Adult Book Reviews by Genre: Fantasy

Jojo's Bizarre Adventure. Part 3, Stardust Crusaders, 01
Araki, Hirohiko
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

The continuation of Jojo's Bizarre Adventure brings back old characters with a fresh take and introduces us to new characters that make Jotaro's group feel rounded. It is definitely different, but 100% recommend it.

Reviewer's Name: William W.
Red Prophet
Card, Orson Scott
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Continuing from the previous book in the Alvin Maker series, Red Prophet flashes back and shows certain events from a different point of view before driving forward into some fascinating alternate history. I continue to enjoy the fantastical elements brought into American history, even to the point of explaining how certain famous historical figures were the way they were. Although, if you know enough history, you’ll realize the fates of some of the characters presented in Red Prophet (William Henry Harrison, for instance) might not need the foreshadowing missing from this text.

While Seventh Son managed to set up this alternate history and establish some of its rules, Red Prophet delves into the action and excitement that comes from some of the more “kinetic” talents of these characters. Once the plot catches up with where Seventh Son left off, I was hooked. The interactions between Alvin and the Native Americans were quite interesting, and I found everything up until the climactic battle to be top-notch storytelling. Sure, it took a little while to get there, having to first set up the eponymous “Red Prophet” and his powers of observation, but it was worth it in the end.

My one qualm with this book lies in some of its more peculiar metaphor, allegory, and allusion. Near the end of the book, several scenes and sections feel entirely disjointed from the narrative. Perhaps they were to serve some “higher purpose” to lay out the moral of the story—or even the series as a whole. These scenes had characters who suddenly were ripped out of their normal behavior and put into a completely different context. And for what? To show that the history of the Native Americans is rich and varied while also infused with war and darkness? There had to be some other way to convey this than the way it was done here.

An action-packed follow-on to Seventh Son that gets a little too “heady” at times, I give Red Prophet 4.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin W.
Seventh Son
Card, Orson Scott
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Having loved Orson Scott Card's Ender Saga, I decided to start into another of his series, Tales of Alvin Maker. I was used to his science fiction writing, so I thought it would be interesting to see how he handled semi-historical fiction. For the first book in a series, Seventh Son certainly has its strengths and weaknesses. It’s clear this book came on the heels of the Ender Saga, as there are a lot of parallels between characters and motifs that I just couldn’t ignore. Not that that’s necessarily a bad thing by any means.

While the history of colonial America is the setting of Seventh Son, the fantasy elements added to it made for an interesting read. I did appreciate the distinctive “good vs. evil” conflict between the Makers and the Unmaker, even if it’s a little too tried and true. At the very least, while the religious characters had some amount of strawman characterization set against them, they were well rounded enough not to make the whole story seem too anti-Christian. They weren’t necessarily the enemies, but their ignorance factored into the enemy’s tactics.

Perhaps the little snippets of American history sprinkled throughout this book were what intrigued me the most. Sure, the superstition and “magic” involved in creating an alternate timeline of history made quite a bit of sense. However, without at least a cursory knowledge of these events and historical figures, then readers could potentially miss a lot of substance. As with the Ender Saga, Card uses his writing to dive into different theologies and philosophies that do more than merely entertain. The fact that books like this can be thought-provoking through solid characters is a testament to his talent as a writer.

An adequate start to a series with plenty of potential, I give Seventh Son 4.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin W.
The Once and Future King
White, T.H.
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

The Once and Future King, by T. H. White, is a great fantasy classic that is a retelling of the saga of King Arthur. The novel is stuffed with a mix of wonderful emotions that blend together to make a very unique fantasy story. The characters are all developed very well, especially the protagonist, and the plot fits them very well. The book has some very sorrowful scenes, but does a fantastic job of spacing them out with its humor. The only downside to the book is that it is for high-level readers.

