#BlogTour Phyllo Cane and the Magical Menagerie by Sharn W. Hutton

 It’s my turn on the Blogtour Phyllo Cane and the Magical Menagerie by Sharn W. Hutton. This is the second book in The Adventures of Phyllo Cane series, the first book is Phyllo Cane and the Circus of Wonder.

About the Author

Sharn W. Hutton is the author of The Adventures of Phyllo Cane series, the first of which, Phyllo Cane and the Circus of Wonder, was hailed by the judging panel of The Booklife Prize to be ‘dizzyingly bewitching, articulate and intoxicating.’ The next adventure, Phyllo Cane and the Magical Menagerie, is set for release July 31st 2022.

Prior to this foray into the realms of upper middle grade/YA magical fantasy, Sharn wrote cozy mystery based around the irrepressible Angel Drake, in Angel Drake is Going Solo and the short story, Nothing Ventured. Her first novel, It’s Killing Jerry, was a standalone mystery.

Based in Bushey, Hertfordshire, Sharn works from home in the tiny office at the back of the house, which makes up for what it lacks in size and warmth with a rather nice view of the garden. When she isn’t hitting the keyboard (laptop, not piano) she does enjoy a trip to the theatre or cinema and pretends to use the very expensive exercise machine rusting in the summerhouse.

One day she plans to also learn how to play the piano. Visit sharnhutton.com, Follow @sharnious on Instagram

About the book

Magically magnificent, fantastic and ferocious at least, that’s what you’d expect of a fire-breathing dragon. But what if yours won’t come out of its pen to perform? What if the Ringmaster thinks it’s worth more in the apothecary chop-shop than as part of the troupe?

The Beast Whisperer of the Circus of Wonder must bring her beloved dragon back up to its performing peak fast, if she’s to save it, and she thinks she knows what to do.

The unhappy creature needs a mate, but the male sand dragon is a rare beast indeed, and she’ll never be able to catch one alone.

Time for Phyllo to become the Beast Whisperer’s apprentice… Join Phyllo on his next apprenticeship with the Circus of Wonder – a brand new adventure with the fantastic beasts of the Magical Menagerie and a race against time to save their lonely dragon from destruction.

Review

This is the second book in the Phyllo Cane series, and although both books can be read separately, I would recommend reading the first to get the gist of the story. It’s also a good read. 

Phyllo still hasn’t found his place in the Circus as we start this book, unfortunately he thinks he has returned home to perhaps take a place in their small unit. Instead, the Ringmaster wants him to continue on his quest to find the right apprenticeship and finding the right one will also determine whether he can stay near his family. It’s a way to finetune or simply find his own talents and his place in the world of magic.

It’s a story both younger (10 plus) and older readers will enjoy. Filled with magic, wonderfully strange creatures and a circus community that is family in its own strange way. It’s a series with plenty of potential, partly because Phyllo hasn’t quite found his own particular corner and talent yet. And of course, the last sentence of this book is not only a cliff-hanger of sorts – it also promises another great read. 

It’s also the kind of book that speaks to the spark of wonder and imagination we carry within us – worlds full of magic, hidden treasures, and darkened corners full of mystery and surprises. Just the right kind of read to create a lifelong reader. Looking forward to more adventures with Phyllo, and of course seeing where his path leads him, although I have a certain suspicion that his journey of Jack of all trades will culminate in a very specific path.

Buy Phyllo Cane and the Magical Menagerie at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: ‎Star City Press pub date 31 July 2022. Buy at Amazon com.

Amazon International Booklink to Phyllo Cane and the Magical Menagerie: mybook.to/PCATMagicalMenagerie

Amazon International Booklink to Series page: mybook.to/PhylloCane – Current Kindle price: £3.99 – Current Paperback price: £9.99

#Blogtour Valen and the Beasts by G. J. Kemp

 It’s my turn on the Blogtour Valen and the Beasts: A Juno and the Lady Novella by G. J. Kemp.

About the Author

A nomad at heart, GJ has lived in nine countries across Africa, Europe and the Middle East. His career has included working as a Divemaster in The Red Sea, a zookeeper in Israel, and a proofreader in Sweden.

Born with cerebral palsy, GJ has spent a lifetime trying to tie his shoelaces while standing up in the hope of not falling over. It is a constant challenge, but sometimes he occasionally succeeds.

