Chalk is hiding somewhere in fairy tale world and is a hunted man.

Tilly and Oskar go to Paris to visit Oskar’s mum and she has access to bookwandering through an uncontrolled book shop. Oskar and Tilly go wandering in fairy tale world and encounter strange goings on. Is it Enoch Chalk or are other factors at play?

Tilly and Oskar find that all the fairy tale characters know each other. They wander first with Little Red Riding hood who knows Jack, of Beanstalk fame, and he knows of Rapunzel and the Three Bears. Rapunzel doesn’t have long hair nor is she trapped in a tower by a witch. She in fact has a sharp bob with an angular fringe, is 17 years old and doesn’t want anything to do with a prince. She wants her own life. Goldilocks is a blonde of course who knows what she wants, preys on the three bears and gazes at her immaculately painted finger nails.

I could tell you more but find out for yourself. Superb intelligent fun. Older readers will have fun with it too. The questions are, will Tilly and Oskar meet Enoch Chalk?  what is Melville up to? and who are the Archivists?

 

 

The House of Madame M by Clotilde Perrin.

November 1, 2019 Comments off

houseThe House of Madame M by Clotilde Perrin. Pub. gecko Press, 2019.

This large sized, inter active picture book with lift-up flaps inside, is a treat to experience, as well as read. A little bit of fear in literature is not a bad thing so the scaredy cats amongst you better stay away.

Madame M is out when you the reader visit. Her servant, a bird like creature with a sharp beak, a fierce look and a pointed tail like a stingray, bids you to take your shoes off and be as quiet as you can.

The door mat says “Your heart stops beating here”.

As you progress through you can open draws, lift flaps and look for all the macabre things on the walls, in the sink, in the bath and behind doors. The toilet is out of order, lift the lid and see why. A cupboard holds poison, dynamite and cigarettes among other things.

Then a door creaks and heels click, Madame M is home. Would you stay?

Superb illustrations, heaps to look at, ingenious flaps and tabs to pull out. Stick around,  its not really the end.

One of the best for every child and imaginative adult.

The Book of Dust. vol 2. The Secret Commonwealth by Philip Pullman.

October 27, 2019 Comments off

DustThe Book of Dust. vol 2. The Secret Commonwealth by Philip Pullman. Pub. Penguin Random House, 2019.

This is a superb novel for lovers of fantasy, of philosophy, of mystery, of adventure and those interested in the meaning and origin of life.

It has been ten years since Lyra returned from the land of the dead in The Subtle Knife from the His Dark Materials series. She is 20 and is in a melancholic disposition because she and her daemon Pan have fallen out and there is no trust between them. They are capable of traveling apart from each other and do so regularly. This was once thought impossible but their parting is an essential ingredient in this story. Read it and find out why.

Lyra still uses that mysterious instrument, the alethiometer, to find out information and has started to use a new and radical way of manipulating it. The bankruptcy of her friend’s father who is in the rose trade is a warning of major trouble and the murder of a botanist Rodderick Hassall has the world in an uproar.

Hassall has just returned from the desert of Karamakan in Central Asia where a certain rose can only be grown whose oil has been contaminated with that magical particle Dust from which all life emanates. How? The origin of this rose oil is a building in the middle of the desert that can be entered only by those who can separate from their daemons.

Where has Pan gone? Can he really believe that someone has stolen Lyra’s imagination?

I will leave it at that. Find out for yourself in this novel of nearly 700 pages that is totally compelling. I read it over 6 days reading and savouring about 150 pages per day. It is outstanding and even the deepest philosophical points are made easy to read.

The real skill of the author is to organise the plot so that the connections between the host of characters is made apparent, otherwise it could be confusing.

If you miss this you will kick yourself. Lyra Silvertongue is not only growing up and learns much about herself, she is on the run again in the land of fairies and ghosts, the secret commonwealth.