I will admit to being a little unreasonably wary of The Dead Ways before picking it up because I was worried thaOriginally posted on Once Upon A Time.
I will admit to being a little unreasonably wary of The Dead Ways before picking it up because I was worried that it might have been a little young for me as I have a history with not enjoying middle grade books because I often find the writing and story style too simplistic. However, I was not to worry. The Dead Ways is a great piece of fiction for young adults and adults alike. Okay, so there were quite a few convenient near misses throughout the novel but that's something I just associate with middle grade fiction and thus it bothers me a lot less than when it occurs in adult fiction.
As for the writing style itself I was gripped from the very first page. The Dead Ways begins with Scott being kidnapped from outside of his school and so straight away we have a fast paced scene and questions to be answered. Why kidnap Scott? Who are the kidnappers? What is so important about Scott's father? And though it's a very short novel at just under 200 pages, it feels just right. The story doesn't drag and it manages to fit everything in pretty perfectly.
I particularly enjoyed Tom's character. There's something about a gruff, almost-hippyish, Celtic loving, hairy middle-aged man that just makes that kind of character ultimately loveable (see: Hagrid). He was a caring father character with a few quirks and it was so easy to become attached to him.
Honestly, I think it was inevitable that I would love The Dead Ways considering how much ancient British legend and lost Celtic history was a part of the story. I'm a bit of a sucker for ancient Britain and legend. If you're looking for a quick but highly interesting and exciting read, do give The Dead Ways a try. And follow Christopher Edge on Twitter while you're at it!...more
Frogspell is a fun little read about a boy called Max who is lousy with anything resembling a weapon and would much prefer to be a wizard. He sets outFrogspell is a fun little read about a boy called Max who is lousy with anything resembling a weapon and would much prefer to be a wizard. He sets out to create a spell so impressive that it will win him the Novices' Spell-Making Competition and finally get him noticed. This is how he accidentally invented the frogspell during a fight with his sister and how they end up helping Merlin to stop the Lady Morgana in her tracks.
This book is absolutely adorable. Written for the younger reader, there is a lot of humour geared towards kids. Of course, as adults we might not always 'get' it, however even in my foulest mood while reading this I found myself chuckling along. At only 158 pages, Frogspell is a very quick read which is great for the younger generation who don't want to sit through 400 page novels but also for the rest of us. Sometimes a quick easy read is exactly what you need.
David Wyatt's illustrations are delightful and add to the story nicely. Children's books don't tend to have a lot of description so pictures are always a bonus and Frogspell has chosen its' artist well. Not only do they help you to form an accurate picture of the environment and characters but they themselves bring a little humour, as well as making the book more appealing to its' target audience. And I'm just a little bit in love with the cover art.
The story itself isn't anything new. It's an Arthurian retelling featuring the young awkward kid who doesn't get along with his sister who manages to accidentally create a powerful spell and save the day. The thing that makes it truly unique is all down to Busby. Her writing style is at once succinct and absorbing and thus easily, and most probably, read in one sitting. The characters are lively and varied. From Max and Olivia to their caring parents, the evil and deceitful sorceress with her lackeys who are more like very mean bullies, and of course the talking animals, my absolute favourite being Adolphus, Olivia's pet dragon who is most definitely two sandwiches short of a picnic and afraid of heights. It's all quite Disneyesque which is fantastic when you happen to love Disney.
If you're looking for a fun and quick read, perhaps aimed towards young kids, I would definitely recommend Frogspell. It is a fantastic read for kids but just as enjoyable for older readers. It has bursts of humour which will have you giggling, adventure, magic, and a very silly pet dragon. What's not to love?...more
1914 Europe is on the brink of war and 15 year old Austrian Prince Alek is on the run from the same Clankers (allies who use steam-powered machinery)1914 Europe is on the brink of war and 15 year old Austrian Prince Alek is on the run from the same Clankers (allies who use steam-powered machinery) who killed his parents for no other reason than to incite this war. Meanwhile, the Darwinist Brits running the Leviathan, a massive hybrid flying beast ship, run into a little trouble of their own with the Clankers whilst on their way to try to make peace before war can begin. The story follows the perspectives of both Alek and Deryn, a girl who loves nothing more than flying and had to disguise herself as a boy to be able to join the British Air Service to even be considered entry.
What Leviathan attempts to do is to combine old boyish adventure stories with more modern ideals to make the story appealing to both genders whilst using a steampunk theme, and it does this perfectly. It is an utterly imaginative, high-speed tale that will have you on the edge of your seat from beginning to end. It literally doesn’t stop. And the combining of the two stories, that of Alek and that of Deryn, come together so fluidly you can’t fault it. Each character is given two chapters in turn which keeps the flow.
The pictures sprinkled throughout the book add to the overall feel of the novel really well, adding visualisation where description might be lacking, as well as a more alternate 1914 atmosphere. I found myself inspecting the pictures as more than just images to accompany the words because they are as much a part of Leviathan as the story itself and they’re so fantastic. The cover pictured in this post features a full colour version of one of the images from the book. This is a much newer cover recently released by Simon & Schuster and I absolutely love it, I think it’s gorgeous.
Scott’s reinvention of World War One Europe is, in my mind, absolute genius. While I was interested in the Clanker’s very steampunkesque lifestyle and weaponry, using a vast array of Walkers which were impressive on their own, I was completely amazed by the idea of the Darwinists. Fabricated beasts bio-engineered for use as airships, weapons, and all sorts of crazy things, including the message lizards which record a message and then run off to play back the message in the person’s voice just like a tape recorder.. it actually reminded me a little of the Flintstones. I found the entire concept of Darwinists versus Clankers fantastic, and the more you read, the more you realise that yes, these were the allies. The afterword is also worth a read as it explains the true history Leviathan was based upon and I think this quote sums steampunk up very nicely: “That’s the nature of steampunk, blending future and past.”
I think Leviathan may perhaps be a little too young for my usual tastes. Though I appreciated everything about it and I couldn’t find fault in the story as a whole, I found myself wishing towards the end that it might slow down a little bit. I like a breather in my books to allow for conversation between characters and intrigue to develop, but that’s just me. As a kid’s book Leviathan is brilliant.
I believe that this book should be a must read for all kids around the age of 10, though by no means would I suggest anybody much older than this age avoid it because it is such a fun and beautiful novel, if you haven’t read Leviathan yet, you really should. It is a wonderful introduction to steampunk and a fully enjoyable read....more
This being one of Gaiman's books written more specifically for children was quite light-hearted considering it began with murder. It was a fun read anThis being one of Gaiman's books written more specifically for children was quite light-hearted considering it began with murder. It was a fun read and kept me going a little while I was away. I loved, without giving spoilers, how some characters were introduced without really telling us what they were, just giving pretty obvious hints, which is nice because that's probably how Bod would have felt, and the man Jack, of course. All of the themes seem to link together and it's a lovely read....more