I'd been putting off reading this for some time. Not because I didn't want to read it - quite the opposite: Demonata is one of my favourite series, an...moreI'd been putting off reading this for some time. Not because I didn't want to read it - quite the opposite: Demonata is one of my favourite series, and I just didn't want it to end. But after feeling a little restless for something good to read, I finally picked it up yesterday... and didn't put it down until a few hours later when I'd raced through it.
Nobody knows how to write at such a cracking pace quite like Darren Shan. I can honestly say the time flew as I ripped through the final chapter in Grubbs, Kernel and Bec's fight against the Demon universe. If you've read the rest of the series, you'll know exactly what to expect from this last book, and while there are no big surprises here, that's not necessarily a bad thing.
One of my pet peeves in YA is when a favourite character dies, and no fanfare is made (I'm looking at YOU Hunger Games!) but thankfully that isn't the case in Hell's Heroes. Without being too spoilery, yes, characters die (this is a Darren Shan novel after all) but all of them are given the proper sendoffs they deserve.
While I'm sad to say goodbye to this excellent series, I felt this was a very fitting end and I can't wait to see what Shan will do next. (less)
Takeshita Demons, the first book in this series, was one of the most original books I read last year. Not only was it brilliantly written and packed full of fascinating Japanese mythology, it was genuinely spooky! So you can imagine how eager I’ve been to review the sequel, The Filth Licker, and I’m pleased to say that this series is just getting better and better.
The Filth Licker is packed full of even more Japanese demons, some helpful, some decidedly less so, and I loved the way the unfamiliar names and quirks of the monsters are slipped into the story without it ever feeling like a mythology lesson. I actually walked away from this feeling like I’d learnt something, while also being highly entertained, which to me means that Cristy Burne has done the impossible.
I also loved seeing the relationships grow between the characters. In the last book, Cait had been a true friend to Miku, fighting demons by her side. But now she seems more interested in how many pairs of jeans to pack, and pretends to have no memory of their demon-fighting days. To everyone’s surprise, Miku’s real ally turns out to be Alex, her annoying bully, who knows a lot more about Japanese demons than he’s been letting on. The exchanges between them really makes you grow to love these characters , and there’s one scene in particular involving a giant monkey demon, stolen thoughts and spilled secrets that had me laughing out loud.
There’s a scene where Miku tells the tale of the Hyaku Monogatari, the Hundred Tales ceremony which summons a malevolent force, and somebody commends her on it by telling her it was, ‘Clean, no gore, and very spooky.’ I feel like the Takeshita Demons series is a lot like that – one of the rare horror stories that you can safely hand to younger readers without fear of threats from angry parents, but at the same time is genuinely packed full of spooky stuff. This is a series that is both highly original and wonderfully entertaining, and I can’t wait for the release of book three, Monster Matsuri in June next year.(less)
Seriously, I want Darren Shan to tour Australia so I can creepily stalk him. This man never puts a foot wrong. Shan never dumb...moreThe Master of YA Horror!
Seriously, I want Darren Shan to tour Australia so I can creepily stalk him. This man never puts a foot wrong. Shan never dumbs down his horror, it's all quite terrifying - just read past chapter 2 to see what I mean!
This is an excellent series that just keeps getting better and better. (less)
This might be a monster of a book page-wise, but I flew through it because I just couldn't put it down! All of the characters are so well written, fro...moreThis might be a monster of a book page-wise, but I flew through it because I just couldn't put it down! All of the characters are so well written, from plucky, nervous Edgy Taylor and his brave little dog Henry, to all of the members of the Royal Society of Daemonologie, including the demons... especially the demons! I loved the various classes of demons that align themselves with one of the seven deadly sins, and I liked that not every demon is a bad demon. Of course, there are still the bad ones, and some of the creatures featured in this story are absolutely terrifying! A thoroughly enjoyable read in world I hope the author revisits some day.(less)
Dearly Departed, We are gathered here today to discuss The Fury, by Alexander Gordon Smith. I'm sitting h...moreThis review originally appeared on Spinechills
Dearly Departed, We are gathered here today to discuss The Fury, by Alexander Gordon Smith. I'm sitting here stuck for words because I really don't know where to begin… okay, here: this book is amazing. It really, really is. There are just so many good things about it that I want to say at once, which might make for a bit of a confusing review, so I'll start on what I loved most about it - the characters.
