When a plague deadly to women sweeps through the aerial empire of Arthurise, doctor’s assistant Jonathan Gouden discovers that with the aid of a strange chemical called fantillium, he can create powerful illusions, which is key to finding an antidote. Unfortunately for Jonathan, the woman with the solution won’t help unless he agrees to be her champion in a magical arena. Heather Dixon’s ILLUSIONARIUM has some charms, but it’s centered around a flawed premise, and rushes through young adult tropes as if moving quickly will keep anyone from noticing the predictability. The system of magic which holds the book together makes no sense, and I had a hard time getting past it.
Posts Tagged: paranormal YA
A THOUSAND PIECES OF YOU by Claudia Gray is a charming, romantic adventure across multiple universes, though as with many fantastical stories built on a vague, pseudo-scientific premise, the souffle falls if you poke at it. As long as you’re the type of reader who can ignore inconsistencies in the rules of made-up technologies, Marguerite’s dance between dimensions in pursuit of revenge, love, and loss should spark your imagination.
If you missed Sophronia Temminick’s Finishing School adventures as much as I did, you’ll love Gail Carriger’s latest trip to Madamoiselle Geraldine’s and the lessons in proper spycraft within the pages of WAISTCOATS & WEAPONRY. The wider supernatural world closes in on Sophronia and her friends as the werewolf drama that sets the events of Carriger’s Parasol Protectorate series into motion happens while the ladies are learning the art of the bladed fan. With her friend Sidheag personally affected by pack dynamics, Sophronia has no choice but to get involved herself. It’s always a delight to go back to school with Carriger, though, like Sophronia’s first outing, WAISTCOATS & WEAPONRY feels more like a stepping stone in a larger story than its own novel.
THE LAST CHANGELING by Chelsea Pitcher is Ordinary People-meets-Maleficent – and if that sounds like a strange combination, that’s because it is. Almost all of the information given in the blurb on the back of the book is actually kept from the reader for more than a hundred pages, and Elora’s motives for attending a human high school are extremely vague. Instead of a faerie war, we mostly get Taylor’s still-fresh grief over losing his younger brother and the torment of his high school. Elora’s ‘otherness’ (not to mention otherworldly beauty) gives Taylor something to focus on aside from his family’s pain, but it’s a long time before the reader gets to know her endgame.
Though the world of SNOW LIKE ASHES by Sara Raasch is a bit uninspired in its construction, Raasch more than makes up for kingdoms named after seasons and capital cities named for misspelled calendar months with Meira and the other refugees of the Kingdom of Winter. An aspiring soldier, desperate to be important to her people and her lost homeland, sixteen-year-old Meira struggles with being kept off the battlefield and forced into a world of political machinations. She’s a pawn, she’s a symbol, she’s a hero – much like THE HUNGER GAMES Katniss, all Meira really knows is that she wants to survive. That, and she’s in love with her best friend, the once and future king.
This is one of those times I have to step back from a book that had me chair-dancing in glee and not rate it based on the end-of-book squeeage I felt, but to search for a little objectivity in my review. Reaction alone, this would be a five plus. Plus a few more.
If there’s one thing you can count on with book series, it’s cliffhangers. If you’re lucky, it’s a trilogy and you only have to deal with one, maybe two. Multi-book series, you get little ones along the way leading up to the Big One in the penultimate book. I knew this going in to SILVER SHADOWS because I remember the similar cliffhanger between books five and six of the Vampire Academy series. I was prepared, I told myself.
In THE FIRE WISH, Amber Lough takes her readers to a magical Baghdad where humans and jinn are at war. Two girls from opposite sides of the conflict find themselves caught in the middle when the human Zayele forces a wish from Najwa the jinni in order to escape an arranged marriage. The novel starts out of the gate strong with wonderful detail and engaging characters in a non-Western setting, but about three-quarters of the way through, the pace shifts as though in a hurry to reach the ending, a haste which is especially odd when the book then comes to an abrupt stop.
Ever since I finished ELEANOR I’ve been trying to figure out a single word to describe it. I still can’t. I was drawn by the ethereal beauty of the cover and then pulled further in by the summary. Then I started reading and spent half the time enjoying the story and the other half trying to figure it out. There’s a lot to figure out, too.
Short stories are a difficult form to master in any case, but when it comes to sci-fi and fantasy, the author has an even tougher challenge: building an entire world in just a few pages. As with any short-story collection featuring multiple authors, some of the contributions to MAGIC CITY: RECENT SPELLS, edited by Paula Guran, are more successful than others. Ultimately, I think the anthology does a great job of showcasing many different interpretations of ‘urban fantasy’ and gives readers the chance to discover something new.