Five Reasons You Should Read…The Road to Ever After by Moira Young

Part Benjamin Button, part Harold and Maud, part Brian Selznick and part Neil Gaiman, this is a unique, magical story that will draw readers in and make them fall in love with both characters.

Davy David is a thirteen-year-old orphan, who lives in the bushes in a town ruled by a strict minister, Reverend Fall. A talented artist, Davy loves to draw pictures of angels in the dirt, in the early hours of the morning before the townspeople are awake. He spends his days on his own, except for a small dog, who has attached himself to Davy, often going to the library to find inspiration for his pictures of angels. One day, after chasing after a ball for some of the town’s boys, he finds himself in the yard of the old boarded-up museum, now rumoured to be the home of a witch. The witch is Miss Elizabeth Flint, an elderly woman who has a proposition for Davy: drive her to her childhood home, where, it turns out, she has made the decision to die.Screen Shot 2016-10-19 at 22.28.05.png

‘The Road to Ever After’ by Moira Young publishes in the UK tomorrow, and I highly recommend that you pick it up. Here are five reasons why!

  • THE WRITING STYLE

‘The Road to Ever After’ is beautifully written. It’s captivating from start to finish, and it’s full of moving and memorable sections of narration and of dialogue. It’s very different from Moira Young’s previous novels – the Dustlands trilogy, which is a fast-paced, action-packed YA series with Western and dystopian themes – but it’s equally gripping. I am always in awe of authors like Moira Young who can write equally strong novels in a range of genres.

  • THE CHARACTERS

All the characters in the novel are vivid and distinctive, from the mean and corrupt Parson Falls (who reminds me of the mayor in Joanne Harris’ ‘Chocolat’) and the brash van driver Mr Webb, to the kind and generous Mr Timm and the sweet Miss Shasta. I could visualise each of them wholly.

Davy is a fantastic main character. I immediately sympathised with him and felt an attachment to him, which meant that I was very emotionally involved in the story. I loved his friendship with Miss Flint, especially the way she could be quite sharp but she gradually softened towards him. Miss Flint reminded me of Maggie Smith’s character in the recent film, The Lady in the Van. 

  • UNIVERSAL

‘The Road to Ever After’ is classified as a middle-grade novel. However, it has a universal, timeless quality that makes it appeal to a much wider audience. The story has many layers to it. Additionally, one of the main characters is young, while the other is old. It truly is a story for everyone to read and enjoy.

  • MOVING

‘The Road to Ever After’ really touched me. The ending brought tears to my eyes because I was so involved and invested in the story and the characters. There is such warmth and poignancy to the story of Davy David and Miss Flint’s unexpected but deep and affectionate friendship. It’s a wonderfully moving novel that will warm your heart as the cold winter days approach.

  • SEASONAL

The novel is set during the winter season and finishes after Christmas day, so it’s the perfect read as days begin to grow colder, nights begin to grow longer, and stores begin to fill with Christmas products. It’s a magical, unique and unforgettable book which truly captures the spirit of Christmas, not least in the scene in which Davy spends the little money he has on gifts for others. It actually made me feel very nostalgic for stories and picture books I remember reading at Christmas when I was much younger. I think ‘The Road to Ever After’ deserves to become a seasonal classic. It has a beautiful cover and is just as beautiful inside.

 

 

 

5 Reasons You Should Read…The Novice by Taran Matharu

The Novice by Taran Matharu 

  • Series: #1 The Summoner
  • Publisher: Hodder Children’s
  • Publication Date: May 2015Screen Shot 2016-07-20 at 08.31.18.png

Goodreads Synopsis:

When blacksmith apprentice Fletcher discovers that he has the ability to summon demons from another world, he travels to Adept Military Academy. There the gifted are trained in the art of summoning. Fletcher is put through grueling training as a battlemage to fight in the Hominum Empire’s war against orcs. He must tread carefully while training alongside children of powerful nobles. The power hungry, those seeking alliances, and the fear of betrayal surround him. Fletcher finds himself caught in the middle of powerful forces, with only his demon Ignatius for help.

As the pieces on the board maneuver for supremacy, Fletcher must decide where his loyalties lie. The fate of an empire is in his hands. The Novice is the first in a trilogy about Fletcher, his demon Ignatius, and the war against the Orcs.

I recently read ‘The Novice’ by Taran Matharu and it was absolutely brilliant. I loved it, and I would definitely recommend it to others. Here are five reasons why:

 

  • THE OPENING IS SIMPLY FANTASTIC

The first chapter of ‘The Novice’ has to be one of the best openings I have ever read, if not the best. It is so captivating, in fact, that as soon as I finished it I passed it over to my dad and got him to read it, too, because I wanted someone to share it and talk about it with. It made my dad very eager to read on but luckily I got the book back so I could do so first.

