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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Soul of the Sword

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

Soul of the Sword was written by Julie Kagawa and first published in 2019. It is the second part of the Shadow of the Fox Trilogy, continuing Yumeko’s quest to deliver a fragment of the legendary Dragon scroll to the Steel Feather Temple. As the novel carries on directly where Shadow of the Fox (2018) left off, you really do need to read the novels in sequence to fully appreciate them.

Although Yumeko and her allies managed to defeat Lady Satomi’s forces, their victory came at a terrible cost. Hakaimono has escaped imprisonment from within Kamigoroshi and has completely taken over Tatsumi. The former demonslayer is now a prisoner in his own body, forced to watch as the monster exacts its bloody revenge on the Kage clan.

Although she is desperate to save Tatsumi, Yumeko does not know where to begin. Hakaimono is too powerful to be expelled by an exorcism and would surely rip apart anyone who tried. Yet a mysterious silver fox appears to her in a dream with a solution. If she can master the dark art of kitsune-tsuki – fox possession – she will be able to drive out Hakaimono from within.

Yet saving Tatsumi is not her biggest priority. Yumeko’s piece of the Dragon scroll still must be delivered to the Steel Feather Temple for safe keeping. The trouble is, no one knows precisely where the temple is hidden. Will Yumeko and her friends be able to uncover its location, or will Genno’s army of yōkai, witches and oni find them first…

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Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

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:

Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone | Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets | Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban | Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire | Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix | Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince

It’s my 500th review. Hooray! It’s taken me a long time to get here but thank-you so much to those who have read my reviews, offered suggestions and even submitted your own novels for my perusal. I’m looking forward to what the next 500 reviews will bring!

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was written by J.K. Rowling and first published in 2007. It forms the final part of the main Harry Potter series, following on directly from Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone (1997), Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (1998), Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (1999), Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2000), Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2003) and Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince (2005). The series has since been followed by a number of other additions that further extend the universe, including short-stories, films and even a stage play. Please note that this review is going to contain some pretty major spoilers, as this book is now over ten years old and I expect that most of you are already familiar with it.

For the first time, Harry Potter will not be returning to Hogwarts. Following the death of his mentor, he knows that he needs to honour Dumbledore’s final request. With the help of Ron and Hermione, he must locate and destroy all of Voldemort’s horcruxes. This is the only way to render the Dark Lord mortal and ensure that he can be permanently defeated. Trouble is, Harry has no idea where to start. He does not even know what form two of the horcruxes will take, let alone how to find them.

Harry starts to have further doubts about their quest as he learns disquieting things about Dumbledore’s past. Although famed for his compassion, rumours have emerged about a wild youth filled with dark magic, duels and death. Although Harry had placed his trust in the elderly wizard, Harry now realised that Dumbledore had revealed very little to him and begins to feel resentful. Why should he risk everything, when Dumbledore did so little to prepare him?

Yet, as muggle-born wizards are ostracised from society and people close to Harry are hurt and killed, he realises that Voldemort needs to be stopped. His mission takes him all over the wizarding world – from the halls of the Ministry of Magic to the vaults of Gringotts. However, even Harry does not realise the full severity of his mission. If he wishes to defeat Voldemort, he must be prepared to sacrifice everything…

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Battle of the Beetles

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:

Beetle Boy | Beetle Queen

Battle of the Beetles was written by M.G. Leonard and first published in 2018. It forms the final part of the Battle of the Beetles Trilogy, following Beetle Boy (2016) and Beetle Queen (2017). As the novel carries on directly where previous instalments left off, I would strongly recommend reading them in sequence to have any idea of what is going on.

Hidden in the depths of the Amazon rain forest, Lucretia Cutter has begun her bid for world domination. Her army of beetles is beginning to target crops around the world and slowly the governments are beginning to bow to her wishes. They have no choice – no one knows exactly where she is or how they can possibly stop such a wide-scale and devastating attack. To make worse, Barty Cuttle is known to have gone with her and has become a global scapegoat. Everyone believes him to be the mastermind, making him public enemy number one.

Darkus knows that his father is not a villain and is determined to prove it. Along with his allies – Virginia, Bertolt, Motty and Uncle Max – he begins to plan a way to find Cutter’s hidden biome and stop her before she can unleash any more monsters, or realise her plan to turn the captive Novak into a beetle-human hybrid.

Of course, Darkus will also be helped by his best beetle friends. Baxter and the other survivors of Beetle Mountain want nothing more than to free Cutter’s captive specimens. However, Darkus must be careful. Lucretia Cutter has made the world afraid of beetles, and this means that people may assume that he is in league with her if they learn the existence of his smallest allies…

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Redwall

As it can take me a little while to get my hands on the Goosebumps books for my Vault reviews, I thought that I would also start looking at another series that I absolutely loved as a kid. Please note that, due to the age of the novels, this is going to be another of my retrospective posts. Therefore, there may be spoilers below. You have been warned.

