Readers of Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials and Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere will love Minu Freitag’s fast-paced fantasy adventure The Fragments, the first Book in The Spheres series, where a handful of young protégées find themselves entangled in an age-old conflict that threatens to destroy more than one world.
When Easla Amrath meets Tayl Bergin, they are both haunted by the consequences of their own decisions and the decisions made for them by others. But when Easla becomes stranded in the Fragments, both she and Tayl embark on a journey across the unforgettable landscapes of a broken world where they confront deadly dangers and meet unlikely allies. As more of their pasts unravels, uncomfortable truths come to light, and they need to face the fact that more than their own future is at stake.
In her debut novel, Minu Freitag creates a tantalising multiverse that will captivate readers of fantasy and science fiction alike. Set in the parallel worlds of the Spheres, the first book in the series takes place in the Protectorate, a world similar to ours but caught in the grip of a ruthless dystopian society, and the Fragments, a world in which human exiles form a fragile alliance with the machine-based inhabitants and the enigmatic Sceadwian shadow creatures.
Thank you to the author for an ARC copy which I read freely and without bias.
What a great book, different, complex, compelling and exciting. Thoughtful and dystopian. I particularly enjoyed the characterisation of Tayl and Eass. And what an adventure it is. The writing is superb – dialogue, descriptions, everything.
Other things to note: It’s a long book – so bear that in mind. This is not a quick read and needs thoughtful close reading. But it so worth it. The ending is somewhat unusual with two epilogues at the end which lead on to the next book as this is a series.
Graphyn shook his head. ‘I don’t know how she chooses which child to take. Or why. All I know is that she takes children from worlds on the brink of extinction.’
‘It’s a symbol of both Arc and house, and it hides much older symbols in it.’ ‘ And with the map, the Entrelacier can go from anywhere to anywhere?
This won’t be for everyone but it is my kind of story! This must have been such a challenging book to write. Hats off to the author. This book deserves a wider audience.
Highly recommended for fantasy, scifi and dystopian fans.
My rating 4 🌟
Book was gifted via my membership of the Fantasy sci fi writers alliance:
Don’t miss out! Two part YA fantasy series but suitable for all ages! Book 1 Bloodstone is currently free in kindle Amazon UK and some other territories. This is for you if you like fantasy with dark elements, crystal wielding magic, a trapped mirror girl, a mystery to solve, a curse to overthrow, imaginative characters, unique, surreal and poetic storyline. Set in the iconic University city of Cambridge UK.
My YA fantasy book 1 Bloodstone is currently free in kindle in some Amazon sites including:
Bloodstone was awarded a finalist badge in N. N. Light’s awards for books rated 5 and 5++ stars. Title: Bloodstone (The Curse of Time – Book 1) series
Page count: 292
Publisher: Next Chapter Publishing
Genre: YA fantasy with paranormal elements
My YA mysterious fantasy, Bloodstone, Book 1 in The Curse of Time series has expanded distribution and is available via this link:
Amelina Seems Like a Normal Teen, But She Has Magical Gifts!
Reviewed in Canada on February 6, 2023
Amelina Scott is the main character in Golden Healer. She seems like a normal teenager in many ways, living at home with her parents, dog, and cat. But she is quite extraordinary with special powers, thanks to the magical gifts she has received from Leanne. The crystals can do many things, each with its own abilities to help in some way.
The problem comes when Amelina discovers that her Bloodstone crystal is missing. Or was it stolen? She was entrusted with it, and now it might have fallen into the hands of someone evil (or something evil). And so starts this fascinating book!
Golden Healer has deeper messages within the fantasy elements. How author MJ Mallon handles the bullying issue, which is all too common with teenagers, might be enlightening for some young adults reading the book.
Other issues include anorexia and self-harm. Esme, a character who is caught in a mirror, has a butterfly project that offers a message of hope to those who self-harm. I didn’t realize the butterfly project is a real thing until I read Golden Healer.
The book has understanding notes, is never judgemental, and the author even includes links to resources for help. Yes, there is a trigger warning included in this book. That’s good so that you know heading into it what to expect. This book, which I was gifted, is the second installment in The Curse Of Time series, but you can read it as a standalone novel.
