This Tuesday I am taking part in Rachael Ritchey’s Writing Blog Battle the prompt word this week is Scar. With a word like that how could I say no! My theme this month is scary, spooky, Halloween stuff and nonsense so with that in mind I’ve written a paranormal, contemporary romance. Or have I? Beaton just read through this (a fellow blog battler and in his cheeky way kind of said the category wasn’t quite right, so I suppose it might be safer to keep to Paranormal for now!??) I think it started off as a romance and wondered off somewhat, though at its core the romantic ideal, of true love, is central with all the angst that accompanies it!!
Here it is:
The scar woke her as it always did every morning, a sad throbbing sensation that sliced into her day. She couldn’t take the pain anymore. Today had to be different, the promise of a fishing adventure with Todd at the country park lake lay ahead of her. It wasn’t exactly the crystal clear waters of the Caribbean with red snapper to be caught, but it was Todd, fish and her and that was all that mattered. Todd had always held the undisputed title of Anna’s best friend, they had met at secondary school and been inseparable friends ever since.
She dressed quickly, and rushed to meet him. It was a lovely bright sunny day with no hint of rain. The lakeside was empty, its waters calm and still. Anna arrived first as she always did, she opened her folding chair and waited. She sighed. Todd was never on time, even for fishing! He didn’t have many faults except this one. She stared at the surface of the lake wondering what they would catch today, and spied a swan far off in the distance, landing near a speck of pond flora. Todd crept up on her, unannounced, placing his cold fingertips on her shoulder. She jumped.
“Todd! Quit doing that one of these days you’ll give me a heart attack!”
“Sorry Anna, you looked so absorbed in the mysteries of that lake, I just couldn’t help myself,” Todd’s face creased, striking out into a sweet smile.
Anna couldn’t help but smile back. Todd had that way with him, one smile and you just melted. It was good to see that smile again, it had been sadly lacking of late. Nevertheless she wondered why his fingers were cold on such a warm day.
Todd took out all of his fishing gear, set up his chair, and was soon fishing line in hand baited. Ready.
“Do you want to try your luck Anna, seeing as you’ve already cast a spell on that lake?” he asked handing the fishing rod to her, with a wink.
“Very funny Todd, I’m no witch, so there’s no need for your teasing!”
“Sometimes folks don’t know what they are until it hits them in the face.”
“What do you mean Todd?” asked Anna, grabbing the rod and casting it far out into the lake.
“You could heal that scar yourself you know,” he said.
Anna fell silent. The rod flopped into the water. Her shoulders slumped and the chair that she sat on appeared to cut a deeper groove into the ground.
“Some scars are there to remind us of past hurts so we don’t do the same foolish things again.”
“Yes, but you can’t carry it around with you forever Anna, you have to face that eventually.”
Anna could feel the scar throbbing, slicing, and tearing her apart. She wanted so badly to be rid of it, but a scar in the heart was not something you could cover with makeup. It was as deep as the lake she now sat at, permanent, and ached in a way that made every single day torture.
Todd took the rod off her, and cast it out again. Anna sat in silence contemplating Todd’s words.
Anna began to wonder if there were any fish at all or whether this was just a ruse by Todd to get her on her own to talk about Nick.
“Have you spoken to him?
“No, we are both as proud and stubborn as each other neither of us will give in.”
“Anna, you’ve got to make the first move, cast your spell on him again. He’s longing for you to call him.”
“How do you know Todd?”
‘I just know, Anna.”
Todd glanced down at his feet, not daring to look Anna in the eye.
Anna leant over, cupped his face in her hands and looked at Todd, really looked at him and knew in that instant that Todd loved her. Not just in the way you love a friend, there was so much more behind those dark eyes that had been hidden until now. Why had she been so blind?
She couldn’t cope with this revelation and the scar, it was too much.
“We always hurt each other Nick and I. We cut like twin knives slicing little irreparable notches in each other’s hearts. The scars ache so much, I don’t know if I can take that kind of love.”
“What kind of love do you want, Anna, the safe we’re just good friends kind?” asked Todd, his eyes surrendering the pain of his love to her.
The hurt in Todd’s eyes demonstrated another deep scar inflicted, why did life have to be so painful? Why couldn’t it be simple, uncomplicated like fishing? If only you could cast your line, find love, and live happily ever after. But it was never like that, ever, it was a bumpy, gut wrenching ride all the way, with a stop button that had the capability to wrench out your heart while it was still beating.
Anna sighed. If only she could love Todd, with his kind eyes, warm heart and ready smile. But she knew she couldn’t, that crazy breathless spark of passion, with its dangerous on off switch, didn’t exist with Todd. Only friends. Poor Todd.
“I want the kind that makes me know that I am alive. You’ll find love Todd, cast out again, I promise that you will.”
Todd did as Anna said, he couldn’t argue with a witch, he cast out his line, it circled a full arc, and splashed triumphantly, scattering fish in its wake.
A young woman appeared from the pathway behind them she gently tapped Todd on the shoulder. Todd turned and smiled, a hesitant smile, but there was a hint of hope in that smile. Anna’s scar ached slightly less in the knowledge that maybe her friend’s scar and cold, sad hands would be healed. There was only so much a good witch could do before Halloween!
© Marjorie Mallon 2015 – aka, Kyrosmagica. All Rights Reserved.
Above photo of the lake is my own. I’m now on Instagram too, you can follow me there: https://instagram.com/kyrosmagica/
To join in with Blog Battle or to vote for your favourite story follow the link to Rachael’s blog:
Do leave a comment I’d love to hear what you think about The Scar.
Bye for now,
Marje @ Kyrosmagica xx
This Monday I thought I’d do a review of Frozen Charlotte for #MondayBlogs. Why not start the week with a bit of scary bookish fun…..
We’re waiting for you to come and play. Dunvegan School for Girls has been closed for many years. Converted into a family home, the teachers and students are long gone. But they left something behind…Sophie arrives at the old schoolhouse to spend the summer with her cousins. Brooding Cameron with his scarred hand, strange Lilias with a fear of bones and Piper, who seems just a bit too good to be true. And then there’s her other cousin. The girl with a room full of antique dolls. The girl that shouldn’t be there. The girl that died.
