Sword in the Stars

Sword in the Stars
Once & Future Book Two
Once & Future Review
Written by Amy Rose Capetta and Cori McCarthy
Space Opera, Fantasy, Historical, Retelling, LGBT
368 Pages
Publishing June 16th 2020
Thank you to Bloomsbury Australia
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Once and future collide when Ari, Merlin and the Knights of the Rainbow attempt to steal a magical chalice from Earth's medieval past in order to save humanity's future, irreparably entangling our spaceage heroes with the original King Arthur.

Ari plays a risky game of lies and chivalry and Merlin confronts his nemesis, his older self, while all the time they must preserve the time continuum to eventually return to their own future. When the Lady of the Lake interferes, Merlin and Ari realise how much their future has been manipulated by her exquisite machinations of the past. Nin offers a way to release King Arthur's spirit from Ari's body, to end the cruel cycle that keeps them all prisoner and allow them home. But at what cost?

This galaxy altering conclusion unravels the dark truth of Merlin's origins and inspires a new hope for the Once & Future universe.

Every generation, the legendary King Arthur is reawakened and for Ari Helix, she's the first female Arthur and destined to become the heroine that previous Arthurs have forsaken. After withstanding the onslaught from the Mercer Corporation, the group of unlikely companions are travelling back to the middle ages, when King Arthur was an adolescent boy courting the effervescent Guinevere in Camelot. It's imperative that the new residents of Camelot adhere to the original tale as they find themselves enacting the roles of Guinevere, the royal knights and Lancelot, King Arthur's champion, in order to pilfer the chalice and ensure that Arthur is placed upon the throne. 

Sword in the Stars is a brilliantly diverse and vivacious narrative exploring capitalism and genocide. In the world envisioned by A.R. Capetta and Cory McCarthy, the Arthurian legend blossoms and although Once & Future is a wonderfully entertaining read, Sword of the Stars is a fantastical adventure and superbly written finale. Journeying to the historic Camelot, our characters arrive in the midst of King Arthur courting Guinevere, the young King besotted with Gwen who is fatigued and heavily pregnant. Ari gallantly arrives on horseback, assuming the role of Lancelot, the King's champion and who was rumoured to have romanced Guinevere, befalling the young King and Kingdom. Merlin arrives in Camelot rapidly aging in reverse, he must avoid the senior and forbidding Merlin who exists in this world, Merlin being an advisor to a young Arthur. 

Britannia Camelot is a lively and spirited community, intrigued by knight Lamarack. Lamarack is genderfluid, using they / them pronouns and polyamorous. They see the beauty of the Arthurian legend and Camelot and although the Britannia kingdom appears to be conservative, the community are surprisingly accepting and receptive of gender identities and sexuality through their fondness of the treasured Lamarack. Although Lamarack has adapted wonderfully, Jordan is seething and incredibly uncomfortable in her lavish garments. Masquerading as the gallant knight Lancelot and to conceal her gender, Ari binds her breasts. 

The Once & Future duology demolishes gender stereotypes and celebrates sexual and gender diversity throughout the narration of own voices authors. Simply superb! 

The Invisible Life of Addie Larue

contains sensitivities such as suicide, famine, wartime, neglect and emotional abuse. 

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue
V. E. Schwab
Historical Fiction, Paranormal, Romance, Adult
560 Pages
Published October 2020
Thank you to New South Books
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When Addie LaRue makes a pact with the devil, she trades her soul for immortality. But there's always a price, the devil takes away her place in the world, cursing her to be forgotten by everyone.

Addie flees her tiny hometown in 18th Century France, beginning a journey that takes her across the world, learning to live a life where no one remembers her and everything she owns is lost and broken. Existing only as a muse for artists throughout history, she learns to fall in love anew every single day.

Her only companion on this journey is her dark devil with hypnotic green eyes, who visits her each year on the anniversary of their deal. Alone in the world, Addie has no choice but to confront him, to understand him, maybe to beat him.

Until one day, in a second hand bookshop in Manhattan, Addie meets someone who remembers her. Suddenly thrust back into a real, normal life, Addie realises she can't escape her fate forever.

Adeline Larue leaves her legacy upon the world in glimpses, the twenty three year old woman defined by the constellations bestrewn across her nose. Her life begun at eventide of the seventeenth century in a small riverside community in France. Adeline dreams of the freedoms beyond the confines placed upon young women, choosing adventure, freedom and independence. 

