Book Review: ‘The Queen’s Poisoner’ by Jeff Wheeler

This is a fascinating story – the entirely original characters, locations and magical elements make it fantasy, yet it is overlaid on a foundation of elements of history in The Wars of the Roses and the life story of the English king Richard III. The way in which those historical elements are drawn upon and interwoven throughout the story and rich layers of complexity and interest to the story. The reader becomes deeply engaged in the story as it unfolds, particularly when the key characters are faced with danger or discovery.

The characters are vividly portrayed, crafted to engage the reader’s empathy for the protagonist, a young boy named Owen, and those who prove themselves his friends. There is also a good range of characters for whom the reader enjoys contempt and significant distrust— indeed, disliking them is actually a pleasurable experience.

The Audible narration of the book is clearly read and quite expressive, although occasionally sounds a little flat and stilted – perhaps in contrast to the great use of voice and tone to deliver effective characterisation when the characters speak. While this may cause trifling annoyance for the listener from time to time, it  did not prove to be an issue sufficient to really affect the listener’s enjoyment of the story itself. 

The first novel in what promises to be a most excellent and enjoyable series, The Queen’s Poisoner has been awarded a Gold Acorn. 

Find your copy here.

Book Review: ‘Ye Olde Magick Shoppe’ by Claire Buss

‘Ye Olde Magick Shoppe’ is a delightful short story from Roshaven, the setting of the author’s’ fantasy novel, The Rose Thief.

Central characters Ned Spinks and Jenni the Sprite return with their quirky brand of investigation when a mysterious shop appears in Roshaven. Of course, nothing is straightforward and their endeavours to solve the mystery being about more mayhem than they anticipated.

This is a fun story for all ages that can be enjoyed in less than half an hour. It does work.as a standalone story: prior knowledge of Roshaven and its residents is not essential to understanding and enjoyment of ‘Ye Olde Magick Shoppe’, but readers who have not yet read The Rose Thief will very likely want to after this brief taste of Buss’s enchanting storytelling.

This excellent short story has been awarded a Gold Acorn.

Find your copy here.

Audiobook Review: ‘Fawkes’ by Nadine Brandes

Audiobook Review: ‘Fawkes’ by Nadine Brandes
#historicalfiction #magical #fantasy #Audiobooks #Audible

Find your copy on Kobo or Audible.

This is my favourite kind of story: history, magic, mystery, suspense, danger and choices that seem impossible to make. Superimposing a magical overlay onto real historical events made this book absolutely fascinating and gave it a very strong sense of originality and intrigue. The drama built slowly and steadily throughout each complication and challenge, drawing the reader deeper and more intricately into both Thomas’ life and challenges and the Gunpowder Plot itself. 

The main characters were well-rounded and likeable, even if it was not always possible to like or condone some of the things they felt compelled to do, and the problems they faced were well-designed and skilfully developed. The way in which the author breathed both life and magic into historical figures, events and places made them seem so real that the audience really does begin to feel as though they are there, looking over Thomas’ shoulder and equally as swept along by the action of the story as it unfolds as he is. 

Of course, part of the magic of this audiobook is the masterful narration by Oliver Hembrough, who excels at voice acting and storytelling. His performance combined with Brandes’ brilliant writing  to create an audiobook that is flawless in its delivery of this deeply intriguing tale. 
This beautifully crafted story completely captivated me. 

‘Fawkes’ has been awarded a Gold Acorn. 

Book Review: ‘Malevolent Manifestation’ by Lucretia Stanhope

Another excellent instalment in an outstanding paranormal book series.

Must happiness always come at a price? 
In the world reigned by Gwen and Brac, the answer is most definitely “yes”.

In this ninth book in Stanhope’s Elemenhtal Witch Trials series, the members of Gwen’s family find themselves enmeshed in a web of consequences of alliances and liaisons of the past, while fighting a new and unknown opponent, and regret becomes a constant reminder that the past cannot be separated from the present and the future.

While Gwen’s family must work together to solve the mystery of their new antagonist, Destiny comes to the forefront of the storyline as she has not done before, demonstrating her strength and maturity as never before. It is refreshing to see her owning her gifts and demanding to be allowed to use them, rather than remaining the helpful wallflower she has been thus far.  

Although fraught with challenge and pain, this story is balanced by moments of beauty and joy, and by the celebration of achievements and triumphs, captured by the author to give the reader a sense of hope and anticipation of what is yet to come. 

This series continues to evolve and captivate the reader, demonstrating both the depth and complexityof the characters and story lines, and the skill of the author who has created them. 

‘Malevolent Manifestations’ has been awarded a Gold Acorn. 

Find your copy here.

 

Book Review: ‘Sweet Suffering’ by Lucretia Stanhope

Another excellent part of a series I have really been enjoying.

Book eight in Stanhope’s Elemental Witch Trials series continues Rose’s story with some powerful and compelling developments.

This instalment explores the balance of power and strength not just between key characters, but also within some of them more personally and individually. It also pays deeper attention to issues of heredity and consequence at a deeper level than previous books in the series. Some episodes of this novel are confronting, while others are devastating for the characters and the reader alike.

As with every other part of this excellent series thus far, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. 

‘Sweet Suffering’ has been awarded a Gold Acorn. 

Find your copy here

Audiobook Review: ‘The Rite of Wands’ by Mackenzie Flohr.

‘The Rite of Wands’ audiobook is excellent.

I read and reviewed ‘The Rite of Wands’ over a year ago, but only just picked up the audiobook. I’ve really only started listening to audiobooks in the last couple of months, and knowing how much I enjoyed reading the book, I was keen to add this to my collection. 

I was delighted to find the story to be just as fresh and exciting, and to be able to immerse myself in  the world of Mierta McKinnon once again. 

This audiobook is excellent. The narration is clear and expressive, and the use of voice, tone and accent to develop the individual qualities of different characters is wonderful. 

It is a pleasure to award ‘The Rite of Wands’ another Gold Acorn. 

The audiobook is available on both Audible and Kobo. 

Book Review: ‘Thorns‘ by Lucretia Stanhope

Another great read in an excellent paranormal series.

This seventh book in the Elemental Witch Trials series focuses on Rose, Brac’s daughter, take over as the main character, Brac still features prominently in the story, while Gwen and other family members continue to take supporting roles. Once again, the author achieves a natural and smooth progression that enriches the series without losing continuity or cutting off the stories of other family members.

Rose is a formidable character, not afraid to use both her physical and inner strengths to achieve her goals. She is complex and conflicted, which adds a very relatable layer of depth to her story.

As with every other instalment of this excellent series, I thoroughly enjoyed this book.

Thorns has been awarded a Gold Acorn.

Find your copy here.