Book Club Review – The Diviners by Libba Bray

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It’s 1920s New York City. It’s flappers and Follies, jazz and gin. It’s after the war but before the depression. And for certain group of bright young things it’s the opportunity to party like never before.

For Evie O’Neill, it’s escape. She’s never fit in in small town Ohio and when she causes yet another scandal, she’s shipped off to stay with an uncle in the big city. But far from being exile, this is exactly what she’s always wanted: the chance to show how thoroughly modern and incredibly daring she can be.

But New York City isn’t about just jazz babies and follies girls. It has a darker side. Young women are being murdered across the city. And these aren’t crimes of passion. They’re gruesome. They’re planned. They bear a strange resemblance to an obscure group of tarot cards. And the New York City police can’t solve them alone.

Evie wasn’t just escaping the stifling life of Ohio, she was running from the knowledge of what she could do. She has a secret. A mysterious power that could help catch the killer – if he doesn’t catch her first.

Author – Kiera.

I had really mixed feeling about this month’s book. On the one hand I loved the characters, the setting and the story. But on the other hand it felt very slow and over stuffed with information and storylines, which unfortunately made it less enjoyable to read.
New York in the 20’s was a fascinating time time to read about! The fashion and the parties, the vernacular and the mix of cultures and religions. It was almost a character in itself. I don’t think the story could have been suited so well to any other time or place. The way the time period formed the characters was perfect and I look forward to reading more of it throughout the series.
While on the subject of characters, I had a few favourites – Sam Lloyd being the first. He’s such a playful guy, but the way he treats Evie makes me think he has a softer side too. Theta and Henry were my other characters of choice. I loved the bond they have, and the fact that they treat people kindly and with respect even though they may not have always been treated that way themselves.
The main storyline was just the right amount of mystery and creepy. Naughty John and The Brethren definitely gave me the heebie jeebies, and it was interesting unravelling the story as events unfolded.

One of the disappointments for me was that all these characters had different abilities/powers but we never really saw any of them. I felt that it was a shame for such a long book that it wasn’t one of the main elements. Also the amounts of povs made it feel very disjointed. Everytime I got a good momentum going it would change and it really slowed the reading down. It just felt like the author felt the need to set the ground work for every character she wants to include in the series in the first book, and I just felt that it bogged the story down.
Overall I gave this 🌟🌟🌟

Author – Hazel

The Diviners was my pick for book club this month and I’m glad to say I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It has been on my TBR for a few months and our lovely Laura bought the book for me for Christmas. I really enjoyed the time period that the story was set in, it added to the atmosphere of the spooky plot. The story is told from quite a few perspectives but there wasn’t one that I didn’t enjoy. The author took her time developing all the characters, but for me this didn’t take away from the storyline. I really enjoyed reading and learning about the characters, but Jericho piqued my interest the most. From the very first introduction of him to the story, the mystery surrounding him grabbed me. I really enjoyed the dynamic between Evie and Sam. Him being very flirtatious and her struggling with a love/hate thing for him. I’m interested to see how the relationships between the characters develop as the story does. I’m also really interested to see how Libba Bray develops the ‘Diviners’ storyline, whether or not they band together as a type of ‘Avengers’ task force or if they continue to struggle alone with their gifts.

Naughty John was a creepy and gruesome bad guy. The way Libba Bray wrote him really did give me the chills. The Brethren, who were essentially Naughty John’s disciples, behaved like a cult and cults and cultish behaviour always rubs me the wrong way, so for me they alone were scary enough.

Overall I loved the book and I’m really looking forward to the next one, Lair of Dreams. I gave this book 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟.

Author – Laura

I really enjoyed this book, it feels both familiar and unique at the same time. Considering the size (a whopping 600+ pages) it took me just 3 sittings to complete. I think I would have struggled reading it in smaller chunks, as there are quite a few different POVs to follow, and storylines that felt like they were going to converge but then just don’t. The dialogue and banter between the characters was my favourite part, with some absolute humdingers –

“Harold Brodie is a louse and a lothario who cheats at cards and has a different girl in his rumble seat every week. That coupe of his is pos-i-tute-ly a petting palace. And he’s a terrible kisser to boot.”
Evie’s parents stared in stunned silence.
“Or so I’ve heard.”

