Fantasy

Book Review: A Darkling Plain

A Darkling Plain
Author: 
Reeve, Philip
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

With the way Infernal Devices ended, I immediately knew there had to be a fourth book to finish this unique series. Few books resolve their respective series as well as A Darkling Plain does, which I can appreciate. In fact, the final epilogue was as beautiful as it was tragic. Along the way, the little loose ends tie up nicely so that all the characters are given some closure—whether or not they deserve it.

I wasn't wild with the time-skip tactic that Infernal Devices used since it basically split this series into two larger stories. Mortal Engines and Predator's Gold covered Hester and Tom's relationship, while the last two books covered their daughter's adventures. Of course, I was shocked with the ending of Infernal Devices, which did get an explanation in this book, even if it lessened the impact of that plot twist. That being said, some of the characters' fates were foreshadowed well ahead of this book, which left their ultimate fate somewhat anti-climactic.

Overall, I enjoyed how the idea of mobile cities eating each other in an evolutionary survival of the fittest came to its logical conclusion in this book. It's such a peculiar concept that was thoroughly explored in the previous three volumes so that this book could wrap up this phase in the post-apocalyptic timeline with enough room to give some hope for a future. After all, I have yet to run across a science fiction series that combines so many tropes so well and manages to conclude its complicated plotlines in such a satisfying way.

A satisfying ending of a unique series, I give A Darkling Plain 4.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: 
Benjamin W.

Book Review: The Last Wish: Introducing the Witcher

The Last Wish: Introducing the Witcher
Author: 
Sapkowski, Andrzej
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

Those of us who have seen Netflix’s adaptation of The Witcher will find this collection of short stories quite familiar. The first book in the series, The Last Wish introduces the titular Witcher, Geralt of Rivia, as he goes about his job ridding the world of dangerous supernatural creatures. It’s no wonder the TV series felt a little disjointed, as it had a series of short stories that were loosely connected via Geralt to work with. Still, these stories are solid and help flesh out the world where humans and creatures live together, rarely in harmony.

Told in a somewhat chronological manner, these bite-size stories often carry over and blend into each other in a way that feels natural. Actions in one story may influence the characters in another, so there is something deeper here than just a collection of short stories. While this technique is rarely used, I can appreciate how each story has a purpose in advancing the main character's overall story. That being said, not every story is as enthralling as trying to save a noble’s daughter from a curse (which was one of the best in the set).

Part of why I like this method of storytelling is how simple it is. There’s no huge overarching and complex series of events here. The only character that matters is Geralt and how he reacts to the people around him and the jobs he takes to pay the bills. While additional characters like Yennefer or Ciri help to round out the series, focusing on the series’ namesake is important for building a foundation for world-building. I almost wish more series would take this route, as it helps establish the lore before diving into the first “official” book's main plot.

Great character foundation through multiple short stories, I give The Last Wish 3.5 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: 
Benjamin W.

Book Review: Storm Front

Storm Front: A Novel of the Dresden Files
Author: 
Butcher, Jim
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

Jim Butcher brings to life a world filled with magic. This does not save Harry Dresden from very real problems - keeping up with rent, car troubles, and more. This gives the story a grounding in reality that makes aspects of it relatable, despite its focus on the supernatural. Dresden is stubborn, but he always tries to do the right thing. As he tries to solve multiple homicides and searches for a missing person, he finds there is something darker going on than he first believed. His race against the clock adds a thrill that makes the book hard to put down.

Reviewer's Name: 
Mark T.

Book Review: Ready Player One

Ready Player One
Author: 
Cline, Ernest
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

Ready Player One, a book by Ernest Cline, takes place in a dystopian future in 2045. The majority of the population spends most of their time inside a massive VR MMOSG, massively multiplayer online simulation game, called the Oasis. When the billionaire creator of the Oasis died, he left clues for an Easter Egg that he had hid in his game, and the first one who finds it gets his entire fortune. This story is about the adventure of Wade Watts, a kid from the Stacks in Columbus, Ohio, as he searches for that egg. This book is amazingly written, and you will be wanting to know what happens next as you read. You may have seen the movie, but the book is a masterpiece, the story is much richer, and definitely worth the read!

Reviewer's Name: 
Torin K.

Book Review: Legend

Book Cover
Author: 
Lu, Marie
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

I read the first book of the Legend trilogy (Legend) for a school summer reading assignment, but I fell in love with it and finished the series of books. I would recommend this book to anyone because it is easy to understand, and very entertaining. This was written from the first-person point of view, but each chapter switches off between the two main characters, who are also the novel's love interests. This unique writing style allows the readers to get even more background info than if it was told by one single character. Not only is there an interesting romance twist, but there are thrilling fighting scenes and plenty of unexpected deceit. This is perfect for any gender and anyone from the age of 12+. When reading, I enjoyed this with another friend who also fell in love with the plot and read the whole trilogy, so if thrilling romance books are your thing, try this book.

Reviewer's Name: 
Jaime P.

Book Review: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
Author: 
Rowling, J.K.
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

5 stars(A magical book)
Welcome to a magical world, filled with witchcraft, wizardry, dark magic, and wonder. This book starts off with Harry Potter, a boy close to the age of 11, being bullied by his only family about how strange he is. It follows him as he enters a mysterious school, learning more about why he is so strange. I enjoy this book because of the many different aspects of mystery there are. I would recommend this book to any person looking for a magical read.

Reviewer's Name: 
Ethan

Book Review: Varjak Paw

Varjak Paw book cover
Author: 
Said, S. F.
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

4 stars (little young for me).