Adeline is betrothed to a widower within the small town, losing his wife and now searching for a woman to care for his four children. Adeline's friends have long since married and created families of their own while Adeline discovered the beauty of her world. On the eve of her arranged marriage, Adeline prays to a higher being for escape, to abscond her small community and chase freedom into the wide unknown. Darkness responds to her distress, bargaining an agreement. Her freedom in exchange for her soul. Lucifer, the handsome stranger with piercing green eyes has granted Adeline with immortality, ensuring only he will remember her. 

The nonlinear narration fluctuates between Adeline's life as a young woman throughout Europe, enduring conflict, wartime, revolutions, lovers both male and female and famine and present New York City. Traversing three hundred years. Adeline is a remarkable young woman, the devastation and heartbreak she's endured throughout the centuries is entirely distressing. A lonely, isolated existence and although Adeline has influenced artists over various generations, no one will remember her beyond her immortalised constellation of freckles. 

The essence of The Invisible Life of Addie Larue is human interaction and the ability to leave our legacy upon the world. Throughout our lives, we imprint on one another and for the immortalised twenty three year old, her imprint remains in the creations of former lovers in galleries all over the world until she happens across Henry Strauss managing a small, independent bookstore in New York City. Henry lives on the fringe of society, preferring his own company although feeling thoroughly alone. 

Twenty eight year old Henry Strauss has endured addiction, loneliness, relationships and heartache, feeling directionless and unmotivated. Identifying as pansexual, both of Henry's long term relationships have ended in heartbreak and a series of unsatisfying sexual encounters followed. Henry's feelings of worthlessness is palpable. He experiences the world profoundly and throughout his narration, we discover the source of Henry's loneliness and distress, until he happens across Adeline. 

Adeline and Henry's relationship is one of companionship rather than a consuming romance, providing one another with a sense of solace and intimacy. They found one another through circumstance and become an aspect of their respective journeys. 

The writing is absolutely immaculate and breathtakingly envisioned. From the desperation of Adeline as a young woman burying her meagre possessions along the riverbank and praying to a higher power to rescue her from the small town monotony, the Seine during the revolution, wartime, Venice and London to present New York City. It's wonderfully atmospheric with a beauty and breadth rarely seen in literature, infatuating and categorically enchanting. 

The Invisible Life of Addie Larue is phenomenal, a masterpiece of modern literature. 

Aurora Burning

may contain mild spoilers for Aurora Rising
Aurora Burning
Aurora Rising Book Two
Written by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
Science Fiction, Adventure, Australian
512 Pages
Published April 2020
Thank you to Allen & Unwin Australia
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Our heroes are back. Kind of.

First, the bad news. An ancient evil, you know, your standard consume all life in the galaxy deal is about to be unleashed. The good news? Squad 312 is standing by to save the day. They've just got to take care of a few small distractions first.

Like the clan of Gremps who'd like to rearrange their favourite faces. And the cadre of illegit GIA agents with creepy flowers where their eyes used to be, who'll stop at nothing to get their hands on Auri. Then there's Kal's long lost sister, who's not exactly happy to see her baby brother, and has a Syldrathi army at her back. With half the known galaxy on their tails, Squad 312 has never felt so wanted.

When they learn the Hadfield has been found, it's time to come out of hiding. Two centuries ago the colony ship vanished, leaving Auri as its sole survivor. Now, its black box might be what saves them but time is short, and if Auri can't learn to master her powers as a Trigger, the squad and all their admirers are going to be deader than the Great Ultrasaur of Abraaxis IV.

Shocking revelations, bank heists, mysterious gifts, inappropriately tight bodysuits and an epic firefight will determine the fate of the Aurora Legion's most unforgettable heroes and maybe the rest of the galaxy as well.
The Ra’haam blooms are slumbering on their desolate planets, an ancient hivemind race threatening to consume the galaxy. The lost colony of Octavia III has been devoured by the Ra’haam, the adrift Hatfield vessel destined for the Octavia settlement before succumbing to the Fold. Aurora Jie Lin O'Malley has long since awakened and rescued by a gallant Tyler Jones, the unlikely company of a diplomat, scientist, warrior, engineer, navigator and Tyler are now felonious fugitives escaping the Global Intelligence Agency.