Finding the love for writing later in life, GJ spends most of his free time going for walks and dreaming of story ideas. He hopes to one day have a small place on the oceanfront where he can walk his dogs on the beach. Follow @kemp_gj on Twitter, Visit gjkemp.co.uk

About the book

Valen plucked the glass box off the shelf and gently placed it on his desk. Inside, a set of handcrafted metal circles linked to form the body of his new beast. He closed his eyes and dreamed of the Fairacre residents buying his latest creations.

A commotion outside Valen’s shop brings him back to the present. The Captain has caught the leader of the sewer rats and is parading her in front of Fairacre residents. Her fate will be determined by the townsfolk’s demands. – Valen steps in to defend the leader.

A story of discovery, hope and courage, Valen and the Beasts is a journey of an outsider risking everything to stand up for the people he loves. Will Valen save the leader of the sewer rats? Will he show everyone his secret? Or will he buckle under the pressures of the old conventions? 

Review

This is a novella, and is part of the Juno and The Lady story. I would recommend reading book one to be able to get the gist of the story, this is just a mere glimpse through the keyhole at the universe the author has created.

This short journey in the world the Acre the reader follows Valen, a man who has secrets and likes to stay low-key because of it. At the same time he is also a valiant fighter for what is right and wrong, especially when it comes to the people the world treats like a garbage. In this story he has to make a choice between protecting himself, protecting others or something somewhere in the middle.

I think the dialogue could be a little less he said, she said – it needs more depth and higher level of complexity from a language perspective. This is YA leaning towards MG – young readers can handle it, they don’t need the soft approach. Saying all that, this is absolutely a series with lots of potential and one that readers of all ages will enjoy.

I have to admit this novella wasn’t enough of an hors d’oeuvre for me – I will be reading book one very soon. I hope to read more by this author in the future.

Buy Valen and the Beasts at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher ‏: ‎TB5 Publishing; pub date 17 May 2022. Buy via gjkemp.co.uk.

#BlogTour The Heron Kings’ Flight by Eric Lewis

It’s my turn on the BlogTour The Heron Kings’ Flight by Eric Lewis.

About the Author

Eric Lewis’ debut novel, The Heron Kings, is a grimdark adventure exploring rebellion and the dangers of obsessive revenge. Avoiding the monsters and magic common to high fantasy, the monsters here are all too human, and extraordinary groups of ordinary people can make their own kind of magic when they’ve finally had enough. The Heron Kings’ Flight is the second book in the series.

Eric has also written several works of speculative short fiction published in various venues including Nature, Cossmass Infinities, Electric Spec, Bards & Sages Quarterly, as well as the anthology Crash Code, the short story collection Tricks of the Blade, and others detailed at ericlewis.ink. Follow @TheHeronKing on Twitter

About the book

The Heron Kings have been betrayed. A century after their formation from a gang of desperate peasant insurgents, the shadowy band of forest rangers suffers a rare defeat when a skirmish turns into a bloody ambush. Their shaky truce with the crown is tested as young members Linet and Aerrus work to track down their enemies. When reluctant peacetime soldier Eyvind reveals a conspiracy to welcome the charismatic invader Phynagoras, the trio must convince a weak king and pitifully few allies to stand against the storm.

Their only hope lies in the forgotten tactics of their own guerrilla past, and a terrifying new alchemical weapon the likes of which the world had never imagined. The only question is which side will be destroyed by it first…

Review

This is the second book in the Heron Kings’ series, although this can absolutely be read as a standalone book, I would highly recommend reading the first one.

There is massive twist at the end of the book, so I shall tread carefully with as little info as possible, whilst simultaneously trying to do the book justice. It’s a heck of a ride, an intricate plot with plenty of room to expand further with more books.

When Aerrus returns from his duties alone and without the rest of his faithful companions and fierce fighters he enlists the first person he encounters to return to get a bit of blood and revenge. Linet and Aerrus stumble upon something that points towards betrayal and a sense of impending doom. Their hidden community is at risk – the question is who is behind the insidious attack and why, the real question is why.

I think it’s fair to say the author is willing to pull out the big guns to keep readers captivated and coming back. Just a wee bit ruthless, but effective. I look forward to seeing where this series goes next – it has to, you can’t just leave a reader hanging after such a tumultuous read.

