Review: Fire in the Sea, Myke Bartlett

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! 

Title: Fire in the Sea (Goodreads)

Author:  Myke Bartlett (@mykebartlett)

Rating: ★★★★☆

Sadie is sixteen and bored with life in Perth. It’s summer, and lazing on the beach in the stifling heat with her cousins and Tom is a drag. Then something comes out of the sea.

Dark menacing forms attack an old man, leaving him for dead and Sadie wracking her brains to understand what she saw. Then there’s a mysterious inheritance, a strange young man called Jake and a horned beast trampling the back yard.

Sadie finds herself caught in the middle of an ancient conflict that is nearing its final battle, a showdown that threatens to engulf Perth and all those she loves in a furious tsunami. 


Series: Stand alone
Genre: YA Fantasy
Published: Text Publishing, July 25, 2012
Awards: Text Prize 2011 for Young Adult and Children’s writing
Pages (paperback): 264
My copy: For review from the publisher, thanks! 

Paper copies: Text Publishing • Booktopia
E-copies: •


Sadie and her friends are suffering in the heat of a dry Fremantle summer when strange things start to appear out of the sea. Sadie jumps in when an old man is attacked and is unwittingly dragged into an ancient conflict. Now she must help the Guardians recover a powerful artefact before its too late and the wrath of the Gods is provoked.

It’s been a while since I’ve had the opportunity to sit down and read a whole book in one day, but I did just that with Fire in the Sea. With just the right amount of witty Aussie vernacular interspersed with terrifying confrontations with the enemy, this book had me hooked from start to finish.

After I saw it mentioned that this book was similar to Susan Cooper’s Dark is Rising sequence (one of my all-time favourites), I had to get my hands on it. I’d describe it as Over Sea, Under Stone meets Tomorrow, When the War Began  – strange happenings in a seaside city, with an Aussie twist and a fair bit more violence.

The characters were what really drew me into the story – the teenagers actually speak to each other like real people do and have (probably) realistic reactions to supernatural events. Also, as a breastfeeding mum I was delighted at the reference to it – not that babies make much of an appearance in fantasy generally speaking, but more boobs please!

There were a couple of parts that didn’t quite make sense to me. One was that I didn’t really get how Sadie was able to get Jake to go along with her plan so easily. I mean, Jake and his team have been doing this for centuries, surely they know what they’re doing by now? Also, what happened to his medallion? Is he mortal now? At the end of the story I was left feeling a little confused as to what had happened to Jake and the rest of the squadron.

I’m not sure if more books are planned to follow on in a series from Fire in the Sea, but the premise of the Gods and their Guardians was very interesting and the whole story flowed very well. I’ll be looking out for Myke Bartlett’s future works no matter what world they’re set in.

Warnings: Plenty of blood and guts, a bit of swearing.

About the Author

Myke Bartlett was born in Perth, and spent his first twenty years trying to escape. Like every other young Australian, he fled to London and, like most of them, didn’t stay.

A trained journalist, Myke writes on politics, movies, pop culture and rock music. His work has been published in THE AGE, DUMBO FEATHER, OVERLAND, TRIPLE J MAGAZINE, METRO, CREAM MAGAZINE and THE BIG ISSUE. (And some other titles that won’t fit into that very long sentence.)

He is the culture journalist for Melbourne magazine THE WEEKLY REVIEWYou can read his weekly column here.

Myke has also written and performed podcasted fiction.  His SALMON & DUSK podcasts have sometimes broken into the Top 10 US iTunes Podcast Charts. Which is pretty amazing, really.

He currently lives in Melbourne with his wife and a Boston Terrier called Moxy.

Review: The Book of Lost Fragrances, M.J. Rose

The Book of Lost FragrancesTitle: The Book of Lost Fragrances (Goodreads)

Author:   M. J. Rose (@mjrose)


Series: Stand alone

Genre: Historical fiction, romance, fantasy

Published: Atria Books, March 13, 2012

My copy: Ebook ARC from NetGalley

Paper copies: • • Book Depository

E-copies: • Barnes & Noble • Diesel eBooks

Jac L’Etoile has always been haunted by the past, her memories infused with the exotic scents that she grew up surrounded by as the heir to a storied French perfume company. In order to flee the pain of those remembrances—and of her mother’s suicide—she moves to America, leaving the company in the hands of her brother Robbie. But when Robbie hints at an earth-shattering discovery in the family archives and then suddenly goes missing—leaving a dead body in his wake—Jac is plunged into a world she thought she’d left behind. (Goodreads)


The storyline of The Book of Lost Fragrances sounds a little odd when the events are described: An ancient Egyptian artifact can help the people of Tibet in their struggle against the oppression of the Chinese government. A French perfumer and his sister discover an ancient and secret scent that allows visions of past lives. These facets of the story have been woven together masterfully by the author to form a complete and satisfying story.

The Book of Lost Fragrances is not really a typical work of historical fiction as most of the action happens in the present day. The story isn’t just about ancient scents and helping to free Tibet. It’s also about complex relationships between the characters – between lovers, between parents and children, brothers and sisters, friends and enemies. It also explores the intricacies of faith and staying true to beliefs.

This story has a more gentle progression than other books I’ve read recently, but it is still very suspenseful. I spent the second half of the book worrying about the characters and I had to keep reading to find out what happened to them. I really enjoyed the mixture of the stories of past lives with the present. I also found to be fascinating the idea of conditions such as scizophrenia actually being past-life flashbacks.

Read this book if you enjoy stories with complex characters and adventures across time periods.

Read this book to your little ‘uns? It’s not really for them. There are a few adult scenes but nothing too graphic.

There is a blog tour going on for The Book of Lost Fragrances at the moment. Although I’m not a host, I’ve been interested to see others’ opinions of the book. You can see all the tour stops at Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours.


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