Delightfully creepy, wonderfully imaginative and superbly entertaining, Aurora Burning is an unpredictable adventure of sarcasm and wonderfully diverse characters. Aurora Burning introduces readers to the Syldrathi Unbroken, a warrior civilisation involved in an ages old conflict with human civilisation, their planet decimated, those who survived are now displaced. Kaliis found solace within the Aurora Academy, his squad of unlikely friends and the memory of his mother, a woman who instilled humility, compassion and peace within her children, their father a warmonger in contrast. Aurora Burning introduces audiences to the fierce Saedii, Kaliis' sister and Unbroken soldier that is entirely deserving of her own series.

With a substantial bounty offered for their capture and accusations of terrorism, the group of unlikely friends must evade the Global Intelligence Agency, the relentless Unbroken and Syldrathi forces. 

In Aurora Burning, the secondary characters are sensational and provide a reprieve from the intensity of the consuming romance. Zila possesses a quiet intensity, incredibly intelligent and possibly identifies as neurodiverse. Finian has impaired mobility and wears a specially designed suit to lessen the impact of gravity on his skeletal, nerve and muscle systems. He's quite possibly pansexual, appreciating the beauty of those around him regardless of gender. Finian is open about his sexuality, he's flirtatious and flamboyant and uses sarcasm as a coping mechanism. A stark contrast to Zila, who confides in Scarlett that she identifies as lesbian. It's a moment of inspiration and triumph, that Zila and Scarlett's friendship had blossomed and Zila felt comfortable confiding in her friend. It was an immense moment with little fanfare and endeared me to Zila's character. 

The intense romance between Aurora and Kaliis threatened to overwhelm the overall narrative, Aurora's newfound empowerment needed be at the expense of Kaliis' character. A romance where Aurora was content to allow Kaliis to become her protector, she begun losing her own identity in the process. In a narrative where characters are driven foremost by their relationship, it's inevitable that characters will feel isolated within their worlds and become dependant on one another. 

That ending.


Although the romance is entirely melodramatic, Kaliis being sacrificed to further Aurora's evolution is merciless. Heavens, it's unforgiving. Aurora is confronted with an impossible situation, the reality of her relationship and although the Aurora Burning narrative divided readers, I enjoyed the glimpses of ruthlessness, the often reckless decisions and the regret. It added a level of humanity to the storyline.  

Aurora Burning is a whirlwind adventure of beautifully illustrated worlds and diverse, vibrant characters. Immensely entertaining!

Rebel Gods

See my review for Monuments

Rebel Gods
Monuments Book Two
Written by Will Kostakis
Fantasy, Adventure, LGBT, Australian
256 Pages
Published August 27th 2019
Thanks to Hachette Australia
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Newbie gods Connor, Sally and Locky want to change the world, no biggie. But they're soon drawn into a centuries old conflict that just might destroy the world they're striving to make better. Book two in the Monuments fantasy duology from young adult superstar Will Kostakis.

With the Monuments gone, newbie gods Connor, Sally and Locky must stop the rebel gods from reducing the world to ruin. Trouble is, they don't know how.

While Sally searches for answers and Locky makes plans to change the world, Connor struggles to keep up appearances as an ordinary teenager. But when a rebel god offers them a deal to end the chaos, their lives are turned upside down and they're forced to reckon with the question: who should decide the fate of the world?

Coming to terms with their newfound Godly status, friends Sally, Connor and his totally dreamy boyfriend Locky are determined to find the estranged Rebel Gods before they wreak havoc upon the world. What's the point of being a God if you can't change the world for the better? When Locky decides to spread joy on the lawn of the local parish, turning their grass into the rainbow flag in opposition to their queerphobic agenda, he's suddenly thrust into the spotlight and making their task of keeping their Godly duties on the down low even harder. Sydney is awash with speculation, could the Gods really walk among the people? For Connor and Locky, it's no easy task dating a God but now with his newfound rockstar slash miracle status, Locky may have inadvertently placed their lives in even more danger, despite the threat of the two dangerous sisters living in the otherworld that threaten life as we know it.

Adventure is afoot my friends as Connor begins to accept the fate thrust upon him, a God that will never age, never able to stay in one place any longer than a few years or risk exposure and of course, telling his dear mother. The other light of his life. Although the Monuments duology is steeped in modern mythology and moments of hilarity, the heart of the narrative is friendship and finding our way into the world. Although generations of teens aren't supernatural godly beings, it's still entirely relatable. Teens invoking change and being the change they want to see within the world. 