If the story was put into a bit simpler language, it would relate to more people and reduce the amount of strain placed on the readers' mind while trying to interpret it. Overall, The Once and Future King is a great fantasy novel, but its use of complicated language takes away from the world it creates.

Reviewer's Name: Steven L
The Desert Spear
Brett, Peter
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

The second book in the Demon Cycle series, The Desert Spear practically proves my point that its predecessor, The Warded Man , started in the wrong place. In fact, if there weren’t an awesome battle sequence at the end of The Warded Man, I’d suggest just skipping to The Desert Spear since all the key moments from the first book were referenced in this sequel. That being said, this book has some of its own issues, some of which are gripes I continue to have about this series—which makes me think this is just the way these books are going to be.

Before I get too far down the criticism hole, I do want to say that I truly enjoy the magic system in these books. The Desert Spear doesn’t necessarily do anything new with it, but there’s at least a little more world building that happens in terms of the demons that I would have liked to see integrated more fully into the story. I like the idea of wards essentially being “computer programs” in a fantasy space, which is probably why I’ll continue to read this series. I’ll also say that the depth of the cultures presented in this book are top-notch and the action is expertly-described.

All this being said, there’s a lot of fluff in this book. The entire first third was practically a prologue to the meeting of the “desert” forces and the “forest” people, most of which could have easily been condensed. Even what I thought was a side story seemed to be only added as a way to integrate a short piece of essential plot near the end of the book. Despite being wordy, these moments were slightly necessary. Additionally, the “modern” sensibilities of Leesha are admirable for a woman in a fantasy setting but most of the time just pulled me out of the story because they didn’t necessarily match the timeframe where it was set.

A book that continues with great world building but in far too many words, I give The Desert Spear 3.5 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin W.
Genres:
Soul of the Sword cover
Kagawa, Julie
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Soul of the Sword picks up directly at the end of the events of the first book in the series, Shadow of the Fox. If you haven’t read Shadow of the Fox, and you like Japanese mythology, what are you waiting for? Pick it up now! Also, skip this review, because spoilers.

If you liked the first book, you’ll like this one too. I did not remember the first book that well as I read it last summer, but Kagawa writes this in such a way that it’s easy for the reader to jump right back in. Most of our characters (save Tatsumi, because he’s mostly a demon now) get further development, and Yumeko in particular really seems to have grown a lot throughout the course of the book. My favorite character, the ronin Okame, has an exceptionally fun development. The worldbuilding, which was fantastic in the first book, continues to be alluring as Kagawa further fleshes out what was already a well-drawn world. The plot, like the first book, is fast-paced and while this is definitely something of a bridge book, it’s a bridge book that is really fun to read.

Readers of Rick Riordan who are looking for something a little more grown-up, or folks who like their fantasy to be steeped in mythology, you won’t go wrong with this series. I’m excited for the next one to come out. 4 stars – I really liked it!

Thanks to Harlequin Teen & Netgalley for the advance copy which I received in exchange for an unbiased review. Soul of the Sword will be available for purchase on 18 June or you can put your copy on hold today!

Reviewer's Name: Britt
The Book of Hidden Things
Dimitri, Francesco
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

'The Book of Hidden Things' is a fantasy story of 4 friends Tony, Fabio, Art, and Mauro. These friends from a small town Casalfranca in Italy, make a pact to meet every year. When Art doesn't show up this year, Tony, Fabio, and Mauro decide to check what happened to him.

While they search for him, they learn mysterious information about Art, his life, his research, and things become more complicated and confusing. When Mauro gets fired by Art's ex-girlfriend, they all step back thinking about the risk they are taking to find Art. At last, Art shows up, reveals information about his research and forces them to trust him and take an important decision with their lives.

There are no words to explain how good this book is! The narration is very gripping and the mystery lingers till the end of the book and even after finishing the book. Characterization is simply superb. While Art is a unique character, Tony is a wonderful mate, Mauro, a responsible husband and friend who is guilty of leaving behind his favorite hobby of playing guitar and Fabio is a person with his insecurities and money problems.

