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BOOK REVIEW: The Ravenmaster’s Boy by Mary Hoffman

Wednesday, December 20, 2017



The Blurb (From Goodreads):

The story of the fall of Anne Boleyn as it has never been told – this time with ravens.

Young Kit finds himself on a plague cart wedged between the bodies of his mother and father. But he is alive and is rescued and taken into the home of the Ravenmaster at the Tower of London. He soon finds he can speak the language of the big black birds, a skill which proves useful when he finds himself caught up in a story of queens and treason, princesses and executioners.

There can be no change in the history of Henry Vlll’s first two wives but without Kit and the ravens another Tudor monarch might never have survived.


My Thoughts:

‘Kit wasn’t the only one who thought that he was dead.’

So begins this wonderful story about a boy in the 1500s who is rescued from a plague-cart by the Ravenmaster at the Tower of London. Living within the confines of the tower, gifted with the ability to speak with the king’s ravens, Kit lives in violent times. King Henry VIII rules England, and many of his enemies find themselves imprisoned within the tower’s dank walls.

One day the king’s young and beautiful queen, Anne Boleyn, finds herself accused of unspeakable crimes and imprisoned. Kit and the ravens find themselves drawn into a world of intrigue, treason, and bloodshed. Kit may not be able to save the doomed queen, but perhaps he can help save her baby princess …

Swiftly moving and suspenseful, this is an enthralling novel for children aged twelve and upwards, and a fascinating introduction to Tudor history. Loved it.

For another beautiful historical children's book, check out my review of Midnight is a Place by Joan Aitken.

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

BOOK REVIEW: Goldenhand by Garth Nix

Friday, April 07, 2017

BLURB:

Lirael is no longer a shy Second Assistant Librarian. She is the Abhorsen-in-Waiting, with Dead creatures to battle and Free Magic entities to bind. She’s also a Remembrancer, wielder of the Dark Mirror. Lirael lost one of her hands in the binding of Orannis, but now she has a new hand, one of gilded steel and Charter Magic.

When Lirael finds Nicholas Sayre lying unconscious after being attacked by a hideous Free Magic creature, she uses her powers to save him. But Nicholas is deeply tainted with Free Magic. Fearing it will escape the Charter mark that seals it within his flesh and bones, Lirael seeks help for Nick at her childhood home, the Clayr’s Glacier.

But even as Lirael and Nick return to the Clayr, a young woman from the distant North braves the elements and many enemies in a desperate attempt to deliver a message to Lirael from her long-dead mother, Arielle. Ferin brings a dire warning about the Witch With No Face. But who is the Witch, and what is she planning?

Once more a great danger threatens the Old Kingdom, and it must be forestalled not only in the living world but also in the cold, remorseless river of Death.

MY THOUGHTS:

I have been a huge fan of Garth Nix’s Old Kingdom fantasy series since the first book Sabriel was published in 1995. Any new book in the series is a cause of celebration (and not just in my house!) Goldenhand is the sixth in the series (counting the novella ‘Nicholas Sayre and the Creature in the Case’ which was published in Garth’s collection of shorter pieces, ‘Across the Wall’). I think the series must be read in order, for maximum enjoyment. I do so again every few years.

Goldenhand focuses once more on the story of Lirael, who was once a shy Second Assistant Librarian but is now the Abhorsen-in-Waiting. Once again she and her friends must battle with evil powers to save the Old Kingdom ... and as always that means passing into the cold and relentless world of Death with nothing but a bandolier of bells to help her.

Always a joy to read, Garth’s writing is fluid, and full of moments of both beauty and brutality. Lirael is my favourite of his many wonderful characters (perhaps because she was shy and grew up with her nose in a book, just like me). I was also so glad to see another of my favourite characters return (but I’m not going to say who because it’s a spoiler.) All I can say is – if you love heroic fantasy and haven’t yet read the Old Kingdom books, start now. 

BOOK REVIEW: Hexenhaus by Nikki McWatters

Monday, January 02, 2017


THE BLURB (from GoodReads):

In 1628, Veronica and her brother flee for their lives into the German woods after their father is burned at the stake. 


At the dawn of the eighteenth century, Scottish maid Katherine is lured into political dissent after her parents are butchered for their beliefs. 

In present-day Australia, Paisley navigates her way through the burning torches of small-town gossip after her mother’s new-age shop comes under scrutiny.



MY THOUGHTS:


Nikki McWatters and I share two nephews, though we have never met. So when my sister-in-law told me that her other sister-in-law was writing a novel for young adults inspired by witch-hunts through history, I was intrigued. Tell her to send me a copy, I said. I’m very glad that I did. Hexenhaus is a gripping story of three different young women at different times of history who all find themselves persecuted in some way for witchcraft. 

Veronica lives in Bamburg in what is now Germany in 1628. Katherine lives in Scotland in 1696. Paisley lives in Bundadoon, Australia, in the present-day. They are linked by a kind of pagan sisterhood, with their names inscribed in an ancient book called the Systir Saga. All three suffer witch-hunt hysteria, with the first two inspired by real-life events in Germany and Scotland. 

Told in short yet evocative alternating chapters, the story follows each character’s struggle to escape the narrow-mindedness and cruelty of the societies in which they live. Aimed squarely for a teenage audience, the novel moves swiftly and yet does not shy away from depicting some of the horror of the historical witch-hunt. The modern-day narrative helps ground the story in the here-and-now, showing that prejudice and intolerance to other people’s belief systems still causes harm today. 

I gave Nikki an endorsement for the front cover: ‘A riveting novel inspired by the true history of witchcraft and witch-hunts. Unputdownable.’ 



LOVE FANTASTICAL YA FICTION? So do I!


I have heaps of other YA fiction reviews on my blog, including writers like Maggie Stievater, Belinda Murrell, Juliet Marillier, Helen Lowe and Kate Constable.  Click here to read them!


PLEASE LEAVE A COMMENT - I LOVE TO KNOW WHAT YOU THINK!




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