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Aug 20

Feyland: The Twilight Kingdom

Posted on Thursday, August 20, 2015 in Books, Fantasy, Reviews, Young Adult Books

I found these books on Wattpad and read the first two titles in the series (and also a sort of prequel). Then I discovered there was a good price for all three books in print, and I got them, because generally, I like to own all my favorite books in print.

Just like the first books in the series, this one was great. Well written and fascinating. The characters felt real and they were likeable (though I do find it just a little bit annoying that Jennet is so perfect). As I’ve mentioned before I really like Marny a lot better.

The relatively dystopian future setting works well. I’m not usually a fan of the new dystopian subgenre. Just like the ‘new’ urban fantasy isn’t to my taste either. In this book, the setting works. It’s not a ‘total’ dystopy, just the sort of society we’re already seeing the first traces of, in slum areas and rural areas all over the world. There’s advanced technology, but also vast areas where people live in poverty in crumbling buildings with threatening criminal gangs taking over.

In this book, we get to see a bit more of other characters, but again, not nearly enough of Marny. I think she should have been more included in the plot and it would have been great if a love interest could have been found for her.

If you’ve read my reviews of the earlier books in the series, you already know about my feelings about this series, so I don’t have much more to add, other than that I can really recommend them to anyone who loves fantasy, but also those who like modern YA books. There may not be vampires, werewolves and zombies, but it feels ‘modern’ in the writing style and the description of characters and in this context, it’s all positive.

Apr 12

Cuckoo Song by Frances Hardinge

Posted on Sunday, April 12, 2015 in Books, Children's books, Fantasy, Reviews, Young Adult Books

“When Triss wakes up after an accident, she knows that something is very wrong. She is insatiably hungry; her sister seems scared of her and her parents whisper behind closed doors. She looks through her diary to try to remember, but the pages have been ripped out.

Soon Triss discovers that what happened to her is more strange and terrible than she could ever have imagined, and that she is quite literally not herself. In a quest find the truth she must travel into the terrifying Underbelly of the city to meet a twisted architect who has dark designs on her family – before it’s too late.”

This book was a little creepy, as the author herself puts it, but it never gets too scary for the age group it’s intended for (that I imagine might be about 9-12 and of course, all the rest of us who are young at heart). Despite all the weird details you learn about Triss, you find yourself being sympathetic to her. She is in a very frightening situation and as she uncovers more and more about the secret of what’s happened to her, things go from bad to worse. Fortunately, she manages to find a few (to begin with) reluctant allies along the way.

Frances Hardinge turns out to be quite a versatile author. She showed up just in time, for me to discover her books, when Diana Wynne Jones passed away. Not that I’ve stopped loving her books and will continue to read them, but sadly now there won’t be any more from her. Hardinge’s books remind me a bit of Diana Wynne Jones’ books. I’ve been quite surprised at how varied Hardinge’s stories are, especially when it comes to the setting. They’re all quite ‘serious’ and dark, but not too much so. Fortunately there’s always a happy ending, at least to some extent.

If I’m going to mention something that didn’t quite work out, it’s the fact that the atmosphere in the story didn’t ‘feel’ like the 1920’s – at first I couldn’t guess what time the story was set in – anytime before the 1970’s? I also have a bit of a question – did the newspapers really publish photos of missing people back then? It seems a bit too modern, but then I’m hardly an expert.

This book, that I initially thought might be a bit too dark to be a real favorite for me, actually turned out to be among my very favorites, among Hardinge’s books. In fact, I love them all, though I found the last book I read (Face of Glass) a little too bleak and depressing. As for Cuckoo Song, I can recommend it to anyone who likes low fantasy YA books. I rate it 4 out of 5.

Feb 13

Feyland: The Bright Court

Posted on Friday, February 13, 2015 in Books, Fantasy, Reviews

First I’ll just mention the prequel, Feyland: The First Adventure. I hadn’t seen it before I read Feyland: The Dark Realm, which is really the first book in the trilogy, and only just discovered it when I was looking for the sequel. So I read the prequel first. I must say it didn’t really contribute much to the storyline. What happened in that short story, wasn’t really new, just a bit more fleshed out than in the sort of flashback, or intro, so in a way, I might as well just have skipped it entirely. Then again, since I wanted more from the Feyland Trilogy, it was fun to get just that. Maybe it would have been better to just add the intro to The Dark Realm, but I’m not complaining.

The Bright Court begins more or less right after The Dark Realm ended. It feels a lot like the second part of the same book. I don’t really have much to add to my first review of this trilogy, but just for the record: I loved this book as much as the first.

This time, you get to see more of Tam Lin’s old friend Marny, who in my opinion is a very cool, rather underused character. Maybe it would be unfair to say that she’s a more interesting character than Jennet, but there, I’ve said it. On the other hand, Jennet has matured a lot from the prequel to the second book.

The situation at the end of the first book is pretty much unchanged when The Bright Court begins. The same threats exist, except at the moment, Marny is the one in most danger. Why that is, you’ll have to read the book to find out. Even when she’s in danger, she’s a pretty resourceful person, so she’s not totally helpless, but at the moment, she needs a bit of help and her friends are ready to risk entering Feyland again to give her that help.