Rebel Gods explores the deeply queerphobic aspects of religion, those condoning intolerance and prejudice under the guise of religious ideology. Locky challenges the local parish, exposing himself in the process and although the Monuments series explores the urban fantasy narrative of Sydney, the characters are exposed to societal and community issues. It provides a realism beyond world ending scenarios and one of my favourite aspects of the series, besides the brilliant and entirely likeable characters. 

A brilliant conclusion to the duology from one of Australia's most loved authors. 

A Tale of Magic Series

A Tale of Magic
A Tale of Magic Book One
Written by Chris Colfer
Middle Grade, Magic, Friendship, Adventure
Published August 11th 2020
448 Pages
Thanks to Hachette Australia
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When Brystal Evergreen stumbles across a secret section of the library, she discovers a book that introduces her to a world beyond her imagination and learns the impossible: she is a fairy capable of magic! But in the oppressive Southern Kingdom, women are forbidden from reading and magic is outlawed, so Brystal is swiftly convicted of her crimes and sent to the miserable Bootstrap Correctional Facility.

But with the help of the mysterious Madame Weatherberry, Brystal is whisked away and enrolled in an academy of magic! Adventure comes with a price, however, and when Madame Weatherberry is called away to attend to an important problem, she doesn't return.

Do Brystal and her classmates have what it takes to stop a sinister plot that risks the fate of the world, and magic forever?

In the Southern Kingdom, young girls are educated to become housewives, mothers and caregivers, good girls by honouring their fathers, brothers and husbands as silent, neglected members of society. Thirteen year old Brystal Evergreen is determined to journey across the kingdoms, seeking adventure and freedom but for the time being, Brystal is content to read. For women and girls within the oppressive kingdom, reading is illegal so when Brystal stumbles across a banned magic book while covertly cleaning her local library, she's caught not only reading but practicing magic and sentenced to the horrific Bootstrap Correctional Facility. 

Ohh Brystal, what a darling girl you are with your big dreams and immense feelings. I was so incredibly smitten by this spirited young lady. She's courageous and determined to push against societal boundaries. Brystal's father is a leader among their community and although paid handsomely for his work, the family live with the bare necessities, handmedown clothing while Brystal and her mother work tirelessly to keep house. After all, the Southern Kingdom tells women that's all their good for. Grown men scared of the superiority of women and Brystal's father is without a doubt, a misogynist. As a Justice, along with both Brystal's brothers, they're responsible for keeping women in line, uneducated and sentencing those suspected of magic to death. 

Girls from across the kingdom have been accused of practicing magic, outlawed after hordes of magical creatures were purged from the kingdoms into the inbetween, a dangerous and unruly place where ogres, goblins and club thumping trolls dwell and fight for resources. The inbetween is incredibly atmospheric and foreboding, an ancient forest and ungovernable land separating the northern and southern kingdoms and where Madame Weatherberry has stationed her new school. 

A reprieve arrives in the form of Madame Weatherberry, a delightful Mary Poppins type woman who has Presidential approval to open a school for Fairies, Under the guidance of Madame Weatherberry, students Brystal and her new friends Xanthous, Emerelda, Tangerina, Skylene and travelling showbusiness performer extraordinaire Lucy, will learn to control their abilities and become the faces of the magical community to promote acceptance and understanding. Madame Weatherberry has an ulterior motive, the children must learn to defeat the Snow Queen, an enchantress wreaking havoc on the northern kingdom, decimating villages and homes. 

Although the injustice and inequality of the kingdom are fictional, young readers will draw parallel's within the world and the prejudice communities endure. Communities of colour, ethnicity, religion, gender and sexualities, persecuted rather than celebrated. 

A Tale of Magic is a whimsical series debut that will delight and enchant readers. Simply magical.

A Tale of Witchcraft
A Tale of Magic Book Two
Written by Chris Colfer
Middle Grade, Magic, Friendship, Adventure
Published September 29th 2020
528 Pages
Thanks to Hachette Australia
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Brystal Evergreen changed the world, but the journey is just beginning.

Brystal Evergreen and her friends have saved the world from the evil Snow Queen and secured worldwide acceptance for the magical community.

