Saturday, 30 April 2016

Review: Legacy of Dragonwand by Daniel J. Peyton

Over 1000 years ago, nearly all the ancient wizards were destroyed after the Wizard Wars. However, the one who started the War still remains, having worked his will in secret. If he can find the last Dragonwand, he will regain his powers as the dark dragon. Unaware of the Dragonwand or the betrayer, sixteen-year-old Markus is looking for a wizard who will give him a letter of recommendation for the College of Wizardry. During his journey, he stumbles upon Tolen the Wise, who sends Markus on a quest to end the darkness and find the Dragonwand before it gets into the wrong hands. As Markus discovers growing powers and makes allies, will he find what he needs to complete Tolen’s task, or will the ancient, dark wizard uncover the Dragonwand and forever change the fate of the land of Gallenor?


I found Legacy of Dragonwand to be a great start to this series. It's middle-grade/YA appropriate fantasy with wands (of course), magic, evil wizards and a level headed young hero.

Markus leaves home shortly before his sixteenth birthday in the hopes of becoming a wizard. After years of dark dreams of fire and dragons, its his destiny. Much to his surprise, he finds much more than he wished for.

Legacy of Dragonwand thrives with balanced pacing, voice and observations suitable to its teen protagonist. It's a teen's story told as Markus himself would tell it which is much appreciated. Too many times I've read middle-grade/YA books that come off as the interference of a meddling parent. This one doesn't and I found it really let me, as a reader, fit in to Markus' head and his world.

I enjoyed the different races and cultures and my favourite place is the Rakki village and library. The imagery made it seem real and inviting and the behaviour details of the Rakki themselves felt appropriate for the species (dogkind) and an effective tool with which to give details of individuals' personalities.

The plot has well placed layers. Even characters we know will be trouble are themselves outmaneuvered (whether they know it or not) and the ending of the story is well positioned to move forward. It ends set to rock into the next volume and even though we don't yet (at time of posting) have a soft release date I'm confident Peyton's consistent pacing and storytelling will make it an easy transition in spite of the wait.

Legacy of Dragonwand is recommended for all ages.

Sunday, 24 April 2016

Review: Cold Stone and Ivy by H. Leighton Dickson

Jack the Ripper gave her his heart. Now he wants it back.

The year is 1888, the clockwork British Empire is crumbling, and young writer Ivy Savage has literally received a heart in the post. Terrified, her father sends her north to a strange sanitarium in Lancashire where the brilliant but unpredictable “Mad Lord of Lasingstoke” makes his home.

Here, Ivy finds the dead are as dangerous as the living, and she is immediately swept into a world of manners, mystery, and supernatural intrigue, uncovering a secret that will lead both her and the Mad Lord back to London and the dark streets of Whitechapel.


So humour

      Such chills
  Very mystery

I finished reading Cold Stone and Ivy a few days ago and still have a big stress relieving sigh when I think about it. H. Leighton Dickson has brought together a clever combination of 1888 Jack the Ripper history, steampunk Victorian England, a daring heroine and four (and six) wheeled steamcars and airships and ghosts and dogs and murder and severed arms...

As with her fantastic Tales from the Upper Kingdom series, Dickson charmed me. She convinced me I'd figured out her twists and then several times, without so much as an 'if you please,' showed me I was completely and deliciously incorrect. Cold Stone and Ivy ties up a comprehensive and well engineered plot with unique characters and fascinating steampunk scenes.

My two favourite characters are Ivy, crime fiction writer and daughter of the Police Inspector, and the Mad Lord himself, Sebastien. Along with Jack the Ripper and the top hat and cloak in which he's frequently represented, I see Ivy and Sebastien in a very super-hero like way. Ivy in her very fine boots, riding breeches with pale, soft leather on the insides of the legs, a slightly oversized peacoat, read corset and her bowler, tipped slightly to the side. Sebastien in a long cloak, the hem a pack of dogs swarming dust and movement and a fine three barrelled pistol all dark wood and inlaid (with care) with swirls of copper and brass.

Cold Stone and Ivy satisfies cravings for smart humour, detailed steampunk, icy thrills and an honest to goodness who-done-it. Please, treat yourself. You really, really should.