This month I joined the Stripes publishing #redeyereadalong and I’m so glad I did! Just finished reading Frozen Charlotte. This novel is very good, definitely one to devour, that’s the right word. A fast paced, exciting, and at times gruesome read.
Warning: if you have a fear of needles, dolls, knives, ghosts, freezing, drowning, burning to death, or falling of cliffs, I wouldn’t pick this up!
I don’t normally read horror, but this month I’m doing a Halloween type theme on my blog, with spooky books, poems, short stories, etc.
Sometimes it’s good to try new things!! I snatched whatever time I could find to read Frozen Charlotte during the day, this wasn’t bedtime reading for me…. That way I kept the nightmares at bay.
What did I like about it?
Lots and lots of things.
The little creepy poems in italics at the beginning of each chapter are awesome.
Such a clever idea to have a Ouija-board app, and to introduce the ghost of Rebecca that way.
The prologue sets the tone for sinister goings on engaging the reader right from the very start.
Then you have the Frozen Charlotte dolls themselves, there is nothing nice about these dolls and it makes me wonder why anyone in their right mind would have them in their house! Or wear them as a necklace! That’s asking for trouble! That’s the Scots for you, I’m not slating the Scots, I’m half Scottish, we may be a bit dour at times but we like to live dangerously!!
The characters all so well crafted.
The main protagonist, Sophie, I definitely have a soft spot for her. She’s so brave, it is almost suicidal! With one scary thing happening after another, she turns out to be quite the heroine. Respect! If it was me I’d be out of there lightning quick! But Sophie thinks of others before herself. Sophie feels particularly protective towards her youngest cousin Lilias, who has a horrendous fear of bones, knives have to be hidden, so she doesn’t cut herself, and when I say cut I really mean cut.
Jay sounds such a cute guy, a best friend who could possibly have been a love interest if his young life hadn’t been cut down right at the start.
Piper’s another favourite of mine! She starts off all sweetness, preparing food and seeming to be the perfect hostess welcoming her cousin to Scotland. But is Piper as sweet as she seems or is this all an act? You’ll have to read Frozen Charlotte to find out!
And Cameron appears to be a bit distant, and unwelcoming to Sophie when she arrives, intriguing the reader some more.
In my opinion Frozen Charlotte starts of well but becomes even more and more engaging, spooky and gruesome with each passing page…
The book ends with an epilogue, a final tease. This is one of the main strengths of this novel it teases and plays with the reader’s emotions offering apparent sweetness on one hand, and dire creepiness on the other.
My recommendation: Go read this!!! Highly recommended for readers of Horror, YA, Paranormal, Dark, Thriller, Mystery.
Have you read Frozen Charlotte? Do leave a comment I’d love to hear from you.
Bye for now,
Marje @ Kyrosmagica xx
Week 29 Theme is Ride
Date to Post: Tuesday, September 29th, 2015
My entry for Rachael Ritchey’s Blog Battle this week is returning to a character I have visited in previous blog battles. This is an idea I am developing as a continuation from the first manuscript I have written, Krystallos. I intend the sequel to Krystallos to be darker. I am struggling with where to go with this so this is me flexing my writing muscles. Somehow writing this short story has really helped me solidify some ideas I have so I hope you like it. The focus is on the male character Ryder, and the inspiration this week has come from the Blood Moon!!
This sits very well with my blog theme this month which happens to be Halloween!!
If you’d like to join in #Blogbattle, I’d recommend that you do, it’s fun, here’s the link: http://rachaelritchey.com/blogbattle/
Title: Blood Moon A Rip of A Ride
It began with a rocking horse, a child’s toy, its springs were old and needed replacing. Ryder discovered this antique wonder in a quirky street in the lanes in Brighton. He carried it down the colourful street, and joined the queue for the busy student bus back to campus. A couple of ladies stared at his greediness, his decadence, taking up two seats on the bus. Ryder smirked, and patted the rocking horse’s head. The ladies glared. The corner of his mouth twisted, a smile with obvious intent.
When he brought the rocking horse back to his flat, his flatmates exchanged glances, it did much to catalogue Ryder even further into the depths of the oddity section. Only Olivia, his recent conquest gave him the benefit of the doubt. He appreciated that and made a mental note to reward her later. A midnight kiss would be in order.
After he left the warm embrace of slumbering Olivia the moon lay heavy in the sky, its orb red against the blackness. Ryder hung out his bedroom window staring, pleading with the moon to notice him. He dangled precariously, goading the moon to come closer. The pumpkin moon glowed red, blood red, a bleeding heart. The rocking horse began to move slowly absorbing the moon’s vital blood energy. Ryder could hear it behind him, creaking joints jarring to and fro. Then he heard the sound of an ice cream van, its tune winding its way towards him. He hung further out of the window wondering about this strange phenomenon, an ice cream van in the middle of the night. He grabbed his jacket, rushing to catch the van before it disappeared.
Outside he dashed, his senses filled with the promise of a midnight feast of sugary ice-cream. But, no van appeared. He waited. Displeased. Again he heard the jingle of the van teasing him, laughing at his foolish, childlike desires. The music grew louder and louder, he covered his ears and turned away, now desperate to escape. The van came to a screeching halt just as he took his first step. Ryder smiled. The hatch opened, a man peered out. He had a round face, the roundest face that Ryder had ever seen, vanilla white, pock marked, hair as black as the midnight sky.
There were no signs to state what kind of ice cream he sold. Ryder waited for him to speak.
“Well, I haven’t got all night, what do you want?” said the man, as his creamy white face turned a surly red.
“I’m not sure,” replied Ryder, “What ice creams do you sell?”
“Ice creams? What? No ice creams here young man.”
“But you’re riding in an ice cream van, playing the jingle calling hungry kids.”
“That’s true, but that’s not what I do.”
“What do you do?” asked Ryder, frowning.
