The Shield of Kuromori

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

The Shield of Kuromori was written by Jason Rohan and first published in 2015. It forms the second part of the The Sword of Kuromori trilogy and tells the continuing adventures of Kenny Blackwood as he defends Japan from evil oni. The novel is preceded by The Sword of Kuromori (2014) and followed by The Stone of Kuromori (2016). Because of this, I would certainly recommend reading the books in sequence to fully appreciate them.

Although Kenny managed to use his newfound powers to prevent the dragon Namazu from destroying America, his work is far from done. As he and Kiyomi patrol the streets of Tokyo in search of troublesome yōkai, they come across something completely unexpected. A band of powerful oni have broken into an observatory and seem to be trying to steal a telescope. Oni are normally beings of hatred and violence. It seems unthinkable that anyone should be able to convince them to work as a team.

Yet, as strange as the oni are behaving, it is not Kenny’s biggest concern. Ever since he brought Kiyomi back from the dead, she has been acting strangely. Although she has always been fiery, she has never been so aggressive before and certainly never openly disobeyed her father in order to pick fights with yōkai. It’s not long before Kenny realises that it’s all his fault. Because he played with fate and transgressed the laws of nature, Kiyomi is starting to change. It will not be long before she loses her humanity altogether.

Kenny has one chance to save her but it requires making deal with a god who is known for being untrustworthy. All the god wants in return are two legendary treasures – a mirror and a stone – but the whereabouts of these are unknown. With time running out, Kenny must decide where his loyalties lie. Does he abandon his friend to find out what the oni are up to, or save Kiyomi and risk the lives of everyone in Japan?

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The Extinction Trials: Rebel

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:

The Extinction Trials | The Extinction Trials: Exile

The Extinction Trials: Rebel was written by S.M Wilson and first published in 2019. It tells the continuing story of Stormchaser and Lincoln, as humans are forced to populate Piloria for the first time. The novel forms the final part of The Extinction Trials trilogy, following on shortly after The Extinction Trials (2018) and The Extinction Trials: Exile (2018) left off. Because of this, I would recommend reading the novels in sequence to fully appreciate what is going on.

For six months, Stormchaser and Reban have been forced to work together to survive in the jungles of Piloria. Although the viruses seem to have wiped out the tyrannosaurs and pterodactyls, it has had the reverse effect on the raptors. These creatures seem to be growing more powerful by the day – larger, faster and dangerously intelligent. It takes all of Storm and Reban’s skill to stay one step ahead of the deadly predators.

Meanwhile on Earthsia, Lincoln’s kindness has had terrible consequences. The plants that he brought back from Piloria have saved everyone from the blistering plague. However, it soon becomes clear that this disease was the only thing controlling the population. Now, there are too many mouths to feed and not even the Stipulators have the power to quell the riots.

Loading up the last two boats with a collection of politicians and labourers, the humans have no choice but to take their chances on Piloria. However, most people are completely unprepared for life on the dinosaur continent. It will take all of Storm and Lincoln’s skills to educate the frightened survivors on how to live in the savage lands. However, Silas still struggles to keep his position of power. The former Chief Stipulator has other ideas about how they must survive, ones that could have fatal consequences…

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Who In The World Is Carmen Sandiego?

Who In The World is Carmen Sandiego was first published in 2019. It is an adaption of the first couple of episodes of the new Carmen Sandiego Netflix series, written by Rebecca Tinker and based on the screenplay by Duane Capizzi. The story finally gives the origins of the famous art thief, detailing her early training and how she first came to learn about the criminal organisation known as VILE. It does not really require you to know anything about the character to fully appreciate it.

Carmen Sandiego is one of the most wanted criminals in the world and Interpol Agent Chase Devineaux is determined to be the one to catch her. Unlike most art thieves, she seems to delight in taunting the authorities. She makes no effort to remain hidden as she wears a scarlet fedora and trench coat, yet always escapes with her prize. However, this time Carmen could have bitten off more than she can chew. While trying to steal the priceless Eye of Vishnu, she sees an object that she thought was lost forever and stumbles across an old foe.

This discovery causes Carmen to recall her past – a time when she was an orphan known as Black Sheep. Raised by faculty of a mysterious school, she soon learns that her “parents” are really a cabal of master thieves. Going under the name of VILE – Valuable Imports, Lavish Exports – they take in only the most promising students each year and mould them into the criminal elite. Carmen is determined to join their ranks and, despite only being a child, is finally granted a chance to become their youngest ever member.

Earning a place within in VILE will not be easy as one of her teachers – the ninja Shadowsan – seems to be determined that she will fail. However, Carmen slowly learns that she is walking the wrong path. VILE hides many terrible secrets, even from its students. With the help of a young hacker called Player, she soon discovers that there are far better uses for her talents.

