Many thanks to Robbie Cheadle for this comprehensive, thoughtful and illuminating review for Rosie’s Book Review Team.
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.
I’m delighted to be joining Donna’s blog tour for Mark Richards new release today with an interview and review too!
Once upon a time I had a business in financial services: nice suits, smart shirts, stripy ties. But always with a small voice inside me. “Let me out,” it said, “I’m a writer.”
I kept the small voice securely under lock and key but then – in 2009 – my brother died of cancer. It was one of those pivotal moments in life. I either let the small voice out and pursued my dream, or I forgot about it for good. So I sold my business, sent my stripy ties to the charity shop and started writing.
Now my time divides between writing for clients – copywriting, ghostwriting – and writing for myself.
In the spring of 2016 I suffered the latest in a long line of mid-life crises and invited my youngest son to come for a walk with me. That led to ‘Father, Son and the Pennine Way’ – the first of three books ostensibly about walking, but really about my ever-changing relationship with my son.
…And now – in September 2020 – I’ve turned my attention to novels. ‘Salt in the Wounds’ in the first book in the Michael Brady series and, when that’s finished, I’ll look to develop two other crime series.
Michael Brady looked at Sandra Garrity’s face. Grey skin. Bloodshot eyes open. Blue lips, her tongue protruding. “Did you watch your husband die, Sandra? Or did he watch you die?”
“Brilliant. Brady is fast becoming the Yorkshire Rebus.”
Billy and Sandra were childhood sweethearts. Writing their names on a lovelock. Fastening it to the end of Whitby pier. Throwing the key into the sea. A lifetime together. A happy retirement in a peaceful hamlet on the North Yorkshire Moors. Until the day they were brutally murdered. “Whoever did this – he didn’t do it quickly. And he enjoyed it…”
Billy was a fisherman, making a living in the cold, cruel North Sea. One night his boat went down. Two crewmen drowned. Billy survived. Are the families looking for revenge? It’s the obvious conclusion. But why have they waited so long? Why have they killed Billy and Sandra? And why kill them in such a barbaric way? “This isn’t a murder, Mike. It’s an execution. A medieval execution.”
Choke Back the Tears is the fourth book in the Michael Brady series. Kershaw’s away, Brady’s in charge. The bucks stops on his desk. But at least Frankie Thomson is back to help him. For now… There are no clues. No motives. It’s a perfect crime scene. All Brady has is his experience and his intuition. And his small team is gettng smaller by the day… Meanwhile he’s battling problems in his personal life. His daughter Ash wants to know the truth about her mother’s death. Brady can’t put off telling her any longer. He’s having doubts about everything. Even the memory of his dead wife.
Choke Back the Tears is the most personal Brady book yet. He has to find the killer. He has to keep his team together. And he owes his daughter an explanation. Michael Brady needs a friend. But he doesn’t have one…
The Michael Brady books are perfect for fans of J D Kirk, Jason Dalgleish, David Gatward, T G Reid – and anyone who likes characters you’ll come to think of as friends.
“Mark Richards has created such a likeable character in Mike Brady that you want to become his friend, go for a drink with him or give him a hug when he obviously needs one. I’ve read all three Brady books within a week and am waiting for the fourth with bated breath.”
