Book Review: ‘Galatine’s Curse’ by T.J. Green

‘Galatine’s Curse’ delivers plenty of adventure, fun, and heroic action .

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T.J. Green Galatine's CurseIt is a fine author indeed who can craft complex and varied worlds and realms, and interweave them seamlessly with the stuff of time-honoured legends so that the reader feels as though this is where those legends must have always taken place. The Other is one such world – connected to ours by portals, vast and incredibly varied and complex. Green has proven her finesse in world building, and in the crafting of unique and interesting races as its inhabitants.

‘Galatine’s Curse’ is the third in T.J. Green’s YA Arthurian sword and sorcery fantasy series. Once again, Green takes the reader on a journey through The Other with Tom, Beansprout, Woodsmoke, Arthur and Merlin, where they encounter new challenges and a variety of new characters that bring dangers of their own.

Tom in particular faces bigger, darker threats than previously, providing plenty of heart-in-the-throat moments and tension that drives the story toward its conclusion.

This book delivers plenty of adventure, fun, and heroic action and reminds the reader not only of the importance of friendship and loyalty, but also that there are some challenges and tasks that one has to face and undertake for oneself. Like the best YA novels, it’s a ripping read with plenty of depth and complexity to engage teens and adults alike.
Acorn Award I Golden

‘Galatine’s Curse’ has been awarded a Gold Acorn award.

Find your copy here.

Book Review: ‘Red Sarah’ by C.A. Kauffman

A delightful fantasy story that blends the historical, magical and contemporary worlds.

C.A. Kauffman Red SarahThis is a delightful fantasy story that blends the historical, magical and contemporary worlds with an interesting sci-fi twist.

While the mystery around Sarah and the Reds is answered as the story develops, questions about the fate of Lucas and the kingdoms of Mist and Marlowe remain until the very end. The story does have a surprisingly satisfying ending, although most likely not the one most readers expect or prefer.

As with many stories this length, none of the characters are particularly thoroughly developed, but the reader does come to feel that they know Sarah and Lucas fairly well, and that they are invested enough to want particular outcomes for them.

‘Red Sarah’ is an interesting and enjoyable short read that can be read comfortably in the space of a little over an hour, or managed easily enough during breaks in a busy day.
Acorn Award II Silver

This book has been awarded a Silver Acorn.

Get your copy here.

Book Review: ‘Tainted Waters’ by Lucretia Stanhope

This is a fantastic read that keeps the reader wondering and guessing from start to finish.

It is often said that light drives out darkness and that loves drives away fear. Such proverbs may be mostly true most of the time, but not without exception.

Lucretia Stanhope PPK 1Tainted Waters

‘Tainted Waters’ is a book full of such exceptions. It is a story of shadows and illusions, doubts and deceptions, and of clouded thoughts and emotions. In her youth, Alice desires security, truth and a sense of belonging, but enjoys none of these. Trusting nobody and belonging nowhere, her world is one where, time and time again, she has to choose the least terrible option and learn to make the best of it.

Stanhope has woven a tale in which conflict, distrust and obscured truths come into sharp contrast as the powers of light and darkness battle with one another for supremacy. As Alice discovers who and what she is, and how to make use of the resources available to her, the reader sees those same contrasts in her character: naïveté and inherited knowledge, vulnerability and power, weakness and strength.

This is a fantastic read that keeps the reader wondering and guessing from start to finish. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and found it hard to put down.
Acorn Award I Golden

‘Tainted Waters’ has been awarded a Gold Acorn for excellence in storytelling.

Find your copy here.

Book Review: ‘The Rose Thief’ by Claire Buss

‘The Rose Thief’ is a book that I just wanted to keep reading.

Claire Buss The Rose Thief

 

‘The Rose Thief’ is a quirky fantasy adventure that makes compulsive reading. It is entirely delightful and captivating.

 

Laced with humour and loaded with vivid, unique characters, the story is set in the kingdom of Roshaven, where someone is stealing the Emperor’s roses. This sets off a chain of events in which the reader discovers that things are not always as they appear to be, and there is always more to someone’s actions than what is observed on the surface.

