The Vanishing Trick

The Vanishing Trick was written by Jenni Spangler and first published in 2020. It is a fantasy story set in Victorian England, focusing on three young children who are cursed by a cruel and mysterious woman. The novel stands alone, so you do not have to read any of the author’s other work to fully appreciate it.

When Leander first encounters Madame Pinchbeck, he thinks that it might be an opportunity to make a bit of money. He has been living hand-to-mouth ever since his mother died, and the strange woman seems oddly eager to buy his locket. What Leander does not realise is that Madame Pinchbeck possesses a sinister power. She has the ability to transform any lidded object into a cabinet – and bind a child to that cabinet forever.

Through this trade, Leander gains the power to travel in and out of his locket at will but it comes at a terrible price. He is forced to remain close to Madame Pinchbeck at all times. If he wanders too far away – or anything if anything was to happen to her – he would fade away into nothing. Along with two other trapped children – Charlotte and Felix – Leander is put to work for his new master. Madame Pinchbeck is a spirit medium and her peculiar magic is perfect for tricking people into believing that their deceased loved ones have returned.

However, it is not long before the children notice that Pinchbeck is starting to weaken. The strain of having three cabinets is too much for her to take and it won’t be long before she is forced choose which children she wishes to keep. Leander and his new friends realise that they must find a way to break her spell before one of them is forced to vanish forever…

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Life and Death: Twilight Reimagined

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

Twilight | New Moon | Eclipse | Breaking Dawn | The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner

Life and Death: Twilight Reimagined was written by Stephenie Meyer and first published in 2015. It is a special edition of Twilight that was published for the 10th Anniversary of the original book, retelling the story while flipping the genders of a majority of the cast. While the novel stands alone, you would probably appreciate it more if you are already familiar with the main series – Twilight (2005), New Moon (2006), Eclipse (2007), Breaking Dawn (2008) and The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner (2009).

As Beaufort Swan’s mother sets off travelling with her new husband, he has no choice but to move to Forks to stay with his father. At first, Beau isn’t too impressed with this change of scenery. Forks is wet and gloomy, and everyone else at school has know each other their whole lives. Even though Beau proves to be very popular with the girls, he soon finds that he is not interested in any of them. But that is before he notices Edythe Cullen.

Edythe is beautiful, mysterious and clearly wants to have nothing to do with him. Unfortunately, Beau is unable to get Edythe out of his mind. However, when Edythe saves Beau from being crushed by a car, he begins to realise that there is something different about her. As Beau grows closer to Edythe, he soon learns the truth. There is a reason why Edythe cannot stand to be close to him, and why she is mysteriously absent from school whenever they have a particularly sunny day.

As Beau and Edythe come to realise that their feelings for each other are more than just friendship, a new danger descends on Forks. When Beau becomes the target of a dangerous woman, Edythe and her family draw together to protect him. But will their combined strength be enough to defend Beau from such a powerful – and determined – foe…

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Amelia Fang and the Naughty Caticorns

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

Amelia Fang and the Barbaric Ball | Amelia Fang and the Unicorn Lords | Amelia Fang and the Memory Thief | Amelia Fang and the Half-Moon Holiday | Amelia Fang and the Lost Yeti Treasures

Amelia Fang and the Naughty Caticorns was written by Laura Ellen Anderson and first published in 2020. It tells the continuing adventures of a young vampire, as she this time tries to prove that she is responsible enough to care for a new baby. The novel follows Amelia Fang and the Barbaric Ball (2017), Amelia Fang and the Unicorn Lords (2018), Amelia Fang and the Memory Thief (2018), Amelia Fang and the Half-Moon Holiday (2019) and Amelia Fang and the Lost Yeti Treasures (2019). Although the novels do stand alone fairly well, I would certainly recommend reading them in sequence to fully appreciate them.