The opening is tense as Fletcher is hunting and very hungry, it immediately and vividly establishes the setting for the novel and world-builds, it has a twist at the end, and, most importantly, because Fletcher is treated unfairly in it, it has the reader immediately on Fletcher’s side. We establish a connection with Fletcher which lasts for the whole novel and we cheer him on and wish for him to succeed and prevail against the odds. Fletcher is one of the most likeable characters I have read about, and in my mind he has joined the ranks of Harry Potter and Percy Jackson – at times awkward male protagonists you cannot help but grow very attached to, ones who face adversity but unexpectedly overcome it.

  • ‘THE NOVICE’ IS FULL OF STRIKING AND VIVID CHARACTERS

Fletcher is not the only wonderful character in this novel – far from it. He is joined by an excellent cast of other characters. Standouts for me are Berdon, the blacksmith to whom Fletcher is apprentice and who touchingly treats Fletcher as a son rather than a worker, Othello the wise-beyond-his-years dwarf who has had himself tattooed identically to his volatile brother Atilla so that he can get Atilla out of trouble, and Sylva, the elf who is immediately hostile but who undergoes change and realisation after her life is threatened. All the teachers at the Vocans Academy are great too, from the loyal and friendly Captain Lovett to the hostile and challenging Rook. I think that Fletcher’s mentor Arcturus is my favourite of the teachers.

  • THE WORLD-BUILDING IS GREAT

The world-building in this novel is brilliant. We learn lots about the history of the Hominum Empire, about its present, and also about possibilities for its future. Taran Matharu manages to get the balance exactly right between giving enough detail to capture the reader’s imagination and not giving so much that it becomes at all overwhelming or excessive. We see the racist attitudes of the largely corrupt Pinkertons and the general human public towards the elves and the dwarves. Taran Matharu also establishes traditions for the dwarves and elves – like that the female dwarves wear veils – which make them feel more vivid and real. I really liked the explanation for why they wear veils. Additionally, the writing is very atmospheric, capturing the bustle of the marketplaces, the reaction of crowds, the architecture of the summoning academy…this allows the reader to vividly imagine all the scenes and settings.

  • THE DEMONOLOGY IS ALSO GREAT 

I have read plenty of books that feature demons (The Mortal Instruments, The Dark Days Club etc). It is a crowded theme, but in spite of this Taran Matharu manages to bring something totally new to the table and it’s very refreshing. He reverses expectations – when Fletcher summons a demon I was expecting a ferocious and hideous beast, but actually Ignatius, Fletcher’s demon, is mostly adorable (until he gets into a fight and breathes fire to singe and scorch his enemies!). He curls up in Fletcher’s hood and purrs. I would really like to have a Salamander demon like Ignatius!

Additionally, I love the fact that you cannot talk to your summoned demons – instead of sensing your words they sense your emotions and so, whenever Ignatius is concerned or upset, Fletcher has to send him calming thoughts. There are also many other fascinating aspects to summoning and controlling demons in this novel – the idea of fulfilment, which is a summoner’s capacity for summoning demons – infusion, where a summoner absorbs their demon into themselves and their demon is able to process some of what is happening through the summoner’s eyes, and scrying.

There are also many different types of demons, from the dog-like Canid and cat-like Felid to hydras and minotaurs. The demon species are imaginative and inventive. The paperback edition has a really helpful guide to these at the back.

  • THE NOVEL IS GRIPPING

You know it’s a great book when you are reading and you really need to go and do something else and you think to yourself ‘Just one more chapter!’, but you end up reading another five chapters before you are forced to put the book down. I experienced this every time I picked up ‘The Novice’. It is a gripping and fun read, and there are mini cliffhangers at the ends of chapters which keep you reading on. It’s exciting and fast-paced, with several twists. It ends with a cliff-hanger but the best news is that the first sequel is already out so you don’t have to be suspended from the cliff for very long at all! I’m bursting to read the sequel and am so glad I chose to read ‘The Novice’ now when ‘The Inquisition’ already came out in May.

Although the novel is targeted at a Young Adult audience, it is one of those universally enjoyable reads that will appeal to a much larger audience. Additionally, I saw a comment in which this novel was compared to Harry Potter. Usually Harry Potter (and also The Hunger Games ones although I didn’t enjoy that series as much) comparisons earn a sign from me because they are handed around a lot now, but actually with ‘The Novice’ I really see it and I think it is very deserving of that comparison. It is perfect for fans of HP.

‘The Novice’ is also only 99p at the moment on Amazon Kindle UK!