Buy The Heron Kings’ Flight at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher ‏: ‎Flame Tree Press,  pub date 17 May 2022. Buy at Amazon comBuy at Flame Tree Press.

#BlogTour The Girl and the Moon by Mark Lawrence

It’s a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour The Girl and the Moon by Mark Lawrence.

‘The final Book in the stellar new series from bestselling fantasy author of Prince of Thorns and Red Sister, Mark Lawrence.’

About the Author

Mark Lawrence was born in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, to British parents but moved to the UK at the age of one. He went back to the US after taking a PhD in mathematics at Imperial College to work on a variety of research projects including the ‘Star Wars’ missile defence programme. Returning to the UK, he has worked mainly on image processing and decision/reasoning theory. He says he never had any ambition to be a writer so was very surprised when a half-hearted attempt to find an agent turned into a global publishing deal overnight. 

His first trilogy, The Broken Empire, has been universally acclaimed as a ground-breaking work of fantasy, and both The Liar’s Key and The Wheel of Osheim have won the Gemmell Legend award for best fantasy novel. Mark is married, with four children, and lives in Bristol. Follow @Mark__Lawrence on Twitter

About the book

The fate of the world hangs from the Moon. The green world overwhelms all of Yaz’s expectations. Everything seems different but some things remain the same: her old enemies are still bent on her destruction.

The Corridor abounds with plenty and unsuspected danger. To stand a chance against the eyeless priest, Eular, and the god-like city-mind, Seus, Yaz will need to learn fast and make new friends.

The Convent of Sweet Mercy, like the Corridor itself, is packed with peril and opportunity. Yaz needs the nuns’ help – but first they want to execute her.

The fate of everyone squeezed between the Corridor’s vast walls, and ultimately the fate of those labouring to survive out on ice itself, hangs from the moon, and the battle to save the moon centres on the Ark of the Missing, buried beneath the emperor’s palace. Everyone wants Yaz to be the key that will open the Ark – the one the wise have sought for generations. But sometimes wanting isn’t enough.

Review

After the first few chapters I knew I would have to go back to the beginning of this trilogy and experience the entirety of the premise and intricate worldbuilding. Saying that, this can absolutely be read as a standalone, and the author has added a short four page – the story so far – recap, for readers  who are new to the series.

I have to say kudos at this point because it’s not a simple task to condense such a mammoth fantasy concept, and the characters, into a short pitch. The kind of recap you can understand and helps a reader to jump right in at the deep end of the third Book of Ice.

Aside from the complexity of the plot, which is a superbly layered sweetmeat of fantasy, origin, myth, science and great writing, there also a nice wee exploration of the area between right and wrong. Where rules pave the directions of the roads societies walk upon, there will always be cracks and areas in between.

And who determines whether those who wander within those areas off the beaten path are rebels, outlaws or indeed the hero in the story? Are the helpful gestures made in an attempt to interfere or support – looking straight at the Convent of Sweet Mercy.

I’m not sure a review can do the plot justice without giving something pivotal away. Every interaction pushes Yaz further toward what everyone expects of her – being the key and answer to the Ark of the Missing. But what if there is so much more to the Missing than everyone thinks?

Reading the last paragraph I can only hope there will be more, so many directions to take and avenues to explore. Right? One can only hope. I know many feel this is his fantasy work come full circle – I don’t, there is always another path to be taken. 

Buy The Girl and the Moon at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Harper Voyager pub date 28 April 2022│HB £14.99│EB £8.99│EA £14.49. Buy at Amazon comBuy at Harper Collins.

#Blogtour for The Blood Trials by N.E. Davenport

It’s a pleasure to take part in the Blogtour for The Blood Trials by N.E. Davenport. The Blood Gift series is definitely one to keep an eye on, as is the author.

About the Author

Nia “N.E.” Davenport is the Science Fiction/Fantasy author of The Blood Trials and its sequel (Harper Voyager). She attended the University of Southern California and studied Biological Sciences and Theatre Arts. She also has an M.A. in Secondary Education. She teaches English and Biology to amazing students. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys vacationing with her family, skiing, and being a huge foodie. She’s an advocate for diverse perspectives and protagonists in literature. 

