Book Review – Cursed by Sue Tingey

A couple of weeks ago, I reviewed the first book of the Soulseer Chronicles, Marked, by Sue Tingey. It was more than good enough for me to want to read and review the second. Before we get to my opinions, here is the cover:

Gorgeous, isn’t it?!

And here is the blurb:

Lucky de Salle thought she was human, then she discovered she was a daemon princess – and now it’s looking like she’s something much more…

Lucky knows she has some hard choices to make: will it be Jinx, the sexy Deathbringer, or Jamie, the gorgeous Guardian?

But before she can even start to enjoy life in the Underlands, her sister’s men are slain and Kayla herself is kidnapped by the Sicarii, assassins-for-hire members of a death-cult.

They can’t be working for Lucky’s nemesis, for Henri le Dent is being held in the court’s dungeons, at least according to court torturer, Amaliel Cheriour – but the Chambers of Rectification are empty, both Amaliel and Henri have fled and it soon becomes clear that Kayla is just bait to catch Lucky.

Lucky’s emerging powers are growing, and Amaliel intends to use her for his own nefarious purposes – though first he has to get past her Guards, not to mention Lucky herself.

Interesting, huh?

My review:

Book Review – Cursed by Sue Tingey

Cursed is the second book in the Soulseer Chronicles. Before reading it, I wondered if it was going to be one of those awkward, fill-in type books, full of waffle, bridging the gap until the exciting third and final book came along. I’m very happy to say that this wasn’t the case.

The action began early on and continued throughout the book. There were many shocks and surprises which drew me further into the story and I didn’t want to put it down. The narrative was smooth and flowed well. It captured my imagination and I found myself by Lucky’s side, like a shadow.

The plot was inventive with many twists and turns. It was set mainly in the daemon world and gave a greater insight into the machinations that existed there. It was interesting to see how Ms Tingey played the good and evil factions against each other and it made the story all the more creative.

In Cursed, you get to see a great deal more of the landscape and make-up of the world. The descriptors used brought the land of daemon kind to life, painting it gloriously like an artist would a canvas. There was a richness to it which was by no means overdone.

Lucky shone in Cursed. She grew and became a more rounded character, fulfilling her role with aplomb. As she learns what she can do, it brings a new dimension to her character which is both thought-provoking and fascinating. There were one or two areas where she didn’t tap into her emotions as well as she could have done, especially when something devastating happened. Although her feelings were portrayed reasonably well, there wasn’t as much angst as might have been expected given the situation. However, that was just a minor blip for me. Overall, she started to gain increased mental strength, making her character more interesting and relatable.

Jamie showed more of his true colours in Cursed. He was still the nice guy, protecting Lucky, even from herself, but he proved to be not quite as trustworthy. As he became secretive and began to lie to Lucky, even she wasn’t sure if she could trust him at times. However, it became clearer that his feelings for Lucky had grown and he was more protective than ever. Jamie became more fascinating to me in this second book as more of his character was revealed and I look forward to seeing how Sue takes him forward into book three.

Jinx made me laugh. He’s such a cheeky chap with a teasing and provocative side which endeared me to him. Because of how forward he is, in the beginning it’s hard to tell whether he has genuine feelings for Lucky or if he’s just being playful. The answer becomes apparent as the book progresses. The rivalry between him and Jamie is well thought out and comes across well. I also saw more depth to his character. His title of The Deathbringer is well-deserved in this book and it was good to see that side of him. On occasions, he also portrayed a softer side to his nature — a stark contrast to his title — but nonetheless, enjoyable to read.

Other characters also grew in this book, making them much more interesting. The interactions of them with the three main characters added more intrigue and depth to the novel, proving again Tingey’s mastery of character development.

This book is another triumph for Sue and I can’t wait to see what she has in store for us in book three: Bound.

Highly recommended — a damn good read!

