Final 7

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

Cell 7 | Day 7

Final 7 was written by Kerry Drewery and first published in 2018. It is a dystopian science fiction novel, set in a world where all executions in the United Kingdom are publicly aired as part of a reality television show. The novel forms the final part of a trilogy and follows on directly from where Cell 7 (2016) and Day 7 (2017) left off, so I would strongly recommend reading the novels in sequence to have any idea of what is going on.

Although Martha and Isaac have both escaped from Cell 7, things could not be worse for them. Now known as the Rises 7, Martha and her allies have been branded as terrorists due to the explosion at the Cells. Eve has been imprisoned and is awaiting her trial by media, while the Government has used the chaos as an excuse to erect a wall to separate the Rises from the more affluent areas of London.

As Martha waits to see if Isaac will survive his injuries, she begins to put a new plan in motion. With the assistance of an investigative journalist and the Prime Minister’s aide, she searches for a way to reveal Reynard’s deceit to the country. Only by proving Death is Justice is corrupt – and that this corruption stems from the Prime Minister himself – can Martha find a way to destabilise the system before Eve meets her end.

However, things are now more difficult than ever before. As the system starts to crumble, Reynard becomes more dangerous. The police are replaced by his own private guard and any revolutionary activity is given an instant death sentence. Martha will have to work harder than ever if she is to convince Britain that the system – and the man behind it – do not have their best interest at heart.

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Point Horror 1-5

It’s time to begin a new series of my retrospective reviews. Hooray! As I’ve now read through every single Animorphs and classic Goosebumps book, I think it’s time to now turn my attention to some classic horror stories for older teens. That’s right, it’s time to revisit Point Horror.

In case you’re unfamiliar, Point Horror is a anthology series that was published by Scholastic between 1991 and 2014. Early instalments were just re-prints of earlier Scholastic titles, but the series achieved massive popularity in the mid-nineties and was a staple favourite of every teen. The stories are somewhat darker than Goosebumps books, often focusing on older teens as they are targeted by stalkers and psychopaths. Please note that, as per all of my other retrospectives, this post will contain massive spoilers for the novels in question.

In Twisted (written by R.L. Stine), Abby is determined to become a Tri Gam as it is the most exclusive sorority on campus and the only accepts a chosen few each year. The thing that she was not prepared for was the hazing. To become a Tri Gam, the pledges need to commit a crime. However, when something goes horribly wrong and someone winds up dead, Abby and the new pledges are forced to band together to hide their shared secret…

In The Lifeguard (written by Ritchie Tankersley Cusick), Kelsey’s summer holiday on Beverly Island begins in disaster. She was supposed to be staying with her mum’s new boyfriend but his teenage daughter, Beth, has vanished. As Kelsey explores the island, she soon learns that Beth is not the first. A number of young women have mysteriously drowned off the coast of the Island. It’s almost like the local lifeguards aren’t doing a very good job…

In Party Line (written by A Bates), Mark is addicted to calling the Party Line as he finds it so much easier to talk anonymously to girls. It’s not long before he begins to recognise different voices, especially the sleazy and desperate “Ben”. However, when a girl goes missing shortly after agreeing to meet with Ben, Mark starts to realise that perhaps Party Line isn’t as harmless as it seems. But will he be able to track down Ben in real life without becoming one of his victims?

In The Baby-Sitter (written by R.L. Stine), Jenny is thrilled to be offered a regular baby-sitting gig after a chance meeting at the mall. However, when she first visits the Hagen house, she starts to have her doubts. It is really run-down and their neighbour is more than a little sinister, and there have also been those attacks on baby-sitters in the area. Then, the threatening phone calls start, promising her that “Company’s Coming”. Will Jenny manage to keep her wits about her and survive the night, or will she become another victim…

In Trick or Treat (written by Ritchie Tankersley Cusick), Martha isn’t happy to leave Chicago and move to the sticks to live with her new stepmother and her teenage son, Connor. However, she feels worse still when she sees the old, spooky house where they live. Then the practical jokes start, growing more dangerous and malicious by the day. She soon learns that something terrible once happened in the house, and she could very well be next!

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The Night Country

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

The Night Country was written by Melissa Albert and first published in 2020. It is an urban fantasy novel that focuses on a group of refugees from a dying world who are forced to relocate to modern day New York. The novel is a direct sequel to The Hazel Wood (2018), and Albert also plans to release Tales from the Hinterlands – the fictional book of faerie stories featured in this series – in early 2021.

After Alice’s dangerous escape from the Hinterlands, she though that she would be able to build a better life for herself. However, she has slowly come to realise that the Hinterlands never really lets anyone go. Even though Alice has lost her icy powers, she still struggles to fit in. The human world feels unnatural to her, but the other Stories resent her for the roll she played in destroying their world.

