Book Review: The Iron King by Julie Kagawa

Meghan Chase has a secret destiny—one she could never have imagined…
Something has always felt slightly off in Meghan's life, ever since her father disappeared before her eyes when she was six. She has never quite fit in at school…or at home.
When a dark stranger begins watching her from afar, and her prankster best friend becomes strangely protective of her, Meghan senses that everything she's known is about to change.
But she could never have guessed the truth—that she is the daughter of a mythical faery king and is a pawn in a deadly war. Now Meghan will learn just how far she'll go to save someone she cares about, to stop a mysterious evil no faery creature dare face…and to find love with a young prince who might rather see her dead than let her touch his icy heart. (From Goodreads.com)


I’d read a lot about The Iron King from fellow US bloggers last year, loved the sound of it and added it to my wishlist. Sadly though I never actually got round to it then, a big mistake I now realise, having just finished in preparation for it’s UK release this February.


Sixteen-year-old Meghan is the outsider at school and her only friend is happy go lucky Robbie. But even he isn’t as he appears, as Meghan finds her beloved baby brother changed beyond recognition, he reveals himself as Puck, the mischievous elf of A Midsummer Night’s Dream fame. Leading her into the dark and dangerous world of the Fey to find her stolen brother and exchange him for the violent changeling left in his place, Meghan is to discover more shocking truths about herself and her heritage, a world she didn’t even know existed. But Megan finds herself caught up in a dangerous battle between the Seelie and Unseelie courts and soon comes to realise no-one in the Never Never can be trusted. Not only that but a new, stronger fey are threatening to wipe out Faeryland and are determined that Megan will help them.

Ok, so take every Fairytale you ever read or saw on TV, mash them all together and you have The Iron King. I absolutely loved this book, whose magic and mythology wrapped itself around me and held me captive throughout. While I’ve never actually read A Midsummer Night’s Dream (although I now absolutely want to now, and see the play) which the story centres around, I was reminded throughout of many others including Alice in Wonderland and \Peter Pan, while the imagery had me constantly thinking of the film Labyrinth. 

I really, really liked Meghan. She’s very naïve to begin with, a loner who doesn’t fit in at school and nervous about pretty much everything. One of the main lessons she has to learn during her adventures with the fey is not to take individuals at face value and to never put herself in any of their debt. I loved how she developed throughout the book, growing stronger and surer of herself. Puck is a charming and fun character and provides lighter moments, and I adored Grimalkin, one seriously snarky and sly wise old cat (yet I still get the feeling he’s really a good guy) But oh Ash…dark, dangerous and devastatingly handsome, the Winter Prince had my heart racing. There’s a lot of romance in this book, without being the main focus and taking over the story…it’s like an undercurrent, an atmosphere and I loved it.

Aside from the magic, mythology, action and adventure, what I really loved was Julie Kagawa’s creativity with The Iron Fey. The idea is that Fey are born from our imaginations and dreams, and as that fades, so does Faeryland. But our obsession with industry and technology has created another breed of Fey, the Iron Fey, and their very existence threatens to wipe out Faeryland. I thought this was extremely clever, with characters such as Virus, Machina and armies of Gremlins and Bugs. It was also quite sad, as it drives home what our need for technology does to nature. It’s a very current issue told in a fascinating way and certainly had me thinking about what we really do stand to loose in the future.

The Iron King is a breathtaking journey from start to finish and I enjoyed every single page. It’s an action packed adventure with a racing pace, which will have you turning pages frantically. It’s packed with magic, myth and romance and is so captivatingly vivid, I was daydreaming about this book at work and desperate to get back to it. I laughed, cried and held my breath in awe while reading and was sad to reach the end and leave the story. The ending sets us up nicely for the second book in the series, The Iron Daughter, which I can’t wait to get my hands on. The Iron King is without doubt one of, if not the best book set amongst the fey I’ve read and I highly recommend it. 








Published in the UK February 2011 by Mira Ink
Thanks to the publishers for providing a copy of this book for review.


