guests

Guest Review: The Undivided, Jennifer Fallon

This guest post was written by the awesome Steph, as part of the Discover Australian Fantasy feature, running all July on The Oaken Bookcase. Please visit the Aussie Fantasy page to see the other reviews and articles and also to enter the giveaway!

Title: The Undivided (Goodreads)

Author:  Jennifer Fallon (@JenniferFallon)

Rating: ★★★★☆

The Undivided are divided. The psychic twins, Ronan and Darragh, have been separated by the traitor Druid, Amergin, who has kidnapped Ronan and thrown him through a rift into another reality. Now time is running out for Darragh. If Ronan isn’t found soon, they will both die. But his twin brother is lost in a reality where Druids are legend, and there is no magic. Somehow, before the Autumn Equinox, they must find one young man in a world of six billion people…

Meanwhile, Ren Kavanagh has no notion of where he comes from. He is plagued by strange injuries that appear from nowhere and everyone is convinced he is deliberately harming himself for attention. Then he meets the enticing and mysterious Trasa, and before he can figure out how it happened, he is in serious trouble – arrested for arson and possibly murder.

Rescue will come from a completely unexpected direction. Ren is about to discover more about his origins than he bargained for, meet the twin brother he never knew he had, and discover nobody is what they seem, especially his new friend, the half-faerie, half-human Trasa… Amergin’s daughter.

Details

Series: Rift Runners #1 of 3
Genre: Fantasy
Published: Harper Voyager, 1 April 2011

Paper copies: Booktopia, Kinokuniya, Abebooks.com
E-copies: Amazon.com, Borders.com.au, Kobo

Review

“It shouldn’t be this easy to kill someone”… Even the first line of The Undivided draws you in, wondering why is it so easy, and who are you assassinating?

Once I began reading I found it very hard to put down. Fallon follows her usual style of throwing the reader in the deep end right from the beginning, gradually providing just the right bit of information when you need it.

Fallon brings her world to life beautifully, cleverly combining the genres of dimension hopping and historical fantasy to make a believable and complicated realm of possibilities.

Gradually shifting from their comfort zones, the characters cross paths in two dimensions – the ‘magic filled Ireland’ and a world very similar to our own.  The dialogue and finer details, such as when each character experiences things for the first time, are very well done. Little things like ‘puddle phone’ instead of ‘scrying bowl’ cracked me up. A few developments are a little convenient, but that’s forgivable when much of the characters’ reactions are realistic and thought out.

I found the book had an overall feeling of displacement or ‘needing to belong’. Even from the beginning of the story, each character is seeking change.  I also got the impression that this first book in the trilogy is just introducing the characters to their potential. I’m looking forward to seeing them developing their skills and relationships in the following books.

The Undivided takes you on fast-paced journey, jumping between alternate realities and a strong cast of characters finding their world changing around them and trying to keep one step ahead. I can’t wait to get started on the next book to see what complicated situations the twins can get themselves into, the imaginative worlds they’ll explore and the resourceful ways they’ll get out of them.

– Steph

Rift Runners series

  1. The Undivided (2011)
  2. The Dark Divide (April 2012)

 

About the author

Jennifer Fallon grew up in Melbourne and then Canberra as one of 13 children. She has had a range of jobs, but focused on her writing career after her late husband suggested that she ‘quit writing and be a better housewife, because you’re never going to get published’.

Her first series, ‘The Demon Child Trilogy’, was shortlisted for the 2000 Aurealis Awards as the best Fantasy of 2000. She has since written a number of successful fantasy series and standalone works and has been shortlisted for another Aurealis, the David Gemmell Legend of Fantasy award and the Romantic Times Best Fantasy award.

Jennifer has two daughters, a son and has cared for over 50 foster children. After spending many years in the Northern Territory, she now lives in New Zealand where she is setting up the Reynox International Writers Centre.

Learn more about Jennifer at her website, www.jenniferfallon.com.au.

 

Guest post: The Obernewtyn Chronicles

This guest post was written by Bree from All The Books I Can Read (@1girl2manybooks). It is part of the Discover Australian Fantasy feature, running all July on The Oaken Bookcase. Please visit the Aussie Fantasy page to see the other reviews and articles and also to enter the giveaway – you could win a signed copy of Obernewtyn!

