Today I am delighted to take part in the blog tour for the final instalment of Josh Winning’s YA Sentinel Trilogy, Splinter. Truth be told I wasn’t sure where this series would go after the dramatic conclusion of Ruins, but I knew that the ending was going to be big, and that it simply couldn’t be anything other than epic. Not only were my expectations met, but they were categorically crushed in the best way possible. Full of twists and turns, stark realism and fantastical imagination, with a touch or heartbreak and undercurrents of hope, this baby will leave you craving more.
‘All who stand against us shall perish’
The critically acclaimed Sentinel Trilogy comes to a thrilling conclusion in this final instalment of the dark fantasy series.
The world is falling apart around Nicholas Hallow. Amid rumours that the Dark Prophets have returned, a deathly gloom pollutes England, unleashing a savage hoard of nightmare creatures. Fighting the tide of evil, Nicholas returns home to Cambridge, where an old ally helps him seek out the mysterious Skurkwife, who could help Nicholas stop Malika and the Prophets for good.
Meanwhile, Sam Wilkins unites the Sentinels against the forces of darkness, but with Jessica’s sanity slipping, and Isabel suspicious of her shadowy past, it’s a battle that could cost the Sentinels everything.
Sentinel and Ruins, the first two books in The Sentinel Trilogy, are currently just 99p on Kindle https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/bookseries/B00YSRBVYU/
Splinter is out now https://www.amazon.co.uk/Splinter-Book-Three-Sentinel-Trilogy/dp/1911382853/
My Rating: 5/ 5
There’s nothing like the apocalypse to bring about an action packed story of survival in the face of harrowing odds. And even though Nicholas Hallow has been fighting the same world-ending enemy for three books now, Splinter manages to stay fresh and exciting in a way that will leave you wanting more. Every question and loose end from the previous two instalments are given closure, characters with gaps become painfully whole, and the mystery of Nicholas Hallow’s incredible birth is finally unveiled. Helped along by old friends like Sam and Isabel, and new allies such as Rae, Dawn and Merlyn, it is impossible not to root for Nicholas as he embarks on the final leg of this seemingly impossible quest.
The best part is that despite being told from multiple perspectives and covering a vast array of storylines, Winning succeeds in sticking to a shorter and less intimidating length. I have always loved that this trilogy is visually ‘do-able’ when seen on the shelf by all levels of YA readers, so it’s wonderful that the finale is in the same approachable size. The vocabulary too, remains accessible without being overly simple, marking this as a book that can be enjoyed by YA readers and adults alike. The writing is emotive and imaginative with just enough colour to paint a picture of events, but not so much description as to bore you to death. I loved the vocabularies associated with each character, their moods, and personalities – these really helped to give a sense who/ what/ and why a person was a certain way, but left enough to the imagination to be surprised by events along the way.
Perhaps my favourite story arc was that of Jessica and Isabel. Two guardians of the Trinity tied together by a horrible history, both faced with impossible choices and holding immeasurable power. I was touched by how much Isabel cared for Jessica despite it all, and even more so by the choices that Jessica had to make in the moments and centuries that followed. I definitely wasn’t expecting Jessica’s connection to the Malika storyline, but once it was out in the open everything just seemed to fall into place. It really drove home the concept that sometimes choice is an illusion, and that sacrifices really do have to be made for the common good despite immeasurable personal loss.
I also adored the growing camaraderie and tensions between Nicholas, Rae, and Dawn. It was fun to be a fly on the wall to witness their group dynamics with the added bonus of being presented candid and private private moments that informed upon motives and demonstrated growth. More so than in Ruins, I began to get a sense for these characters as individuals beyond their circumstances, and I loved the sarcasm and wit that permeated their personalities. It was fun to watch Dawn come out of her shell, Rae let down her guard, and Nicholas to give a little of the control and self importance that comes with being the chosen one. Oh, and on that note, I was totally not expecting that ending! With our trio of happy heroes so closely mirroring the composition of the Trinity, I was definitely expecting some sort of happy transformation that saved the day – you won’t get any spoilers from me here, but I can assure you right now that this not going to turn out how you think!
The touches of romance were sweet throughout, and much needed given the gravity of situations being faced. And once again my radar was way off course when it came to Nicholas thinking that he might have a bit of spark for Dawn (wrong again!), but was pleasantly surprised with the character that captures his heart. I appreciated the LGBTQ aspects, especially since they were presented in such a normal, healthy, unassuming way. Too often diverse reads go out of their way to be special, but Splinter is outstanding thanks to it’s understated and honest representations of emotional attachments and first loves.
In this stunning conclusion to the Sentinel Trilogy Winning pulls together the disparate threads of carefully crafted tale and intrigue laid out in Sentinel and Ruins and presents the perfect ending to an action packed saga. Even though Nicholas, Rae and Dawn are fighting demons around every corner there’s still plenty of time for character development and emotional growth. You can’t help but finding a few plucky sentinels and satellite characters to latch on to as their background come to the forefront, but in true Sentinel style – don’t get too attached to your favourite characters! This is the apocalypse after all, and you never know what’s lurking around the corner.
Would I recommend this book? Hell, I’d happily position myself as an ardent advocate for the whole dang series! Splinter is timely, irreverent, and down right entertaining – as are Sentinel and Ruins. This is the kind of book that can be appreciated by causal readers, fantasy addicts, and lovers of YA alike. Buy it, borrow it, find some way to get your hands on it, because this is one summer read that was definitely worth the wait!
Joshua Winning is an author and film journalist who writes for TOTAL FILM, SFX, GAY TIMES and RADIO TIMES. He has been on set with Kermit the Frog, devoured breakfast with zombies on The Walking Dead, and sat on the Iron Throne while visiting the Game Of Thrones set in Dublin. Jeff Goldblum once told him he looks a bit like Paul Bettany.
In 2018, Joshua’s YA thriller VICIOUS RUMER was published by Unbound. His dark fantasy series THE SENTINEL TRILOGY was published by Peridot Press, and he also co-wrote ’80s teen horror CAMP CARNAGE. In 2015, Joshua’s short story DEAD AIR appeared in SPEAK MY LANGUAGE: AN ANTHOLOGY OF GAY FICTION.
Many thanks to Josh Winning for leading me down the rabbit hole with this trilogy, and for providing copies of all three books in exchange for honest reviews.