So Long and Thanks for All The Fish

Hi Everyone.

This post is really difficult to write but really has been a long time coming. I started this blog back in 2014 with a purpose in mind – I wanted to motivate myself to read more young adult literature in order to become a better writer. Over the last six years, I’ve had a fantastic time writing for Arkham Reviews. I have post almost 600 book reviews, spoken with talented authors and passionate readers, and discovered books that I never would have picked up before.

However, all good things have to come to an end.

This year has been unimaginably difficult on everyone and I’ve taken a lot of time to reflect on what is most important to me. Working on this blog is incredibly hard work. Despite what some people seem to believe, this blog is entirely non-profit and has always been a labour of love. Keeping up with my target of two posts a week eats up a lot of my time, and also means that I rarely have time to read anything outside of my set “blog books” anymore.

Due to this, I have made the incredibly difficult decision to step away from Arkham Reviews to give me time to work on other projects. I have no plans at this moment to take down any of the old reviews, so they will be still there for everyone to enjoy, however this website will no longer be updated or monitored by myself. The Arkham Reviews Twitter and Goodreads feeds will now also no longer be in use going forward.

Thank-you again for all your support over the years. It’s been a pleasure discussing young adult books with you and hope we meet again in pastures new!

OwlCrate Unboxing – September 2020

Wow, my September crate was super delayed in the post (thanks COVID…) but at least it has finally arrived. And I am really excited to show you what was inside!

Before I get into the meat of it, let’s talk a little about where this exciting box of mystery came from. OwlCrate is a monthly subscription service that caters to fans of young adult literature. Each box costs around £38 and is guaranteed to contain a hardbacked book, usually autographed and with an exclusive cover. In addition to this, the crate also contains 3-5 other items, all picked to match a set theme. As Halloween is fast approaching, the theme this time was ‘A Glorious Haunting’. Read on to find out what I though though, be warned, massive spoilers and photos lie beyond this point…

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F.O.X.E.S

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:

S.T.A.G.S | D.O.G.S

F.O.X.E.S was written by M.A. Bennett and first published in 2020. It is a young adult thriller which follows the continuing adventures Greer MacDonald as she tries to save her fried Ty from the machinations of the Dark Order of the Grand Stag. The novel follows on directly from where S.T.A.G.S (2017) and D.O.G.S (2019) left off, so I would strongly recommend reading these novels in sequence in order to fully appreciate them.

Following her trial and near-execution at the hands of the Grand Stag, Greer is more certain than ever that she needs to do something to put an end to the Order. When she receives a message from Ty suggesting that she should investigate Cumberland Place in London, she heads off with Shafeen and Nel to find out why.

Cumberland Place is another residence belonging to the de Warlencourts, but nothing can prepare them for what they find there. Henry’s father – Rollo de Warlencourt – embodies everything that Greer hates about STAGS and his mother, Caro, seems convinced that her son is still alive. Yet the most surprising thing is the way that the de Warlencourts welcome Greer into their home. More than that, they seem to be pleased to see her.

As Greer and her friends investigate further, they find some unsettling connections that further link STAGS to the work of Ben Jonson and, more surprising still, the Gunpower Plot. They also learn that Rollo is planning a hunt at Longcross for Boxing Day. Yet, with fox hunting illegal, Greer worries exactly what the STAGS are planning to hunt. She knows that she only has a few days to learn the truth, or Ty’s life could very well be in danger…

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Where Dreams Descend

Where Dreams Descend was written by Janella Angeles and first published in 2020. It is a fantasy novel that focuses on a powerful female magician who is desperate to be noticed in a world where only men are taken seriously. The novel forms the first part of a planned duology and its sequel, When Night Breaks, is expected to be released next year.

Kallia is the headline act of Hellfire House, yet yearns for more. Despite the fact that her powers are second to none, female magicians have no choice but to use their magic domestically or on seedy nightclub stages. When she hears about the Spectaculore – a contest taking place in the nearby city of Glorian – she is determined to take part to prove herself. Yet Jack, the possessive master of Hellfire House, is reluctant to let her go.

