Miss Possum

Miss Possum
Pale but dynamic

Friday, 11 October 2013

 The Crowfield Curse

The Crowfield Curse by Pat  Walsh

Oct 11, 13  ·  edit

bookshelves: childrenya-fantasymagic
Read in October, 2013

I really love this book - lucid writing, fantastic (in all senses of the word) characters, scary suspense, unusual magic and danger. The story unfolds through the eyes of Will, an orphaned abbey servant, who finds unexpected friends through his own good actions, but those actions also cause him to become embroiled in ancient, magical, dark mysteries.

I love that some characters are neither good nor evil, just mysterious and dangerous and run with Will through the story; that characters who should perhaps be looking out for Will are instead focused on other worldly things; that Will (and the reader) can not quite understand what exactly is happening or who to trust and must try to work things out for himself - these reflect many children's own experience.

The crisp, snowy winter landscape generates its own magic through vivid brief descriptions. Abbey life, hardships and questionable characters are painted deftly, and magic peeking through the cracks in daily life is beautifully done. The childhood experience of a spooky place to be avoided at all cost is a central theme.

The magic and magical characters provide the greatest appeal for me - unusual, refreshing, and though startling to Will, woven into the fabric of daily life with the sense of a generally invisible world parallel to this one. The magical characters have their own stories and motivations, and brush up against Will as his story crosses theirs.

Fabulous writing, wonderful plot, terrific sense of wellbeing engendered at the end of the story.
Highly recommend this beautiful book.

also posted on Goodreads

Saturday, 6 April 2013

The Daylight War by Peter V. Brett

The Daylight War

The Daylight War by Peter V. Brett
5 of 5 stars

This book has the most exciting demon battles I have ever read!! Demon battles happen every night, but somehow Peter Brett just keeps racheting up the tension, danger, magic and drama. Peter Brett does that amazing thing - keeps your sympathy with a number of characters, each of whom has agendas which preclude the success of the others; that is, one character's achievement of his/ her dreams and wishes must be predicated on the failure of another character's, as they are striving for mutually exclusive goals. At the same time, the goals are about life, death, love and community, as well as the future of humankind, so the stakes are high. Vivid, glorious writing - I'm in the characters' bodies and minds, I'm in their world, I see the demons through their eyes.

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Assassin's Quest (Farseer Trilogy, #3)

Assassin's Quest (Farseer Trilogy, #3) 

Assassin's Quest (Farseer Trilogy, #3)

The first book in this trilogy is easily the best.

This, the third book, really suffers from saggy middle syndrome. The characters have been journeying since the second book, and the pace is just too slow, while over-using the device of a journey to keep the plot moving. It was hard to stay focussed - the book didn't hold my attention for more than about 15 minutes a time. It was just interesting enough for me to keep reading. Themes, ideas and characters were repeated over and over again with little change.

This book scores 3 stars rather than just 2 for the quality of the ending - it is probably worth persisting just for that.

Specifically - Finally, having had Molly called 'spirited' and 'strong' with very little evidence for 3 books, she finally did do something impressive. 

Also, the final dramatic scenes showed the author's fine imaginative and descriptive capacity, more like the first book of the series. Some loose ends were not tied up <spoiler>the white ships were a promisingly scary idea never explored</spoiler>. Some plot elements I will never understand - <spoiler>why could he not tell Burrich and Molly he was still alive? - they were both well over him and probably would have been glad to know he was alive, and to have him as a friend. In thinking he would cause them harm if they knew he was alive, he is still the self-indulgent young man who thinks the world revolves around him, which does not accord with the rest of his character development. </spoiler>.

In general I recommend the series, particularly the first book.

Posted on Goodreads http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/45112.Assassin_s_Quest
Thumbnail from Goodreads.

Friday, 22 February 2013

A Game of Thrones (A Song o...
4.42 of 5 stars

Well, what can I say? The entire series so far - Misogynist, brutal, gratuitous, and BRILLIANT. Fantastic (in all senses of the word) and wonderful. Riveting, spell binding, realistic - we all know these characters, and part of them are in all of us. Fast paced plot, too many people (keep up!)action, drama and unreliable narrators.

Read it - all of this is true - don't let the too many characters or the brutality or the misogyny put you off - this is brilliant writing.

Review posted on Goodreads as Maryanne Ross
Maryanne Ross

Assassin's Apprentice (Fars...
4.11 of 5 stars

In general, very good writing and character depiction. In some ways the overall plot is slow to unfold and rather predictable, but the various sub-plots and intrigues are pacy and dangerous.

Really didn't like (view spoiler) - when there was another hint of more of the same in the second book, I had to ask someone else if it was going to happen again, and if so, I might have to stop reading! Also the main character is a bit too gutless at times.

