Hang-gliding high above the vast forest, silently swooping through the darkness towards the enemy camp, I felt powerful, free … Schoom! An arrow tore through one of my wings, and suddenly I was plummeting down, fast and vertical. The ground was coming up to meet me as the air was forced from my lungs by the pressure of the wind. Only a miracle would save me now … An abandoned castle in the heart of Kielder forest is not what it seems as Hattori Hachi encounters a new terrifying enemy. Why is the evil Raven planning to kill hundreds of people? What is his connection to her family? How can she avert catastrophe, while uncovering dark secrets and terrifying legends that cannot be allowed to come true?
This has been an interesting series so far for me. I have to admit, a young adult series based on ninjutsu isn’t my first choice of reading material and when the books arrived, they lingered a little longer than they should have done before being picked up and read.
I was therefore pleasantly surprised that I found myself enjoying them! ‘The Revenge of Praying Mantis’ is the first book. Here we meet Hattie, a 15yr old living in London with no idea of her family heritage or destiny. Her mum though has been training her to be a ‘kick ass ninja’ on the sly, why she did this starts to become apparent after her mum mysteriously disappears. Now the nice thing about Hattie is that she’s one tough cookie. This isn’t some pint sized heroine who needs a strong male lead to look after her. Yes she meets ‘Mad Dog’, who helps her search for clues into her mother’s disappearance but from the outset it’s clear that he is following her lead and his fighting skills doesn’t compare to her extraordinary talent. The action in this book is constant; just think of the classic ‘Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon’ style movie fighting, set the scene for London and make it age appropriate for adolescents and this is your book.
In ‘Stalking the enemy’ the book is very much a straight continuation. Whilst Hattie becomes more self-assured and she gets closer to fulfilling her destiny, she still requires the help of her friends to get to the bottom of what’s going on in the Kelder forest. In the midst of all the action, we clearly see a potential relationship blossoming. Hattie’s still too busy though kicking ninjutsu ass to truly explore her feelings so the series shouldn’t alienate those looking purely for adventure in a read. Given that this series is all about ninjutsu, it isn’t actually, very violent; well in the sense that there’s not much death or detailed violence in the fight scenes. Due to this and the fact that the romance is minimal, I wonder if this book series should have been better promoted as for readers aged 9yrs+?
Verdict: An enjoyable, refreshing and action packed change to my usual YA tastes. The third instalment, ‘Curse of the Diamond Dagger’ should be out later this year.
Reviewed by KarenTags: Hattori Hachi, Jane Prowse, Publisher- Piccadill, Reviewer-Karen Posted in Big Book, YA | 1 Comment »