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Category: YA Fantasy (Page 1 of 11)

Book Review: From Dust, A Flame

book cover black with red and gold rose and petals

 

From Dust, A Flame

– Rebecca Podos –

Balzer + Bray

Published 8 February 2022

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From Dust, A Flame is a Jewish-legend inspired paranormal, historical, mystery YA fiction genre-mash-up that is as entrancing as it is unique.

A slow and confusing beginning had me questioning why I had picked this book up and checking the synopsis to make sure I had the right book. But by a quarter of the way in I was hooked. It’s a great book, strong characters, a strong sense of identity and unique. It’s also rooted in legends and mythology that is not often brought to the page – and it’s about time it was.

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Book Review: Only A Monster

only a monster book cover black with red swirls

 

Only A Monster

– Vanessa Len –

Monsters #1

Harper Teen

Published 22 February 2022

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Only A Monster is AMAZING!!! Seriously. So good. By the first quarter of the book all but two of the characters we have met have been gloriously, brutally murdered. (Not lying!). It’s dark but funny, placed so well within the world that has been created and yet we get to journey across time. It’s unique and delicious.

Here’s what I loved:

Australia author. Debut (holy wow!!). Paranormal. Monsters (not like strange creature monsters, more like scary people monsters who do bad things). Monster slayers. Time travel. Humour. Star-crossed love. History. An almost love triangle that just doesn’t go there. And did I mention monsters?

Joan spends every summer with her mother’s family in London. She knows they’re a little strange but they’re family. She also loves the time she spends volunteering at the historic Holland House. Doesn’t hurt that her co-worker Nick is gorgeous, charming and, maybe, as into her as she is him. But when she accidentally travels herself a day into the future, Joan realises that her family isn’t just a little strange, they are gifted with the ability to steal time from others and use it to time travel. And that makes them, and her, monsters. And, it turns out that Nick, a legendary monster slayer, will do everything in his power to wipe out monsters for good.

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Book Review: The Helheim Princess

 

The Helheim Princess

– Tiana Warner –

Entangled Teen

Published 4 January 2022

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Norse mythology, a main character determined to prove herself and fantasy action in a journey to the underworld. The Helheim Princess is sure to please readers who love mythology-driven fantasy.

Sigrid might have been born in the Valkyrie ward but she’s not a Valkyrie. The Junior Valkyries in training and the General make sure she knows her true place in life. A stable hand, with a Midguard horse and no future in the Valkyrie ranks. Sigrid is determined to prove them wrong. She knows her horse is fast and that the secret training they’ve been doing makes them an asset to the army, even if it’s only from the ground. But when an army of Night Elves invade and steal a precious relic, Sigrid takes her chance to fulfil her destiny. Joining with an enemy Valkyrie, Sigrid travels to the Underworld. But more than just destiny awaits her there.

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Book Review: Graceling Graphic Novel

 

Graceling The Graphic Novel

– Kristin Cashore and Gareth Hinds –

Etch/Clarion Books

Published 16 November 2021

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It has been quite a number of years since I’ve read Graceling, so it was so delightful to enjoy the story again, this time in graphic novel format.

For those of you who are new to the Graceling Realm, Katsa is Graced. She is the most feared assassin and King Randa uses her to threaten and maintain his power. Katsa knows that what is asked of her is often wrong, so she and her friends have created a council that seek to fight for justice. On one of her missions, Katsa encounters another Graced fighter. When Po turns up at Rwanda’s court, Katsa has no choice but to let him in on the secret of the council. And when troubling news from the Kingdom Monsea of reaches them, Po and Katsa team up to discover the truth behind the rumours.

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Book Review: Beasts of Prey

 

Beasts of Prey

– Ayana Gray –

G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers

Published 28 September 2021

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A lush fantasy, Beasts of Prey is a beautiful as that cover (prettyyyy….). Beasts of Prey is set in an African-inspired fantasy world (and I loved that the author shared the significance of the mythology, culture and languages used in the world in her author’s note).