Buy Link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Cursed-Soulseer-Chronicles-Book-2/

If you missed my last post, here’s a bit about the author:

Sue Tingey is the author of the fantasy romance series The Soulseer Chronicles and lives with her husband in East Grinstead, West Sussex.

She spent twenty-eight years working for a major bank and, after taking voluntary redundancy in 2001, spent another fourteen or so years working as a practice manager for an arboricultural consultancy. She has now given up the day job to allegedly spend more time with her husband; he however has noticed that an awful lot more writing appears to be going on.

Sue admits that storytelling is her obsession and was thrilled when she was offered a three book deal by Jo Fletcher Books in 2014.

You can learn more about Sue on her website www.suetingey.co.uk or contact on Twitter @SueTingey

 

 

 

 

 

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Book Review: Marked by Sue Tingey

I came across this book at FantasyCon two or three years ago. After meeting the author, and reading the blurb, I was sufficiently intrigued to want to read it. I thought the cover was pretty interesting too, and here it is.

Here is the blurb:

Lucky de Salle can see ghosts, but it’s daemons she should be worried about.

With no family and very few friends, Lucky’s psychic ability has always made her an outcast. The only person she can rely on is Kayla, the ghost girl who has been with her since she was born.

 But Kayla is not all that she appears.

 Then again, neither is Lucky…

MARKED is the first book in the Soulseer Chronicles and the debut novel for Ms Tingey.

It’s so hard to write a review of a book like this without it containing spoilers, but I’ll do the best I can. The action starts right at the beginning of the book and rolls on from there, gaining momentum with each turn of the page. The plot was certainly original and unlike anything I’ve read before. It was well planned and overall, the pacing was good. The writing flowed seemingly effortlessly and there was no point at which I was jerked out of the story by the use of an incorrect word or the phrasing/sentence structure being off. I did notice a few small mistakes, but that was obviously down to the publisher/editor rather than the author. They were things that should have been picked up during editing or proofreading.

Many surprises appeared during the story, none of which I saw coming, and that added to my enjoyment of it.

The author crafted her characters like an artist creates a masterpiece! Whether a leading character, or a minor one, each had a different personality and it was so well done that it’s hard to believe this is a debut novel. All her characters were believable and relatable – even the baddies.

Lucky de Salle – the lead protagonist: She is so realistically designed, I could relate to her immediately. Yes, she can see the dead and is psychic, but in the normal course of events, it doesn’t faze her at all. However, not all the ‘dead’ are friendly and when she comes up against her first daemon, she is petrified. She can be feisty, stubborn, vulnerable, frightened, and normal; these are all traits everyone can relate to in one way or another, and it makes Lucky more real for me. Yet there’s much more to Lucky than I’m going to reveal here as I don’t want to spoil anyone’s enjoyment of it.

Jamie – a leading protagonist: Known as ‘The Guardian’, Jamie is Lucky’s protector. He was a bit of an enigma for me. Most of the time, he appears kind and gentle, and obviously seems to have some feelings for Lucky. Yet, he can also be frightening, secretive (much to the chagrin of Lucky), and has a bit of a wicked streak. By the end of the book, very little is known about him or what it means to be ‘The Guardian’. I’m looking forward to learning more about him in book two.

Jinx – a leading protagonist: He is known as ‘The Deathbringer’, the polar opposite of ‘The Guardian’. I loved this character! Jinx is a cheeky daemon who is enrolled in Lucky’s guard. It becomes obvious early on that he fancies her. He’s generally happy, smiles a lot – Lucky often receiving mischievous or inviting ones – yet there’s a dark side to him which one might guess from his title. He’s a bit more transparent than Jamie, but I feel he has hidden depths that haven’t been revealed so far.

Kayla – is another major character and Lucky’s best friend, even though she’s a ghost. She can be nice and supportive however, Kayla can be one hell of a bitch, and callous. She cares about Lucky a great deal and tries to protect her, but does she have her own agenda? You’ll have to read the book to find out.

