Posts Tagged ‘Magic’

The Uncooperative Flying Carpet by Michele Clark McConnochie

May 15, 2015 Comments off

sabrinaThe Uncooperative Flying Carpet by Michele Clark McConnochie.  2015.

This clever, witty, imaginative novel is a self published work and is Saga 1 from a series titled The Strange Sagas of Sabrina Summers.

The father of Sabrina and Rory marries Bridget Bishop, a woman he met on the Internet, on a Friday 13th June. While they like her they think she is up to something strange and so they follow her one day with Sabrina’s friend Persis. By some magical spell they are transported into the magic land of Dralfynia (an anagram of Fairyland) along with Clyde, a horse and Olive a rich girl who is Sabrina’s enemy at school(she was barfing over the fence at the time)

In Dralfynia Sabrina resembles Rapunzel, Rory Ali Baba, Persis, Red Riding Hood, Olive, Cinderella and Clyde a unicorn. Interesting you say? It’s all part of the cleverness of this tale.

Dralfynia is a magic land in turmoil as the King and Queen have stood down to live ordinary lives and their son, The Beast with 9 fingers has taken over in cahoots with goblins and Witchy Wu a nasty witch who lives in a gingerbread house. The true leader is the princess who has disappeared for 14 years. I can tell you no more you will have to read it to find out and you will not be disappointed.

Very well written in concise language and divided into 63 chapters of 2/3 pages each. You can pick it up and read for ten minutes then come back but you won’t it is too exciting for that.

Believable fantasy and behind it all is a sharp sense of humour that even adults will appreciate.

A book that demands to be read aloud to children from 8 – 13 years old.

Seeker by Arwen Elys Dayton.

March 7, 2015 Comments off

seekerSeeker by Arwen Elys Dayton. Pub. Corgi Childrens, 2015.

This novel for Young Adults is very very good. My review will not do it credit nor reveal the complexities of the plot. It is a novel in three parts- the first in Scotland where three young teens Quin, Shinobu and John are training to be Seekers a supposedly revered profession. The second part is in Hong Kong and the third where all roads lead, to london.

I am only going to tell you about part one because it is action pack, bloodthirsty, exciting and full of emotion.

Quin is 14 and her father Briac has told her she is to become a Seeker and keep up the family tradition so she has trained all her life to fulfill this. Her father is a very hard man and her mother is beautiful but has a drink problem. Shinobu is a red headed product of a Scottish big man Alister and an Asian woman and he too is brought up to be a Seeker.

Neither father ever tells Quin or Shinobu what being a Seeker means or what they do. They are told only that their purpose is worthy. Boy do they get an unpleasant surprise.

John belongs to a rich family who have lost their power because they have lost a stone cross called an Athame which has the power of life and death and when combined with a lightning rod can open  a gap in time and transport the users elsewhere. The athame is prized by everyone but especially John. If he gets it will he know how to use it?

Part one is the initiation of Quin and Shinobu into the Seekers when they take the oath and commit unforgiveable actions. John is not allowed to take the oath of a Seeker having been cut by Quin’s father Briac and wonders why.

Part one ends in a feast of action when the truth and consequences of being a Seeker are outed. The casualty list is huge.

Set in a combination of the future and the past in which the technology will amaze  you. Splendidly told, this book will keep you up at night because you will not want to put it down.

Part 2 Traveller is due out next year and one thing is for sure, the nature and role of a Seeker must change.

Foxglove Summer by Ben Aaronovitch.

December 2, 2014 Comments off

floxglove summerFoxglove Summer by Ben Aaronovitch. Pub. Gollancz, 2014.

I have never read a book like this in my life and I am not certain whether it is a young adult novel or an adult novel. Probably a bit of both but one thing is certain it is for very capable readers.

Peter Grant is a police officer of sorts. He is called into a case when it is suspected that supernatural or magical activity might be involved or as Peter Grant himself describes as “weird shit”.

Two 11 year old girls, Nicole and Hannah, who are close friends go missing and there are no obvious clues. Peter Grant is called in to look at the scene to see if he can detect vestigia or evidence of magic. When the girls cell phones are found with batteries drained and nothing on them even though the SIM cards are still there, Grant concludes they have been stripped by magical pulse.

Set near the English/Welsh border, it is an area where lots of weird people live and there is a history of magic  and for the want of a better phrase “weird shit”. When the girls friends are interviewed they tell of them having an invisible friend as distinct from an imaginary friend, and a robbery has occurred in which the owner considers was done by a horse. How weird is that? Then a sheep is found dead having been pierced by a short object and thrown 3 metres.

Is it all linked. Can it get any weirder. Read it and find out.

Brilliantly written but in a style that has all the excesses of adult novels. The imagery, metaphor and simile are often devastatingly brilliant. The building that Peter Grant rents looks like it has been constructed by “an Amish synchronised barn building team” and the jeep he is driven round in  smells “like and overheated dog”.

Senior readers will either love it or hate it. For me it was a novel experience. It is the 5th of a series that is on the Sunday Times Bestselling list.

The Volume of Possible Endings by Barbara Else.