You can find out more about The Iron King at www.MiraInk.co.uk 

In My Mailbox #4



Won

Forsaken: The Demon Trappers by Jana Oliver
(From MyKindaBook.com)

Riley has always wanted to be a Demon Trapper like her father, and she's already following in his footsteps as one of the best. But it's tough being the only girl in an all-guy world, especially when three of those guys start making her life more complicated: Simon, the angelic apprentice who has heaven on his side; Beck, the tough trapper who thinks he's God's gift, and Ori, the strikingly sexy stranger who keeps turning up to save her ass. One thing's for sure - if she doesn't keep her wits about her there'll be hell to pay...









For S&S event



 

Book of the month - January


Each month we'll take a look back at everything we read and choose our favourite 

Vicki's Book of the Month

Nightshade by Andrea Cremer

I read some fabulous books this month, but the one that stood out for me was Nightshade by Andrea Cremer. I loved everything about it, the world building, the politics between the wolves and their masters and the mythology. Oh, and there's a couple of pretty hot guys in there too!

Calla Tor has always known her destiny: After graduating from the Mountain School, she'll be the mate of sexy alpha wolf Ren Laroche and fight with him, side by side, ruling their pack and guarding sacred sites for the Keepers. But when she violates her masters' laws by saving a beautiful human boy out for a hike, Calla begins to question her fate, her existence, and the very essence of the world she has known. By following her heart, she might lose everything— including her own life. Is forbidden love worth the ultimate sacrifice?

Published January 2011 in the UK by Atom


Lyndsey's Book Of The Month

Arrow by R.J Anderson

Lyndsey's been a fan of the Faery Rebels series for a long time and has a special place in her heart as the first YA books she read. The third installment certainly didn't disappoint, In fact Lyndsey says it's her favourite to date.

Rhosmari trembled as the Empress walked over to her. 'Oh, do not struggle. There is nowhere for you to escape,' the Empress said, her voice silken and sweet. Then she unsheathed a small dagger from her waist. 'This will only hurt a little...' Rhosmari has lived her whole life on a sheltered chain of faery islands. But with the Empress's power growing, and her desire to enslave the entire faery race becoming a reality, Rhosmari knows she must fight back..

Published in the UK January 6th 2011 by Orchard

Author Interview: Savita Kalhan

Savita Kalhan is author of the incredibly creepy novel, The Long Weekend. Welcome Savita and thanks for joining us today!


 Hi Savita, please introduce yourself and tell us about your book The Long Weekend.

Hi Vicki, thank you for inviting me! I’m Savita, apart from being a mum, reading too late into the night, and generally trying to cram far too much into a 24 hour day, I’m also the author of The Long Weekend – the book that’s been scaring everyone half to death! The book is about two boys who are abducted after school – it’s a thriller where the monster is very real and the fear is palpable.

 The Long Weekend is a fantastic thriller. What inspired you to write it and are you a fan of thrillers yourself? 

The inspiration for The Long Weekend came from a flyer that went round local schools warning that a car had been seen loitering outside a few schools and that the driver had tried to snatch children. I was horrified when I saw that. Most kids are pretty aware of stranger-danger, but kids can be easily misled and tricked if they’re distracted. It only takes a moment of not thinking straight. A scenario came to my mind where an abduction could happen with frightening ease.
Yes, I love thrillers! The best ones are so completely absorbing, gripping, full of suspense, and where you deeply care for the fate of the protagonists.

There are some very dark themes and issues touched upon in your novel and unlike many other YA novels, from a boy’s point of view. Was it a conscious decision to make your main characters male and something which was important to you?

It wasn’t a conscious decision, no. When the story arrived in my head, so did the two main characters of the book. It’s true that so many YA books are focussed on girls that it does make me wonder whether most publishers think that as its girls and young women who are doing most of the reading then YA books should generally have female protagonists. Personally, I think YA readers, like all readers, love a good story told well, and all the YA bloggers have loved The Long Weekend.

I thought you captured Sam's voice perfectly. How did you mange to do that? 

I love Sam! I don’t know why or how it happened, but when I sat down to write the story, Sam’s voice was right there in my head. That hadn’t happened before, and as soon as I started writing, his voice flowed and the story poured out. Strangely, the ending of the story was written several months after the rest of the book yet Sam’s voice still remained clear in my head. I have a very sociable 13 year old son, so I do get to spend a lot of time around kids, and perhaps that helped.

