Wednesday 15 March 2023

More Middle Grade Fantasies to get excited about...

Spellstone by Ross Montgomery

Link to publisher

Published by: Walker Books, 4th May 2023


Middle grade fantasy is on fire at the moment and this is no exception. With supremely confident writing and world-building from Ross Montgomery, it has a plot that pulls no punches, a spine-chilling villain and a literally explosive ending...

Evie can't work out why no one notices her. But a strange encounter with a man called Wainwright changes everything. Soon, she is she's being pulled from her home to become the leader of a secret order of magicians. But Evie knows nothing about magic, let alone having the capability to track down and destroy an object that holds all the evil power from the past. Problem is...she's the order's only hope.              

This novel starts fast and gallops at a terrific pace towards a breathtaking finale of good versus evil. It's a 'chosen one' quest but with an eclectic group of characters and original stand-out concepts such as smoke men, dream-walking and fortress 99. What I found particularly interesting is that Ross Montgomery combines old magic with modern, resulting in a gripping read. 

Evie is relatable everyday character and easy to root for as she navigates her new magical and rather adult-dominated world. Her burgeoning relationship with the other magicians, especially Rish, is endearing and I particularly loved the character of Alinora. 

What makes this a winner though, for me, is the 'no holds barred' edgy storytelling. Ross Montgomery doesn't beat around the bush and directs the story straight towards the dark and dramatic. In the acknowledgements, I noticed he called it a 'not quite trilogy' and I'm intrigued to find out what that means for what comes next...

A big thanks to NetGalley and Walker Books for allowing me a review copy. Spellstone is available to pre-order and is released in May.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Onyeka: Rise of the Rebels by TolΓ‘ Okogwu

Link to publisher

Published by: Simon and Schuster, March 2nd 2023


The sequel of Onyeka and the Academy of the Sun is out and offers yet another grippingly pacy read with lots of twists and turns. As we begin to see more of the wider world of Nigeria and meet more characters, Onyeka finds she is battling her own feelings as much as anyone else...

After discovering the truth behind the Academy of the Sun, Onyeka and her friends are on the run. But where can they go and who can they trust? Will the serum her aunt administers allow her to use her Ike whilst curing her sickness? And can she track down her mum and Dad and find a way to defeat Dr. Doyinbo?

With the set-up established in book one, TolΓ‘ Okogwu launches us straight in to dramatic action, allowing us to pick up where we left off. Yet, as Onyeka and her friends face huge amounts of uncertainty, there's internal fractures to overcome too - within Onyeka herself and between her friends. I particularly enjoyed the banter between the group, the use of Pidgin English and Zarah and Adanna are great characters to watch. 

Perfect for fans of superhero stories and those who have enjoyed Amari and the Night Brothers, Onyeka's power really comes into its own in this story. More in tune with her hair and power, there are some high octane superhero scenes held together by the bonds between family and friends. I loved the father figures in the novel and, after a unexpected ending, I'm keen to know whether there will be a third in the series. Onyeka is a relatable yet kickass feminine lead and it would be great if there was more to come. 

A big thanks to NetGalley and Simon and Schuster for allowing me a review copy. 

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