“Theta crashed next to them on the thick zebra-skin rug. “I’m embalmed.”
“Potted and splificated?”
“Ossified to the gills. Time for night-night.

“She is the elephant’s eyebrows,” Evie whispered appreciatively. “Those jewels! How her neck must ache.”

Evie as a character wasn’t all that endearing, but what she lacked in warmth and humility she made up for in sass and charm. She is a proper wild child, who acts first and thinks later. It works in her favour most of the time, but I did feel a bit sorry for Mabel at times! The entire ensemble cast was great, and the atmosphere was so decadent. 1920s NYC is definitely where I would go in a time machine, complete with jewelled headband and fringed flapper dress. I’d even cut my hair short…

I’ll admit to being quite disappointed that after 600 pages there wasn’t some kind of ‘X-Men’ style Diviners team up; it was hinted at all the way through – the book is called ‘The Diviners’ after all, but it just never happened. It would have been a great final battle with Naughty John: to have a few of them use their powers together to defeat the bad guy, but it wasn’t to be.

I’m definitely going to read the second book, and hopefully I’ll get my wish for a superhero showdown, but perhaps with more pearls and less adamantium claws.

Friday Favourites – Female Protagonists

Author – Laura

This week we’re going all Girl Power on you, and looking at our favourite female lead characters. With so many worthy women to choose from, this group was difficult to put together. Let us know who you think should be on this list…

Sonea – Magicians Guild Trilogy – Trudy Canavan

Sonea - Magicians Guild

Sonea is a girl from the slums of Imardin who discovers she has a magical ability that is normally only found in the upper classes of society. She spends most of the first book hiding her magic from the Guild, who she believes are trying to capture her. Her abilities are eventually revealed, and she is taken to the Guild where she witnesses something terrible, putting her in even more danger.

I loved reading about Sonea; she has strong values and although she is young you really get a sense of the power she has, and how angry she is! There is a little bit of romance but it doesn’t detract from her own story – she is powerful with or without her man.

Lyra Belacqua – His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman

Lyra Belacqua

Lyra Belacqua, or Lyra Silvertongue as she is known, is the eleven-year old girl at the centre of His Dark Materials. And she’s a little brat. I don’t normally like children, real or fictitious, but there was something about this grubby little tomboy that I felt drawn to. It’s probably that she reminds me of me a little bit. I hated school, and was much happier with animals and mud than being with other kids. I also had a strong dislike for authority. Bad news when you’re 11 and everyone is more important than you. It took me a while to get into His Dark Materials, but Lyra is adventurous and naughty enough to keep you interested.

Karigan G’ladheon – Green Rider Series – Kristen Britain

Karigan G'Ladheon

Karigan is a bit of an unlikely hero. She has run away from school to get to her father, but on the way she meets an injured Green Rider, a magical messenger of the king. He asks her to deliver a message to the King of Sacoridia, so Karigan agrees and takes on the mantle of a Green Rider to take the message to the King. Karigan is a bad ass – it was really refreshing to read an Epic Fantasy where the main character is a woman who can really handle herself (with a little help from Horse). This is a great series, well worth a read.

Matilda Wormwood – Matilda – Roald Dahl

Matilda - Roald Dahl

One of the best children’s characters in the history of ever, Matilda is a little girl with a very special ability. I love this story, and although it has sad undertones (she is neglected and eventually left by her horrible parents) everything is ok and the book has a lovely happy ending. This can’t be considered a spoiler – everyone knows this story! Matilda is a sweet kid who you root for immediately, and is so quiet and intelligent you forget that she is only 5 and a half. Protagonist might not be the right word to describe a 5 year old, but she’s a brilliant female lead character all the same.

