Archive for young adult fantasy
When it comes to YA urban fantasy, this series has some die-hard followers. This is the final book in the series, so if you have been enjoying it, get ready for an emotional roller-coaster of a ride. As you know, Kylie has been on quite a journey ever since she came to Shadow Falls Camp. She has discovered her own true nature, come to know the power of magic and fallen in love. Not once, mind you, but twice.
Of course, along the way she has made a few enemies. What girl who discovers magical abilities in herself and her friends doesn’t? Now her greatest enemy has returned, and is determined to destroy her. There is only one way to deal with this. It will require Kylie to finally manifest all that she is. It is a risk she finds she just may have to take.
Making Hard Choices
But what urban fantasy would be complete without the resolution of a romantic triangle? Since this is the closing book in the series, you know that finally Kylie will have to choose. Can she forgive the one who cheated on her? Can she trust her heart? The fae boy and the shifter both claim her heart, but she can only be with one.
A Superb Cast of Characters
Some of the best parts of this urban fantasy series are the secondary characters. Once again, they really make the story as Della the vampire and Miranda the witch prove what real friendship is. In fact, Della has proven to be such a popular character that she has had two books of her own and the rumors are that the series will continue with a focus on Della.
Miranda can be a bit of a pain, but how can you not love her? The witch continues to struggle with her dyslexia (what a cool concept, since spells are such an important part of being a witch). I am really hoping we get to see more of her in the next set of stories.
Although this is the conclusion to the Shadow Falls series and Kylie’s story, there will be more to come with the new series. I loved that this one was concluded with the kind of HAE ending that is so satisfying in a good urban fantasy series. We will miss you, Kylie, but can always re-read your adventures and romance again.
The Chronological Man is a fantasy series that will put a smile on your face. With the charm of an absent-minded Time Lord, we are introduced to Smith. Just Smith, mind you, as he is never quite sure what the rest should say. He inquires if electricity has been invented yet and looks up odd facts. That he is some sort of a time traveler is obvious, but he never really says so. He is a mystery man, gallant gentleman and adventurer righting wrongs. For Dr. Who fans this may sound familiar.
Fantasy author Andrew Maine is a new name to me, but I think I will be keeping track of him after just reading the first dozen or so pages from his first book of the series The Chronological Man. If you are a fan of Dr. Who you will instantly recognize Smith for a Time Lord, though he is never called one. It is a clever device that carries well throughout the series. It doesn’t hurt that Maine can write well, and overcomes whatever shortcomings Dr. Who and self-publishing may bring to a new series. Charming, eccentric and kind to a fault, our man Smith is a Man of Mystery, especially to his young female “companion” April. But boring- that he never will be!
The setting is Chicago at the very tail end of the 19th century. Streetcars lumber through a fog-shrouded city. It is so dark that even in day the newly-invented street lamps can barely pierce it. Then, people begin to go missing. Someone, or something, is hunting in the fog.
When April took the job as a kind of personal assistant, she found it odd that she never met the man she was assisting. She gets assignments on small typed notes, to read books, attend plays and in general keep the tiny office running. Then one day he arrives through a mysterious door, and April’s life is changed from quiet and orderly to a disordered but exciting adventure.
She never knows exactly where we came from, but he seems to know the oddest things. He is determined to get to the bottom of the odd disappearances, and April is determined to help. Together they will face corrupt police, secret societies and even a mad scientist just itching to dissect Smith to find out just who and what he is. Smith and April will simply need to elude the mad doctor and get to the bottom of the mysterious kidnappings before the entire city goes mad with fear.
All of this adventure for less than a dollar? You bet! I think this guy’s prices are crazy, crazy like a fox! It is only available here as a Kindle download, so get yours today.
It is 1892 and New York City seems to have been visited by Martians. At least, that is what they say they are. No one seems to know what to do. April has decided to not be surprised that just when things are getting quite strange, Smith once again appears through that mysterious back door.
This time Smith does enlist the help of others to battle the threat from Mars. Besides the ever-so-plucky April, he decides to add none other than that great adventurer Theodore Roosevelt to his team. The nefarious politics of Tammany Hall and the threat of battling airships are just a few of the obstacles that they will need to overcome along the way. Together, they will solve the mystery of the Martian ambassador and rescue New York City from certain doom.