Koffi is an indentured servant. She and her mother are just months away from paying off their family debt and finally free themselves from the Night Zoo, where they work as beast keepers. But just when freedom is almost within their grasp, a dangerous power Koffi doesn’t truly understand, let alone know how to control, changes everything. Now she must journey into the Greater Jungle to face the most dangerous beast in the land. Ekon is just one task away from finally becoming a Son of the Six, an elite warrior. But when Ekon allows Koffi to escape from the Night Zoo and is shamed and forbidden from completing his entry into the warrior class, Ekon and Koffi unwillingly team up to hunt down the Shetani – the most feared beast in the land.

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Book Review: Defy The Night

 

Defy the Night

– Brigid Kemmerer –

Bloomsbury YA

Published 14 September 2021

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Okay, so Brigid Kemmerer is one of my all time favourite authors so it is completely unsurprising that I loved Defy The Night. Maybe not as much as I adore The Curse So Dark and Lonely, but that’s a pretty high standard of adoration to live up to and Defy The Night does not disappoint in any way – it’s just extremely stressful.

Tessa risks everything every night, sneaking into the Royal Sector to steal Moonflowers to make the only medicine that will keep the deadly illness at bay. In the Wilds there is never enough medicine or coins to go around but she and Wes, a fellow outlaw, do what they can. In the palace, Prince Corrick does what he can to keep his brother, the king, safe and barter for enough moonflowers. But being the King’s Justice is a bloody and endless job and it seems even his best efforts may not be enough to prevent a rebellion. Continue reading

Book Review: The Endless Skies

 

The Endless Skies

– Shannon Price –

Tor Teen

Published 17 August 2021

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If you are looking for a unique fantasy novel, then check out The Endless Skies by Shannon Price. The Endless Skies invites readers into a world where shapeshifting warriors who live on a city that floats in the sky and a community of shapeshifting magical beings protect themselves from the humans who seek to destroy all they know.

You might assume Endless Skies is all about Rowan from the book’s synopsis, but Endless Skies is actually written from three characters’ perspectives. Rowan is a narrator and she is joined by her sister and her best friend. Rowan is a warrior-elect. She has completed years of rigorous training and is about to be sworn in by the king to become an official warrior. Shirene is Rowan’s older sister. She is a sentinel and has just been named as the King’s Hand – a prestigious position of respect and authority. Rowan’s friend Callen is a warrior. He has long hidden his true feelings about Rowan from her, but now he fears it might be too late. On the eve of Rowan’s warrior oath-taking ceremony, the warriors learn of a deadly disease that is targeting the children of Heliana. Teams of warriors are called and sent down to the human world to look for a cure before the prince falls ill, which could be the literal downfall of Heliana. Left behind by her friend and sister, Rowan learns there is far more at stake than what the citizens are being told about the disease and the long-held feud between the Leonodai and humans.

There is a very unique world in The Endless Skies and yet with so much action and so much going on in the book, I feel like I only saw snippets. There are four magical shapeshifting communities, the Leonodai being our main focus in this book. There was also a fifth, but they were wiped out by humans. Rowan is a Leonodai and can change from female human form to a winged lioness. Cool magic enables her weapons and armour to change with her. Her community values loyalty over all and Rowan, Shirene and Callen have committed themselves to serving their city and their king. Their city, Heliana floats above the ocean, protected from the human’s reach and they in turn protect the other shapeshifting communities. While the Leonodai fight with blades, arrows and axes, the humans fight with guns, bullets and late, planes and battleships, which gives a unique mix of modern (or at least the 20th century, the human world has a very WW1 timeline feeling to it) and ancient warfare and a great mix between reality and magic, that we don’t often see in fantasy novels.

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Book Review: Forestborn

 

Forestborn

– Elayne Audrey Becker –

Forestborn #1

Tor Teen

Published 31 August 2021

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I don’t read fantasy novels all that often, but when I do I usually adore them. Forestborn was no different. It is an incredible quest novel. Our three main characters must travel together through perilous terrain, facing the things that haunt them and the pain from their past to find the rarest of magical powers to save the people they love. There is royalty, magic, very cool unique magical creatures, haters-to-lovers romance and a fantastic twist that I just didn’t see coming.

The magic in this book is unique, which I liked, as were the many magical creatures that pop up throughout the story. Rora is a shifter. As is her brother. Over time, Rora has shifted into her three different animal forms, mouse, hawk and lynx. Her brother has yet to shift into his third form. After their parents were killed along with all the other shifters in their village, the two siblings survived on their own in the magical forest, before finally finding refuge in Teylan. Now, Rora works for the king, but she and her brother have never really been accepted by the humans that surround them. When a magical plague that is killing humans gets worse and Rora’s best friend Prince Findley falls ill, Rora, her brother and the elder Prince Weslyn journey into the magical forest to find stardust in the hope it will cure the disease.