Sookie Stackhouse – The Southern Vampire Mysteries – Charlaine Harris

Sookie Stackhouse

I chose Sookie because I want her life. I want to be her, and live in Bon Temps, and sunbathe all day, and work in a cool bar, and have big boobs, and long blonde hair… It’s never going to happen, but I enjoyed living vicariously through Sookie. These books are like balm to my soul. So easy to read, plenty of sexy vampires and tasty humans, and enough action to keep the story flowing through the whole series. Sookie is a great lead, enough balls to stand up to the various ‘supes’ in the neighbourhood but sweet and kind, with real Southern charm. Did I mention I want to be her?

Friday Favourites – Standalones!

Author – Laura

Standalones SML

So. Standalones. This was a surprisingly hard list to write. It turns out I read A LOT of series, not always intentionally but it seems to be the way of things. A lot of the storylines in the books I read are so epic that to do them justice the books would have to be bigger than my head, so I’m not complaining.

Here is my humble little list of my favourite standalone novels.

The Railway Children – E. Nesbit

“Daddy! My Daddy!”

This is one of my childhood favourites. I love the simplicity of life, the slightly grubby outdoor playtime and the strength of the familty unit.

It was the first time I remember being sad reading a book, and the relief when Bobbie’s Daddy arrives at the railway station still gives me goosepimples. I sometimes use this phrase when I see my own Dad; even though I’m (mostly) a grown up, the feeling of coming home is something that just can’t be matched.

A Gathering Light – Jennifer Donnelly

This is a beautiful and sad book. I might have stolen it from my sister, but we won’t mention that. Sharing is caring. I’m not exactly sure what genre you would put this book into; it’s a YA historical horror romance. However you want to describe it the story is powerful and it feels like an understated epic. A must read.

IT – Stephen King

I read this book as a kind of ‘kill or cure’ treatment. When I was far too young to know better I watched the movie, and for months (ahem, years) afterwards I was terrified of clowns and washing lines. I decided, not that long ago actually, to get over it and read the book that the film was based on. I’m really glad I did, because not only is it a fantastic read (if a little trippy), it’s also less about The Clown and more about a group of friends overcoming their childhood fears. I love it. Not so much the film though, even now it gives me the creeps!

The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold

If you haven’t read this I’d be surprised. It’s one of those books that appears on a lot of Top 25 lists on Goodreads. I read it because the movie was about to be released and I have a thing about wanting the full story before I watch the film, just so I can fill in the gaps myself. It’s definitely worthy of its plaudits. Beautiful and horrifying, you feel like have to keep reading and almost hold Susie’s hand until it’s all over.

Good Omens – Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett

I have written about this book before. It’s my most favouritest book in the whole entire world. You can read my review here. I love the characters, the humour and I love how the fate of the world hangs on an 11 year old boy who doesn’t really know what all the fuss is about. Amazing, amazing book.

NB – Not forgetting The Night Circus, The Prince of Mist and The Ocean at the End of the Lane. All of which have been reviewed here on The Bookspa Blog.

Book Review – The Breeders by Katie French

Author – Laura

Sixteen-year-old Riley Meemick is one of the world’s last free girls. When Riley was born, her mother escaped the Breeders, the group of doctors using cruel experiments to bolster the dwindling human race. Her parents do everything possible to keep her from their clutches – moving from one desolate farm after another to escape the Breeders’ long reach. The Breeders control everything – the local war lords, the remaining factories, the fuel. They have unchecked power in this lawless society. And they’re hunting Riley.

When the local Sheriff abducts the adult members of her family and hands her mother over to the Breeders, Riley and her eight-year-old brother, Ethan, hiding in a shelter, are left to starve. Then Clay arrives, the handsome gunslinger who seems determined to help to make up for past sins. The problem is Clay thinks Riley is a bender– a genderless mutation, neither male nor female. As Riley’s affection for Clay grows she wonders can she trust Clay with her secret and risk her freedom?

The three embark on a journey across the scarred remains of New Mexico– escaping the Riders who use human sacrifice to appease their Good Mother, various men scrambling for luck, and a deranged lone survivor of a plague. When Riley is shot and forced into the Breeder’s hospital, she learns the horrible fate of her mother—a fate she’ll share unless she can find a way out.

So there are a couple of things to note about this review. For starters this is the very first YA Dystopian story I’ve ever picked up and read by choice. The second thing is that I read it in two sittings.