 

Buss has crafted the story with a high degree of originality: while it includes many standard fantasy elements, the author has shaped and combined them in her own way so that their qualities and abilities are all quite individual and delightfully idiosyncratic.

 

The reader is quickly engaged by the opening scenes, and then becomes invested in the characters and the challenges they face. The story is well-developed and moves at good pace, with the author demonstrating excellent control over the reader by accelerating and slowing them down at various stages without the reader being conscious of this happening until later.

 

The unfolding mystery and the development of the characters within the narrative is enhanced by the humour, which is at sometimes very cleverly saucy and at other times subversive, which made this reader chuckle quite a bit, but it is never inappropriate, nor does it overwhelm or distract from the story that is being told.

 

‘The Rose Thief’ is a book that I just wanted to keep reading. I really hope there is going to be a sequel.

Acorn Award I Golden

Because it’s absolutely brilliant, I did wonder for a moment if there’s any higher award than a Gold Acorn— but there’s not. So a Gold Acorn it is!

Get your copy here.

Book Review: ‘The Castle’ by Nikki Moyes

A highly original and engaging short read.

Nikki Moyes The Castle
‘The Castle’ is a fantasy/scifi short story about Risha, who finds herself vulnerable because of her age and place in society.

 

This is a story in which the author has created an empowering female lead character for a YA audience, something that we definitely need to see more of at this point in time. Rather than dwelling on her weaknesses, Risha focuses on her strengths and uses them to face the situation in which she finds herself.

 

The reader is quickly immersed in Risha’s world, becoming an observer and looking over Risha’s shoulder as she transforms from an observer into an actor in the story that unfolds,  taking some surprising turns that keep the reader guessing.

 

Highly original and engaging, this is a great short read that can easily be enjoyed in a lunch break.

Acorn Award I Golden

Book Squirrel has awarded ‘The Castle’ a Gold Acorn.

 

Find your copy on Amazon.

Book Review: ‘A Shape On The Air’ by Julia Ibbotson

This brilliant story is an absolutely enthralling blend of historical fiction, fantasy, and science fiction.

Julia Ibbotson A Shape On The Air

 

This brilliant story is an absolutely enthralling blend of historical fiction, fantasy, and science fiction.

 

Drawn into the life of Vivianne Du Lac, history professor, the reader is almost immediately plunged into an intricate web of complications, challenges and unexpected developments that are woven together so that no strand of the story is independent of the others. The narrative is smooth and well-constructed, and Ibbotson’s writing is excellent.

 

The characters are very well crafted, especially given that each fits into more than one story strand. Viv is the most complex and detailed of them all, being the central character, but the others are all given depth through their interactions and responses as the story progresses.

 

More than simply being enjoyable, this is a thought-provoking and involving read in which the reader becomes completely engrossed. Acorn Award I Golden

 

‘A Shape On The Air’ has been awarded a Gold Acorn.

 

Get your copy at Amazon.

Book Review: ‘Crossroads of Draston’ – An Anthology

A varied and entertaining fantasy collection.

‘Crossroads of Draston’ delivers a varied collection of highly original fantastic tales of elves, dwarves, mages, people and beasts, and of the challenges and struggles they face. All of the stories are well-written and engaging.

As with any anthology, some were more to my taste than others. Of all these Dragonband Tales, those that appealed to me most were ‘The Librarian’ and ‘Magic Within’.

In ‘The Librarian’ the reader is introduced to Wiggum, a delightful gnome burdened with insatiable curiosity, who discovers that even seemingly benign actions can have significant consequences. I really wanted this story to be much longer.

Alaya, the central character of ‘Magic Within’, is the kind of heroine I really love – loyal, brave, and dogged, fully committed to freeing those who are enslaved and serving justice to those who deserve it. I would really like to read the next “chapter” in her story, too.

This collection offers everything from high fantasy to more visceral and macabre stories, so there is something for all fantasy lovers here.

Acorn Award II SilverBook Squirrel has awarded ‘Crossroads of Draston’ a Silver Acorn because it’s an entertaining and varied fantasy anthology.

Find it on Amazon.