Reviews: Magical Places and Mythical Creatures

Hello everybody! This post has been slightly delayed because I’ve not been reading as quickly over the past few weeks, but it’s finally here, and I’m so excited to share my thoughts on all these books with you! Onto the post!

The Peculiar Tale of the Tentacle Boy by Richard Pickard (recieved from the publisher in exchange for my honest review)

In his debut novel, Richard Pickard tells the story of a girl named Marina, who lives in a very fish oriented town named Merlington, and what happens when she meets a boy named William with tentacles coming out of his head and a very mysterious past. Together, they must face the town’s rather extreme reactions of the townspeople, while trying to learn more about William’s fisherman father, who is missing. Marina is such a great character and I loved how much she loved storytelling, and also her friendship with William because they were just adorable. William is super interesting as a character too, as well as being lovely, and it was so gripping to learn more about his past as the book went on. The setting was another thing I thought was great about this, I felt like parts of it were almost satirical humour, and it reminded me a bit of Nicola Skinner’s amazing book Bloom in places. And the fishy puns were just sea-lightful (and much better than my rubbish attempt at one!). This was so quirky and unique, and I’m really interested to see what the author writes next. Also, if you love Pixar’s latest film Luca, this is an absolute must read!

When You Trap a Tiger by Tae Keller

I found this on one of my many procrastination by buying books missions, and I’m so glad I came across it because it’s just as special as I hoped it would be. It’s the story of Lily, whose family move in with her ill halmoni, and what happens when she meets a dangerous, magical tiger who wants to punish her grandmother for stealing stories many years ago. Lily is such a lovable main character, and I adored seeing her try to escape from being considered so quiet that she is invisible. Her relationship with her halmoni moved me so much, and I also loved her sibling relationship with Sam and her budding friendship with Ricky, especially as neither are smooth sailing and feel like real relationships people have with friends and family. This navigates bereavement so beautifully, and the contemporary plotline is just wonderful, but learning more about Korean mythology was incredible and I now want to read so many more books about it, because I loved the stories of the tigers, and how clever and unexpected and beautiful they were. I truly can’t wait to read more by the author, because this was incredible.

The Battle for Roar by Jenny Mclachlan (recieved from the publisher in exchange for my honest review)

I’ve been such a huge fan of this series since the first book was released, and although I can’t believe this is the last Roar adventure, I thought this was such a fitting and fantastic finale to the trilogy. It picks up a few months after the second book, and sees Arthur and Rose (as well as their magical companions Win and Mitch!) venture into the End for the first time, where they must battle certain people they find there to save Roar from destruction. I’ve definitely said this before, but I just adore this World- it’s so imaginative and I loved getting to go to a new part of it, and seeing old favourites and new additions was brilliant as well. Win and Mitch are still my favourites, but i thought the fairies were amazing, and Crowky is just such a well written antagonist, although I’m generally frightened of crows so it may just be me he’s terrified in the first two books. Arthur is such a fab protagonist with dry wit in his narration and it’s been a joy to see him and Rose become closer and basically best friends as well as twins, as this series has progressed. It’s so hard to talk about the plot without spoiling it, but I also loved how things went in a direction I could never have anticipated, and completely changed my feelings about one character especially. I can’t wait to see what Jenny writes next now!

The Midnight Hunt by Benjamin Read and Laura Trinder (recieved from the publisher in exchange for my honest review)

I finally read the 2nd book in the series last month, after it being on my TBR since it came out last September, so I was delighted when I got an email about recieving the 3rd and final book for review, as it gave me an excellent excuse to pick it up very quickly! It sees Emily return to the world of the Midnight Hour, a magical Victorian London which was frozen in time, which has changed dramatically due to the takeover of the extremist Make Britain Dark Again party. Emily must gather her friends and family to defeat both them and the evil acient power, the Nocturne, before the Midnight Hour is lost forever. I thought the MBDA party were a great metaphor for extremist groups in real life, and I found some of the parallels between them and events in real life both terrifying and fascinating. The worldbuilding was great, as always, and I love that we learn new things about the Midnight Hour and its inhabitants in each book. Some particular highlights in this book in terms of new characters were Tarkus’s mum and the scene with prince Albert, but Emily and Tarkus and the Hog remained my favourites overall. As ever, the humour was absolutely on point (I’m going to miss the Gob so much!!) and learning about who the Hog really is/the ending were probably my favourite parts of the whole book, although I also adored the execution of a certain plan in the climax. I really hope the authors write more books together in the future!

