Tag: urban fantasy

James: Witch Hunter

K. S. Masden’s Witch Hunter series has been on my TBR list for a while so I was very much looking forward to delving into this book. And, it didn’t disappoint!

Descent

James: Witch Hunter is a prequel story to the Witch Hunter series, which can be read before or after the main series. Right away I warmed to James, the main character, who we see on his first day at Oxford University. He is a very down-to-earth, likable guy. I really enjoyed watching James, the Yorkshire lad, mingle with the rather more affluent and, often uptight, Southerners. There was plenty of conflict and comedy value here, and it really brought out James’ easy-going and fun-loving nature.

Depth

The real story gets started when James starts spying on his haughty, aristocratic roommate, Hunter. There is great conflict between these two characters. James finds himself swept up into Hunter’s world of witch-hunting and the two guys who seemed to be from two completely different worlds, (lol, they were, i.e. the one with witches and the one without), find themselves forming an unexpected friendship. Alongside this, there is the fancy backdrop of Hunter’s family, with lots of ancient witch-hunting heritage, as well as a secret witch-hunting council to delve into…and, of course, witches! What’s not to like!

Ascent

I really enjoyed James and Hunter’s escapades in witch-hunting. I think the only thing I would have liked to see more of were the witches. Although there were a few fights with them throughout the novel, I found the final showdown a little short. But, I guess that kept me wanting more, and I will definitely be reading the series to get both my witch-hunter…and witchy fix.

The Elementals – Book Review

This has been on my TBR list for ages. I now have the whole series to work through…not a bad thing! Would definitely recommend this book and have put it in my YA book giveaway that I’m running this month!  

 

 

 

Descent

MC, Nicole doesn’t know she’s a witch! The story is a gentle descent into the magical world. However, it was the typical setting of a high school, where the story begins and plays out – so a star off here for me.  In her new class, her teacher uses magic and Nicole discovers she is a witch. (The reason for her ignorance is explained later when her family history is explored.) A quiet, approachable girl, Kate takes Nicole under her wing, promising to catch her up on the witchcraft stuff.

The unavailable hot guy, Blake is thrown into the mix early on. And the blending of witchcraft and Greek mythology starts. “Did you know that we – meaning everyone in our homeroom – are descended from Greek gods?”

We see Nicole develop her witchcraft, with descriptions of using energy, visualised as colour.

There’s a malevolent undercurrent in the use of energy with stories about how Danielle (Blake’s girlfriend) has used energy to hurt people. Blake too, hints at there being another side to their powers.“…once a witch takes someone else’s energy – from a human or another witch – their body stops producing energy of its own. They become leeches…until they’ve taken it all.”

.“…once a witch takes someone else’s energy – from a human or another witch – their body stops producing energy of its own. They become leeches…until they’ve taken it all.”

Depth

After the intro into this world, the outlines of its dangers, the real story starts when the witches do meditation one night when a comet is due to be visible. Although the rest of there class is there, it is only Nicole’s group (Blake, Danielle, Kate and Chris) that feels different afterwards. Gradually, they come to realise that they can control one of the four elements, earth, air, fire and water. The fifth, being aether. Darius, their teacher and one of the Elders of Witches, gives them a prophecy that he reckons pertains to them, about the five elements. About midway through, they are attacked by a “two-headed scorpion-tailed dog monster”, a Chimera of sorts, and there is a sense of real danger. I enjoyed their first battle in the playground here, with fireballs.

Ascent

When they reach the end of their quest to solve the prophecy, the object they find waiting for them, is being guarded by another mythological creature, a harpy type woman, half bird, half woman. The reasons for them being led here and what is at stake escalates quickly. The exciting battle scene is well-written and paced, with plenty at stake for our MC. And…even better, there is a nice twist at the end, another secret that Nicole is forced to bear alone. This very much made me want to read on, and I’m looking forward to reading volume two.

Smoke: Book Review

I got a lovely hardback copy of Smoke by Dan Vyleta  for my birthday 🙂 Something a little different too: YA Fantasy, but set in an alternate Edwardian England. It details a world where sin shows up as soot on skin. I hear you, the old adage: “there’s no smoke, without fire”, except in this world there is. Or more the sins and evils that burn within us are excreted through the pores as smoke and cover everyone and everything in the world with soot.

I found the concept really interesting with lots of links to Christianity and the concept of evil, as well as the consideration of one’s emotions and desires – how much is expressed or hidden of the individual.

Vyleta opens the novel with a quote from Dickens that inspired the story. Rightly so, the language and style feels very Dickensian with the squalid descriptions of London and the constant sense that the characters are going to be consumed by the smoking city. Thomas and Livia, two of the MCs when they come to London, are described thus:

“A cold drizzle is falling, taunting them with the kind of proximity they resorted to during the night, shoulder to shoulder, thigh to thigh. They ignore it and sit yards apart. Even so he is conscious of her Smoke; feels it reach across the gap and tug at his very bones. It is as though he were built to drink her sin. London is a place where people touch. Before, he had not understood the implications of this simple truth.”

