Oath Breaker by Shelley Wilson #bookreview #Fridayreads

Oath

It’s a while since I read a YA book although they used to be my first choice of genre.  I was a little unsure of the werewolf theme but the text of the first page enthralled me.

The blue flashing lights pulsed through the fractured front window, illuminating the blood splatter on the walls.  The click-click of the forensic team’s camera ate into the sterile silence as the officers combed through the living room.

Like something out of a macabre horror show the blood covered everything, coating the threadbare rug in front of the fireplace with its crimson wash.  The splintered remains of the coffee table littered the overturned chair, and the smell of death clung to the walls.

Mia finds herself orphaned after the violent death of her father and is surprised at the sudden appearance of Sebastian Roberts, saying he is her uncle.  A smart, arrogant man, resembling her cruel father, he whisks her away to Hood Academy, his private boarding school, and begins to seem kind and considerate.  But Mia longs to find her elder brother, Zak, who has disappeared after running away from their home.  She begins to encounter others who warn her to be careful who she trusts.

There is something reassuring about the boarding school setting, where Mia finds a reliable friend, Elizabeth and a caring teacher, Miss Ross.  There is even a school bully, Felicity, but in this school the danger is life-threatening.  The girls have been chosen to train as werewolf hunters and Mia is surprised to discover she has fighting skills.  But there are mysterious goings-on behind locked doors and she begins to wonder if the werewolves are all bad.

In addition to the mystery and daredevil adventure there is burgeoning romance and loyal friendship which make this novel heartening to read as well as thrilling.  I am now tempted to sample Shelley Wilson’s Guardian series.

You can buy Oath Breaker on Amazon UK  or on Amazon US

You can read my review of Shelley’s motivational book Vision Boards for Beginners here

shelley_wilson

Shelley Wilson

The Black Orchid by Celine Jeanjean

black orchid

The second adventure of the Viper and the Urchin finds these two disparate characters relocated to the warehouse of Cruikshank, engineer to the Marchioness, no longer an assassin and a pickpocket, but officially employed by the Old Girl, as the Marchioness is affectionately called.  But their services have not been required and they are feeling aimless and redundant when at last they are summoned to investigate a mysterious death by exsanguination in the insalubrious Bayog district of the city of Damsport.

 

Rory’s knowledge of the criminal underworld of the Rookery make her indispensable but Longinus occupies his time investigating the unexplained shortage of the black silk he needs urgently for his new elegant suit.  A link between these two events is discovered in The Black Orchid, a newly popular brothel.  Rory and Longinus find themselves in great danger again, not just from their enemy but also from threats to their relationship.  As they become estranged, the future looks grim.

 

Like the first book, The Black Orchid engages readers by the strong, vibrant women who never give up against all odds.  An old relationship between the Marchioness and stunningly beautiful Mizria may be reawakened, Rory seems to be becoming closer to Varanguard, Rafe and Longinus continues to send anonymous poems to Lady Martha, daughter of the Old Girl.

 

Celine Jeanjean has written another thrilling adventure which is hard to put down.  The grubby streets of the city come alive in the fast moving plot and each character has substance and complication.  Alchemy and steam driven vehicles play their part but heroism shines.  In conclusion the scene is set for further adventure involving characters who have come to mean a great deal to their readers.

Rosie's Book Review team 1

The Viper and the Urchin by Celine Jeanjean

Celine

The Viper and the Urchin is a rollicking good tale which grabs you by the collar and sweeps you through the grimy streets of Damsport with humour and nail-biting danger.  Its heroine, Rory, is a small scrawny urchin, scraping a living by theft and deception, who makes an unlikely alliance with the elegant Viper, an assassin who uses only poison on his victims and takes pride in his art.

When Longinus, the Viper, questions Rory’s behaviour, “You are coarse, you swear, and worse, you are grammatically incorrect,” she responds correctly, “Well I’m supposed to be, aint I?  You’re the laconic assassin.  I’m the cheeky urchin.  That’s how it works.”

There are several other vibrant characters too, such as Cruikshank, the engineer who has designed a large mechanical spider to transport them up walls & over roofs, the Old Girl or Marchioness of Damsport who rules the state and the Scarred Woman, a mysterious swordswoman whom Rory wishes to emulate.