Otherland by Louie Stowell

Despite the fact I’ve followed Louie since literally the day I joined Twitter (I’m obsessed with her dog!!), I hadn’t actually read any of her books before, so I was very pleased to finally pick up this Labyrinth-esque MG fantasy. It follows birthday/death day twins Myra and Rohan as they journey into Otherland, after Rohan’s baby sister Shilpa is kidnapped by the fairy queen at their 11th birthday party. Myra is such a phenomenal protagonist, and I just wanted to wrap her in a huge hug as she struggles a lot with self doubt and not being sure if her mum wants he throughout the book. I also loved her carefree, sort of rebellious nature, especially as Rohan’s personality is the yin to her yang; he’s so sensible and logical. Their friendship and bickering banter were so much fun all the way through, and I loved the way theor adventure strengthened their bond. The fairy queen was such an evil villain, and I found Mab a very interesting character, I have a lot of spoilery thoughts about her I wish I could share. The humour was another huge highlight for me, as was all the fairy trickery and the worldbuilding of Otherland itself. I don’t want to give anything away, but I thought that the way the twist kind of is resolved by the end was great, and this was a wholly satisfying standalone.

The Bootlace Magician by Cassie Beasley

I finally read Circus Mirandus in the early days of 2021, and loved it every bit as much as I’d always known I would. I immediately started researching what else I could buy by the same author and to my absolute delight, discovered a sequel to Circus Mirandus! It follows Micah as he begins his life as part of Circus Mirandus, with the Lightbender as his guardian and a whole host of incredible magicians and magical animals as his friends. When it begins to seem as though the circus is under attack by an enemy from its past, Micah wants to do everything in his power, including working out what his own magical ability can do, to help save his new home. I loved that this is both very similar to Circus Mirandus in general vibe, but totally different in terms of the plot and the structure of the story! Micah is absolutely as lovable as ever and my heart was breaking for him in terms of his grief, but I also loved his life at the circus. Meeting more of the people who make it such a magical place was so special, and my main favourites were Firesleight and Porter, although I also really enjoyed learning more about those we met in the first book, although Chintzy is my favourite character without a doubt. The plot develops at such a great pace and I was so intrigued to get to the end so I could see how things would dnd. Cassie Beasley is so very talented, and I can’t wait to read both her 2017 release Tumble and Blue and everything she writes in the future.

Uki and the Swamp Spirit by Kieran Larwood and illustrated by David Wyatt

This continues the story of Uki Two-Furs, a rabbit who’s been tasked with capturing four escaped ancient spirits, who could destroy the world of the Five Realms, and his journey into the Fenlands in order to find Charice, who is causing a horrific plague, accompanied by his friends Jori and Kree. It also sees the Bard and Rue (and a future version of Jori!) being held hostage by the Endwatch, and I think those scenes were my very favourite of the book. I love Rue so much, I love how much the Bard loves him, and it’s so interesting to see an older Jori. But back to Uki’s story, which the Bard tells throughout! Uki feels like a misfit because of the traumatic experiences he’s had due to looking different to other rabbits, and I love how this adventure is allowing him to grown in confidence, but he’s still determined to look out for others and treat them with kindness. Jori is just so incredibly cool and I’m obsessed with her, and Kree is so funny and feisty and I love how much she loves Mooka! The supporting cast are phenomenal too, especially Coal and Ma Gurdle, and Charice is one of the nastiest baddies of the whole series to date. And I don’t even have the vocabulary to talk about Necripha!! The plot is absolutely gripping and I think the worldbuilding is just extraordinary, to the point where I’m hoping for a few more sequel series to allow the reader to explore it fully. I can’t believe I’ve already come to the end of Kieran Larwood’s backlist given I only read Podkin One-Ear less than a year ago, but now I’m officially up to date and on the edge of my seat for the next book, after THAT cliffhanger made me so worried about a certain character.