Penguin 1993 cover

I’ve always been a series reader. It started when I was 7, reading The Babysitters Club books and continued on to Thoroughbreds and The Saddle Club through my horse-mad years and Sweet Valley High/University in my tweens/early teens. I love getting to know characters and being around to see them grow and change over the course of the series. There’s something very comforting in picking up a book and knowing that you’re familiar with the people inside. But while those series have come and gone…there’s one that has not.

I didn’t have a lot of friends that read growing up. When I was 10 I met a new girl to my primary school named Natalie and she was as crazy about books as I was. When I moved away about a year later, we stayed in touch writing letters. There was no email, no facebook, no internet then so we wrote to each other every week. And those letters often contained recommendations to each other of new books we’d read and loved recently.

When we were 14, Natalie recommended Obernewtyn to me, by Isobelle Carmody. At the time there were three books published in this series, The Obernewtyn Chronicles: the aforementioned Obernewtyn, The Farseekers and Ashling. My local library had them all and I swallowed my apprehension at the fact that they didn’t really sound like something I was interested in reading and borrowed them immediately.

Before starting The Obernewtyn Chronicles, I didn’t read fantasy. And only on the fact that they’d been highly recommended to me by someone who I knew enjoyed most of the same books I did, led me to read them at all. I like to think that even if I’d never met Nat and she’d never recommended me these books, then I’d still have found the Obernewtyn books. Because they’ve been a part of my life for so long now that I barely remember a time when I was not reading them. I was introduced to Elspeth Gordie, Rushton Seraphim, Matthew, Dameon and the world of Obernewtyn and I immediately fell in love with these books. I borrowed them from the library time and time again and Natalie and I  discussed scenes, characters and possibilities at length. By now I was over halfway through high school and Natalie was still my only friend that read, the only person I could talk to about books.

This series has always been special to me because it represents more than just an amazing series of books – and it is that. I’ve been re-reading them recently as a 30yo adult for a challenge leading up to the release of the last book and they’re still just as fabulous as I remember and maybe even more so. I now appreciate the thought that goes into the them, the carefully laid storytelling in a way that I couldn’t in my early teens. Since discovering book blogging I’ve found so many more people to talk to about books and I spend many hours doing just that. It’s a passionate community and I love that there’s now so many people in my life who love reading just as much as I do and love talking about books. But for a long time I never had that and these books remind me of a time when I would check the mail every day, waiting for a letter from a friend so that once again, I could talk about books.

Puffin 1996 cover

The first Obernewtyn book was published in 1987 – 25 years ago. There are 6 books – I think the longest I personally waited was 8 years between books 4 and 5. And everyone I’ve met who reads these says the same thing – so good but so long between them! But it says something about these books that no one really minds. I don’t know a single person who has said to me, oh I liked those books well enough but I couldn’t be bothered waiting so I just gave up on them. For many reasons, The Obernewtyn Chronicles inspire loyalty within its readers. We might moan about the length of time it takes to be able to read the next book, but it’s like a club. How long have you been waiting? Oh not long I only discovered them a couple of years ago. Oh lucky you, I’ve been reading them over 10 years! This series has so many dedicated fans as do Isobelle Carmody’s other works that we are happy to wait. It might be agonising but the minute we see that new book in the shops, it’s all worth it.

The Red Queen will be released next year and I’ll admit to having mixed feelings about the series finally drawing to a close. On one hand, I’m waiting with baited breath to see what the result of Elspeth’s final quest is, the fate of the characters I’ve come to love. On the other I’m sad that these characters, who have been around for so long, are nearing the end of their story. I know Carmody plans some spin offs and novellas, about the Beforetime and perhaps at other times in the Obernewtyn world, which will be fantastic. But I know when I’m holding The Red Queen I’ll be torn between opening it and not. Because opening it will mean saying goodbye.

– Bree, All The Books I Can Read

The Obernewtyn Chronicles

Obernewtyn (1987)

The Farseekers (1990)

Ashling (1995)

The Keeping Place (1999)

The Stone Key (2008)

The Sending (2011)

The Red Queen (coming late 2013)

Please note: In USA and Canada, The Stone Key was split and released as two books – Wavesong and The Stone Key. The final book will also be split there, with the first part as yet unnamed and the final part called The Red Queen.

