Thursday, August 20, 2015

Not just your typical wizard-school story!

The Natural OrderThe Natural Order by R.J. Vickers

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Do not be deterred by the apparent plot similarities to Harry Potter - "The Natural Order" may be a magic school-type novel, but it is a wholly original take on the genre. The protagonist, Tristan, is serving time as a juvenile delinquent, accused of manslaughter. As he mourns the brother whose death he caused, a stranger turns up and whisks him away, along with 14 other students, to an obscure location. Here he is thrown into a school unlike any he has ever known - a school with an entirely unique array of subjects. Here he makes friends, and a few fiends, and begins to unearth the dark secrets behind the Lair.

Well written, and enjoyable, R.J. Vickers has designed a magic system that is uniquely her own. She has created a believable cast of troubled teens, sprinkled in a generous amount of typical High School drama and insecurities and added a dusting of magic. Her concepts are well considered and should lead into a promising series as Tristan and his friends discover more of what their future entails.

View all my reviews

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Celtic Delight

The Black Swans (The Antrim Cycle #1)The Black Swans by N.W. Moors

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

"The Black Swans" beautifully blends reality and folklore in an engaging and romantic tale. It tells of Taisie, a young and relatively shy woman, who lives in the small (fictional) town of Antrium, Maine. She spends her days knitting and working in a shop, living with her grandmother, with occasional forays out on the lake. Her life takes a turn for the better when she hears Celtic band, The Black Swans, and feels a connection with their piper. But there is more to this family group than meets the eye, and it is not mere coincidence that a flock of black swans have taken up to life on her lake.

Eloquently written, with a delightful cast of characters and a touch of magic, "The Black Swans" should satisfy anyone who loves folklore, fairy tale re-tellings, romantic fantasy, and a good read.

My only complaints is that the ending felt a little rushed, and the author's knowledge of swan biology may have been lacking although, to be fair, I am sure there are plenty of people out there that believe swans eat fish and Taisie never did get around to actually researching them. I am, alas, a bit of a zoology-pedant when it comes to writing.

View all my reviews