I imagine you did quite a lot of research when writing The Long Weekend, can you tell us a bit about that.

Actually, unlike other books I’ve written, I didn’t do any research at all for The Long Weekend. I just sat down every day and wrote. I do, however, know many survivors of child abuse and they have shared their stories with me.

When you're not writing, what do you enjoy reading? If you were to recommend us one book-which would it be?

I haven’t lost my childhood habit of reading practically any genre! So I still love thrillers, modern classics, world literature, fantasy, contemporary novels, teen and YA fiction...

I loved I’m Not Scared by Niccolo Ammaniti, recently republished as YA novel. Last year’s favourite reads included Revolver by Marcus Sedgwick and Stolen by Lucy Christopher. Gillian Phillips’s Firebrand is excellent, as is Before I Die by Jenny Downham.
Amongst my all-time favourite books are – A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry, The Tenderness of Wolves by Stef Penney, and Sea of Poppies by Amitav Ghosh, and...
You see, once you get me started, I can’t stop! I find it impossible to recommend just one book.

Can you tell us about your path to becoming a published author? Was it something you always wanted to do? Why Young Adult/Teen fiction?

The path that led me here has been a long, crazy, meandering one! When I was young I wanted to be a teacher, a librarian or a bookshop owner. I never really thought that I could ever be a proper writer! I graduated with a Joint Honours in Politics and Philosophy, but then decided I wanted to turn my hobby in Batik design into a full-time occupation. I had exhibitions, and taught Batik in schools and ran workshops for Art teachers. Then I went to live abroad for several years and taught English. That’s when I started writing. I embarked upon writing an epic fantasy trilogy for teens! After my son was born, I came back to live in the UK and finished the trilogy while he was still young. As soon as he started school, my writing changed and became much more gritty and real, and contemporary. I still wasn’t sure of my writing and I was full of self-doubt – even after finishing The Long Weekend I sat on it for a few months before plucking up the courage to try and find an agent!

I followed the advice in The Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook, and sent of three sample chapters, a synopsis and a cover letter. That’s when the waiting began – something, I’ve realised, that is part of the writer’s life, so the sooner you get used to it the better!

My agent, Anne Dewe, is wonderful and it was she who found me my publishers – Andersen Press. My editor, Liz Maude, loved the book, and scheduled it for publication within a year (it can take anything from a year to a year and a half for a book to go from manuscript to bookshop!)

I think I fell into writing for young adults and teens almost by accident. It certainly wasn’t a conscious decision. I wrote a lot, and as I wrote I think I gradually uncovered my voice...

Do you have any tips for any aspiring writers out there?

Read, read read! Write, write, write! They’re the two most important things an aspiring writer can do! Have your work critiqued. If a particular style doesn’t work for you, then try a different style until you find your voice. Get an agent, become internet savvy, and meet as many other writers, published and unpublished, as you can. Join a group like SCBWI (society of children’s book writers and illustrators). And lastly, don’t give up!

Finally, what's next for Savita Kalhan? 

Well, I’ve just finished writing a new thriller and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it might get a green light...



Good Luck Savita...we look forward to more from you in the future! 


You can read my review of The Long Weekend here




Waiting On Wednesday

Waiting On Wednesday is hosted by Jill @ Breaking The Spine and allows us to spotlight upcoming books we are eagerly anticipating.

Die For Me by Amy Plum


UK                                                        USA 

My life had always been blissfully, wonderfully normal. But it only took one moment to change everything. Suddenly, my sister, Georgia and I were orphans. We put our lives into storage and moved to Paris to live with my grandparents. And I knew my shattered heart, my shattered life, would never feel normal again. Then I met Vincent. Mysterious, sexy and unnervingly charming, Vincent Delacroix appeared out of nowhere and swept me off my feet. Just like that, I was in danger of losing my heart all over again. But I was ready to let it happen. Of course, nothing is ever that easy. Because Vincent is no normal human. He has a terrifying destiny, one that puts his life at risk every day. He also has enemies...immortal, murderous enemies who are determined to destroy him and all of his kind.

