Posts Tagged ‘Urban Fantasy’

Carnival of Souls

Melissa Marr
Enter the Carnival…
In a city of daimons, strict class lines control every aspect of life. At the heart of The City is the Carnival of Souls where, once in a generation, anyone can fight for their chance to join the elite.
Kaleb is of the lowest caste; Aya is ruling caste – but female. They both face bleak futures and, for each of them, fighting to the death is the only way to try to live.
Mallory lives in the human world and knows little of The City, beyond the threat it poses her and her family. But soon she, too, will be drawn into the decadence and danger that is the Carnival of Souls…

I was really excited to read this book. I think few write ‘dark atmosphere’ better than Melissa Marr on the YA scene and ‘Carnival of Souls’ certainly didn’t disappoint.

The book is based in two very different worlds, the world that we live and The City. After winning a war that lasted for years within The City the Daimons banished the Witches to our world and that is where they stay. The City is so well described that it almost takes on a life of its own and you feel you know it in the same way as you do the characters. I really felt as though I was there and could hear the noise and smell the smells of the ‘Carnival of Souls’, which takes place a night within the city.

It is the characters that really make this book. It is a true ensemble cast and as the book moves on you get to know all four main characters very well, how they think and how they react to what goes on around them. Although the story focuses around events in Mallory’s life, Kaleb, Aya and to a slightly lesser extent Belios all seem just as important. This works very well as I honestly didn’t have a favourite. The fact that the book is written from multiple points of view is what makes it so special. It allows you to get to know more than one character and how they think instead of seeing everybody through just one person’s eyes.

Apparently this book wasn’t planned; Melissa Marr just had an idea and then ran with it. This is a perfect example of why you should be able to do just that. It’s a very strong start to a new series and I am very much looking forward to the next one.

Verdict: Fantastic setting and a brilliant ensemble cast. I can’t wait for more!

Reviewed by Alison

Publisher: Harper Collins
Publication Date: September 2012
Format: ARC
Pages: 336
Genre: Supernatural, Urban Fantasy, Magic
Age: YA
Reviewer: Alison
Source: Provided by publisher
Challenge: None
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The City’s Son

Tom Pollock

Expelled from school, betrayed by her best friend and virtually ignored by her dad, who’s never recovered from the death of her mum, Beth Bradley retreats to the sanctuary of the streets, looking for a new home. What she finds is Filius Viae, the ragged and cocky crown prince of London, who opens her eyes to the place she’s never truly seen. But the hidden London is on the brink of destruction. Reach, the King of the Cranes, is a malign god of demolition, and he wants Filius dead. In the absence of the Lady of the Streets, Filius’ goddess mother, Beth rouses Filius to raise an alleyway army, to reclaim London’s skyscraper throne for the mother he’s never known. Beth has almost forgotten her old life – until her best friend and her father come searching for her, and she must choose between the streets and the life she left behind.

Despite it’s familiar UK location, reading The City’s Son, felt like tumbling down a rabbit hole, in to an unexpected and magical world filled with fantastical creatures. The irony is that this isn’t a separate, or secret world. This is our London.

Shunning the usual attractions, Pollock takes us on a sightseeing tour of the grubbier, graffiti strewn, and unsavory parts of our capital city. The parts that won’t be being showcased by the British tourist board this summer. Unhidden but unvalued, Filius’ kingdom is ignored or explained away.

For me there is nothing better than when an author really captures the atmosphere of a location, suspending my disbelief and transporting me in to the mist of the story. There were times when I was so absorbed in Pollock’s world building that my stomach lurched from his descriptions and I felt the desire to take a shower.

Despite the, at times, repulsive nature of Filius’ London I couldn’t help but share the characters affection for the city, not in spite of but, because of its untamed and scruffy nature.

When I say that Pollock brought London to life, I don’t just mean metaphorically. Pollock takes the mundane fabric of the city and doesn’t just craft a believable, if not uncomfortable environment, but the very creatures cohabiting London with us. I certainly won’t look at a flickering street lamp or a coil of barbed wire in the same way!

