If you’re a fan of The Great Detective, you can’t get a much better title than “Who Killed Sherlock Holmes?” especially when the actual mystery itself does not concern the Great Detective but rather his Ghost, which raises more questions, namely how can a fictional person have a ghost, and who or what could kill a Ghost? Either way, it’s up to the Shadow Police, a small team of Detectives who have been given the Sight, an ability to explore the world of the supernatural in a fascinating mystery that of course comes from Paul Cornell, who’s written several awesome Doctor Who episodes in the past as well as an episode of my favourite current Sherlock Holmes TV show, Elementary, proving that he can pretty much tackle any medium at this point and succeed, especially when you take into account how good some of his comics work has been in the past.
The characters are all interesting ones and it’s great to return to Ross, Lofhouse, Quill, Costain and Sefton who all should be familiar with the audiences by now after the last two books London Falling and The Severed Streets. This book further explores London’s mythology by tackling Sherlock Holmes, something that seemed obvious for a series that has delved into the rich mythology of London in the past. Cornell’s world, now three books in, is fully realised and has plenty of interesting topics to explore that the writer handles really well, pulling the reader in and keeping them hooked from start to finish thanks to a fast paced plot that moves at a consistent rate.
The Detectives with the ability to see the sight are tested like never before as the team find themselves in different and dangerous situations, each dealing with their own newfound problems. It’s an effective balancing act between the cast that works really well and Cornell manages to make the most of their personalities as they’re pushed further to the limit, exploring them well and giving them plenty of depth. London is much of a character as the Shadow Police themselves, and the setting really adds that extra layer of awesomeness to the book.
If you’ve read the previous book you’ll be fully aware of the fact that Neil Gaiman has a cameo of it so there’s more of the same here featured with a particularly Sherlock Holmes-based nature. However, Cornell is a little more subtle with his approach this time around, and the decision to feature characters that look similar to real celebrities rather than using the celebrities themselves worked in the book’s favour.
The plot unfortunately does get a bit too convoluted in places but apart from that it is still immensely enjoyable and even when it does go a bit sideways you won’t find yourself caring that much because it’s still an absolute blast to read, providing about as much enjoyment you’d expect from a book that looks the death of Sherlock Holmes’ ghost. There’s plenty of things to love about Who Killed Sherlock Holmes? and it’s another really solid entry to the series as a result and is worth checking out if you’re familiar with the previous novels in the series. However, If you haven't yet had the chance to check them out though, perhaps drawn here by the concept of the book and you're a fan of Ben Aaronovitch, Benedict Jacka, Jim Butcher or Neil Gaiman, then you should move the Shadow Police series to the top of your watchlist. ...more
Charlaine Harris is the author of the popular Sookie Stackhouse novels that led to the True Blood movies and although I haven’t read any of her novels before I have seen the odd episode of the series and whilst I never had the time to catch up on HBO’s vampire drama, it had potential. Midnight Crossroad kickstarts the Midnight, Texas series that sees the author return to the Southern Gothic genre as she explores a boarded up town of Midnight, in Texas, and tells the story of its few full time inhabitants. These inhabitants are not exactly normal people, as new resident Manfred Bernardo is about to find out.
Urban fantasy is one of my favourite genres and Midnight Crossroad for the most part was a fun right even if nothing special. I got the True Blood feel a lot not just because they share the same author, and whilst the book suffers from a weak opening containing plenty of exposition it eventually picks up the pace and serves as a promising start to the series. There’s a lot of potential for improvement as the series progresses but for now Midnight Crossroad is a solid enough read that should keep fans of the genre and the author in particular coming back for more as there’s a fair bit to like here.
Midnight Crossroad does suffer from going overboard on the descriptions at times and often we learn much more than we needed to particularly about the town itself. There’s not enough stuff happening at the start to pull the audience in and it’ll no doubt be interesting to see what NBC do with the upcoming Midnight, Texas TV series that is based on the books. I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of things were changed in the adaption process.
Midnight Crossroad has some interesting ideas and the fact that everyone in the town of Midnight has secrets is an interesting one in particular. One of the main strengths of the book is its fascinating characters that all come from a variety of backgrounds and their development feels real and solid. They benefit from a flawed portrayal and as the pages progress you’ll want to see where their journey ends up.