I found the story itself a little slow to get off the ground and even when it did it lacked the  momentum of most YA reads these days. That is no bad thing  in my opinion. In a world where everyone’s looking for the next fix, this book makes you sit back and ruminate. It is more about the slowly built tension and unease between and within the characters that draws you. Mostly, I read on for the  interesting concepts behind the story. Don’t expect a fast-paced read, but certainly, a thought provoking one, that lingers like a cloud of billowing smoke.

Image from: http://londonbeep.com/nicknames-of-london-city

 

Book Review: The Scarlet Thread

Thought I’d give this D.S.Murphy book a try as I wanted to read a little more in the Myth and Legend category of Amazon. (Technically my series that I’m releasing in March will be in this so I should be reading more from here). Although, it can be categorised as Urban Fantasy too so….

Anyways, I enjoyed bits of this. I’ll say some good things first. The heroine is painted well: Kaidance, a disillusioned teen girl, living in a kind of juvenile detention centre.

Quickly, we come to understand that she’s not a bad person, just that she’s got freaky powers that led her parents to put her in here unjustly. (Going to add here – I think there was a little too much backstory drawn out in the first two chapters to do with this, which halted the momentum of the story.)

I particularly liked the first meeting/interaction between Kaidance and Puriel.

“Before I could stop him he licked his thumb and brushed it against my cheek to wipe away the blood…That’s when I saw the stars. I thought I might have blacked out. My vision was filled with millions of them, whole galaxies, everything converging together into one blinding light, and then nothingness. Just empty, black void.”

I’ve been looking a lot at first meetings between the love interests in YA Fantasy books and I thought this was nicely handled. It also alluded to the vast, mind-boggling world Kaidance will soon find herself in.

Okay, other than that I found the next bit – when they get to a kind of house/training camp way too Percy Jackson-esque and the characters (stroppy, antagonistic girl), (hot, nymphomaniac guy)  a bit of a cop out. I’m definitely up for using the Greek Gods and their well-known characters as a foundation to build a character, but not to find anything unique and different in them is disappointing.

Lastly, I’d say it was a great pity that it was only part one of the story. The way it ends mid-battle scene is…unfulfilling.

Checking out D.S.Murphy’s stuff  – I’ve seen that he has a lot of useful info about self-publishing, promoting your book and other useful stuff. So definitely worth having a look at if you’re considering self-publishing.

Courtesy of: https://southridgeblog.com/2014/04/16/the-scarlet-thread-part-3-john-316/

Book Review: Pure

Pure by Julianna Baggott was recommended to me by my brother ages ago – finally got round to reading it. A YA Dystopian novel that is definitely unique. The story takes place after a nuclear detonation and features a world where some survivors are living in a Dome, shielded from the detonations, whilst the others are victims living outside and bear the marks of the detonations.

It is this grizzly world on the outside that is captured so well that captivates: people have become fused with objects (one of the main characters, Pressia has a doll head fused over her hand). This new world becomes more horrific with people fused to animals, to the earth and to one another. It’s the fantastic world-building that keeps you reading and is its greatest strength.

On the downside, I found that telling the story from so many viewpoints weakened the story and I wanted to get back to the MCs Pressia and Partridge. Another issue was that I felt that there was a lot of backstory interjected about how the world used to be, which slowed down the pace and to my mind was unnecessary at certain times. Okay, last annoyance I’m going to mention is that the threat/antagonist (I’m not going to ruin it by saying what it is) becomes all too knowing and far-reaching. I felt the antagonist cheapened itself and the whole story because of this.

I want to say lastly that I found the way Pressia was schooled by her grandfather in how it was in the past very touching. There’s a lovely poignancy built up in some of the contrasts to the present with what used to be. For instance OSR, who control and govern the people outside the dome take part in death sprees now and then, killing those they hunt down. The sound of this deadly game conjures up this thought in Pressia:

“Her grandfather refers to the different chants as bird calls, each one supposedly distinctive.”

A good read on account of the unique and fascinating world building.

(Image from http://elfinal-delahistoria.blogspot.co.uk/)

 

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children: Book Review

This has been on my list to read for a while. With the film coming out this year, I knew I had to get on it. There’s no doubt about my having to see the movie when it’s released. (Eva Green is one of my favourite actresses so I just have to! Incidentally, I’m loving getting my weekly Eva Green fix once more in the new series of Penny Dreadful.)

However – this is the book review! The first thing to strike you is of course, the stunningly atmospheric and creepy photographs throughout the book.

DSCF2503.jpgDSCF2515.jpgDSCF2516.jpg

(Case in point.)