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Slender Man

Slender Man was first published in 2018 and penned by an author who, it seems, wishes to remain anonymous. The novel is formed by a collection of journal entries, police reports and newspaper cuttings which slowly piece together the tale of a teenage boy’s encounter with a certain modern-day myth. The novel stands alone but would probably be best enjoyed by people who are already familiar with the “nature” of Slender Man.

If it wasn’t for his nightmares, Matt Barker would be a perfectly ordinary teenager. Although he rarely remembers what causes him to wake up in the night, his parents have decided that it would be best for him to talk to someone about it. When his psychiatrist advises that he keeps a journal of his thoughts, Matt initially thinks that it is ridiculous. However, it soon becomes the perfect way for him to document the strange things that are happening around the city.

It all starts when his childhood friend, Lauren Bailey, walks out of her family home in the early hours of the morning and disappears off the face of the earth. There is no evidence of foul play – no body, ransom note or signs of trouble. Although everyone at school seems to have an opinion of what might have happened, only Matt knows the truth. As his dreams grow increasingly sinister, he realises that Lauren’s obsession with Creepypastas has lured something terrible to her door.

As Matt starts to research the Slender Man for himself, he realises that there is a tiny chance that he might be able to get Lauren back. However, the Slender Man does not release his victims for free. In order to save his friend, he might have to pay a terrible price. But who knows what the Slender Man does to those that disappear and is Matt strong enough to find out?

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The Wizards of Once

The Wizards of Once was written by Cressida Cowell and first published in 2017. It is a middle grade fantasy series, set in a world where magic using Wizards and non-magical Warriors are constantly at odds with each other. The novel forms the first part of a series and is followed by Twice Magic (2018).

In the Dark Ages, the woods of the British Isles were a place of magic. Wizards practiced their crafts in the Wild Woods, making potions and befriending the sprites, giants and snowcats that lived nearby. However, they never saw eye to eye with the Warriors, who confined themselves to the Warrior Fort and the surrounding countryside. The Warriors did not have magic and used iron, which had the ability to sap a Wizard of their power. They were also completely unreasonable, believing that all magic was evil and punishing any Wizard that they found.

Xar is the youngest son of King Encanzo of the Wizards but carries a secret shame. He is thirteen years old and so his magic should have come in by now, yet he can’t cast a single spell. However, he has a cunning plan. He intends to hunt for a Witch – a legendary creature that is believed to be extinct – and find a way to steal their dark powers. However, his Witch hunt is called short when it is interrupted by Wish – the youngest daughter of Queen Sychorax of the Warriors – who has recently come to possess two enchanted artefacts and is keen to hide this fact from her mother.

Seizing a chance to gain powers for himself (and show up his older brother Looter), Xar steals Wish’s magical sword and heads home to enter himself in a Spelling contest. Yet it soon becomes clear that his rash actions have terrible unforeseen consequences. When one of Xar’s friends is cursed, he is forced to team up with Wish to hunt for the cure. Unfortunately for him, this cure can only be found deep in Queen Sychorax’s dungeons…

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The Twisted Tree

The Twisted Tree was written by Rachel Burge and first published in 2018. It is a dark fantasy story about a girl who finds herself isolated in a remote Norwegian forest as something terrible lurks outside. The novel stands-alone, so you don’t have to read any of the author’s other work to fully appreciate it.

On the day that Martha was blinded in one eye, she gained a surprising power. She only needed to touch a person’s clothing to feel their emotions and gain glimpses into their past. Naturally, she felt that she had lost her mind. Due to a combination of this and loathing of her scarred face, she became more withdrawn and started to avoid social gatherings. The only person that she tried to confide in was her Mormor in Norway, however she never received a reply to any of her letters.

When Martha catches her mother burning a letter from Mormor, she knows that she needs to find a way to visit her grandmother in person. However, on arrival at her remote Norwegian island, she discovers that she has made a huge mistake. Mormor has passed away and a strange boy – Stig – has taken it upon himself to squat in her vacant home.

However, as Martha speaks with Mormor’s neighbours, she begins to learn that something strange is afoot. Mormor’s dying wish was that her family continue to tend the warped tree her garden – the very one that Martha fell from and lost her sight. Yet, as Mormor’s request has gone unheeded, Martha soon realises that something is going wrong. She begins to have strange visions about the tree and something terrible stalks the woods at night. With Stig’s help, she searches the house for some clue as to what Mormor has been hiding from her. In doing so, she learns a terrifying secret about her family that will change her life forever…

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Unspoken

Unspoken was written by Sarah Rees Brennan and was first published in 2012. It is a paranormal romance novel about a teenage girl who learns that her imaginary friend is real. The novel forms the first part of The Lyburn Legacy series and is followed by Untold (2013) and Unmade (2014), as well as a couple of short-stories that further expand the world.

As long as Kami Glass can remember, she has had Jared. Although the other kids at school thought that she was weird, she has always talked to the strange boy in her head as though he was there with her. While she’s never really doubted his existence, he’s never quite felt real to her either. Yet that is before the Lyburn family returned to her small hometown of Sorry-in-the-Vale.

