Thursday, 28 April 2016

Review: The Raven King

The Raven King The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I don't have a bloody clue how to review The Raven King, but I can't not. It's just so Stiefvater-ish. I'm assuming that if you're reading this review, you've read the rest of the series. If you haven't, yes it's worth it, yes it's a perfect ending, now go away and read The Raven Boys immediately. For the rest of you, why aren't you already reading it? Or are you just interested in other people's opinions? Which is a strange reason to read reviews. Oh all right, I'm stalling.
One, it was f-ing brilliant. It's a shiny, magical, sparkling, dark, tangled web of brilliance. I seriously don't know how Stiefvater manages to incorporate so many character arcs, so many camera lenses, so many elements of plot, without either going insane or sending her readers insane. But somehow she pulls it out of the hat. She guides us through with apolmb, making sure we never get lost, and revealing just the right information at exactly the right time.
I'm actually really looking forward to reading it again. I read it too fast the first time - I needed to know what happened, in a visceral way, and I couldn't pace myself well enough to soak up all of the detail. Stiefvater books always get better on second and third readings, because there's always some detail, some hook, some link that you don't notice the first time around. Something that makes you marvel at the cleverness of the author, and imagine her smug smile as you have that 'wait but... ohh I see' moment.
I could wax lyrical about Stiefvater's writing for days - she is my most respected author, for a great many reasons, but mostly because of how she manages to make her books about so many things at once. Yes, you could see this as a series about magic and sleeping kings and so on, or you could see it as a series about friendship, or a series about doomed love, or a series about priveledge vs poverty, or a series about the longest awaited kiss ever. Or a whole host of other things. That's the real beauty of Stiefvater's work - you get out of it what you need. She really is one talented wizard.
A word on the end (non-spoilery). It's perfect, because it's not an end. It's a beginning.

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Friday, 15 April 2016

Review: Fire Girl: A Tale of Witches and Wolves

Fire Girl: A Tale of Witches and Wolves Fire Girl: A Tale of Witches and Wolves by Andy Mulberry
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It's not often any more that a new YA paranormal comes along and really catches my attention. The market is so flooded, it's a hard task to find something that really suits me as a reader. I've definitely become pickier over the years. But Fire Girl had me from the moment I saw that gorgeous cover and read the intriguing blurb. I loved the magic and the mystery, the characters and the dialogue - for me this was a fully immersive experience.

Samantha is a wonderful character to have in a YA paranormal - she's a scientist with absolutely no belief in magic. The fact that her sister reads tarot cards and has an interest in the occult just reinforces this, when we see how Sam reacts to it. She has possibly the best reaction I've ever read to being told she is a witch.

Then there's Daniel, wolf boy. The magic that forces Daniel and Sam together is a very clever hook. You're never quite sure how it's going to turn out (although you have an inkling, because it would have to be a hell of a twist if not), because Daniel is so adamant in his hatred of the way these feelings are being forced on him. Sam, in turn, can't trust him to feel anything real, so the push and pull between the two makes for very interesting reading.

The hidden paranormal society, the politics and business that goes on in the background of the story is what makes it a solid book. There's more to it than meets the eye, and the minimal world-building actually works in its favour I think. There's not much page time devoted to describing how magic works in this world, but I didn't have a problem with that - we were thrown into it pretty quickly, and there was no need for pages of explanations. You could say that Mulberry works on a need to know basis, and it's surprisingly effective.

Witches, wolves, romance and much, much more wait in the pages of Fire Girl. I urge any YA paranormal fan to give it a go.

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