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Goodreads Synopsis:

A man waits in Vale, a world void of humanity.

A mother vanishes, her disappearance concealed by the police.

A girl collapses, black magic invading her blood.

And a boy linked to them all must fight to save his family.

Earth is just one of seven worlds. Gateways divide the realms and those who pass through must earn keys, participating in challenges that will separate the fearful from the brave, the weak from the strong, and the witless from the cunning.

Sixteen year old Oliver Knight knows nothing of the other worlds or his family’s dark past. But when his adopted sister succumbs to a deadly curse the truth is revealed and he is plunged into an unknown land in a desperate bid to save her. However, a sinister enemy is on the rise and the danger they face at every turn throws those around them under suspicion. In order to survive, Oliver must figure out who to trust, who to believe and, ultimately, who to fear…

I received an ARC copy from the author, Caroline Peckham in exchange for an honest review.

My review:

Well, I’m so glad I decided to read this. It has a heck of a lot going for it, full of mysteries to solve, a girl appears in the middle of the road, and is welcomed into the family, a missing mother…… It is reminiscent of several books, to begin with it reminded me of A Series of Unfortunate Events with the children’s mother going missing, and the two distraught youngsters Oliver and May being sent off to a strange Grandfather’s house to live. I have to say their Grandfather Ely has one seriously cool house that has an enormous tree growing in it!

There is a fair amount of world building to begin with, Creeping Shadow is part Science Fiction, part Fantasy with magical beings called Mages. In the beginning you will encounter a plentiful amount of characters to get to grips with but don’t let this put you off.

As the story unfolds it begins to be more reminiscent of Hunger Games, with a new perhaps more interesting slant, focusing on teams working together to achieve a shared goal rather than individuals trying to kill each other. An element of danger still exists in the race to secure a key to one of the kingdoms making it an exciting, gripping, read. The teams compete against each other for a key but they also work together in their individual teams to reach their goals. Cooperation is the focus and the way to win, nice touch. The action really hots up when the race starts, the contestants hoping to get a key. This is crucial for May as the only way to cure her from a deadly curse is to get a key to travel to another kingdom.

I particularly loved this quote about the effect of the curse on her body:

“May’s eyes were opened but they roamed unseeing, bloodshot and red. What scared Oliver more were the dark bruises that covered her body and the thick, black veins that slithered like snakes between them under her skin.”

We are introduced to a whole bunch of weird creatures and many obstacles to overcome. There are shadow creatures called varks, fire bats, wolver bats, a platform and a ladder challenge, an abyss, a waterfall, a whirlpool, and even hogtrouts, and luggerfish!! I’m not going to tell you what all of these are you will have to pick up a copy of the book to find out!

I particularly enjoyed the chapter in which Oliver and May tumble over a cliff, a fantastic fight scene follows, no more about it as I don’t want to spoil it for you!

If you like a bit of developing romance then you won’t go away empty handed, the main characters Oliver and Anna,  supply the love interest and it is sweetly done.

The characters are well crafted I particularly liked the brother and sister, Oliver and May, and also Rogan and even Quinn! As well as this the matey banter between Oliver and one of the other team members, Rogan,  is well written and entertaining.

It is an ambitious novel for a debut novelist, with shifting points of view, world building, multiple characters, as well as a Fantasy/Science Fiction framework.  I have to say that on the whole I’m pretty impressed. Perhaps there are a few overused phrases and the odd typo but there is very little in this advanced readers copy to find fault with. I would definitely like to find out what happens next, and I look forward to reading more from Caroline Peckham. This is a series with five books in all!

Highly recommended.

But unless you can get your hands on an ARC you’ll have to wait until December 10th for Creeping Shadow to be released!

My Rating:

4 stars.

Links:

http://carolinepeckham.com/upcoming-fantasy-series/

Bye for now,

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Marje @ Kyrosmagica xx

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