Scavenge the Stars

Scavenge the Stars was written by Tara Sim and first published in 2020. It is a fantasy story that is loosely inspired by Alexandre Dumas’s The Count of Monte Cristo. The novel forms the first part of a planned series, though at the time of writing no further instalments have been announced.

Although Amaya is only a teenager, she has had everything taken from her. Sold to a debtor’s ship to pay off what her father owes, she risks life and limb pearl diving for her master. It has taken her years, but she is close to earning her freedom. That is, until she disobeys a direct order and rescues a drowning man.

Boon claims to be the wealthiest man in Moray and seems more than willing to share his fortune with his saviour. Amaya is pretty certain that he is lying but is tantalised by what Boon offers her. With such wealth, she can buy a place in Moray’s high society. From there, she can finally have her revenge against Kamon Mercado – the man who stole everything from her family.

Yet Moray has changed a lot while Amaya has been away. Ash fever is sweeping through the populous unchecked, killing more and more each day. When Cayo Mercado’s sister falls ill, he knows that he needs to do everything in his power to prolong her life. His investigations take him deep into the underworld of Moray and reveals uncomfortable truths about his father’s business dealings. They also bring him into contact with the Countess Yamaa – a mysterious newcomer who also seems to have some interest in his family.

Both Amaya and Cayo are playing a dangerous game, and both know that even the smallest slip-up will result in certain death…

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The Stone of Kuromori

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

The Sword of Kuromori | The Shield of Kuromori

The Stone of Kuromori was written by Jason Rohan and first published in 2016. It is the final part of The Sword of Kuromori trilogy and follows Kenny Blackwood’s continuing adventures as he tries to locate a trinity of magical objects. The novel follows on directly from where The Sword of Kuromori (2014) and The Shield of Kuromori (2015) left off. Due to this, I would strongly recommend reading them in sequence if you want to fully appreciate them.

Although Kenny managed to buy some more time for Kiyomi, her humanity still hangs in the balance. If he can’t locate the missing stone within four days, Susanoo-wo will claim her soul and transform her into a savage oni. The problem is that the stone has been lost for centuries. It is believed that it can be found in Dragon King’s Palace. Trouble is that the Palace lies deep beneath the ocean and the Dragon King is reluctant to part with his treasures.

Yet this may not be the worst of Kenny’s problems. Susanoo-wo cannot be trusted and has had a long time to plan his revenge against the gods that imprisoned him. It’s not long before Kenny realises that, in his desperation to save his friend, he has played directly into the god’s hands. His short-sightedness has not only gifted Susanoo-wo with a terrible power but also made it possible for him to permanently open the gates to Yomi – the realm of the dead.

Kenny knows that he can’t allow all of Earth to become Susanoo-wo’s hellish domain, yet victory seems to be futile. His allies are few in number and Susanoo-wo commands a legion of yōkai and oni. If Kenny is to save the day, it is going to take all of his magic and cunning. Will he be able to defeat the storm god, even if it means making the ultimate sacrifice?

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The Guinevere Deception

The Guinevere Deception was written by Kiersten White and first published in 2019. It is a fantastical mystery which retells the story of Camelot from the perspective of Queen Guinevere. The novel is the first part of a planned series and the sequel – The Camelot Betrayal – is planned for release in November 2020.

Guinevere has travelled to Camelot for the first time to wed King Arthur – a man that she has never met. At least, that is how it appears from the outside. The truth is that the true Guinevere is dead and this one is an impostor, her identity concealed by Merlin’s magic. It is her duty to infiltrate all levels of Camelot’s society and defend the young king against an unknown threat.

The problem is that Guinevere does not know what form this magical attack will take. While she can sense some kind of witchcraft afoot in in the great city, she does not know what direction an attack will come from. Arthur is also not the easiest man to protect as his duties take him all over the kingdom, frequently leaving him exposed to an assassination attempt.

Guinevere immediately comes to suspect that the Patchwork Knight – an aspirant knight – has some connection to a woman who has been recently exiled for witchcraft, but her investigation into this is hampered by her expected duties as a lady of the court. Guinevere knows that she needs to find a balance and quickly. The woods are starting to awaken and the legendary Dark Queen may be moving against Camelot once again…

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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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The International Yeti Collective

The International Yeti Collective was written by Paul Mason and first published in 2019. It is a fantasy story about a young girl and her discovery of a secretive tribe of yeti. Although this novel is the first part of a planned series, at the time of writing no further instalments have been announced.

Ella is thrilled to be spending her holidays in the Himalayas with her Uncle Jack, a famous adventurer. For his new television series, Jack is determined to prove the existence of the yeti. While the rest of his team is sceptical, Jack is confident that he will be able to use state-of-the-art technology to capture the elusive creatures on film and secure himself fame and fortune.

Tick is a young yeti who knows full well the dangers that humans pose. His own mother was exiled from the tribe for revealing her existence to them. However, Tick’s curiosity soon gets the better of himself as he tries to get a glimpse of Jack’s camp. Unfortunately, this puts his whole tribe in danger. As the yeti try to flee to safety, they are forced to leave behind the stone tablets that contain their whole history. Now that these are in human hands, it can only be a matter of them before humans learn the whereabouts of every yeti tribe on the planet.

It is up to Tick and his two friends, Plumm and Dahl, to track down the humans and reclaim the tablets. To do so, they will need to awaken the International Yeti Collective – a communication network between tribes that has been dormant for decades. Yet the most important help for Tick might come from a very unexpected source. Not all humans are bad, and Ella is eager to prove this…

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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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Red Winter

Red Winter was written by Annette Marie and first published in 2016. It is an urban fantasy story set in Japan, focusing on a shrine maiden who discovers that the spiritual world may not be as black and white as she was led to believe. The novel forms the first part of the Red Winter Trilogy and is followed by Dark Tempest (2017) and Immortal Fire (2017).

Emi is proud to be the kamigakari. Ever since Amaterasu’s mark appeared on her chest, she has led a sheltered life to ensure that her body and spirit are pure enough to be a vessel for the kami’s power. Although Emi is not sure what the future will hold for her, she is proud to have been chosen and nervously looks forward to the day when she and Amaterasu will become one.

However, not everyone is as keen for the goddess to walk the earth once again. For years, evil yōkai have tried to kill Emi to delay the descension. Due to this, she is regularly moved from shrine to shrine and always protected by sohei – warrior monks. Her final few months as a mortal are to be spent at the remote Shirayuri Shrine and she is shocked on arrival to discover that her new sohei is Katsuo – a boy who was indirectly linked to the greatest tragedy of her life.

Although shaken by seeing Katsuo once again, Emi is determined to not let this affect her duty. However, things start to change as she discovers what it truly means to be the kamigakari and saves the life of Shiro – a kitsune – who should be her sworn enemy. Shiro now owes her a debt, and Emi needs to find a way to change her fate. However, is a single fox’s magic enough to stand up to the power of the gods?

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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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