Other notable characters – Lord Baltheza, Shenanigans, Kerfuffle, Pyrites, Amaliel Cheriour, and Vaybian.

Tingey uses description to good effect. You can easily picture a person or place in your mind and for me that adds a deeper dimension to the story. However, none of the portrayals or depictions are overdone.

In conclusion, this is a great debut novel. It’s gripping, unique, alluring, magical, and has a little romance thrown in. I loved this wonderful story and couldn’t put the book down. If you’re a fan of fantasy novels, I would highly recommend you spend some money and buy this. I’m sure that after reading it, you’ll be reaching into your wallet or purse to buy book two… I did and it’s a fantastic investment!

Look out for my forthcoming review of the second book in the Soulseer Chronicles – Cursed!

BUY THE BOOK FROM AMAZON: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Marked-first-magical-Soulseer-Chronicles/

MEET THE AUTHOR:

Sue Tingey is the author of the fantasy romance series The Soulseer Chronicles and lives with her husband in East Grinstead, West Sussex.

She spent twenty-eight years working for a major bank and, after taking voluntary redundancy in 2001, spent another fourteen or so years working as a practice manager for an arboricultural consultancy. She has now given up the day job to allegedly spend more time with her husband; he however has noticed that an awful lot more writing appears to be going on.

Sue admits that storytelling is her obsession and was thrilled when she was offered a three book deal by Jo Fletcher Books in 2014.

You can learn more about Sue on her website www.suetingey.co.uk or contact on Twitter @SueTingey 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book Review: VIKINGS: THE TRUTH ABOUT LAGERTHA AND RAGNAR

Since the TV series hit our screens, there has been a great deal of interest generated in the Vikings. Personally, and not having seen the series, I wasn’t bothered in finding out more about them. But then I read Vikings: The Truth About Lagertha and Ragnar by Rachel Tsoumbakos.

Before we go any further, here’s the fantastic front cover:And now here’s the blurb:

Lagertha was known to be one of the wives of the famous Viking, Ragnar Lodbrok. But did you know they first met each other at a brothel?

And just how long did their marriage last?

Plus, was Lagertha really the revered shield maiden we see her as today?

‘Vikings: The Truth About Lagertha And Ragnar’ will unravel all these secrets and reveal a story that is more interesting than anything you knew about them previously.

In Part One their story is brought to life with a historically accurate retelling. Part Two then explores the historical facts surrounding this story.

‘Vikings: The Truth About Lagertha And Ragnar’ aims to discover just how much of what we know of the shield maiden, Lagertha, and the famous Ragnar Lodbrok in popular culture today is actually true.

Discover the truth today!

The ‘Viking Secrets’ series explores the historical fact from present day fiction in regards to the Vikings and the extraordinary women who existed in the Viking era.

PLEASE NOTE: Each of the books in this series can be read as standalone books due to the nature of the sagas involved. Therefore, the book numbering indicates the order in which the stories were published and not the order in which they are required to be read.

My review:

This book has been cleverly written in two parts: the first part is what happened to both characters in story form; the second are historical facts. Both parts make for an extremely entertaining and interesting read.

In part one, Tsoumbakos brings the characters to life to such an extent that I was totally hooked and had trouble putting the book down. I became so invested in Lagertha and Ragnar’s story due to how well the characters were drawn. The emotions portrayed were relatable and not exaggerated giving additional intensity and showing the complexity of the characters. This shows the talent of the author.

The story itself was easy to follow and flowed effortlessly. The descriptions used, while not overdone, were sufficient for me to picture each scene as clearly as if I were there.

The dialogue was realistic, although we obviously don’t know for sure exactly how they spoke in the Viking era, but it gave extra depth to both the story and the characters.

Overall, I can honestly say it is one of the best stories I’ve read in the past six-months (and I’ve read quite a lot)!

