Mattimeo

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

Redwall | Mossflower

It seems fitting for my first review of a new year to take another nostalgic look back at one of my childhood favourites. Redwall was an epic fantasy series set in a Medieval society of anthropomorphic woodland creatures. It was first published between 1986 and 2011 and ran for twenty-one novels, only ending because of Brian Jacques’s death. For the purpose of this review I will be looking at the third instalment – Mattimeo – only.

Eight seasons have passed since the defeat of Cluny the Scourge, and Redwall Abbey has enjoyed peace under the watchful eye of Matthias the Warrior. However, this cannot last. As the Abbey dwellers prepare a great feast, Slagar the Cruel approaches. The masked fox has a personal vendetta against Matthias and is determined to make the brave mouse suffer.

Posing as entertainers, Slagar and his followers infiltrate the feast and make off into the night with a group of children. This includes Matthias’s beloved son, Mattimeo. His goal is to have the double glory of both selling Mattimeo into slavery and killing Matthias when he inevitably comes to free him. What follows is a dangerous trek across unknown lands as Mattimeo and his friends try to get away, and Matthias and group of scouts try their hardest to follow Slagar’s trail.

Yet things are also not restful at Redwall Abbey. Taking advantage of Matthias’s absence, a flock of birds descends on the peaceful creatures. They are led a wicked raven named General Ironbeak who has decided that the Abbey would make a perfect castle. How can the abbey dwellers possibly defend themselves when their warrior is too far away to protect them?

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The Girl Who Dared to Descend

Please note that this review may contain spoilers for previous instalments of this series. You can read my reviews of these novels by clicking the links below:

The Girl Who Dared to Think | The Girl Who Dared to Stand

The Girl Who Dared to Descend was written by Bella Forrest and first published in 2017. It is the third instalment of The Girl Who Dared series, following Liana and her friends as they continue to investigate systematic corruption within the Tower. The novel is preceded by The Girl Who Dared to Think (2017) and The Girl Who Dared to Stand (2017), and followed by The Girl Who Dared to Rise (2017), The Girl Who Dared to Lead (2018), The Girl Who Dared to Endure (2018) and The Girl Who Dared to Fight (2018). Due to this, I would strongly recommending reading them in sequence to have any idea of what is going on.

Although Devon is dead, Liana is in more trouble than ever. She has now been captured and awaits trial for her part in his murder. Worse still, she does not even have Grey to comfort her. His injuries are so severe that Leo now inhabits her lover’s neural net, controlling his body while he repairs the damage to Grey’s mind.

Yet, Liana soon learns that she has allies in high places – ones that are capable of controlling Scipio and making it seem as though her crimes were actually in service to the Tower. However, they want something from her in return. The Knights will now need to hold a Tourney to determine their new Champion. Liana and her friends must enter this contest to ensure that a resistance sympathiser – Ambrose – is the one chosen.

It seems like a simple task, but danger lurks behind every corner. Unknown legacies will stop at nothing to ensure that Ambrose is killed before he can advance too far, and Ambrose himself is reluctant to accept the help of a band of criminals. Worse still, they are no closer to discovering who has been hacking into Scipio in the first place. How can Liana protect someone if she does not know how deep the conspiracy goes?

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The Christmasaurus and the Winter Witch

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

The Christmasaurus and the Winter Witch was written by Tom Fletcher and first published in 2019. It is a fantasy story that focuses on a young boy and his friendship with the magical blue dinosaur that helps to pull Santa’s sleigh. The novel follows on from where The Christmasaurus (2016) left off and so I would recommend reading them in sequence in order to fully appreciate them.

It has been a year since William first met the Christmasaurus and he can’t wait to see his magical friend again. When Santa shows up early to invite William on a tour of the North Pole, he is thrilled to finally get to share the fun with Brenda, Pamela and Bob. Santa is excited to show off the Elf Village and the first ever Christmas Tree. However, when Santa asks the Tree to grant each of the children one of its magical present-making beans, Brenda is annoyed that the Tree seems only willing to give one to William.

On returning home, Brenda convinces herself that she would make better use of the bean than William and steals it from his pocket. However, she soon realises the error of her ways when it falls into the hands of her Christmas-hating father. Barry Payne is the owner of a huge toy store and, with bean in hand, may finally have the power to put Santa out of business for good.

