Newest Fantasy Reviews

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Review of

The Once and Future Witches by Alix E Harrow

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There's no such thing as witches, but there used to be.

In 1893, after the purges and the burnings, witching has been reduced to little more than weak charms and simple spells. If women want to hold power in their hands, to have their voices heard, it is now through women's suffrage. Full Review

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Review of

The Bone Shard Daughter (The Drowning Empire) by Andrea Stewart

4.5star.jpg Fantasy

I could never be what he wanted if I did not take what I wanted

In an empire controlled by a bone shard magic that powers animal-like constructs, an heir to the throne, a smuggler, and a warrior will fight to find their place in the world.

Lin is the emperor's forgotten daughter, kept locked away in a palace of secrets and closed doors. When her father refuses to recognise her as heir to the throne, she vows to show him she is capable of reviving a dying empire and in secret, she begins to unlock one door after another, searching for the mysteries of her past and the forbidden art of bone shard magic.

Yet Lin is playing a deadly game and her quest for power will come at great cost. With revolution in the air and creeping closer and closer to the gates of the palace, Lin must decide just how far she will to go to become a catalyst of change and save her people. Full Review

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Review of

Descendant of the Crane by Joan He

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Heroes cannot be forged without villains Princess Hesina of the kingdom of Yan has never wanted the throne. Instead of craving power, she has always considered the crown her inescapable duty and shrank away from the responsibilities of being Queen. To her, it has always been a distant, faraway future. Until that is, it isn't. When her beloved father suddenly dies, she is thrust into ruling. But contrary to the official report, Hesina knows all is not as it seems, her father didn't die. He was murdered. Determined to seek the truth and discover her father's killer, Princess Hesina will stop at nothing to find justice, even committing treason. Under the cover of darkness, her feet lead her to a soothsayer to learn what happened that day and who killed the King. Full Review

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Review of

A Pocketful of Crows by Joanne M Harris

5star.jpg Confident Readers

I have always been of the mind that once you're above picture-book level and before you get to graphic sex & violence, there is no difference between books for children and books for adults. There are good books and poor ones. And Joanne Harris does not produce poor ones. A Pocketful of Crows is clearly aimed at the younger readers as witness the use of the middle initial in the author's name to differentiate from her adult offers. Ignore that if you have loved anything from Chocolat onwards you will know that Harris is mistress of the modern fairy tale. This is no different. It is an utter delight. Full Review

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Review of

The Mermaid, the Witch and the Sea by Maggie Tokuda-Hall

5star.jpg Teens

On the pirate ship Dove, Flora the girl has assumed the identity of Florian the man in an attempt to fit in with the crew. Life is hard as a pirate, trust and empathy are the first things to be discarded, but anything has to be better than starving on the streets. Meanwhile, the young Lady Evelyn Hasegawa boards the Dove, headed off to be married to a military man she's never met on some far-flung colony of the Nipran Empire. Neither of them expects to be thrown together by fate, never mind fall in love… Full Review

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Review of

Ghosted: The Treason House Trilogy by Baye Hartshorne

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'Julia Crawley has lost her job on Celebrity magazine and so she decides to cut her losses and return home to the village of Monmouth Cove on the Jersey Shore, hoping to return to her harder hitting journalistic roots via local news. She'll be staying with her grandmother - a woman always ready to help younger relatives in need of a hand. There's only one problem with that: creepy Uncle Dex, who doesn't always keep his hands to himself. Full Review

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Review of

The Library of the Unwritten by A J Hackwith

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Bear with me, this summary is not going to be forced into the intended, one breath length. In this world, there is a corner of Hell that is employed to look after all the world's incomplete stories. (You'd think Heaven would look after literature, but as it has no loss, no need and no variation from heavenly norm, you can't have any decent narrative there.) Now and again something happens to the restless creativity on show – characters come to life as embodiments of the books they're in, and can even breach through to the human world. As a result of one such incidence, our heroine Claire has gone to Seattle to force a Hero type back into ink form, but has failed, resulting in him still living. But it's also brought something much more important close to the fore – at the same time as this, a human at the Pearly Gates has tried to bribe his way in by yielding a page of what is claimed to be Satan's Bible. The humble (and humbled) gatekeeper, the angel Ramiel, is on the hunt, but such is the import that Claire and her cohorts also feel the need to chase what fragments of it are floating about our world. Full Review

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Review of

The Unlikely Escape of Uriah Heep by H G Parry

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Brothers Rob and Charley have struggled to see eye to eye for years - Rob a sensible lawyer who exists in the "normal" world - and Charley a man who is blessed with an ability he can't fully control - one which allows him to bring literary characters into the real world. After years of protecting Charley, Rob wants to discharge his duties and leave Charley to his own devices - but circumstances soon take choices out of both their hands. As literary characters begin to appear everywhere, it soon becomes clear that someone out there shares Charley's powers and intends to use them for nefarious gains. Rob and Charley must team up to stop the madness - in a battle to win before they, the characters and the world reach The End… Full Review

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Review of

A Queen In Hiding by Sarah Kozloff

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World-building is the backbone by which fantasy novels live and die. And what a pleasure, then, to get a novel with world-building you actually want to delve into. Sarah Kozloff's debut novel presents a startlingly rich and layered world, with a complex history of connecting nations that seems certain to have more to tap, and the characters are interesting – if a little underdeveloped. But it's a world I could – and did – eagerly buy into, and the struggle of each Queen to discover and hone her magical talent felt very real and very apt. Full Review

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Review of

Orphans of the Tide by Struan Murray and Manuel Sumberac (illustrator)

