Category Archives: ActiveReviews

New Review: Den of Wolves (2016)

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Juliet Marillier

Pan Macmillan Australia (2016)

ISBN: 9780451467034

Blackthorn & Grim #3

Blackthorn is under a geis of sorts to alway provide help when asked, a stricture that has become less difficult for her as we have followed her adventures during the preceding two books. So when the princess Flidais requests that Blackthorn help her with a young woman recently brought to court under unusual circumstances, it isn’t really a hardship. However, when Blackthorn’s companion Grim begins a huge job for the girl’s wealthy father, it soon becomes apparent that there are some very odd things happening. Strange enough to be dangerous to everyone involved, which Blackthorn and Grim cannot turn their backs on. And not only is there a weird and perilous mystery afoot, but Blackthorn’s old enemy Mathuin is also on the move, which terrifies and unsettles her beyond reason. The pair must for the first time fight separate battles – but will they be strong enough to overcome if they are not together?

I have absolutely adored this trilogy (if indeed a trilogy it is – I certainly wouldn’t be averse to more instalments…) and was thrilled when the author sent me an advance reading copy of this book. The world Blackthorn and Grim inhabit is fascinating, detailed and raw, with a rich tapestry of characters weaving their stories on the page. Marillier’s writing is sublime, a gorgeously captivating style that draws you in and simply won’t let you go. This has been one of my favourite fantasy series in a long time, and I will admit to more than once having to stop reading this final book to prolong the experience further (and wipe away tears – it’s that darn good!).

You really don’t need me to tell you how wonderful Juliet Marillier’s work is, with her apparently effortless manner of writing that builds on folklore with astonishingly good characterisation and subtle, clever plotting to create beautiful books. She is a stunningly good Australian writer with a well-deserved international reputation. If you haven’t read her work, the Blackthorn and Grim series is a highly recommended starting point, and you should go out and get your hands on them right now.

I previously reviewed Tower of Thorns

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Retro Review: Wings of Wrath (2009)

Celia (CS) Friedman

Orbit (2009)

ISBN: 978 1 84149 533 0

The Magister Trilogy #2

Kamala is the only female Magister in a brotherhood of magicians – except that most of them don’t know she exists and has accessed the secret of their power. Outsiders don’t know the secrets of the Magisters, so Kamala is a massive threat to their supremacy, being not only a woman, but not being as constrained by the rules that bind the rest of them to keep their secrets. Kamala has secrets of her own, and is forced to keep her powers hidden under the guise of witchery, the only other option for a woman with her abilities. She has proven to herself and her master that she can hold her own as a Magister, but the events unfolding before her test her will and her own self-belief. Continue reading

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Retro Review: Hush, Hush (2009)

Becca Fitzpatrick

Simon & Schuster (2009)

ISBN: 978 1 84738 695 3

This book has such a beautiful cover that I’m certain readers will be picking it up just to drool over it, and hopefully, this will lead to them wanting to read it! It’s impossible to underestimate the value of good-looking covers and publishers of YA fiction need to sit up at take notice of these sort of examples, which really draw in the intended readers (ie: teenage girls).

Nora Grey’s life is pretty normal, until Patch comes along. Suddenly, weird things start to happen, and Nora finds herself struggling to not only understand what’s going on in her nice ordinary life, but also for her very survival. Continue reading

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GR Retro Review: Daughters of the Storm (2014)

Kim Wilkins

Harlequin MIRA (2014)

ISBN: 9781743569115

Blood and Gold #1

I absolutely loved the novella “Crown of Rowan: A Tale of Thyrsland”, set in this world, which appeared in Legends of Australian Fantasy back in 2010, and have been eagerly awaiting the series since then. It was worth the wait – this is one of the best books I’ve read in ages! The worldbuilding is beautifully done – Wilkins has avoided the trap of overburdening the reader with too much information, but cleverly seeds details throughout the book, which increased the richness of the reading experience overall. The plot itself is actually quite contained, essentially distilling to the story of Bluebell’s efforts to save her father, with other elements woven into and branching out from this task, but it works very well over the course of the novel. Continue reading

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Retro Review: Museum of Thieves (2010)

Lian Tanner

The Keepers, book 1

Allen & Unwin (2010)

ISBN: 978-1-74237-157-3

Welcome to the city of Jewel, where children are coddled and overprotected to the point of effective imprisonment. In a place where this has happened for decades, impatience and boldness are considered very wrong, and adults are almost entirely weak and ineffectual. Goldie Roth finds herself in a highly unusual situation when the ruler of the city, the Protector, tries to loosen the ties on the young by releasing them early from the guardchains of childhood, only to have an explosion suddenly destroy the fragile steps she had begun to take. The Fugleman, the city’s spiritual guide and leader of the Blessed Guardians – who ensure the safety of children (whether they need taking care of or not) – has his own agenda, one that is not at all on the same wavelength as the Protector’s. Continue reading

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