Interview with Mark…
Why write a novel? The brutal truth is that I wrote a novel because I ran out of excuses. Travelling back in time I was a dull bugger in a suit, with a business in financial services. I also had this small voice which tapped me on the shoulder and said, “Let me out, you want to be a writer.” In 2009 my brother died of cancer. It was one of those pivotal moments in life. I realised that I either let the small voice out and did what I really wanted to do, or I forgot about it for good. So I sold my business, sent my stripy ties to the charity shop and started writing – starting a new business as a freelance copywriter. Then the small voice started up again. “Let me out, you want to write a novel.” Fortunately I was too busy – no time. Then lockdown struck in March 2020: I immediately lost two clients in the day job and ran out of excuses. Suddenly I did have the time. I skulked away to the spare room and started Salt in the Wounds… Why mystery/thriller/crime? If I was going to move into commercial fiction I wanted a big market and clearly mystery/thriller/crime comes second after romance. My intention with Mike Brady was to land the books fairly and squarely in the middle of the target – to write books that were at least equal to those that were selling well. I read a couple of books by popular authors and thought I could do that. But the books are really about Michael Brady’s internal journey as much as they’re about the crimes. There’s a great quote – supposedly attributed to Joseph Wambaugh – along the lines of, ‘the best crime fiction isn’t about cops working on cases, it’s about cases working on cops.’ That’s how it is with Brady, and you’ll see the impact of the cases over the course of the series. Would you consider any other genre? I’ve got about 10,000 words of a post-apocalyptic book written. When I lost my clients and ran out of excuses it was really a toss-up between Mike Brady and Rafe Mueller (another damaged soul…) I have got other books out there: I’ve written three books about long distance walks I’ve done with Alex, my youngest son. Again though, they’re not about the walks as much as the relationship between Alex and me. Pop ‘Mark Richards, Father, Son and…’ into Amazon and you’ll find them. But brand is important for an author, so I don’t feature those books on my website: for the foreseeable future, I’ll focus on mystery/thriller/crime.
Why did you choose Whitby for the books? As a few people know I live in Scarborough, 20 miles down the coast from Whitby. I chose Whitby because it has such a good ‘sense of place.’ Captain Cook, Dracula, traditional English fishing port, history, Heartbeat, the Moors, fish and chips.
Living so close to it I thought I knew the town quite well. You don’t know a town at all until you start planning to murder someone there… Where did the idea for Michael Brady come from? We have three children – boy, girl, boy. When Eleanor was 14/15 it’s fair to say she went through a fairly rebellious phase. We’re great pals now and she’s my football-buddy, but at the time father/daughter relationships were slightly strained, and there were certainly boyfriends I wasn’t told about. I used to lie awake at night and ask myself a very simple question: ‘how the hell will I cope if anything happens to my wife?’ Simply put, that’s where the idea for Michael Brady came from and at the start of Salt in the Wounds that’s exactly where he is. His wife has been killed in a hit-and-run and he’s driving across the North York Moors with Ash (Ashley), his teenage daughter. He’s determined to start a new life, be a good dad to Ash and has absolutely no intention of going back into the police. And then his best friend is murdered… So Brady’s relationship with Ash is very much my imagined relationship with Elle (Eleanor). The sarcastic replies she gives him are exactly the sort of replies Elle gave me and – like I was when she was in her early teenage years – Brady has a permanent struggle between being protective and allowing her enough freedom. Interestingly one reader in the US took me to task, saying he wouldn’t allow his daughter to speak to him in the way Ash talks to Brady, “but I guess that’s the difference between the US and the UK.” I thought he missed the point – like many teenage girls Ash feels physically awkward around her dad, so when they have these ‘banter conversations’ she’s really giving her dad a sort of verbal hug. By the time you get to Book 4 Brady is tentatively starting his first relationship after his wife – and obviously Ash is going to have some views on the potential new girlfriend. And be on hand with dating advice… ‘All characters are fictitious…’ But what about Archie? Nail. Head. Archie isn’t fictitious. Archie is Pepper, our Springer Spaniel, brought back to life. We got Pep in January 2006. She was just the most brilliant family pet, and my walking buddy on the cliff top. We finally said goodbye to her in November 2019 – and I still drop my toast on the floor and expect her to be there. So Mike Brady’s dog, Archie, is Pepper brought back to life. Archie’s love of sausages and his desperate need to roll in a dead fish? That’s Pepper. If you want to know more about Pep I brought all the short stories I wrote about her and family life together in a book: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B08BCGLZTW How much research do you do? Compared to other writers? Honestly, I don’t know. I suspect ‘above average’ is the answer. I do all my own research and that includes the physical side of it. I’ve hung off the end of Whitby Pier (Alex held on to me), gone trespassing on a railway line, trekked across the Moors…