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In the last city on Earth, anyone can be the vessel of The Enemy - the god who drowned the world - who has come to wreak havoc on the last of humanity. When a mysterious boy is pulled from the corpse of a whale, the citizens immediately believe him to be the Vessel - all except for young Ellie Lancaster, a girl inventor. As the ruthless Inquisition prepares to execute the boy, Ellie must prove that he is innocent - even if it means revealing her deepest, darkest secrets... Full Review

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Review of

The Last Smile in Sunder City by Luke Arnold

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The Last Smile in Sunder City is an urban fantasy noir written by Luke Arnold. It centres on a Private Detective, Fetch Philips, as he attempts to find a missing vampire in a world filled with magical creatures where all the magic has suddenly disappeared with catastrophic consequences. Full Review

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Review of

The Unspoken Name by A K Larkwood

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What does it mean to betray someone? What if that someone is a god? Csorwe has been raised knowing that she would be sacrificed to her god on her fourteenth birthday, yet when the opportunity arises, she chooses to abandon everything she knows and flee with her life. Who can blame her? Her god’s reach is limited and Csorwe intends to stay far beyond it, yet fate is a funny thing and when circumstances bring her back within the reach of her god Csorwe learns that her god remembers her, and blames her very much indeed. Full Review

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Review of

Cursed: An Anthology of Dark Fairy Tales by Marie O'Regan and Paul Kane (editors)

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Curses. They're there throughout tales of faery and other fantastical folk – people being cursed to do this, or not to be able to do that. Children can be cursed, as can princesses on the verge of marrying, and older people too. It seems in a way there's no escaping it. Which is why the theme of this book of short stories is such a standout – we may well think we know all there is to know about this accursed character, that demonised place, and that other bewitched person. We'd be very wrong. Full Review

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Review of

Madness Between Light and Dark by Kathlaine C Gill and D Clark Gill

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It's 1912, and at New Hope Sanatorium, Christine Agnes Tupper is fast growing up. Abandoned there by parents who were ashamed of her hunchback, she's nevertheless grown up to an intelligent girl with a good heart. Her encounters with the inhabitants of the asylum swiftly take her on a fascinating, thrilling and sometimes terrifying journey of self-discovery, allowing Agnes to prove that, even with a twisted spine, her heart is in the right place! Full Review

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Review of

Into the Crooked Place by Alexandra Christo

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In the city of Creije, Tavia, a magical con-artist, specialises in wowing gullible tourists with cheap charms and trickery. However, when a new and powerful form of magic unlike anything seen in decades begins trickling onto the streets, nearly killing her close friend Saxony, Tavia begins to worry. At the same time, her childhood best friend Wesley, the youngest underboss in the city, discovers that Dante Ashwood, the kingpin of the Creijen criminal underworld, has his sights set on world domination. It's now up to the four unlikely allies to bring down his plans... Full Review

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Review of

A Little Hatred by Joe Abercrombie

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Adua is going through a period of rapid industrial revolution, the old social structures being thrown into chaos as the factories go up. But, the old ways die hard in this land. In the north, the young heir to the Governorship Leo Dan Brock and his allies fight off the invading armies of Scale Ironhand and his nephew Stour Nightfall. He desperately wants reinforcements from the crown, but the debaucherous, self-loathing Crown Prince Orso is all they can spare. Savine Dan Glotka, investor and daughter of the High Inquisitor, plots to ascend to the top of the social hierarchy no matter the cost. But, with hatred and discontent growing among the working classes, her plans might never come to fruition. Under the tutelage of the world-weary old witch Isern-I-Phail, young Rikke struggles to control the Long Eye, something she was blessed (or possibly cursed) with. However, seeing the future and affecting it are two very different things... Full Review

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Review of

Lighthouse of the Netherworlds by Maxwell N Andrews

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The phrase about never trusting a book by its cover is something I put on a par with comments about Marmite. You're supposed to love it or hate it and I'm halfway between, and likewise, the old adage is halfway true. From the cover of this I had a child-friendly fantasy, what with that name and that attractive artwork of an attractive girl reaching for an attractive water plant. That was only built on by the initial fictionalised quotes, with their non-standard spelling, as if texts of scripture in this book's world predated our standardised literacy. But why was I two chapters in and just finding more and more characters, both human and animal, and more and more flashbacks, and no proof that this was what I'd bought in for? Full Review

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Review of

The Pursuit of William Abbey by Claire North

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When William Abbey fails to prevent the lynching of a young boy in 1880's South Africa, he finds himself cursed by the grieving mother. A naïve English Doctor, he slowly learns the weight of the curse upon him, as the shadow of the dead boy begins to follow him across the world. Never stopping, always growing – it crosses oceans and mountains in pursuit of William. As he finds himself unable to resist speaking the truths that he hears in others, he also learns that the dark shadow is deadly – and seeks to kill the one he loves the most… Full Review

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Review of

The Years of Fading Magic by Kenelm Averill

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Jessica Turner was one of the more radical teens to come out of Eastfield. A youth spent hanging out with a close crowd of friends was characterised by Jessica's role as a trendsetter, as an influencer, as a leader. Strangely charismatic, Jessica invited fascination and obsession. Nobody who met her forgot her. Or the days they spent in the Enclosure, a clearing in Eastfield woods that Jessica felt gave her power. But the group went its separate ways, as adolescent groups do, and her influence faded... Full Review

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Review of

The Nightjar by Deborah Hewitt

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The Nightjar is an unusual and exciting story. Alice Wyndham lives a normal life in London until she finds a box on her doorstep one morning and her life begins to unravel, fast. From that very moment, her life is flooded with magic, loss, expectation and particularly, betrayal. As everything around her shifts, all that she knows, all that she thinks she knows, must change. Who can she trust? Who must she trust? Who will she trust? More importantly, can she even trust herself? Full Review

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