Everyone in the Fang household is excited that Countess Frivoleeta will soon be having her second child. Amelia can’t wait to meet her little brother or sister and introduce her to everyone she cares about – especially Florence the Yeti, Grimaldi Reaperton, Prince Tangine and Squashy, her pet pumpkin. Yet there is so much that still needs to be done around the house, and things have been made more complicated by the fact that they have agreed to look after three caticorns while the Countess’s sister is away.

When the baby makes an unexpected arrival, Amelia agrees to take responsibility over the caticorns so that her mother can rush to hospital. It shouldn’t be a problem for her. Gerrard, Butler and Mo are all so well-behaved and Amelia is keen to prove that she will be a responsible older sister. However, as soon as the adults leave, the caticorns prove to be more than a handful. Even with the help of her friends, Amelia soon finds that she is in over her head.

While Amelia was excited to take care of the adorable creatures, she suddenly begins to have her doubts. Why do they seem to hate her so much, and what will she do if the new baby feels the same? However, she knows that she’s got to get to the bottom of why the caticorns are behaving so badly. If she doesn’t, they will completely destroy the house before her parents get home!

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Crownbreaker

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

Spellslinger | Shadowblack | Charmcaster | Soulbinder | Queenslayer

Crownbreaker was written by Sebastien de Castell and first published in 2019. It is the final part of the Spellslinger series, following Kellen and Reichis in their most dangerous adventure yet. As this novel follows on from where Spellslinger (2017), Shadowblack (2017), Charmcaster (2018), Soulbinder (2018) and Queenslayer (2019) left off, I would strongly recommend reading them in sequence in order to fully appreciate them.

Kellen has spent a year in the Daroman Court as Queen Ginevra’s Tutor of Cards, but has still found many ways to get into trouble. Even though his profession offers him a degree of protection, the Mage Lords of the Jan’Tep are still keen to see him dead. However, he is forced to return to his ancestral home after he makes a shocking discovery. His mother, Bene’maat, has been killed while on a secret mission to Berabesq.

Returning home for the funeral, Kellen is forced to confront his past and reconcile with the family members that permanently removed his magic. However, as he formally meets with both Ke’heops and Ginevra, he starts to realise that the political situation across Eldrasia is at a perilous turning point. In the capital of Berabesq, a figure has emerged who claims to be their God. This deity has begun to unify the warring factions of devouts, and it’s not long before he will have an army powerful enough to take over the other kingdoms.

As an unaligned outlaw, both Ke’heops and Ginevra believe that Kellen should be the one to infiltrate the city of Makhan Mebab and assassinate God. Kellen is understandably reluctant, especially as he knows that God is only a child and his actions will certainly put a price on his head. However, when it becomes clear that Ferius is suffering from the same affliction that killed his mother, he realises that his only chance to save her is potentially in this god’s hands…

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Incendiary

Incendiary was written by Zoraida Córdova and first published in 2020. It is a fantasy novel set in a world where a puritanical king has virtually hunted magic users to extinction. The novel forms the first part of a planned series, though at the time of writing no further instalments have been announced.

Most of Andalucía has fallen under the control of a tyrant. King Fernando of Puerto Leones has gradually expanded his empire to take over the surrounding kingdoms. Yet Memoria has been hit harder than most. The Moria were once formidable magic users, but Fernando’s Justices have largely wiped them out. From the ashes of Memoria has formed a rebel faction – the Whispers – who have dedicated themselves to protecting their surviving people and bringing an end to Fernando’s reign.

Renata Convida longs to be recognised by the Whispers, but it seems like they will always view her as a traitor. Not only is she a rare Robári – a memory thief – but she also was once the property of Justice Méndez. Although she was just a child at the time, her people have not forgotten the fact that she once sold them out to the Justices in exchange for sweets and favours, and are always quick to remind her of this fact.

When a mission goes wrong and Renata’s captain and love is taken prisoner by the enemy, she knows that she must do everything in her power to save him. Even if that means returning to the capital and Méndez’s care once again. Her goal is to have her revenge against the monarchy by killing the King’s heir – a bloodthirsty monster called Castian – and destroying a weapon that he has created which supposedly strips Moria of their powers. Yet, as she spends more time in the palace, she begins to uncover an unexpected mystery with the Prince at its centre. Just what is going on, and how are the Whispers connected?