While most of the Stories seem to be harmless enough, Alice soon learns that something dark still stalks amongst them. Something is brutally murdering the Stories, stealing a single body part from every one that that it slays. To make matters worse, the killer also seems to be able to freeze people with a touch. The remaining Stories are now starting to believe that Alice is responsible, and she knows that she needs to find out the killer’s true identity if she is to clear her name.

Meanwhile, in the ruins of the Hinterlands, Ellery Finch is trying to find his way home. As the world collapses around him, he strikes a deal with Iolanthe – a girl who knows how to make doors. All he wants is to return to New York and be with Alice once again. Little does he know that his return will not be easy. His journey takes him to a library of worlds where he learns of the existence of a legendary realm called the Night Country, and the terrible price that was paid to create it…

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Fazbear Frights: Fetch

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

Fazbear Frights: Fetch was written by Scott Cawthon, Andrea Waggener and Carly Anne West and was first published in 2020. It is a collection of three short stories, all of which are set within the vague canon of the Five Nights at Freddy’s video game series. Although the stories are largely designed to stand alone, this collection does follow on from Into the Pit (2020). A further three collections are planned to be released over the coming months.

In Fetch, Greg and his friends break into an abandoned pizzeria for a laugh but soon find more than they bargained for. Behind the prize counter, Greg discovers Fetch – a robotic toy dog who is designed to sync in with a person’s phone and retrieve data. Not long after, Greg starts to get texts from a mysterious person who claims to be Fetch. Fetch is eager to help him retrieve anything that he desires. Trouble is, Fetch does not always leave these “items” in the best condition…

In Lonely Freddy, Alec is jealous of the attention that his younger sister retrieves. His parents act as though Hazel can do no wrong, while constantly treating him as though he is a bad egg. Alec is determined to prove that Hazel can be as selfish and petulant as any other kid, and what better place to do so than at her birthday pizza party. However, as Alec’s plan goes sour, he finds himself at the mercy of one of the pizzeria’s malevolent mascots…

In Out of Stock, Oscar is desperate to get his hands on a Plushtrap Chaser – this year’s must-have toy. However, when he is held up by his mother, he arrives at the store just in time to see them sell out. When he finds a defective Plushtrap behind the counter, his desperation forces him to steal the toy. Yet he soon discovers that this particular Plushtrap was left for a reason. Its eyes and teeth seem almost human, and it seems to have an irrepressible desire to maim its new owner…

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All the Stars and Teeth

All the Stars and Teeth was written by Adalyn Grace and is due for release in July 2020. It is a fantasy novel that focuses on a sheltered princess who joins forces with a pirate in order to stop a revolution in her kingdom. The novel is the first part of a planned series, though at the time of writing no further instalments have been announced.

In the Kingdom of Visidia, everyone can choose what kind of magic they practice and are permitted to live on one of seven islands depending their decision. The only one who is not permitted to chose is the one who sits on the throne. Only the King or Queen is permitted to practice soul magic – the most dangerous and difficult to control of the magics. This is necessary to keep the balance and ensure that greed does not destroy the kingdom as it did in ancient times.

For her whole life, Amora has trained to take her father’s place and rule over Visidia. However, in order to do so, she must demonstrate that she has flawless control over her powers. Unfortunately, her test does not go as planned and she finds herself thrown in gaol, waiting to see if she will be permitted to try again or executed for her crimes. It is here that she first meets Bastian – a young pirate. Bastian has come from the distant island of Zudoh to seek help. A cruel revolutionary called Kraven is growing in popularity. He has already ravaged Zudoh and has now set his sights on the throne. Trouble is, Zudoh is the forbidden island of curse magic and has been cut off from the rest of Visidia for years.

Escaping aboard Bastian’s ship, the Keel Haul, with her reluctant fiance in tow, Amora sets out on the adventure that she has desired for her entire life. If she is the one to save all of Visidia from Kraven, she knows that her people will eagerly accept her as Queen. However, it’s not long before Amora learns that things may not be quite as clean-cut as she imagined. Her father has been keeping secrets from her for years, and now she is starting to realise that the royal family isn’t quite as beloved as she had been led to believe…

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Dreamland

Dreamland was first published in 2015 and is Robert L Anderson’s debut novel. It is a fantasy story that focuses on a teenage girl who has the power to “walk” into other people’s dreams. The novel stands alone, so you don’t have to read any of the author’s other work to fully appreciate it.

Odea “Dea” Donahue has always been an outsider. Ever since she was little, she has been able to walk into the dreams of others. To her, it is as natural as breathing, however her mother has always made clear that there are rules that she must follow. Never be seen, never change anything, and never walk into the same person’s dream more than once. So long as Dea follows these rules, she will be safe.

Dea follows these rules without question until she meets Connor. Once she has tasted Connor’s dreams, she knows that she needs to go back for more. However, Connor is a troubled youth and his dreams are filled with monsters. It’s not long before these faceless creatures seem to become aware of Dea’s presence. And then, they come for her.