The City’s Son is told predominately from the first person perspectives of Filius the street urchin, prince and the 3rd person point of views of Beth a teenage graffiti artist and Pen her poet friend. Rather than causing confusion, I found that the multiple perspectives actually enriching to the story. Pollock reserved the first person perspective for Filius, allowing me in to the mind of the street prince and enabling me to accept this unusual character and his associates without question.

I was really impressed with Pollock’s development of strong female characters and the emphasis on forms of strength other than the physical; emotional strength, independence, courage and resilience.

I really enjoyed the exploration of friendship and relationships portrayed within the book. The developing relationship between the main characters felt natural and unrushed and while it left me with a warm fuzzy feeling in the mist of all the fast paced action, it certainly wouldn’t put off readers who don’t enjoy that aspect as much as I do.

I didn’t consider myself particularly fearful before I started reading The City’s Son, but Pollock’s descriptive narrative, hitched my breathing and spiked my pulse rate as I found myself simultaneously freaked out and thrilled by the phobic inducing characters and situations he crafted.

Verdict: The City’s Son blew me away with its originality and creativity. I can’t help rub my hands in glee with the thought that there will be two more instalments!

Please note that the featured artwork is for the UK hardback published by Jo Fletcher books on the 2nd of August 2012

Reviewed by Caroline

Publisher: Flux
Publication Date: September 2012
Format: eARC
Pages: 480
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Age: YA
Reviewer: Caroline
Source: US Publisher via Netgalley
Challenge: British Book, Debut Author
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Jana Oliver

Riley Blackthorne. Kicking hell’s ass one demon at a time…
Riley has made a bargain with Heaven, and now they’ve come to collect.
Lucifer’s finest are ruling the streets and it seems that Armageddon might be even closer than Riley imagined. But with her soul and her heart in play it’s all she can do to keep herself alive, let alone save the world. Riley’s not afraid of kicking some major demon butt, but when it comes to a battle between Heaven and Hell, she might need a little help…

This is the third book in Jana Oliver’s ‘Demon Trappers’ series. There will be no spoilers for this book but there may be for the previous two. Life isn’t great for Riley Blackthorne. Her ex-boyfriend wasn’t who she thought he was, her Dad has been reanimated and really isn’t himself and to top it off she has found herself owing a favour to both Heaven and Hell. ‘Forgiven’ picks up exactly where ‘Forsaken’ left off.

I had been looking forward to the release of this book since I read the last one in August. On the face of it this series is just another one of those teen supernatural books that can be found anywhere at the moment, but in reality this is so much more. ‘Forgiven’ follows Riley, the main protagonist, but also at times switches the viewpoint to Denver Beck, known to most as simply ‘Beck’. Riley is a teen apprentice Demon Trapper, the first girl the guild has ever allowed into its ranks. Beck is a Journeyman Trapper, ex army from a very troubled background. Riley’s Dad took Beck into their family and mentored him in the ‘trapping’ profession. It is this relationship that has really captured my interest. It’s not about instant love but about friendship and how love can grow and is handled in a much more mature way than relationships in books for teens generally are and this is a real strength of the book. I can hold my hands up and say that I absolutely adore Beck. Not instantly likeable, his character has developed over the three books in a way that makes you understand where he is coming from. Life has not been easy for him, and that with the way he cares for Riley makes you love him all the more. Whilst reading ‘Forgiven’ I actually looked forward more to the sections written from his point of view than I did Riley’s. Jana Oliver has created two characters that you can really care about.

The only problem with the book is the cliff hanger ending. Do I really have to wait till August for the next one?

Verdict: A well written teen urban fantasy book with amazing characterisation. Exciting, absorbing and will leave you begging for more.

Reviewed by Alison

Publisher: Macmillan Children’s Books
Publication Date: March 2012
Format: Paperback
Pages: 416
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Supernatural
Age: YA
Reviewer: Alison
Source: Borrowed
Challenge: None
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