D.O.G.S

Please note that this review may contain spoilers for S.T.A.G.S. You can read my review of this novel [here].

D.O.G.S was written by M.A. Bennett and was first published in 2019. It is a young adult mystery novel, focusing on a teenage girl and her increasing involvement with a sinister secret society. The novel forms part of the second part of the S.T.A.G.S series, continuing shortly after S.T.A.G.S (2017) left off. Because of this, I would strongly recommend reading the novels in sequence to have any idea of what’s going on.

Greer MacDonald is trying her best to focus on her A Levels, but can’t quite get over the terrible things that happened at Longcross Hall. Although Henry was a monster she is still haunted by his death, and feels partially responsible for it. As a result, she has grown distracted from her studies. She can’t even think of a play to direct as part of her drama assessment.

Everything changes when a strange manuscript is posted under her bedroom door. The document is supposedly the first act of a lost play by Ben Jonson – The Isle of Dogs. This play carries with it a certain level of notoriety. After its first performance, a number of those involved with it were arrested and all copies were reportedly destroyed.

As Greer’s mysterious benefactor delivers more of the acts, she slowly begins to learn why the play was banned. However, it’s not long before she discovers that she will have to work for the play’s final pages. When she learns that the last act is hidden somewhere at Longcross Hall, she begins to suspect that someone close to her has ulterior motives. Could the Order of the Stag be trying to lure her into some kind of trap?

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Goosebumps 26-30

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

1-5 | 6-10 | 11-15 | 16-20 | 21-25

For tonight’s review, I’m going to take a look at R.L. Stine’s original Goosebumps series. This ran for sixty-two novels which were all published between 1992 and 1997. Please be aware that this is a retrospective post, and therefore will contain spoilers for the novels in question. I should probably also note that I am working through this series in the order that the books were released in the United Kingdom, which does vary a little from their American release order.

In The Cuckoo Clock of Doom, Michael is growing to hate his sister Tara. She is constantly getting him into trouble and goes out of her way to ruin his life. However, when his Dad brings home a strange new clock, Michael’s luck seems to turn around. The clock has the power to turn back time, allowing Michael a chance to save himself from Tara’s tricks. Trouble is, Michael has no idea how to stop the clock and every day he wakes up younger…

In Monster Blood III, Evan is having a hard time with his cousin, Kermit. Everyone thinks that Kermit is a genius but Evan knows that he just uses his weird formulas to cause trouble. When Andy suggests getting revenge by slipping the Monster Blood into Kermit’s latest experiment, Evan is reluctant but soon warms to the idea. Yet, when something goes wrong and Evan accidentally ingests the mysterious goo, he soon finds himself in really big trouble…

In Ghost Beach, Jerry and Terri are sent to stay with their distant cousins in their quaint cottage. At first, they have fun exploring the nearby beach, but everything changes when they discover the cave. The local kids seem to be terrified of it, claiming that a murderous ghost lives there, but Jerry is sceptical. He might not be able to explain the strange lights in the cave, but there is just something untrustworthy about the kids. Is the ghost real, or is something much stranger afoot?

In The Phantom of the Auditorium, Brooke and Zeke are excited to be cast as the leads in their school play. However, strange things have been happening. They discover a mysterious trapdoor in the stage that leads far beneath the school, and soon after start to find threatening messages. Everyone thinks that Zeke is to blame, but Brooke isn’t so sure. Could it actually be that the school is haunted?

In It Came from Beneath the Sink!, Kat and Daniel are excited to move into their new home, but things soon change when their dog finds the sponge. Although it looks ordinary enough, they are surprised to find it is alive. Worse still, bad things have started to happen to Kat and her family and, whenever they do, the sponge seems to grow more and more excited. Can Kat find out what the strange creature is before the accidents become fatal?