As belief in Christmas begins to fade, Santa and the elves slowly begin to vanish. The only way to save him might be to use the magic of the Winter Witch – a being who is able to control time – to change the past and restore the belief of children everywhere. However, meddling with time is dangerous and William and his friends need to be careful not to cause irreparable damage to the future…

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The Wizards of Once: Twice Magic

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

Twice Magic was written by Cressida Cowell and first published in 2018. It follows the continuing adventures of Xar and Wish as they seek to find a way to defeat the evil Kingwitch once and for all. The novel follows The Wizards of Once (2017) and precedes Knock Three Times (2019), so I would strongly recommend reading them in sequence if you want to fully appreciate them.

Following his previous adventure, Encanto has had Xar locked up in the terrible prison of Gormincrag. He claims that it is for his own good – a way to protect himself and those around him until the witchstain can be removed – but Xar has his doubts. The Drood Commander who runs the prison hates everything to do with witches, and Xar knows that it is likely that he will be locked away forever.

Wish is also having a difficult time. Even though the Stone-That-Takes-Away-Magic has been destroyed, Queen Sychorax is more determined than ever to destroy the Wizards. She also still seems to be thoroughly disappointed in Wish, which puts her in an awkward position. How can Wish learn to use her newfound powers while still keeping them secret from her magic-hating mother?

It’s not long before fate – or, rather, a stolen spelling book – draws Xar and Wish together again. When they discover a spell that reportedly gets rid of witches, the two set off on an epic quest to locate the rare ingredients that it requires. However, their quest will not be easy. With wizards, warriors and witches in hot pursuit, it’s a race against the clock to complete the spell before the three great armies collide…

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I Know You Remember

I Know You Remember was written by Jennifer Donaldson and first published in 2019. It is a mystery novel which focuses on a teenage girl’s search for her missing best friend. The novel stands alone, so you don’t have to read any of the author’s earlier work to fully appreciate it.

Following the death of her mother, Ruthie Hayden is forced to move to Alaska to live with her estranged father and his new family. Although she is not happy about this, the one thing that she is looking forward to is seeing her childhood best friend, Zahra Gaines, again. Although Zahra and Ruthie have grown apart over the years, Ruthie has nothing but fond memories of their childhood and the fantasy stories that they wrote together.

However, Ruthie arrives in Anchorage to learn something terrible. Zahra had a fight with her boyfriend and stormed out of a party three days previously, and no one has seen her since. As Ruthie tries to find out the truth about what happened that night from the people who were there, she starts to learn disquieting things about Zahra. Her friend is no longer the creative artist that she once was, instead having become an athletic, party girl with no interest in books.

Yet Ruthie’s investigation uncovers uncomfortable truths about her friend and it’s not long before she realises that Zahra hides a dark secret. Something has happened to her over the time that Ruthie has been gone, and that thing changed her forever. As Ruthie delves deeply into her best friend’s past, she finds that nothing is quite as it seems and learns that some truths are better left buried…

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The Deathless Girls

The Deathless Girls was written by Kiran Millwood Hargrave and first published in 2019. It is a Gothic horror novel which tells the untold tale of the Brides of Dracula. The novel stands alone, so you don’t have to read any of the author’s earlier work to fully appreciate it.

Lillai and her twin sister, Kisaiya, have just turned seventeen and that means that it is time for their Divining Day – the moment when they will find out what the fates have in store for them. Lil is certain that her beautiful and outgoing sister will be an ursar – a bear dancer – yet she is less certain what place she will be given within their Traveller community. However, the future for Lil and Kizzy holds nothing but bloodshed and death. Before their palms can be read, their camp is ransacked and they are torn from everything that they once knew.

The girls’ destiny lies in the court of Boyar Valcar – a lord who is well known for his “love” of pretty young girls. They are put to work in Valcar’s kitchens but know that it can only be a matter of time before they are forced to serve him in other ways. While Kizzy endangers herself by constantly battling their captors, Lil would rather accept their fate to avoid further to pain. For Lil, the one ray of light comes in the form of Mira – another kitchen girl whom Lil is inexplicably drawn to.

However, as Lil adjusts to life as a slave, she starts to learn disquieting things about her captors. Valcar and the other Boyars answer to a mysterious prince known as the Dragon – a man made legend due to his brutality. In order to keep their master’s favour, each Boyar must present the Dragon with a regular sacrifice. As beautiful Kizzy starts to be noticed more and more, Lil realises that there is a good chance that she could be next…

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Zeroes

Zeroes was written by Scott Westerfeld, Margo Lanagan and Deborah Biancotti and first published in 2015. It is a science fiction story follows a group of teenagers who all possess supernatural abilities, thought don’t have much of a grasp on how to use them. The novel forms the first part of a trilogy and is followed by Swarm (2016) and Nexus (2017).