Redwall was an epic series of middle grade fantasy novels written by Brian Jacques. The series ran for twenty-one books which were all published between 1986 and 2011. The novels are set in a world that seems to be exclusively populated by woodland creatures, focusing on the battles that the good creatures fight against vermin that would hurt or enslave them. For the purpose of this review, I am going to be looking at the first novel – Redwall (1986) – only.

It is the Summer of the Late Rose and the peaceful creatures of Redwall Abbey are preparing for a feast. However, all festivities are interrupted as they learn that Cluny the Scourge is approaching. The one-eyed rat leads an army of murderous rats, stoats, ferrets and weasels, and has decided that Redwall would be a perfect castle for his horde.

Although the walls of the Abbey are strong and tall, the mice and other woodland creatures realise that they can’t withstand Cluny’s siege forever. With the help of wise old Methuselah, a young mouse named Matthias begins to research the history of the Abbey’s founder – Martin the Warrior. If they can just find the resting place of Martin’s legendary sword, Matthias knows that they will have the power they need to unite the creatures of Mossflower Woods and defeat Cluny forever.

However, Matthias’s quest will not be easy. The sword has been lost for years and he will have to face warrior sparrows and deadly serpents in order to retrieve it. Meanwhile, Cluny’s army grows more cunning by the day and hatches dozens of devious schemes to breach the walls – or tunnel beneath them…

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The Beasts of Grimheart

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:

Podkin One-Ear | The Gift of Dark Hollow

The Beasts of Grimheart was written by Kieran Larwood and first published in 2018. It is the third instalment of The Five Realms series, telling the continuing story of Podkin’s battles against the evil Gorm. The novel follows on directly from where Podkin One-Ear (2016) and The Gift of Dark Hollow (2017) left off, so you really need to read the novels in sequence to fully appreciate what’s going on.

The Bard’s past has finally caught up with him as he finds himself captured by the Bonedancers. The tribe of assassins have been contracted to kill him due to an offensive story that he once told to the rabbits of Golden Brook. However, Sythica – Mother Superior of the Bonedancers – is merciful. She requests that the Bard tells her the same story. Only then will she decide if it is worthy of death.

The tale that the Bard tells is another one from the childhood of the legendary hero, Podkin. Following their last battle against Scramashank and the Gorm, Dark Hollow has become a safe haven for all rabbits. Yet, it seems that the forest won’t remain safe for long. The Gorm have created a deadly new machine – one with the power to tear up trees – and are coming from them.

Although the rabbits of Dark Hollow have arrows that are capable of destroying Scramashank once and for all, they need a special weapon to fire them. Thus, Podkin leads a small group to the Sparrowfast Warren in search of Soulshot – a bow that never misses its target. However, while on route, they are betrayed by one of their own and Podkin, Paz and Pook find themselves lost in the forest. Will the be able to find the others before the Gorm reach Dark Hollow? Or will they find themselves hunted by the fabled Beast of Grimheart?

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Only Ever Yours

Only Ever Yours was written by Louise O’Neill and first published in 2014. It is a dark dystopian science fiction story which is set in a world were women are genetically engineered to please men. The novel stands alone, so you don’t have to read any of the author’s other work to fully appreciate it.

freida is an eve who has just entered her sixteenth year. That means that it is finally time for her to graduate and be accepted into one of the three areas of society appropriate for females. frieda has always dreamed of being chosen as a companion – one who will become a wife and bear as many sons as she can to the husband who chooses her. The alternatives are to become either a concubine (one who will please any man who so desires her services) or a chastity (those who are undesirable to all and therefore teach the next generation of eves).

The problem is, freida’s ranking has been slipping. As she struggles with a sleeping disorder, her weight increases above the window that is deemed acceptable and, for the first time in years, she finds that she is not one of the top ten. This is a huge problem for her, as only the most attractive and obedient girls will be lucky enough to become a companion.

While freida works to improve her image and become attractive again, he notices that her friend isabel’s standards are slipping. While she was previously top ranked, isabel’s huge weight gain has completely knocked her off the leader-board. freida desperately wants her friend to see the error of her ways but can she really risk her own image by associating with someone so hideous? With the graduation ceremony only months away, any mistake could cost freida her future…

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Archenemies

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

Archenemies was written by Marissa Meyer and first published in 2018. It is a science fiction novel which tells the continuing story of Nova – a double-agent trying to bring down an established group of superheroes from the inside. The novel forms the second part of the Renegades Trilogy and follows on directly from where Renegades (2017) left off, therefore I would recommend reading the novels in sequence to fully appreciate what’s going on.