For ‘Choke Back the Tears’ I was contemplating jumping into the North Sea fully clothed (you’ll see why) but as I was recovering from Covid at the time I had a long conversation with a girl who goes wild swimming instead. One of the best things about research is how incredibly helpful people are. For Salt in the Wounds I had two or three long conversations with an officer in a woman’s prison, plus a paramedic. The River Runs Deep was witness protection and drowning. For The Echo of Bones I had long, long e-mail conversations with a forensic pathologist in Tennessee. And for the latest book about five trips to Whitby and a detailed conversation with a midwife. Coming up? Brady still owes Dave a fishing trip. I’ll have to go out on a boat and try and catch a ten-pound cod. I’m not looking forward to it – I don’t like boats – but it has to be done. And an idea I had this morning means I might have to sleep rough for a night. And while I didn’t use it in a book, my research has also taught me what to plant if you’ve buried a body in your allotment. Roses at first, then brassicas – cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli… How much of you is there in Brady? Brady’s 42 and his sister tells him he ‘looks a bit like Chris Hemsworth,’ so there aretwo boxes I don’t tick straightaway… I’m in a lot of the small details of Mike Brady. How he likes his bacon sandwiches, how he has his tea, eating fish and chips by the harbour. But Brady’s physically brave – I’m not. Then again I’ve done stand-up comedy in Barnsley… Brady’s relationship with Ash is unquestionably based on my relationship with my daughter. The replies she gives him – ‘This is a cool town, Dad. Two garden centres and a garage. Oh, and a Chinese takeaway. And a car park. I’ll certainly be coming here with my friends’ – are exactly the replies Ellie would have given me. Ditto, Archie. We had a Springer for 13 years, before we lost her in November 2019. Archie is simply Pepper re-born, and when Archie rolls in a dead fish, that’s Pep. Rumour has it you’ve done stand-up comedy. How useful is that when you’re writing a novel? I have. I woke up with a midlife crisis one Saturday morning and told my wife I wanted to try stand-up. I did it for a year and was reasonably good – good enough to get paid and good enough to realise how good the top performers were. I did a gig in York where I was the warm-up for Russell Howard as he was just breaking through, and he was on another level. But stand-up is brilliant training for writing. When you’re writing stand-up material is has to be tight and sharp – I could give you a great example, but it involves a lot of swearing. The same is true of novels. ‘Get it right, keep it tight, cut out the £$%&e’ as the old newspaper editors used to say. You’re self-published at the moment. Would you like to be traditionally published?
As a few people know I had a little bit of a flirt with a publisher around Christmas/New Year. They offered me a contract but I turned it down because of changes they wanted to make to the books. In the short-term that was probably a poor decision, at least from a commercial point of view, but what they wanted to do was simply wrong and would have made the books worse. Long-term let’s see what happens. For now I’m concentrating on the next book in the Brady series which I’ll have written, edited and published for Christmas. No way could you do that with a traditional publisher. Netflix knock on the door: who plays Brady on TV? You know what? I don’t mind. I consciously don’t do detailed descriptions of my characters because I want to give the readers the freedom to imagine the characters as they see fit. If I can give them an impression, that’ll do fine. When Brady first meets the man who’ll be his boss, Kershaw, he’s described as ‘silver-haired, silver-tongued.’ Seriously, do you need any more? Who hasn’t had a boss like that? So no, I’m happy to leave it to the readers. Several of them see Frankie as Suranne Jones. I think she’s too old for Frankie, but I’m happy to leave it to Netflix. I’ll only get cross if they mis-cast Archie… What’s your favourite thing about writing? Let me say one thing straightaway: writing is an incredibly selfish pastime. You have to say to your wife/husband/partner, ‘Yes, I’m very willing to build you a cold frame/paint the kitchen/go out for a drink… But not now, because I have to finish this chapter.’ There are also plenty of times when I’m ‘there but not there.’ My wife will say something to me and I simply won’t reply. I’m in an alley in Whitby murdering someone… That said, I love writing. Why do I write? The same reason as I breathe. I’m not someone who believes in inspiration but occasionally you’ll write a sentence/para and it’s exactly right. Possibly even funny. There are not many better feelings. And two things I didn’t even consider when I started writing novels. The research (see above) and the interaction with readers, which I love. And your least favourite? Other than the comment above about selfishness, writing is time intensive. There are no economies of scale. Two thousand words takes twice as long as a thousand, and it has to be done – especially if you have a deadline and Jeff Bezos is threatening to flog you in the market square if you don’t meet it. On a lovely day that’s tough. The other kids are outside playing on the grass: you’re in the classroom writing your English essay. Your favourite fictional character? Probably Lisbeth Salander in Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. She’s in such a good place at the end of that book that I won’t read the next two.