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The Smoke Thieves

The Smoke Thieves was written by Sally Green and first published in 2018. It is a fantasy novel that is set in a world where three nations are on the brink of war. The novel is the first part of The Smoke Thieves Trilogy and is followed by The Demon World (2019). The final instalment of the series – The Burning Kingdoms – is due for release later this year.

Princess Catherine of Brigant is preparing for her marriage to Prince Tzsayn of Pitoria – a man that she has never met. The only good thing that she can see coming from this union is that she will be finally free of her warmongering father, King Aloysius. However, she cannot stand the thought of being separated from her beloved guard, Ambrosius. She knows that if her father ever discovered the true extent of her feelings towards Ambrosius, they would both be executed for treason. However, it is becoming harder and harder to hide her affection.

Meanwhile, in Pitoria, two survivors of the destruction of Abask are hunting for the illegitimate heir of Calidor. March and Holywell are determined to have their revenge against King Thelonius of Calidor and what better way to do so then to sell his only surviving son to King Aloysius? However, when March finally meets Edyon Foss he is shocked to find that he actually likes the young thief. Yet their journey grows more complicated as their paths cross with two demon hunters – Tash and Gravell – and Edyon steals a vial of their illegal demon smoke.

As Catherine, Ambrosius, March, Edyon and Tash’s destinies slowly entwine, a greater conspiracy in afoot. King Aloysius is training an army of boys and has purchased vast amounts of demon smoke. Catherine and her allies need to figure out what he is up to quickly, before the tyrant king finds a way to take over the whole world…

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Gargantis

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

Gargantis was written by Thomas Taylor and first published in 2020. It forms the second part of The Legends of Eerie-on-Sea series, detailing the continuing adventures of Herbert Lemon in his occupation as the town’s “Lost-and-Founder”. As the novel continues on from shortly after Malamander (2019) left off, I would really recommend reading them in sequence in order to fully appreciate them.

A fierce storm has gripped Eerie-on-Sea and the local fishermen seem to be worried. Their oldest legends tell tale of tempests whipped up by a colossal beast called the Gargantis – one that will surely destroy all of Eerie-on-Sea if it wakes. Yet Herbert Lemon has more to worry about than the weather. A hooded stranger has arrived at the Nautilus Hotel and has left an odd clockwork shell in his possession. Now it is up to him to discover who the device belongs to.

With the help of his best friend – Violet Parma – Herbert sets off to try and solve this new mystery. However, their investigation is cut short as a mysterious bottle washes up on the shore. The bottle contains a strange glowing light and everyone in town seems to think that it should belong to them. It’s Herbert’s job as the Lost-and-Founder to determine who does truly deserve to keep this bizarre find.

As Herbert and Violet continue their investigation, they soon learn that the storm, the hooded figure and the bottle are all connected in strange and unexpected ways. The truth behind the storm lies hidden in the history of Eerie-on-Sea. But can Herbert uncover it before the entire town slips into the sea?

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Bone Crier’s Moon

Bone Crier’s Moon was written by Kathryn Purdie and first published in 2020. It is a fantasy novel which focuses on a group of women whose duty is to ferry the souls of the dead to the afterlife. The novel forms the first part of the Bone Graces series and its planned sequel, Bone Crier’s Dawn, is expected to be released next year.

Ailesse is desperate to become a Leuress and will soon collect her final Grace – a bone imbued with the power of the animal that it was taken from. Once she has all three, she is eager to perform her final ritual as soon as possible. To prove her loyalty to the gods, she must lure her soulmate to a specific ritual site. Then, she must make her choice to spend one whole year with him, or kill him where he stands.

