#BlogTour #Review: Birth of The Mortokai by D. G. Palmer @DGPalmer3 #YAFantasy

Birth Of The Mortokai

Today I am delighted to be taking part in the blog tour Birth of the Mortokai by D. G. Palmer. The first instalment in the Daniel Welsh Chronicles, this imaginative adventure will take you down the rabbit hole into the lands of the Fae, alternative realms, and the tumultuous journey that accompanies the coming of age. If you crave a tale that is not only fantastical but also leaves you wanting more, then this might just be one for you!


Birth_of_The_MortokaiTitle: Birth of The Mortokai

Author: Desmond Palmer

Publisher: DGP Creative Solutions

Publication Date: August 1, 2019

Genre: Fantasy, YA Fantasy

Themes: Magic, Coming of Age, Adventure

Features: N/A


Synopsis

Daniel Welsh was born different—and to Daniel, to be different means to be alone. But what if he’s wrong?

Born an albino with a photographic memory, Daniel Welsh never expected to fit in. Yet, when he is approached by Trinity—a young girl who definitely isn’t human—she reveals a whole new world where he might just belong. Ariest is a place where his features aren’t a disability or the mark of a freak, but rather a trait of powerful mages born of human-faerie unions. His father is a renowned war hero and swordsman, his mother is a human doctor, and that makes him a powerful mage that’ll tip the scales. Magic is real—and so is the threat it brings.

Trinity and her father, a battle mage, aren’t the only onesto have discovered Daniel and his gifts hidden in the human realm.

The Shade have awakened.

Enemies to the fae realm long thought dead have been lying in wait for their moment to strike. Young mages like Daniel are the perfect morsel for their starving appetites and they start their killing spree without delay with the nearest unsuspecting mage boy. Daniel cannot sit idly by while monsters take innocent lives, so he will embrace a destiny he is only just beginning to understand… even if it means losing a life that’s finally worth living.

Birth of the Mortokai is a young adult coming of age fantasy adventure novel. Trigger warning: this novel contains descriptions of albinism, a real genetic disorder that affects 1/17,000 persons worldwide per year.


My Review

Imagine this, a young boy struggling to go unnoticed  by the bullies at school finally meets a beautiful young, discovers he’s the son of legendary faerie warrior, and is mistakenly transported to the faerie realm all within a matter of days. Talk about having your world turned upside down. And if that’s not confusing enough, Daniel also discovers that some immense magical powers and is in dire need of training lest he turn into an uncontrollable force. Bring on the the drama my friends. Bring. It. On.

Of course, Daniel isn’t in this journey alone. He has the guidance of the archmage Gideon, his mysterious daughter Trinity, Nyriel the princess of the Undines, and badass scrappers Tristan and Finn. They all take their turns in supporting Daniel as he battles the unknown, the return of an old enemy, and explore the depths of Daniel’s untapped (and potentially dangerous) powers.

A creative blend of speculative fantasy fiction and traditional folklore, there’s a little something for all fantasy lovers. From undiscovered heroes and lurking villains to beautiful damsels and handsome rogues, Palmer pulls all of the stops when it comes to incorporating a wide variety of the Fae. There are elves, mages, habthrusts, changelings, undines, shades, bogarts and so many more! It was like reading a veritable cornucopia of who’s who in the magic world and I absolutely loved it.

Daniel makes a compelling hero and the epitome of an underdog. Torn from a life of relative misery at the hans of his peers and thrown into a different world where his visible differences are suddenly irrelevant, he is given the freedom to finally explore his person truth beyond the constraints of societal perceptions. He smart, funny, and talented without the baggage of arrogance or experience. And what I wouldn’t give for his photographic memory, to read something once and know it perfectly – what a gift to have! Although I can see how it can quickly become a burden to have so much knowledge kicking around, especially when it’s something you would rather not know or when that knowledge becomes weaponized against you. Ultimately though, it was heartening to see Daniel grow in confidence and come into his own, explore his emotions and powers, and develop strong bonds of friendship.