Five For Friday: Recommended Authors

This Five For Friday is part of the Discover Australian Fantasy feature, running all July on The Oaken Bookcase. Please visit the Aussie Fantasy page to see the other reviews and articles and also to enter the giveaway!

I’m very pleased to welcome Shannon from Giraffe Days to share five things with us today! Shannon is an expat Aussie currently living in Canada.

Five Fantastic Fantasy Authors

Thank you, Angelya, for inviting me to participate in Discover Australian Fantasy month! Australia has, and continues to, produce some of the most original and talented writers of fantasy I’ve come across. Here are five authors I highly recommend for you to try:

Isobelle Carmody

She wrote her first book, Obernewtyn, at 14 and had it published when she was working in journalism. She comes from a large family and used to tell her younger siblings stories she’d make up on the spot. I once “met” her when she came to my rural high school in Tasmania to run a workshop with us grade 10 students – even though she was my favourite author then (and still is today), I was too shy to approach her. It’s like having your religious leader appear in front of you! I’m not sure I’d fare better today, either. Anyway, I love all her books, with my favourites being the Obernewtyn series, the Legendsong trilogy, Scatterlings, Alyzon Whitestarr and Green Monkey Dreams. She writes children’s fantasy books as well, though her work isn’t restricted to one age group. With her background in philosophy, her stories are original and thought-provoking. She divides her time between her home on the Great Ocean Road, Victoria, and Europe (oh what a life!).

Jennifer Fallon

I’ve loved everything I’ve read by her so far, which isn’t nearly enough! I started with her Second Sons Trilogy, which is deceptively simple in style but clever in plotting. It’s a highly politicised story, as is her Wolfblade Trilogy, the sequel to the Demon Child Trilogy (all six books are called the Hythrun Chronicles in the U.S.). Her new work is the Tide Lords Trilogy, which I haven’t started to yet but I know that when I do, I’ll be in for a treat. Her Wolfblade trilogy in particular is sophisticated political fantasy, with a strong female lead who, even though I read it so long ago, still has a presence inside me, like she left a lasting impression as a solid person. She grew up in Melbourne, has lived in Canberra and the Northern Territory, and now lives in New Zealand.

Rowena Cory Daniells

I loved her T’En trilogy, which is a fantasy-romance blend, which she published under the name Cory Daniells; and I’ve have started her King Rolen’s Kin trilogy which I’m also loving. She’s also written The Outcast Chronicles, due out this year, and is working on a sequel trilogy to KRK called King Byren’s Kin. I love her work not least because it’s so well written and full of exciting adventure, gripping plots and strong characters, but also because of her romance touch. In the T’En trilogy, romance was a key part of the plot, while in KRK it’s not a strong feature, so far, mostly serving to help flesh out the characters. But for me, a touch of (well written) romance can bring a book alive. She currently lives in Brisbane.

Kate Forsyth

While I’ve only read one trilogy by Kate Forsyth – Rhiannon’s Ride – it was so awesome it was an easy decision to include her in this short list. I would have read more of her books by now but I moved countries and I’ve yet to find her books here. 🙁 But if you’re a fan of Maria V Snyder, Jennifer Fallon, Tamora Pierce, Trudi Canavan, Karen Miller, Rowena Cory Daniells, Juliet Marillier or Lynn Flewelling, I think you’d enjoy Rhiannon’s Ride. It has one of my favourite fantasy heroines, some sweet romance, betrayal, magic and adventure – the best ingredients! I very much want to read her newest book, Bitter Greens, a retelling of “Rapunzel”. She lives in Sydney by the sea.

Ian Irvine

I am way behind on Irvine’s books, mostly due to geography (sadly they don’t seem to be readily available in North America 🙁 ), but I was reading his first quartet while I was still at uni in Australia, The View From the Mirror, and would really like to finish it someday. Instead of an elemental kind of magic, the story featured a kind of constructionist magic: the magicians created strange objects that worked as magic. That’s how I remember it anyway! It was different. His world-building is exceptional, and the characters original. You can read about the books, and his other series, here. Irvine is a marine biologist who lives in NSW.