“Hop aboard, ride the van and you’ll find out,” said the man, his face returning to its original brilliant white.
Ryder hesitated. This was strange, but Ryder thrived on strange, so he agreed. The man opened the back of the van and Ryder climbed in.
Inside the van Ryder could see only darkness. A blackness drifted towards him filling his senses with a bleak sense of loss. The man handed him a tiny torch that gave off brilliant light.
“Come, this way,” he said.
The van was motionless, yet Ryder could swear that he felt movement. They walked and walked further into the darkness.
Suddenly they stopped.
A bright light shone from the torch on to a patch of turf. How curious. This van was playing with Ryder’s senses, revealing a vast land which stretched its tendril like fingers, shadows extending everywhere.
Ryder recognised the land. It was no picnic venue. He sighed.
“Home,” he said.
“Yes,” said the man.
“Why have you brought me here?”
“It’s nearly Halloween lad, when tainted creatures must visit the place of their birth.”
He heard the sound of the fairground, the laughter, candy floss and excitement beckoning, but behind it all he knew there was the ride.
There was no point in pleading with the man, asking him to take him back. He had to accept his fate, whatever that might be.
“Come your ride awaits you,” said the man.
Ryder lifted heavy feet, a ghostly chill settling in his bones.
The man opened the door of the roller coaster and let him in. The rollercoaster groaned. Ryder’s soul cried.
A jingle began to play, a cheerful ditty, but Ryder knew this would be short lived, soon he would hear a tune that would throw him into oblivion, and there was nothing he could do. Nothing at all.
The clamp locked around him. He gripped the sides of his seat, clenched his teeth, and prepared to ride. It started off slowly, a gentle teasing introduction, but soon the ride picked up pace, the jingle attempting to keep up with the speed of the ride.
Ryder’s face and body took a vicious pounding, his flesh almost ripping from him, his heart exploding, sweat dripping from his brow.
Then it stopped. No gentle ending. Just abrupt, no time to think.
Ryder could only see shadows. No light, no moon, no sun, no happiness only the bleakest most appalling darkness. A blanket of despair.
Then he focused.
A figure appeared. Hazy. At first he was uncertain whether it was male or female, but as his eyes grew accustomed to the light he knew who it was.
“Hello mother,” he said.
His mother walked towards him, she unbuckled the clamp, but said nothing. It was not their way, emotion was not tolerated in this land of childlike dreams, and nightmares.
He touched his eye, but knew the answer already, the beautiful crystal had been wrenched, a rip caused by the ride. His eye wept. What price would he pay for its release? Only time would tell.
- 1000 words max
- fictional tale (or true if you really want)
- PG (no more than PG-13) Content – let’s keep this family friendly!
- Your story must contain the word(s) from the theme and/or be centered around the theme in a way that shows it is clearly related
- Go for the entertainment value!
- State the Genre of your story at the top of your post.
- Post your story on Tuesday, by 11:59 PM PST
- Use the hashtag #BlogBattle when tweeting your story, put a link back to your #BlogBattle Short Story in the comments section of this page, and/or include a link to this page in your own blog post (it creates a “ping-back” which will alert me and our friends to your #BlogBattle post)
- Have fun!
© Marjorie Mallon 2015 – aka, Kyrosmagica. All Rights Reserved.
Hope you enjoyed my story, do comment, I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Bye for now. My cartoon character takes this battling so seriously!!
Marje @ Kyrosmagica xx
This is my entry for Rachael Ritchey’s writing Blog Battle: http://rachaelritchey.com/blogbattle/
Week 28 Theme is Orchid and the genre of my short story is Paranormal Romance.
Date to Post: Tuesday, September 29th, 2015
1.1000 words max
2.fictional tale (or true if you really want)
3.PG (no more than PG-13) Content – let’s keep this family friendly!
4.Your story must contain the word(s) from the theme and/or be centered around the theme in a way that shows it is clearly related
5.Go for the entertainment value!
6.State the Genre of your story at the top of your post.
7.Post your story on Tuesday, by 11:59 PM PST
8.Use the hashtag #BlogBattle when tweeting your story, put a link back to your #BlogBattle Short Story in the comments section of this page, and/or include a link to this page in your own blog post (it creates a “ping-back” which will alert me and our friends to your #BlogBattle post)
The heady exotic scent of the orchids reminded him of a time long ago. On that particular day he had filled his living room with a floral tribute to a past life which he celebrated each year without fail. But this time it was different, he had made special plans and now they were about to come to fruition. He waited nervously for the clock to announce that it was time for him to pick Suzie up. He could hardly contain his excitement; he set about making his house as beautiful as he could so that it would meet Suzie’s expectations. But would Suzie meet his?
He had been met with derision when he told his friends and family about his plans, a mail order bride how ridiculous! A middle aged, lonely old man, exhibiting signs of desperation that’s what they’d said, or intimidated.
He greeted his bride at the airport with a shy hug. An almost perfect vision of beauty, her petite frame, and jet black hair gleamed with a glossy, playful youthfulness but her delicate features couldn’t conceal a tragic expression that seemed irreversible.
He wondered how he was to bear looking at such a sad face for the rest of his life. He prayed that he could turn the sharp downwards turn of her lips to a smile.
The journey back to his house was more or less silent apart from short bursts of conversation, in which she replied with a yes or a no.
But when she walked into the living room, she couldn’t contain her enthusiasm.
“This pretty,” she said, pointing at the orchids, a hint of a smile playing seductively on the edge of her lovely lips.
The orchids had won a tiny place in her heart, orchids always did.
As the day departed and evening began to suggest itself Alfred’s nervousness increased. It was such a long time since he had gone to bed with a woman. So many years, he did not care to count how many. He worried about his wobbly tummy, his hairy chest smattered with tiny grey hairs. Would this young woman cry and sob into his sheets, would he be the cause of a further sharp downturn of her sweet lips?
He gave her privacy to get undressed, imagined her placing a silky negligee on the bed, slipping into it, and laying her head on his pillow. He imagined her black hair fanned out on the pillow, a sharp contrast to the crisp whiteness of the sheets. He plucked one of the orchids from its stem, and took it up to her intending to pop it into her hair.
