‘Dragon School’ is outstanding YA fantasy adventure featuring Amel Leafbrought, a teenage girl beginning her career as a dragon rider.
Despite significant physical and social challenges, Amel demonstrates determination, integrity and resilience, presenting a really good role model for young people who often confront obstacles of one kind or another in achieving their goals. Her discovery of abilities that others do not have is a powerful element of Amel’s narrative, and serves as a strong encouragement for others who experience physical disabilities or limitations.
Amel’s experiences of other people, whether peers, teachers or dragons, demonstrate important lessons about the importance of careful discernment about who should be trusted, and about the true nature of friendship.
This series is highly original and well constructed. The story progresses at a very good pace, with plenty of adventure balanced by reflection and the development of friendships and connections between characters. The imagery is colourful and detailed, the characters diverse and varied, and the complications and problems they face are compelling.
The world building is unique and interesting, featuring complex and thought-provoking social systems, detailed and thoughtful architecture, and geography quite unique to this world.
The narration by Jigisha Patel, is clear and fluent, with excellent diction and expression, although there are a couple of minor errors. Her use of voice and tone to develop character and deliver the narrative results in a compelling story that is as engaging and enjoyable as Wilson’s writing.
While there are more episodes to follow, this audiobook ends with sufficient resolution to satisfy the audience, and a tantalising promise of more adventure to come.
‘The Malan Witch’ is a haunting story of old magic, retribution and superstition, filled with tension and suspense.
The writing is powerful, full of symbolism and dark imagery that captures the imagination and takes hold of the pit of the reader’s stomach.The tone becomes darker and increasingly urgent as the story unfolds.
This is a gripping read and an absolute page-turner, suitable for Young Adult and older audiences.
This book tells two stories: the first, a quest to restore justice and balance, and the second, a thread that draws together the strands of narrative from the first five books in the series. Together, these stories become a complete, complex high fantasy tale of the battle between good and evil for control of the Kingdom of Durundal.
It is not necessary to have read the previous books in the series in order to fully enjoy this one, although they are all well worth reading.
While some of the characters from the preceding books in the series continue in this one, the central characters are of the next generation, adding a sense of freshness at the same time as achieving very effective continuity in the series as a whole.
Reminiscences from some of the older characters provide part of the backstory, but they are not sufficient to deliver any major spoilers forecasters who might want to revisit previous instalments in the series. This is evidence of how cleverly the author has crafted and woven an intricate story full of adventure, danger, and deep, powerful magic.
The third book in The Network Series of fantasy books for Young Adult readers, ‘The High Priest’s Daughter ’ is an action packed, suspenseful read that is very hard to put down once started.
The characters, plot, settings and cultures are highly original and well-crafted. This is a compelling tale of a battle between the powers of evil that threaten to destroy the world of Antebellum, and those who refuse to yield to the darkness. The story delivers tension and adrenaline in equal measure, and there are plenty of twists to keep the reader guessing.
This book and the series to which it belongs have a magic of their own that readers of magical fantasy will find most appealing. Highly recommended for YA and older readers.
It seems that even in the realms of heaven and hell, not everything is as straightforward as one might imagine.
This novella length introduction to Gauthier’s Angels and Magic series is an entertaining read, written with good humour, an air of mystery and a very enjoyable degree of snark.
This is a fun story that definitely whets the reader’s appetite for the rest of the series.
The fifth book in The Kingfountain Series, ‘The Silent Shield’ is another wonderful foray into the kingdom of Ceredigion and the conflict that threatened to consume the surrounding lands.
The continued story of Tryneowy Kiskaddon is personal and compelling, enchanting in both plot and the language used to tell the story and depict the places in which it takes place.
A young woman of strength and integrity, Tryneowy is an admirable character that readers can respect, a role model for equality and embracing one’s abilities despite the judgement and expectations of others.
Readers who have not read the previous books in this series will find this to be a complete story on its own, and thoroughly enjoyable as such.
Those reader would, however, be better advised to start at the beginning of this outstanding series, simply because it is so immensely enjoyable.
In a marketplace where there are fairy tale revisions aplenty, ‘Eye of the Beholder’ is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast that stands out from the masses because of the author’s highly original recreation of roles and the devices by which the key events take place.
Like the original fairy tale, this is a story of looking beyond appearances to see the real person. The author has added some original magical twists that make the tale interesting and less predicated, resulting in a very entertaining read that can be enjoyed in the space of an hour.
Written with Clepitt’s usual quirky style and wit, this is a story with definite appeal to YA and older readers.
When the reader first meets Sansara, it quickly becomes evident that she is a powerful young woman with a destiny to fulfil, but they can not predict how she might achieve that mission, nor what her role will be in the resolvution of the mysteries and complications of earlier storylines.
The way in which the pieces of the puzzle fall into place and this instalment is seen to fit neatly into the broader narrative leaves readers who have followed the series as a whole with deep satisfaction. The conclusion of the book is well executed, and yet it does not feel like a complete ending: there is a sense that there is more to come, and that there is a new generation of adventurers, warriors and leaders to come.
The fifth book in The Kingdom of Durundal fantasy series, ‘A Moth In The Flames’ stands on its own as a very good fantasy story, full of mystery, adventure, magic and challenge. While first-time visitors to the Kingdom of Durundal will be able to infer the assumed knowledge needed to give this story its own integrity and resolution, returning readers will bring with them the deeper understandings and knowledge that will enable them to draw more meaning from the conversations and explanations between characters that reference the events and characters of the previous books in the series.
So, while readers of fantasy are sure to enjoy this book on its own, my recommendation would be to start with book one and enjoy the richness of the bigger story, so that Sansara’s story is enjoyed in its entirety.
It is a rare thing to find a series of books for Young Adult readers that ticks all your favourite boxes: mystery and magic underscored with macabre and gothic elements, strong female characters, quirky twists, and themes and ideas that are universally compelling and interesting for teen and adult readers alike.
Just as it exists in the world-famous Harry Potter series, it exists in The Network Series by Katie Cross. This first book in The Network Series delivers a well-paced, expertly constructed story that ticks all of those boxes and more.
Make no mistake, though: This is no mere imitation. ‘Miss Mabel’s School For Girls’ is original and unique, and the story is thoroughly engaging. The book ends with sufficient resolution to bring the story to a satisfying conclusion while dangling enough magical carrots to leave the reader wanting to just keep reading.
The writing is excellent, creating an environment and atmosphere that is vivid and almost tangible, and propelling the reader into a story full of mystery, suspense and foreboding.
Readers of all ages will find this book hard to put down, and should expect to be left wanting more. Thankfully, there is an entire nine book series, and another fantasy series featuring dragons by the same author, to look forward to.
‘Kennedy Awakens’ is a quick-paced urban fantasy that blurs the lines between truth and lies, good and evil, magic and non-magic, while pitching them against one another to measure their integrity.
The action unfolds dramatically and Kennedy is forced to form unlikely alliances in her quest for peace and for the truth, all the while doubting if either one is actually achievable.
A story that celebrates friendship and truth, this is a most entertaining read that will be appreciated not only by readers of urban fantasy, but also by anyone who enjoys paranormal suspense, magical adventure and regular fantasy books.