 

– Shannon, Giraffe Days

Dream Cast for Embrace, Jessica Shirvington

This post is part of the Discover Australian Fantasy feature, running all July on The Oaken Bookcase. Please visit the Aussie Fantasy page to see the other reviews and articles and also to enter the giveaway!

You may have already seen yesterday’s guest review of Embrace by Jessica Shirvington.

Today, I’d like to welcome Lisa, the Badass Bookie herself, to share with us her dream casting for Embrace and the Violet Eden Chapters. Those of you who have read it, do you agree?

Violet – Christian Serratos (Twilight)

Lincoln – Chace Crawford (Gossip Girl)

Phoenix – Ian Somerhalder (The Vampire Diaries)

Griffin – Jonathan Patrick Moore (LA Complex)

Dad – Hugh Laurie (House)

Steph – Dakota Fanning

 

Thanks Lisa!

Guest Review: Embrace, Jessica Shirvington

This is a guest review from Philippa of Tea, Daydreams and Fairytales. It is part of the Discover Australian Fantasy feature, running all July on The Oaken Bookcase. Please visit the Aussie Fantasy page to see the other reviews and articles and also to enter the giveaway – you could win a copy of Embrace!

Also, check out the Dream Cast for Embrace that Badass Bookie guest posted!

Title: Embrace (Goodreads)

Author:  Jessica Shirvington

Rating: ★★★★☆

It starts with a whisper: “It’s time for you to know who you are…”

Violet Eden dreads her seventeenth birthday. After all, it’s hard to get too excited about the day that marks the anniversary of your mother’s death. As if that wasn’t enough, disturbing dreams haunt her sleep and leave her with very real injuries. There’s a dark tattoo weaving its way up her arms that wasn’t there before. 

Violet is determined to get some answers, but nothing could have prepared her for the truth. The guy she thought she could fall in love with has been keeping his identity a secret: he’s only half-human—oh, and same goes for her.

A centuries-old battle between fallen angels and the protectors of humanity has chosen its new warrior. It’s a fight Violet doesn’t want, but she lives her life by two rules: don’t run and don’t quit. When angels seek vengeance and humans are the warriors, you could do a lot worse than betting on Violet Eden…

Details

Series: The Violet Eden Chapters #1 of 3
Genre: Young adult Paranormal
Published: Hachette Australia, October 2010. Overseas: Sourcebooks Fire, March 2012.
Pages: 400

Paper copies: Amazon.com • Amazon.co.uk • Book Depository
E-copies: Amazon.co.uk • Barnes & Noble
NB. Not available in Australia on Amazon.com for kindle but it might be in the US!

Review

I have had both good and bad experience with YA angel novels in the past.  Firstly there is the Unearthly series by Cynthia Hand with I absolutely loved, then there are books like Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick which I would quite happily burn all copies of the book and main character irritated me so much and Fallen which I put down as a DNF after struggling to get through the first 100 pages!  I had first chosen to read Embrace at the beginning of the year when choosing books for the 2012 Debut Author Challenge hosted by The Story Siren.  Much to my surprise I discovered that Jessica Shirvington is in fact a fellow Aussie and this book has been out Down Under for quite awhile now! I was so keen to read it I broke my ebook only rule and actually purchased the physical book (sadly the ebook is NOT available in Australia along with many other wonderful YA books I’m desperate to purchase!).

Alternative cover

Embrace is the story of Violet who has never particularly enjoyed her birthdays as her mother died shortly after giving birth to her.  On her 17th birthday her mother had left her a gift including a strange letter hinting about faith and otherwordly concepts leaving her feeling quite confused.  Shortly after turning 17 Violet discovers she is part angel and has to decide whether to forgo her angel heritage or “embrace” this side of her fully.

I really liked Violet as a character for the most part of this book.  She starts off strong, self sufficient and completely relatable.  It’s actually a nice change to have a girl who is fit and sporty as a central character for no reason other than she wants to be, I can’t really think of another main heroine who is like that.  Through the book she gets quite ragey and spiteful which is out of character and at first I was puzzled by it then caught on that there were paranormal influences at work and this just worked for the story. Like any good heroine Violet isn’t perfect, she makes mistakes, learns a lot and really grows into her new world as the story progresses while still managing to stay grounded in her normal day to day life.