When he walked into the bedroom the humid room reminded him of a stifling greenhouse. He opened the window to let in some fresh air. He daren’t look at her, not yet, that magical moment would come later. As the fresh air drifted into the room, he turned to undress her with his gaze, but he saw his foolishness straight away.
He sat on the edge of the crisp bed, his eyes brimming with tears. He deserved this. It was always the same, she never came. He wept, picking up his wedding picture, his wife Grace stared back at him. Grace’s smiling face could match the most beautiful of sunsets. He couldn’t bear it, why did he torture himself this way? She had died without his saying goodbye. No final farewell.
Every year it was the same, on the anniversary of her death, he always bought orchids, her favourite flower and he filled their home with them. But she didn’t come. He had resorted to shock tactics, imagining a fantasy to bring her back to him one last time. His fantasy scenarios never worked, he sensed her presence in their room, but she didn’t return to him. Why would she?
He didn’t deserve her. He cried, and cried. He lifted up the tiny bottle of pills, his hands trembled as he tipped them out. Such tiny pills, he thought, so harmless looking. The water next, one big gulp and it would be all over, no more suffering. But as he turned the lid of the bottle, he thought he saw a tiny movement. The glass had moved, it was no longer on his bedside table but appeared to be hovering before him. As he looked at the glass more closely he saw the sweet semblance of his wife, a shimmering sunset glow, holding death away from him. The water tipped, evaporating as it splashed.
Alfred couldn’t believe his eyes. She had come back, his Grace, his love. “It’s you,” he said, his voice cracked, breaking with emotion.
“My Gracie, I’ve missed you so much. Why have you taken so long to come back to me?”
“Hurt lay heavy in my heart, so my friend time, became my healer. Now the time is right for you to live and love again. Now I can rest forever.”
“No, Grace, please, there’s something I must tell you.”
“There’s no need, it has taken me a long while, but I forgive you Alfred. I always knew that you didn’t mean those hurtful words.”
“I’m so sorry Grace, I was stressed. I lost my temper, shouted at you, when I shouldn’t have. I blamed myself for your heart attack.”
“You’re not to blame Alfred. My heart attack wasn’t caused by anything you said. But all this crazy fantasising is giving me a ghost of a second heart attack! Promise me this Alfred, live your life. Let your fantasies become realities. Maybe not that mail order bride, that’s preposterous, but you know what I mean.”
“I promise, Grace.”
He tucked the living orchid in the wispy suggestion of her sunlit hair. She gifted him one last sunset smile, a whispered farewell, and the sweetest hint of a lover’s kiss.
© Marjorie Mallon 2015 – aka, Kyrosmagica. All Rights Reserved.
Thanks for reading my blog battle entry I hope you enjoyed it. Do comment and let me know what you think.
Bye for now,
Marje @ Kyrosmagica xx
When Sky falls from Blackfin Pier and drowns on her sixteenth birthday, the whole town goes into mourning – until she shows up three months later like nothing happened.
Unravelling the mystery of those missing months takes Sky to the burned-out circus in the woods, where whispers of murder and kidnapping begin to reveal the town’s secrets. But Sky’s not the only one digging up the past – the old mime from the circus knows what happened to her, and he has more than one reason for keeping quiet about it.
Snippet from the book:
Silas’ spirit had inhabited the rusting weathervane for many years. From his perch on the school roof he watched the townsfolk of Blackfin through his empty eye socket as they buzzed through their lives beneath him, no more significant than the grains of sand piling up against the shoreline, clinging to the struts of Blackfin pier.
Doesn’t that just grab your attention? It certainly did for me!
Edinburgh Book Festival:
I picked up a copy of Blackfin Sky at the Edinburgh Book Festival, and was lucky to get a signed copy as well as Cat Clarke’s The Lost and The Found. If you’d like to see my photograph with Kat Ellis and Cat Clarke, and my write up of their talk, The Disappeared, here’s the link: https://kyrosmagica.wordpress.com/2015/08/22/edinburgh-book-festival-edbookfest-cat-clarke-and-kat-ellis/
Do I judge a book by its cover? I have a tendency to do this to a certain degree as I think that well executed covers tend to give you a sense of the book. This one fitted the bill, I just loved this cover so much! It is so beautiful, and mysterious. Did the cover match the book? Yes in my opinion on the whole it did, Blackfin Sky had a lot to offer and was definitely mysterious.
I was so excited about this book, that cover just had me trembling with anticipation but did it live up to my exalted expectations? Yes and No. I liked this a lot, but somehow it didn’t quite reach the ecstatic heights of loving it that I hoped it would. I think this was in part due to my not quite engaging enough with some of the characters in the novel, apart from the main protagonist, Sky, the others just didn’t seem to have enough depth to them. And the baddie with the amber skull, he just needed more baddie factor, I just didn’t really get him. At times Blackfin Sky seemed a bit confusing, and possibly a little too far off the believable line, (I do realise this sounds odd with regard to a fantasy story but even so the emotions sometimes seemed a bit dampened, particularly when Sky turns up after being dead, I just could have done with more feels. I know that Blackfin is meant to be a strange community but even so…..)
I think Kat Ellis tried to cram in a heck of a lot into this novel, (very ambitious,) which is something I like to do too, ah, makes me think possibly it is better to keep things a bit more simple? Maybe. Somehow it didn’t quite pack the four star/five star punch I’d hope it would, perhaps some of the plot threads could have been simplified…. to allow more time for secondary character development.
On the positive side it read extremely well, Kat Ellis can definitely write – no doubt about that, and it has a very imaginative fantasy setting, full marks for imagination Kat. I love the circus aspect, the Blood House, and the idea of pathfinders too. Yes, there are definitely aspects of this debut novel that really appeal to me, I think with a few tweaks it could easily have been a perfect read.
So would I recommend it ? Yes, I would. This is Kat Ellis’s debut novel, I do think she has great potential and amazing promise, so my recommendation would be to read this author and keep an eye out for her, I reckon her next novel might just pack that knockout punch.
