Tag Archives: magic

#Bookreview ‘Children of Blood and Bone’ by Tomi Adeyemi #YoungAdult #Fantasy

I picked up Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi, the first of a new ‘young adult’ series, when I was emotionally and intellectually exhausted. It is an assault on the senses, rather like a sniff of smelling salts. Tomi Adeyemi

A West African tale of magic, Children of Blood and Bone tackles racially-charged violence, state-led racism and injustice, all wrapped-up in a magical quest. The Author’s Note at the end explains Adeyemi’s inspiration. “I kept turning on the news and seeing stories of unarmed black men, women and children being shot by the police. I felt afraid and angry and helpless, but this book was the one thing that made me feel like I could do something about it.”

Children of Blood and Bone is set in the nation of Orïsha where magic was banished in The Raid years earlier when the king ordered the death of all maji. The story is told by four teenage characters, two brother and sister pairings. Zélie’s maji mother was killed in The Raid and she is herself a diviner; her white hair marks her out as magical, but her magic is buried deep and unused. A chance meeting with runaway princess Amari sets the two girls on the trail of cherished objects which will enable Zélie to conjure the return of magic. Along the way, aided by Zélie’s sporty brother Tzarin, Zélie’s magic grows as she struggles to accept the power within her and how to control it. The appearance of the handsome prince Inan complicates things.

The book is not perfect, but this is a good debut by a young author with much promised for the rest of the series. Tzarin is a sketchy character crying out for more development, hopefully that will come in the next book, and Inan was inconsistent and therefore unbelievable. But the world building and depth of cultural reference is impressive. The pace is rather frantic and, during the first few chapters, I did wish for a stroll rather than a sprint. It takes a while to settle into a new world, to appreciate the subtleties of word and behaviour, the surroundings, the threats and opportunities. So many new magical phrases were thrown in at the beginning that I felt rather lost and almost abandoned the book. I didn’t. If you feel like I did, I urge you to continue reading and forgive any confusion or inconsistency. I wonder how much more powerful the beginning could be if the early pace were reduced by twenty per cent. When the romance became intense, I had to remind myself that they are teenagers.

The ending is a cliffhanger that I didn’t see it coming.

If you like this, try:-
The Queen of the Tearling’ by Erika Johansen
The Magicians’ by Lev Grossman
The Bear and the Nightingale’ by Katherine Arden

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
CHILDREN OF BLOOD AND BONE by @tomi_adeyemi #bookreview https://wp.me/p5gEM4-3vD via @SandraDanby

Book review: The Magician’s Land

Lev GrossmanThrown out of Fillory and back in the non-magical world, Quentin Coldwater retreats to his former magical university in Brooklyn. Brakebills. He becomes a professor where he teaches his discipline, described as ‘mending small things’. Remember this, it will be important later. This is the final book of the trilogy by Lev Grossman and like book two, The Magician King, this final instalment is action-packed.

The story moves between present and past, Fillory and earth, above ground, in the air and underground. Seeking adventure, and money, Quentin meets a new group of underground magicians and accepts a task for payment of $2m. On the team is Plum, who admits she once attended Brakebills too.

In parallel we get the stories of Quentin, Eliot [still in Fillory] and Plum. In order to understand the threat in the present, we have to go back in time to fill in the real story of what happened to the Chatwin children [whose true adventures inspired the novels of Fillory]. And it becomes plain that the Fillory known by Quentin from his childhood love of those novels, is incorrect. The novels were fictional and Fillory is not what it seems.

Depending on them all, is the very existence of Fillory.

A cracking finale.

Click here to read my reviews of the first two books in the trilogy:-
The Magicians #1
The Magician King #2

If you like this, try:-
‘The Queen of the Tearling’ #1 by Erika Johansen
‘The Invasion of the Tearling’ #2 by Erika Johansen
‘The Lost Girl’ by Sangu Mandanna

‘The Magician’s Land’ by Lev Grossman, #3 Magicians Trilogy [UK: Arrow] Buy now

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
THE MAGICIAN’S LAND by @leverus #books via @SandraDanby http://wp.me/p5gEM4-1rD

Book review: The Magician King

Lev GrossmanQuentin is now living in Fillory. And he is king, or a king, one of four human kings and queens who rule this magical land. In the first book of ‘The Magicians’ trilogy by Lev Grossman, we saw Quentin accepted at a magical university in New York and finally find his way to Fillory, which he thought was a fictional world from a children’s book.