I could get a glimpse of Southern Italy, the weather, the scenery, and the cuisine as well through this book. The book cover and the name are apt.

If you love mystery and fantasy, you will like this book. But, fantasy and mystery feel very real.

Reviewer's Name: Mahati
Genres:
A Storm of Swords
Martin, George R. R.
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

If things hadn’t already turned dark in Westeros, they certainly do in A Storm of Swords. The complicated political situation in the end of A Clash of Kings gets even more complicated as this third book dives into complex armies, weddings, wars, and so much more. George R. R. Martin’s writing may be dense, but I have never encountered a fantastical world as deeply developed as his. A Storm of Swords is jam-packed with intrigue and excitement, and it left me wanting more. I would recommend this book even if you have already seen the show; reading the books adds a whole new dimension to the characters, the plot, and the world.

Reviewer's Name: Sabrina J
The Alchemist
Coelho, Paulo
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

The Alchemist is the story of Santiago, a shepherd boy, who goes on a journey to find treasure he saw in a dream. It is a story of philosophy and self-discovery, and its open-ended style leaves a lot of room for interpretation. That is the beauty of this book; every reader will get something different out of it. I found The Alchemist to be very inspirational and calming, as well as immensely interesting. This quick read is great food for the soul.

Reviewer's Name: Sabrina J
Awards:
The Wishsong of Shannara
Brooks, Terry
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

One thing that was made clear to me when I read The Elfstones of Shannara was that this trilogy (that started with The Sword of Shannara ) didn’t follow the same characters from book to book, per se. Sure, there were character like Allanon the Druid who managed to span all three volumes, but overall I didn’t find that I needed to have read the previous book in the trilogy to understand what was going on in the story. This was quite beneficial when I started reading The Wishsong of Shannara, as it quickly grew to be my favorite in the series so far.

While I had high hopes for the “main quest” of this book, the fact that it’s put into side-story status almost from the beginning was a little frustrating. Don’t make me follow the journey of the character who needs to grow the most! Show me the thrilling adventures of a magical girl and her Highlander and druid escorts. Regardless, I did find Jair’s journey to be a bit more interesting once it was clear that’s who we were following through the majority of the book. Sure, we touched back with Brin occasionally, and her adventures were neat, too—just not nearly as interesting as Jair’s ended up being.

I have previously complained that The Sword of Shannara seemed like a bit of a Lord of the Rings knockoff. Additionally, The Wishsong of Shannara does have some similarities to The Two Towers. Not necessarily being tied to an overarching story arc did help to make this book quite interesting in terms of what minor characters could be developed to advance the story. This is on top of the excellent growth of both Ohmsfords as they learn the true power of the magic that lies within them. If you’re interested in any of the original Shannara books, I’d suggest you give this one a read first.

A relatively original high fantasy, and my favorite of the Shannara trilogy, I give The Wishsong of Shannara 4.5 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin W.
Genres:
Batman: Nightwalker
Lu, Marie
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

In "Batman: Nightwalker", the early years of Bruce Wayne is retold in the style of a YA novel. Years after the death of his parents, Bruce struggles with loss, a sense of purpose, and the empire he has just inherited. When a string of mysterious crimes pop up in Gotham City, he soon gets tangled in the web.

First off, when I started this book, I didn't actually know much about the Batman universe, but it was easy to catch up -- especially considering it takes places years before Bruce's story actually begins as Batman. However, I have read Marie Lu's work before, so I had a general idea of what I was getting into. There are quite a few things I liked about this book: the plot was intricate and engaging, the protagonist was likable and interesting, and the twists and turns were really well executed. But, what kept me from giving this book five stars was the writing style. Normally, I really enjoy Marie Lu's writing style, but this book was different than her other work. The dialogue often felt really unnatural (especially when it came to Bruce and his friends). There were lots of lines that I thought were cheesy or robotic and that pulled me out of the story. Had the writing flowed a little more and the dialogue been more natural, I would've definitely given this book five stars. But, I would still recommend it because, despite the flaws, I really enjoyed it for its elaborate, high-paced plot.