Ethan Cooper – otherwise known as Scam – has a voice inside him that has the ability to give him whatever he wants. Unfortunately, the voice is not one to consider the long-term consequences of its actions. When Ethan wants a lift home, the voice is more than happy to assist him. However, this soon results in the theft of a drug dealer’s money and his inadvertent involvement in a bank heist that goes horribly wrong.

When he is taken into police custody, Ethan quickly learns that the whole series of events has been caught on film. Now, the police want to an explanation as to how he came to know personal details of a bank robber and not even the voice can get him out of this one. Luckily for Ethan, there are others who can. He once belonged to a group of “Zeroes” – teenagers with powers. Trouble is, he burned his bridges with them a year previously when he allowed the voice to reveal their darkest secrets.

Fortunately, Nate Saldana – or Bellwether – has been looking for a reason to get his team back together. Utilising their skills, the teens manage to rescue Ethan but find themselves in more trouble than they could ever have imagined. It’s not just drug dealers and gangsters that are now out to get Scam. He is also being hunted by the daughter of one of the bank robbers – a girl who has a powerful gift of her own…

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Amelia Fang and the Lost Yeti Treasures

Please note that this review may contain spoilers for earlier instalments in this series. You can read my reviews of these novels by clicking the links below:

Amelia Fang and the Barbaric Ball | Amelia Fang and the Unicorn Lords | Amelia Fang and the Memory Thief | Amelia Fang and the Half-Moon Holiday

Amelia Fang and the Lost Yeti Treasures was written by Laura Ellen Anderson and first published in 2019. It is a middle-grade fantasy story about the adventures of a young vampire and her monstrous friends. The novel forms the fifth instalment of the Amelia Fang series, following Amelia Fang and the Barbaric Ball (2017), Amelia Fang and the Unicorn Lords (2018), Amelia Fang and the Memory Thief (2018) and Amelia Fang and the Half-Moon Holiday (2019). Because of this, I would recommend reading the books in sequence to fully appreciate them.

Amelia, Florence, Grimaldi, Tangine and Squashy have been invited to stay in the Ancient Yeti Pits to celebrate the 350th birthday of Florence’s Grand-Yeti. It’s not long before the party is in full swing, with plenty of dancing, presents and bumping bums. However, due to the excitement, Amelia is struggling to find time to break some bad news to Florence. The Pumpkineers’ Club is also having a party, and so Amelia will have to leave early if she wants to go.

Yet, it’s not long before strange things start happening in the Yeti pits. First, someone uses all of Tangine’s Everyking Sparkles cream. Then, the precious treasures belonging to the Yeti’s also start to vanish. Worse still, something goes wrong within the pits and the homes of the Yetis all begin to collapse.

If the mountain is declared unsafe, Amelia knows that it will mean that Florence and her family will potentially need to move away. Due to this, it’s up to the group to solve the mystery of just what is happening in the mountain and ensure that it can’t happen again. Yet, with the mountain falling apart around them, Amelia knows that they need to be fast and careful. One wrong step could mean that they are trapped underground forever…  More

Bendy and the Ink Machine: Dreams Come to Life

Bendy and the Ink Machine: Dreams Come to Life was written by Adrienne Kress and first published in 2019. It is a prequel story to the popular video game of the same name, focusing on a teenager in 1940s New York as he uncovers a sinister mystery at the animation studio where he works. The novel stands alone, though I would recommend playing the game first if you want to fully appreciate it.

Since the death of his father, Daniel “Buddy” Lewek has been the primary breadwinner for his family and struggles to make ends meet. However, his luck seems to change when he impresses Joey Drew – the owner of a local animation studio – and is offered a well-paid job as a go-fer. Buddy is eager to impress his new colleagues with his artistic talent as he dreams of one day becoming an animator himself.

However, something seems to be strange at the studios. Pipes full of ink run through the walls, some of the staff are behaving strangely and Mister Drew is developing something in secret – something that he believes will restore the failing studio to greatness. Although Buddy wants to believe in his new employer, he is starting to have his doubts. When he befriends a young scriptwriter called Dot, he slowly starts to uncover the unbelievable truth hidden in the depths of the studio.

When one of Buddy’s co-workers suddenly vanishes, Buddy realises that he is the only one that can save the studio. However, as he descends into its depths, he realises that Joey Drew Studios are not a place where dreams are made. It is a place of nightmares…

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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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