Like so many Young Adult books there are 2 guys and I found both of them to be completely HOT, there is the quiet, reserved “good” guy Lincoln and then the dark mysterious “bad” boy Phoenix who both get quite a bit of air time.  Now I’m sure there will be quite a few Phoenix fans out there but I must be drawn to the strong silent type or something because I swear if she ends up with Phoenix at the end of this quartet I will have to smack her over the head for her stupidity! For a bit of fresh air in a YA book there is actually some sex which is so rare these days I actually reread the scene because I was like “did she just do that… like really did she?!!!”  Both of the guys really are more than they seem, their characters are definitely much deeper then just good and bad and this is what really made this story a great read. I personally can’t wait to find out more about Phoenix’s backstory in the future books.

I really enjoyed the angel mythology and premise of this world as well and can’t wait to find out more, the whole “Embrace” trials to accept your Grigori powers was really interesting and I will be interested to find out even more about the myhology in the remaining books of the series. I really liked how the whole Angel and Grigori lore was new to Violet as well and the information was given out in a way that didn’t make it too overwhelming – you just went on the learning journey with her as the story progressed.

Overall I found this to be a fantastic debut novel by a great Aussie author and think anyone with an interest in Angel or paranormal stories will appreciate this story!

– Philippa, Tea, Daydreams and Fairytales

The Violet Eden Chapters

  1. Embrace (2010 in AU/2012 overseas)
  2. Enticed (2011 in AU/Sept 2012 overseas)
  3. Emblaze (2011 in AU)
  4. Endless (Expected publication 2012)

 

About the Author

Jessica Shirvington lives in Sydney with her husband of ten years, FOXTEL presenter and former Olympic sprinter Matt Shirvington, and their two daughters. She has previously founded and run a coffee distribution company, Stella Imports, in London, and been involved in managing the restaurants Fuel Bistro, Tow Bar and MG Garage in Sydney.

She is currently a full-time mum, author and co-director in the company MPS Investments Pty Ltd.

Fantastic Australian Cities

This post was written as part of the Discover Australian Fantasy feature by author, editor and historian, Gillian Polack. Gillian’s book, Ms Cellophane, was recently re-released as an e-book by Momentum Books.

When I run my eyes over my bookshelf and find fantasy books that use cities I know or know about, I find London and Paris and New York appear more than any other place. Yet Ruth Park set her tales in Sydney, and Park’s Playing Beatie Bow is both terrifying and evocative. I can’t walk through the Rocks without seeing the story play out again and again and without hearing in my mind those children singing their rhyme. It was Park and it was Patricia Wrightson with I Own the Racecourse! who taught me, as a child, that Australian cities could create dreamworlds and harbour amazing happenings. Our culture emphasises the Outback, but the magic of the Outback is quite different, as is the magic of the small towns. Today, I want to talk about the Australian cities. Without Australian cities, I don’t know if I would be writing fantasy novels, for the cities I live in light my creative fires.

Streets of Canberra

Canberra comes first. It was never my first city, but it is (more than Sydney and more than Brisbane with its amazing river) the best place to set a fantasy novel. It has such a clean public image. Almost sterile. As if the giant water jet on the artificial lake in front of the hollowed-hill that is New Parliament House defines everything. Then you live here.

When I moved to Canberra, I discovered that it was a palimpsest city. Underneath the monumental civic buildings and the truly and mundanely awful suburban architecture, hidden in the folds of the hills are many alternate Canberras. There is a ghostly Canberra, for it’s perhaps the most haunted city in the country. There is a mystical Canberra, for the winning design had magic drawn into its perfect lines and shaped around its hills. There is the Canberra of the pre-European inhabitants (which has never gone) and there is a strange place where the frost lies thick and the fog low in the winter, rising to create a perfect day. There is the city of government and the city of bushfires. There is the city where writers congregate and the city that the rest of Australia shuns. Any of these elements can create a story. I used the city of government and the mundane city for my recent book Ms Cellophane but I have a haunted city in my mind too, and the city of bushfire and fear, and other novels to write here. The palimpsest city creates almost a perfect storytelling environment.

