Monday, September 19, 2016

These Vicious Masks (These Vicious Masks, #1)These Vicious Masks by Tarun Shanker
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

The description of the book drew me in initially - I love the era it's set in, and adding a sci fi twist to it with the abilities some of the characters have is right up my street.

But unfortunately almost right away the writing felt off. This isn't about a girl rebelling against the strictures the society of the time sets on her, it feels more like a twenty-first century girl plonked down in the middle of the 19th. The plot is thin and the motivations of the main character often make no sense. I found myself thrown out of the narrative more than once simply because the flow of events didn't work, and worse than that, most of the situations were completely unbelievable.

Good premise, terrible execution.

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Monday, February 23, 2009

Garth Nix - Shade's Children

In Shade's Children, the future is a dark and bleak place where no adults are allowed to live. Children are brought up in the Dorms, and at the age of fourteen are taken away to be killed by the evil Overlords who have turned the world into a war-torn playground.

A few are lucky enough to escape the Dorms, but they are hunted by savage creatures under the Overlords' command: Screams, Trackers, Ferrets, Myrmidons and Wingers. Their only hope is one person who's attempting to make the children band together and form a resistance - the mysterious Shade. But even his motives are unknown...

This post-apocalyptic novel has a very different feel to it from the author's other well known books, the Old Kingdom trilogy, which have both medieval and World War 1 backgrounds as their setting. This novel is darker, and the main characters' constant fear of being hunted down fills the pages. The children are unsure of themselves, searching to find their place in what is left of the world even though disaster seems constantly inevitable.

A must read for anyone who enjoys this type of book - it's a tense read that'll keep you on the edge of your seat, and the ending packs a punch.

4 out of 5 at the very least.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Victoria Walker - The Winter of Enchantment

When Sebastian first saw the girl crying in the mirror in the antique shop, he never could have imagined that it was only the start of a series of strange events. These would lead to Sebastian meeting the girl, Melissa, who had been locked away by a wicked Enchanter for over a hundred years. Together they had to find a way to break the Enchanter's power and free her, or she would remain his captive forever...

This is a book I read over and over again as a child and it's always been one of my favourite fantasy novels. Sebastian's meeting with the Seasons, the quest to collect the Power Objects, shadows coming to life, the various ways that Sebastian ends up visiting the Enchanter's house of treasures, there are so many favourite parts to the story that it's impossible to choose which bit is best.

The copy I used to have back then became so well read and worn that by now I'm almost afraid to touch it in case it falls to pieces, and for a long time the story was out of print so I couldn't buy a replacement copy. Luckily, The Winter of Enchantment was recently reprinted by Fidra Books, a wonderful thing because now a whole new generation can read the fantastic adventures of Sebastian and Melissa. There's also a sequel called The House Called Hadlows available from the same publishing house. I've never had a chance to read that before now, but finally the book is in my possession and I'll be able to find out what happens next!

I'd give this a 4 1/2 out of 5, just for the sheer magic of the story and the way it stays with you - it's one of those books that you'll always remember.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Terry Pratchett - The Truth

Pratchett's 25th Discworld novel is one of the more stand alone books of the series. At the center of the plot is William De Worde, Lord De Worde's son who has been making his own way in Ankh-Morpork by supplying 'news letters' to a select clientele who can afford to pay to be kept up to date with what's going on in the city. Through a series of events he finds himself as the editor of the Discworld's first newspaper - but while "The truth shall make ye free" it seems to cause nothing but trouble for William.

Other well loved characters turn up in this book, the Watch playing a significant part in the plot surrounding Vetinari. Not to mention the Disc's worst band of beggars - who can ever forget Foul Ole Ron and his smell (arguably two separate characters)? There are also other new characters worth mentioning. Mr Tulip and Mr Pin (whose partnership is reminiscent of Mr Croup and Mr Vandemar from Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere), Sacharissa Cripslock, who has all the makings of an excellent journalist (and who reappears later on as one in Going Postal and Making Money), and Otto von Chriek, the photography loving vampire.

The book is full of Pratchett's usual brand of humour, not to mention his way of interweaving several ongoing plots into one solid whole. It made for a very flowing, enjoyable read. The plot involving Vetinari isn't as intriguing as some of the political plots in the other Discworld books, but the story of the rise (and fall, and rise again) of The Ankh-Morpork Times makes up for it.

Deserves a solid 4 out of 5.