I have been reading a lot lately. Perhaps it’s a bit of escapism, perhaps it’s because I went on holiday, or perhaps it because I have a pile of unread books screaming at me.
I would love to review all of them, but I’m going to focus on the four that really caught my imagination. That makes it hard to theme this review because they really are a hodgepodge of tales.
The Diviners by Libba Bray
Libba Bray’s The Diviners was one of those serendipitous purchases. You know the ones—you’re stuck somewhere and have to kill some time you you quickly pick a book from the nearest bookshop, and then—bam, you’re lost forever.
I have to admit the cover caught my eye, then the fact that it was set in 1920’s New York, and the lead character was a bad-girl flapper. Add in a dash of supernatural mystery, and I was sold.
But this book was so much more than that. Although Evie O’Neill, a young girl banished from her Ohio home to live with her bachelor uncle in New York, is a great main character, she is almost over-shadowed by the other cast members.
There’s Will, her uncle, who runs the the Museum of American Folklore , Superstition, and the Occult along with his assistant Jericho; Sam the pickpocket; Henry the pianist; Theta the Ziefield girl, Mary the unionist; and Memphis the poet. They all have their own backstories and reasons for being in New York. Together this strange group of people are drawn together aster adopted home faces a serial killer who appears to have supernatural powers.
Sometimes the plot seems convoluted, and it is difficult to keep up with all the players, but the mystery is engrossing and just when it starts getting a little slow, Evie jumps is with her sassy attitude and moves the story along.
The Diviners is a great read for people love who their supernatural mystery tied up with a little colourful history. I loved it so much I had to pull myself out of book two to write this review.
The Harp of Kings: A Warrior Bards Novel 1 By Juliet Marillier
I adore Juliet Marillier’s writing (big fan-girl here). Her Blackthorn and Grim Series was one of my favourites and so I was a bit nervous starting her new series. I was worried I would be disappointed because surely it could not be as great as Blackthorn and Grim, but I have to say The Warrior Bard Series might actually be better.
The story is told through the eyes of three trainee warriors: Loibhan the fiery redhead who also plays the flute and sings, her brother the harpist Brun and the surly son of nobility, Dau.
The three are sent on an undercover, secret mission to find the lost Harp of Kings which must be played at a coronation before a new King is accepted—and his coronation date is already set. As they search for the harp the three find themselves facing a cruel prince regent, horrific attacks from birdlike creatures known as the Crow Folk, druids who are hiding something, and otherworld influences that are clouding everything.
With its Celtic touches, strong characters, magic and intrigue, this book is difficult to put down for anyone who loves a great fantasy read. I finished book two in the series, Dance With Fate yesterday and cannot wait for book three to come out.
What Abigail Did That Summer By Ben Aronovich
I make no secret about the fact I love the Rivers of London Series. London is one of my favourite cites, and I enjoy the thought that there are magical powers simmering beneath the surface of the historic city.
I have listened to all the main books in the series on audible, and often embarrass myself by chuckling in public. The stories are essentially mysteries that have to be solved, usually by the lead character, PC Grant, who is a member of The Folly—the police division that deals with all things supernatural. Peter Grant is a likeable bloke, but has to deal with an array of human and magical characters that are so quirky and funny, yet so well imagined, they never cease to make me smile (or laugh out loud).
My husband also loves these books, and so I bought him the recently released novella to take away on holiday, and I’m so pleased I did. Having put up with Jim’s chuckles and comments of “this book is so great”, I was so grateful when he finished reading it and I could finally pick it up.
Abigail, Peter Grant’s sort of niece, is a character I am really down to, and I’m so happy she has been she had been given her own story. This intrepid, funny, bright, smart, sassy girl managed to stumble on her own mystery—one of disappearing and reappearing teenagers in her local area and she sets out to solve it, but not on her own. She is joined by a friend and a group of talking foxes.
This fast paced, fun tale is a great read for all fantasy lovers, and is definitely PG rated so can be shared by the whole family. And I dare you to read it without having at least one laugh out loud moment.
The History Keepers: The Storm Begins By Damian Dibbens
I picked up this book in an Audible 2 for 1 deal, and really only chose it as a best of the rest, and I had to make the most of that deal. This book actually turned out to be better than the book I originally wanted to buy.
Jake Djones finds himself kidnapped on the way home form school by people who tell him they will help him find his parents, who he hadn’t even realised were missing.
When he wakes up, Jake finds himself with people who call themselves The History Keepers. They are a special group who can travel through time and work to keep the world in balance. Jake is surprised to find his parents hadn’t gone to a sales conference as they told him, but had gone on a mission for the History Keepers to save the world and had disappeared.
What follows is a real adventure story in a modern day Famous Five / Hardy Boys & Nancy Drew style as Jake stows away and goes back in time to help find his parents, along with the beautiful of fearless and beautiful Topaz, Charlie the science nerd and Nathan the pompous and vain hero. While they are looking for his parents they stumble on a plot to derail history by the fearsome Prince Zeldt (who I could not help but picture as a Ming the Merciless character oops is that showing my age?) and put in place a plan to stop him.
I would be lying if I said this was one of the best books that I had listened to, but it really was a lot of fun. It is obviously aimed at younger-to-mid-teen readers, so the story was fast paced and there is a little bit of explaining some of the historical facts many adults might already know, but the characters were great and the story engaging.
If you or your children enjoy a goo mystery, then I say why not put this on in the car when you have a long journey and keep everyone entertained!
And that’s me for this month.