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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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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Malamander

Malamander was written by Thomas Taylor and first published in 2019. It is a middle grade fantasy story which focuses on a young girl’s hunt for her missing parents at a mysterious seaside resort. The novel forms the first part of a planned series, though at the time of writing no further instalments have been announced.

Herbert Lemon holds the prestigious post of Lost-and-Founder at the Grand Nautilus Hotel. It’s his job to take care of all lost luggage and do everything he can to reunite it with its owners. However, when Violet Palma appears in his office, he realises that his job has just gotten more complicated. Violet was found in the hotel as a baby and now wants Herbert’s help to locate her missing parents.

As they explore the quaint town of Eerie-on-Sea, Violet quickly learns that nothing is quite as it seems. A fortune telling mechanical mermonkey prescribes books to visitors at the Eerie Book Dispensary, cats can talk and the owner of the fish and chip shop can’t leave his workplace due to a siren’s curse. Yet most mysterious of all is the tragic tale of the Malamander.

As Violet learns more about the fish man, she discovers that both of her parents were also obsessed with the legend. Could the Malamander have something to do with their disappearance, and could its wish-granting egg be the key to getting them back? Unfortunately for Violet and Herbert, there are others who are keen to get their hands to the Malamander egg, and they are prepared to hurt anyone who gets in their way…

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Queenslayer

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:

Spellslinger | Shadowblack | Charmcaster | Soulbinder

Queenslayer was written by Sebastien de Castell and first published in 2019. It is the fifth instalment of the Spellslinger series and tells the story of the continuing adventures of Kellen Argos and his business partner, Reichis the Squirrel Cat. The novel follows on shortly after Spellslinger (2017), Shadowblack (2017), Charmcaster (2018) and Soulbinder (2018) left off, so you really need to read the novels in sequence to fully appreciate them.

After unwittingly declaring treason against Darome, Kellen finds himself imprisoned and awaiting certain execution. However, as he is brought before the eleven-year-old Queen, he finds that fate has something else in store for him. Ginevra has supposedly inherited the souls of a thousand years of rulers, yet seems to be charmed by Kellen’s card playing. She names Kellen her new Tutor of Cards – a position that puts him above the law. Kellen is slow to realise that this places him in even more danger.

When Ginevra reaches the age of thirteen, she gains the full power of the throne. Sadly, there are some nobles in her court that do not wish for that to happen. Kellen soon realises that there is a delicacy to the proceedings within court. He is not in the Outlands anymore and instead is in a world where words have power and those who speak too loudly often meet with unfortunate accidents.

As Kellen is sent away to deal with a seemingly insignificant crime in a border town, he comes to realise just what a precarious position the queen is in. There are some who think that an eleven-year-old should not hold the throne and are willing to overthrow the entire city if it means ousting her from her position. Yet, as Kellen is approached once again by Shalla with a mission, he soon realises that the one to destroy Ginevra might well be him…

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Ice Kingdom

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:

Ice Massacre | Ice Crypt

Ice Kingdom was written by Tiana Warner and first published in 2017. It is the final instalment of the Mermaids of Eriana Kwai trilogy, continuing the story of two girls’ mission to liberate the ocean from a tyrannical king. The novel carries on directly from where the previous instalments – Ice Massacre (2014) and Ice Crypt (2016) left off, so you really have to read the novels in sequence to fully appreciate them.

Although Meela and Lysi managed to escape with their lives, the Battle of Eriana Kwai had disastrous consequences. King Adaro now has control of Sisiutl – the invulnerable two-headed serpent – and with it the power to wage war on both land and sea. Although Meela has finally become a mermaid, there is little time for her to enjoy her new life with Lysi. The two of them now must find a way to save the world.

However, the girls struggle to agree on a course of action. While Meela wants to take the fight straight to Adaro, Lysi believes that their best chance would be to make allies of Queen Medusa of the Atlantic, and to use her armies to liberate Utopia. While Lysi tries to convince Meela to abandon her thoughts of vengeance, the mermaids slip further into civil war as Adaro sends more and more prisoners to die in his labour camps.

Yet Adaro isn’t the only threat to the oceans. Spurred by Sisiutl’s attacks, the American military has finally been spurred to action. When their early strikes against the giant monster end in disaster, they have no choice but to deploy more powerful weapons. It soon becomes clear that Meela and Lysi must find a way to make peace between the mermaids and humans before the two races wipe each other out…

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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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Jumper

Jumper was written by Steven Gould and first published in 1992. It is a science fiction story about a teenage boy who discovers that he has the ability to teleport. The novel forms the first part of the Jumper series and is followed by Reflex (2004), Impulse (2013) and Exo (2014), as well as a couple of short-stories that are set in the same universe. The story was also made into a major motion picture in 2008, although this film is only very loosely based on the first novel.

Davy Rice first discovers his power when he is about to receive a beating from his alcoholic father. One second, he is in his home; the next he is in the local library. Through trial and error, he soon discovers that he has the ability to instantly teleport to any place that he has visited before, so long as he can clearly visualise that spot in his mind. The potential of this thrills him. Finally, he has a way to get away from his father and search for his mother, who abandoned him when he was little.