Follow @Nia_Davenport on Twitter or @nia.davenport on Instagram, where she talks about binge-worthy TV, killer movies, and great books. She lives in Texas with her husband and kids.

About the book

It’s all about blood. – Blood spilled long ago between the Republic of Mareen and the armies of the Blood Emperor, ending all blood magic.

Now there is peace in the Republic – but there is also a strict class system, misogyny, and racism. Her world is not perfect, but Ikenna survived in it. Until now.

With the murder of her grandfather, Ikenna spirals out of control. Though she is an initiate for the Republic’s deadly elite military force, Ikenna has a secret only her grandfather knew: she possesses the blood magic of the Republic’s enemies.

Ikenna throws herself into the gladiatorial war games at the heart of her martial world: trials that will lead her closer to his killers. Under the spotlight, she subjects herself to abuse from a society that does not value her, that cherishes lineage over talent – all while hiding gifts that, if revealed, would lead to execution or worse. Ikenna is willing to risk it all to find out who killed her grandfather…

So she can end them.

Review

When your chosen path, your destined path even, is ripped away from you when you least expect it, then you’re allowed to feel salty about it. If the rerouting of your path is fueled by a need to seek the truth and vengeance, then the salty attitude is understandable, although it may cost you a friend or two on the way there. The murder of Ikenna’s grandfather changes her path and sets her on a bloodthirsty, ruthless and character defining one instead.

I loved Ikenna’s anger – rage even.  Is that wrong of me, to enjoy the growly ragey killey vibe Ikenna brings to the table throughout the entire story? The ‘I don’t give two goats – I will never forget and always remember to dot my t’s and i’s, with the weapon of my choice’ – yeh that vibe.

It certainly has a Brown’s Howler’s vibe, and a societal structure fights for restructure and against oppression Red Rising vibe. It doesn’t shy away from the need to assert, for the show of violence, and it doesn’t pull any punches. I enjoyed the snarly, snarky, I talk the talk and walk the walk attitude and feel of the story. Ikenna is such a strongly written voracious character that she leaves a lasting impression.

I have to say I am absolutely loving all of the new voices, directions and reinventions of genres. Davenport is definitely an author to watch going forward. Fantastic energy, creative and wonderfully powerful main character. I would love to see this in screen format. Bring on the next one – soon!

Buy The Blood Trials at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher ‏: HarperVoyager pub date 14 April 2022. Buy at Amazon comAt Harper Collins.

#BlogTour Crimson Reign by Amélie Wen Zhao

It’s time for The Conclusion to the Blood Heir Trilogy -it’s the Blogtour for Crimson Reign by Amélie Wen Zhao.

About the Author

Amélie Wen Zhao was born in Paris and grew up in Beijing in an international community. Her multicultural upbringing instilled in her a deep love of global affairs and cross-cultural perspectives. 

She seeks to bring this passion to her stories, crafting characters from kingdoms in different corners of the world. She attended college in New York City, where she now lives. Amélie is the author of the Blood Heir series: Blood Heir, Red Tigress, and Crimson Reign. Follow @ameliewenzhao on Twitter,  Visit ameliezhao.com

About the book

The Red Tigress, Ana Mikhailov, has returned to Cyrilia, but the country she once called home has fallen under a dark rule. Across the land, the Empress Morganya is tightening her grip on Affinites and non-Affinites alike.

Ana dealt a blow to the Empress when she and her allies turned back Morganya’s troops, but she couldn’t stop Morganya from gaining possession of a dangerous new weapon with the power to steal Affinities.

Ana’s forces are scattered, and her alliance with the rebel group, the Red Cloaks, is becoming more frayed by the day. What’s worse, she’s lost her Affinity to blood and without it, Ana barely knows who she is anymore – or if she has the strength to defeat Morganya.

Morganya’s reign of terror is close to crushing the nation Ana was born to rule. And now Ana will finally face the sinister empress, but will she survive? Will anyone? And will her Empire welcome her back to the throne, or turn her out to survive on her own.

The Affinites and Non-Affinites of Cyrilia will determine Ana’s future, if Morganya doesn’t kill her first.

Review

This is the conclusion to the fantastic Blood Heir trilogy, and I highly recommend reading the other books in the series to get the full gist and experience of it – not to be missed. It’s the kind of series you go back and read all over again.