By the way don’t forget to vote for your favourite debut author, Kat Ellis is one of the authors you can nominate for First Book Award, vote for your favourite, voting closes at 5pm on Friday 16th October: www.edbookfest.co.uk
3.75 stars. Just short of 4, as I say with a few tweaks it could easily have been a 4 star read.
Have you read Blackfin Sky? If you have please do leave a comment to let me know what you think.
Bye for now!
Marje @ Kyrosmagica xx
There are only two reasons a non-seer would see a spirit on St. Mark’s Eve,” Neeve said. “Either you’re his true love . . . or you killed him.”
It is freezing in the churchyard, even before the dead arrive.
Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue herself never sees them—not until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks directly to her.
His name is Gansey, and Blue soon discovers that he is a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.
But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. He has it all—family money, good looks, devoted friends—but he’s looking for much more than that. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents all the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul who ranges from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher of the four, who notices many things but says very little.
For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She never thought this would be a problem. But now, as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.
From Maggie Stiefvater, the bestselling and acclaimed author of the Shiver trilogy and The Scorpio Races, comes a spellbinding new series where the inevitability of death and the nature of love lead us to a place we’ve never been before.
I haven’t read any Maggie Stiefvater before. It’s wonderful when you discover a new author.
Why I enjoyed The Raven Boys (The Raven Cycle#1):
1. Great Characters
2. Interesting premise – Blue’s kisses will kill off her true love.
3. Clairvoyants, spirits, magic, ley lines.
4 A Quest to find Owen Glendower, The Raven King.
5. Maggie Stiefvater uses foreshadowing very successfully, particularly with regard to Noah.
6. There’s a well kept journal that wants! Loved the idea of this! With its very own shape doodle.
Tip: I did find Maggie Stiefvater’s writing style took a while to get into, but when I did I really enjoyed The Raven Boys. This is a series, there is Book two to look forward to in this quartet: The Dream Thieves (Raven Cycle #2.)
The Raven Boys is set in Henrietta, Virginia, a “town known for its ravens.” 94
Blue Sargent has been warned off kissing her true love as one single kiss will seal his fate, and believe you me his fate ain’t nice, one kiss and then he’s a goner. No more kissing, no more breathing, just dead. Quite a powerful premise, a mighty hook, but does the novel take you down this kissing, route to death path? Read and find out!
Blue joins in the church watch, on St Mark’s eve, April 24th, with Neeve, her half aunt who happens to be a famous TV psychic. Blue normally goes with her mother but this time she finds herself having a bit of a weird moment, on this particular St Mark’s eve she sees the spirit of a young man:
“He was so real. When it finally happened, when she finally saw him, it didn’t feel like magic at all. It felt like looking into the grave and seeing it look back at her.” 15
There are a wonderful array of interesting characters to engage with in this novel. This is partly because Blue doesn’t live in your typical household, Blue lives in 300 Fox Way, a clairvoyant household with her mum Maura and her psychic aunts, Calla and Persephone.
There are several Raven boys to take a pick from! I know I have my favourites, I’m sure you will too!
There’s Gansey (Blue initially calls him President Cell Phone).
“Gansey was the boy she either killed or fell in love with. Or both.”
The Raven Boys aren’t quite your usual boy next door type: “There was something odd and complicated about all of these boys, Blue thought – odd and complicated in the way that the journal was odd and complicated.”
Then there’s Adam, who isn’t a rich kid like the others:
“Success meant nothing to Adam if he hadn’t done it for himself.” 132.
Adam has a difficult home life, and he’s trying to rise above his problems but there’s always this chip on his shoulder which he can’t quite shake off. Adam’s home life is certainly no cake walk, I really felt sorry for him.
As well as Gansey and Adam there are two brothers Declan and Ronan Lynch, who have been “at odds for as long as Adam had known them.”
Gansey prefers the company of Ronan and I have to agree I prefer Ronan too!
“Adam suspected Gansey’s preference was because Ronan was earnest even if he was horrible, and with Gansey, honesty was golden.”
There is a villainous side to Ronan but he’s not your stereotypical villian with just one side to his character. He also has a kind, unexpected side, which is demonstrated by his care and attention to a tiny foundling raven :
“You look like a super villain with your familiar,” Adam said. Ronan’s smile cut his face, but he looked kinder than Blue had ever seen him, like the raven in his hand was his heart, finally laid bare.”
More about the mighty raven:
“The raven was Glendowers bird.”
“Legend had it that Glendower could speak to ravens, and vice versa.”
Then there’s Noah who’s the less detailed out of all the Raven Boys, he’s a bit grey round the edges, but there’s a good reason for that.
My favourites out of the boys are Adam, Ronan, and Gansey. I reckon Ronan is going to get very interesting in book 2 – my intuition is telling me! Okay, maybe intuition with a bit of help, the last line of the novel kind of hints that this is the way the series develops.
On top of clairvoyancy, readings, spirits, there’s a four year quest, to find Owen Glendower, The Raven King. But the Raven Boys are not the only ones searching for Glendower, a young man comes for a reading with Blue’s psychic mother, Maura, Calla and Persephone.
As well as all the wacky aunts, we have a very special journal:
“More than anything, the journal wanted.” 84
The Journal is about ley lines and all manner of other details – “invisible energy lines that connected spiritual places ” Glendower, sleeping knights, “sacrificed kings, ancient water goddesses and all of the old things that ravens represented.
The adventure starts to step up a notch when Helen, Gansey’s sister, a helicopter pilot takes them exploring. Blue goes along and directs them to the church on the ley line. They fly over a shape in the overgrown grass that resembles a raven.
Gansey: “If they removed Glendower from the corpse road, I think the magic that keeps him asleep would be disrupted.”215 She said, ‘Basically, you mean he would die for good if he was removed from the line.”
All manner of incredible things happen, but not to spoil it for you by saying too much.
Would I recommend reading the Raven Boys? Absolutely. Highly recommended for readers of Fantasy, Paranormal, YA, Romance, Supernatural, Mystery.