Thomas Cromwell in the Hilary Mantel books if he’s allowed to qualify as a fictional character. And obviously Hannibal Lecter. “More than my job’s worth, mate.” “Fair enough, I’ll eat your liver.” Plotter or pantser? Gardener or architect? One of the things that stopped me writing a book for a long time was my conviction that I couldn’t plot a novel. I knew I could write reasonably well, but I thought I was limited to articles/blogs in the 600 to 3,000 word range. Essentially what I wrote for clients in the day job as a freelance copywriter. Then lockdown struck, I immediately lost two clients and my standard excuse – I don’t have time to write a novel – went out of the window. So I invented Michael Brady, killed his wife, stuck him in a car with Ash and let him get on with it. Right now I’d describe myself – whichever term you go for – as half way between the two. I know where the story is going and I know some of the key signposts along the way – but I do think you have to let the characters talk to you. Possibly the best example of that is Ruby in ‘The Echo of Bones.’ I had no real idea of Ruby until I started writing about her. But then she opened her mouth, started talking and was fully formed in front of me. The moment she spat in the tea Brady had given her I knew I had a really great character. You’ve got three children. Have any of them inherited the writing gene? ‘Yes’ is the simple answer. Dan has just finished his PhD at Leeds University which involved a fair amount of writing. Alex wrote a western during lockdown – which I need to edit for him. But girls always come out on top don’t they? Elle used to go upstairs to write her English essays and come down again 15 minutes later. She’s always been able to write at speed and I introduced her to an American hybrid publisher who specialised in post-apocalyptic books. She wrote four series for him and made enough for the deposit on a house. #ProudDadAlert What do you do when you’re not writing? A few people know the awful truth. I am North Yorkshire’s only known supporter of Wolverhampton Wanderers. I watch illegal streams of their games and shout a lot. What do you write on? Wax tablet? State of the art Mac? I’ve got an HP laptop. I think it was about three hundred quid. It’s on a stand on my desk and I use a full size keyboard which connects to the laptop via magic. All I really do on my laptop is use Word and Excel, so I don’t need anything powerful. Oh, and the illegal streams, of course. But keep that to yourself…
Thank you to Mark Richards for being my guest today. I really enjoyed finding out more about him and his writing. And… I couldn’t resist reading and reviewing!
It’s rare that I read crime and I am now wondering why!
Many thanks to the author for an advanced review copy and to Donna Morfett for including me in the tour.