However, when a mysterious new witch named Mistress Mara arrives at the Academy, the celebrations are cut short. As Mistress Mara begins recruiting faeries into her rival school of Witchcraft, it becomes clear she has dark intentions. And soon Brystal's friend Lucy becomes embroiled in an ominous plot against mankind.

Elsewhere, the fragile peace is on the brink of shattering. Outrage has spread throughout the kingdoms in opposition to the legalisation of magic. And a dangerous and centuries old clan known as the Righteous Brotherhood has resurfaced, with one goal in mind: to exterminate all magical life for ever. Starting with Brystal.

As the kingdom celebrates the once isolated and persecuted magical community, Brystal is now academy administrator and along with Xanthous, Emerelda, Tangerina, Skylene and Lucy, the academy welcomes the wider community seeking solace within the sanctuary grounds. The northern conflict has been resolved, the land thawed and the Snow Queen has been banished under the northern lights but a new threat has emerged. 

The Righteous Brotherhood is a patriarchal organisation opposing the magical community. While the community was isolated by the kingdom, the Brotherhood remained dormant and with Brystal's new found popularity, they have awoken to destroy the alliance the kingdom and fairy community has aligned. Brystal has found an unlikely but wonderfully charismatic ally in Prince Gallivant, affectionately known as Seven due to his lineage to the royal throne. The Brotherhood will stop at nothing to see their leader on the throne, including the decimation of the royal family and Brystal will risk her life to ensure the safety of the academy and community. 

One of my favourite aspects of the A Tale of Magic series is the societal and political undertones. How society often devalues the lives of minority communities and legislates, discriminates and excludes based on ethnicity, gender and sexualities. Brystal has matured into a wonderful young lady, confident and fiercely vigilant, protecting the community she embraces. A Tale of Witchcraft is very much Brystal's journey of acceptance and growth, learning who she is and her place within the world. 

Beautifully written and lovingly told, The Tale of Magic series is a wonderful exploration of adventure and found family, of wanting to belong and finding your place within the everchanging world. An absolute delight. 


See my reviews for Nevermoor and Wundersmith

Hollowpox. The Hunt for Morrigan Crow
Nevermoor Book Three
Written by Jessica Townsend
Middle Grade, Adventure, Magic, Australian
Published September 29th 2020
518 Pages
Thank you to Hachette Australia
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Strange things are happening in Nevermoor...

Morrigan Crow and her friends have survived their first year as proud scholars of the elite Wundrous Society, helped bring down the nefarious Ghastly Market, and proven themselves loyal to Unit 919. Now Morrigan faces a new, exciting challenge. To master the mysterious Wretched Arts of the Accomplished Wundersmith, and control the power that threatens to consume her.

But a strange and frightening illness has taken hold of Nevermoor, turning infected Wunimals into mindless, vicious unnimals on the hunt. As victims of the Hollowpox multiply, panic spreads. And with the city she loves in a state of fear, Morrigan quickly realises it's up to her to find a cure for the Hollowpox, even if it will put her and everyone in Nevermoor, in more danger than she ever imagined.

A pandemic is sweeping the streets of Nevermoor metropolis, infecting Wunimals and carrying the illness amongst the community. Wunimals losing their inhibitions and humanity. The Wunderous Society is determined to manufacture a cure as the community falls into disarray, Nevermoorians protesting the removal of Wunimals. Morrigan Crow has returned to the Wunderous Society, beginning her education as a Wundersmith in an underground facility. Stepping through moments preserved by the historical society, Morrigan can observe lessons from centuries past amongst long deceased Wundersmiths and a young, spirited Ezra Squall. 

Morrigan is beginning to master her abilities, attempting to find a balance between friendship and her education as she is consumed by the Wundersmith archives, yearning for knowledge. Since The infamous Ezra Squall was banished from Nevermoor, Wundersmiths have been feared and revered but the survival of the Wunimals community rests upon the shoulders of thirteen year old Morrigan Crow as Nevermoor learns a Wundersmith now walks amongst them. 