If you would like a Recap of the book, I found this excellent site, but beware as there are spoilers: http://recaptains.co.uk/2013/09/the-raven-boys-by-maggie-stiefvater/
In short, Recaptains is a blog dedicated to spoiling books on purpose. Written by none other than Maggie Stiefvater herself!
Have you read The Raven Boys? Do comment, I’d love to hear from you.
Bye for now,
Marje @ Kyrosmagica xx
The day Louisiana teenager Rory Deveaux arrives in London marks a memorable occasion. For Rory, it’s the start of a new life at a London boarding school. But for many, this will be remembered as the day a series of brutal murders broke out across the city, gruesome crimes mimicking the horrific Jack the Ripper events of more than a century ago.
Soon “Rippermania” takes hold of modern-day London, and the police are left with few leads and no witnesses. Except one. Rory spotted the man police believe to be the prime suspect. But she is the only one who saw him. Even her roommate, who was walking with her at the time, didn’t notice the mysterious man. So why can only Rory see him? And more urgently, why has Rory become his next target? In this edge-of-your-seat thriller, full of suspense, humor, and romance, Rory will learn the truth about the secret ghost police of London and discover her own shocking abilities.
I’ve been meaning to read this novel for ages. I was delighted to listen to Maureen Johnson, and Leigh Bardugo at the Edinburgh International Book Festival last August talking about Alternative Worlds. In fact there is a write up of this wonderful event on my blog on the 25th of August under the heading Author interviews and Talks. So check that out.
In my opinion The Name of The Star, (The Shades of London #), really captures the reader’s imagination about half way through the story. Up until the half way mark it’s a little slow, bogged down by the detail of introducing the setting and the characters. But, on the whole it is quite an engaging story, and Maureen does a great job keeping us entertained with her little witticisms. Luckily the pace livens up in the second half of the novel, and elements of the story are revealed that make it a much more exciting tale, so watch out for that! I would say the writing style is not complex, it is more middle grade, yet the topic is YA, which makes it an easy, fast read.
Rory is from Louisiana but has been sent to Wexford Academy, a boarding school in London. Despite the culture shock, Rory settles into Wexford without too much difficulty. Although she does feel somewhat challenged by the emphasis on sport, particularly hockey. Still, everything else seems to be going well, and she likes her new roommate Jazza. Her boarding school happens to be in the same area that was terrorized by Jack the Ripper in 1888. Weirdly it seems as if Jack is back in town, and wants to greet Rory. “It was as if the news itself wanted to reassure me. Even Jack the Ripper himself had reappeared as part of the greeting committee.” There are CCTV cameras all over London, yet this isn’t deterring someone from carrying out copy cat Jack The Ripper murders. With the murders comes a new flat mate, Boo, who seems very different from Rory’s flatmate Jazza, and everything begins to change. I liked Maureen’s choice of name, Boo, for Rory’s new flat mate, very witty!
It’s a new twist on the Jack The Ripper story and on the whole it works well. The characters are well crafted, particularly Rory, the main female character, and for the most part the story line is believable, (bearing in mind that this is about ghosts!) Though, I did wonder a bit about the method used to zap the ghosts into oblivion possibly this stretched the powers of believability a bit. Though, Maureen Johnson likes to be humorous so maybe she was thinking of changing channels on her TV when she came up with the idea! No, more about that, I don’t want to spoil it for you. The book appears to be well researched, you get the sense that Maureen Johnson tiptoed around London snooping around to find out all she could about the various parts of London where Jack the Ripper struck.
There is a touch of romance in the story, Jerome the love interest, seems to be obsessed with Jack the Ripper, in fact he encourages Rory to sneak out of Wexford through a broken window, to a roof top vantage point at Aldshot, hoping to see something. Jerome sounds a bit daft, and fool-hardy, typical teenage boy material. Later on the way back Rory does indeed see something, or possibly someone, but her flat mate does not, adding to the mystery. I had the sense that Maureen Johnson didn’t intend that this romance was to play a big part in the novel, in a way it seemed to be a bit of light-hearted relief for Rory, a snog with obsessive Jerome, seemed to take her mind of the Ripper’s devilish plans. You can’t blame the poor girl. If you are looking for a well developed romance this isn’t it, this feels more like a bit of a light-hearted temporary diversion, with a very satisfactory snog as a compensation.“Kissing is something that makes up for a lot of other crap you have to put up with…It can be confusing and weird and awkward, but sometimes it just makes you melt and forget everything that is going on.”
“Fear can’t hurt you,” she said. “When it washes over you, give it no power. It’s a snake with no venom. Remember that. That knowledge can save you.”
“And if we get caught, I will claim I made you go. At gunpoint. I am American. People will assume I’m armed.”
“I decided to deflect her attitude by giving a long, Southern answer. I come from people who know how to draw things out. Annoy a Southerner, and we will drain away the moments of your life with our slow, detailed replies until you are nothing but a husk of your former self and that much closer to death.”
“The English play hockey in any weather. Thunder, lightening, plague of locusts…nothing can stop the hockey. Do not fight the hockey, for the hockey will win.”
“Walk really, really carefully. It’s not complicated, but if you mess up, you’ll die, so pay attention.”
“It was almost funny. Life seemed downright accidental in its brevity, and death a punch line to a lousy joke.”
“Something about her suggested that her leisure activities included wrestling large woodland animals and banging bricks together.”
Recommended for readers of Young Adult, Mystery, Paranormal, Historical Fiction, Horror.
4 stars – The beginning is a bit slow probably a 3.5 star beginning but it picked up pace so I award it 4 stars overall.
Have you read The Name of The Star? Do leave a comment I’d love to hear from you.
Marje @ Kyrosmagica xx
Imagine a place where the dead rest on shelves like books.
Each body has a story to tell, a life seen in pictures that only Librarians can read. The dead are called Histories, and the vast realm in which they rest is the Archive.