I absolutely loved this. I’m late to discover Mark but so glad that I managed to dive in and read book 4. First thing that struck me whilst reading Choke Back The Tears #4 is the short, snappy chapters, which carry your attention brilliantly. And the great characterisation, Brady is so well written, as are all the supporting characters and potential murderers/suspects. The murder scene is gory and much detail is given for the reader to deliberate the who and the what and the why. The setting of the scene in Whitby works well, you can just about smell and taste the fish, chips and bacon sarnies. And I just knew that Archie was fashioned on the author’s dog, guessed it before I read Mark Richard’s interview on my blog. I enjoyed the personal elements woven into the tale about Brady’s daughter which gave the story a pleasing human touch which I appreciated. But… perhaps the aspect I enjoyed the most was the story’s insight into how tough it must be for coppers and law enforcers to cope with the heinous impact of crimes such as these on their stomachs, (as in keep from puking,) and their daily lives.
It’s an easy one to rate… a page turning 5 stars.
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Faced with a task that could turn them into monsters, Sarnd and Jessa must decide whether to run away or save the world.
Six years ago, twins Sarnd and Jessa thought they’d rid their world of the malevolent Serpentstone. Since then they’ve worked hard to set their shocking past behind them.
But the Serpentstone has returned, and they’re asked to carry it to an abandoned mine where it will be sealed deep underground. The Stone appears to be much weaker than it was, but they learned the hard way never to trust it.
The Stone starts to regain its terrifying power, and while Sarnd is desperate to complete their mission so he can go back to his new life, Jessa has other ideas.
As their mission becomes a race against time, can the twins learn to trust each other again and avoid becoming the creatures they fear the most?
Buy the thrilling sequel to The Hungry Fire and enter a world of chaotic magic, treacherous allies and underdog heroes!
Release date: 23rd July, available to preorder now.
Thank you to the author for an advanced reader’s copy which I read and review freely and without bias.
This is book 2 in the Serpentstone series. I managed to read book 2 without any problems. But ideally, it would be best to read the 1st book in the series: The Hungry Fire (Serpentstone Book 1) which is available at special offer price via this link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B08TCFWY8B
SARND: “I’m a monster, created by my so-called parents as a weapon using the corrupted power of the Serpentstone.”
The Poison Ember is a story of magic, power, fighting, sparring, revenge, adventure and secrets. “Known to the Academy as the Orufasu, the Stone was the greatest concentration of magical power ever discovered.”
“The Stone was so mighty, and had the power to strip away all that she thought she was, turning her and Sarnd into projections of its own violent and callous will. How could they be deluded enough to think they could come near it and survive?
And now, here he was, carrying a bag that held the greatest concentration of magic ever found. Against his will, he was caught up in a new adventure—one likely to end in tragedy rather than triumph.”
It’s a tale in which you suspend belief and take a magical journey into a land created wholly by the author’s imagination. Amusing in parts, I appreciated the revelations about the stone, the sibling banter, and uncertainties of trust played out between Sarnd and his twin sister Jessa.
The latter chapters of the story became more exciting as the adventure continued.
Overall, this is a well written, high fantasy adventure tale. Please note: a fair amount of dialogue and the story is delivered with quite a few characters to get to grips with, which is (not uncommon with high fantasy books, but usually there is one central character who is the main focus.) In this story, there are three main protagonists – the twins, Sarnd and Jessa, and of course the stone, who also becomes a character in many ways.
My rating: an enjoyable 4 stars. Recommended for high fantasy, epic fantasy, adventure, sword and sorcery fans.
Rating: 4 out of 5.
An Australian living in the United Kingdom, A.M. Obst has always loved to daydream and make up things about places that don’t exist. An avid reader of fantasy novels, he has also been spotted holding books from other genres, including science fiction, crime, thrillers, horror, romance and historical adventures.
I’m thrilled to announce that there have been some fantastic new reviews recently for Golden Healer and Bloodstone. I’ve been so thrilled with the latest review for Golden Healer that I created a graphic on Canva to share the news!
The latest 5 star review of Golden Healer from Sheila, author S C Skillman rocks! Many thanks to Sheila and all the reviewers for taking the time to read and review.
