Posts Tagged ‘Fantasy’

The Keeper of Dragons: The Prince Returns by JA Culican

January 22, 2017 - 9:29 pm No Comments

The Keeper of Dragons: The Prince Returns by JA Culican

Published 21st June 2016

284 pages

Reviewed by Yvonne Davies

Colt was your average Joe, liked to keep himself to himself, but just before his 18th birthday, his parents tell him something that would change his life for ever. Not only was he adopted but his real parents were coming to take him away. Meeting his biological parents were scary enough but to find out that they are both dragons and King and Queen of Ochana, and that he was as a dragon as well was nothing like he imagined.  However, when he landed in Ochana he was in for a bigger shock, he was the keeper of dragons and they needed him to save their race.

Everything that Colt had gone through, I was really surprised how quickly he accepted it all, and although he kept doubting himself, he did take his role serious. The involvement of his best friend, helped with his confidence and I hope to learn more about her life in future books.

If you love dragons, your imagination can go wild with this story. The way Ochana was described, I could picture the place especially the scenes in the market. The detail description of each dragon fraction helped explain the country’s history. With the addition of other fantasy creatures made this an enjoyable read. With the action building throughout the story, it was a quick read as I wanted to know if they survived. Although not finishing on a cliff-hanger, it did leave it open for further books

The Enchanted Kingdoms: Haunting Fairytales Book 1 by RL Weeks

January 18, 2017 - 10:50 pm No Comments

The Enchanted Kingdoms: Haunting Fairytales Book 1 by RL Weeks

Published 26th July 2016

Pages 299

Reviewed by Yvonne Davies

What would happen if Bella met Snow White and Ariel, this is one answer you will not find watching any Disney film.

There are a few main characters in this book. Edward an egotistical prince, who does not care who he hurts to get what he wants. Stilts a magician who is a bit of a conman. Bella a feisty lone parent of James who is not afraid of adventure.  Snow a young princess who lost her mom at an early age and was brought up by her Granddad, Ariel is a mermaid who didn’t fit in with her family and just wanted to be human and like all fairy tales there is a wicked witch called Lori.

The majority of books using a fairy tale theme usually concentrate on one story but this book was different, using sections from 11 fairy tales, the author creates an original story. Whilst reading this book I could not get over how easy it was for some of the characters to double cross each other to get what they wanted. Edward and Stilt were fine candidates for this, in fact, the amount of double crossing they did, I was surprised that they remembered who they owed favours to and why they remained friends. My favourite character was Snow as we all know her as the sweet and innocent princess that loved her housework, but in this story, she was a strong young teenager who wanted revenge on the person who murdered her mother. She even had her 7 dwarves, but they were not the dwarves that we know and love. Although Lori was the wicked witch, I could understand why she became that person, and as the saying goes, hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.

A well written story, full of action that will renew your interest in fairy tales. Book 2 is already out so the adventure can continue

A Plague of Swords by Miles Cameron

January 4, 2017 - 7:08 pm No Comments

A Plague of Swords by Miles Cameron

a review by Michael R. Brush

This is the fourth book from Miles Cameron and one can only gape at the cover – the artwork and the enticing title make you want to pick up this comfortably hefty novel. Indeed once within the covers and reading away, I was reminded of three greats – L. Sprague de Camp, H. P. Lovecraft and a liberal dosing of Edgar Allan Poe, most notably his three tales which featured the investigator Monsieur C. Auguste Dupin. With all that behind him, I think I have to explain why I only gave A Plague of Swords three stars out of five.

It kicks off with an interesting Prologue where we encounter a Beastie which made me feel it was made to make us recoil in revulsion – well done that it is, once you start to wonder why it is the way it is, some of its power to disturb is gone. Unfortunately a lot rests on this. Then we are thrust into the main narrative without any break – we come upon the main characters recovering from what seems to be the immediate aftermath of a battle. There is, however, no recap or helpful list of Who’s Who, which would have made carrying on less daunting. The maps, good as they are, do not extend to one of ‘The continent’ where a great deal of the action takes place.

Indeed, one has to also wonder about what period this fantasy is set in, given the amount of technical terms and details (by the time I was a third of the way through I had read ‘in full harness’ enough to last me for a trilogy – and nowhere are we actually told what that means, I assume it means wearing full plate armour and the context would seem to bare me out, so why not use different descriptions?) The almost same place names – Venike for Venice, Rhum for Rome, are just too close to being anything other than mildly annoying. Even though I found them only mildly tedious, it is a fairly constant irritant – for me it is better to stick with what we know or go the full hog and change them entirely…

Unfortunately, Cameron allows this sort of detail to slow the novel down and it becomes a hotchpotch of parts rather than a novel which seamlessly interweaves the style of the best writers (L. Sprague de Camp and the Others). This is tragic as when Cameron let’s himself go, he does write fast paced action narrative engagingly. He demonstrates this in parts throughout the book, right up to the end where the novel ends in something, for me, of a whimper rather than the promised collision of grand forces. It was written almost hypnotically good, yet a whimper, is I’m afraid, a whimper.