But the downside about this book is that it requires a lot of time to properly become invested in it and I was almost considering putting the book down at one point and just moving on. But I’m glad I didn’t because Midnight Crossroad turns the tables around pretty well by the end of the story and once everything clicks and you get used to the writing you’ll enjoy it and be left wanting more. Maybe if the pacing issues had been improved and there had been less of a tell not show approach, I would have enjoyed it a bit more, but unfortunately the end result is a mixed bag and comes cautiously recommended.
Elmore Leonard is my favourite crime writer and Djibouti is another excellent read from the author. His dialogue as usual is great, the book moves aloElmore Leonard is my favourite crime writer and Djibouti is another excellent read from the author. His dialogue as usual is great, the book moves along at an excellent pace and it is utterly unputdownable. Amazing stuff, with an interesting take on modern piracy featuring some good characters. ...more
Ta-Nehisi Coates is one of my favourite authors so it was great to see him turn his attention to arguably the breakout Marvel movie character of 2016 so far. A bold, confident first four issues in a series as well as the surprising inclusion of a classic Fantastic Four issue by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby may mean that despite all its strengths A Nation Under Our Feet a little on the short side, but still worth every bit of money you'll have to pay for it. Essential reading and this is straight into the Top 5 currently ongoing Marvel series for me, just brilliant. ...more
China Miéville is one of my favourite authors thanks to his excellent work but I am seriously behind on his fiction. I love Un Lun Dun, Perdido Street Station and The City and the City but I’ve never read King Rat before so decided to remedy that when I saw it on the shelf at the library and managed to finish it off over the course of a few days. It’s literally that good, and a compelling urban fantasy that reminded me of the Pied Piper of Hamelin legend and makes excellent use of the mythology and urban landscape of London. It’s great from start to finish, and thanks to the excellent writing, comes highly recommended.
Miéville introduces you to the protagonist Saul, who is the number one suspect in his father’s murder. However, Saul gets pulled into a strange and surreal world by the being known as King Rat, and in this new landscape it’s interesting to watch things play out like they do, taking us on a tour of the rat-infested London underground, with drum and bass music also featuring pretty well.
Even though this may be Miéville’s first novel it’s an excellent debut, and if you like urban fantasies set in London then King Rat will be right up your street and if you’re a drum and bass fan I can imagine you’ll enjoy this as well. There’s a lot of things to like here and although it may not quite be as good as the author’s later works it marks a great building point that leads onto further excellent titles. Like pretty much all of the author’s fiction King Rat is a standalone title so you do not have to read anything after this, and it ends on an open ended note with a nice epilogue following the closure of the main story.
If you’re put off by how big Miéville’s later books get then this one might be for you, it’s short, quick and easy to read and fans of Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere will enjoy this one a lot. It’s engaging even if it does suffer from a lack of depth particularly for the villains in places, but on the whole, King Rat is an excellent and really enjoyable read that’s worth checking out if you like Miéville, Gaiman or just love good urban fantasy....more
Patrick Ness is one of the most acclaimed authors in young adult fiction and one of my favourites, as well as the creator behind the upcoming BBC Three Doctor Who spinoff Class which looks really promising. It was a no brainer that I wasn’t going to check out More Than This when I spotted it in the library and devoured it fairly quickly, with a lightning fast pace that kept me hooked right the way through with a fairly interesting twist that separates it from the normal young adult genre.
More Than This benefits from a really strong narrative that could fit into multiple genres. There are echoes of I am Legend and The Matrix here but ultimately it’s original enough so finding comparisons is hard, and it benefits from a stylish approach and a strong narrative, as well as a powerful lead character to weave a captivating story. Seth, the main character – is an interesting protagonist who has found himself naked, bruised, thirsty and surprisingly alive after drowning alone in his final moments. We follow Seth as he tries to find out where he is, but we also explore what happened to him and the events that caused him to get here, told in flashback narrative that really works, creating a powerful atmosphere and an interesting family structure thanks to a strong realistic narrative approach.