Reviewer's Name: Gillian P.
The Odyssey
Homer
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

This epic poem is one of the most fascinating pieces of literature I have ever read. Following the story of Odysseus, it is an epic journey where gods and mythical monsters try and impede his journey home. There is mythology intertwined with adventurous storytelling, and the style of writing, while obviously more difficult than modern writing, is not too challenging that it makes the poem hard to read. I would recommend reading it for both its historical significance and because of how interesting the story itself is. While it will take some time to get through, the story, I believe, is worth the time. The monsters that Odysseus encounters barter with him and tell him stories that deepen the plot; his interactions and relationships reveal mysteries and provide new motivations or points of interest.

Everything is complexly interconnected and it does take a bit of historical context or background knowledge to understand all parts of the story, so it is an undertaking. However, the fantastic and timeless story is entirely unique. I would give it five out of five stars.

Reviewer's Name: Molly Q
Awards:
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: The Original Screenplay
Rowling, J.K.
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

I was really excited when Fantastic Beasts came out because Harry Potter was over and I loved the make-believe world of wizards and witches. Before Fantastic Beasts was released I was curious what J.K. Rowling was going to do next, I didn’t think she was done writing books altogether. Fantastic Beasts turned out to be a great read and satisfied my imagination with magic.

Fantastic Beasts, a fictional novel by J.K. Rowling, follows a magical young man named Newt on a journey to find his beasts that escaped. Newt Scamander is a wizard unlike any other, he uses not only his powers but the powers of his magical animals. In Fantastic Beasts Newt has lost some of his creatures and needs to find them before they wreak havoc among the regular people’s lives and more importantly before the truth about wizards being real is revealed to everyone. Newt meets lots of strange people almost as fascinating as his beasts and even befriends a person named Jacob on his journey.

Something I’ve wondered for a long time is why J.K Rowling wanted her book to be designed in the format of a screen play, maybe she thought it would make the characters feel more real and personal. I think that J.K. Rowling really got everything right with Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them even down to the art which creates very detailed imagery and gives you a sense of what she is thinking about when she makes these strange beasts.

Reviewer's Name: Seth
Genres:
American Gods
Gaiman, Neil
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

This book follows ex-convict Shadow, once he is released from prison and enters into a new job as the assistant to Mr. Wednesday (more commonly known as Odin). Shadow doesn’t believe the fact that he is surrounded by gods, until Mr. Wednesday introduces him to god and god and shows him undeniable evidence. Mr. Wednesday is using Shadow as a mean of amassing the older, more forgotten gods into an army ready to retaliate against the new gods of the modern era. Technology, for example, is depicted as a god, but a socially removed and young god. This has been one of my absolute favorite books to read because of how it explores the change in worshiping from ancient gods and folklore into technology, media, and trends. The book is so complicated because it brings together ancient gods of cultures from around the world.

Each have different origins and purposes, and the role Shadow plays as the representation of humanity only intensifies the surreal feeling of the book.
I liked how I was able to relate to Shadow, as bring subject to the controlling factors of society, whether they be demanding gods or media outlets. I appreciated how well-researched the cultures written about were, and how there isn't a page in the book that doesn’t bring about another point to think about, something like morality or control. The book is also very entertaining and a fascinating storyline, and I would highly recommend it to any reader. I would give it five out of five stars.

Reviewer's Name: Molly Q
Priest of Bones
McLean, Peter
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

It took me a good long time to read this book. I started reading it and I
would stop, then I’d try to start it again. Then I decided to just buckle
down and read the book. I have to say it was a pretty darn good book.