The second book is available at the same insanely cheap price, under a dollar. It is only available here as a Kindle download, so get yours today.
A fantasy book with poetic language, a lush landscape and an unforgettable heroine, how can you possibly go wrong? This is one of those rare books where you find yourself reading it aloud just to enjoy the lyricism of the words. Set in a magical medieval Europe, it weaves several stories together to give us a highly romantic tale told from a variety of viewpoints.
Although in some ways it is a retelling of the myth of Persephone, this wonderful old fairy tale of how a little girl named Percy came to meet the King of Death is both fantastical and very human. It begins with one of the most lovely paragraphs for an opening that I have read in any kind of book, fantasy or otherwise, in a long time.
“He came to them in the heart of winter, asking for his Cobweb Bride. He arrived everywhere, all at once. In one singular moment, he was seen, heard, felt, remembered. Some inhaled his decaying scent. Others bitterly tasted him. And everyone recognized Death in one way or another, just before the world was suspended.”
Death Comes Looking For His Bride
If you remember the story of Persephone, she became the bride of the King of Hades when he happened to see her and fell in love with her. He took her down to Hades to be his bride. But her mother followed her down and bargained for her daughter.
The deal was that because she had eaten six pomegranate seeds since she had arrived, she must remain with the King of Hades for six months of the year. In the myth, the earth went into mourning whenever Persephone was gone and that is why we have winter.
In this fantasy book retelling, instead of the King of Hades we have Death who arrives. He appears in the form of a tall dark Spaniard at the deathbed of the queen. He demands to know where his cobweb bride is. For even Death can fall in love. But his cobweb bride is nowhere to be found.
The End of Death
Until he can find his cobweb bride, Death has declared neither people nor animals shall die. But how to find her? The king is desperate, for his kingdom is in disarray when death does not come. Because the King does not know how to find the cobweb bride, he sends out a notice that every family must give up one daughter to be considered for Death’s bride. From that declaration we then meet Percy, the middle daughter of a simple family in a small village.
From Persephone to Percy
It is easy to see that Percy is one of the heroines of our story. She’s smart, inventive and has a lot of common sense. All of these are traits of a heroine in a fairy tale, even a somewhat modern one like this. Both the older and younger sister outshines Percy and she knows it. Her older sister is by far the prettiest in the village and her younger sister is vicious and beloved by everyone. In Percy’s family, she is the obvious choice. When Death declares a moratorium on dying, Percy realizes that her grandmother, who is on the verge of death, will remain in pain. The bride for Death must be found to release her grandmother. And so the journey begins.
Many Journeys of Discovery
But as she journeys we see the many ways that Death’s decision has affected everyone from Duke’s to the simplest of creatures. Knights in battle rise up again, a slain Duke decides to rule regardless, and the Emperor’s daughter, the Infantina, although assassinated cannot die. Worse yet, when animals cannot die how do we eat? When a neighbor’s pig is slaughtered, we suddenly discover the price could be hunger.
We also meet others who are on the journey to become perhaps the cobweb bride of Death. One of the most memorable is the Infantina. The daughter of the most powerful couple in The Kingdoms, she is brutally murdered but because of deaths declaration she cannot die.
Instead, she decides she is the perfect bride for Death. So she joins the throngs of young girls headed for the Northern Woods to offer themselves up as the cobweb bride of Death. Though she is in essence a zombie, the Infantina is one of my favorite characters because of how she grows as a person as she makes the journey.
Not Quite the Journey’s End
Although the story in this fantasy book comes to an end when the several cobweb bride candidates we have been following reach their destination, it is not the end of the story. For this is just the first book in a trilogy. I will warn you it is a little slow at the beginning. But take your time, enjoy the language, and follow the wonderful tale of the search for Death’s cobweb bride.
Disclosure: I received a free copy of Cobweb Bride from the publisher via NetGalley for review purposes.
You can download your own Kindle copy of Cobweb Bride and dig in, or order the paperback copy and even a hardcover version of it from the folks at Amazon. Note: If you are into maps, there is one in this book and it is hard to read on a Kindle, like most maps.