I'm not going to lie, it's the beautiful covers that attracted to me to this one. I actually can't decide here which is my favourite (do you have a preference?) I like each of them for different reasons. Then I read the synopsis and wow, Paris! And Vincent Delacroix sounds um..hot! I'm so looking forward to this book!

Published in the UK by Atom May 5th 2011 and in the USA May 10th by Harperteen
                      

Book Review: The Long Weekend by Savita Kalhan


Sam knows that he and his friend Lloyd made a colossal mistake when they accepted the ride home. They have ended up in a dark mansion in the middle of nowhere with man who means to harm them. But Sam doesn't know how to get them out. They were trapped, then separated. Now they are alone. Will either of them get out alive? This gripping and hypnotic thriller will have you reading late into the night. (from Goodreads.com)

The Long Weekend looks, and sounds, like a dark gripping thriller…and that is exactly what I got. Right from the start Savita Kalhan had me glued to the pages and didn’t let me go until I’d finished the last page.

Eleven-year-old Sam is the new boy at school. He’s been the new boy quite a few times before and finds it difficult to fit in with the cliques and gangs already formed. This time though he’s made friends with popular Lloyd through their joint love of football. Lloyd is very different to Sam, with his wealthy parents and apparent luxurious lifestyle. So when the pair make arrangements to get together after school, he’s not surprised when Lloyds Dad turns up to collect them in a flash car, kitted out with all the latest gadgets.  However, Lloyd thinks its Sam’s parents’ picking them up, and in the excitement neither one thinks to check before jumping in the back. Things soon take a sinister turn however when they find themselves locked in an old mansion and realisation dawns.  And so starts a long and very scary weekend, and someone is keen to make sure they never escape…

What was so absolutely perfect about this book was Sam and his voice through which the story is told. Although it’s in third person, it’s completely from Sam’s point of view and Savita Kalhan captures in him a voice so remarkably strong, unique and believable it blew me away. Using a lot of short sentences and jumpy thought processes, the tension throughout the book builds from Sam’s narration and is consistent from beginning to end, there’s not one dull passage in this book. I particularly liked how Sam grew throughout the book, changing into almost a different person by the end, which given his traumatic experiences, is an incredibly clever tact. To begin with he’s naïve, nervous, anxious, a little bitter and slightly envious of enigmatic Lloyd. By the end he’s a hero, Lloyds support system, a problem solver and the naivety has all gone.

The Long Weekend is incredibly creepy and tense, and being a short read I raced though in just one sitting. There was no chance I’d be able to put it down, the pacing and atmosphere made sure I had to know how it ended. I’m not easily scared, but was left with shivers down my spine at times in the book.  Some disturbing and terrifying issues are brought up, but Kalhan never forgets her audience and doesn’t go in for graphic details. I actually think this would be a good book to either read with a class of pupils 11+ or parents to read alongside their kids as there are lots of important discussion points. If anything, this book will serve as a lesson never to go off with strangers and will surely hook even reluctant readers. 

The Long Weekend is everything it appears to be, a dark, creepy story that is so gripping it’s impossible to put down. If you like being scared and enjoy sinister psychological thrillers then this is a book for you! Even if you’re not sure it’s your thing, I dare you to stop reading once you start.  


Published by Anderson Press October 2008


Thanks to the author for providing a signed copy for review.

Book Review: Arrow by R.J. Anderson

Arrow is the third book in the Knife series by Canadian author, R.J. Anderson. It was published on January 6th by Orchard and the book is 368 pages long. Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy for review.

Plot
Rhosmari has always lived a sheltered life on a series of faerie islands, hidden away from everything and everyone else. The Children of Rhys are unlike the other faeries. The like to keep to themselves and do not condone violence or war at all but when the Stone of Naming is taken from them, Rhosmari knows that something must be done.

Garan, the faery whom Rhosmari was betrothed to has run off to join the rebels, a group of faeries determined to take down the Empress once and for all. Rhosmari knows that finding Garan may be the only hope of getting the Stone of Naming back and saving her home. What Rhosmari doesn’t prepare for is the Empress and her spies in the real world. Caught up in a whirlwind of adventure, excitement and loss, Rhosmari still needs to save everyone but how far is she willing to go?

What I thought
The Knife series has been one of my favourites for a long time now, partly due to it being one of the first YA books I read and partly due to its awesomeness. 