October 4, 2014 Comments off

possible endingsThe Volume of Possible Endings by Barbara Else. Pub. Gecko Press, 2014.

This is the third book in the Tales of Fontania series and like the others it is a tale of magic, adventure, invention, humour and silliness. Nothing wrong with that it’s what kids want to read in books and me too.

The land of Fontania is a land of magic but only the Royal family have magic powers. Some of them like all royal families are eccentric, ruthless, crazy, inventive, funny and responsible and like all families they fight. Knowing who is who is the key to this story.

The key to the magic of this Kingdom are the dragon-eagles, they are sacred and essentially good but things can and do go awry.

Dorrity is the main character, she is 12 years old, brave, adventureous and on the right side. She is wanted by the evil Count Bale whose smile is as thin as a trip wire and tricky as a spider web. Everything about him is.

He wants to capture Dorrity who has a connection with both sides of the Royal family. Make her queen for a couple of days, end his banishment then take over as the new king. Dastardly!.

Dorrity has an ally in a mechanical boy known as Metalboy who was invented by the current king but is let loose and starts to evolve into a key weapon against the Count.

The plot hums along after Dorrity finds a book of Five Possible Endings to the situation. Will any of them be true. Read it and find out.

The dialogue between the characters is very witty and to me was the strength of the novel. While part of the Fontania series all books in it are stand alone.

Primary and intermediate school level.

Magisterium Bk1: The Iron Trial by Holly Black & Cassandra Clare.

August 31, 2014 Comments off

iron trialMagisterium Bk1: The Iron Trial by Holly Black & Cassandra Clare. Pub.Random House, 2014.

The authors of this first part of a Fantasy adventure thriller have street cred in modern fantasy. Sure they have read past masters and elements of other fantasy are included in this work. Hey that is how you become a writer. But what these two authors do in this book is unique and will completely surprise you.

I read this and went wow! I want to read the next four parts too, and I will.

We first meet Callum Hunt in the prologue to this novel when the father finds him as a baby after the Magisterium has been attacked during the third Mage War and all the inhabitants killed except baby Callum who has had his leg bent in a terrible fashion.

When his father finds him in the freezing cold his mother has written a message. KILL THE CHILD

Twelve years later Callum is reluctantly made to trial for a place in Mage school or the Magisterium. His father does not want him to go saying the school is a death camp. Callum believes his father, does his best to fail but is selected in the top three by the best tutor Master Rufus. Is Callum’s father right?

Callum is put in a team with top student Aaron and super girl Tamara as they train to harness their magic in the first year the Iron Trial. Will they succeed? Callum takes his reluctance into the school and does his best to fail. In the real world he had no friends and no ambition. The school is to change him and his attitudes.

Compulsive reading with plenty of action and good fantasy to absorb the reader. The magic comes from five sources – Earth Air, Fire, Water and Chaos. All are powerful but Chaos is deadly. You are going to love this series. Terrific ending that sets up the next book.

Intermediate and high school readers. There are 5 parts and at the end if they survive Callum and his team will be 17. The reader can grow with the characters.

Starblade Chronicles Bk 1: A new Darkness by Joseph Delaney.

May 29, 2014 Comments off

new darknessStarblade Chronicles Bk 1: A new Darkness by Joseph Delaney. Pub.Random House, 2014.

A spinoff from the Wardstone Chronicles the last of which is reviewed elsewhere on this blog. The Spook of Chipenden was killed in the last of the Wardstone books and now his young apprentice, Thomas Ward is the Spook.

The first half of this book introduces a new, predicted, enemy from the North, the Kobalos. Tom’s first task is to deal with a mage Kobalos who has come south and has killed and drunk the blood of three young girls.

Tom is the 7th son of a 7th son and is immune from much magic but the Kobalos mage is powerful and Tom needs the sword given to him by the witch Grimalkin to deal to it.

In the conflict he is helped by a girl called Jenny the 7th daughter of a 7th daughter who has insightful gifts of her own. She helps him trap the mage but is almost killed herself. Jenny wants to become the apprentice to the Spook  Tom, a situation unheard of before. Will it work?

Tom puts her through some tests and agrees to take her on. But the task against the Kobalos is going to be tough and brutal.

Fantasy horror at it’s best. Well written, continuous tension and action with worthy lead characters who face evil with tenacity.

Junior high and Intermediate students will love this first in a new series.




Tale of a Tail by Margaret Mahy Illus Tony Ross.

March 28, 2014 Comments off

tale of a tailTale of a Tail by Margaret Mahy Illus Tony Ross. Pub. Orion Children’s Books, 2014.

I hoped there was another Margaret Mahy  lurking around somewhere, this is it and it is a beauty.

Tom and his mum moved into Prodigy Street on Thursday, a street that is dominated by cats and sorely needs  a dog or two to even things up. On the Sunday Tomasz Mirabilis in his flowing black cloak with red lining moves into the red roofed house at the end of the street with his magical dog Najki.

Najki has a wagger that moves up and down and it grants wishes but be careful what you wish for it may come true. Careless wishing can cause problems and it does.