Charlie doesn’t just think he’s invisible; the world seems to act as if he is. His mother can’t remember his name, and his teachers never notice if he is in class and not. He knows his dad is the one who can tell him why, but his dad is only home twice a year. What Charlie doesn’t know is that he is a time traveler. And time travelers are always out of sync.
Then one day, Charlie finds himself being threatened by a clockwork man. When he accidentally follows the man through a black hole, he finds himself not in modern Philadelphia but somehow in London in 1725. As he chases the mystery of just what and who he is, he gets help from a fellow time traveler. But Yvaine is more than a fellow time traveler, for in the end she teaches Charlie about more than travelling through time. She teaches him about love.
A YA Adventure in Time and Space
Told from the viewpoint of teenage Charlie, this is a charming book that I think would appeal to anyone who is intrigued by the concept of time travel. There are problems to be overcome, such as Yvaine’s baby and what to do to save the baby’s father.
But how do they do it without affecting time? For even Charlie knows that time travelers should never change history. There are consequences to even the smallest of changes. But in this case, the consequences to not changing what is happened are even larger.
Untimed Delivers Action and Romance
I am a sucker for time travel stories. This particular one goes far beyond your basic adventure about traveling in time. I cared about Charlie within a few pages. It took longer to warm up to Yvaine, but once I did I had to cheer for her.
There’s plenty of action and the pace never slows down. There’s a touch of steampunk, there’s a bit of romance and it is written from the viewpoint of a teenager without looking down on one. This book has plenty to offer to any reader young or old.
An Unexpected Bonus
And then there are the illustrations! They are an unanticipated treat that add so much to the story. The black and white line drawings are lively and give us the feeling of looking in on Charlie’s adventures. While it is true that this is a fantasy story, this is no light fluffy escapade.
The threat that the clockwork men present, especially as we come to know more about them, feel very real. Charlie learns to be more inventive and confident as the story progresses. In short, it is a time traveler story that even the story lovers that aren’t into time traveling are bound to enjoy.
Are you ready to lose yourself in a great adventure? This is one of those rare times when I really recommend getting either the hardcover or paperback book instead of the kindle edition. The illustrations, while easy enough to see in the kindle version are a wonderful bonus you can really enjoy in the printed versions. But heck, I read it on my kindle and enjoyed it just fine. I’m just saying, those illustrations might make it worth the extra bucks.
Brandon Sanderson has always known a thing or two about creating magical systems for his fantasy stories. That he has taken the time to imagine a whole new approach to the concept of magic shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone who follows his work. This latest, the first book in a YA Fantasy series, is an interesting premise.
In The Rithmatist the wielders of magic use the power of the art of drawing. They are chalk drawings that when applied correctly become powerful weapons or awesome forms of defense. But to wield them you must know how. That is where our hero, a young man named Joel begins the story. For although he is just the son of a poor chalk maker; Joel has dreams of being a master of this magical chalk art. He wants to find a way to learn the art of the rithmatist.
The Rithmatist Mystery in A Fantasy Tale
Of course if this was simply a tale of how a lowly boy went to a school to learn the art of magic and became a wizard – well we can read a Harry Potter book for that! But there is much more at play here. For starters, there are illustrations at the start of each chapter that show us the magical chalk drawings that are the key in the next part of the story.
You see, this isn’t just a tale of a boy becoming a wizard. It is also a mystery. For no sooner does Joel begin to see a chance to become one of the few who can wield this magical art and fight off the Wild Chalkings, then mysterious disappearances begin happening at the school. Disappearances that could have grave consequences in this alternative world where the U.S. is a nation of islands and drawings are weapons in a secret war for supremacy.
The Rithmatists introduces us to an imaginative world It is filled with a very different vision of the planet and of magic. Sanderson takes us into a mystery that is filled with danger, wonder and most of all grand adventure.
You can explore this great new series by master storyteller Brandon Sanderson in either the handy paperback version, the even more portable kindle download or get your own grand hardcover version to show off to all your friends.
For true lovers of both the fantastical world of the fey and dark brooding romances like Jane Eyre, this story is just the right balance of the two. It begins with Jane Eliot, who wears an iron mask to protect the world from her fey-cursed markings on her face. For this is an England not quite like the one we know. It is still recovering from that moment less than a decade ago when the Fey world be revealed, and declare war on not only humanity but everything it embraced.
