End of a Girl, Nia Sinjorina

End of a Girl, Nia Sinjorina

End of a Girl (Folio 55 Book 1)

Nia Sinjorina’s End of a Girl is the story of a teenage Molly Peterson, at school in an English comprehensive that she hates, told alternately from her own diaries and the point of view of one of her acolytes, tasked to write her history in the last days before Earth’s defeat. Molly, the class misfit, finds herself unexpectedly developing powers beyond her understanding; powers to destroy, but also powers to communicate…and powers to raise the dead. As the incidents become more public, Molly finds herself teetering on the edge of exposure, with not one, but two, covert organisations desperate to get their hands on her.

End of a Girl offers a story written from two very different viewpoints; one from the perspective and in the dialect of an English teen, and the other from the point of view of an acolyte who has passed beyond the use of language to communicate, and whose writing style is dense, obscured by the attempt to fit full-spectrum mental communication into marks on a page. While the container of the story is distinctive and well-done, the high level of the language may discourage some readers from giving the book the attention it deserves. Certainly an interesting and unique take on the genre.

The Wolfe Experiment, R W Adams

The Wolfe Experiment, R W Adams

The Wolfe Experiment

Ethan and his younger sister, Tilly, are orphaned after a traffic accident that kills their parents. They end up in the system, bouncing from foster home to secure home to foster home, trailed by a series of horrific incidents that have no logical connection to the two children. Their parents, both doctors, had been medicating them from an early age, and now, Ethan gradually realises that without whatever it was their parents had been giving them, Tilly is liable to bring the house down – literally – every time she falls asleep.

The Wolfe Experiment explores the world from various points in Ethan’s life and largely from Ethan’s viewpoint; hopping from his childhood with his parents through several foster homes to finally going on the run from the social system, the military, and the police with a sister in desperate need of expert care. The writing of the book is technically strong, which I always appreciate, but I found the story a little difficult for me to get into. Some of that may have been the hopping back and forth along Ethan’s timeline, which in places had me reflexively checking the date in the chapter header rather than staying immersed in the plot, and some of it was that Ethan felt like something of an empty vessel, by which I mean he was the main protagonist, but what the reader gets is a lot of dialogue, descriptions of events, and not a lot that actually fleshed Ethan out as a person for me. However, I have to give credit where credit is due on the plot twist; it’s well foreshadowed and handled.

Runaway Deception, Denae Christine

Runaway Deception, Denae Christine

Runaway Deception (Royal Deception Book 2)

Symon abandoned the throne of Arton after the death of his father, leaving his treacherous uncle in functional charge of the country and his mother and a twelve-year-old soon-to-be-royal, Lana, as the only bulwark against the coup. Fleeing through the countryside, Symon accidentally falls in with the rumoured band of renegade animal shifters known as the Hoard, and decides to remain with them, hiding who and what he actually is, as his uncle’s Inurite army imprison and kill animal shifters across Arton.

Author Denae Christine has created an interesting and satisfyingly complex society of shape shifters in this series, their roles and discord lending insight into the intricate world building behind the books. While the author’s technical skill is clear, and the social structure as intriguing as the biology, I didn’t find that Runaway Deception really went anywhere. It’s difficult to explain without horrific spoilers of this book or the first in the series, but the status quo at the end of book one, essentially, is the status quo at the end of book two; Symon missing, Lana in trouble, treacherous uncle in charge of Arton and doing unspeakable things.

I also must confess that I found Symon hard to relate to as a protagonist; in some core aspects, he appears to be as self-centred as a gyroscope, and while this story is a YA, and Symon is a teenager, it was hard for me to find much sympathy with him. It made reading a book almost entirely about his adventures while running away from his throne a little tougher a proposition than it might otherwise have been.

The quality of the story-telling, however, earnt this book a solid three stars despite my not-infrequent desire to see Symon turned over someone’s knee and spanked – it’s well-paced, well-thought out, and an enjoyable read.

High Iron, Tim Craire

High Iron, Tim Craire

High Iron

Aiman Shearer was very young when he was first singled out by the wizards of Varenland, and although he chose not to pursue magic and learning, it remained a part of him; a daydream to bring out and polish bright. Much later, when his peaceful existence raising his family’s sheep is threatened by invasion, Aiman finds himself caught up in a central role in the conflict, dealing with dwarves, elves, and renegade kobolds to end the unrest threatening Emmervale, and, possibly, avert a war.

High Iron is a well-written story, very suitable for younger readers. I say this partly because of the protagonist: Aiman is the son of a well-placed family in idyllic Emmervale, and is a simply-sketched character with no real vices, someone who is ready to forego glory to mind his family’s sheep and overlook past wrongs to save his town. The story itself is also written in the style of the fantasy quest, well done but with no real doubt about the eventual outcome of the hero’s endeavours. Despite or because of this, the book was still a highly enjoyable read, and as I’m generally all about the complex, dark, and twisted, I say this as a real compliment. I’d recommend it without hesitation to fantasy readers of all ages.

Meet the author:

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I Belong to the Earth, J A Ironside

I Belong to the Earth, J A Ironside

I Belong to the Earth: Unveiled, Book 1

A car smash was the turning point for all three sisters, and especially Emlynn, traumatised and with a head injury that apparently kick-started her on-again-off-again ability to perceive the dead. Isolated, and struggling with her own problems, there’s no-one Emlynn can tell about the cold patch on the stairs, or the figures she sees watching their house, or the sense of sheer menace she’s getting off her oldest sister’s new boyfriend. Each of the sisters has their role to play, and it seems the harder Emlynn tries to fight, the more ground she loses.

I Belong to the Earth is a complex story with a depth and richness far beyond most of the YA genre I’ve read. It’s welcomely free of stereotypes and miraculous solutions, and the fantasy elements are solidly thought-out and woven into the plot with a realism that chills. Author J. A. Ironside writes the side-effects of trauma with an understanding that adds dimensions to Emlynn’s struggle. With excellent pacing and incredibly convincing characterisation, this book totally earnt its five stars. I read it in a couple of sittings, and actually read all the teasers at the end looking for more (I never do that). I strongly recommend this read – one of the best fantasy books I’ve come across this year.