The Breeders is set in a future where females are scarce, thanks to a scientific discovery that affected the ability to produce female fetuses. Girls are kidnapped by the Breeders and artificially inseminated with genetically created females in the hope of repopulating the world.

Riley is a 16 year old girl who has been hidden by her parents on a farm in the middle of nowhere. Her life is lonely, but living under the ever present threat of capture by the Breeders prevents her from visiting town or seeing anyone other than her family. I absolutely loved her, and there was none of the bratty teen angst that is so common in YA literature. She is vulnerable but brave, and would risk everything to save her family. Which is good, because from the very beginning of this book the action never stops. Riley and her little brother, Ethan, are so close and the author does a great job of making sure the little moments between them are just as important and poignant as the big moments. The world-building is subtle but fantastic. Every new place they come to feels both familiar and strange, and creates a clear picture of the devastation of the land after the past events.

Considering this book is aimed at young adults it doesn’t pull its punches in the darkness stakes. There are more than a few moments of serious tension, and a couple of scenes that might make the more squeamish among us grimace a little. The premise is really sinister, and the scenes in the hospital are actually quite frightening – the author really captures a sense of the hopelessness of Riley’s situation. Having said that, with Clay’s steadying presence and the help they receive from some unlikely sources, this is an unexpectedly hopeful story which had me racing through the pages to find out what happened next.

This is a really great book, with fabulous writing and real atmosphere. I’m so pleased I stepped out of my comfort zone and chose something different to read; it was definitely worth it!

Check out The Breeders on Goodreads

Buy the book on Amazon

Friday Favourites – Book Boyfriends!

Book Boyfriends

Author – Laura

Following Kiera’s exceptional list of handsome princes and dashing heros I have come up with my own, possibly less swoonworthy – top five Book Boyfriends. Fortunately all of our tastes are quite different, so by the end of next week you should have a comprehensive list of our top 15 literary studmuffins.

Book Boyfriends

Bitten – Nick Sorrentino

I’ll admit, I’ve been influenced significantly by Steve Lund, who plays Nick in the TV series. Book Nick is playful, flirty and a bit of a lad. He’s protective without being smothering, and is a bit of a joker. Tick, tick and tick. I’m not sure if I imagined Nick to look the way he does in the TV version, but let’s take a minute to give thanks to the casting agent for making what must have been a very difficult decision.

The Hunger Games – Gale Hawthorne

I’ve always been Team Gale. Even though you’re supposed to like Peeta, and root for him and Katniss to pull through, it’s always been Gale for me. He’s strong and loyal, and he loves Katniss despite everything that has happened, including her pretending to be in love with Peeta throughout the series. I think Gale is the heart, Peeta is the head. I’m heart all the way. Gale is also the only non-supe on my list. Not sure what that’ says about me.

Fallen – Daniel Grigori

Ah Daniel. The Fallen Angel. Daniel is described as having blond hair and grey eyes with violet flecks, but in my head he was dark, with blue eyes. Weird. Either way, the character is mysterious but affectionate, aloof but passionate – he has a really conflicted personality which all stems from his devotion to Luce, which is the kind of love you want from a book boyfriend. He also has a ridiculously hot brother. What’s not to like?

Twilight – Jasper Hale

Team Edward? Team Jacob? Nuh-uh. I’m all about the quiet Southern vampire who speaks like a cowboy and was saved by the love of a good woman. Or vampire. Whatever. Alice and Jasper have a deep, quiet love that doesn’t need a fanfare or big gestures to prove its worth. He’s a peripheral character who is fundamental to the Cullen’s survival. Even with his constant thirst he is kind and loyal, and his ability to influence emotions is one I could definitely make use of. Go Team Jasper!