Da first brought Mackenzie Bishop here four years ago, when she was twelve years old, frightened but determined to prove herself. Now Da is dead, and Mac has grown into what she once was, a ruthless Keeper, tasked with stopping often—violent Histories from waking up and getting out. Because of her job, she lies to the people she loves, and she knows fear for what it is: a useful tool for staying alive.
Being a Keeper isn’t just dangerous—it’s a constant reminder of those Mac has lost. Da’s death was hard enough, but now her little brother is gone too. Mac starts to wonder about the boundary between living and dying, sleeping and waking. In the Archive, the dead must never be disturbed. And yet, someone is deliberately altering Histories, erasing essential chapters. Unless Mac can piece together what remains, the Archive itself might crumble and fall.
In this haunting, richly imagined novel, Victoria Schwab reveals the thin lines between past and present, love and pain, trust and deceit, unbearable loss and hard-won redemption.
Well before I even start my review I would like to say that I just loved the cover art, and the title too! In Victoria Schwab’s The Archive the library isn’t just a place to store books, no it is so much more than this, it is a mysterious place where people’s dead loved ones are archived away like precious memories. More and more of them are waking up, and it is Mac’s job as a Keeper to make sure that they return to the Archive. As you can imagine this is no easy task, but Mac has been trained well by her grandfather Da who has every faith in her.
This is the second Victoria Schwab novel that I have read, my first being Vicious, so I had high hopes. Like I said, The Archive is a truly fascinating concept and I think Schawb really pulled it off well. I think every single person would do what they could to keep the memory of their loves ones who have passed away alive. Mac is just so relatable, and so human, of course she can’t bear the thought of her dead brother being locked away in a drawer. But is her brother really her brother anymore? Or is he something else entirely?
In the Archived we have a world in which the Histories, the Librarians, The Archive, The Returns, and the Outer exist alongside a family still coming to terms with the sudden death of Mac’s brother. We sense the personal and individual responses to grief in Mac’s relationship with her mother and her father. Along the way Mac meets Owen and Wesley, (super cute guy-liner guy), and these three characters drive the plot forward. Mac’s father seems to do his best to encourage Mac to spend time with Wesley. Not the way most fathers behave! I found this quite touching and cute.
To begin with I have to admit that I struggled with some of the details of the novel. I found Da a bit confusing, I started off thinking he was Mac’s father but realised that he was in fact her grandfather. I also thought that Mac sounded more like a boy than a girl. BUT, and this is a big BUT. Victoria Schwab knows how to write, she writes amazing characters that draw you into the story and her dialogue is just spot on. I am so jealous of her dialogue! I really enjoyed the second half of the novel, very mysterious and exciting, with a great plot twist, and Mac is just so fearless in solving the mystery. A big high five for Mac!
So overall my advice would be to read The Archived, not to shelve it, go on read it! Most definitely. I will definitely be picking up the second in the series, The Unbound.
Highly recommended for readers of YA fantasy, paranormal, romance, mystery….
My star rating:
Author’s website – very unusual opening page! See how quickly you can uncrumple the paper.
and her WordPress blog:
Have you read The Archived? Do leave a comment, I’d love to hear from you.
Bye for now,
Marje @ Kyrosmagica xx
Harper Price, peerless Southern belle, was born ready for a Homecoming tiara. But after a strange run-in at the dance imbues her with incredible abilities, Harper’s destiny takes a turn for the seriously weird. She becomes a Paladin, one of an ancient line of guardians with agility, super strength and lethal fighting instincts.
Just when life can’t get any more disastrously crazy, Harper finds out who she’s charged to protect: David Stark, school reporter, subject of a mysterious prophecy and possibly Harper’s least favorite person. But things get complicated when Harper starts falling for him—and discovers that David’s own fate could very well be to destroy Earth.
With snappy banter, cotillion dresses, non-stop action and a touch of magic, this new young adult series from bestseller Rachel Hawkins is going to make y’all beg for more.
My Kyrosmagica Review:
Rebel Belle really tickled me pink! I love the cover, the sword through the girlie necklace. Our debutante shocks us right at the beginning of the novel with a sudden shift in behaviour. I must confess I didn’t pay too much attention to the blurb, I just read the story blind and I was so glad I did. I was stunned when our heroine Harper, the girl who was bound to be homecoming queen, ended up in the toilet of all places kicking ass. At first glance Harper seemed more interested in lipstick and the trappings of being crowned but don’t be fooled, Harper is a Paladin, and Paladin’s aren’t to be trifled with. I liked the title Paladin, kind of made me think of Aladdin! Actually, there are also Mages, and an Oracle too, but no more about that, just thought I’d whet your appetite a bit!
From that opening night she’s drawn into the biggest responsibility of her whole life, and believe me this girl is used to a heck load of responsibilities, and extra curricular activities! She must protect David, the guy that she’s been fighting with since seventh grade. Not only does she have to be his protector but she soon learns that she must protect him at all costs, giving up on all the things she still wants to do, and even to the point of losing her own life. A bit of a tall order! But you get the sense that Harper is up to it, trust me Harper is not one to sit quietly doing nothing. All this with the most important night of her life, Cotillon, just around the corner. Expectations are high, her sister was also homecoming queen, but there is more to this than I want to divulge in this review. It’s a bit of a spoiler so no more said.
I love the characters in Rebel Belle, they are so well crafted and draw you into the story. Harper and her friend Bee are just such good friends, looking out for each other. David is so cute, and so different from her boyfriend Ryan. I loved the way that Harper and David begin by hating each other but slowly understand and develop feelings for each other. With her superpowers it is as if she can now see more clearly and realises that even though her boyfriend, Ryan may be a heartthrob, Mr. Popular, and super nice, he may not be the one for her. She needs someone a bit more quirky, and David could be the one to fit the bill. I also really enjoyed Harper’s aunts, so entertaining. Full marks for characterisation.
The middle section of the novel though good, dragged a little for me, I would say that the beginning and the end of the novel are absolutely first class. So stick with it, it’s well worth it. Some reviews have criticised the love triangle between Harper, her boyfriend Ryan and new love interest David, but I enjoyed this aspect of the novel. I thought some of the details of the magical powers were stretching the believability factor a bit, but overall I really enjoyed Rebel Belle. It’s a lovely, light-hearted read, just don’t take it too seriously!