Rhosmari was a fantastic protagonist. It was nice to see her with other Children of Rhys to begin with as it made a good comparison when she finally made it to the real world. After being hidden away all of her life, Rhosmari has no idea what to expect or how she is even going to manage to find Garan and the Oak. As soon as she began to find her way, she came across as extremely naïve, trusting people far too quickly but I also thought this was believable. Rhosmari never really knew what was happening when she met Martin, who was helping her on her journey so when things didn’t go as she planned, I felt extremely sorry for her and wanted to give her a big hug! As the story went on, Rhosmari really began to grow as a character and realise who she was and to starting knowing what she really wanted out of life. I was glad that she stood up for herself and what she believed in throughout and because she was such a strong character, I loved her.

The Empress is certainly a nasty piece of work. At times though, I really doubted just how bad she was. She has a strange kind of charm though which made me think twice about her at times. Being as manipulative as she is, I did always have the thought in the back of my head that she wasn’t being as truthful as she was making out to be when talking to Rhosmari. The twists and turns concerning her character were exciting and I was always looking forward to what was coming next because I could never quite figure out what direction she was going to go in.

Arrow has a lot of action scenes so I think that this book would be great for boys as well as girls. The mix of action and romance in Knife and Rebel was one of the main things that I loved about them but this time around, I think I would have liked to have seen a bit more on the romance side. I think that is probably more of a girls’ opinion more than anything though but I can see why Anderson kept the mix as it was in order to widen the appeal of the book. While the romance was sweet, I felt like some of it was a little rushed and that Rhosmari and the boy involved didn’t spend enough time together.

The previous books in the series explored different aspects of faery lore and we get something slightly new in Arrow. As the Stone of Naming is a integral part of the story, faery names are explained in a little more detail and why it is so important when they decide to give someone their real name. The fact that the different faeries in the story had different reasons for doing this was really interesting and I loved hearing different characters explanations of why they have done it. I was left wondering what part of the world of faeries was going to explored in the next book in this series.

Arrow was by far, my favourite book in this series so far because of how exciting and interesting it was. I can’t wait for the next instalment, even though there is quite a while to wait.



In My Mailbox #3

IMM is hosted by The Story Siren
 Lyndsey's Books

For Review

The Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean M. Auel

When her parents are killed by an earthquake, 5-year-old Ayla wanders through the forest completely alone. Cold, hungry, and badly injured by a cave lion, the little girl is as good as gone until she is discovered by a group who call themselves the Clan of the Cave Bear. This clan, left homeless by the same disaster, have little interest in the helpless girl who comes from the tribe they refer to as the "Others." Only their medicine woman sees in Ayla a fellow human, worthy of care. She painstakingly nurses her back to health--a decision that will forever alter the physical and emotional structure of the clan. Although this story takes place roughly 35,000 years ago, its cast of characters could easily slide into any modern tale. The members of the Neanderthal clan, ruled by traditions and taboos, find themselves challenged by this outsider, who represents the physically modern Cro-Magnons. And as Ayla begins to grow and mature, her natural tendencies emerge, putting her in the middle of a brutal and dangerous power struggle.


Firelight by Sophie Jordan


Marked as special at an early age, Jacinda knows her every move is watched. But she longs for freedom to make her own choices. When she breaks the most sacred tenet among her kind, she nearly pays with her life. Until a beautiful stranger saves her. A stranger who was sent to hunt those like her. For Jacinda is a draki—a descendant of dragons whose greatest defense is her secret ability to shift into human form.


Forced to flee into the mortal world with her family, Jacinda struggles to adapt to her new surroundings. The only bright light is Will. Gorgeous, elusive Will who stirs her inner draki to life. Although she is irresistibly drawn to him, Jacinda knows Will's dark secret: He and his family are hunters. She should avoid him at all costs. But her inner draki is slowly slipping away—if it dies she will be left as a human forever. She'll do anything to prevent that. Even if it means getting closer to her most dangerous enemy.
 
Mythical powers and breathtaking romance ignite in this story of a girl who defies all expectations and whose love crosses an ancient divide.

Bought

The Iron Witch by Karen Mahoney (Review here) - I have a proof copy of this book but the Waterstones exclusive copy is beautiful so I just had to have it!