He is living his childhood fantasy, but he is bored. Life is like living in a 20-star hotel and he is getting fat. Then one day, out hunting the Seeing Hare, one of the Unique Beasts of Fillory – this world is full of magical beasts which can talk or have special powers – a new adventure starts.

The big difference for me from book one of the trilogy is that the action starts straight away. All the setting-up has been done, the background is in place, Fillory is understood, key characters  are established. Most intriguing is the presence of Julia, who was Quentin’s love interest in the non-magical world, briefly at the beginning of the first book. Quentin was offered a place at Brakebills, the magical college. Julia wasn’t. But now she is a magician too. She learned her magic the hard way, in the magical underground in the ordinary world. And she is moody and edgy. She talks to the animals, speaks in an old-fashioned cadence, she dresses in black. She is interesting. I liked Julia.

Quentin and Julia set sail on a magical ship, heading for the Outer Island to collect overdue taxes. They end up back in the real world, trapped, and unable to return to Fillory. Of course they manage it in the end, via the underground magic network, trips to Cornwall and Venice, an Australian magician, and a dragon.

This book is three quests, one after another. The action is continuous. I saved books two and three to read while on holiday, and read them back –to-back.

Click here to read my review of the first book of the trilogy, The Magicians.

If you like this, try:-
‘The Goldfinch’ by Donna Tartt
‘In Ark’ by Lisa Devaney
‘Ferney’ by James Long

‘The Magician King’ by Lev Grossman, #2 Magicians Trilogy [UK: Arrow] Buy now

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
THE MAGICIAN KING by @leverus #books via @SandraDanby http://wp.me/p5gEM4-1rx

Book review: The Magicians

Lev GrossmanIn the first sentence of The Magicians by Lev Grossman, Quentin Coldwater does a magic trick with a nickel. A human version of magic.

Another series about magic, I hear you ask? Well this is nothing like Harry Potter. Quentin is due to sit an entrance exam for Princeton when he wanders into the grounds of a mysterious school in upstate New York. In a large room full of unknown teenagers, he sits the oddest test he has ever known. Then he is told he has passed and is accepted at Brakebills, a school of magic. For the first few months his best friend is a glass marble on which he practises his magic.

This is an adult tale. Brakebills is not Hogwarts and Quentin is a young man on the cusp of adulthood, with lingering adolescent depression and lack of confidence. The teenage magicians practise their magic, get drunk and have sex. At his ‘youngest’ moments Quentin remembers the magical tales he loved as a child about a land called Fillory. When he is down, he wishes he could escape to Fillory. And at first, he thinks Brakebills might be Fillory. But it isn’t because Fillory, of course, is fictional.

There are three books in the series and out of necessity in this book Quentin learns his magic. There were times I wished it would move more quickly, the carrot of Fillory is dangled in front of Quentin so much. In Harry Potter – oh how Lev Grossman must be tired of the comparisons – the threat of Lord Voldemort hovers from the first pages. There is no dark threat hovering over Quentin, just teenage angst, teenage love, and a longing to escape his daily life into Fillory. When he does reach Fillory, will it be what he expects?

Read more about the Magicians Trilogy at Lev Grossman’s website here.

Lev Grossman

[photo: jonathan saunders]

If you like this, try:-
‘Divergent’ #1 by Veronica Roth
‘Insurgent’ #2 by Veronica Roth
‘Allegiant’ #3 by Veronica Roth

‘The Magicians’ by Lev Grossman [#1 Magicians Trilogy] [UK: Arrow] Buy now

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
THE MAGICIANS by @leverus #books via @SandraDanby http://wp.me/p5gEM4-1oy