Morrigan Crow is a delightful young lady, rescued from the Wintersea Republic where our young heroine was mistreated and brought illegally to Nevermoor by Juniper North, an eccentric hotel entrepreneur. The Hotel Deucalion is magnificent with an eclectic assortment of employees who manage the hotel and care for Morrigan whilst Juniper is absent on official and often secretive Wunderous Society business, including the capture of infectious Wunimals. Fenestra the Magnificat is irritable, sarcastic and fabulous, soprano Dame Chanda Kali is delightful and friends Hawthorne and Cadence are wonderfully supportive, Hawthorne provides endless entertainment and light hearted moments throughout the series. 

One of the most striking aspects of Hollowpox, The Hunt for Morrigan Crow is the relevance of the storyline during the pandemic. How society has fractured and through ignorance, communities have become segregated and isolated. Children will recognise the similarities between our current pandemic and Nevermoor, encouraging discussion and understanding. The Nevermoor series is absolutely wunderous, a fantastical, breathtaking adventure that transcends middle grade literature. Atmospheric and categorically enchanting.

A Dance With Fate

See my review for A Harp of Kings
A Dance with Fate
Warrior Bards Book Two
Written by Juliet Marillier
Fantasy, Folklore, Celtic
Published July 2020
420 Pages
Thank you to Pan Macmillan Australia
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An accident. A forfeit of freedom. A descent into danger.

Liobhan, the young warrior and bard, has lost her brother to the Otherworld. Even more determined to gain a place as an elite fighter, she returns to Swan Island to continue her training. But Liobhan is devastated when her comrade Dau is injured and loses his sight in their final display bout. Blamed by Dau's family for the accident, she agrees to go to his home, Oakhill, as a bond servant for one year.

But Oakhill is a place of dark secrets. The menacing and enigmatic Crow Folk still threaten both worlds and while Brocc battles them in the Otherworld, Dau must battle his own demon, despair.

When Liobhan and Dau begin to expose the evil at the core of Oakhill, they place themselves in mortal danger. For their enemy wields great power and will stop at nothing to get his way. It will take all the skills of a Swan Island warrior and a touch of the uncanny to give them any hope of survival...

Returning from her maiden assignment in the Kingdom of Breifne, Liobhan is disheartened at the loss of her brother, choosing to remain with Eirne in the forest realm of the Fair Folk. Continuing their warrior apprenticeship, Liobhan and Swan Island comrade Dau enter the arena for their friendly, noncombative competition, Liobhan discarding her protective clothing as Dau falls heavily, concussed, scarcely unresponsive and visually impaired. Healers of the island cannot guarantee the return of his vision and as a warrior who relies on his senses, Dau is questioning his position within the company of elite soldiers. 

Dau is returning home to Oakhill Estate, his father and his advisors demanding compensation for the accident and to evade questioning about the mysterious Swan Island, Dau reluctantly agrees to return home. Liobhan is held accountable for the accident and volunteers to serve as a bond servant at the family estate, protecting Dau from the cruelty and maltreatment he endured as a boy. Seanan has assumed the position of Master of Oakhill while their father is ailing, a mysterious illness causing confusion and an inability to manage the family estate. Seanan is tyrannical and vindictive, a sociopath who derives pleasure from tormenting his younger brother Dau, using his humanity and gentleness as a weapon. Dau requires treatment but is isolated and his injuries festering, he experiences depression, anger and resentment.

Dau is a Swan Island warrior and without his vision, the feeling of hopelessness is palpable as he contemplates suicide as an alternative. A Dance with Fate explores the trauma of mental health and a diagnosed disability. Visually impaired, Dau is overwhelmed by his remaining heightened senses and begrudgingly accepts assistance. 

As the mysteries of the Oakhill Estate emerge, Brocc remains in the forest realm with Eirne and her fair folk community as he discovers the torture and slain Crow Folk mutilated within the surrounding forest. Brocc is a humanitarian, he cares deeply for his community of small folk and his wife, who is becoming apathetic and distant. Their relationship is entirely superficial. Brocc sacrificed his family, community and position on Swan Island to join the otherwordly community and although Eirne cares for her community, Brocc is their protector, using his voice to protect the Fair Folk from the ferocious Crow Folk attacks. In one particular instance, a messenger reveals that Liobhan may be endangered and rather than forewarn her husband, Eirne chooses to conceal the information, creating a further divide. One of my favourite characters of the otherworld is True, the unassuming and philosophical protector and along with True, the fair folk are beginning to welcome Brocc into their community as a valued family member.