Freak. That's what her classmates call seventeen-year-old Donna Underwood. When she was seven, a horrific fey attack killed her father and drove her mother mad. Donna's own nearly fatal injuries from the assault were fixed by magic—the iron tattoos branding her hands and arms. The child of alchemists, Donna feels cursed by the magical heritage that destroyed her parents and any chance she had for a normal life. The only thing that keeps her sane and grounded is her relationship with her best friend, Navin Sharma.

Halo by Alexandra Adornetto

Three angels- Gabriel, the warrior; Ivy, the healer; and Bethany, the youngest and most human- are sent by Heaven to bring good to a world falling under the influence of darkness. They must work hard to conceal their luminous glow, superhuman powers, and, most dangerous of all, their wings, all the while avoiding all human attachments.

Then Bethany meets Xavier Woods, and neither of them is able to resist the attraction between them. Gabriel and Ivy do everything in their power to intervene, but the bond between Xavier and Bethany seems too strong.

The angel’s mission is urgent, and dark forces are threatening. Will love ruin Bethany or save her?

Gifted

Inside Out by Maria V. Snyder - US version (Thanks Claire @ Cem's Book Hideout)

Keep Your Head Down.
Don't Get Noticed.
Or Else.
I'm Trella. I'm a scrub. A nobody. One of thousands who work the lower levels, keeping Inside clean for the Uppers. I've got one friend, do my job and try to avoid the Pop Cops. So what if I occasionally use the pipes to sneak around the Upper levels? The only neck at risk is my own…until I accidentally start a rebellion and become the go-to girl to lead a revolution.

Eyes Like Stars by Lisa Mantchev (Thanks Kirsty @ The Overflowing Library)

Welcome to the Théâtre Illuminata, where the actors of every play ever written can be found behind the curtain. They were born to play their parts, and are bound to the Théâtre by The Book—an ancient and magical tome of scripts. Bertie is not one of them, but they are her family—and she is about to lose them all and the only home she has ever known.
Lisa Mantchev has written a debut novel that is dramatic, romantic, and witty, with an irresistible and irreverent cast of characters who are sure to enchant the audience.



Vicki's Books

Bought

Timeless by Alexandra Monir
When tragedy strikes Michele Windsor’s world, she is forced to uproot her life and move across the country to New York City, to live with the wealthy, aristocratic grandparents she’s never met. In their old Fifth Avenue mansion filled with a century’s worth of family secrets, Michele discovers a diary that hurtles her back in time to the year 1910. There, in the midst of the glamorous Gilded Age, Michele meets the young man with striking blue eyes who has haunted her dreams all her life – a man she always wished was real, but never imagined could actually exist. And she finds herself falling for him, into an otherworldly, time-crossed romance.
Michele is soon leading a double life, struggling to balance her contemporary high school world with her escapes into the past. But when she stumbles upon a terrible discovery, she is propelled on a race through history to save the boy she loves – a quest that will determine the fate of both of their lives.

For Review

The Unfinished Song: Initiate
DEADLY INITIATION


A DETERMINED GIRL...
Dindi can't do anything right, maybe because she spends more time dancing with pixies than doing her chores. Her clan hopes to marry her off and settle her down, but she dreams of becoming a Tavaedi, one of the powerful warrior-dancers whose secret magics are revealed only to those who pass a mysterious Test during the Initiation ceremony. The problem? No-one in Dindi's clan has ever passed the Test. Her grandmother died trying. But Dindi has a plan.

AN EXILED WARRIOR...
Kavio is the most powerful warrior-dancer in Faearth, but when he is exiled from the tribehold for a crime he didn't commit, he decides to shed his old life. If roving cannibals and hexers don't kill him first, this is his chance to escape the shadow of his father's wars and his mother's curse. But when he rescues a young Initiate girl, he finds himself drawn into as deadly a plot as any he left behind. He must decide whether to walk away or fight for her... assuming she would even accept the help of an exile (Kindle edition provided by the author. Thank you)