Fever Series – Jericho Barrons

This one is a slightly odd choice, because frankly Barrons is a bit of an a**hole, but he made me laugh! His humour is so dry, and he’s really sarcastic, which appeal to my darker tendencies. He’s also got a sensitive, caring side, even if you don’t see it very often you know it’s there. To be honest, Mac is pretty annoying, so no wonder he’s grumpy. I picture someone a bit like Jason Momoa in my head – so it makes for a lovely daydream…

Are any of these on your list? Or are you looking for something completely different? Let us know who you’d add 🙂

Book Review – The Prince of Mist

Prince of Mist Cover

Author – Laura

The Prince of Mist is a young adult novel by Carlos Ruiz Zafón, written in 1993 and translated from Spanish into English in 2010.

The main character is a young boy called Max Carver. In 1943, along with his two sisters, his mother and watchmaker father, he moves to a little town by the sea to get away from the war. As soon as they reach the new place Max realises things aren’t quite as they should be.

Max discovers that the new house was formerly owned by the Fleischmans, whose family is surrounded by tragedy after the death of their son, Jacob. The house is pretty normal; big, old and full of strange noises, but nothing out of the ordinary until Max finds the sculpture garden near his house.

Strange things start happening, and get even stranger once Max makes a friend. Roland takes Max diving near a wreck, where a six pointed star on a flag is a reminder of something similar Max has seen in the sculpture garden. Max starts asking questions and learns that the boat sank leaving only one survivor, but no bodies. The boat was carrying a circus crew led by a man known as The Prince of Mist…

I loved this book. It’s so atmospheric, and unless you have zero imagination it’s very easy to visualise every scene, right down to smells and subtle changes in the light and temperature. Considering this book is a teeny tiny 200 pages, it feels epic – there is a real sense of something much bigger; like this is a little snapshot in time in a story that spans generations.

With that in mind, it was a little difficult to appreciate the immediate depth of the relationship between Roland and Alicia, who seemed to fall in love in one afternoon. But at 15 you fall in love at the drop of a hat so it’s not totally unbelievable.

The Prince of Mist is a creepy baddy. This is essentially a children’s book but I had to take a little break near the end – it gets scary and I was totally there, living it with them. I think above all this is a story about bravery and loss, and it feels very pure. It’s beautifully written even if it’s completely chilling and frankly sinister in places.

 Buy it on Amazon

Book Review – The Assassin’s Curse by Cassandra Rose Clarke

The Assassin's Curse (The Assassin's Curse, #1)

Ananna of the Tanarau abandons ship when her parents try to marry her off to another pirate clan. But that only prompts the scorned clan to send an assassin after her. When Ananna faces him down one night, armed with magic she doesn’t really know how to use, she accidentally activates a curse binding them together.

To break the spell, Ananna and the assassin must complete three impossible tasks–all while grappling with evil wizards, floating islands, haughty manticores, runaway nobility, strange magic…and the growing romantic tension between them.

Pirates and Assassins. Do I need to say more? Well alright then, you’ve twisted my arm!

As you might have noticed, this book is about pirates and assassins! How cool is that! This book had me from page one, and I finished it in a day. The first line is ‘I ain’t never been one to trust beautiful people, and Tarrin of the Hariri was the most beautiful man I ever saw.‘ I love the writing style, it makes me feel like I’m a pirate, and who doesn’t want to be a pirate! We follow two main characters through the story, Ananna (the Pirate) and Naji (the assassin) and it’s written from Ananna’s point of view. I really love both of these characters. They are completely different from one another, but then almost exactly the same too. They both have been brought up in environments in which each day is a fight for survival,  but they deal with things in their own unique ways.
Ananna is very forward with her feelings and quick to throw a punch, where as Naji is used to appraising the situation and hiding in shadows. So when they are forced together by the curse it’s interesting to see how they work as a team. Their relationship is tentative but you can feel the bond between them slowly growing and it’s wonderful.

The magic system was so fun to read about. I loved how different people in the book could draw power from different places depending on the magic they use. The fight scenes in this book were awesome! Nothing like some swashbuckling pirates with their swords and muskets battling it out on deck.
The only thing I would have changed with this book would have been the addition on a map. There is a lot of traveling around by land and sea, and I think a map would have helped me get my bearings in the world a bit better.