With part two being more factual, I wasn’t gripped like I was with the story. However, the facts were well-presented and interesting enough to keep me reading until the end. Tsoumbakos has obviously researched the subject thoroughly and with the way this part is written, it’s easy to make correlations with part one.

In conclusion, I would definitely recommend this book, even if you aren’t into Vikings. The story alone is exceptional enough to capture your interest and well worth investing in!

Rachel Tsoumbakos

Author Bio:

Rachel Tsoumbakos has had several articles published through mainstream magazines and currently writes extensively for The Inquisitr.

Over the years, Rachel has been interested in many aspects of history. When studying a Library Studies diploma, she discovered just how much she enjoyed researching and has since used these skills in several of her novels. However, it was her work with The Inquisitr that brought her into the world of the Vikings and she has spent several years delving into the sagas of this culture as well as the history of the Viking Era.

Rachel lives with her husband, two kids, three cats and a flock of chickens in the idyllic Yarra Ranges, Australia. When she isn’t writing, she is working on her cardio as she trains for the zombie apocalypse.

Amazon Buy Links:

hyperurl.co/LagsandRags

Book Review: Vera’s Song by Natalie Erin

Yesterday my blog was hijacked, but I really didn’t mind. I thought the character interview was great. But moving on to today and it’s LAUNCH DAY for Vera’s Song by Natalie Erin. I have to say, I love this cover!

Vera's Song cover

I received an ARC (Advance Review Copy) of the book in exchange for an honest review and this is what I thought of it:

Book Review – Vera’s Song by Natalie Erin

Having read the first book in this series and enjoyed it, I was interested to see what the author would do with this one. Was it going to be the dreaded second book in a series which didn’t live up to the promise of the first? Actually, no. In fact it was quite the opposite.

Erin introduces some new characters in this story and ties them in nicely with those from book one. Vera’s Song takes us forward about four years from where the previous tale leaves off. Kiatana has grown in confidence and taken the mantle of queen of the forest to the next level. Her son is typical for his age: curious, fearless, and a bundle of energy.

Wyntier, a new character, is deliciously evil. He’s hatching a plot and needs Kiatana’s son and his changer to make it work. Wyntier is cruel to the nth degree. He beats his changer, Vera, for the slightest thing and yet she loves him and does whatever he wants, even if she knows it’s wrong. There are no redeeming features in this character. He shows no remorse for anything he does, or the pain he causes. Driven by his need to be powerful and to control everything around him, he will stop at nothing to achieve it. I had to wonder why he was so brutal and driven and this was never addressed. It would have been interesting to know his background a little more, but even the flashbacks to his childhood showed a nasty boy who bullied weaker kids.

Vera’s a conflicted character who has been in love with Ionan, Keota’s changer, since they were young. She yearns to be reunited with him, but despite the harsh treatment she endures, she still won’t leave Wyntier. Vera’s character is well crafted. You feel her frustration, pain, love, and basically she has a good heart. She wants to do the right thing and tries in her own way to make life more comfortable for Wyntier’s victims. I found myself really sympathising with her plight and she’s the one who has stayed with me the most.

The other new characters all added something meaningful to the story. Some of them were written in a stronger voice though. Those from book one had all grown into their skins or pelts. However, I found Keota to be less effective in places and would have liked to see him as formidable as his wife, Kiatana.

The plot itself was exciting and dramatic. There were lulls, but they didn’t diminish the story; there needed to be some less intense moments so the reader could draw breath and take in what had happened in the previous few pages. There were no plot holes and the only part of it which felt contrived was an altercation with some elves. Later in the story, the elves return and the complete 180 didn’t quite sit right with me. However, the rest of the story was so engaging that this small irritation didn’t spoil it for me.

The world Erin built in book one was equally as strong in this one. From forests to icy mountains and beaches, her description was detailed without being overwhelming. She brought each part of the world seamlessly into the story giving good reasons why the characters were there.