Book Review: Tyme's End by B R Collins


Bibi feels out of place everywhere - everywhere that is, except for Tyme's End, the deserted house that she breaks into when she thinks nobody is nearby. There she unexpectedly meets Oliver Gardner, the owner of the house, who's just returned after ten years away. Their story and the story of Oliver's grandfather become inextricably entwined, linked as they are by Tyme's End itself. For Tyme's End is more than just a deserted house. It is a house that by turns can be romantic, beguiling, sinister and malevolent. It is a house that had a cruel and manipulative owner. And anybody who enters Tyme's End must prepare themselves for terror ...Part mystery, part psychological thriller, set in the present yet with forays into the past, this is a cleverly ambitious novel that makes for a compulsive and gripping read. (From Amazon.co.uk)

Tyme’s End offered something I adore…a gothic setting, an old mansion and a spine chilling mystery. I love settling down to a book such as this. If it’s cold and dark outside and the fire’s blazing indoors then all the better. And so I was expecting a bit of a treat with this one.

In actual fact though, the book proved to be a little on the disappointing side. I wasn’t gripped with the beginning at all, yet throughout the book there were definite high points. When I turned the last page it was with a feeling of having enjoyed the book enough, but not being completely overwhelmed and slightly dissatisfied.

Tyme’s End tells a story spanning over eighty years and in three parts. Beginning in the present from Bibi’s point of view then switching to 1996 where Oliver Jnr takes over and finally ending with 1936 and Oliver Snr’s story. Bibi certainly isn’t the most favourite character I’ve come across, and for most of her section I found myself irritated by her. Adopted and feeling like she doesn’t fit in with her small village life, she’s prickly, childish and rude. She escapes to the abandoned mansion, Tyme’s End where she eventually runs into its reluctant owner, Oliver Jnr. Over the period of 24 hours an intense and sinister relationship developes between the pair which at times I found a little uncomfortable, forced and not completely believable. I was pretty sure after fifty pages I wasn’t going to enjoy this book at all, then all of a sudden things changed and I found myself intrigued by the mysteries of Tyme’s End, if not particularly enamoured by the characters themselves.

Moving onto the second part of the book, I finally got what I was hoping for. Oliver and his Grandfather’s relationship had me hooked with its dark secrets. In this section BR Collins really shines as a storyteller, dripping in just the right amount of tension and atmosphere to have the hairs on the back of your neck prickling. I was completely involved in this section, reading with held breath and speeding through the pages desperate to know what was happening. I really liked young Oliver too in this section, feeling desperately sorry for this lonely and sad young man and thought that Tyme’s End itself became as much a character here as any of the humans.

The intriguing and atmospheric feeling continues into the final section, set in 1936 and Collins evokes the period wonderfully. At one point I looked up from the book and was almost surprised to find myself in a modern coffee shop and not in the grounds of an eerie mansion in the English countryside back in the thirties. With Oliver’s grandfather, we slowly discover the truth about the house and it’s evil owner, and just how it ended up belonging to the naïve and orphaned student. I was all set for a fantastic finale having enjoyed this part of the book the best. Sadly things became a little confused for me. Collins introduced some spooky and disturbing ideas, but in my opinion didn’t expand enough on them, leaving them very vague, and a lot of the terror was lost for me. I was also disappointed that the house, Tyme’s End didn’t seem as alive and evil as it had previously and that many questions seemed left unanswered.

Overall I did enjoy reading this book, and after a slow start I did find myself gripped and speeding through this book very quickly. At times the atmosphere and tension are absolutely electric and deliciously creepy. The descriptions transported me back in time with such vividness I felt I’d become part of the story. I liked how by the end of the book the connection between Bibi, Oliver Jnr and Oliver Snr became clear and I could understand why all three had been drawn to the house and how similar they were despite being very different people from different times. However I felt that I’d like to have seen more of a connection between the three while reading the novel, perhaps by alternating past and present rather than moving backwards which resulted in the three stories being individual rather than entwined. I was also left feeling disappointed at the drop in tension at the end and frustrated with the questions which were left unanswered. There was a fantastic story there, somewhere in this book…I just couldn’t help feel it could have been much more. I’d recommend as a quick read if this type of story is your thing, but be prepared for not being completely blown away by it. 








Published in the UK January 2011 by Bloomsbury


Thanks to the publishers for sending a copy for review.
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