As a part of that battle, many were left with a curse that when exposed left the beholder unexpectedly caught in a strong and overwhelming emotion. For Jane’s bit of Fey shrapnel that had become embedded in her face, it was anger they would feel; uncontrollable anger.
Beyond the Classic Tale
While it is true that Jane Eyre is clearly the story behind Ironskin, this is no fantasy mash-up. Rather it is more a fantasy fan and writer’s homage to that classic romance. There is even a hint of steampunk to the tale. The Fey had brought with them a kind of fey electricity that soon began to fail when they departed five years prior to the start of our story. In its place, a few brave souls experiment with steam and gasoline powered vehicles.
The Mysterious Mr. Rochart
But our Jane finds herself in a bit of a situation when she loses her current position teaching young ladies at a private school. She answers an ad looking for a governess for a child who was born during The Great War. The child has “a delicate situation” and a mysterious and brooding artist for a father. But he is a man that Jane soon finds herself thinking about more than she should.
Together, Jane and Mr. Rochart discover some truths about the Fey. Along the way they may also uncover some truths about themselves that they both need to know in order to once again be whole. A story with romance, dark brooding heroes, spunky daring heroines and magical mysteries, what is not to love here? A perfect YA fantasy with plenty of emotion.
You can grab a copy of Ironskin by Tina Connolly from our friends at Amazon in either a lovely hardcover version to adorn your shelves after, the handy paperback format or easier still by downloading the kindle version directly to your reader.
It begins when Ennis, only six and a bit sweet and shy since his difficult birth, picks up a bird. His sister has left to find a shovel to bury it, for it is dead. But when Ennis picks it up, somehow something wonderful finds its way through Ennis to the bird, and it flies away. That was when they first realized that Ennis could heal. That gift would lead to more discoveries along the way.
For Ennis is a special child. The youngest of a large family, he is surrounded by love but has always been treated just a bit more carefully. We learn why as we hear of his difficult birth. One that was touch-and-go, even with a father who is an experienced doctor. But now, somehow things have shifted around him, and he isn’t sure why. Ennis feels compelled to heal. He cannot explain how he does it; he just knows that he should. But how he is gifted, and why, becomes the question.
A Time of Beginnings
This wonderfully sweet and caring story has some dark edges to it. There is just enough of that to keep it from being too “Little House on the Prairie”, even though the background is the early days of the settling of America. In the 1800s many Irish came to the New World to start a new life. As we meet Ennis, his parents Owen and Sarah and his six brothers and sisters, we get a sense of just what it took to keep a household going and a family together during these times. It took hard work and plenty of faith.
A Gift – From Who?
What starts as simple healings, grow in a short time. Soon his gifts expand beyond just the healing, and with it come the fears. What does all this mean? With the surprise of these new gifts come other kinds of revelations. We learn of the sacrifices and pain that came with the voyages his parents made from Ireland to America. We discover, along with Ennis, of the price that they paid, in more than money.
This is almost a ghost story and certainly a fantasy, with gentle paranormal elements. I found myself lost in the world Barlett created and caring what happens to this marvelous little boy, as well as his family. Their dreams and hopes are soon eclipsed by Ennis’s struggle to be at peace with the gifts and what they mean. And even more importantly – what they portend.
The Role of the Spirit
One of the things I loved about this book, and kept thinking about as I read it, was how in this era there was this total fear of the unknown and complete acceptance of the spiritual. We forget sometimes the huge role spirituality had in many people’s lives in those days. That role is one of the primary things that moved this book. For the family does not question that Ennis has this gift, just what it will do to the family.
I don’t want to go too far into what is done to discover who or what is behind these changes in Ennis. I will say however, bring a full box of tissues when you sit down to read. There are parts that will tug at your heartstrings and the ending will fill you with joy.
A Different Kind of Fantasy Book
Not the usual ghost story, but not just a tale of a family in America either. This has a very different sensibility to it, one that gives the paranormal a different role than the one we usually read about in fantasy books these days.
Don’t get me wrong, here. This is still a fantasy story, but it is a very different sort of fantasy tale. It holds out a promise of some really interesting stories yet to come from a very promising new writer. If this is just her first book, I am really looking forward to seeing what Bartlett will come up with next!