Having read the first book in this trilogy, I had a number of questions about the world of magic MJ Mallon had conjured up in this tale of Amelina and the spiritual and mystical powers she faces, both positive and negative. Golden Healer answered several of my questions and clarified Amelina’s world for me. It opened up realms both terrifying and beautiful, as Amelina journeys on, aided by her allies, and threatened by repugnant spirits.
I am captivated by MJ Mallon’s descriptive writing which dazzles the reader; and she truly develops the potential of her imaginative ideas: chocolates that cast spells; a bossy front doormat; a magic paintbrush that can create illness through a white icy mist over a portrait; the Grasshopper who steals time; a magical environment that can open up your worst nightmares or your most enchanted dreams. Packed with surreal events and powers, this story is often a mind-bending read.
I found myself drawn in by Amelina and her predicament, navigating her parents, her quirky aunt Karissa who bestows dangerous magical gifts, her friends Jade, Ilaria and Joselyn; the tragic and fascinating Esme, trapped in the mirror; and the evil Ryder, Shadow Sorcerer, who appears so charismatic and charming on the surface to others.
I was intrigued by the changing viewpoints within the story: mostly first person in the mind of Amelina, but at one point in the viewpoint of her father Mark, and then switching to third person near the end. The idea of the Crystal Cottage continues to fascinate me, and the law that states “only spiritual and magical individuals may approach the crystals safely.” A true Krystallos of the mightiest power, we learn, must be female, intuitive, a fierce protector, and kind of heart. This role is Amelina’s. Her aunt Karissa is an Ice Krystallos and her father Mark a Fire Krystallos.
Alongside the magical dimension in the story we are carried forward in the real world of school life and volatile emotions and shifting relationships between the teenagers: Emily and Jade, both infatuated with the handsome Ryder; the new rapport Amelina discovers with Kyle; and the conflict this creates with Esme, over her own feelings for Kyle.
There is intense jeopardy in this story for Amelina; gifted with the master crystal Golden Healer, she receives the power to transform everything, right all wrongs and overcome evil; but only at great peril to herself. The risk is high in this treacherous spiritual realm; will she make the right choice?
I also loved the beautiful and cryptic ‘tanka’ poetry that opens each chapter, which is described as a ‘puzzle piece’.
With a dramatic and truly disturbing end, MJ Mallon’s readers can only wait in dread and hope for the final book of the trilogy!
I’ll start with a confession – this is the kind of book I would normally run a mile from. But I ended up loving it and that is a tribute to the skill and imagination of the author.
The whole otherworldly realm of fantasy and magic and special powers and talking animals and general disregard for the rules of reality is just not my bag. Bloodstone has all of that in abundance – a magic paint set, power-giving crystals, a house with a personality, a character trapped in mirrors, a cat that may not be a chatterbox but definitely feels more human than feline. Never mind the author’s trigger warnings for her young readers, I had plenty of my own.
And yet, within the first few pages I found myself sucked into the life of Amelina along with her strange, disturbed family and their equally bizarre surroundings. I remained captivated throughout because when you put genre aside, what you have here is a terrific tale written with pace and insight, and compelling characters you cannot help but care about for better or worse.
Amelina is such a believable teenager – vulnerable yet brave, lost at times, bold at other times. Ryder is a puzzle – is he the hero he appears to be on the surface or is there something darker lurking there? Esme is the one you will want to save and protect. Watching over it all, the enigmatic Shadow.
I was quickly won over by the way the oddness of the characters and the set-up was acknowledged. On the rare occasions when I have dipped my toe into the fantasy genre, a big gripe has been the way the reader is expected to accept outlandish concepts as just the way things are (or perhaps that’s just me). But right there, on the opening page, Amelina is almost wearily hinting that she is the normal one – perhaps the only normal one – in her strange existence.
I can see how Bloodstone would not only entertain young adults but make them think about important issues, like how you can be surrounded by people yet still feel lonely, how you should look out for others who might be struggling, how people aren’t always what they seem. But a major strength of the book is that these powerful messages are not waved in the reader’s face but drip fed gently without getting in the way of the story.
