Book Review

Book Review: The Night Itself by Zoë Marriott.

imageWhen Mio steals the family’s katana – a priceless ancestral sword – from her parents’ attic, she just wants to spice up a fancy-dress costume. But the katana is much more than some dusty antique and her actions unleash a terrible, ancient evil onto the streets if unsuspecting London. Soon Shinobu, a fearless warrior boy, appears to protect Mio – and threatens to steal her heart. With the gods and monsters of Japanese myth stalking her and her friends, Mio realises that if she cannot keep the sword safer and learn to control it’s legendary powers, she will lose not only her own life… but the love of a lifetime.

I have enjoyed every one of Zoë Marriott’s books that I’ve read, and when I heard her new project was The Name of the Blade an urban fantasy trilogy I was really excited by the prospect. The early reviews for the book were brilliant, so I sat down to read it with pretty high expectations.

I fell in love with this book within the first couple of dozen pages. The characters grabbed my attention, and I was instantly drawn into their world – I did not want to put this book down for anything!

Mio, the leading lady, is a wonderful character. I loved how well rounded she is, whilst she’s strong and capable, smart and quick, she’s also real – she’s flawed, she makes some really stupid decisions, and she’s imbued with the singlemindedness that can come with being a teenager. I really, really love her – it’s so nice reading a character who feels completely genuine, and one that you think you’d be quite happy to spend time around!

There are a number of key supporting characters, I felt like I got to know them all well – they weren’t purely there for Mio’s benefit. I could happily have read many more stories of her times with her grandfather in particular, this was such a lovely relationship. I also loved the friendship she had with Jack, and how this evolved once Shinobu, the warrior boy, and Hikaru, representative of the London Kitsune, joined the mix. The dialogue between this group is just my kind of thing, the banter is balanced well with the sense of everyone having their role to play.

This is the first book of a trilogy, and as such has to establish the world, who the key players are and what’s at stake. I found this to be done really well, whilst there’s plenty of information to get across it never feels expositiony, there’s plenty of action and plot progress with some fantastic fight sequences. The air of mystery and creeping sense of peril grows throughout the book, keeping you turning the pages as fast as you can read them.

I loved the way Japanese mythology is woven into the plot, and how cultures are woven together. I found there were many things in the book I’d never come across before, and they were so interesting to read about. I ended up making a note of a few of them to read more about once I’d finished the book.

This is such a great opening to what I think is going to be a brilliant trilogy. I don’t tend to read a lot of urban fantasy, but when I do I always love it. This book is definitely right up there with some of my favourites. I can’t wait for the other books (even though I know I must)!

The Night Itself is the first book in The Name of the Blade trilogy. It is published by Walker Books in paperback and eBook. Whilst my copy was provided by the publisher all opinions expressed are my own.

Book Review

My Week In Books. [3]

Each Monday I review the books I’ve read in the previous week in drabble form – exactly 100 words excluding title and publishing details.

Shift by Kim Curran. Strange Chemistry.
Shift opens in a way that makes you think you need to cancel all plans, sit down and read until you get to the final page. Quickly you find yourself pulled into the book, the idea of being able to change a decision you’ve made and have reality alter as a result is an intriguing one and the idea that these changes could be disastrous as well as beneficial is well explored and left me thinking long after I’d finished reading. I already can’t wait for the follow up book, this is a world I want to visit for longer.

Daughter of the Flames by Zoë Marriott. Walker Books.
This book was a great read, it’s one of those books that has some of everything I look for in a book. There’s a strong female lead character, a loveable male character to swoon over, a thoroughly creepy and dreadful villain, a gripping plot filled with politics and warring societies all topped off with a cast of intriguing supporting characters and a generous sprinkling of well-choreographed fight sequences. I loved the world Zoe has created for this book, it’s described so beautifully that I felt as if I was transported to it rather than being on a long train journey!

Book Review

Book Review : Shadows On The Moon by Zoe Marriott.

