Flame and Fury

Flame and Fury was written by Lisa Gail Green and first published in 2017. It is an urban fantasy story which is loosely inspired by Arthurian legends. The novel forms the first part of the Merlin’s Legacy series, though at the time of writing no further instalments have been announced.

Aedan has a secret. For his whole life, he has struggled to control terrible fire magic and it has already cost him three people that he cared about. In order to prevent any further deaths, he distances himself from others and keeps himself to himself. That is, until his adoptive mother arranges for him to tutor Maya in mathematics. It’s not long before Aedan finds himself falling for Maya and she makes it clear that the feeling is mutual.

However, Maya is also hiding a secret. She is a member of an ancient order known as the Circle and has been groomed her whole life to seek out and destroy “elementals”. These soulless beings are born once every two hundred years and, if left to their own devices, will unite to destroy the world. Maya has narrowed down the identity of the fire elemental to five teenagers, and one of those is Aedan.

It’s not long before Aedan is approached by another elemental – Kari – and starts to learn the truth about his powers. Kari belongs to another cult – Scimitar – which plans to bring the four elementals together on the coming Equinox. Although Kari has been long prepared for the role that she will play in apocalypse, Aedan is unconvinced. He loves his family and does not want any harm to come to them. Yet will this be enough to overcome the reason for his birth and the tantalising draw of dark magic…

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Goosebumps 31-35

Please note that this review may contain spoilers for earlier in this series. You can read my reviews of these novels here:

1-5 | 6-10 | 11-15 | 16-20 | 21-25 | 26-30

It’s time for another trip down memory lane! In case you haven’t read any of my previous retrospectives, this is where I take a look at some of my childhood favourite series. Please note that these reviews will contain massive spoilers for the books in question. You have been warned.

Goosebumps is a hugely successful anthology of middle grade horror stories. It was written by R.L. Stine and the original series ran for sixty-two novels, all of which were published between 1992 and 1997. The series remains incredibly popular today, spawning numerous spin-offs, movies and video games. For the purpose of this review, I’m going to look at books 31 to 35 only. I’m also basing this on the order that they were released in the UK, as this does differ slightly to its US release order.

In Night of the Living Dummy II, Amy finds herself in trouble after her parents buy her a new ventriloquist dummy. As soon as Slappy arrives in her home, bad things start happening. Her sister’s paintings are ruined and her reputation as a ventriloquist is destroyed when a child is hurt during her act. Everyone thinks that Amy is responsible but she knows the truth. Slappy has a mind of his own and is determined to turn Amy into his slave…

In The Barking Ghost, Cooper often finds himself as the butt of his brother’s practical jokes due to the fact that he is afraid of everything. These fears turn out to be justified when he moves into a new house and is attacked by a pair of huge black dogs. Although his family claim to not see the dogs, it’s not long before they seem to be everywhere Cooper goes – even in his own home. It’s up to Cooper and his new friend, Fergie, to determine what they want before anyone gets hurt.

In The Horror at Camp Jellyjam, Wendy and Elliot find themselves stranded at a summer camp after a road accident separates them from their parents. Everything about the camp is weird – from the councillors’ obsession with winning at sports to their blobby purple mascot, King Jellyjam. As Elliot gets sucked in to the competitive atmosphere, Wendy desperately tries to find out what is going on. Because kids are disappearing from the camp every night, and if Wendy doesn’t hurry she knows that Elliot might be next…

In Revenge of the Garden Gnomes, Joe’s dad is obsessed with two things – growing better plants than his neighbour and collecting lawn ornaments. However, there is something strange about his latest two acquisitions. Every night, something is ransacking the two gardens and Joe soon finds himself blamed for the damage. Joe knows that it has something to do with the gnomes but, as he tries to catch them in the act, he soon finds that the creatures are a lot more malicious than it first seemed…

In A Shocker on Shock Street, Erin and Marty are excited to be the first two people to go on a tour of the set of their beloved “Shock Street” horror films. However, when the tram breaks down half way through the ride, they quickly realise that something is not quite right. The monsters seem to be more than just robots – they look and act as though they are real. Can Erin and Marty find their way off the tour or will they become prey for zombies and werewolves?