When Dea’s mother suddenly vanishes, the police suspect that she has gone on the run. Only Dea realises the truth – the monsters have captured her. Dea knows that she will need to delve further into the Dreamland than ever before if she wants to save her, and the key to doing so lies in Connor’s mind. However, will Connor even want to be close to Dea once he learns what she is capable of?

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Fazbear Frights: Into the Pit

Fazbear Frights: Into the Pit was written by Scott Cawthon and Elley Cooper and first published in 2020. It is a collection of three short stories, all of which are set within the vague canon of the Five Night’s at Freddy’s series. The stories are designed to stand alone and are not directly linked to any previous games or novels. There are also three further collections that are planned to be released over the next few months.

In Into the Pit, Oswald’s best friend has moved away and now he seems to be destined to spend the summer alone. As he hangs out at a local pizza restaurant, he makes a bizarre discovery. The out-of-order children’s play area has the power to transport a person back in time. Oswald finds himself in the busy arcade that once stood in the place of the restaurant. Trouble is, his appearance seems to have caught the attention of a sinister figure in a yellow rabbit costume. Worse still, this person manages to follow him back home…

In To Be Beautiful, Sarah knows that she is ugly and dreams to be noticed by the Beautifuls – four popular girls at her school. When she finds an abandoned robotic doll, she soon discovers that it has the power to grant her wish. The doll calls itself Eleanor and is more than happy to make Sarah’s dreams come true. Every day, Sarah wakes up to find she is more beautiful than before. What she doesn’t realise is that nothing comes without a price…

In Count The Ways, Millie has never been a cheerful child. She is the only Goth at her school and is constantly picked on by the vapid, fashionable girls. Although Millie has always admired Gothic writers and poets who find beauty in death, she has never truly wished to die. However, when trying to hide from relatives, she finds herself trapped inside the body of a mechanical bear. To her horror, the robot seems to be alive and is eager to kill. If she doesn’t find a way to escape, the creature will force her to choose what way she wants to die…

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Explorers on Black Ice Bridge

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

The Polar Bear Explorers Club | Explorers on Witch Mountain

Explorers on Black Ice Bridge was written by Alex Bell and first published in 2019. It follows the continuing adventures of Stella Starflake Pearl as she heads to one of the most dangerous places on the planet in search of a cure for her ailing friend. The novel forms the third part of The Polar Bear Explorers Club series, following on directly from where The Polar Bear Explorers Club (2017) and Explorers on Witch Mountain (2018 – published as The Forbidden Expedition in the US). Due to this, I would strongly recommend reading them in sequence if you want to fully appreciate them.

Things do not look good for Stella and her friends. Following their adventure on Witch Mountain, Felix has been stripped of his title and banished from the club. To make matters worse, Gideon has falsely accused Stella of using her magic against him, so there is also now a warrant for her arrest. This could not have come at a worse time, as Shay and Koa are growing sicker by the day. The only possible cure for them lies on the other side of the Black Ice Bridge, in the pages of Stella’s long-lost Book of Frost.

Naturally, friendship comes before everything else and Stella is quick to use her magic to escape. Yet, due to the fact that they no longer have any connections to the club, they are less prepared than ever before. No explorer has ever returned from the Black Ice Bridge, not even Beanie’s father in his ill-fated expedition eight years previously. The Explorers do not know what they will find, especially as rumours state that the bridge may lead to the very edge of the world.

Soon, Stella, Shay, Ethan and Beanie find themselves separated from the adults once again. They now can only use their wits, magic and meagre supplies to survive on the deadly bridge. But can they reach the other side in time when who knows what dangers lie in their way?

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The Girl who Speaks Bear

The Girl Who Speaks Bear was written by Sophie Anderson and first published in 2019. It is a fantasy story that focuses on a young girl who is searching for a way to break a strange curse. Although the novel has ties to The House with Chicken Legs (2018), it does still stand alone and can be thoroughly enjoyed if you haven’t read Anderson’s previous book.

Yanka has never really felt as though she belongs in the village. She was found in the woods by her Mamochka when she was a toddler and the other children are not always kind to her. Due to the fact that she is so big and strong, they have started to call her “Yanka the Bear” and Yanka knows that they laugh behind her back. Yet she also knows that she is not like them. Sometimes, Yanka feels the pull of the forest and she does not know why.

One morning, Yanka wakes up to find that she has grown furry bear legs. Although Mamochka is convinced that it some kind of strange infection, Yanka knows that this is not true. She has grown up listening to stories about a family who were cursed to become bears, and now knows that the same thing is happening to her. To find a way to lift the curse, she knows that she must seek out the legendary Bear Tsarina and ask for her assistance.

Yet the forest is dangerous, even with the protection of Mousetrap the house weasel – the self-proclaimed fiercest hunter. Yanka must face hungry wolves, witches, and even a fire dragon if she wants to find a way to restore herself. Even then, Yanka is not certain that it will make her truly happy. The forest is calling to her louder than ever before. Perhaps Yanka would be better off as a bear…

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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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