Shadows on the Moon cover.Trained in the magical art of shadow-weaving, sixteen-year-old Suzume is able to recreate herself in any form – a fabulous gift for a girl desperate to escape her past. But who is she really? Is she a girl of noble birth living under the tyranny of her mother’s new husband, Lord Terayama, or a lowly drudge scraping a living in the ashes of Terayama’s kitchens, or Yue, the most beautiful courtesan in the Moonlit Lands? Whatever her true identity, Suzume is destined to capture the heart of a prince – and determined to use his power to destroy Terayama. And nothing will stop her, not even love.

After I read and loved Zoe Marriott’s The Swan Kingdom I was really looking forward to reading Shadows On The Moon. Then Zoe blogged the director’s cut of the book trailer on her website and I knew it had to be the next book that I read.

The book opens with a bang, there is so much action in the first chapter and the reader is pulled straight into the book. It continues on at a wonderful pace, blending fantasy elements into a clever reimagining of Cinderella set in an alternative version of feudal Japan. The plot twists and turns, with some real surprises in it. I found that it was really hard to walk away from this book, I unfortunately had to have a break – it was that or ignore the friend I was on a weekend away with – and found myself itching to get back to reading it.

Suzume was a great heroine, I loved the way she was strong yet still vulnerable. The discovery of her shadow-weaving, and the way she had to learn to use it was such an interesting part of the plot as was her training under the guidance of Akira who was herself an amazing character. Then we have Otieno, the wonderful, swoonsome Otieno. I do love it when I can fall in love myself with the love interest in a book, and I most certainly fell for Otieno. He’s clever, and gorgeous, and skilled with a bow – what’s not to love? I enjoyed the relationship between Suzume and Otieno, and the way it twisted through the plot.

The book is written in a truly beautiful manner. The use of detail is wonderful, it’s very descriptive but you never feel overwhelmed by it. It never shys away from difficult subject matter, at times the plot is quite dark. I found that this was always balanced well, and left me thinking about plot points long after I’d finished reading.

I adored this book, I can’t recommend it highly enough.

And I couldn’t finish this review without showing you that wonderful trailer, could I?

Shadows On The Moon is published in paperback by Walker in the UK priced £6.99

Book Review

Book Review : The Swan Kingdom by Zoe Marriott.

Darkness has fallen across a kingdom far, far away. The queen is dead – killed in the forest by a terrifying beast – and her daughter, Alexandra, suspects that the new woman in her father’s life is more than she seems. Exiled and betrayed, Alexandra must face magic, murder and the loss of all she holds dear in a desperate struggle against evil.

Whilst I’m aware of a number of fairytale retellings within the YA market I hadn’t got round to reading one until I read The Swan Kingdom. It is a retelling of Hans Christian Anderson’s The Wild Swans, a story I only vaguely remembered from my childhood.

The story is narrated by Alexandra, a princess who has always felt unloved by her father, but who has thrived on the love and attention of her mother and her brothers. Straight away we start to realise that there is something special about Alexandra’s mother, and that Alexandra too shares this. When her mother is killed Alexandra has to cope first with her loss, and then with her father’s speedy new marriage. Everything rapidly comes to a head (because yes, things can get worse than your mother dying and your father remarrying quickly) and Alexandra finds herself banished and alone, and trying to find a way to right all of the wrongs that have happened.

I loved Alexandra, I thought she was a wonderful character and I felt completely invested in her story. One of the things that initially grabbed me about the book was the relationship she had with her brothers, the dynamic between them reminded me quite a bit of how me and my brother got on when we were younger. I could completely understand the lengths she was prepared to go to for them, I’d like to think I’d be strong enough to do the same in her situation.

The other characters were great too, I liked Gabriel instantly and then the more I got to know him the more I liked him. Whilst Zella is the villain of the piece I thought she was a great character, she was so believably evil and dislikeable.

I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough when I was reading this, I got completely and utterly wrapped up in the wonderful world contained within the book. It’s written in such a beautifully descriptive manner, at times I almost felt like I had fallen inside the pages.

I really loved this book and will be recommending it to people for a long time to come.

The Swan Kingdom is published in paperback by Walker in the UK priced £5.99.