The city environment is vividly described, dirty and crowded with Banyan trees sprouting out of cracks in the radiating streets.  I could visualise the Varanguards, costumed in the style of Varan, a dancer who hid knives in her hair, wearing horsehair ponytails as part of their helmets.  And I would love to board Crazy Willy, the wild beast of a steam coach which races through the streets each night.

This exciting story contains all the essential ingredients of a fantastic steam-punk adventure, including a tough but vulnerable heroine, an intriguing companion, an evil foe and even a vague suggestion of a romantic interest.  It is the first book of The Bloodless Assassin Mysteries and I am very much looking forward to the publication of the next one.

Rosie's Book Review team 1

The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon

Bone

Samantha Shannon was born in West London in 1991. She started writing novels at the age of fifteen and studied English Language and Literature at St Anne’s College, Oxford, specialising in Emily Dickinson and Film Studies. In 2013, she published The Bone Season, the first novel in a seven-book series of fantasy novels.

I’m always wary of reading books declared to be, “the new Harry Potter,” but I was intrigued by reading a few pages and I wanted to learn more about the 19 year old heroine, Paige, and the dystopian environment of an alternative 2059 underground London. In fact, early in the book, Paige is drugged and taken to the prison of Oxford, a city that has been hidden for 200 years. Conditions are a mixture of pseudo-Victorian, modern and imaginary but you quickly accept the environment. The key to the story is clairvoyance and the “aether.”

Paige is put into the care of Warden, a Rephaim. He is not human but his character is reminiscent of Rochester in Jane Eyre. Paige has the courage and determination of Katniss in The Hunger Games but she insists on fighting everyone and everything which results in monotonous injuries.

This is by no means a perfect novel but it is intriguing and full of vivid characters and though long is compulsive reading.  Now two years later she has published her second novel The Mime Order and, “Paige must keep moving, from Seven Dials to Grub Street to the secret catacombs of Camden, until the fate of the underworld can be decided.”

Tales from Null City by Barb Taub

Barb Taub

This book contains two stories; the first and longest is Payback is a Witch.

I would not usually pick up a fantasy book as my first choice, but I have found that those written for YA are by far the best. Fantasy requires an inventive mind, creative ideas and preferably, a sense of humour. Luckily Barb Taub has all three, in spades.

As far as I am concerned, you are on to a winner if you live with an enormous Norwegian Forest cat, called Bygul, especially if she is also a goddess who can vanish. But the real heroine of this story is Claire Danielsen, a young witch struggling to continue the work her mother and grandmother did before her. Living alone in the woods she channels the power given to her by her goddess in order to fight evil. Six years earlier she had trained as a Warden to protect the innocents against those who plan to destroy Null City, alongside Peter Oshiro, whom she had loved and walked away from, but now he is back in her life.

Claire’s character is particularly well developed. We feel her confusion, her determination and her pain. She tries to shield Peter from harm and to maintain her lonely independence as the increasing danger of Barghests, the Black Hounds, and the unsolved mystery of her mother’s death cause her to banish both him and her goddess, Bygul.

Barb shows the reader how Claire becomes aware of the threat around her very effectively using these words, “The blackboard-scratching itch in her brain had intensified until it now felt like claws slashing inside her head.”

This is a great read for excitement, tension, romance and a twist in the tail.
The second story, Just for the Spell of it, is a shorter and lighter tale with less feeling of impending doom although there are parallels with the first story. Once again there is a female heroine with special powers with an attractive male sidekick. Eirie Danu is a radio DJ with a popular bubbly personality; Liam, her fellow Warden, is a serious, unemotional young man in person, but he is also a zany prankster who rings up her radio show with daft messages.

Eirie and Liam are given the task of finding a missing Argentinian soccer player and a baby who is apparently Eirie’s sister. We discover that Eirie was the daughter of the Queen of the Fae from a land of eternal youth but Eirie had abdicated as heir when she thought her mother had died several years ago.

We accompany Eirie and Liam through frightening adventure and a roller-coaster relationship as she reveals to him that she is more than just a fun loving girl and they both make decisions about commitment.

These two refreshingly different tales are well worth investigating and I will certainly be seeking out the earlier books to learn more about Null City.

Rosie's Book Review team 1