Smith has masterfully created the characters of Brick, Daisy, Cal (and others) whose lives have been disrupted by the fact that everybody wants them dead. What I found so clever about this scenario is that these characters would never have got along under normal circumstances: you have Brick, the misunderstood big kid who has 'one of those faces' you take an instant dislike to; Cal the a sports star beloved by all who isn't used to anyone not liking him, let alone hating him; and then there's Daisy, who is young and naïve, yet incredibly wise and calm at the same time. Normally they wouldn't have chosen to be friends, but now that the whole world has turned against them, they have no choice, and it's in these stressful moments of forced interaction that the characters' personalities really shine.
I was watching Cloverfield the other night, and while I liked the setup, I quickly grew bored by the characters. They were stereotypical horror fodder, and they made bad decisions. In an effort to make the characters appeal to everyone, the filmmakers made them too generic. By the end, I was cheering as each of them fell. The Fury is like the complete opposite of this - I genuinely liked all of the characters, and they were all perfectly brought to life on the page to the point where I was really worried about the fate of one of the main characters in particular, and found myself thinking that if something happened to this character, I was going to have to write an angry letter to Smith. I was even cheering for the characters who weren't typically 'good guys' because I understood where they were coming from and I agreed with their motives.
The other thing that The Fury mastered was the scary monster. I'm not going to ruin anything here, but this puts such an interesting spin on our pre-existing notions of a particular concept. This should come as no surprise to those who have read Smith's Escape From Furnace series, which introduce the reader to some fantastically monstrous bad guys. There are two particular scenes in The Fury that are terrifying - possibly some of the most unsettling I've ever read. The skill in this comes from Smith's writing, and his ability to paint a very vivid picture without ever overwriting it.
Last week in the bookshop I was asked to recommend something to a boy who had read all of Michael Grant's Gone series. I started to recommend his other series, BZRK, when I stopped mid-sentence, picked up a copy of The Fury and shoved it in his hands, while commanding him to 'Buy this one. Now.' Maybe it was the brilliant cover, maybe he was afraid of me, but he did, and I know he won't be disappointed. While it's inevitable that The Fury will get compared to other horror tomes like Grant's and Charlie Higson's The Enemy, I think Smith's latest novel will attract its own Grant-esque army of followers because it's so damned good. (less)
I read in another review that this was a gentle horror story for young readers. Okay, so maybe it wasn't splatter central, but it was genuinely creepy...moreI read in another review that this was a gentle horror story for young readers. Okay, so maybe it wasn't splatter central, but it was genuinely creepy! Head-detaching, child-eating Japanese demons? Faceless men who show up on your doorstep? I loved this book, and I can definitely see why it won the Francis Lincoln Diverse Voices Award. Wonderfully written with likeable, fleshed out characters. And very, very cool bad guys.(less)
I love this series so much, and now I'm almost at the end... I'm a little reluctant to pick up the final book because I just don't want to leave the w...moreI love this series so much, and now I'm almost at the end... I'm a little reluctant to pick up the final book because I just don't want to leave the world of the Demonata!
This book was yet another excellent one. A lot of stuff is explained, a lot of questions that were scratching at the back of my mind were answered. It was strange, because all you ever hear is how terrible infodumps are, and in parts that's almost what this book is - just great big chunks of explanation through dialogue. But I never felt like it got boring, because what was being talked about was so interesting, and such a different explanation than what I'd expected!
Great stuff from one of my favourite authors, I wish the series would just keep going!(less)