Days of Magic, Nights of War

Days of Magic, Nights of War

Please note that this review may contain spoilers for its prequel, Abarat. You can read my review of this novel [here].

Days of Magic, Nights of War was written by Clive Barker and first published in 2004. It forms the second instalment of the Abarat Quintet and is preceded by Abarat (2002) and followed by Absolute Midnight (2011). A release dates for the final two books of the series – provisionally titled Kry Rising and The Eternal – have yet to be announced.

The story picks up a couple of weeks after the first story ends, as Candy and Malingo have been spending their time touring the fantastical islands of the Abarat archipelago. They are pursued all the while by Otto Houlihan the Criss-Cross Man – a bounty hunter under the employ of Christopher Carrion. Although he comes close to catching them on several occasions, they always manage to escape through a mixture of luck and quick thinking.

Candy still cannot understand why the Lord of Midnight has such an interest in an ordinary girl from Minnesota but has begun to notice some strange changes within herself. Although she has never been to Abarat before, the islands are starting to seem familiar to her. On top of this, she finds that she has a natural aptitude for magic – the words springing easily into her mind even though she has not ever heard them spoken before.

Her abilities have attracted the attention of Mater Motley – Carrion’s evil grandmother – who insists that the girl must be eliminated. Candy’s power poses a threat to her plans and, now that Carrion has finally retrieved the key to the Pyramids of Xuxux, she needs to ensure that no one is around to stop her. The final battle is about to begin and, so long as nobody stands in their way, Mater Motley knows that they have to power to cause absolute midnight to descend over Abarat…

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Abarat

Abarat

Clive Barker is often considered to be a visionary. As a master of visual horror, his adult novels combine a mixture of surreal imagery and graphic violence to create frightening and memorable stories. Although his novels are incredibly popular they are often better known for their film adaptions which include such classics as Hellraiser, Candyman and Nightbreed. However, for today’s review, we will be looking at Barker’s first step into young adult fantasy.

Abarat was first published in 2002 and forms the first part of the Abarat Quintet. At the time of writing this review, only two other instalments of the series have been released – Days of Magic, Nights of War (2004) and Absolute Midnight (2011). The release dates of the final two instalments have not yet been announced but have been tentatively titled Kry Rising and The Eternal.

The novel focuses on a teenager named Candy Quackenbush who is growing tired of her abusive father and monotonous life in Chickentown, Minnesota. While walking on the prairie close to her home, she comes across the skeletal remains of what appears to be a lighthouse and meets a strange man who calls himself John Mischief. Mischief has an immense set of antlers growing from the top of his head, each prong ending in the face of one of his brothers, yet the sight of this does not frighten Candy. More terrifying is the man who pursues Mischief; the monstrous Mendelson Shape.

In helping Mischief to escape, Candy manages to activate the lighthouse and brings the sea rushing across the grasslands. Seeing this as a chance to escape her humdrum life, Candy begs Mischief to take her with him and the two of them leap into the water, allowing it to carry them away to the land of Abarat. Swiftly separated from Mischief, Candy begins to explore the islands by herself but her arrival has not gone unnoticed. Visitors from Earth (known to Abaracians as the Hereafter) are rare and a number of people seek to exploit Candy for their own gains – most notably the greedy industrialist Rojo Pixler and Christopher Carrion, the twisted Prince of Midnight…

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