Escaping from the club, Kallia runs away to Glorian and finds a willing assistant in a charismatic thief called Aaros. Together they shock high-society by entering into the Spectaculore as the only female participant, competing against a host of upper-class and deeply prejudiced young men. Her dazzling act also catches the eye of Daron Demarco, a young judge who hides a terrifying secret of his own.

Yet, as Kallia rapidly becomes a crowd favourite, it soon becomes clear that all is not right in Glorian. Someone, or something, is manipulating the contest from behind the scenes. As contestants begin to disappear and sinister notes are discovered, Kallia starts to realises that someone does not want the Spectacular to go ahead. Will she be able to uncover who is responsible and become the champion, or will the saboteur finally claim someone’s life?

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This Summer on Arkham Reviews

Hi-diddly-hi Neighbour-inos!

I hope that you’re all having as good of a summer as you can under current circumstances. Now that my little season of middle grade reviews is done and dusted, it’s time to return to business as usual here on Arkham Reviews. Over the coming week, I plan to take a look at the fourth Fazbear Frights collection of short stories and also write up the next part of my Point Horror retrospective. After that, here’s an idea of what you can look forward to over the next couple of months:

Harrow Lake by Kat Ellis

Where Dreams Descend by Janella Angeles

F.O.X.E.S by M.A. Bennett

Goddess in the Machine by Lora Beth Johnson

Apley Towers: The Lost Kodas by Myra King

Midnight Sun by Stephenie Meyer

The Haven by Simon Lelic

The Kingdom of Copper by S.A. Chakraborty

Deception by Teri Terry

The Last Hope by Krista & Becca Ritchie

Children of Virtue and Vengeance by Tomi Adeyemi

Starsight by Brandon Sanderson

Uki and the Outcasts

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:

Podkin One-Ear | The Gift of Dark Hollow | The Beasts of Grimheart

Uki and the Outcasts was written by Kieran Larwood and first published in 2019. It is a middle grade fantasy story, set in our far future when humans are extinct and rabbits are the dominant species on the planet. The novel is the fourth instalment of The Five Realms series and follows Podkin One-Ear (2016), The Gift of Dark Hollow (2017) and The Beasts of Grimheart (2018).

As the Bard continues his journey north, his is approached by another figure from his past and Rue starts to learn that there is more about his mentor than he ever could have imagined. The Bard is a member of a secret society called the Foxguard who exist to protect the world from a sinister cult who are known as the Endwatch. As rumours of cultist activity emerge, the Bard and Rue are forced to head across the icy wastes to investigate.

As they travel, the Bard begins a new tale about a hero who once also had to face the Endwatch. Uki was mistreated by his clan due to the fact that he was born with half-black, half-white fur. When an incident within the tribe leads to his injury, Uki and his mother are forced to flee into the wilds where they will surely die. Luckily, Uki’s life is saved by a mysterious spirit from a different time. Iffrit binds himself to Uki, giving him new powers, but needs something in return.

Iffrit was once a gaoler, but the four evil spirits that were imprisoned with him have now escaped. Uki needs to travel the world in order to recapture them, before they can spread war, plague, famine and death across the lands. He soon gains help from Jori, an assassin exiled from her clan because she will not kill, and Kree, an abnormally small rabbit who rides a tailless jerboa. But will three outcast rabbits be enough to take down an ancient evil?

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OwlCrate Unboxing – July 2020

Wow, my OwlCrate arrived a lot earlier than expected this month. It doesn’t seem five minutes since I told you all about the June crate! Anyhow, in case this is the first of my unboxings that you’ve read, let me tell you a bit about where all my goodies came from.