It’s a plot that from the very beginning has drawn from reality when it comes to parallels in the oppression, rebellion, cross-cultural complexities and politics. Almost a reverse magical realism – no pun intended – if indeed fantasy were reality. A seemingly familiar plot of family power struggles, misaligned love and powers that wield both from cruelty and passion, which culminates in a riveting plot and invigorating read.

The author does an excellent job of keeping the story going with just as much zest as before, despite the fact Ransom and Ana have their own paths and storylines to finish – I wonder if pressed whether readers could identify the character who is actually the lead. I’m guessing that’s probably a mixed bag of opinions, because from the very beginning both the two of them, and other major players have attracted their individual supporters.

It’s a tightly created and executed fantasy – maybe worthy of an off-shoot series perhaps – and it’s a shame to say goodbye to the characters and story. Kudos for giving readers a multitude and variety of strong female character, especially the hardcore ones who balance on the wrong side of life. I think the ending was what the world wanted, as opposed to leaving everyone infuriated, hanging on a cliff or eager for another part. I can’t wait to read what the author comes up with next.

Buy Crimson Reign at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: HarperVoyager pub date 3rd March 2022 | Hardback | Ebook | Audio | £14.99 Buy at Amazon comAt Harper Collins.

#BlogTour Fireborn: Twelve and the Frozen Forest by Aisling Fowler

 It’s a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour Fireborn: Twelve and the Frozen Forest by Aisling Fowler.

About the Author

Aisling was born in 1985 and wishes that she had grown up in a magical, mountainous kingdom, but was actually raised in Surrey on a diet of books and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Her early ‘adventure’ stories involved surprisingly little action and her first novel (3 pages long) was politely declined by publishers at age 11. 

After earning a BSc in Biology and working as a support worker and then a nurse, the idea for her debut novel, Fireborn, came to her as she moved back and forth between London and the US. Now based in Hackney, when she is not reading or writing, Aisling loves cooking and plotting adventures (for herself as well as her fictional characters). Fireborn will be published by HarperCollins in 2021.  Follow @fowler_aisling on Twitter 

About the book

Lyra. Lucy. Percy. Once in a generation, a hero emerges whose story enthralls readers worldwide.

Fireborn is an epic quest, perfect for fans of the His Dark Materials and The School for Good and Evil series, that will spin readers into a magical world like no other–and introduce them to an unforgettable new heroine named Twelve.

Ember is full of monsters. – Twelve gave up her name and identity to train in the art of hunting them–so she says. The truth is much more deadly: she trains to take revenge on those who took her family from her.

But when Twelve’s new home is attacked, she’ll find herself on an unexpected journey, where her hidden past is inescapably intertwined with her destiny–and the very fate of her world.

Review

Twelve is one of many anonymous young people who, by no choice of their own, find themselves alone in the world and brought together to defend their world against the dark forces that seek to destroy them. Chaos and conflict are used to distract and deflect, as the enemy executes a plan to still a valuable weapon.

Twelve and her companions are forced to confront their fears and their truths. The truth they keep hidden from everyone in an attempt to achieve their own agenda. The question is what will happen when they are exposed. Will the pasts and people behind the anonymous identifiers still be part of a team when their true selves are revealed to each other.

That of course will be the make or break question when it comes defending the Hunters, the trainee Hunters and the Lodge. The world of Ember is one filled with monsters, magic, elemental power and betrayal.

Hopefully this is the first of many – I would really like to follow this often conflicted set of characters and their sidekicks. It promises to be the kind of series that creates new generations of readers.

Buy Fireborn: Twelve and the Frozen Forest at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher ‏: ‎HarperCollinsChildren’sBooks pub date 30 Sept. 2021. Buy at Amazon com

#BlogTour Trinity by Patrick Morgan with David Kidger

 It’s my turn on the BlogTour Trinity by Patrick Morgan with David Kidger.

About the Author

Patrick and David’s first collaboration, the ‘Sega Star’ was published, by them, on A4 plain paper, at the tender age of 10. David got though university, worked for the BBC online, before starting his own web design company. Patrick abandoned his pitiful academic endeavours at 19 to work as a support engineer and designer in Indycar and Formula 1.