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Lumberjanes: Ghost Cabin

Please note that this review may contain spoilers for earlier in this series. You can read my reviews of these novels here:

Unicorn Power! | The Moon is Up | The Good Egg

Ghost Cabin was written by Mariko Tamaki and first published in 2019. It forms the fourth instalment of the Lumberjanes series of novels, which in turn is based on the comic book series of the same name. The novel follows on from where Unicorn Power! (2017), The Moon is Up (2018) and The Good Egg (2018) left off, so you really need to read the books in sequence to fully appreciate them.

When Molly receives a care package from her mother that consists of nothing more than enormous stack of homework, Mal knows that she needs to do something to raise her girlfriend’s spirits. Taking inspiration from a ghost story about a haunted cabin and her own missing socks, she weaves a great mystery that is sure to take Molly’s mind off things. After all, no Lumberjane can resist a quest.

Their investigation soon takes them to a long-deserted cabin on the edge of Lake Specter and it is there that they meet Deborah, Maggie, Heddie and Claudia – the spirits of four former Lumberjanes. The girls have been spirits for as long as they can remember and stole Mal’s socks for a reason. They have been watching the Roanoke scouts in their adventures and want their help to earn some badges of their own.

Yet, as the Lumberjanes get closer to the ghosts, Mal and Molly start to notice that something is a amiss. Claudia does not seem to be as enthusiastic as her friends and Molly is quick to empathise with her plight. As Claudia shares with them the truth about her past and her dreams for the future, Molly realises that it is her duty to help the ghost to find happiness. However, Claudia’s cabin mates are not quite so understanding…

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In the Way of All Flesh

In the Way of All Flesh was written by Caitlin Alise Donovan and first published in 2019. It is an urban fantasy story that focuses on a teenage girl as she tries to cope with a frightening and isolating power. The novel stands alone, although does have the potential to form the first instalment of a longer series.

Manee Srikwan has a good reason to avoid her classmates. She wears gloves and long-sleeved clothing at all times as it is the only way to control her horrifying power. Whenever Manee makes physical contact with a person, even if it is just for a second, she has a vision of the way that person will eventually die. She also has a terrible fear that perhaps she is somehow the one that causes these messy and inescapable fates.

However, things start to change when she makes friends with Stephanie Pierce. Stephanie is confident, beautiful and out-going, and Manee quickly grows attracted to her. She also starts to grow more comfortable with her abilities as the two work together to prevent the death of one of her classmates. However, Manee’s happiness unfortunately can’t last.

When Manee accidentally touches Stephanie, she learns that her beloved will soon be murdered. Worse still, Manee sees that she will be the killer. Desperate to prevent this terrible fate, she breaks off their friendship and puts as much distance between her and Stephanie as she can. However, she has not counted on the fact that Stephanie also has skeletons in her closet, and will stop at nothing to get Manee back…

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The Darkest Minds

The Darkest Minds was written by Alexandra Bracken and first published in 2012. The novel follows the story of a group of teenagers with strange powers, who are forced to flee across America in search of a safe haven. The book forms the first part of The Darkest Minds series and is followed by Never Fade (2013), In the Afterlight (2014) and The Darkest Legacy (2018).

When Ruby was ten, a mysterious disease swept across America. Parents were forced to watch helplessly as a majority of their children died of Idiopathic Adolescent Acute Neurodegeneration. However, the fate of the survivors was far worse. The children were left with terrible powers, ranging from hyper intelligence to pyrokinesis. Terrified by the implications of this, the government quickly set up rehabilitation camps, spinning them as places where the children could be cured. The truth was that they were little more than prisons.

Ruby has lived in Thurmond since she was ten years old and hides a terrible secret. On the day that she was sorted, she saw into the doctor’s mind and realised the danger of seeming two powerful. Using her powers, she made him believe that she was just a Green – someone who possessed a photographic memory. She is now forced to be super careful to ensure that no one realises that she is actually an Orange – someone with the power to change memories and control minds.

Yet all of that is about to change. When Ruby’s secret is revealed, she is forced to accept the help of a mysterious doctor in order to escape the camp. Yet, once outside, she soon learns that her rescuer’s motives may not be that altruistic. As she runs away, she soon finds herself in the company of a small group of teenagers who are in search of the “Slip Kid” – someone with the power to protect them. Yet could this all be too good to be true and, in this dangerous world, is there anywhere that is truly safe?

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D.O.G.S

Please note that this review may contain spoilers for S.T.A.G.S. You can read my review of this novel [here].