I loved the ending so, so much. In fact it made up for any tiny flaws. I just found it so funny. I won’t go into details as that would spoil it for you, but if you don’t laugh I will have to kill you!
This is a definite Laugh out Loud book, with a wonderful touch of fantasy, if you don’t like stories with these two elements then don’t touch it with a barge pole. But hey, who doesn’t like a good chuckle?
My favourite quotes:
“Looking back, none of this would have happened if I’d brought lip gloss the night of the Homecoming Dance.”
“I picked up the nearest weapon I could lay my hands on: a stapler. I lifted it, going for “menacing.” I admit it lacked a certain elegance, but hey. It was worth a shot. David placed his hand on my arm and pushed it back down.
“Just . . . that’s embarrassing for all of us,” he replied.”
“The great thing about best friends is that they know you really well. And the terrible thing about best friends is that they know YOU really well.”
“He and I had loathed each other since kindergarten. Heck, even before that. Mom says he’s the only baby I ever bit in daycare.”
“Look at him. Whole life turned upside down, and he’s in there making pizza rolls.”
“I had to get out of this before I was killed with some elaborate cutlery.”
“Aunt May, my sweet Aunt May, who taught me how to knit, who bought me a piece of candy every time we went to the store, jabbed a cocktail fork at my eye.”
Recommended for Young Adult, Fantasy, Paranormal, Magic, Romance, and Contemporary readers. Lots of scope there!
Authors website http://readingwritingrachel.blogspot.com
and her tumblr:
Have you read Rebel Belle? Do leave a comment below I’d love to hear from you.
Bye for now,
Marje @ Kyrosmagica xx
Half Bad by Sally Green is a breathtaking debut novel about one boy’s struggle for survival in a hidden society of witches.
You can’t read, can’t write, but you heal fast, even for a witch.
You get sick if you stay indoors after dark.
You hate White Witches but love Annalise, who is one.
You’ve been kept in a cage since you were fourteen.
All you’ve got to do is escape and find Mercury, the Black Witch who eats boys. And do that before your seventeenth birthday.
I am a big fan of fantasy and love witches, and magic, so Half Bad by Sally Green just said read me. I found the opening chapters of Half Bad really gripping, and Sally Green did a great job of drawing me into the story.
The main protagonist Nathan is the son of the Blackest of black witches. Nathan is unwanted, a baby that is hidden away in a drawer. His birth is not a cause for celebration, a card at his birth, says “Kill it.” His early life is horrendous, he is kept in a cage and subjected to a rigorous routine of exercise and torture which would make most mere mortals buckle, but Nathan has the blood of his father, Marcus in his veins, and his father has just a bit of a reputation. Nathan is an outsider, who is not accepted into white witch culture and is not a fully fledged black witch either. Sally Green does a great job of exploring alienation and prejudice in witch culture and serving it up as a thoughtful reflection for modern-day issues. Also Sally Green’s questioning whether White witches are just as bad as Black witches is an interesting, and thoughtful theme in the book. Will the most evil Black witch of all time have a soft side?
The story takes us on Nathan’s journey to find his father and find his place in this society. So in a sense it is about growing up, and the choices we make, some decisions can and do have disastrous consequences. Along the way he is constantly questioning, and debating issues of morality, and struggling with his conscience. If he sides with his father, and becomes a fully fledged Black witch will he sell his soul to the devil?
Unfortunately I felt that the promise of the opening chapters did not quite deliver what I was expecting in the latter part of the book. I did feel for Nathan, but his journey to find his father just didn’t quite capture my attention in the way I would have hoped. I found it difficult to connect with some of the supporting characters, apart from Gabriel, Mercury, and Nathan’s brother Arran, and I ended up feeling a tad disappointed when I finally met super black witch, Nathan’s dad, he just didn’t quite match up to my expectations. The build up was so good, “I know it was him. Only he can make time stop, ” but the dialogue in the final chapter just didn’t quite hit the spot for me. He just didn’t come across in the way I expected. I couldn’t quite picture him.
Though, in Half Bad’s favour I found Sally Green’s use of second person narration developing into Nathan’s first person, point of view an interesting and different way to approach the novel, and I really liked this. I really enjoyed the detail about the witch’s eyes. “Oh well, like nothing else, really. The nearest I can say is that they are thin slices of silver and they move around, twistin’ and turnin’, like bits in one o’them snow-shaker toys. That’s what it’s like.” I also think Sally Green did a grand job of creating a sense of Nathan’s separateness and uncertainty, and his shocking ill-treatment when he picks a white witch for a girlfriend. Again elements of prejudice keep creeping their way into this novel, and are handled really well. Also Nathan’s branding at the hands of the council, his tattooed fingers, is an excellent, and imaginative idea. I won’t say any more on that one, as I don’t want to spoil the book for you! So for a thoughtful read about witches that is a bit different from what you have read before this has to score points most definitely.
Would I recommend Half Bad? It was pretty good, but there is so much more to come. I sense that the second and third books in this trilogy will be so much better, after all this is Sally Green’s debut, and writers tend to progress and improve with future books, so yes I would say read Half Bad, and follow the progress of this author. Also I believe the Half Bad is going to be a film, so that can’t be Half Bad at all! Sally Green really has done remarkably well. She was at YALC at Earl’s court in London this weekend and I was amused by her background, she only started writing four years ago, previously she was an accountant who didn’t consider herself particularly creative, well she certainly discovered her creativity, and good luck to her.
Recommended for readers of Fantasy, Young Adult, Paranormal, Witches. Magic.
This was a difficult one for me to rate. I was quite torn, it felt that it wasn’t quite a four star for me, and yet it was above a three star, so I settled for giving it 3.75 stars!
For more details of Sally Green and Half Bad: www.halfbadworld.com
Have you read Half Bad? Do leave a comment below I’d love to hear from you.
Bye for now,
Marje @ Kyrosmagica x