Some of the female characters in particular are strong and unusual, although Molly is a little too good for me, hopefully she might be killed off in the second or third book (view spoiler)

The superpowers/ magic in this book are one of the best elements - risky, unpredictable and poorly understood - they create unlikely friendships; mysteries in the characters and keep the plot moving.

Really like the bonding with animals descriptions - makes me understand my dog a little better!

Also posted on Goodreads

Thursday, 2 August 2012

The Foretelling

The Foretelling

didn't like it it was ok liked it really liked it it was amazing

I loved this book, loved the writing, the characters and the imagery.

A bit different to my usual fare: although this is a story about Amazon women - and they certainly are immensely strong in physical prowess, will power and determination - it is a story about seeking peace, redemption, love and balance.

This book does have implied and recollected scenes of significant horror - gang rapes and sexual slavery - which were just bearable for this wussy reviewer, but more importantly, may be themes too strong for younger readers.

The writing, the world, the characters and images are so unusual and so beautiful, this book plunges us into an indelible experience. The sense of space, of landscape and long ago, of the importance and intimacy of a few other people, and the struggle to investigate and embrace newness and change, are rendered with truth and insight.


Tuesday, 31 July 2012

The Assassin's Curse

Publisher: Angry Robot, Imprint: Strange Chemistry
Publication Date: October 02, 2012

Thanks to NetGalley and Angry Robot for the ARC.

This is a sparkling, magical book singing with fresh ideas in a saturated paranormal YA universe. A strong young female voice, a belting plot, exotic imagery and strange magic immediately capture the reader and keep the pages flipping.

The story explodes into being when a determined and wilful pirate girl runs away from an arranged piratey wedding into an unknown future. Her problems increase when the scorned clan seek revenge through an unbreakable assassin sent to kill her. In a night-time desert fight, Ananna desperately uses magic given her by an enigmatic woman whom Ananna believes she cannot trust. The unexpected consequences bind the handsome young assassin to Ananna, in an adventure which crosses seas in search of a forbidden island.

Striking features of the book include the sensual and exotic imagery and the unusual, sparkling magic, which is also creepy and scary magic. The binding of the assassin and victim is a terrific device for plot development and the building of romantic tension. The immediacy of the writing style is very effective. Like Ananna, we do not know what kind of magic is happening to us, and who to trust.

Ananna, as the female protagonist, is satisfyingly determined and courageous (most of the time). Ananna is handy with a knife or a lie, and has quick hands for essential thieving. She has great character: as Ananna explains to her prospective husband, ‘Oh just stop!...Why would I want to marry someone who won’t even listen to me?..I want a ship of my own, not yours.’

This wonderful, magical story unfolds in a desert setting. We feel the cold harsh bite of the sand in the wind; the rich smells and colours in the night markets, and the uneasiness inherent in the slipping, sliding shadows which could so easily become something both corporeal and menacing. With Ananna, we feel alone, desperate but determined to find our own way.

This story is filled with vivid, individual characters, immediacy of action and great backstory. Cyberpunk elements add a strange contrast in the desert scenes: ‘The creatures stood there for a long time, creaking and heaving and letting off smoke.’

I particularly love the unusual magic: ‘The thing crawled across the sky, long thin strands like a ghoul’s fingers’, and ‘..he spat out a word in a language like dead flowers, beautiful and terrible all at once.’ This is Ananna discovering a type of magic: ‘As I worked, I sang in a language I didn’t know; the words sounded like the babble of water over stones, like rainfall pattering across the surface of a pond, like rapids rushing through a canyon.’

In the beginning, this story could have been the one I’d wished I’d written; however, the narrative is unable to sustain the fire, pace, imagery and ideas of the first third. Our heroes’ journey, while interesting, could perhaps have been more dramatic – I’m sure the author considered whether to have them cross her pirate father’s path and experience her mother’s magic– perhaps in sequels we will see this, but in some ways the reader is set up for a drama which does not then take place. Ananna is a pirate; the reader wants more pirate action, battles and lore.

Swearing and curses are always difficult to get right in an imagined world. In this case, the author chooses to use conventional swearing, ‘bullshit’, which jars in the exotic setting. The invented prayers and invocations are far more appealing: ‘…still there, thank Kaol and her sacred starfish.’

The last section re-engages with and echoes the earlier creepiness, although again does not quite hit the gripping suspense and sheer wonder of the new magic of the first sections. Our heroes are possibly saved too early in the final settings, which defuses what could have been an explosive climax, given this author’s superlative powers of strong voice, evocative imagery and strange magic.

Overall, this book is highly recommended for anyone who loves YA paranormals – it really shines above the general. Sequels will be anxiously awaited, promising unusual and dramatic adventures with a most engaging protagonist.