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Dreams of Gods and Monsters

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

Daughter of Smoke and Bone | Days of Blood and Starlight | Night of Cake and Puppets

Dreams of Gods and Monsters was written by Laini Taylor and first published in 2014. It is a fantasy story that tells the continuing tale of two star-crossed lovers, and the world-spanning war between their people. The novel forms the final part of the Daughter of Smoke and Bone series, following Daughter of Smoke and Bone (2011), Days of Blood and Starlight (2012) and Night of Cake and Puppets (2013). As it carries on directly where these previous instalments left off, I would strongly recommend reading the books in sequence to have any idea of what is going on.

Karou has finally managed to seize control of the chimaera from the shadows, but it has come at a terrible cost. Thiago the White Wolf has been destroyed but his body is now inhabited by the soul of gentle Ziri, the last of the Kirin. Still, this is a small victory for Karou as it has enabled her to broker a tenuous alliance with Akiva and his rebel faction of Misbegotten. Although their numbers are few, they finally have a chance at defeating Jael once and for all.

However, it will not be easy. With the help of Razgut, Jael has led his army through the gate to Earth. His hope is to gain access to the humans’ weapons of mass destruction, and with them a way to destroy the chimaera forever. Yet his arrival sparks chaos all over the world. For the first time, humans have irrefutable evidence that angels exist. When Ziri’s demonic-looking original body is then found buried in a traditionally Muslim country, this excitement quickly turns to violence.

As Karou and her friends battle to save the chimaera, something worse still is brewing. Bruises are growing in the sky over the Far Isles and the Stelians know that it is a sign that something terrible is coming. They have the power to contain the threat, but the only way that they can do so is by hunting down the one who is responsible…

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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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All the Bad Apples

All the Bad Apples was written by Moïra Fowley-Doyle and first published in 2019. It is a work of magical realism that follows a teenage girl as she hunts for the truth behind her family’s supposed curse. The novel stands alone, so you don’t have to read any of the author’s earlier work to fully appreciate it.

Deena Rys knows that her seventeenth birthday is going to go badly when she accidentally comes out to her devout Catholic father. However, she has no idea how bad things are going to get. When she tells her sister, Mandy, about what happened, Mandy panics. She tells Deena that there is a curse that affects all of the bad apples in their family – those that deviate too far from what their father believes to be normal. The following day, Mandy vanishes.

When someone matching Mandy’s description is seen hurling themselves off a cliff, everyone knows that there is no way for her to have survived. However, even as the family lay her to rest, Deena cannot accept this. Strange things have been happening since Mandy’s death, and she is starting to believe that there may be a curse after all. Although her friends and family urge her to move on, Deena realises that she on the right track when she finds the first letter.

Mandy’s letter is the start of a treasure hunt, and Deena knows that she will find her sister alive and well if she follows it to the end. Yet to do so, she must revisit tales of past crimes inflicted on the women in her family. The origins of the curse lie in generations past and those who were silenced by society for being bad apples. If Deena is ever going to find Mandy, she must follow the trail of letters and allow these ghosts to finally be heard…

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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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Sorcery of Thorns

Sorcery of Thorns was written by Margaret Rogerson and first published in 2019. It is a fantasy novel which focuses on a wrongfully accused apprentice who teams up with her sworn enemy in order to investigate a murder. The novel stands alone, so you don’t have to read any of the author’s earlier work to fully appreciate it.

Elizabeth Scrivener has always known what she wants from life. Raised within one of the Great Libraries of Austemere, she has been apprenticed directly to the Director to learn how to be a Warden. It is the role of these skilled warriors to protect the public from Grimoires – dangerous magical tomes which have been confiscated from Sorcerers. Only Wardens are powerful enough to prevent Grimoires from transforming into Maleficts – monsters intent on taking human life.