OwlCrate is a subscription service for fans of Young Adult novels. Each month, they send out a carefully curated box which contains 3-5 items, all selected to match a specific theme. In addition to this, each box is guaranteed to contain a hard-backed book, usually signed by the author and with a unique cover. The boxes are priced at around £38, which seems very reasonable due to the high quality goodies that they contain. So long as your subscription remains active, you are guaranteed to receive every box. Be wary of cancelling though – they do have a long waiting list and it can be a pain to get back on again!

Anyhow, this month’s theme is “Date With Destiny”. Be warned – there are lots of photos and massive spoilers beyond this point…

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School for Nobodies

School for Nobodies was first published in 2020 and is Susie Bower’s debut novel. It is a fantasy story for young readers which focuses on a girl who travels to a mysterious boarding school in search of her missing twin. The novel stands alone, so you don’t need to read any of the author’s other work to fully appreciate it.

It was not until her tenth birthday that Flynn finally learned her real name. After a fire killed her parents and left her scarred, she was forced to live with Sonia and Claude – two well-off adults who only adopted her to look generous. Things change when she receives the note on her birthday, revealing that she actually has a twin who is attending an nearby affluent boarding school.

Flynn orchestrates a way to force her adoptive parents to send her to that same school, but things go horribly wrong when they instead send her to the run-down school next door. The Cruet Establishment for Lost and Wayward Children is a reform school for children who prove difficult to handle. Students are stripped of their names and belongings until they earn the right to have them back. They also are forbidden to make any kind of contact with the neigbouring school children.

Flynn is determined to find a way to get to her twin, yet things seem to be impossible. However, that’s before she encounters the crow. The crow seems sinister but promises that it can unite the two of them on a special day, when a gateway between the two schools opens. Yet can she trust the crow, and will she possibly be able to get away from her horrible classmates?

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The Strangeworlds Travel Agency

The Strangeworlds Travel Agency was written by L.D. Lapinski and first published in 2020. It is a middle grade fantasy story that focuses on a 12-year-old girl who discovers a way to travel to parallel dimensions. The novel forms the first part of a planned series, but at the time of writing no future instalments have been announced.

Felicity “Flick” Hudson is deeply unhappy. Her parents have just moved from the city to the small town of Little Wyverns and do not seem to have much time for her. All Flick wants to do is travel and see the world, but she’s stuck spending most of her time looking after her baby brother while her parents are working. Luckily for Flick, she soon stumbles across a mysterious travel agency which could give her everything that she has ever dreamed of.

Jonathan Mercator is only eighteen but has been single-handedly running The Strangeworlds Travel Agency since his father’s disappearance. Unlike regular travel agents, he curates a vast collection of suitcases which each contain a portal to another world. Magically gifted individuals are free to borrow a suitcase, so long as they report back on what they have discovered. Jonathan quickly realises that Flick is more than eligible to join their ranks.

While Flick and Jonathan’s early adventures seem harmless enough, they soon realise that something is wrong with the multiverse. The balance between worlds has been disrupted and all issues seem to be stemming from Five Lights – a city at the centre of it all. If they can’t find a way to fix Five Lights soon, the entire multiverse could collapse and destroy everything, including Flick’s world!

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OwlCrate Unboxing – June 2020

As predicted, the June OwlCrate finally graced my doorstep this week. Hooray! At least that gave me plenty of time to sample all of its contents before writing up this review.

For those of you who haven’t seen any of my previous posts, OwlCrate is a monthly subscription service for fans of Young Adult novels. The boxes are usually dispatched around the 20th of each month and contain 3-5 items which are carefully selected to match a theme. Each box is also guaranteed to contain one brand new hardback, which is usually autographed and with an exclusive cover. Each box costs around £38 to ship to the United Kingdom and, so far, I do feel that they have all been great value for money.

OwlCrate guarantees that you will receive each box so long as your subscription remains active. I would strongly recommend thinking very carefully before you cancel, as the service is very popular and boxes tend to sell out quickly. I made this mistake last summer and it took me a few months to get back on the list again…

Anyhow, the theme this month is “All the World’s a Stage”. Be warned – there are a lot of photos and major spoilers for the box’s contents beyond this point…

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