So, perhaps I should say why I’m giving A Plague of Swords three stars out of five, after all that. Firstly, this is Cameron’s fourth book and I’m sure that his fans will love it just as much as his earlier books. He did grip my attention with his writing, which is no mean feat, even if he didn’t always keep it. Thirdly, the sea battles were nothing short of what the front cover promises and scenes, and writing, such as that are their own rewards. Finally, the panoramic scale of this undertaking is huge and he does hold it together – it promises that the next book will take up directly where this left off and if you enjoy this volume, I wish you all the best with his next

The House of Shattered Wings by Aliette de Bodard

November 16, 2016 - 8:57 pm No Comments

THE HOUSE OF SHATTERED WINGS by Aliette de Bodard. Gollancz, London, UK. £14.99 trade paperback. 400 pages. ISBN: 978-1-473-21255-8

Reviewed by Pauline Morgan.

51clq6f-lzl-_sx326_bo1204203200_Especially in the USA, there is a current fascination with angels. This is not just amongst the readers of fantasy but in the general public. To some extent, this is even greater than the interest in vampires, werewolves or zombies, the reason being that so many religious books mention them. Thus, some writers have taken the idea of angels as a focus for their novels, Nalini Singh being one of them. Her approach is very different from Aliette de Bodard’s involving vampires along with an angelic hierarchy.

Like Singh’s work, The House Of Shattered Wings doesn’t make angels nice and friendly. If you offend them, they are deadly. A difference is that they should not be regarded as sex objects. De Bodard’s angels are the Fallen. They have been thrown out of Heaven for misdemeanours they do not remember, and all parts of their body contains magic that can be harvested.

The setting is a Paris dramatically ruined as a result of a war between the Houses of the Fallen. At the end of that, Morningstar, the oldest of the Fallen (we would know him better as Lucifer), disappeared leaving Selene as the heir apparent of the House of Silverspires. The war might be over but enmity isn’t. Asmodeus usurped House Hawthorn twenty years before the action starts, a time when Madeleine, a human alchemist left Hawthorn and was taken in by Silverspires.

The book opens with a newly Fallen being discovered by Ninon and Phillipe, two gang members. Ninon wants to collect parts of the Fallen one for the magic and Phillipe cuts off two fingers before Selene arrives to claim the new one for her House. Phillipe is a stranger to Paris in that he was forcibly brought there to fight in the angels’ war. He originates from the Far East where he was born a mortal but worked to gain ascension to the courts of the Jade Emperor and immortality. He was ejected for dissent but retained his immortality, and a knowledge of magical working. Selene captures him and takes him and the new Fallen (who she names Isabelle) to Silverspires. While he is there, Phillipe is instrumental in releasing a curse that begins the destruction of the building occupied by Silverspires.

There is a lot to like in this book. Madelaine, Phillipe and to some extent, Isabelle, are the characters that the readers are drawn to. They are at the centre of events and their failings are weaknesses that cause them to make mistakes. The other Fallen, such as Selene and Asmodeus, are remote and cruel. Their main motivation is the survival of their House whatever the odds. While Selene would prefer not to sacrifice her dependents, Asmodeus is more ruthless and it is the cruelty of the Fallen is at the heart of the destruction wrought before and during the time of this tale.

I like very much that the action is centred on Paris, because so many novels are American-centric and it is refreshing to have a new landscape. A shame the City had to die. The characters are well drawn and the turns of events are satisfyingly unexpected. This book has already gained acclaim as it was awarded the BSFA award for best novel of 2015 at Eastercon earlier this year. It is a delight to read and well worth investing time with.

Queen of the Gods (Hanson Hell Series #1) by Taylor Rose

November 7, 2016 - 10:38 pm No Comments

Queen of the Gods (Hanson Hell Series #1) by Taylor Rose

Published on 28th April 2016

164 pages

Reviewed by Yvonne Davies

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Arissa is not a typical teenager, going to a college for gifted children, she is being trained to become a spy. Leaving college for the summer break, she has a big decision to make and it means breaking her best friend’s hearts. Hale has been Arissa’s best friend ever since they were young and with his cousins will protect Arissa with their lives. But what they find out over the summer changes all their lives for ever.

Arissa is a very determined girl and although she likes have her boys around, she does like to stand on her own two feet. Hale and his cousins all have a heart of gold and are all gorgeous, but Hale only has eyes for Arissa and whilst you are reading this book you are wondering if they are blind to each other’s feelings.

Swapping from Arissa and Hale’s POV, helped tell their story. This story flowed well and it was a pleasant change for me to read more about the demi gods. Throughout this book there were some funny moments especially when the boys all got together and I did have a few giggles when I read their antics. The battle on the beach was a surprise and I didn’t expect the outcome, but it completed the story.  My only complaint was to the boy’s reactions when they found out their ancestry. I would have a freaked especially when I found out that the Arissa’s dad was Zeus, but this did not stop me enjoying the story. Reading the excerpt for book two, I am pleased that the author is going to concentrate on further demi gods.

If you love your Greek mythology and want to read a book with a modern feel and HEA then get this book. A good read that kept my interest.