Years later both were running their respective businesses, David’s in user experience and interface design, Patrick’s in Historic Motorsport or ‘seeing what everyone else did’ as he calls it. Reunited over a long promised pint they talked childhood, Transformers and Starcom. It’s a fact that boys love spaceships and robots, both had stabs at novels in the past so writing together sounded like fun. Patrick worked with Jade Gurss on his highly rated book ‘Beast’ in 2014, among other motorsport and technical books and loved every moment of it.

Patrick does words, illustrations and some ideas. David does ideas, mostly the bigger ones.

About the book

A planet slowly rotates, one side perpetual sunlight the other perpetual darkness. Between these two sides lies the Divide, and the ancient city of Skala, the seat of humanity’s high council. Skala is slipping inexorably west from the divide into the harsh desert of Hellinar and to its death.

Over 1000km east, another city is on the verge of its birth, created with the aid of two ancient artificial intelligence cores. When one of the cores goes missing, a series of revealing events triggers, hinting at something rotten, and deeply linked to the founding of the new city. The loss of the core can’t be kept under wraps forever – soon a plan is put into place – forcing the rapid completion of an advanced exploratory vehicle that may be the only hope of a recovery. 

Trinity is a story of family, forgotten history, advancing technology and a twisting series of events. Follow a collection of rich characters on interconnecting paths to re-discover the truth about their small, isolationist civilisation – and something far bigger than any of them could have imagined…

Review

Nice one. Speculative science fiction fantasy with dare I say it…perhaps even a dollop of a dystopian flair. I have to say sci-fi and/or fantasy often loses out on readers when it comes to demographics that pull the masses, because it often gets too complex, technical and even outlandish in its speculation. When an author/s manages to crack that particular nut by being able to pull those readers into the middle of the vortex of complexity and a good round of grey cell smashing, then by golly they have done their job.

When it comes to reviewing the content this is one of those books where the little details give away a lot – I can imagine other reviewers feeling the same way. It’s perhaps better to experience the story in its entirety without the prior knowledge of a previous reader.

Side-note: I would like a whole Q&A with HEX and ROOT – (forget the authors I just want access to those who have the answers).

I haven’t read anything as innovative since Brown brought us the Red Rising series. I really can’t wait to see where this series goes, although I have to admit I am a wee bit invested in HEX and ROOT. The human element drives the story, but the two enigmas are just a fount of knowledge, intrigue and they are the very core of this book – the first in the series.

The concept is brought alive by the intricate detailed maps, pictures and descriptions. Given how intense and vast the world-building is, this is an added bonus for readers. I am looking forward to the next book.

Buy Trinity at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher : Unbound Digital; pub date 29 April 2021. Buy at Amazon com.

#BlogTour The Shadow in the Glass by J.J.A. Harwood

It’s an absolute pleasure to take part in the Blogtour The Shadow in the Glass by J.J. A. Harwood. A dark fairy tale set against a Victorian backdrop full of lace and smoke.

About the Author

JJA Harwood is an author, editor and blogger. She grew up in Norfolk, read History at the University of Warwick and eventually found her way to London, which is still something of a shock for somebody used to so many fields. When not writing, she can be found learning languages, cooking with more enthusiasm than skill, wandering off into clearly haunted houses and making friends with stray cats. the Shadow in the Glass is her debut novel.

Follow @JJAHarwood @HarperVoyagerUK on Twitter, on Goodreadson Amazon, Visit jowritesstuff.wordpress.com,  #TheShadowIntheGlass

About the book

Once upon a time Ella had wished for more than her life as a lowly maid. Now forced to work hard under the unforgiving, lecherous gaze of the man she once called stepfather, Ella’s only refuge is in the books she reads by candlelight, secreted away in the library she isn’t permitted to enter.

One night, while among her beloved books, a fairy godmother makes her an offer that will change her life: seven wishes, hers to make as she pleases. But each wish comes at a price and Ella must decide whether it’s one she’s willing to pay…

Melding history and fairy tale, this is a dark and intelligent new take on the story of Cinderella that looks at women, the price of labour and the cost of hope.

Review

Poor Ella should be in a more suitable and respectable position. Her former mistress had such plans for her, but unfortunately life has decided to twist the knife. Instead she has been relegated to the life of a skivvy working in a household with vindictive fellow housemaids and a master who thinks servitude equals his gratification – if he so wishes.