D.O.G.S was written by M.A. Bennett and was first published in 2019. It is a young adult mystery novel, focusing on a teenage girl and her increasing involvement with a sinister secret society. The novel forms part of the second part of the S.T.A.G.S series, continuing shortly after S.T.A.G.S (2017) left off. Because of this, I would strongly recommend reading the novels in sequence to have any idea of what’s going on.

Greer MacDonald is trying her best to focus on her A Levels, but can’t quite get over the terrible things that happened at Longcross Hall. Although Henry was a monster she is still haunted by his death, and feels partially responsible for it. As a result, she has grown distracted from her studies. She can’t even think of a play to direct as part of her drama assessment.

Everything changes when a strange manuscript is posted under her bedroom door. The document is supposedly the first act of a lost play by Ben Jonson – The Isle of Dogs. This play carries with it a certain level of notoriety. After its first performance, a number of those involved with it were arrested and all copies were reportedly destroyed.

As Greer’s mysterious benefactor delivers more of the acts, she slowly begins to learn why the play was banned. However, it’s not long before she discovers that she will have to work for the play’s final pages. When she learns that the last act is hidden somewhere at Longcross Hall, she begins to suspect that someone close to her has ulterior motives. Could the Order of the Stag be trying to lure her into some kind of trap?

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Goosebumps 26-30

Please note that this review may contain spoilers for earlier in this series. You can read my reviews of these novels here:

1-5 | 6-10 | 11-15 | 16-20 | 21-25

For tonight’s review, I’m going to take a look at R.L. Stine’s original Goosebumps series. This ran for sixty-two novels which were all published between 1992 and 1997. Please be aware that this is a retrospective post, and therefore will contain spoilers for the novels in question. I should probably also note that I am working through this series in the order that the books were released in the United Kingdom, which does vary a little from their American release order.

In The Cuckoo Clock of Doom, Michael is growing to hate his sister Tara. She is constantly getting him into trouble and goes out of her way to ruin his life. However, when his Dad brings home a strange new clock, Michael’s luck seems to turn around. The clock has the power to turn back time, allowing Michael a chance to save himself from Tara’s tricks. Trouble is, Michael has no idea how to stop the clock and every day he wakes up younger…

In Monster Blood III, Evan is having a hard time with his cousin, Kermit. Everyone thinks that Kermit is a genius but Evan knows that he just uses his weird formulas to cause trouble. When Andy suggests getting revenge by slipping the Monster Blood into Kermit’s latest experiment, Evan is reluctant but soon warms to the idea. Yet, when something goes wrong and Evan accidentally ingests the mysterious goo, he soon finds himself in really big trouble…

In Ghost Beach, Jerry and Terri are sent to stay with their distant cousins in their quaint cottage. At first, they have fun exploring the nearby beach, but everything changes when they discover the cave. The local kids seem to be terrified of it, claiming that a murderous ghost lives there, but Jerry is sceptical. He might not be able to explain the strange lights in the cave, but there is just something untrustworthy about the kids. Is the ghost real, or is something much stranger afoot?

In The Phantom of the Auditorium, Brooke and Zeke are excited to be cast as the leads in their school play. However, strange things have been happening. They discover a mysterious trapdoor in the stage that leads far beneath the school, and soon after start to find threatening messages. Everyone thinks that Zeke is to blame, but Brooke isn’t so sure. Could it actually be that the school is haunted?

In It Came from Beneath the Sink!, Kat and Daniel are excited to move into their new home, but things soon change when their dog finds the sponge. Although it looks ordinary enough, they are surprised to find it is alive. Worse still, bad things have started to happen to Kat and her family and, whenever they do, the sponge seems to grow more and more excited. Can Kat find out what the strange creature is before the accidents become fatal?

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Dreams of Gods and Monsters

Please note that this review may contain spoilers for earlier in this series. You can read my reviews of these novels here:

Daughter of Smoke and Bone | Days of Blood and Starlight | Night of Cake and Puppets

Dreams of Gods and Monsters was written by Laini Taylor and first published in 2014. It is a fantasy story that tells the continuing tale of two star-crossed lovers, and the world-spanning war between their people. The novel forms the final part of the Daughter of Smoke and Bone series, following Daughter of Smoke and Bone (2011), Days of Blood and Starlight (2012) and Night of Cake and Puppets (2013). As it carries on directly where these previous instalments left off, I would strongly recommend reading the books in sequence to have any idea of what is going on.