The Lyburn family have been gone for years but never forgotten. They are the founding family of the town and are revered by almost everyone, yet no one seems to want to talk about why. As a budding journalist, Kami is determined to get a scoop about them despite the wall of silence. The best way to do so seems to be through the two teenage Lyburn boys. It’s not long before she runs into charming Ash at school, yet it is his brooding cousin that she finds more intriguing. Especially when she learns that his name is Jared.

Yet, at the same time that the Lyburns return, strange things begin to happen in Sorry-in-the-Vale. Kami stumbles across what seems to be the site of a dark ritual in the woods and soon after is attacked herself. Rallying a small group of friends, Kami makes it her mission to discover the secret of the mysterious family. Yet it soon becomes clear that this investigation could risk both her bond with Jared and her life…

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The Thief

The Thief was written by Megan Whalen Turner and first published in 1996. It is a high fantasy story that focuses on a small group of men on a quest to find an object with mystical powers. The novel forms the first part of The Queen’s Thief series and is followed by The Queen of Attolia (2000), The King of Attolia (2006), A Conspiracy of Kings (2010) and Thick as Thieves (2017). A sixth instalment – Return of the Thief – is expected to be released later this year.

Determined to prove himself as a master thief, Gen stole the seal of the King of Sounis. Unfortunately, he then had the foolishness to brag about his victory to everyone in the local inn and soon found himself a prisoner in the inescapable royal gaol. It seems as though he has been left there to rot, until the day when the magus – advisor to the King – comes to him with a proposition.

The magus has discovered the location of an ancient artefact – one with the power to crown a new ruler of the neighbouring kingdom of Eddis. Unfortunately, all parties who have gone to retrieve it have never returned. The magus needs the skills of a thief and is willing to offer Gen his freedom in return. However, if Gen refuses, the magus has the power to ensure that he will never see the light of day again.

With the protection of a skilled soldier called Pol, and the magus’s two apprentices – Sophos and Ambiades – the party sets off on a long journey across three nations, each on the edge of war with each other. Their success will determine who will rule over these countries for centuries to come. However, if any of the other rulers catch wind of what the magus has planned, they will stop at nothing to destroy them.

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Shifters and Glyphs

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

Shifters and Glyphs was written by Christina Bauer and first published in 2018. It tells the continuing story of Bryar Rose, a teenage girl who has the rare ability to use every kind of magic, as she tries to prevent all magic from disappearing from the world. The novel forms the second full-length instalment of the Fairytales of the Magicorum series, following on from Wolves and Roses (2017) and the novella Magic and Midtown (2018).

Bryar Rose thought that her troubles were over when she defeated Jules. She found out that she was a rare Trilorum (a person with the powers of a witch, a fae and a shifter), awoke her inner wolf and found a loyal mate in Knox. Yet her nightmares have been getting worse. Every morning she wakes up terrified and yet cannot remember why.

Things take a downward turn as she starts to attend a magical school for the first time. She nearly gets expelled on the first day when the doors to each wing refuse to open for her and Knox suddenly gets sick, gradually seeming to lose his Warden powers. Through this, Bry learns two terrible truths. Firstly, the fountain of magic will activate in a few days and, if she does not find it in that time, it could fall into the hands of evil monsters called the Shadowvin. Secondly, Knox’s illness is magical and she could very well be the cause.

Unsure of what she can do to help, Bry pours all of her efforts into locating the fountain. Her quest will take her across Europe and back in time as she learns about the origin of the three schools of magic. It quickly becomes apparent that she is the only one who can prevent all magic from fading from the world. However, it may require for her to make a terrible sacrifice…

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The Curses

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

The Curses was written by Laure Eve and is due for release in January 2019. It is a fantasy story that focuses on a teenage group of witches as they fight to break a deadly curse on their family. The novel is the sequel to The Graces (2016) and so I would strongly recommend reading these novels in sequence if you want to have any idea of what is going on.

After Wolf’s resurrection, Summer Grace and her siblings have been trying to heal. They have cut River from their lives and are doing their best to go back to the way that they were before. However, when Marcus stumbles back into their life, they realise that they can’t distance themselves forever. River has been using her magic to grant wishes for the townsfolk, often with sinister consequences.

The Graces know that they need to do something to reign in River’s dark power but they are not certain where to begin. Her magic is very different to theirs’ and is potentially more destructive. Yet, as Summer researches into her family’s past, she realises that the Graces have encountered spirit witches before. She begins to wonder if there is a way to use River’s power for good after all. Perhaps it will even be enough to break the Grace family curse.

Yet it quickly becomes apparent that River is not their most pressing concern. Wolf has come back different. He is no longer quiet and brooding, instead seeming to suffer from some serious impulse control issues. As Summer tries to find a way to help him, she learns about a dark secret that her parents have tried to hide from her. History may be repeating itself and, if it truly is, disaster and death are soon to follow…

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