Patrick Ness manages to stay clear of the normal clichés and tells a captivating story that manages to be a thought provoking one. It’s hard to go into too much detail about the plot as I’ve literally just told you the name of the character plus the blurb, but it’s very promising and works very well as a standalone book but also with a possible open ending that leaves room for the author to return to the book if needed.
The characters here for the most part is a relatively small one and all are diverse and well developed, with Tomasz sure to be a fan favourite. It’s rare that you see books with protagonists as diverse as this in young adult fiction so it was refreshing to see Ness execute this as well as he did here, with realistic dialogue and you get the sense that these teenagers are actually teenagers. Despite the dark mood the book benefits from some elements of black humour and even though there isn’t a real climax you’ll never be bored, and the ending will at the same time manage to leave you satisfied.
This is one of those books that I really should have filed under something that I should have read sooner. It’s really powerful, well written and boasts a strong selection of diverse characters thrust together in unlikely circumstances. Confidently written, More Than This is very hard to put down and further proves that Patrick Ness is one of the best if not the best young adult writers out there right now....more
Wow. I’ve been meaning to check out Shadowshaper for a while now and I’m really glad that I finally got the chance to be able to do so because it’s one of the best books that I’ve read so far this year, boasting an imaginative concept that manages to handle its subject matter incredibly well indeed. The book itself is also a very quick read and fairly easy to get through, as we follow the awesome Sierra Santiago on a journey that blends Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments series with Caribbean legend.
The cast of characters are likeable and engaging, with Sierra being a standout who you can’t help but get behind and support. The dialogue is realistic and well crafted, with good use of slang. The book makes the most out of its Brooklyn setting as well, which makes a change given how many novels, films and TV shows in the past where the setting could easily be substituted for another one and it wouldn’t make a difference. Everything just works and the antagonist fits the book’s themes nicely, even if he isn’t as developed as he could have been. But that’s fine though, the first book in the series does an effective job at fleshing out the characters well.
The chapters are short and the book is engaging and easy to read, and while it may be targeted at a younger audience but adults will enjoy Shadowshaper as well. Even though the book draws comparisons to The Mortal Instruments it is its own unique beast, and as far as I’m concerned the first book in this series was far better than The City of Bones. The way the book tackles several different themes is handled so well and benefits the most from a diverse cast, with an Afro-Latina heroine leading the way, blending a mix of cultures together that you don’t see that often.
Bold, unique and inventive I can’t praise Shadowshaper enough. It’s a gripping read that you won’t be able to put down and has you hooked from the first page to the last. This is an absolute must read for not just fans of young adult fiction but also for fans of urban fantasy in general, and sets an example as to how to create an awesome protagonist....more
A fun read. Not familiar with the Marvel version of Hercules at all so this was a nice book if nothing too special and it was great to read some moreA fun read. Not familiar with the Marvel version of Hercules at all so this was a nice book if nothing too special and it was great to read some more Dan Abnett outside of Black Library. ...more
Post-apocalyptic fantasy novels are interesting ones for sure. Mark Lawrence’s The Broken Empire Trilogy springs to mind whilst on screen you have the Mad Max movies, which are also, like Children of the Different, set in Australia. One thing that this novel benefits from is that despite being young adult, it doesn’t subscribe to the usual cliches of the genre, staying away from the tried and tested trends that you might expect, and the result quickly proves to be a fascinating read.
We’re introduced to twins Arika and Narrah who are thirteen years old and the post-apocalypse landscape of Australia is all they’ve ever known. Nineteen years ago the world fell victim to the Great Madness which wiped out most of the world’s population, but forced the survivors’ children to enter the Changeland at the start of adolescence, where they either become mad cannibals or emerge with mental powers. However the Changeland is not the only danger that the twins have to face as they find themselves hunted in both reality and the Changeland by the AntEater, who is hunting the twins and wants them dead. It’s an interesting plot and one that plays out pretty well, making the most of the setting to tell an engaging story.
The split between the Changeland and the everyday world is handled well and it works strongly. It helps that the twins are both written strongly as well as both Arika and Narrah benefit from their closely bonded relationship, surviving challenges that they would never be able to do alone. It’s interesting to watch them explore the world in the Changeland as we get to see a fairly unique version of a post-apocalyptic nightmare which again strays clear of what is commonly found in the genre, feeling like a breath of fresh air, even if in the normal landscape you do get the Cannibal-like creatures known as the Ferals. Regardless of the landscape though there is always a source of tension which plays out strongly through the novel.