After a particularly bad encounter with a conniving wench, Ella finds herself confronted with a business proposition of sorts. She gets her hearts desire and in turn she owes something priceless – nothing is ever for free, everything has a price. Sometimes the price is very dear indeed.

It’s soon apparent that having your wishes granted is literally too good to be true, when each wish takes on a bit of a morbid and sometimes lethal slant. Nothing is ever clear cut when it comes to magic, folklore or those elements in the atmosphere we just can’t explain.

In this gothic retelling of a fairytale which has similarities to Cinderella, the author takes the essence of the story back to its roots, which is dark and not the Disneyesque version everyone knows. This version with all of its somber reality and stark consequences is more in line with any original so-called fairytales.

The author gives old morals and troubles a more modern twist, albeit ones set in a time where class structures determined whether you were at the top of the hierarchy pyramid or at the bottom and at the mercy of wealthy predators.

It’s a riveting tale of magical realism with a hook into the magic of fairytales, whilst skimming the reality of hidden desires and uncomfortable truths. An excellent debut novel.

Buy The Shadow in the Glass at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Harper Voyager; pub date 18th March 2021 – Hardback, eBook & audio | £14.99. Buy at Amazon com. At Waterstones.

#Blogtour Frank Penny and the Last Black Stag by Jeremy Elson

Today it’s my turn on the BlogTour and also Publication Day for Frank Penny and the Last Black Stag by Jeremy Elson.

About the Author

Jeremy Elson found that most of his education went on outside the classroom. Learning things that he was interested in, away from normal lessons, was far more valuable. Now he and his wife home educate their son; Frank Penny was borne out of a desire to bring life to a home-educated child, as well as tell a compelling adventure story.

Jeremy lives in Guildford, UK. Apart from writing, his passions includes the outdoors, The Smiths, Chelsea Football Club and Star Wars Battlefront (apart from when he’s being comprehensively beaten by his son!).

Follow Jeremy @ElsonAuthor and @FrankPennyBooks on Twitter, on Amazonon Goodreadson Facebook, Visit frankpennybooks.com, Buy Frank Penny and the Last Black Stag

About the book

Power is not for the weak or faint-hearted. If Frank, Cas, Gabby and Anya want to find the next two guardians of the Simbrian and keep them safe, they need to journey across the dangerous borderlands and into the dark and shadowy world of Kzarlac, sworn enemy of Byeland.

Ruled by the fearsome Etamin Dahke, Kzarlac is no place for four naïve teenagers. Keen wits and a large helping of luck are no guarantee they will succeed and return safely.

Driven by their desire to protect the delicate peace that has existed since the time of Kester, their quest is about to take a deadly turn, and the exposure of an inconceivable secret may make Frank regret ever having started.

Frank Penny and the Last Black Stag is the third book in the Frank Penny series.Book 1: Frank Penny and the Mystery of Ludlow HumsBook 2: Frank Penny and the Kzarlac Spy

Review

This is the third book in the Frank Penny series. This can be read as a standalone novel, however I would recommend reading the others in the series, not necessarily for the backstory – the author adds enough to get the gist, but for the read itself.

On their quest to find the guardians of Simbrian the group of teens must venture beyond their own safe borders and into the dangerous area of Kzarlac. Discovery could mean death or worse for themselves or anyone who decides to aid them.It’s hard to determine who to trust and when, but Frank seems to have an instinct for the when to do the right thing, as opposed what others think is right. I think it solidifies the way he makes decisions and his confidence going forward.

It will be interesting to see whether the young woman Frank has set his sights on will create a rift between the team, betray his trust eventually or become part of the bigger picture. Not everyone is enamoured by the pretty young thing and the budding relationship.

Elson does an excellent job of balancing the genre, the readership he is writing for and hooking the audience. The result is a read that will engage multiple age groups and readers eager to discover the secrets along with this intrepid team.

It’s a Young Adult/Teen fantasy series. An adventure which gets a little more complex as the story goes on. One filled with secrets, betrayal and danger in every corner. Now that Frank has finally had his eyes opened what will he do with the knowledge he has acquired. I guess we will have to wait until the fourth book to find out.

Buy Frank Penny and the Last Black Stag at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Eyrie Press pub date 30 Nov. 2020. Buy at Amazon comAt HiveAt Eyriepress.co.uk