The fact that the author’s woven a strange and fast-paced narrative between the photos makes it a unique read. It takes you back to being a kid. There really is something to exploring a story with immersive and darkly-fantastical visuals to match. It reminded me as well of the trend writers have nowadays to make character, setting and other boards to help plan their stories in pinterest, which I myself have started doing sometimes as a nice way of getting into the world-building process.

The dank and yet luscious Welsh countryside with its spooky, abandoned house was a great backdrop. And it was great fun to read about the peculiar children and step into their world, fittingly balanced by the revolting monsters that hunted them.

I think more than anything though, this is a great book to show the creative, powerful effect images can have. It makes you want to get imagining your own stories and create different worlds from the everyday things you see around you. If like me you’re a little late reading this one, I hope you enjoy this immersive, thrilling tale!

 

 

Happy Halloween Creatures of the Night

I wrote a little about vampires not that long ago in a post about urban fantasy. At this time of year lots more people start thinking about these beings. Whether its Twilight, Vampire Diaries, Vampire Academy or any of the many more books, TV shows and films out there on this subject, there certainly is a fascination for the subject. I think it only right I make a respectful acknowledgement of these intriguing creatures too.

Let’s pause and reflect for a moment on this immortal. He beckons you, easily summoning you to him and you feel as though you would be content to remain with him here if only due to his handsome appearance and the intelligence in his gaze. Yet, it is his contradictory nature that makes you linger in the shadows.

  • He is dead and yet hungers for life
  • He is wise and yet possesses something primal

Before you think seriously of sidling up to this fellow, I must warn you – you can never fully know him. He is outside of time and nature. He has a consciousness, an awareness of what it means to be human, but with each passing day it dims; so that in the end, time is inverted and the past is far more palpable than the present moment.

If you do still want to draw nearer I recommend reading Bram Stoker’s Dracula and watching the 1992 film adaptation this Halloween weekend. I’ll also be treating myself to Anne Rice’s Interview with a Vampire and the 1994 film of the same. I believe the latter is the best of all vampire literature.

If I feel I haven’t had my fix I may throw in The Hunger, 1983 and Queen of the Damned, 2002. Admittedly these are less about substance and more about style with David Bowie strutting his stuff in the first and the songs of Jonathan Davis from Korn providing the voice of ‘The Brat Prince’. If nothing else, these two sure show that immortality gives you time to develop an impeccable sense of style, and taste.

Calling all immortals!

I’ve been meaning to do this post for a while. A future post will definitely be saved for the topic of an in-depth analysis of the glorious vampire! Perhaps also for the werewolf and witch. But for now, I wanted to speak about my reasons for loving the supernatural genre. I’ve heard lots of people who are into the genre say its appeal is in the magic and the mysticism. Yes. Some say its about escapism. Yes also.

But take the vampire as an example. The one leaning against the mantelpiece.  Don’t you love it when they lean 😉 His thoughtful gaze is fixed on the flames in the grate, but the fire doesn’t warm his icy skin, or chase away the shadows that fill his eyes.  O.K, sorry…but in each vampire, and supernatural story, is the same theme, which speaks to us and draws us. Whether your vampire dresses in velvet and lace, or leather and denim, whether his pallor is permanent or sparkles in the sun. He is immortal.

In other words the paranormal/urban fantasy/science-fiction wraps up our own mortality in a cast of characters – be they vampires or witches, elves or wizards. They carry us through time and give us the potential for an infinite story.

Edward Cullen in Twilight AKA Sparkles

Edward Cullen in Twilight AKA Sparkles

Lestat in Interview with The Vampire AKA The Prince of Vamps

Lestat in Interview with The Vampire AKA The Prince of Vamps

Suspension of Disbelief

I wanted to post a quick something I was thinking about recently – how useful Science can be in the SFF genre when used tentatively. I watched the film, The Age of Adaline, and in it the MC’s immortality is explained by a fluke accident, involving a car crash, hypothermia and electric shock by lightning. (All rather amazing, I know, but the short scientific aspect of the story is that during the accident some of her cell functions were altered). Lots of people, (who understand more about molecular biology than I do, would take umbrage at this scientific mumbo-jumbo; I know because my older sister’s one of them,an ex-biochemist). But a tentative, vague Scientific explanation is a great device to help suspend the reader/viewer’s disbelief and build that bridge from your fantasy to the real world.

A few months ago I did my own research into t

The face of immortality in The Age of Adaline

The face of immortality in The Age of Adaline

elomeres and the aging process, linking recent DNA research with goings-on in my Urban Fantasy world, (with my sister’s help of course). A great Fantasy book that uses this device successfully is Deborah Harkness’ A Discovery of Witches. Have a read and enjoy how easily your disbelief falls by the way-side.

© 2017 Rae Else

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