For me, the definition of a good, enjoyable book is one you can remember several weeks later, and that’s exactly what’s happened here. I finished reading Vera’s Song about three weeks prior to writing this review and yet I find myself transported back into the pages as if I’d finished it only yesterday. There were enough errors which made me want to shoot the editor or proof reader for missing them, but they didn’t detract from my pleasure in reading it.

In conclusion, this book was better than expected, a good and memorable story with characters that stayed in my heart long after I finished it. If you’re looking for a fairy fantasy read with something a little different, I would certainly recommend Vera’s Song.

My Rating 4/5 stars

Book Launch & Review for Mountains of the Moon by Connie J Jasperson

As you saw a couple of days ago, I revealed the cover and book trailer for Mountains of the Moon by Connie J Jasperson (in case you missed it, click here). Well, I’m really excited to announce that today is the official launch day and as I was lucky enough to see the manuscript prior to it being available for sale, I decided to write a book review for you.

First though, let’s just have a reminder of the blurb:

Charged by the goddess Aeos, Wynn and his companions bicker and bumble their way through the Mountains of the Moon. Danger, mystery, and dark prophecies chase them through a gauntlet of jagged peaks and deadly traps.

Can they survive the dark secret hidden in Tauron’s crumbling castle before his minotaurs overrun Neveyah?

The Gods are at war, and Neveyah is the battlefield.

And now, here are my thoughts on it.

Book Review – Mountains of the Moon by Connie J Jasperson

MOTM Front Cover Final 6-18-2015

Having read Tower of Bones and Forbidden Road, I was thrilled when I discovered Connie was writing a story set two generations previous.

Wynn Farmer, the grandfather of Edwin (the main character in Tower of Bones), finds himself in what is, for him, unknown territory. He’s met by a mage who takes him to Aeoven, the main city in Neveyah, where he falls in love, marries, then finds out he needs to go on a quest with three others to stop a rogue mage from committing any further dastardly deeds.

I won’t say any more about the intricacies of the plot as I hate reading spoilers in reviews. However, I will discuss it in general terms.

The story begins slowly and gathers momentum as you continue through the pages, reaching an amazing climax just before the end – a bit like good sex really. But all innuendo aside, it has to be that way as the four questers train for a task that will test them to their limits. As the story unfolds, the main character grows into his skin, learning to control his magic along the way. Events affect all the companions prior to leaving for the quest which adds nicely to the story.

Once the quest begins and the four mages are on the outskirts of their destination, having had to deal with various strange creatures on route, the author turns up the heat. She twists and turns the fates of the four in ways which are totally unexpected. I’m not going to reveal whether they all make it out alive or uninjured – you’ll have to read the book for that – but suffice to say, the ending was momentous and satisfying.

Connie crafts her characters in totally relatable ways. None of them are without faults and some are more lovable than others, but all of the main cast are definitely memorable. The dialogue is as realistic as the characters. They have their strengths and weaknesses, fears, loves, and insecurities, just like you or I. My favourite character was Wynn, closely followed by Devyn D’Mal. Those of you who have read Tower of Bones will undoubtedly recognise that surname! Her ‘baddies’ are deliciously heinous, but are also realistic. They have aspirations to climb the proverbial ladder to success, which in their case is being rewarded by Tauron, the Bull God, but they also have their self-doubts, relationships, and varying degrees of arrogance and subservience.

Jasperson is one of the few writers on my bookshelf who can successfully build a world which is so exquisitely detailed, that it seems too real not to be fictional. She doesn’t go overboard with description, but gives just enough for the reader to fill in the gaps, yet does it in such a way that you don’t realise it. She knows the world she’s created as well as her own home town and it shows in her writing; there’s a confidence which runs through the writing as she talks about various places, which is a rare thing to find.

Overall, this book is well-written, gripping in all the right places, and a damn good story. I won’t hesitate to recommend this to fantasy fans, especially those who love epic fantasy, as I know for a fact there are more books being written in this whole series. And I, for one, can’t wait to get my hands on them!