Sydney already has been the setting for many fantasy tales. It’s going to be the place for more, too. It’s easy to write about Sydney. I often use it when I teach other writers how to create fantasy words using real places. I plan to visit in a few weeks and am thinking of spending a day on ferries, taking pictures of the Harbour, the rocks, the amazing houses, as tools for teaching and as tools for writing. There are so many stories to be told set on that Harbour. Felicity Pulman’s Ghost Boy (I have a fondness for young adult novels, even though my writing isn’t for that age group) uses the old Quarantine Station and I’ve lost count of the tales that use Taronga Zoo. Margo Lanagan’s amazing tales often have Sydney lurking darkly beneath them.

“It has the best graveyard statue I have seen anywhere.”

Sydney’s past is its not-so-well hidden secret. The beauty of the location contrasts with its history and the stories (baby murderers, jilted brides and more) can be evil, but there are so many stories of the fantastic in them. When I wanted to reinvent a lost tradition of Jewish magic, Sydney was the obvious place for it has sheltered Jews since the First Fleet. It has the best graveyard statue I have seen anywhere. It has…so much. Every couple of years friends and I wander through Newtown or around Haberfield and I hear more stories and I wonder why haven’t these odd lanes and half-forgotten shops created the stories that haunt London. They’re beginning to, and they will. For the stories hang thick in the atmosphere, just waiting for someone to breathe them in and to write. Or maybe just waiting for us to discover the poems and stories that have already been written. One of my guides to Sydney is Kyla Ward. She breathes that air and already writes those tales, but she also shares the history generously with other writers. And she’s not the only one.

And lastly (not lastly, just lastly in this blog post, for I took a tumble in my Canberra lounge room and dislocated a finger, so I have to stop soon) there is Melbourne. Melbourne is one of those cities that lives under the skin and in the heart of anyone who was brought up there. I was not only brought up in Melbourne, but in iconic Melbourne. This means that Melbourne appears in a lot of my work. In my first novel, Illuminations, it’s the hometown of the errant heroine and in the science fiction novel I’m writing right now it’s the place where the time travellers are sent backwards from. For me, it’s the city where everything begins and to which everything always returns.

It’s a lot more than that, however. Its phases of development remind me historically of the stages that Little Rock has gone through. Little Rock is a small city, however, and somehow, twice in its short life, Melbourne has been named one of the best and most prosperous cities in the world. It has the architecture to prove it and the quiet streets and good food that carries it through its periods of splendour. Melbourne manages suburbanimity* better than Sydney, somehow, just as Sydney manages to live with natural beauty better than Melbourne.

If Kyla Ward is my guide to the possibilities in Sydney, then three writers lead me through Melbourne and into its fascinating stories. Four, if I count myself (and the five generations of my family giving me my history): Lucy Sussex and Keri Arthur and Narrelle Harris. Lucy writes about my Melbourne. It’s older and more sedate and its horrors and its magic can be subtle. My favourite starting point is a book of her short stories, aptly entitled A Tour Guide in Utopia. She understands the scholarlyMelbourne and the somewhat leftish intellectual Melbourne and the tawdry dignity that was Marvellous Smellbourne in the late nineteenth century. Narelle and Keri understand the Melbourne of now. They write them into paranormal thrillers and mysteries. Narelle’s are cosier and more suburban and Keri’s are sharper and less safe. Not that any of these three writers are safe, but they write the fantastic dangerously each in their own way. Melbourne feeds into their fiction and their fiction changes the way I see my home town. This is the perfect relationship between fantasy and a city.

No two Australian cities are anything like each other. They all inspire quite different works of art. If they look the same or of the writing makes them look similar, then you’re reading the wrong writers or maybe you need new glasses. Or maybe you’re listening to the public fiction about Australian cities. We like to claim that they’re ordinary and that they can’t bring magic to life: Australians say things like this, but it doesn’t make what we say at all correct. These are the three Australian cities I’ve lived in: Canberra and Sydney and Melbourne. I want to live in Adelaide and Perth and Brisbane and Townsville and Darwin and Albury and a dozen other places, for I’m certain they have stories, too. Every city in this country is distinctive and each has its own voice. That voice informs fantasy stories and science fiction that could be set nowhere else.

*It wasn’t a word, but it matched Melbourne better than the words the dictionary recommended, so now it is one.

About the Author

Gillian Polack is based in Canberra. She is mainly a writer, editor, educator and historian.

Her most recent print publications are a not-quite-cookbook, a novel, an anthology and a slew of articles. Her newest anthology is Baggage, published by Eneit Press (2010).