I only read Bloodstone because it was recommended in a book group and I have learned a little about the author, but it has shown me the value of getting out of your reading comfort zone once in a while.
Bloodstone is book one in the Curse of Time series. I was drawn in by the amazing cover art and the intriguing title.
This book is full of whimsy, magic, and mythology—giving me strong Philip Pullman, Frank L. Baum, and Lewis Carroll vibes. It kind of reminded me of films like The Labyrinth or Never Ending Story with that sense of alternate reality.
The story can be quite “trippy” at times with the main character, Amelina’s many dreams and hallucinations. You definitely have to suspend all belief and logic when reading, and just let the story take you. Because of this I did find parts hard to digest.
However, there was consistency throughout and that was Mallon’s writing. The writing itself was clear despite the story jumping in parts, and the addition of poetry and lyrics made it a different and more artistic read. Almost as if it were a piece of Amelina’s art itself.
It’s clear a lot of research went into this story too with the many references to folk lore, art, and crystals. And for that it’s impossible not to give Mallon 5 stars.
If you like magic and fantasy, this is one for you. It also leave plenty of questions for the follow up.
Bloodstone is a fantasy novel aimed at the Young Adult market. I’ve read and enjoyed quite a few Young Adults books but I’ve never read within the fantasy genre before. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
It tells the tale of 15 year old Amelina who lives with her parents and her cat in a melancholy household. Her father vanished for years and since his sudden reappearance seems devoid of joy or happiness and her irate secretive mother seems unable to face up to what is happening around her. Amelina’s only solace seems to be in her music and crystals. This is one girls quest to overcome the problems within her family and restore harmony within her world.
On her journey we meet a variety of magical characters. There is Esme, a girl trapped within the mirror, an enigmatic boy called Ryder who Amelina finds herself drawn too and an elderly woman who lives in an enchanted Crystal Cottage. Added to this unusual mix are her 3 school friends. They all have a part to play in Amelina’s destiny but appearances can be deceptive and Amelina soon realises that some characters may not be as altruistic as she first thought.
This is a very well written novel. The author certainly has a flair with description and the imagery is beautiful. Bloodstone is also very interesting, I found myself mesmerised by the storyline. I particularly liked how the author has woven her own concepts of fantasy and magic, combining them with references to popular myths and legends. There are moments within this novel which were completely surreal, it reminded me of Alice In Wonderland and there is a poetic, almost dreamlike quality to the writing.
As well as brilliantly highlighting teenage emotions, it also explores the complexities of friendship, and the introspective narrative touches on topical mental health issues.
Bloodstone is a very impressive debut novel. I would highly recommend it for anyone who wants an original, magical read. Five stars from me.
This is the first in The Curse of Time series a YA fantasy/magic book and it’s safe to say I’ve never read this genre before. It took me a while to get into it as my common sense head kept kicking in but, about one third of the way in, I realised I was page turning wanting to know what happened next. It’s very well written with an interesting cast of characters led by 15 year old Amelina Scott who lives with her parents, a black cat and Esme, a girl who lives in the mirrors in their home in Cambridge. Yes you read that right!
Briefly, Amelina’s father has returned home after being missing for some time but he is changed and they are no longer the happy family they were before. Amelina wants to find out the truth about her fathers disappearance and the change in her parents personalities. On her journey she meets attractive Ryder, but is he what he seems to be? As she realises that she has unusual powers her understanding of her family situation grows.
