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BOOK REVIEW: Frogkisser! By Garth Nix

Friday, June 01, 2018


The Blurb (From Goodreads):

Poor Princess Anya. Forced to live with her evil stepmother’s new husband, her evil stepstepfather. Plagued with an unfortunate ability to break curses with a magic-assisted kiss. And forced to go on the run when her stepstepfather decides to make the kingdom entirely his own.

Aided by a loyal talking dog, a boy thief trapped in the body of a newt, and some extraordinarily mischievous wizards, Anya sets off on a Quest that, if she plays it right, will ultimately free her land—and teach her a thing or two about the use of power, the effectiveness of a well-placed pucker, and the finding of friends in places both high and low.

My Thoughts:

A funny and charming subversion of the well-known ‘Frog Prince’ fairytale, Frogkisser! by Garth Nix tells the story of a bookish princess, an eager but clumsy puppy, and a whole host of young men turned into amphibians.

Princess Anya just wants to be left alone to study sorcery, but unfortunately her step-stepfather wants to take over the kingdom and so transforms any suitor for her big sister’s hand into a frog. Anya reluctantly sets out on a quest to gather the ingredients that will enable her to turn the enchanted frogs back into humans, and encounters many obstacles – both humorous and deadly – along the way.

Along her travels, Anya learns a great deal about the dangers of absolute power and the importance of kindness, compassion and political awareness. Fabulous fun!

You can read my 2013 interview with Garth Nix here.

Please leave a comment and let me know what you think!

BOOK REVIEW: Newt's Emerald by Garth Nix

Friday, December 04, 2015

My son – like so many others his age – sat his HSC last month, and so I spent lots of time waiting for him outside exam halls and libraries. This meant lots of lovely reading for me! 


On her eighteenth birthday, Lady Truthful, nicknamed “Newt,” will inherit her family’s treasure: the Newington Emerald. A dazzling heart-shaped gem, the Emerald also bestows its wearer with magical powers.

When the Emerald disappears one stormy night, Newt sets off to recover it. Her plan entails dressing up as a man, mustache included, as no well-bred young lady should be seen out and about on her own. While in disguise, Newt encounters the handsome but shrewd Major Harnett, who volunteers to help find the missing Emerald under the assumption that she is a man. Once she and her unsuspecting ally are caught up in a dangerous adventure that includes an evil sorceress, Newt realizes that something else is afoot: the beating of her heart.

In Newt’s Emerald, the bestselling author of Sabriel, Garth Nix, takes a waggish approach to the forever popular Regency romance and presents a charmed world where everyone has something to hide.
Release Date: 13th October 2015


Garth Nix is one of my favourite Young Adult fantasy writers, and Regency romances are one of my favourite genres to read – put the two together and you get the wonderful, light-hearted, and utterly magical Newt’s Emerald.  

Set in a world very much like Georgette Heyer’s Regency (a place that is in itself a fantasy), the book mixes together a stolen emerald with secret powers, a young lady who disguises herself as a man, a young nobleman who is really a spy, an evil enchantress, and a host of comic minor characters, plus an ill-fated ball in Brighton. I raced through it with great eagerness, and am now hoping that Garth plans to write many, many more. An utter delight!


INTERVIEW: Garth Nix, author of 'A Confusion of Princes'

Thursday, March 14, 2013

I'm very happy to welcome Garth Nix, one of my favourite fantasy authors, to the blog today. Garth is appearing this Saturday (16 March 2013) at the Speculative Fiction Festival at the NSW Writers Centre in Rozelle. I hope you'll come along to hear him speak!

What is your latest novel all about?
My latest novel is A CONFUSION OF PRINCES. As to what it's all about, I'm not really sure, I expect some readers will tell me in due course. But in general terms, it is a science fiction adventure story, set in a vast galactic empire which is ruled by ten million genetically, psychically and cybernetic ally enhanced princes. It is a coming of age story about one such prince, Khemri, who has been raised to rule without being told that all the princes are in ruthless competition with each other and that assassinations, machinations etc are rife. It is also a becoming human story. Khemri is superhuman in many respects, but essentially nonhuman in others, particularly what we might describe as ethics. And it is a love story, both for Khemri and a young woman called Raine, and to a lesser degree the love of a family, even when you don't really know what a family is . . .
And it has space battles, pirates, duels, things blowing up, horrible parasitic aliens and more!

How did you get the first idea for it?
I'm not really sure, as it was a long time ago. Unusually, I also used some of the background to the novel in the online game Imperial Galaxy, intending game and book to come out at the same time, only the game got there first by several years (albeit in a truncated form). So I get a bit confused about what happened when. Looking back through my notebooks, I see that I wrote a prologue in about 2004 or 2005, which wasn't used in the actual book, but did give some of the flavour of the setting. I had been wanting to write a space opera for some time, so that would also have something to do with it.

What do you love most about writing speculative fiction?
I like to be able to draw my own boundaries. Sometimes people think that with speculative fiction you don't need boundaries because you can just put in anything, but that doesn't work: whatever world or universe you create must have an internal consistency to create the illusion of reality.

What lies ahead of you in the next year?
I'm finishing up CLARIEL at the moment, a book set in the Old Kingdom, about six hundred years before the events of SABRIEL. It's been fun to return to that setting, though it has also been hard work -- again making sure I stay within the boundaries I drew long ago, which contain a history and mythology that I have to work within. As with the others, it will be published as YA but like all the best YA (I hope) it will be for adults of any age.

Then I also have to write the fourth book in the TROUBLETWISTERS children's series, co-writing with my friend Sean Williams. The third book, TROUBLETWISTERS: THE MYSTERY OF THE GOLDEN CARD will be out in early May I believe. I also have short stories (for adults) coming out later this year in ROGUES edited by George R R Martin and Gardner Dozois, RAGS AND BONES edited by Melissa Marr and Tim Pratt, and one for The first two of these feature my recurring short fiction characters Sir Hereward and Mister Fitz, soldier and sorcerer puppet respectively, up to their usual god-slaying activities.

Apart from the writing, I'll be at Conflux in Canberra in April; at Reading Matters in Melbourne in May; and the World Fantasy Convention in Brighton, UK in late October. And maybe a few other places!

What are the five best books you've read in the last year?
Five best books in the last year probably means the five books I enjoyed the most over the Christmas break because I can't remember everything I read last year. In no particular order, they're all great:

1. A Corner of White by Jaclyn Moriarty (I loved this too - here's my review)
2. Whispers Underground (Rivers of London #3) by Ben Aaronovitch
3. Red Country by Joe Abercrombie
4. The Thirty Year's War: Europe's Tragedy by Peter H. Wilson
5. The Hare with Amber Eyes by
Edmund de Waal


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