How to be a Human by Karen McCombie (recieved from the publisher in exchange for my honest review)

As you’ll know if you’ve been reading this blog for a while, I’m a huge fan of Karen McCombie’s, and something I find so impressive about her writing is that she is able to write in so many genres and being her trademark quirky humour and huge amounts of heart to them all. This is (unless I’m very much mistaken!), her very first sci-fi book, and it follows two humans names Kiki and Wes, who help hide the alien (Star Boy) who has just crash landed on Earth. Amidst the worldbuilding of the world Star Boy has come from and him adapting to life on earth (which is often very funny, the Stan Boyd scene made me chuckle for sure!), the book also tackles contemporary subjects like toxic friendships and bullying in a really sensitive, relatable way that I think a lot of people will benefit from. The main trio of characters are all total delights; I agree with Wes that Kiki is often VERY funny, Wes is just so caring and kind and I hated the people who made his life so difficult, and Star Boy is just a sweetheart and it was so nice to see him finding people who genuinely cared about him for the first time. The friendship between them is another really lovely part of the book, and I’m intrigued to see where the series will go next. If you enjoyed the Kid Who Came From Space or My Life As a Cat, this is one you’ll want on your TBR list!

The Raven Heir by Stephanie Burgis (recieved from the publisher in exchange for my honest review)

I thoroughly enjoyed Stephanie Burgis’s Dragon series, so I was very excited to pick up her new release (which I’m pretty sure us either the start of a duology or trilogy?), and it really didn’t disappoint. It’s the story of Cordelia, who has lived her entire life in hiding alongside her triplet siblings, their elder brother and mother and her mother’s best friend, and what happens when their castle is discovered by the nobles who have been searching for them. One of the triplets is heir to the Raven Throne of Corvenne, but as their mother won’t reveal who is the eldest, she is captured and the triplets go on the run. Stephanie Burgis’s writing is so enchanting and always draws me into the worlds she creates, and this was no exception. I loved the magic system so much, especially Cordelia’s shapeshifting ability, and the enchanted forest was such a good setting for the first portion of the book. I also really liked that this had hints of political fantasy despite it also being a great adventure, and the themes of true family being incredibly special were lovely, especially the bond between the triplets, especially as it acknowledges that blood relatives aren’t necessarily always better than your chosen family. Overall, I’m really hoping I’m not mistaken that there’ll be more books in this world, because there’s much more of it I’d like to explore and I’d really like to see these characters again too!

Crowfall by Vashti Hardy

I’ ve loved several books by Vashti since I read her debut, so I was very excited to pick up her newest release, which follows a boy named Orin who lives on the industrial, orderly island of Ironhold, and what happens when he discovers the island is going to crumble and the leaders are doing nothing to stop it. He sets out with his fixie friend Cody to try and save the island and the people he loves, and ends up on an island-hopping adventure. My favourite part of this was most definitely the incredible world that Vashti has created; I find it amazing that she can conjure up such unique and equally fascinating settings in her imagination with every book, and I honestly think this might be my favourite one yet. The whole concept is just amazing and I love the parallels between the crisis the island faces and the climate crisis we face in real life. I also really liked Orin, his need to constantly try and fix things definitely spoke to my soul and I loved that he always wanted to do the right thing. Cody was such an interesting character too, and the villains were definitely pretty scary. This was such a great reading experience, and I’d highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys their fantasy with ecological themes being explored.

Thank you so much for reading! What are your thoughts on these books? Are there any fantasy books you’ve read recently that you’d especially recommend to me? I’d love to hear in the comments!

Amy x

Author: goldenbooksgirl

Disabled book blogger who also writes TV, film, music and other posts from time to time | UKYABA Champion Teen 2018 | Email: | she/her

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