TodHunter Moon, book 2
Illustrations by Mark Zug
Katherine Tegen Books, an imprint HarperCollins Publishers, 2015
From the dust jacket, “It’s been two months since Alice TodHunter Moon – who insists on being called Tod – left her home in the seaside PathFinder village to pursue a life of Magyk in the Castle. Being Apprentice to ExtraOrdinary Wizard Septimus Heap is tricky, though—there’s loads of new Magyk to learn, and she dearly misses her friends Oskar and Ferdie. But at least she’s mastered the UnSeen Charm.
“She’s lucky she has, too—that UnSeen will come in handy when she sets out with Oskar and Ferdie on a perilous journey to retrieve the Egg of the Orm from the Desert of the Singing Sands. If they don’t reach the Egg before it hatches, the new baby Orm could imprint on the evil sorcerer Oraton-Marr, giving him unlimited Magyk to do with what he wishes….
“Bursting with humorous and poignant moments, SandRider celebrates the satisfaction of taking charge of one’s path in life—unexpected adventures and all.”
So, you’re probably wondering, what the heck is an “Orm?” An Orm is a gianormous worm who eats solid rock and excretes the gem stone lapis lazuli, which is extremely important for crafting Magyk. When it hatches it’s like a baby dragon but at some point it transforms into a worm. The previous book Pathfinder the saw the egg stolen by the evil sorcerer Oraton-Marr, who wants an unlimited supply of lapis for himself so he can be the most powerful wizard in the world. In SandRider it’s a race against time with the good guys versus the bad guys to get to the Orm first so when it hatches it will imprint for good and not evil.
Another rollicking adventure by Angie Sage that is, at turns, harrowing, frustrating, and exciting. Her new character TodHunter Moon is very likable and the reader roots for her the whole way, hoping she will get to the Orm in time. (I can’t tell you, of course – that would spoil it for those who want to read it!) These stories are well-crafted, fast-paced and once they grab hold you have to keep reading until you get to the end. I’ve already started the third book, StarChaser, and it promises to be just as exciting as the other two.
Rating 4 out of 5 paws because I love a good adventure story with a little mystery and a whole lot of Magyk thrown in!!
Todhunter Moon, Book One
Illustrations by Mark Zug
Katherine Tegen Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, 2014
From the dust jacket: “When Alice Todhunter Moon was five years old, she saw a beautiful golden Dragon Boat fly over her Pathfinder village. She knew at once that the boat was Magykal. That was years ago, before her mother died, her father disappeared at sea, and the Garmin took her best friend Ferdie.
“Now it’s up to Tod and Ferdie’s brother Oskar to rescue Ferdie from the Garmins’ keeper, the malevolent Lady. Their journey takes them to the Castle, where they receive help from the ExtraOrdinary Wizard Septimus Heap and ex-ExtraOrdinary Wizard Marcia Overstrand. But the Lady’s brother, Darke sorcerer Oraton-Marr, has a plan that will put everyone Tod holds dear in danger. To save her people, Tod must embrace her identity as a Pathfinder and navigate the Ancient Ways, mysterious Magykal paths leading to unfamiliar—and sometimes dangerous—lands.
“Taking place seven years after the story arc of the original bestselling Septimus Heap series, Pathfinder celebrates the joy of discovering one’s own personal Magyk and of choosing the path that lets that Magyk flourish and grow.”
It’s been several years since I read the Septimus Heap series so it was nice to be reunited with some familiar characters in Pathfinder. It’s like being reunited with old friends and the author kindly catches the reader up on what has happened in their lives since the last book ended. But this book is about new characters in the wide orbit of Septimus Heap. We go on an exciting journey with Tod, from her almost idyllic home life, to the mysteries of being a Pathfinder, to the terrible danger of Darke Magyk. The story is immensely readable, full of adventure and magical events. Even if you’ve never read the Septimus Heap books, you’ll find this book entertaining because while it ties in with those previous books, it is also able to stand alone – well, with the other two books in the series! I’m starting the next one tonight and I can wait to find out what happens with Tod, Oskar and Ferdie as they do battle with Oraton-Marr!
Rating 4 out of 5 paws because Angie Sage does not disappoint!
One Blood Ruby
Harper, an imprint HarperCollinsPublishers, 2017
From the dust jacket: “Now that Lilywhite Abernathy is the heir to the Hidden Lands, everything is about to change. The Queen of Blood and Rage wants Lily to help broker peace with the human world, but Lily knows that harmony won’t come easily. After decades of waging war on the humans, who cost the queen her firstborn daughter, the fae are struggling to accept Lily, a half-human monarch. And the humans, while no match against faery affinities, will hardly agree to the queen’s détente without resistance.
“Lily wants to be a fair ruler but fears having to abandon the life she’s known to do so. Now that she and Creed are more than just fellow Black Diamonds—operatives for the queen—her priorities have shifted. But her worries about assuming the throne are derailed when it becomes clear that someone—or some fae—is masterminding violent attacks to discourage peace.
“In this gripping follow-up to Melissa Marr’s Seven Black Diamonds, Lily and her friends are forced to reckon with the truth of their own parentage and to protect one of their own, no matter what—or who—comes between them.”