Karou has finally managed to seize control of the chimaera from the shadows, but it has come at a terrible cost. Thiago the White Wolf has been destroyed but his body is now inhabited by the soul of gentle Ziri, the last of the Kirin. Still, this is a small victory for Karou as it has enabled her to broker a tenuous alliance with Akiva and his rebel faction of Misbegotten. Although their numbers are few, they finally have a chance at defeating Jael once and for all.

However, it will not be easy. With the help of Razgut, Jael has led his army through the gate to Earth. His hope is to gain access to the humans’ weapons of mass destruction, and with them a way to destroy the chimaera forever. Yet his arrival sparks chaos all over the world. For the first time, humans have irrefutable evidence that angels exist. When Ziri’s demonic-looking original body is then found buried in a traditionally Muslim country, this excitement quickly turns to violence.

As Karou and her friends battle to save the chimaera, something worse still is brewing. Bruises are growing in the sky over the Far Isles and the Stelians know that it is a sign that something terrible is coming. They have the power to contain the threat, but the only way that they can do so is by hunting down the one who is responsible…

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Mossflower

Please note that this review may contain spoilers for Redwall. You can read my review of this novel [here].

For tonight’s review, I think it’s time to take another nostalgic look at one of my childhood favourites. Redwall was an epic series of middle grade fantasy novels that was published between 1986 and 2011. It ran for twenty-one books and the series only ended due to the author’s death. The series focuses on a medieval society of woodland creatures, in which the good creatures are forced to fight against those that would enslave them. For the purpose of this review, I am going to be looking at the second book – Mossflower (1988) – only.

The creatures that live in Mossflower woods have long been oppressed by the wildcat king – Verdauga Greeneyes – who rules over them from the impenetrable fortress of Kotir. While their lives have always been hard, things are about to get worse when Verdauga is poisoned by his ambitious daughter, Tsarmina. The wily wildcat is quick to pin the crime on her brother, sentencing him to a life of imprisonment as she assumes her place as queen. Ruthless and psychotic, her first command is to crush any resistance and bring the creatures of Mossflower to heel.

It is truly fortunate for the woodlanders that Martin the Warrior happens to be passing by. When Tsarmina destroys his cherished sword and throws the mouse into Kotir’s dungeons, he swears that he will have his revenge. It is not long before he befriends Gonff – a light-hearted mouse thief – and through him learns of Corim (the Council of Resistance in Mossflower). When the rebels orchestrate a gaol break, Martin is more than happy to dedicate himself to their cause.

Yet victory will not be easy. Tsarmina has an army of rats, weasels, ferrets and stoats at her disposal, while the woodlanders are scattered and small in number. It will take a great leader in order to be able to unite them all and assure their victory. On learning of the location of the legendary badger lord – Boar the Fighter – Martin sets out with a small band of allies to find him. Yet they must hurry. Corim cannot remain hidden forever and, if Tsarmina finds them first, there will be no hope of victory…

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All the Bad Apples

All the Bad Apples was written by Moïra Fowley-Doyle and first published in 2019. It is a work of magical realism that follows a teenage girl as she hunts for the truth behind her family’s supposed curse. The novel stands alone, so you don’t have to read any of the author’s earlier work to fully appreciate it.

Deena Rys knows that her seventeenth birthday is going to go badly when she accidentally comes out to her devout Catholic father. However, she has no idea how bad things are going to get. When she tells her sister, Mandy, about what happened, Mandy panics. She tells Deena that there is a curse that affects all of the bad apples in their family – those that deviate too far from what their father believes to be normal. The following day, Mandy vanishes.

When someone matching Mandy’s description is seen hurling themselves off a cliff, everyone knows that there is no way for her to have survived. However, even as the family lay her to rest, Deena cannot accept this. Strange things have been happening since Mandy’s death, and she is starting to believe that there may be a curse after all. Although her friends and family urge her to move on, Deena realises that she on the right track when she finds the first letter.

Mandy’s letter is the start of a treasure hunt, and Deena knows that she will find her sister alive and well if she follows it to the end. Yet to do so, she must revisit tales of past crimes inflicted on the women in her family. The origins of the curse lie in generations past and those who were silenced by society for being bad apples. If Deena is ever going to find Mandy, she must follow the trail of letters and allow these ghosts to finally be heard…

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