Tom strikes up a friendship with Mr Mirabilis and Najki and also with Sarah a cat lover from down the street. They go to the Farfetched school and have rivals at the Weasel school from across town and also from a boy gang called the Cat-kickers. Both are going to be dealt with by Najki’s wishing tale.

Oh but things go wrong. A wild cat named Miaouler the Yowler delivers a frenzied attack on Najki and suddeenly all is different again. But in true Margaret Mahy fashion, the ordinary world for the children now seems so extraordinary. Positive to the end.

Brilliant writing with the usual emphasis on language. This is Margaret’s forte and she doesn’t let you down.

The inimitable Tony Ross illustrates in his usual way with understated physical features but hugely expressive faces on both humans and animals. The illustration of Miriabilis at the beginning of chapter one sets the pattern for things to come.

Delicious read for primary children and for adults who like clever writing.

Mortal Fire by Elizabeth Knox

April 23, 2013 Comments off

mortal fireMortal Fire by Elizabeth Knox. Pub. Gecko Press, 2013.

Set in the country of Southland some 50 years after Dreamhunter and Dreamquake which established that there is something magical about this land. Indeed there is. First there was The Place where dreams were found now there is the magic of  the Zarene Valley and a Mining Disaster that happened 30 years ago.

Canny is a 16 year old girl but not a native Southlander. Her mother Sisema has an heroic past and her stepfather is a University Professor. Canny is brilliant at Mathematics but there is more to this gifted girl than that – she has Extra.

When her step brother, Sholto and his girlfriend Susan are sent to study the Mine Disaster of 1929 they take Canny with them and together they discover the magical Zarene Valley.

The inhabitants of the valley know that the magic is being sucked out of their valley but by what or whom?

On the hill in the Valley is a house that is protected by a powerful spell that keeps all out and restores the house evry day. There is one inhabitant who is a prisoner in the house, Ghislain. He is living a groundhog day existence and hasn’t aged since he was put there after the mine disaster.

Why is he imprisoned? What does he know of the mine disaster? Could the house be draining the magic out of the valley? All hell breaks loose when Canny finds Ghislain and her own magical powers begin to develop. Has Canny got  a secret agenda of her own? Has Ghislain got a motive?and as Taggert used to say “Is it murder”?

Elizabeth Knox is a wonderful writer and she keeps the reader in this 400 page novel with an imaginative plot. However it really is for your exceptional reader. The gifted ones who adore fantasy and complicated stories.

I loved it but it is not for everyone. A young adult/Adult crossover.

Categories: Fantasy, Senior Fiction, Young Adult Tags:

A Necklace of Souls by R.L. Stedman

January 15, 2013 Comments off

Necklace SoulsA Necklace of Souls by R.L. Stedman. Pub. HarperCollins, 2013.

The hardest genre of fiction to review is fantasy. Astonishingly fantasy to be credible needs to be believable. Fortunately in this first novel for Dunedin writer R L Stedman she has got the credible part right. The reader can believe what is happening.

Set in the  Kingdom of the Rose, an island dominated by The Castle of the Fallen, in a time period like the Middle Ages. Those inside the Kingdom are protected from the outside world by the Guardian who wears a powerful necklace dominated by a big ruby. Possessing the Necklace is a burden and the current wearer is Rosa the sister of the King  of the Rose Kingdom.

The king has a daughter, Dana, who is 14 years old and like her father has  dreams of things that are yet to come or have already happened. The dreams are often brutal and tell of death and destruction in the Rose Kingdom at the hands of an invading army.

Dana is to inherit the Necklace and become the new Guardian, but she doesn’t want to. She meets a boy Will who is a baker of bread, and whom possesses other skills that will make him a good warrior and be needed in what is to happen. Will’s parents die in the plague and he is fortunate to be allowed residency in the Rose Kingdom.

Rose and Will are to face an Ancient enemy who is on the rise and who wants the necklace. Good stuff.

Intermediate and secondary in appeal. Readers of fantasy have plenty to get their teeth into.

The Queen and the Nobody Boy. A Tale of Fontania by Barbara Else

October 11, 2012 Comments off

The Queen and the Nobody Boy. A Tale of Fontania by Barbara Else. Pub.  Gecko Press, 2012. 

This is a pre-teen adventure fantasy tale from the same stable as The Travelling Restaurant.

Hodie is a dissatisfied unpaid odd-job boy in the Palace of Fontania, people treat him the same way as they treat dogpoo on the bottom of their shoe. His mother disappeared when he was two and his father left in mysterious circumstances.

All is not well. The Royal Family of Fontania rely on magic to keep their power a power dependent upon the dragon-eagles who are now in the endangered catagory. Another source of magic is the Ties of Fontania which are lost.

When the Emperor of the neighbouring kingdom of Um’Binnia visits Fontania to suss out the lay of the land, Hodie decides to leave and seek his fortune. He is followed by the Little Queen of Fontania disguised as a street urchin. She fears attack from the Emperor of Um’Binnia and sure enough war is declared.

The thing is Where are the Ties of Fontania? Who is Hodie? Can the Dragon-eagles be saved?

A rollicing good yarn for primary and intermediate students.