 

What begins as a simple but dangerous quest morphs into a much bigger plot, with a nice twist. War looms and there are biggest politics and more at stake than we readers and the characters realise at the start of the book.

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Book Review: A Dragonbird in the Fern

A Dragonbird In The Fern – Laura Rueckert – Flux – Published 3 August 2021

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Synopsis

When an assassin kills Princess Jiara’s older sister Scilla, her vengeful ghost is doomed to walk their city of glittering canals, tormenting loved ones until the murderer is brought to justice. While the entire kingdom mourns, Scilla’s betrothed arrives and requests that seventeen-year-old Jiara take her sister’s place as his bride to confirm the alliance between their countries.

Marrying the young king intended for her sister and traveling to his distant home is distressing enough, but with dyslexia and years of scholarly struggles, Jiara abandoned any hope of learning other languages long ago. She’s terrified of life in a foreign land where she’ll be unable to communicate.

Then Jiara discovers evidence that her sister’s assassin comes from the king’s own country. If she marries the king, Jiara can hunt the murderer and release her family from Scilla’s ghost, whose thirst for blood mounts every day. To save her family, Jiara must find her sister’s killer . . . before he murders her too.

My thoughts

I really enjoyed this fantasy novel that features political scheming, vengeful ghosts and emphasises the importance of how we communicate. It’s a unique fantasy novel and I liked how refreshing it was. No epic fantasy battles, but plenty of tantalising romance, politics, betrayal, and a touch of magic.

Princess Jiara’s life is utterly changed when her older sister is murdered. Jiara knows they have just months to find her sister’s killer before her sister, left to wander the earth, becomes increasingly violent. In the midst of this her sister’s intended arrives. Raffar, King of Farnskag, makes a proposition – he will marry Jiara instead and seal their countries’ alliance. The Queen and Jiara agree and Jiara is thrust into a new world. She travels with Raffar to Farnskag, but she must rely on a translator as neither she nor her new husband speak the other’s language.

As Jiara travels to Farnskag we learn a little more about her, her relationship with her sister and what she had planned for her future. When her friend and one of her translators has to leave the party, we learn Jiara is a caring person. We also learn how much she struggles with reading and learning. While they never use the word, Jiara has the signs of being dyslexic. It weighs heavily on her mind, especially when she arrives in Farnskag and begins learning their language. Unable to communicate with her new husband, Jiara relies on her translator for everything.

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Book Review: Daughter of Sparta

Daughter of Sparta – Claire M. Andrews – Daughter of Sparta #1 – Jimmy Patterson Books – Published 8 June 2021

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Synopsis

Seventeen-year-old Daphne has spent her entire life honing her body and mind into that of a warrior, hoping to be accepted by the unyielding people of ancient Sparta. But an unexpected encounter with the goddess Artemis—who holds Daphne’s brother’s fate in her hands—upends the life she’s worked so hard to build. Nine mysterious items have been stolen from Mount Olympus and if Daphne cannot find them, the gods’ waning powers will fade away, the mortal world will descend into chaos, and her brother’s life will be forfeit.

Guided by Artemis’s twin-the handsome and entirely-too-self-assured god Apollo-Daphne’s journey will take her from the labyrinth of the Minotaur to the riddle-spinning Sphinx of Thebes, team her up with mythological legends such as Theseus and Hippolyta of the Amazons, and pit her against the gods themselves.

My thoughts

For every reader who loved Percy Jackson or Greek Mythology, Daughter of Sparta is the book for you. I get so many requests in my school library for books that feature mythology, especially Greek mythology. Daughter of Sparta is a thrilling adventure. It is fresh yet fans of the mythological legends will recognise some familiar characters and quests.

There is so much in this story. The author could have used just one legend to inspire the story but we have multiple, with multiple gods, creatures and challenges that Daphne must face. It makes this book endlessly engaging and there is never a dull moment. I did find it a little confusing to keep track of all the characters, but having the familiar Greek gods and characters was helpful.

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