Following her battle against the Detonator, Nova Artino has finally secured a position of respect within the ranks of the Renegades. Her secret alter ego – the villain Nightmare – is believed to be dead and she has finally been granted permission to work in the archives of the Renegades headquarters. As soon as she can get her hands on Ace Anarchy’s helmet – the device that he needs to focus his telekinetic powers – she will be able to deliver victory into the hands of the Anarchists.

Adrian Everhart has also finally found a moment of peace. When the Sentinel is believed to have been killed in battle, he is finally granted the opportunity to put his secret vigilante persona to rest and bring his life back to normal. Although he is still desperate to find out who killed his mother, he has now exhausted all of his leads. Perhaps it is time to focus on his team and budding feelings for Nova.

Yet everything changes when the Renegades unveil a new secret weapon. All patrols will soon be equipped with vial of Agent N – a fast-acting drug that has the ability to permanently strip a Prodigy of their powers. Although Nova is horrified at the thought of how this could be abused, she also realises that it could be a way to finally defeat the Renegades forever. Yet, she knows that she must proceed with caution. One of her team mates – Monarch – seems to be growing increasingly suspicious of her…

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Arabella of Mars

Arabella of Mars was written by David D Levine and first published in 2016. It is a steampunk science fiction novel, set in an alternate timeline where the secret of interplanetary travel was discovered in late 17th Century. The novel forms the first part of the Adventures of Arabella Ashby series and is followed by Arabella and the Battle for Venus (2017) and Arabella the Traitor of Mars (2018).

The year is 1812 and Arabella lives happily with her family on their Martian plantation. Although her mother worries about her tomboyish behaviour, Arabella loves nothing more that to play hunting games with her brother, Michael, and learn about the tribal Martian culture from her native nanny, Khema. However, when she is injured during a rough game, Arabella’s mother declares this to be the last straw. She will not allow her daughter to grow up as a savage and whisks her away to London, where she can learn to be a lady and find a respectable husband.

However, a few months into their stay on Earth, Arabella receives terrible news. Her father has suddenly died and now Michael has been forced to take over the plantation. The news thrills her despicable cousin, Simon. Desperate for money, he hurries to Mars with the intent of murdering Michael. As the closest male relative, he would surely inherit everything and leave Arabella and her mother destitute.

Arabella disguises herself as a boy and makes her way to the docks, determined to catch Simon before he can depart. When she is too late, she hits upon a risky plan to beat him to the Red Planet. After impressing Prakash Singh, Captain of the Mars Company Airship “Diana”, she accepts a place on his crew as a cabin boy. The Diana is a fast ship and should be able to deliver her to Mars before Simon reaches the plantation. However, her safety depends on her ability to hide her sex for two months on a ship that is entirely crewed by men…

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Shadow of the Fox

Shadow of the Fox was written by Julie Kagawa and first published in 2018. It is a fantasy novel based around Japanese mythology, which focuses on a half-yōkai and assassin who team up to find a legendary artefact. The novel forms the first part of a planned trilogy and its sequel, provisionally titled Soul of the Sword, is expected to be released next year.

Yumeko knows nothing about the world that lies outside of the Silent Winds temple. As a half-kitsune (fox spirit), she knows that she is lucky to have found a home with the monks. Although she suffers from an insatiable urge to use her magic to play tricks on people, the monks at least tolerate her behaviour. In the outside world, most people would never trust someone with yōkai blood.

Yet, when her adoptive family is slain by demons, Yumeko has no choice but to leave her home. The head monk entrusts her with the greatest secret of the temple – a fragment of an ancient scroll. Legends say that if a person obtains all three pieces, they will be able to summon a powerful dragon and ask it for one wish. Knowing that this is what the demons seek, Yumeko sets off on a dangerous mission to locate the rest of the scroll. But she is not alone.

Tatsumi is the Kage demonslayer – a shinobi who is fated wield the cursed sword Kamigoroshi. The head of his clan also has her eyes on the scroll and has ordered him to retrieve the fragment from the Silent Winds temple at any cost. However, Yumeko is quick to use this to her advantage. Pretending that she does not know where the scroll is, she tells Tatsumi that she can take him to the place where it is kept. Tatsumi has no choice to join her on her journey as her bodyguard, but Yumeko knows that she is playing with fire. What will happen if Tatsumi discovers that she is one of the monsters that he has been trained to hunt? Or, worse still, what will he do if he finds out that the scroll fragment is in her possession…

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