“Golden Healer” picks up where the first book left off with Amelina maneuvering through her teen years while embracing her magic as a Krystallos. Some of my favorite parts were the interaction with the girl in the mirror and Amelina and her dad. Not only did the plot take the reader on a rollercoaster, but there was also an actual one in the story. Many good characters all played into finding out more about the darker side, or shadows. Ryder is a character who could have an empathic side if he allowed it, but I did like how he developed in the story. Crystals and music added depth to Amelina’s learning quest. Her friendships are still strong and are tested with Ryder involved. There are some beautiful poetic parts, and I love the poetry at the beginning of each chapter. Although this book answers many questions, it also opened the door to new ones. I look forward to more stories from these characters.
This novel carries on from where the first left off, straight into Amelina’s world of crystals and magic. It was good to catch up with the familiar faces, Amelina’s parents, her cat, Esme, Ryder and all the others. As you might have expected, her life is still just as complicated and exciting as before. But now she has a new purpose. There’s plenty of angst to deal with, as Amelina juggles being a teen with her new-found destiny as a Krystallos. Her relationships will be tested, people will not be what they appear. Through it all, she sticks to her purpose. Emotions abound, expertly described and dealt with as Amelina’s fortunes wax and wane. The mystical symbolism and magic in the story are brilliantly depicted. Not only that, each chapter has a short poem to introduce it, giving clues and guidance as the plot develops. A rollercoaster ensues, in more ways than one. I hope that a third part of this fascinating tale is on the horizon. Highly recommended.
Amazing fantasy creatures and gorgeous depictions wrapped up in an unusual storyline
Reviewed in the United States on July 16, 2022
Golden Healer is the second book in The Curse of Time series and continues this unique fantasy story with its unusual and intriguing storyline. Book one ended with a happy environment after Amelina’s father was finally restored to his family at the correct age and Esme disappeared from the mirror, presumably to a better place. Book two starts with small but obvious indications that all is not as it seems and the issues involving both Amelina’s father and Esme are not adequately resolved.
The beginning is a bit slower moving as the author skillfully unwinds the reader’s beliefs that all is well and hammers cracks into the happy environment. The stage is set beautifully with fascinating and intricate scenes and dreams spun like a spiderweb from the author’s pen. Amelina’s first dream travel in this book has catastrophic results as while she is away from her body her bloodstone is stolen and this accelerates the cracks in her home environment.
This book is not an easy read and you have to concentrate as you read in the same way you would while reading a classic novel. It is worth the effort as the descriptions and concepts are outstanding and beautifully depicted.
There are a few stand out scenes for me in this book, as follows: the grasshopper in the meadow, the clowns in the café, and Aunt Karissa’s chocolates. For me, these were unbelievably imaginative and full of mystery.
Aunt Karissa features plays a small role in this book, introducing some welcome lightness and humour as Ryder’s darkness and power continue to grow. The reader learns a bit more about Ryder and his origins and homeland.
Another memorable feature of this book is that each chapter or puzzle piece starts with a tanka poem that hints at what is to follow in the chapter. The author is also an excellent poet and the poems were a lovely addition.
A few memorable quotes from this book:
“The grasshopper monster propelled time forward in a steady, slow, rocking motion, as if he was devouring our lives in seconds, minutes and hours as we gazed upon him.”
“Hello my beautiful reflection. You came! You always come when I need you the most. I have been so anxious listening to the troubles of this family which has become my family. What have you been doing? I see sweet flowers covering the red cuts on your left wrist.”
“”She opened the wrapper with trembling fingers. Inside, there was a small, round milk chocolate. It grew in her palm. the chocolate split into two halves, one half dark, and the other half white. In the centre, a dividing line moved form side to side as if whipping up the chocolate angrily.”
In conclusion, I would like to add that when I was a girl of 10 years old, I discovered the books written by Eva Ibottson. Every book of hers I read was a complete delight to me with its amazing fantasy creatures and gorgeous depictions of the lives of hags in dribbles and wizards in towers surrounded by mist. Throughout my adult life, I have search for an adult author who can invoke the same magical worlds and belief in magical creatures that I discovered in Miss Ibottson’s stories, and in this series by M.J. Mallon, I do believe I finally found an adult equivalent.
The author is a magician with words. She crafts scenes of sublime fantasy that are clear and easily pictured in the mind of the reader. The gift of description is also present. The scenes are very easy to understand, and the reader is swept into the story.
There is a real ‘arryesque feel to these stories. If you were a fan of the original wizard and his gang then you will be drawn to Amelina and her crew. Ryder is the ultimate character. The author was so able to capture the inner feelings of this character. It wasn’t more than a few pages when I loathed the existence of that waste of air.
Fans of the first book will simply love this book. This book carries on the craftily created story and takes it along an energetic ride to the end. Fans of this series will simply not be able to wait until they get their hands on the much-anticipated third book.