Varjak Paw is a fantasy written from the point of view of a cat. This book caught my attention because it was about a cat descended from a family of ‘special’ cats, who has passed down mysterious knowledge, dubbed ‘The Way’. It starts off in a household full of cats with an absent owner, possibly sick, possibly dead. Varjak Paw is the runt of the family, a cat who itches to discover what's on the other side of the wall. I enjoy rereading this book because of how well written the storyline is. The different pieces fit together perfectly in a puzzle.

Reviewer's Name: 
Ethan W.

Book Review: The Kingdom of Back

The Kingdom of Back
Author: 
Lu, Marie
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

The Kingdom of Back is a historical fantasy novel about Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and his sister, Maria Anna Mozart. Told from the perspective of Maria Anna (nicknamed Nannerl), this novel gives readers the untold story of her musical success and childhood fame. As a girl in the eighteenth century, Nannerl knows it will never be socially acceptable for her to compose like her brother, so she makes a wish--which leads her to a mysterious land of faeries and moonlight and castles, and a magical boy who promises to fulfill her wish if she helps him in return.

As the plot unfolds, readers are given a look into the life of the Mozarts and their grand tour around Europe to play for the most esteemed audiences. Both Nannerl and Wolfgang (Woferl) are incredibly impressive child prodigies; though Wolfgang is who comes to mind when we think of the name Mozart, his sister was also a musical genius. This book highlights Nannerl's perspective very well, diving into her insecurities and fears as well as her dreams. The fantasy aspect added an interesting element to Nannerl's story; I enjoyed Lu's vivid descriptions of the Kingdom, and the fantastical side of the plot permeated the historical one in a clever, well-thought-out way. The novel ends with a creative twist, leaving readers to think back over the whole story in a different way.

My only issues with this book were the repetitiveness of descriptions and thoughts, and the fact that the fantasy plot seemed very predictable until I reached the twist. But overall, I loved how well the fantasy and historical fiction elements blended together, and that Lu shed so much light on the power of music. This novel is perfect for anyone who enjoys fantasy, music, and history. Nannerl Mozart's story is one you won't forget.

Reviewer's Name: 
Alexa

Book Review: Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter

Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter
Author: 
Gaiman, Neil
Rating: 
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review: 

Perhaps I’m in the minority here, but I only thought Good Omens was just OK. You’d think that the combination of two of the best British writers would create an incredible story, but I felt it was mostly disjointed, un-climatic, and full of that British humor that tends to be more random than based in actual jokes. Granted, most books by Terry Pratchett or Neil Gaiman that I’ve read have been hit or miss, depending on how peculiarly random the subject might be. Sure, there are elements of a great story here; it just felt distracted from its main purpose half of the time.

The core of Good Omens is split into two parts: following the actual Antichrist who is unaware of his theological significance/role in the end of the world and the journey of an angel and a demon who happened to lose said Antichrist. This idea's strength is enough to give the story some merit, but the execution seemed flawed to me. Too much time was spent in random and meaningless interactions that didn’t add to the story other than to be “humorous” for their pure obscurity. If anything, this type of humor is standard for Pratchett, so I’m not surprised it was there, just disappointed that it seemed to play such a large part of the story.

I’m sure most people loved the relationship between the angel and the demon, but I almost found the actions of the unaware Antichrist to be much more interesting and would have liked that those parts of the book played more in the plot than just being a side story. I know Amazon made a television show of this book, so maybe I just missed something that the show might be able to reveal to me as to why this book was so popular. As for me, it was just kind of “meh.” An interesting plot that suffers from British humor, I give Good Omens 3.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: 
Benjamin W.

Book Review: The Night Circus

The Night Circus
Author: 
Morgenstern, Erin
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

The Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern, is a beautiful, exquisitely written, spellbinding novel of magic, love, and a special circus only open at night.

Celia and Marco are two young magicians, students of respective magical instructors, one of whom is Celia's father. These magicians, fierce rivals for decades, propose a challenge-- an ambiguous feat where the two magicians compete against each other in an expansive setting. At the same time, a theatrical producer, Chandresh Christophe Lefevre, creates his newest masterpiece-- The Night Circus, an expansive theatrical production, where the theatrics are not confined to the stage. Celia and Marco become involved in this circus through the will of their instructors. Celia becomes the illusionist, disguising her magic powers as stage illusions. Marco becomes an assistant to Chandresh, running the circus from the inside, and helping with the coordinated particulars instead of traveling with the circus like Celia.

The competition within the circus begins, Celia and Marco creating new tents in an attempt to outdo each other until one is declared a victor. And slowly, as they begin to realize that the other is their opponent, Celia and Marco fall in love, which sets off a chain of devastating events for the circus and all of the people in it.

Erin Morgenstern is a fantastic writer. Her sumptuous prose is gorgeous, and her level of detail in describing the circus makes it feel as if she had actually visited this place herself instead of creating it in her head. Even the smallest atmospherical details of the circus are mentioned, and such a rich and vivid setting envelopes the reader into the book. The story within the gorgeous setting, that of Celia and Marco, is exquisite. The book takes pace over a vast expanse of years, allowing them to grow and change and mature within their characters as the challenge progresses and they begin to fall in love with each other. Watching Celia and Marco grow throughout the novel from children to finally finding each other was a very satisfying process in the story.

The story does jump, from the main story of Celia and Marco to the story of Bailey, a young boy on a farm in Concord, Massachusetts, who visits the circus and becomes enamored with it, until the time of both stories intersect and Bailey's life crosses with Celia and Marco's.

I cannot say enough good things about The Night Circus. The story, the setting, the writing, and the characters are all wonderful. This book is such a gem, and I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys fantasy, romance, or just a good story. The Night Circus, with it's gorgeous setting and wonderful prose, is the kind of book every reader longs to read-- the kind of book that envelopes the reader into the world created in the story, one that readers will not want to leave long after the last page finished.

Reviewer's Name: 
Allie

Pages

Subscribe to RSS - Fantasy