Sequel to ‘The Queen’s Poisoner’ in the KingFountain series, this book continues the story of Owen Kiskaddon and his life as a one of King Severn’s most trusted advisors.
Many of the same central characters feature alongside some entirely new ones, who add new dimensions and qualities to the story.
Time has passed, naturally, and Owen has grown from the child hostage and stranger in the royal court into a man, rewarded with a Duchy for his loyalty, and charged with the duty of serving the king and protecting those closest to him.
It is a magnificent and epic fantasy story, enriched with magic, deeply involving the reader in both the personal lives of the central characters the fate of the kingdom of Ceredigion, a kingdom that is richly and intricately detailed to the point where it seems real. The reader gains a deeper understanding of the complexities of the problems that face the king, fully aware as he is of the reasons why many distrust and fear him, yet also strongly motivated by his sincere love and concern for his kingdom and subjects.
Although the connections between this story and the elements of English history during The Wars of the Roses, particularly the life and personality of Richard III, are clearly discernible, the story maintains an original and unique plot that sets it apart from those events and ensures its distinction as a fine work of fantasy rather than historical fiction.
This book delivers a rich and deeply involving story that captivates the reader. It is difficult to put the book down once started, and as the momentum of the story builds, the story becomes even more compelling. It really is a most excellent read.
The Thief’s Daughter has been awarded a Gold Acorn.
‘Josie’ is the true story of a young German girl who endured the family’s expulsion from their home in Glogon, now Glogonj in Serbia, after Workd War II, and the horrors of persecution and imprisonment.
Written from a child’s perspective, the story is told in a straightforward but very personal way, so that the reader develops a strong sense of empathy and connection with Josie, taking on her emotions and feeling the tension of key moments in the story quite profoundly.
While Josie’s experiences are neither sanitised nor glossed over, her story is encouraging and positive, a powerful testimony to the importance of love, hope, and family connections in a world that so often seemed to Josie to be full of hatred and violence.
A suitable read for teens and adults, ‘Josie’ has been awarded a Silver Acorn.
‘Dyrwolf’ is a highly original and very compelling story of a young woman learning who she is and what matters most to her in the face of challenges and adversity.
Lea Wylder is a complex and interesting character who has much to learn about trust, plagued as she is by questions of identity and loyalty, and caught up in the struggle for survival that encumbers the village in which she lives. Although she definitely has her flaws, her loyalty, resilience and integrity make her an admirable hero and a positive role model for teens and young adults, a demographic that is often confronted by questions and issues similar to those explored in this book.
A very engaging and thought-provoking read that captivated me from the start, ‘Dyrwolf’ has been awarded a Gold Acorn.
Damien and Millie return in the second instalment of the Damien Dickens mystery series, ‘The White Russian Caper‘ is a mystery adventure that takes the reader from Atlantic City to Hollywood— erm… Florida, in pursuit of the answers they are commissioned to find.
As in all good mysteries, there are plenty of viable suspects and some most intriguing complications and twists.
Tom Lennon delivers another excellent detective-noir style narration with clarity, easy pace, and very good characterisations of the various roles in the story.
Like the first in the series, this audiobook comes highly recommended, and has received a Gold Acorn.
The identity of Jack the Ripper remains one of the biggest mysteries in the history of both Victorian England, and of the murky world of serial killers.
Maniscalco takes that mystery, envelopes it in the life and times of a fictional would-be forensic scientist, shrouds it with London fog, and hides it in a dark place where nobody thinks or dares to look.
‘Stalking Jack the Ripper’ is a beautifully written blend of mystery, macabre horror and historical fiction that keeps the audience completely rivered as the story unfolds. Suspense builds from the time of the discovery of the first victim right up to the climax and conclusion.
The cast of characters is varied and complex, each with secrets and personal motivations that intrigue both the reader and one another. The way in which the author drops hints and suggestions is quite tantalising, adding another layer of mystery to the characters and their actions.
I thoroughly enjoyed this audiobook. The narration was fluent and well paced, and a pleasure to listen to.
I definitely plan to indulge in the sequel very soon.
‘Stalking Jack the Ripper’ has been awarded a Gold Acorn.
It is not difficult to be horrified by the level of cruelty that humans will inflict on one another, especially where prejudice and power are involved. There is much in this book that tells of the trauma, the emotional and physical scarring, and the horrors experienced by the victims of such torture experienced not only by those who survived the government pogroms against the Jews in late 19th century Russia, but also by those exposed to the depths of degradation meted out to those who found themselves inside the cruel, cold walls of the notorious Blackwell’s Island Insane Asylum in New York.
Based on the true story of Nellie Bly’s infiltration of the asylum and subsequent exposure of the abuses and brutality that occurred there, and on the experiences of many who fled Russia in the hope of making a new life in America, ‘A Different Kind of Angel’ tells the stories of Klara Gelfman and the other women she meets inside that institution.
The book certainly has its dark moments, but it also gives emphasis to the resilience and kindness of people like Klara and her friends Catherine and Nellie. These women are inspirational in their ability to rise above the pain and muck time and time again, reminders to us all of the power of encouragement and kindness in the face of hostility and fear.
Mahurin tells a compelling story. The characters are strongly drawn, and the depictions of the various behaviours of the inmates of the asylum are vivid and, one suspects, based on careful study and research. At no time is the narrative insensitive to the plight of the insane, nor to the individual qualities of each woman and her mental illness. The reader has a strong sense of how their lives and conditions could be vastly different given proper care, nutrition and some kindness, and feels deeply grateful to the few souls who showed these women as much compassion as they were able to.
Overall, the story is more encouraging than depressing, and most enlightening. Despite the darkness, the message of the story is positive and empowering, especially for those enduring some kind of misery or darkness in their own lives.
‘A Different Kind of Angel: A Novel’ has been awarded a Gold Acorn.
The fourth book in S.E. Turner’s Kingdom of Durundal series is an excellent read.
“So many paths cross and entwine with another, and then each one returns to its starting point.”
Ajeya’s words to Dainn are true of both what they observe at that point in the story, and of the story itself. ‘A Stag In The Shadows’ is as compelling and breathtaking a story as the three books that precede it in Turner’s Kingdom of Durundal series, but it also draws together the threads of the stories from each one and reveals the bigger picture of the whole tapestry. In this, it is very satisfying to readers who have followed the series from the beginning, yet it is not the end as there are still questions to be answered and mysteries remaining to be solved in the following book.
Even for readers who have not read the rest of the series, this book is independent enough of the others to be a most enjoyable read, although it is fair to say that those who have read the previous instalments will get more out of it.
The reader becomes involved in this story early on, and develops a strong sense of allegiance with the characters by the time the tensions really start to rise. Just like the characters do, the reader must wait for each development and revelation to occur as the story unfolds, once again positioning characters and reader alongside one another and against those who threaten them. There is drama and action aplenty to balance the waiting and suspense.
‘A Stag In The Shadows’ has been awarded a Gold Acorn.