I wasn’t expecting it to be the first in a series, but as I started coming
closer and closer to the end, I realized that it may well be part of a series
– and I was right, it is. The book takes you on a journey of what happens
in a medieval style world when someone comes home from war and realizes that
a new war is brewing and it’s starting in his own city. The book is rather
slow to start and at times doesn’t make sense, but anything that doesn’t
make sense at the time will be clarified later in the book.

This particular novel is written memoir style – the narrator refers to his
having written things which is an interesting concept. Usually you don’t
see novels written as memoirs with the narrator stating that he or she had
written something earlier. I fully expect that if this series were to become
movies, that you’d find an old, wizened man at the end closing a notebook
in which he’d written the entire sordid tale.

The book was well written and I have to admit, although it isn’t normally
my type of book, I was into it. The characters were developed as much as they
needed to be and the ones that aren’t, well, there’s a reason for it.
Some of them don’t need it, some of them don’t need it right now. Read
the book and you’ll see.

Reviewer's Name: Charity
Genres:
The Power of Six
Lore, Pittacus
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The sequel to I am Number Four is just as thrilling and action packed as the first. John, Sam, and Six set out as fugitives and work to find the others as we meet Seven. Seven is also known as Marina and lives in a convent/orphanage in Spain while she convinces her Cepan to rejoin the fight and develops her legacies. Complete with numerous battles, close escapes, incredible powers, and fun characters, The Power of Six is an excellent read for any middle or high schoolers.

Reviewer's Name: John B
World War Z
Brooks, Max
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

After finding myself slighlty underwhelmed by the movie; the book proved a welcome change. World War Z manages to capture the spirit of the zombie apocalypse trope while still remaining original. The story is told through chronological, short, personal naratives and expertly paints a large picture of disaster while continuing to feel intimate. People in the story act realistically and despite revolving around a fantastical event, the book always seems like a series of believable recounts. The story replaces continuous characters with a narrative of humanity as a whole and the reader become invested in this larger concept. Overall, the book is an entertaining read and completely worth the time.

Reviewer's Name: Evan
Awards:
Genres:
Storm Front
Butcher, Jim
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Strom Front serves as a stellar introduction to the exciting world of Harry Dresden. The first book in a long series of great books, Storm Front showcases Butcher's writing prowess. The story is full of interesting characters, well developed story, gritty mysteries, and the overarching wit of the main character. Storm Front is at once entertaining, humorous, and occasionally touching. It is one of those books that somehow becomes glued to your hands and only relinquishes them upon arrival at the back cover.
Overall, the book will most definitely be an enjoyable read and make picking the next three to four books to read an easy choice (although I recommend not attempting more than a few in a row for the sake of variety).

Reviewer's Name: Evan
Genres:
Lord of Light
Zelazny, Roger
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Lord of Light, winner of the 1968 Hugo award for best novel, is a fascinating excursion into a expertly crafted science fiction world involving both Hindu mythology and the struggle to free humanity from the oppressive rule of false gods. This book is exciting as well as thought provoking and an overall interesting read. The characters are well flushed out, the setting is both believable and fantastical, and every instant of the book engaging. For those not familiar with Zelazny's writing style, the book may become confusing at certain points. However, the reader is never lost completely and can easily catch back up with the story. This book is a must read for those interested in the science fiction genre.

Reviewer's Name: Evan
Good Omens
Gaiman, Neil
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Good Omens is humorous take on Armageddon and the final battle between Heaven and Hell. Complete with an angel and a demon, who get along better with each other than with their immortal counterparts, two witch-finders, Satanic Nuns of the Chattering Order of St. Beryl, aliens, and an eleven year old Antichrist, Good Omens takes a completely different take on the Apocalypse. All predicted by a witch that lived 300 years ago, Good Omens is full of sarcasm, humor, fun, and adventure along with a moral that tells us to look for the good in everyone, even demons. I highly recommend this book for any high schooler or adult looking for a little bit of humor in life.

Reviewer's Name: John B
Genres:

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