I don’t want to say too much more about this book, because it’s not a very long and I don’t want to ruin it for you. I really hope that you give it a read though. It is brilliant fantasy and definitely worth the read.

commission,The Assassin's Curse by may12324

I found this picture on pinterest and it is the perfect image I had for the characters. The link to the original image is – http://may12324.deviantart.com/art/commission-The-Assassin-s-Curse-480759309

Book Review – Drink, Slay, Love by Sarah Beth Durst.

Drink, Slay, Love

‘Pearl is a sixteen-year-old vampire… fond of blood, allergic to sunlight, and mostly evil… until the night a sparkly unicorn stabs her through the heart with his horn. Oops.

Her family thinks she was attacked by a vampire hunter (because, obviously, unicorns don’t exist), and they’re shocked she survived. They’re even more shocked when Pearl discovers she can now withstand the sun. But they quickly find a way to make use of her new talent. The Vampire King of New England has chosen Pearl’s family to host his feast. If Pearl enrolls in high school, she can make lots of human friends and lure them to the King’s feast — as the entrees.

The only problem? Pearl’s starting to feel the twinges of a conscience. How can she serve up her new friends—especially the cute guy who makes her fangs ache—to be slaughtered? Then again, she’s definitely dead if she lets down her family. What’s a sunlight-loving vamp to do?’

 

Author – Kiera.

This book is so much fun! I love that books have the ability to stir up so many different emotions and broach topics that can be sensitive. People can be comforted, reassured and feel like they are part of something because of reading, and that is a wonderful thing. There are times when you just want a bit of escapism, nothing too heavy or hard hitting, and this book provided that in spades.

The characters are awesome! Pearl is a strong female vampire who kicks ass and takes names regularly. She is ruthless, enjoys the hunt and she is ready to take her place in the vampire world. Until she gets stabbed through the heart by a unicorn horn. I really enjoyed the development of Pearl’s character! The inner battle between doing what’s expected and doing what’s right was so interesting. Especially when you throw The Family into the mix! They are her relations by both human turning and blood (no pun intended) and they expect nothing less than perfection. If you make mistakes, you are brutally punished if you are lucky, and killed if you are not. Plus they are crazier than a bag of cats. Bethany is Pearl’s first friend, and she is her counter balance in every way. I liked how pure of heart Bethany is. She does things for all the right reasons, and I think that is why her and Pearl have such a strong connection. Evan is funny, charming, supportive and completely dreamy. Matt and Zeke insert a lot of humour into the book, and make what could be quite a dreary subject, seem just that bit lighter. They are best friends and wannabe vampire hunters that can’t ever seem to get it right.

The story line is pretty simple. The King is coming to town to perform a ceremony that initiates young vampires into adulthood. Of course being King and all he is expecting a feast bigger than any feast seen before. So when The Family find out that their daughter can now walk in sunlight, they don’t believe that she has been stabbed by a unicorn but they do see a solution to all their problems. So Pearl is sent out to heard the humans. Nothing could possibly go wrong, right?

One of my favourite aspects of the book are the vampires themselves. They are good old burn in the sun, killed with a stake, garlic hating vamps. I like sparkly vampires as much as the next person, but there is something satisfying about the old fashioned, throw holy water at them, vampires.

Overall, if you like vampires and mythical creatures and are in the mood for something fast paced and a ridiculously good time, I would recommend this book to you!

Friday Favourites – Book to Movie Adaptations

Author – Laura

It’s Friday, and that means that we Bookspa girls get to share all our favourite book-related things. This week we’re looking at a topic that can divide opinions and turn friends into foes. Well, maybe not quite that dramatic, but still…

I think book to movie adaptations are always a gamble, because no two people read a book in the same way. Every reader has their own idea of what the lead character looks like, how they fall in love, what their home looks like etc, regardless of how detailed the authors description is.

These are the adaptations that hit the spot for me.