One of her short stories won a Victorian Ministry of the Arts award a long time ago, and three have (more recently) been listed as recommended reading in international lists of world’s best fantasy and science fiction short stories. She received a Macquarie Bank Fellowship and a Blue Mountains Fellowship to work on novels at Varuna, an Australian writers’ residence in the Blue Mountains.

Gillian has a doctorate in Medieval history from the University of Sydney and is currently completing a Creative Arts one at the University of Western Australia. She researches food history and also the Middle Ages, pulls the writing of others to pieces, is fascinated by almost everything, cooks and etc. Currently she explains ‘etc’ as including Arthuriana, emotional cruelty to ants, and learning how not to be ill. She is the proud owner of some very pretty fans, a disarticulated skull named Perceval, and 6,000+ books.

Guest Review: Frozen Prospects, Dean Murray

This review is a guest post by the lovely Anya of About The Story! Welcome Anya!

 

Frozen Prospects, Dean MurrayTitle: Frozen Prospects (Goodreads)
Author: Dean Murray

Rating: ★★★★☆ – Really great story, minor flaws

Frozen Prospects by Dean Murray is a sci-fi/fantasy hybrid about a boy in another world orphaned and alone until his latent potential is discovered by a family of magic users called the Guadel; adventure, misfortune, young love and triumph ensue.

I downloaded this for my Kindle app and it’s still free on Kindle! So you really have no excuse not to go grab it right now, run run run! I dislike reading things on my phone, so it took me a while to finish this book, but I really enjoyed the story once I got used to the format in which I was reading it, and now I have to decide whether I’m going to spring for the next one!

Pages: ~180 pages

Genre-ish: Sci-fi/Fantasy Hybrid

Setting: Frozen Prospects is set on a planet different from our own where women are born with varying levels of magic powers. One of those powers is to go inside the mind of a male that trusts them (usually husband or student) and augment that male’s physical power magically. Only some boys are able to control their minds enough to allow this, however, creating an elite class of wise and powerful magic users called the Guadel.

Premise: Va’del is both an orphan and born of a lowlander mother (which is apparent from his skin color) and because of this hasn’t had the easiest childhood. The village he lives in is controlled by a jerk of a Headman, who doesn’t respect the visiting Guadel when they come to look for boys and girls with potential to join the magic using class. Fortunately for Va’del though, he is inspected and shows startling potential. Unfortunately for him, it isn’t a good time to be a Guadel in their land….

Strengths:

  • Really great characters, both the main character Va’del and all of the secondary characters, I really loved and connected with them all (including the pack animals Hungry and Sleepy 😀 )Va'del and a gurra from Frozen Prospects by Dean Murray
  • Great character development; Va’del transitions nicely from a scared orphan to a boy coming into his own, and no spoilers, but there is some awesome, and heartwarming, secondary character development as well!
  • Really interesting magic system; both the augmentation and healing powers of the Guadel, and they keep time with color spheres! How cool is that?
  • Moving and motivating plot; I cared a lot about what was happening and what was going to happen, and really want to know what happens next!

Weaknesses:

  • This book has a lot of typos that could have been caught with a good editor; for me they weren’t going to break the book, but if you are sensitive to those slip ups, this could be frustrating.
  • Similarly, there were sentences that just didn’t flow that again could have easily been fixed by an editor, though, again, I found it easy to accept that fact and move on to focus on the story 😉
  • The middle is rather depressing, as in “oh God, no hope, why should I continue” depressing. 🙁 But it gets better!!
  • The main character and secondary character (Jain) are both rather young, and that shows at times through annoying and childish reactions.

Summary:
Several typos and jerky sentences are to be expected from a free Kindle version of a book and shouldn’t deter you from downloading Frozen Prospects right now and squeeing with me over its awesomeness! A really cool concept combined with some awesome characters makes for a great read for any sci-fi/fantasy hybrid lover like me!

I found this book completely randomly, has anyone else read it? I need teammates on the Team Va’del!

Anya from About The Story

Anya

 

 

Similar Stories Reviewed:

Inheritance series by Christopher Paolini – Another boy who loses his family only to find his hidden power
Mistborn by Brandson Sanderson – Spectacular Sci-Fi/Fantasy hybrid

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