Children of the Different manages to stand out from the crowd in terms of your average young adult dystopian. It is a coming of age story, and a quest, but if you’re looking for something that with a few name changes could easily take place in the world of say The Maze Runner or Divergent then think again. Mad Max aside the book benefits from its unusual decision to set the action in Australia and as usual, the love-triangle elements of the genre don’t apply here. Arika and Narrah are both well-developed characters in their own right and it’s refreshing to see a brother-sister pair at the core of the novel rather than one of the siblings being used simply to get the main protagonist to do stuff.
Flynn’s novel does suffer from a few moments of exposition over the course of the book and the dialogue doesn’t always work but for the most part these are only minor issues as for the most part, Children of the Different remains an enjoyable read from start to finish that younger audiences will get the best out of but there is plenty to enjoy for older readers as well. It therefore comes recommended if you’re looking for a fresh and exciting experience in an otherwise overcrowded genre.
Dystopian young adult fiction is a genre that seems to be suffering from an over-saturation ever since the rise in popularity of The Hunger Games, and we’ve had countless of books billed as the next big thing, with The Maze Runner and Divergent franchises following suit in quick succession as they were adapted into movies. However perhaps the best of all four is Pierce Brown’s trilogy, starting with the titular opener Red Rising, which is darker and grittier than all three, incredibly violent and action packed from start to finish, set in an imaginative world that makes the most out of a Roman/Greek inspired origin.
As I’d recently read An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir I was reminded of a few similarities in the plot, with Darrow working undercover to bring down a regime much like the protagonist in that novel. But Darrow feels more realised, more memorable, and although he’s not perfect, being to hot-headed and quick to anger, he’s actually pretty well developed and grows throughout the book as he struggles to deal with the fallout of finding that not only is his wife dead, but also his entire life is a lie. His character can sometimes throw you off and can be frustrating, but there are other times when he really shines.
The book has echoes of The Hunger Games in its structure with fights to the deaths between groups of kids but handles it in a different approach. There’s a caste system which the dominate Golds rule over Mars, whilst he belongs to the lowest class of the Red, who are slaves. Darrow is a Helldiver, a miner on the Red Planet, and it’s all he’s ever known. When he’s thrown out of his familiar surroundings into new terrain he has to watch himself, lest he be caught using terms that only a Red would use. There’s this constant high stakes feeling throughout Red Rising, that constant danger as though nobody is safe. Darrow isn’t afraid to do the killing as well, with a notable memorable sequence happening to one of the characters who would have probably made it out in a book not as grimdark as this.
Whilst the setting and story may be fairly generic I couldn’t help but be entertained with this mostly well written drama that provides an excellent series starter even if the beginning is a fairly slow burner. The book really picks up about three quarters of the way through, as you learn more and more about the world which itself is richly developed.
I was reminded a lot of the Warhammer 40k Universe as well in the world-building and I could imagine something like this happening on a planet in the Universe, obviously with a few changes here and there. Obviously fans of The Hunger Games will enjoy this one as well and the groundwork is also laid here for some possible space combat in future novels, which is touched upon well. The Caste system that Brown develops is rich and well developed, exploring not just the Red and Golds but also White, Blue, Pink and more with each given a different task. It makes a bit more sense than the Divergent system for example but again it begs the question why must every other YA dystopia involve some kind of system like this?
Blending the Roman and Greek mythology together well, Red Rising is a very solid read if not really an original tale. Darrow does feel as though he can get pretty much everything right constantly and comes across as a male Mary-Sue equivalent at times. But whilst Darrow is flawed in that approach he is reasonably well developed in others, and the plot is tense enough to keep readers hooked, because this is a literal page-turner that was impossible to put down for me and as soon as I started I quickly found that I couldn’t stop reading.
Red Rising finds a way to out-do the brutality of The Hunger Games and holds nothing back to create a bold if flawed entry to the young adult genre that’s considerably darker than others of its ilk. Having already read the second in the trilogy, Golden Son, it’s already shaping up to be one of the better young adult series available right now and comes recommended as a result....more