Book Review: ‘The Thief’s Daughter’ by Jeff Wheeler

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. 

Find your copy here.

Audiobook Review: ‘Hunting Prince Dracula’ by Kerri Maniscalco

The sequel to ‘Stalking Jack the Ripper’, this is equally gripping and dramatic historical fiction set in Romania, with the majority of the story taking place at the school of forensic medicine that is housed in the castle that once belonged to Vlad the Impaler. 

The book blends history, folklore, horror and forensic mystery genres in a uniquely twisting tale in which Audrey Rose Wadsworth and Thomas Cresswell once again seek to solve a series of mysterious deaths.

The action is well paced, heightened by plenty of suspense and intrigue. There are plenty of mysterious characters and viable suspects, and the story is so well constructed that the truth almost imperceptible until it is revealed. 

The narration by Nicola Barber is excellent, and gives a great deal of listening pleasure. 

‘Hunting Prince Dracula’ has been awarded a Gold Acorn. 

Find your copy of the audiobook or novel here

Book Review: ‘Out Of Chaos’ by Elle Mott

‘Out Of Chaos’ is a compelling autobiographical read, written with honesty in a matter-of-fact style that makes reading this somewhat discomfiting story still a quite comfortable experience. 

The title of this book is no lie: it is a story of family dysfunction, homelessness, crime and abuse experienced by a young woman who had the strength to then reclaim and rebuild her life. It is a cautionary tale about how easy it can be to fall so far that it’s hard to get back up, but it is also a story that would give hope to anyone in similar situations.  

Mott neither glorifies the less-than-stellar choices and actions of her misguided youth nor begs for the reader’s pity as she tells her story, but does evoke a great deal of understanding and empathy in the reader as her life is pulled into a downward vortex from which she cannot escape. The moments of resolve and the decisive actions that Elle takes as a result position the reader to share her hope of a better life and to almost will her to make it work, despite the fact that they are reading the story in past tense. 

Despite the bleakness of its beginning and the despair encountered as the story continues, the overall tone and the message of this book are positive and life-affirming.

‘Out Of Chaos’ has been awarded a Gold Acorn. 

Find your copy here.

Book Review: ‘A Study Of Household Spirits Of Eastern Europe’ by Ronesa Aveela

A fascinating compilation of stories, traditions and beliefs.
##tradition #beliefs #paranormal #nonfiction

This is a fascinating compilation of stories, traditions and collected information about the spirits and supernatural beings of Eastern European and especially Slavic cultures. There is a wealth of detail, including etymologies of the names and instructions for how to appease or banish each type of spirit. Some are similar to creatures found in fairytales and fantasy stories, while others may be completely new to the reader. 

The entries on each different spirit are thorough and richly detailed. The writing is clear and expressive while retaining the straightforward style that is conventional for an informative text. The inclusion of traditional stories, poems and ‘fun facts’ adds depth and texture to each chapter. 

This book would definitely appeal to those interested in the supernatural world or in cultural superstitions, and could also serve as a very useful reference work for writers and artists. There is an extensive bibliography and links to other sources that demonstrate the author’s diligence in research and historiography, which gives the reader confidence in the information provided. 

This most interesting and engaging book has been awarded a Gold Acorn. 

Find your copy here

Audiobook Review: ‘The Book Of Abisan’ by CH Clepitt

Anyone who has read a book or two by CH Clepitt will understand that it is perfectly reasonable to expect that everything she writes is a ripping good yarn. ‘The Book Of Abisan’, in which contemporary fiction blends seamlessly with magical fantasy, is the kind of book that only reinforces that sort of assumption. It’s brilliant. 

The storytelling is well paced and infused with moments of humour that balance the action and intrigue of the plot. The storyline is original and interesting, and the suspense and tension are palpable as the mysteries and quests of the story emerge and interweave. 

The various settings contrast well with one another and serve to highlight the sense of strangeness the characters experience when they find themselves in a juxtaposed world. This also keeps the reader fully engaged in the story because there is nothing predictable about where the story might take them next… which is, of course, half the fun. 

The characters are varied and complex, each with personal motivations that drive their actions and decision making. There are some really wonderful characters who keep the reader invested in their personal stories as well as the tale overall, and others who are designed to be hateful and play that part very well. 

The Audible narration is very good, with excellent vocal control and variations in tone and voice that help to develop both plot and characterisation. The narrator’s voice is pleasant and her diction clear, although she does say “somethink” instead of “something”, which is the one minor thing that bothered me during this audiobook experience. Apart from that, Alicia Rose is pleasant and enjoyable to listen to. 

This highly engaging and absorbing story has been awarded a Gold Acorn. 

‘The Book Of Abisan’ is available as either an audiobook or a novel

Book Review: ‘These Savage Bones’ by Kaitlin Hillerich

The problem with committing to a relentless quest for truth and justice is that sometimes you get exactly what you wanted. 

When the ssudden, tragic loss of her beloved uncle unleashes a chain of events in Esperanza’s life that she could never have foreseen, she is confronted by a web of lies that challenges everything she thinks she knows. 

Esperanza is smart, fiercely independent, and headstrong, a young woman way ahead of her time and society in Mexico, 1875. Her spirit and loyalty are admirable, yet they can also be seen to cloud her judgement and cause her to overlook things in her life which she has always taken at face value. 

This story leaves the reader considering not only the unintended consequences of the characters’ actions, but also the difficulty of what to do with the calaveras that tumble fromthe family closet once the door is opened. 

A blend of mystery, historical fiction, and a bit of romance, ‘These Savage Bones’ is an interesting and thought-provoking tale that can be enjoyed in a couple of hours. 

This book has been awarded a Gold Acorn. 

Find your copy here

Book Review: ‘Josie’ by Susan Lowe and Diane Iverson

‘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. 

Find your copy here.