As Brocc and Eirne's relationship begins to fracture, the tentative attraction between Liobhan and Dau is beginning to blossom into a beautiful and delicate intensity. We see Liobhan's compassion and vulnerability, encouraging Dau to remain positive despite the circumstances and guiding a young stable hand in caring for Dau's injuries. Corb is a wonderful character, gentle, patient and although Dau resents not being able to tend to his own injuries and his bruised ego, he and Liobhan come to care for the young man.

The striking aspect of the Warrior Bards series is the atmospheric, whimsical narration infused with Celtic folklore. A Dance with Fate is an engaging and delightfully whimsical installment that explores disability, mental wellness and traumatic disorders. Beautifully lyrical and a remarkable read by one of Australia and New Zealand's finest authors. Juliet Marillier is a national treasure. 

Harrow Lake

Harrow Lake
Written by Kat Ellis
Contemporary, Horror, Mystery, Thriller
Published August 18th 2020
320 Pages
Thank you to Penguin Teen Australia
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Welcome to Harrow Lake. Someone's expecting you.

Lola Nox is the daughter of a celebrated horror filmmaker, she thinks nothing can scare her.

But when her father is brutally attacked in their New York apartment, she's swiftly packed off to live with a grandmother she's never met in Harrow Lake, the eerie town where her father's most iconic horror movie was shot.

The locals are weirdly obsessed with the film that put their town on the map and there are strange disappearances, which the police seem determined to explain away.

And there's someone - or something - stalking her every move.

The more Lola discovers about the town, the more terrifying it becomes. Because Lola's got secrets of her own. And if she can't find a way out of Harrow Lake, they might just be the death of her.

Soirees, premières and receptions celebrate acclaimed filmmaker Nolan Nox. Behind the abrasive façade is an overbearing father, placing his professional livelihood above the wellbeing of his daughter. Apart from the occasional industry gathering, Lola Nox is a recluse, forbidden to leave their New York City apartment. Nolan reminding Lola of how her mother abandoned their family. Lola is looking for adventure and against Nolan's wishes, leaves the apartment only to return home to a horrifying crime scene. Nolan has been brutally wounded and while his life hangs in the balance, Lola is sent to live with her estranged grandmother in Harrow Lake, where Nolan produced his infamous cult film Nightjar.

Lola is an interesting character. She's likeable but it becomes apparent that she's a product of her environment, living her life according to Nolan's rules. Rules which aren't necessarily to keep her safe but to control her. As Nolan recovers in hospital from his injuries, Lola has been sent by her father's friend and assistant to her estranged grandmother's house in Harrow Lake. It just happens to be the twentieth anniversary of the Nightjar film release, with the community celebrating each year with a festival.

Lola's estranged grandmother's property is surrounded by a gnarly forest and under the thick canopy, residents whisper the urban legend of Mister Jitters roaming the forest searching for a Little Bird, the community offering teeth to an ancient tree in the forest to keep their families safe. Much weird indeed. Although Harrow Lake is eerily atmospheric, there's an overwhelming sense of wrongness. It's no wonder Lola's mother Lorelei was so eager to escape when she met Nolan and played the role of Little Bird in the original film. 

The fairground is home to the carnival created for the Nightjar film, built amongst the landslide caused the mountain to collapse and bury the historical church in a sinkhole. Urban legend tells the story of Mr Jitters, a centuries old man who was said to have been buried alive and survived by cannibalism. The local folklore warns children of venturing into the forest or risk being captured by Mister Jitters. Mister Jitter's is the stuff of nightmares and even though the residents of Harrow Lake laugh it off as being superstitious, most of them believe something is lurking around the town. 

Strange happenings are afoot friends. Lola's suitcase disappears and she's forced to wear her mother's Little Bird costumes. The likeness is uncanny to the point where even her elderly grandmother believes Lola is Lorelei. Lola is staying in her mother's room where jitterbugs line the shelves and tremble sporadically. It's creepy as hell and made my skin crawl. Lola is determined to unravel the mysteries of her mother, why she was adamant in leaving Harrow Lake and why did she return before abandoning her only child? 

The most striking aspect of Harrow Lake is how the story unravels, a nonlinear narrative shared amongst the community as the history of Lorelei and their town is revealed. Unreliable narrators, those with alterative motives and those who are determined to safekeep the secrets of their strange, foreboding town. Kat Ellis has created a superb vintage horror that will enthral readers until the final page.

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