Twilight

I know, but hear me out. I think Catherine Hardwicke did a brilliant job of the first in the Twilight series of movies. She nailed the atmosphere, the tension and of course, Edwards hair.  I think the director really understood the book – she was the only female to direct any of the films, so perhaps she looked at the story in a different way to the others? I enjoyed the rest of the series, but Twilight will always be my favourite. The scene at the end, with the fairy lights and Iron and Wine playing in the background? *Sigh*…

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

If you haven’t seen this film, then you should stop what you’re doing and find yourself a copy right now. The book is poignant, touching and funny, and this really comes across on the big screen. I think Logan Lerman did a great job in the lead role, he is cute and awkward, and his scenes with Emma Watson are some of my favourite. Even though it’s not a hugely uplifting story, I felt like I’d been a part of something quite special when I left the cinema.

The Green Mile

I cried reading the book, so I wasn’t sure how I’d feel watching the movie. Needless to say, I cried even more, sat in my lounge surrounded by tissues. If you’ve had any exposure to either the book or the film you’ll know what I mean. The subject matter was handled sensitively, but without a smidge of sugar coating, hence the 18 rating. The casting was spot on; you couldn’t help hating Percy Wetmore and feeling heartbroken for the gentle giant, John Coffey.

The Lovely Bones 

This is the only adaptation I did back to front, in that I saw the film before I read the book. Either way, it’s a haunting story that will stick with you long after you’ve read or seen it. Peter Jackson doesn’t really make bad films, and although this is a million miles away from The Shire it’s still as affecting as any story about a ring. You sort of get lost in it, caught up in the life and death of Susie Salmon The film really catches the sense of other-worldliness (probably not a real word) that you get from the book.

What book – to – movie adaptations have really impressed you?

Book Review – The Crown Tower: Book 1 of The Riyria Chronicles by Michael J. Sullivan

Author – Laura

image

Two men who hate each other.  One impossible mission. A legend in the making.

A warrior with nothing to fight for is paired with a thieving assassin with nothing to lose. Together they must steal a treasure that no one can reach. The Crown Tower is the impregnable remains of the grandest fortress ever built and home to the realm’s most valuable possessions. But it isn’t gold or jewels the old wizard is after, and this prize can only be obtained by the combined talents of two remarkable men. Now if Arcadias can just keep Hadrian and Royce from killing each other, they just might succeed.

This book was recommended to me by my lovely Dad, who is an avid fan of all things sword and sorcery. The Crown Tower is actually part of a prequel series to the Riyria Revelations trilogy, telling the story of how the main characters, Hadrian Blackwater and Royce Melborn, met and became partners. I haven’t read Revelations, but my Dad said to start with The Crown Tower as reading them in chronological order might make more sense to a Riyria noob. Of course, if you want to read them in order of publication by all means read the trilogy first. It won’t detract from the story, if anything I imagine you might even get more out of it than someone who hasn’t read it.

The first part of the story is focused on Hadrian, who has spent the last few years as a mercenary, killing for money. In an effort to leave his past behind him he sets off on an eventful journey to meet a family friend, who has some things that have been left to him following the death of his father. Hadrian isn’t very good at making friends, which makes for a few fun and games on the way.

We don’t meet Royce until later, when the friend, a professor at a school for the gifted, sends the two on a mission to steal something important. They have to work together, but the instant mutual loathing is a bit of a hurdle. Unfortunately for them, the only way to survive the job is by learning to trust each other. Which, of course, is easier said than done…

Alongside their story we also meet Gwen DeLancy, a whore who refuses to let herself and other girls be used and abused by the tavern owner or their customers. I imagine Gwen has an important role to play in future books.

There is plenty of action in The Crown Tower, and I immediately liked both Hadrian and Royce. I think that’s largely thanks to the brilliant writing. Alongside the fast paced action and beautiful descriptions of the world, I found this book unexpectedly funny. The humour is dry and sarcastic, and I loved the banter between the main characters. It isn’t written like a prequel, and there doesn’t seem to be any assumption about what the reader already may or may not know. I’m looking forward to reading the second book in the series – The Rose and the Thorn.

Although its more sword than sorcery (I imagine that changes as the story goes on) The Crown Tower is a great introduction into both Fantasy fiction and the world of Riyria, and perfect for Young Adults and their *ahem* slightly older counterparts as well!

My rating – 4/5

Check out The Crown Tower on Goodreads