Buy Links – Amazon http://hyperurl.co/MountainsOfTheMoon

http://bit.ly/MOTMKindle

http://bit.ly/MOTMNook

Connie 2014

 

Connie J. Jasperson lives in Olympia, Washington.  A vegan, she and her husband share five children, a love of good food and great music. She is active in local writing groups, an editor for Myrddin Publishing Group, and is a writing coach. She is an active member of the both the Northwest Independent Writers Association and Pacific Northwest Writers Association, and is a founding member of Myrddin Publishing Group.  Music and food dominate her waking moments. When not writing or blogging she can be found with her Kindle, reading avidly. You can find her blogging on her writing life at: http://conniejjasperson.wordpress.com

Connie J. Jasperson’s  body of work includes:

WORLD OF NEVEYAH series by Connie J. Jasperson

Mountains of the Moon – Danger, mystery, and dark prophecies, lie deep in a gauntlet of jagged peaks and deadly traps. Can Wynn survive the dark secret hidden in Tauron’s stolen castle before the Bull God’s minotaurs overrun Neveyah?

TOWER OF BONES, series based in the World of Neveyah

The gods are at war, and Neveyah is the battlefield.

This epic fantasy series opens with Tower of Bones, and follows Edwin Farmer as he journeys deep into the lands claimed by the dreaded Bull God, in an attempt to rescue a girl he has only met in his dreams.

Forbidden Road takes up Edwin’s story six years later. When four mages are sent into the shadowed lands claimed by the mad priest of the Bull God, who will return unscathed? Sorrow, peril, and magic await in the Valley of Mal Evol.

OTHER BOOKS BY CONNIE J. JASPERSON

Huw, the Bard, a novel that takes you to the world of Waldeyn, and a medieval alternate reality. Fleeing a burning city, everything he ever loved in ashes behind him, penniless and hunted, Huw the Bard must somehow survive. Available as an ebook and in paper.

Tales From the Dreamtime – a novella consisting of three modern fairy tales told in a traditional style. Available as an ebook, in paper, and as an Audiobook, narrated by the wonderful voice actor, Craig Allen.

Book Review – Denai Touch by Tiffany Shand

In my last two posts, I treated you to the cover reveal, blurb, and a short excerpt for Denai Touch, the debut novel of Tiffany Shand. I promised you a review and I’m pleased to reveal it below.

Book Cover

But just before I do, let’s just have a quick reminder of the blurb:

Cate McCray is no ordinary witch.

Prophesised to be the one to destroy the Covenant, an age-old organisation who seeks to enslave all Magickind, the race is on for them to kill her before she attains immortality.

But before receiving the phenomenal power that comes with it, she must first survive the ascension and the only person who can help her is her elemental partner, Jason Talbot. But when the time comes, her forbidden love for Jason threatens to destroy them both.

As leader of Excalibar, an elite team of Enforcers, they work to infiltrate the Covenant leading Cate into life-threatening situations. Can she outwit them before it’s too late?

My review

I don’t want to give any spoilers during this review, but somehow I think it’s going to be hard not to.

Denai Touch centres around Cate, a very gifted young witch who is waiting for ‘Ascension’ when she will come into her full powers. The problem is there are those who are trying to stop her.

Cate really leapt off the page. She is larger than life and the author has done a great job of building her character. She comes across as feisty, confident, and in full control of her powers, but underneath is a vulnerable young woman who fears her ascension as much as she wants to embrace it. She’s also unnerved at the speed in which her powers are growing and how inconsistent they can be.

With a foe leading the Covenant, a band of dark witches who have been trying to take her family down for generations, who has targeted Cate and wants her dead before she ascends, the young witch has a great deal hanging over her head. Some of her insecurities show she has an Achilles heel, the main one being her Elemental, Jason, who she has feelings for. Cate is a well-rounded, realistic, and relatable character.