However, Elizabeth soon learns that her future is not assured. When the Director is killed after a Malefict is let loose in the library, Elizabeth finds herself under suspicion of murder. As the crime involved a Grimoire, she is banished from the library and escorted to the capital in the company of Nathaniel Thorn – a young sorcerer – and his mysterious butler, Silas. For Elizabeth, there can be no worse fate. Every librarian knows that sorcerers are monsters. In fact, Elizabeth suspects that Nathaniel may have had a hand in the Director’s death.

As Elizabeth sees the larger world, she starts to realise how sheltered her upbringing was. While the sorcerers are dangerous, the populous at large see them in a very different light. Still, it’s not long before Elizabeth begins to uncover evidence of a deadly plot that threatens every library. Yet who will possibly believe her accusations when it is just the word of a young woman against the most powerful man in all of Austermere…

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Goosebumps 21-25

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:

1-5 | 6-10 | 11-15 | 16-20

It’s time to take a look at the next five Goosebumps books. In case you’re unfamiliar with these books, Goosebumps was a middle grade horror series which was written by R.L. Stine. The original run was published between 1992 and 1997 and ran for sixty-two novels. Since then, there have been a number of spin-off series, video games, movies and television adaptations. For the purpose of this review, I will be looking at books 21 to 25 (in the order that they were released in the UK). Oh, and there are going to be a lot of spoilers. You have been warned.

In Return of the Mummy, Gabe returns to Egypt to spend another vacation with his archaeologist uncle. This time, Uncle Ben is exploring a newly discovered pyramid in the hope that it is the final resting place of Prince Khor-Ru. When Gabe discovers an ancient chant that supposedly wakes the dead, he is sure it is just a hoax. However, it’s not long before he hears something stirring in the depths of the tomb…

In The Scarecrow Walks at Midnight, Jodie and Mark have been sent to spend the summer on their grandparents’ farm. While Jodie normally loves these holidays, something does not seem to be right. Her grandparents seem to be scared of something and there are far more scarecrows in the fields than she remembers. Could it be something to do with Stanley the farmhand’s newfound obsession with his “superstitions book”?

In Attack of the Mutant, Skipper is an avid collector of comic books and pours scorn on anyone who does not share his hobby. His favourite comic is about a villain called the Masked Mutant, and it comes as a real surprise to him when he finds a building that looks exactly like his secret hideout. Skipper knows that he has to find the truth about the building, but when he finds himself appearing within the pages of the most recent issue, he realises that the lines between fiction and reality may be fainter than he first thought…

In My Hairiest Adventure, Larry has started growing hair in very unexpected places. It all started after he and his friends used an out-of-date bottle of insta-tan. Now, fur keeps sprouting from his hands and he is struggling to keep it hidden. However, when his friends start to disappear and his parents seem oddly unconcerned, Larry realises that something even stranger is afoot. What is really happening in their town, and how can he possible find a cure for his embarrassing condition?

In A Night in Terror Tower, Sue and Eddie are excited to go on a guided tour of London’s infamous prison, the Terror Tower. However, things start to go wrong when they are separated from their group and chased by a sinister man in black. The stranger tells them that they will never leave and, when they do escape, the world outside is not how they remember it. What is going on and how can they possibly get back to their parents?

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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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What’s Next on Arkham Reviews?

My exam is over and I passed. Hooray! Now I can finally focus on getting through my to read pile!

Now that I’ve worked my way through that selection of middle grade novels, it’s back to business as usual here on Arkham Reviews. The next post will be my 500th review, so I will be taking another look at J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, and after that I have the next set of five Goosebumps books to share with you. Here’s a sneak peak of what else you can expect over the next couple of months:

Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson

Soul of the Sword by Julie Kagawa

Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor

Flame and Fury by Lisa Gail Green

Zeroes by Scott Westerfield

Twice Magic by Cressida Cowell

The Girl who Dared to Descend by Bella Forrest

Dreamland by Robert L Anderson

Aiden’s Quest for Apollo by Tanvi Kesari Pasumarty

The Stone of Kuromori by Jason Rohan

Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Final 7 by Kerry Drewery

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