Sabine is less sure of her destiny. Although the other Leuress are keen for her to embrace her calling, Sabine only holds one Grace and knows that she does not want any more. If the act of killing a fire salamander for its power hurt her so, she knows that she would never be able to take the life of a human being. However, Queen Odiva has instructed Sabine to bear witness to Ailesse’s final ritual. She hopes that it will inspire Sabine to also finish her training and truly join their sisterhood.

Yet it is at Ailesse’s ritual that everything goes wrong. Although Ailesse does lure her soulmate, he is not who she expects. Bastien is a young thief who desires revenge against the Leuress for taking his father. Without the strength of her Graces to save her, Bastien and his friends quickly overpower Ailesse and take her hostage, hoping to lure Odiva to their lair. Trouble is, they also manage to steal the sacred bone flute that the Leuress use to ferry the souls of the dead. Sabine knows that if she cannot retrieve the flute and her friend by the next new moon, the souls of the dead will run free. If that happens, everyone in South Galle will be in danger…

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Breaking Dawn

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

Twilight | New Moon | Eclipse | The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner

Breaking Dawn was written by Stephenie Meyer and first published in 2008. It is the fourth and final part of The Twilight Saga, focusing on Bella and Edward’s early life as a married couple. The novel follows on directly from where Twilight (2005), New Moon (2006) and Eclipse (2007) left off, so I would recommend reading them in sequence to fully appreciate them. The series also includes a couple of spin-off stories – The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner (2009), which told the tragic tale of a minor character from Eclipse, and Life & Death (2015), a gender-flipped retelling of Twilight. A prequel novel titled Midnight Sun is due for release later this year.

Bella Swan has almost got everything that she ever dreamed of. She has graduated from High School and is engaged to be wed to her soul mate, the vampire Edward Cullen. A date has also been set for her transformation, meaning that soon she will also leave her humanity behind and truly become a member of the Cullen family. Bella could not be happier, but that is until the honeymoon.

After Bella and Edward final risk becoming intimate, she is shocked to find herself pregnant. This is not something that anyone ever imagined could be possible, as no human had ever survived mating with a vampire before. Worse still, her pregnancy is progressing rapidly and Carlisle fears that it could cost her life. Still, Bella is determined to see it through and bear their child. She strongly believes that her beloved’s venom could save her from death in childbirth.

Yet, Bella and Edward’s biggest problems arise after their daughter is born. When another vampire catches sight of her and assumes that she is an Immortal Child – an illegal child vampire – she is quick to inform the Volturi of the Cullens’ crimes. Knowing that the penalty for creating an Immortal Child is death, the Cullens gather their friends from around the world to prove Bella’s innocence. But will that be enough to convince the ancient vampire royalty if they are determined to start a war against the Cullen clan?

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Aiden’s Quest for Apollo

Aiden’s Quest for Apollo was written by Tanvi Kesari Pasumarthy and first published in 2015. It is a fantasy story which focuses on a teenage boy who discovered that he is destined to save the Greek Gods from the treachery of Hades. The novel reads as though it is the first part of a series but, at the time of writing, no further instalments have been announced.

Aiden is both excited and nervous to leave his home and study in another country, however life at his new college quickly takes a turn for strange. A mysterious, leather-bound tome appears in his welcome pack and he receives an old coin in an oddly lucid dream, only to find it in his room when he wakes up. Yet it is not until he is attacked by one of the Gorgons that he learns of his true destiny.

In accepting the coin, Aiden has inherited all of the strength and powers of Apollo. It is his duty to save the Greek gods from Hades, who has imprisoned them in the Underworld. With the help of his sister and two friends – who wield the powers of Athena, Artemis and Ares – he must climb Mount Olympus and retrieve Zeus’s staff, and use this to restore power to the King of the gods.

However, doing so will not be easy. Hades knows of Aiden’s destiny and will use every monster at his disposal in order to stop them. In order to succeed, Aiden and his friends will need to seek out some of the lesser gods who are hiding on Earth and convince them to lend their aid. However, he needs to act quickly. Hades plans to unleash the Titans on the world and, without the gods to stop them, that will mean the end of everything…

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