Jason is an enigmatic character with a huge secret. It becomes clear quite early that he cares for Cate and does everything in his power to protect her, even when she doesn’t want it. He has to endure a great deal of verbal abuse as he’s seen as a slave by the leader of Cate’s coven (her grandmother), but has the guts to answer back when he feels it’s necessary. I rather liked his character.

The Covenant is led by Raven, a dark witch who is focussed on what she wants and is willing to go to any lengths to get it. She doesn’t care about hurting innocents and encourages her right hand, the loathsome Tasha Phelps, to experiment on then. These are characters you love to hate and they come across as deliciously wicked.

All the other characters have their own personalities, some more so than others, and most are interesting in their own right. There were a couple who came across as bland, even though they were featured quite often and realistically it was possible to give them a bit more personality. However, the pace of the novel didn’t really allow for it.

The world building has been done well and, for the most part, you can picture the surroundings easily. There is good use of description throughout.

The plot itself is interesting, original, and well paced. It unfolds in such a way as to keep you turning the pages to find out what happens next. This is always a good sign as far as I’m concerned!

All things considered, this is a great debut novel and I look forward to reading the next book in the series. Would I recommend it? If you love the Paranormal Romance genre then I absolutely would! Even if you don’t, it’s still a good read.

One thing’s for sure, Tiffany Shand is an author to keep an eye on!

To buy Denai Touch from Amazon, click here.

Coming up soon, is an interview with the lady herself so keep a close eye out for that. But in the meantime, here’s a short bio.

Profile Picture

Tiffany Shand was born in Essex, UK and started writing short stories when she was a child.

She has always done writing in one form or another and started writing novels in her early teens.

Tiffany loves to read books and discovered her love for fantasy and paranormal romance during this time.

She writes both non-fiction and fiction, but mostly fantasy and paranormal romance.

After doing a creative writing course in her early 20s she is now a freelance writer and professional proofreader. She is currently studying for a journalism degree.

Tiffany lives in Essex with her two spoiled cats and one very nutty hamster.

 

Book Review – Kiatana’s Journey by Natalie Erin

Kiatana's Journey

This book was a little different to what I expected. It contained everything described on the blurb and a bit more besides.

I loved the character of Kiatana. She was feisty, opinionated, and didn’t like people disagreeing with her or answering back. Maybe it was due to her upbringing and the fact she’s a princess with her own realm. However, she cares passionately about all the creatures in her forest kingdom, and has a softer and more playful side to her.

The characters of Lottie and Lilja were an absolute joy and I loved to see their journey from pups into adulthood. At times they had me laughing out loud and in one place I had a lump in my throat. The book was definitely the richer for their inclusion.

Some of the other characters were well crafted, especially Ionan, but others left me wondering &/or rolling my eyes. I felt Keota was a bit of a wimp with not much common sense at times. Although he could be quite assertive with Ionan, when it came to dealing with Kiatana or anyone else, he seemed to be a hapless twit. At the end, he seemed to grow within himself, but for me it was too little, too late. The other character who didn’t seem quite real was Casiff. When he first entered the story, he was a real nasty piece of work and at that point he was well written, but further in he did a complete 180 degree turn and became Mr Nice and Generous. It could be argued that meeting a certain powerful lady had something to do with it and I’m sure she was influential in his change of heart, but for me it was too abrupt a change to be realistic.

Most of the scenery was well described and I could use my imagination to fill in the gaps the author left, which I really liked.

For me, the one let-down in the book was how little space was given to the plague in the forest which sent Kiatana on her journey in the first place. It could have been drawn out a little more to give a real sense of urgency, with more detail of the sickness and how it affected different species.

Despite some of the things I wasn’t so keen on, I did enjoy this book. There was a twist I didn’t see coming and the ending has been left in such a way as to allow for a second book. I hope Natalie Erin will take the foregoing as constructive criticism as she undoubtedly has talent and I look forward to seeing her next offering.