I was looking forward to reading the follow-up to Seven Black Diamonds and was (mostly) not disappointed. Melissa Marr is very skillful at crafting a believable world where humans and fae (faery) coexist. These two books aren’t on the same level as her Wicked Lovely series, which I hope to reread sometime this summer, but they are very well done. As a book for young adults there is some (mostly) non-graphic violence, allusions to sexual encounters and a curse word here and there – nothing that youth of today’s world would even think twice about.
At first I was a little lost since it had been several months since I read the first book but I caught up quickly and enjoyed the story. My only constructive criticism is the book ended too quickly. After the dramatic (and somewhat violent) climax, everybody said their last words and it was done. I have read so many books and watched lots TV shows/movies that ended with the surviving characters recovering in the hospital with all their well-wishers surrounding them that the book’s ending (which ends in a hospital room) was really rather cliché.
I feel the author should have taken another chapter to wind things down – not a long chapter, just more than a couple of pages. It’s always bothersome when an author wraps the story up too fast – you know how when humans get in their car too fast and either the belt of their coat or some other piece of clothing they’re wearing gets caught in the door and when they drive off it’s like a tail just-a-flappin’-in-the-wind. I don’t know if that’s a good metaphor or not but that’s what I feel like – like the author said, “I’m done!”, jumped in a car, raced off to start something else, and the I’m left there, just-a-flappin’-in-the-wind wondering what happened. The characters deserve more respect as do the readers.
Rating: 4 out of 5 paws because despite the severed ending, I still liked both books a lot.
Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew’d
A Flavia de Luce Novel
Delacorte Press, Penguin Random House, 2016
From the back of the book: “In spite of being ejected from Miss Bodycote’s Female Academy in Canada, twelve-year-old Flavia de Luce is excited to be sailing home to England. But instead of a joyous homecoming, she is greeted on the docks with unfortunate news: Her father has fallen ill, and a hospital visit will have to wait while he rests. But with Flavia’s blasted sisters and insufferable cousin underfoot, Buckshaw now seems both too empty—and not empty enough. Only too eager to run an errand for the vicar’s wife, Flavia hops on her trusty bicycle, Gladys, to deliver a message to a reclusive wood-carver. Finding the front door ajar, Flavia enters and stumbles upon the poor man’s body hanging upside down on the back of his bedroom door. The only living creature in the house is a feline that shows little interest in the disturbing scene. Curiosity may not kill this cat, but Flavia is energized at the prospect of a new investigation. ‘It’s amazing what the discovery of a corpse can do for one’s spirits.’ But what awaits Flavia will shake her to the very core.”
I was so excited to read this book. I’ve been mildly disappointed in the previous two, with The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches being so depressing and As the Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust not being set in England and Flavia filled with so much angst and homesickness. But this book – oh, this book.
Another really great mystery that I didn’t figure out at all, and Flavia with her brilliance and smart-aleck nature made for another great story. However, with Flavia’s father sick in the hospital she is, again full of angst and heartache. We don’t see him through the entire book and – I’m breaking one of my taboos here – SPOILER ALERT – neither does Flavia – ever again. I was so mad at the author after I read the last chapter, the last page, the last paragraph – I wanted to throw the book across the room!! I’m still mad about it. I’m not going to spell it out specifically what happened because I’ve already told you why I’m so mad! I hate it when an author messes with a character I love so much – I know it’s their right, it’s their creation and they can do whatever they want with it. But I don’t like it when they write so much pain and heartache into their fictional lives. I was already on the fence about reading another Flavia novel due to the depressing heartache in this one and then I finished it. So, I don’t know if I’ll read the follow-up novel or not. I’ll decide when it comes out. I suppose if I want a happy-ending mystery I’m going to have to read Nancy Drew.
Rating 5 out of 5 paws because any book that makes me so furious about what happens that I want to throw the book against the wall (I wouldn’t – [a] because it’s a book and [b] because it’s a library book) deserves the highest rating I can give it.
The Sleeper and the Spindle
Illustrated by Chris Riddell
Harper, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers, 2015
From the dust jacket: “You may think you know this story. There’s a young queen, about to be married. There are some good, brave, hardy dwarfs; a castle, shrouded in thorns; and a princess, cursed by a witch, so rumor has it, to sleep forever.
“But no one is waiting for a noble prince to appear on his trusty steed here. This fairy tale is spun with a thread of dark magic, which twists and turns and glints and shines. A queen might just prove herself a hero, if a princess needs rescuing. . . . .”
This is definitely not your mother’s fairy tale. Combine Sleeping Beauty with Snow White with a little dark magic thrown in and you’ve got this short story. Well written and beautifully illustrated, you adults may want to read it before letting your kittens have a go at it! There’s nothing bad in it (e.g., sex, violence, bad language); it’s just, shall we say, a bit untraditional when it comes to the princess asleep in the tower. And, the ending doesn’t belong in any Disney fairy tale either. But overall a nice tale freshly woven from old stories; and, who says fairy tale princesses need to be freed by a prince?
Rating: 4 of 5 paws for a unconventional new take on two very old and staid stories.