Monday, September 30, 2013

A Light, Magical Tale

Spellbound and DeterminedSpellbound and Determined by Dax Varley

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed this fun, quick read. It is a "Scavenger hunt" style story with an entertaining plot; a quick-thinking, witty protagonist; a cute geeky boy; a somewhat crazed best friend and an adorable ferret. Whilst quite a lot of time was spent on High School Hi-jinks (specifically in relation to best friend Reade's foolish crush on the temperamental, and not particularly smart, Troy), the exploits that these three must undertake to collect the ingredients for their magic spell are rather fun. The "grey guy" antagonist could be better developed, he did not radiate particular menace to me, but overall it proved to be easy to pick up, difficult to put down, and had a cute ending (and an adorable ferret).

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Saturday, September 28, 2013

A Glorious Steampunk/Faerie Tale

The Whatnot (The Peculiar, #2)The Whatnot by Stefan Bachmann

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

With "The Peculiar" fresh in mind, I embarked excitedly upon "The Whatnot". Like its predecessor, it has a magnificant cover, filled with whimsical charm and a story inside to match. Bachman pens a splendid narrative, filled with evocative colour and vibrancy; lyrical and poetic, he casts a magical weave.

"The Whatnot" picks up some six or so years after the door to the faerie lands was temporarily opened, and Bartholomew's sister, Hettie, snatched away into the other world. He has never given up looking for her. But what is several years for him, has been a decidedly shorter preiod of time for her. Hettie is given decidedly more personality in this book, playing a much more important role, as she becomes the maid-servant/pet for a sidhe noblewoman. Meanwhile, back in Victorian England, a boy without an eye is having visions, and may be the key to the location of a faerie door. However, the English are about to go to war with the fae and things are about to get deadly.

These worlds are so exquisitely imagined, surreal in beauty and charm. The characters are given more room to shine, and the narrative flows at a smooth and lyrical pace. The sort of book that once you have picked it up, it is easy to keep reading and be drawn away into a vibrant and forboding land.
And, I am happy to report, that this ending left me feeling contented!

eARC courtesy of Harper Collins and NetGalley, an EXCELLENT site for book reviewers, librarians and booksellers. I recommend it if you love reading (and love reading books first).

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Thursday, September 26, 2013

Evocative Tales from the Fae of England

The Peculiar (The Peculiar, #1)The Peculiar by Stefan Bachmann

This beautifully written tale is filled with evocative imagery, a delightful cast of strange faerie beings and an engaging and interesting plot.  It is the story of Bartholomew Kettle and his little sister Hettie, two half-fae children (Changelings aka Peculiars) living in a Victorian era England where the fae had returned, causing calamity and then intergrating with the native populations. The world is beautifully realised and well rendered. The clockwork birds, the creepy Mr Lickerish and the mysterious lady in Plum all wove together into a compelling and captivating tapestry.

It has rather a slow, but luxurious build, with Bartholomew's storyline running parallel with that of Arthur Jelliby, a councillor who finds himself, through a series of befuddled coincidences, wrapped up in it all. After this build, however, the ending came all too swiftly and severed itself shortly after the climax, with no wind-down. This works in the context of the narrative, but did leave me feeling as though I had suddenly become disconnected from a world, and a story, that I had become so drawn into.

I shall be looking forward to delving into this world again, when the sequel is released locally.

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