Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Dark City: Catherine Fisher



Welcome to Anara, a world mysteriously crumbling to devastation, where nothing is what it seems: Ancient relics emit technologically advanced powers, members of the old Order are hunted by the governing Watch yet revered by the people, and the great energy that connects all seems to also be destroying all. The only hope for the world lies in Galen, a man of the old Order and a Keeper of relics, and his sixteen-year-old apprentice, Raffi. They know of a secret relic with great power that has been hidden for centuries. As they search for it, they will be tested beyond their limits. For there are monsters-some human, some not-that also want the relic's power and will stop at nothing to get it.


After reading Incarceron and Sapphique I was expecting something absolutely fantastic with Fisher’s new new series, the Relic Masters, but I have to say I was a little disappointed.

While there was nothing wrong with the plot, it was interesting, fun, and held a pretty good pace, it felt as if the book was stuck in-between age groups it was aiming for. What I mean by this is that all the chapters were middle grade and lower level short (less than 10 pages for most), the characters felt confused as if they wanted to be deeper and more intricate but were stuck at a younger level in hopes to simplify actions for the reader, and the format of the book was that of one for younger grade books (wider font, less words per page, ect…).

At the same time, the larger plot of the book was more complex than a book of this age group and demanded deeper fuller characters and was much more intricate that a normal elementary or middle grade novel. Because of this The Dark City felt like it was constantly at odds with itself and hampered what could have been a great book.

Of course that said, this was the first book in the series and the characters could have been set at the level so that they could evolve in later books to a greater degree. Not only that but I personally hate when books “dumb down” plots and characters for a younger audience, and the wider and more complex plot may be an effort to do just the opposite of this and bring the level of this middle grade novel up to that of a YA novel, which in my opinion would be fantastic.

All in all while much of The Dark City seemed at odds with itself it was the first book in a new series and could be Fisher’s attempt at bringing up the level of some middle grade novels. So until I read the later volumes in the series (luckily they come out in consecutive months) I will withhold judgment and hope for the best, from what I usually consider a great writer.


Publisher: Dial

Published: May 17, 2011

Price: $16.99

Monday, June 13, 2011

Among Thieves: By Douglas Hulick



Drothe has been a member of the Kin for years, rubbing elbows with thieves and murderers in the employ of a crime lord while smuggling relics on the side. But when an ancient book falls into his hands, Drothe finds himself in possession of a relic capable of bringing down emperors-a relic everyone in the underworld would kill to obtain.


The worst thing about Among Thieves is the cover.

And the only way I know it can be much better is by looking at what the British have done with their version of it.

The cover of the American Among Thieves makes the book look like a bad romance flop. In the British version, Hulick’s novel appears dark, exciting, and absolutely fantastic. And to be honest the book, both the American and the British versions live up to these expectations. (To be clear it is nothing close to a bad romance flop, in case there was any confusion.)

Hulick creates a world where an empire is ruled by three different reincarnated versions of the same man, a man who has ruled for centuries. Of course where there’s an empire there’s a black market; filled with murders, smugglers, liars, and thieves, also known as the Kin. That’s where readers will be introduced into Hulick’s world, into the world of the Kin, and more specifically into Drothe’s world. Drothe is a Nose, someone who takes in all the gossip on the streets and pieces together a story of what’s actually going on and then usually fixes it. Of course this particular situation has amounted to more than Drothe even planned for. For Drothe has found a book. A book so powerful that it could destroy an empire, the Kin, or anyone who got in its way, or it could make the owner powerful enough to reach the level of goddomhood. Of course Drothe wasn’t the only one looking for it. With the upright men (his bosses), the Grey Princes, and the empire out to get him, it’s no longer a question of if he’ll get be caught but when and how painful will the consequences be.

While the setting is dark and dramatic, the best feature of Among Thieves is the characters. Drothe is a fantastic protagonist. He’s funny, smart, an underdog, and most importantly an incredibly likeable character. Of course he’s not the only fantastic character in this book. Degan and Kells are also amazing. They each play their roles beautifully, are full and dynamic characters, and really add something fundamental to the story.

Of course besides the characters and the setting, the plot is intricate enough to keep everyone guessing. Just when readers will think they know the whole story and how everything is going to go down Hulick delivers a new twist that sends readers reeling.

All in all Among Thieves is a fantastic book that I’d easily recommend to anyone. It is fast paced, fun, and engaging. And if you can get around not judging it by its cover (the American cover) then you’ll fully enjoy this book.


9 out of 10


Publisher: Roc

Published: April 5, 2011

Price: $7.99