Harlequin MIRA (2014)
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
The Keepers, book 1
Allen & Unwin (2010)
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
Steampunk Chronicles, book 2
I discovered this series by chance, attracted by the gorgeous cover of the first book, The Girl in the Steel Corset, on the shelves of my local variety store. I picked it up on a whim, and absolutely loved it, so was delighted to be able to get a review copy of this, the second book, from NetGalley.
Finley Jayne has experienced a lot of life in her sixteen years. She’s not what you would call “normal”, but is working towards living her life as a whole person – rather than a conflicted creature not even she trusts – with the help of her “straynge band of mysfit” friends, including noble Griffin, super smart and sweet Emily, and strong and surly Sam. When the misadventures of their new friend Jasper take them to America, Finley and her troupe take on a new adversary, all the while still learning about their own abilities, figuring out how their friendships work, and discovering who can truly be trusted. Continue reading
This may be the first debut fantasy I’ve read that I wholeheartedly enjoyed. Kristin Cashore has managed to create a fresh plot, interesting and endearing characters, and a rollicking and romantic read.
Katsa lives in a world where certain individuals have a Grace. Graced persons have a specialist skill at which they excel with little or no training or effort. Graces can be frivolous or highly useful, and a Graced person always has two different coloured eyes. In Katsa’s world, the Graced are not necessarily loved – they are different, sometimes feared, and do not fit easily into society. The king has first refusal on their service; if he chooses to hold them, the Graceling becomes part of the royal retinue, no matter their beginnings. If he does not want them, the Graceling must eke out their own way in the world. Continue reading
(also published as Eon, Eon: Rise of the Dragoneye, and Eon: Dragoneye Reborn)
It’s been a long time since I’ve been sucked into a world so completely that I’ve read each page in breathless anticipation, unable to put the book down. When I managed to pry my eyes from the pages of award-winning author Alison Goodman’s The Two Pearls of Wisdom, it still filled my thoughts, and I counted the seconds until I could immerse myself again.
But where to start? With the utterly real and heart-wrenching characterization perhaps? The author has created a marvellously detailed world peopled with characters who are so non-stereotypical and beautifully realized that you care deeply about their lives, their decisions and their actions. This is true not just of the main character Eon/Eona, but of the supporting cast as well. You fear for Eona as she battles for her power, her life, her honour. You almost cry over her anxiety, and burst with pride at her accomplishments. It is such a powerful connection between characters and reader. The character of Eona is true to her age and experience – her uncertainty about her power, and the decisions she struggles with, are congruent with the overwhelming situation she is facing. She has such enormous responsibility thrust on her from the very beginning, holding the lives of her household in her hands, and then so much more, that her actions are believable and honest. Continue reading