As well as the fantasy elements such as potent crystals and a magical paintbox given to her by her Aunt, some real issues such as toxic relationships, mental health and self harm are addressed but are dealt with in a sensitive manner. I’m still not 100% convinced that fantasy is for me but I really did enjoy this book and I will make further forays into this genre. My last word, I know this is classified as YA but I’m more OAP so it’s definitely an adult read as well. Oh and my last last word I just love the cover of this book ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
I found this to be an action-packed, fast-paced, thoroughly enjoyable read. I think all ages will get something from this book, and it’s a great start to a series. Amelina is an interesting teenage protagonist who lives in a house surrounded by mysteries. What happened to her dad when he mysteriously disappeared, and why was he so altered and strange when he reappeared? Why is there a girl trapped inside the mirrors of the house? And who is the enigmatic Ryder? As well as trying to survive and solve these mysteries, Amelina must also contend with the usual teenage angst and drama, such as not getting on with her mother and worrying about fitting in with her friends. A great read with plenty set up for the next book!
And… some news. Since, I have now joined Tiktok I have now decided to add all my social media and buying links to one place. This is a work in progress but have added most of my links now: https://linktr.ee/mjmallonauthor
Multiple PlatformBuy LinkBloodstone – in kindle, paperback, hardback.
Great news, the Bloodstone Audiobook is live and available to buy and listen to via various paid as well as audiobook subscription options on Amazon. It will also be on Itunes. The narrator Kerri Hiebert did a fabulous job of narrating.
It has been well received with a great bestseller top 100 rating in Amazon UK under the category Coming of age Fiction For Teens.
Also I have a limited amount of free acx promo codes – US and UK – for those who might not want the free trial but are keen to listen and review. Let me know if you would like one – email me, or comment below.
Fifteen-year-old Amelina Scott lives in Cambridge with her dysfunctional family, a mysterious black cat, and an unusual girl who is imprisoned within the mirrors located in her house.
When an unexpected message arrives inviting her to visit the Crystal Cottage, she sets off on a forbidden path where she encounters Ryder, a charismatic, perplexing stranger.
With the help of a magical paint set and some crystal wizard stones, can Amelina discover the truth about her family?
A unique, imaginative mystery full of magic-wielding and dark elements, Bloodstone is a riveting adventure for anyone interested in fantasy, mythology, or the world of the paranormal.
TRIGGER WARNING: this book contains mention of self-harm, mental health issues and alludes to the potential dangers of sexual attraction, which may trigger younger/sensitive readers.
I hope you are staying safe and indoors if you are in the path of the storm. Take care,
Thank you to Mary for the above feature in the Munster Bookshelf! What a fabulous boost.
My impromptu blog tour is drawing to a close so it seems a good time to say a thank you to my author and blogger friends who have spread the word on this particular tour for my new release Golden Healer. I am intending to do a review only tour with a Blogging Tour/PR company soon but for now… Do pop over to their blogs, read their books, enjoy their content. They are all awesome authors, bloggers, book enthusiasts and great people to know!
I was lucky enough to beta read an early version of this novel, it carried 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 new 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.
Review quote: I absolutely love the way MJ Mallon uses her descriptive writing to make me feel in in the places, I can hear the sounds and feel the depth of the darker sides of the book.
As I felt with the first book I think these books would make a great set of films. A big 5 stars from me.
Denise Finn for reading and reviewing and sharing my release in two blog posts!
“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. Review D. L. Finn.
Ritu Bhathal for this celebratory blog post and for reading and reviewing:
It feels like an age since I read the first book in The Curse of Time series, but it was great to pick up where we left off, with the continuing story of Amelina and her mystical powers. This time, she is a little wiser, and is aware of the powers given to her, and wary of certain individuals, such as Ryder, who has his own dark secrets. There are plenty of twists and turns to keep you guessing throughout the story. I felt so sorry for poor Esme, trapped in the mirror, and I wanted to shake Jade, until she realised the error of her judgement. But, I can feel another story coming as the ending was definitely not a Happily Ever After!Review – Ritu Bhathal
ARC copies are still with reviewers so there will be reviews forthcoming. I know some lovely folk are reading at the moment!
New book babies are always nerve racking! But, feeling happy that it is out there. It has taken a long time to create. The pandemic didn’t help. Writing dark fantasy during a pandemic isn’t the easiest thing to do!