However, Davy soon discovers a major flaw in his plan. As a seventeen-year-old runaway, he has no chance of surviving by himself. He has no money, identification or social security number. Unable to find a job by any legitimate means, he uses his power to its full potential and successfully steals almost a million dollars from a bank.

The money is more than enough for Davy to buy a life for himself, living comfortably and quickly falling in love. However, it also makes him more confident and Davy starts to use his ability to jump more and more. After a horrible crime takes away someone that he cares about, he starts to realise that he could use his power to save lives. However, doing so draws the attention of the NSA. Is there a way that he can continue to help people without being caught or, worse still, becoming a pawn of the American government?

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Dethroned / Inimical

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:

Moribund | Derailed | Ouroboros

Inimical was written by Genevieve Iseult Eldredge and first published in 2018. It is the third full-length novel of the Circuit Fae series, following on from Moribund (2017) and Ouroboros (2017). The series also includes a couple of shorter novellas; a prequel called Derailed (2018) and Dethroned (2018), which takes place between Ouroboros and Inimical. I would certainly recommend reading all of these instalments before tackling Inimical if you want to have any idea of what is going on.

When Rouen and Syl made a soul-bond, they thought that their troubles would be over. However, their desire to be together has instead sparked a cataclysm within both of the fae realms. The two worlds are set to collide on Midsummer’s Day and both princesses are told that the only way that they can save their respective kingdoms are to take their thrones. Trouble is, this will only ensure the safety of one realm. The other – and its princess – will perish.

To make matters worse, King Reinghûl of Dark Faerie has lost his mind. Severed from the hearthstone, he has taken extreme measures to ensure that he remains in power. Driven insane by his dark side, he engineers a new breed of Moribund – the Inimical – which allows him to completely control the infected. To make matters worse the Inimical is also immune to Syl’s fire, which means that she can do nothing to stop it.

Realising that there is no way to save her father, Rouen challenges him to a Battle of Wits and War. The victor will become the new ruler of Dark Faerie, while the loser will perish. However, the battle is only a few weeks away, so it will be a miracle if Rouen and Syl can survive frequent attacks by Reinghûl’s assassins, figure out a way to defeat the Inimical and stop the Great Convergence before then. Rouen knows that she has hidden depths that may help to give her an edge. However, this would mean succumbing to her own darkness…

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Muse of Nightmares

Please note that this review may contain spoilers for Strange the Dreamer. You can read my review of this [here].

Muse of Nightmares was written by Laini Taylor and first published in 2018. It forms the second part of the Strange the Dreamer duology, following Lazlo as he takes his place amongst the Godspawn. As the novel carries on directly from where Strange the Dreamer (2017) left off, I would recommend reading the novels in sequence if you want to fully appreciate them.

Both joy and tragedy stemmed from the destruction of the anchor. Lazlo has discovered his place in the world. He is one of the blue-skinned Godspawn, and a powerful one at that. His ability to control metal means that he can finally ascend into the citadel to be with others of his kind. But it came at a terrible price. Sarai has died and now exists as a ghost, able to take physical form only because Minya wills it. Problem is that this now means that Minya has a bargaining chip.

Minya has not forgotten the horrors that the people of Weep inflicted on the Mesarthim. She uses her control over Sarai in an attempt to blackmail Lazlo into taking her and her spectral army down into the city. Yet Lazlo knows that he can’t do it. Even if it risks Sarai, he can’t allow Minya to slaughter those that he has left behind. In secret, he and Sarai begin to search for another way. Perhaps if they can use Sarai’s power over dreams to cure Minya of her lust for vengeance, they can all be happy.

Yet something else is moving against the Godspawn. A long-lost warrior is travelling towards them, half-maddened by the endless search for her missing sister. This wanderer nurtures a burning hatred for the Mesarthim, particularly Lazlo’s long-dead father…

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Lumberjanes: The Good Egg

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

Unicorn Power! | The Moon is Up

The Good Egg was written by Mariko Tamaki and first published in 2018. It forms the third part of the Lumberjanes series, which focus on a group of young girls who have fantastical adventures while at summer camp. The series is based around the award-winning comic book of the same name and the previous instalments are titled Unicorn Power! (2017) and The Moon Is Up (2018). I would certainly recommend reading them in sequence if you want to have any idea of what is going on.

Following the good-spirited rivalry of the Galaxy Wars, the coordinators of Miss Qiunzella Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet’s Camp for Hardcore Lady Types have decided that the girls’ next task should be something that unites them. Enter the flamboyant Annabella Panache, resident drama instructor. Pairing up girls from different cabins, Miss Panache decides that each group will enact an elaborate retelling of a faery story. And she does not do anything by half.

While Ripley generally loves to sing and dance, she finds herself distracted. She has discovered a nest of giant eggs in the forest and has become particularly attached to the smallest of the bunch, which she names Eggie. When the other eggs hatch and leave Eggie alone, Ripley enlists Barney’s help to keep it safe until its parents return for it. Her other friends are so busy planning their play, they hardly notice that she’s gone.

However, things take a bad turn when Eggie is stolen by a cult of greedy egg thieves. Ripley is devastated by the loss and the worry turns her into a shadow of her former safe. It’s up to the other members of the Roanoke and Zodiac cabins to pull together and rescue Eggie and they don’t have long to do it. Eggie’s parents have found the camp, and they are not too happy that their child is missing…

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