Review: Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones
Fantasy/Young Adult – #1 Howl Series
“‘What do you mean by having this great ugly castle rushing about the hills and frightening everyone in Market Chipping to death?’
Howl shrugged. ‘What an outspoken old woman you are! I’ve reached that stage in my career when I need to impress everyone with my power and wickedness. I can’t have the King thinking well of me. And last year I offended someone very powerful and I need to keep out of their way.’”
As the eldest of three daughters, Sophie has resigned herself to an unadventurous life taking over her parents’ hat shop in the town of Market Chipping. Then one day, she somehow incurs the wrath of the evil Witch of the Wastes, who punishes her by turning her into an old woman. Taking this unexpected turn of events well in stride, Sophie decides to seek help at the home of the powerful and narcissistic Wizard Howl, well known for both his mysterious moving castle and his apparent penchant for stealing (and possibly eating) the hearts of young girls.
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Review: A Creature of Moonlight, by Rebecca Hahn
Young Adult/Fantasy – Standalone
“She knew, as I knew, that you don’t stop a story half done. You keep on going, through the heartbreak and pain and fear, and times there is a happy ending, and times there isn’t. Don’t matter. You don’t cut a flower half through and then wait and watch as it slowly shrivels to death. And you don’t stop a story before you reach the end.”
Marni lives on the edge of the woods in her grandfather’s cabin. These woods have a powerful and possibly sinister attraction for young women, many of whom are lost to the forest each year, and Marni struggles to resist the creatures of the woods that call to her. Complicating her life further is her position as one of the only living relatives of the King; for different, but equally compelling, reasons, she is drawn to both the woods and the King’s court.
This was a super confusing book for me. I fell in love with it immediately. Then I fell out of love with it along the way – only to fall very hard for it again towards the end, so much so that it suddenly and unexpectedly brought me to tears. The plot is meandering but the prose charming. It’s slow-paced, with minimal dialogue – and there is a lack of clarity (descriptions that could be either literal or metaphorical, characters and places whose names we never learn) that could be either frustrating or intriguing, depending on your mindset.
Continue reading Book Review: A Creature of Moonlight (Rebecca Hahn)
Review: Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
Fantasy/Young Adult – Book #1 in The Grisha Trilogy
Bardugo’s trilogy, set in a fantasy world inspired by Czarist Russia, ended up on my to-read list after I began searching for fantasy outside of the typical Western European medieval setting. It begins, as many fantasy stories do, with a disadvantaged orphan who displays a unique magical talent that vaults her out of downtrodden obscurity. She is taken to train under the wing of the Darkling, Bardugo’s answer to Rasputin and the leader of an elite group of magic users called the Grisha.
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Review: Orleans by Sherri L. Smith
Young Adult/Post-Apocalyptic – Putnam Juvenile – Standalone
Hurricane Katrina was only the beginning for New Orleans in this alternate future, where the city has been struck by a string of hurricanes. The storms culminate in the devastating Hurricane Jesus, which brings with it a bloodborn virus – the Delta Fever – presumed to have wiped out all life in the city.
In reality, though, survivors carry on, divided into tribes by their blood types. The O types do not suffer the effects of Delta Fever as the others do, and consequently are the target of hunts and raids by the other tribes, who are in constant need of fresh infusions to stay alive. It’s sort of like a futuristic vampire story, with blood stolen through needles and IVs instead of fangs, and set in lush, swampy, post-apocalyptic former New Orleans – now just called Orleans. Continue reading Book Review: Orleans (Sherri L. Smith)