Monday, 6 May 2019

Rumblestar - Book Review


Rumblestar - Book review

Abi Elphinstone
MG Fantasy
UK Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Other Books:

The Night Spinner
Sky Song 
Winter Magic


Synopsis:

Eleven-year-old Casper Tock hates risks, is allergic to adventures and shudders at the thought of unpredictable events. So, it comes as a nasty shock to him when he accidentally stumbles into Rumblestar, an Unmapped Kingdom full of magical beasts.

All Casper wants is to find a way home, but Rumblestar is in trouble. An evil harpy called Morg is sending her followers, the Midnights, into the kingdom to wreak havoc and pave the way for her to steal the Unmapped magic for herself. But Casper cannot turn a blind eye because the future of his own world, he discovers, is bound up with that of the Unmapped Kingdoms.

And so, together with Utterly Thankless, a girl who hates rules and is allergic to behaving, and her miniature dragon, Arlo, Casper embarks upon an adventure full of cloud giants, storm ogres and drizzle hags. Can he, Utterly and Arlo, the unlikeliest of heroes, save the Unmapped Kingdoms and our world from the clutches of Morg and her Midnights?

Review:

From the beginning I have been a huge fan of Abi Elphinstone’s stories but RUMBLESTAR is her best book yet! … Although I’m sure I said the same thing about her last release, however this authors writing just keeps getting better.

RUMBLESTAR follows Casper, a list-making, time-keeping, rule-obeying boy who suddenly finds him thrust into a magical world where nothing is neat or orderly. All he wants is to return home, and to do that his only hope lies in teaming up with Utterly Thankless, a wilful girl with a penchant for getting into trouble alongside her tiny dragon, Arlo.

Together the trio are forced on an adventure to protect their worlds from an evil harpy and her army of Midnights. Armed with only their wits and a well-stocked canoe, they must face down magical beings, navigate impossible weather and decipher the most-tricksy of riddles if they are to succeed. Yet the Harpy is cunning, and she will do anything to stop Casper and his friends from disrupting her plans!

To say it simply - this book was amazing! Imagination and creativity at its finest, these pages hold a might of magic and brilliance, bringing to life a fantastical world full of unique characters.

I loved both Casper and Utterly who are total opposites in every way. Watching their friendship grow was heartwarming, and I thought they balanced out each other’s strengths and weaknesses perfectly. And for everything else there was Arlo, the cutest, cleverest dragon in all of Rumblestar.  

However all the characters in this book were well thought out and added extra humour or malice to the story. Definite shout out to the trolls, cloud giants and Zip, the best hot air balloon ever made… I hope we see all these characters again soon!

The plot is also very fast paced. Jumping for problem to problem, the author pushes the characters to be brave and find the strength to battle onward. The story is also centred strongly on the bonds of friendship and trust, and overall I thought everything was excellent. I simply cannot praise this book enough. 

Smooth and utterly satisfying! An easy 5 star read!

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I'm a huge fan of MG fantasy and am always looking for more books, would love if you could recommend me some in the comments below!

Friday, 3 May 2019

The Hazel Wood - Book Review


The Hazel Wood - Book Review
Melissa Albert
YA Contemporary Fantasy 
UK PUBLISHER: Penguin

Synopsis:

Seventeen-year-old Alice and her mother have spent most of Alice’s life on the road, always a step ahead of the strange bad luck at their heels. But when Alice’s grandmother, the reclusive author of a book of pitch-dark fairy tales, dies alone on her estate - The Hazel Wood - Alice learns how bad her luck can really get. 

Her mother is stolen away - by a figure who claims to come from the cruel supernatural world where her grandmother’s stories are set. Alice’s only lead is the message her mother left behind: STAY AWAY FROM THE HAZEL WOOD.

To retrieve her mother, Alice must venture first to The Hazel Wood, then into the world where her grandmother’s tales began…

Book Review:

For a debut book, I think The Hazel Wood was an outstanding read and I’m only sorry I didn't pick it up sooner. Dark and delicious, it pulls the reader into a real-life world that becomes increasing warped and twisted as the realm of fairytales sneak in. 

The story centres around seventeen-year-old Alice who has spent her entire life on the road, running from something her mum refuses to name. But when Alice’s mum is stolen away, Alice will pay any price to get her back. But when her search leads her to the The Hazel Wood, the hidden estate where her grandmother - famous author of a book of obscure fairytales - chose to reside, Alice discovers the true reason her life has been shadowed by strange incidents. Because maybe her grandmothers stories weren't so made up after all….

This is a delicious, and beautifully constructed book. Admittedly it did creep me out, but in a good way. Its the kind of story that hooks you, even as it gives you chills, but you’ll keep on reading in the hope something good will happen to chase those chills away.

It has a very layered plot. And by this I mean a real crows nest of plot threads and sharp maze turns that will keep you guessing all the way through. Not only did this make the story hard to predict, but even where guesses could be made, every storyline had its own unique twist.

Actually this shadowy storytelling reminded me a lot of Holly Black’s Tithe series, only better. Not only is THE HAZEL WOOD a book that contains stories within stories, but the main character herself is extremely complex.

While not a particularly likeable person, Alice is a compelling protagonist and I adored all the pop-culture references she would make. Normally I don't like when authors do this, but in this story it just helped make Alice so much more real, and it separated her from the otherworld of the fairytale. 

But be warned, the fairytales in this story aren't the kind that come with happy endings. Creepy, gruesome, yet lyrical and vivid with imagery, they haunt the mind long after you step away from the story. Which yes, did make it a bit hard to sleep later that night. 

However this book was so beautifully written. I am very excited for the second instalment of this series which with release in the autumn of 2019. I can’t wait to see what the author, Melissa Albert will do next.

The Hazel Wood is a 5 star read!

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Have any of you read this book? Would love to know you're thoughts on this one, were you as creeped out as I was?