The mysterious queen summons a scribe to her, and entrusts her with a task. To find out the story of what happened to four of her friends, many years ago, to solve a current problem. The scribe travels between the friends: Micaela, whose Father’s interference into their planet’s water system got him killed, Sujith, the visitor from another disk who found himself embroiled in the action, and Quentin, well-meaning, but the most intractable of all. With dragons, coding, controlling governments, time-travel and more this is a vast world that we start to discover.
I’ve actually read this one and a half times. The first time was online, as Brian Guthrie, who stayed with us once, told me about it. I was suspicious, as I usually am with self-published books, but I had a look. And I got hooked. It was an extremely annoying way to read: tiny thin paragraphs on busy pages that I had to click through often – and yet I was hooked. I finally tore myself away before the end because it was too annoying to read like that – and the way it was, I had no way to see how much longer it was going to be – but when the book came out, I thought I’d give it another try.
Post-war Japan is occupied by America, and everyone’s world has changed. In the middle of the chaos General MacArthur invites the populace to write to him with any problems they have, and the letters pour in. Amongst them a letter from Fumi, translated by her Canadian-Japanese friend Aya, about her lost sister. Gradually people of all different backgrounds get pulled into the story and the hunt for Fumi’s big sister.
This book manages at once to portray a snapshot of Japanese history and also be compelling reading. I loved the sense of the moment in time that built up through all the different character’s viewpoints, and their individual stories as a part of the whole story of the nation. This is historical fiction done very well!
Rose Franklin’s course was set when she was riding her new bike and falls down a hole – only to be caught by a gigantic metal hand. Seventeen years later she is part of the team working tirelessly to discover the secret of the hand. Conspiracy, secrets and suspicion abound, with an unnamed interviewer analysing everything and everything that’s happening, with potentially huge ramifications for the earth and beyond…
Remembering this book feels like remembering a dream. It seems disjointed, strangely distant, seen through a strange lens. But thinking on it, I think this is kind of the point. This is a fairly classic plot; ancient alien tech found hidden on earth, approached from a different angle. Here we are not drawn into action, battles or heroics but invited to consider the real impact; individual and corporate, of this kind of discovery on the human race. The narrative style enabled this; but also held the reader at arms length, not allowing us to become fully involved with the characters.
The battle for libraries is on! Obviously, I think they’re magical, excellent, exciting and necessary places (see my joy when I registered to my local library) and I really hope that they don’t disappear.
Two of my very favourite authors (unsurprisingly) agree, and have written wonderful pieces in their defence in The Guardian. They’re really interesting referring to reading in general, the imagination and the writing process as well. Read them below:
I’ve had the privilege to read an advance copy of Marina Fiorato’s Kit; the exciting, pacy adventure based on the true story of Kit Kavenagh, who chased across the world dressed as a man to get her husband back. I so enjoyed the book and can’t wait to post my review! Here’s Fiorato herself introducing how the book came to be:
SO I just discovered that my first ever blog post was on the 12th June 2014. I had thought it was later but never mind. I have been blogging for over a year! It took me a few months of considering before I took the plunge, but I can remember starting to write and an excitement and enjoyment starting to bubble inside me. It’s been an incredible adventure and I am constantly excited about what is happening next.
Here are five of the things I love about writing this book blog:
The Church of Marvels, a circus of fantastical tricks and flourishes, burns to the ground, with owner and mother of Odile and Belle inside. Belle disappears, and Odille sets off from Coney Island to New York to find her – and many secrets. Meanwhile, ostracised, hairy night soiler Sylvan finds a baby, and Alphie finds herself forcibly and wrongfully put into a mental asylum. Secrets and discoveries abound as the stories weave together and the past pulls together to form a new present.
I was very excited to read this book, and even more so because I also got to interview the author! How fun! It was gripping and interesting, bringing alive characters and settings that I had never even heard of before, all bizarre and extreme in their experiences and stories. I had been hoping for something as good as The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, and it wasn’t that good – I wasn’t totally pulled in, and would have liked to have seen some more of the circus – but it was a magnificent nevertheless.
New York, 1895. A night soiler finds a baby in a privy. A circus burns to the ground. A sword-swallower disappears. A wife who is not all she pretends to be is put in a lunatic asylum. A twin searches for her sister. Dramatic scenes and events conspire to bring the spiralling plots closer and closer…
This was a marvellous cacophony of dramatic, interweaving and deeply personal stories of people on the edges of or hiding behind society; tied together by human longing for love, family and for home. It explores so many identities, settings, twists and ideas that I’m struggling to find any meaningful way to depict it quickly. I did very much enjoy it! I’ll be reviewing it soon, but after reading I got the chance to ask author Leslie Parry some questions!
Here they are:
The now 16-year-old Real! Teen! Zoe my sister and I LOVED this book! It had something magically transporting about it… like Harry Potter or something. You felt you really wanted to read more, to live in that world for as long as possible. And happily there are four more books coming!
Read my review here, and/or Zoe’s here, and then find out what happened when the sisters put their heads together to interview the author Lynette, who also happens to be one of the loveliest people I have ever emailed!