It’s a very good book. If you love fantasy, Faerie and computer games you should read it. I only wish Book 3 would be available for free. On the one hand, I’m prepared to buy the whole series in print, but on the other, I’d prefer to know what I’m buying. Someone told me there’s a second trilogy by the same author, set in the same ‘universe’. If it’s as good as this trilogy, I’d love to read it too.

Jan 28

Feyland: The Dark Realm by Anthea Sharp

Posted on Wednesday, January 28, 2015 in Books, Fantasy, Reviews

I just finished reading another fascinating and well written book on Wattpad, Feyland: The Dark Realm by Anthea Sharp. It’s a modern (actually futuristic) take on the Tam Lin legend and the one about Thomas the Rhymer. In this story, the maiden is a girl playing a very advanced 3D computer game. She discovers to her cost that her game has a connection with Faerie. To return to Feyland, to regain what she’s lost, she needs a champion and finds it in the form of a boy at her new school. He gladly accepts her plea for help, because he’s impressed with the pretty girl and because he loves playing computer games. His personal life is complicated and at first this offer seems very attractive. After a while, he realizes the seriousness of his undertaking but accepts it anyway.

I found both characters quite easy to relate to and like, and the same goes for the boy’s other friend, a girl I don’t think is based on any character from one of the legends. In fact, all characters seem interesting, although the villain is naturally neither pleasant nor likeable. If I have any complaint about this book, it’s mainly that it could have been longer and even more developped, but that’s a minor complaint. I’m just greedy. 🙂

The author sketches a realistic and depressing dystopia (the real world setting). I imagine it’s supposed to be a relatively near future (twenty-thirty years ahead maybe, though that’s just a guess).

This mix between fantasy and a future setting with advanced technology is something I really enjoy. Somehow they go well together.

Fortunately, there’s a prequel and a second book in what looks to be a trilogy about Feyland. I’m looking forward to reading the rest of the series. If you like fantasy and technology you’ll probably enjoy it too. The books are available for purchase in several online bookstores, for instance Amazon and Smashwords, as well as for free on Wattpad.

Jul 1

Eccentric Circles by Rebecca Lickiss

Posted on Tuesday, July 1, 2008 in Books, Fantasy, Reviews

The fantasy book Eccentric Circles is one I can really recommend. The author – Rebecca Lickiss – is relatively new. I only know of one other book by her. It’s called Never After. They’re both fun, interesting and well written, but I think Eccentric Circles is a little better.

That might be because it’s about a girl who has a bit in common with me. Not the funny, but totally weird hippie family, but her situation in general. She’s a single girl, who is also an unpublished writer. Unfortunately, that’s where the likeness ends. Or maybe I shouldn’t saying unfortunately. All kinds of things happen to her that I wouldn’t want happening in my life.

At the beginning of the book, her great-grandmother (I think it’s the greatgreandmother, but when I reread the book, I got the impression it was her grandmother, but I think she’s three generations older, she was over a hundred years old). Piper (that’s the name of the main character) inherits her relative’s house, because she’s so good at books…

Her job will be to clean out the house and categorize all the books her older relative has collected. While doing that, her wacky family, who is driving her crazy – personally I don’t get why, they seem like a lot of fun – get her a job in a bookstore. Lucky girl!

While she’s getting the house in order, she finds out a few odd things about it. For one, there’s far more space behind the house than there should be, more specifically the world of Faerie. She also meets an incredibly gorgeous elf – who’s a bard or something – he calls himself a wordsmith. There’s also a genuine dwarf, who has his own cave where he mines jems and a grumpy old wizard, who lives in a tower, and several really irritating pixies who fly around playing tricks on people, sometimes quite nasty ones.

Soon Piper learns that her grandmother (or greatgrandmother) was murdered and she has to find out who did it. But the plot is a bit more complex than that. Besides the murder, it’s about how our literature affects and changes Faerie.

One example is that an elf used to be considered a little goblin, who could be found squatting on a toadstool. After Tolkien monumental work, the elves are now considered to be tall, beautiful and poetic.

This is quite a unique concept in fantasy literature.

In any case, Piper falls in love with Aelveron (the sexy elf) but isn’t sure if she can trust him. After a while, she uncovers clues that seem to indicate he seduced and murdered her greatgrandmother. To make things even more confusing, Piper also finds clues that point to other Faerie creatures. On top of that, the pixies keept terrorizing her and as always, her family irritates her enormously.

For instance, it seems that while I (and most readers, I assume) find it amusing, it drives her crazy that her family accepts Aelveron without any surprise. When Piper protests a family member points out that at least he has more reason than most to believe himself to be an elf – he looks like one. Piper’s younger brother hisses that she has to keep that hot guy far away from his girlfriend.

In the end, Piper solves the murder, saves Faerie and her own world and manages to exorcise her grandmother’s ghost. Not bad for an unemployed writer! And after all that, she still has access to Faerie through her own backyard, and her job in the bookstore.

Read the book, you’ll like it. It’s funny, exciting, interesting and romantic.


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