I really enjoyed Trinity’s character too, and I have the feeling that there is so much more to her story than Plamer let on in this first instalment. I can only hope for some big things in er story arc given her mysterious birth, Gideon’s past, and the role that she has taken in training Daniel. I appreciate that not only is she incredibly intelligent, but that she is also an undeniable bad-ass. And to top it all off, she’s a sensitive soul who’s in touch with emotions and is perceptive of those around her. Basically I think she’s almost too perfect, and that makes the options for her character develop rather interesting as this series moves forward and more of her backstory is revealed.

But on that note, I did feel like there were a few too many events and pieces of important information that were left unexplained. The book is called Birth of the Mortokai, the Mortokai is regularly mentioned with regards to Daniels powers, and yet just what exactly to Mortokai is still a mystery come the end of the book. So too is the connection between Trinity and Gideon’s wife – the number of overt references to this connection makes the fact that the illuminating information has been withheld for a later volume particularly frustrating! And lets not (okay, maybe we will) mention the fact that Gideon and the hobthrust Fungal both have some real big plan in play, but in both instances the depth and direction of their intentions have yet to be revealed. The Chronicles of Daniel Welsh is clearly a series that’s going to play the long game, and it doesn’t appear that any of the instalments will be readable as a standalone. So when you pick this one, be ready to commit to the long haul.

Regardless, Birth of the Mortokai is an exciting foray into the world of the Fae and the possibilities that ca be found in limitless magical realms. It’s a story full of mystery, adventure, and has some promising future arcs. I can’t wait to see where Daniel and Trinity will go next, and this is a cracking start to a new series that promises big things in the books to come.


About The Author

508b889b-2c4e-4851-9dd2-6ae30200233fAuthor Bio – Currently residing in London, England, D.G. Palmer writes in the Spec Fiction genre, using his imagination to create vivid worlds and captivating characters.

An avid reader and player of video games, in the past, he was part of table top roleplaying groups where he nurtured his storytelling by penning several story arcs.

Feel free to follow him on Facebook, Goodreadsand Instagram. If you wish to receive updates about his latest books, event dates and other exclusive news, sign up to The World of D.G. Palmerand enter his mind. He warns it can be a mess sometimes, so make sure you wipe your feet on the way out – you never know what you might take with you. 

Social Media Links – https://www.facebook.com/des.palmer.12

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/18957667.D_G_Palmer

https://www.instagram.com/dgpcreativesolutions/

https://www.bookbub.com/profile/d-g-palmer-8b32c698-c2f3-48c7-ab16-2620367df32e?list=about

https://twitter.com/DGPalmer3

https://www.pinterest.co.uk/desdoobie/


Many thanks to Rachel Gilbey at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to participate in this tour.

 

Year End Wrap-Up #amreading #books

2018

Well book lovers, it’s been one hell of a year!

I didn’t do near as much reading as I normally would thanks to any number of circumstance – an interesting run of failed offers on properties, the sale of our house in record time, finally finding our dream home but with the worlds shortest possession and the endless stream of renovations that has followed rank high amongst my distractions. Then add in a new job, a bit of travel, some random health issues within the fam-jam and I’m sure you can imagine how the TBR has since spiralled out of control.

However, it’s that time of year again where wrap-ups and years-in-review dominate our streams and I simply couldn’t resist. While I once again fell short of my goal to read 100 books in a year, I’m absolutely over the with the titles that I did and I could’t wait to share a little more book-love to close out 2018.

Top Reads of 2018

Like last year, I thought about ranking these, but still can’t bring myself to compare apples to oranges or to put one book ahead of another. So, I have decided to once again select a few memorable titles from each broader genre. I am sure I have a great many, wonderful titles that I’ve forgotten to include – but this is a wrap-up, not an annotated bibliography so I’m trying my best to keep it brief!


Historical Fiction


hearts

Strong women, the French Resistance during WWII, and a serious touch of espionage – this baby had it all! Hearts of Resistance by Soraya M. Lane had me wishing that this was a TV series or feature film because there was so much juicy action. It’s well written, punchy, and it tickles my feminist heart strings to boot. It has this incredible balance between uplifting hope and the abject horror of reality, which really made it memorable in my books.

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Ugh, this list would not be complete without The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris. It’s not often I ignore my TBR to reread a book right after I’ve finished it, but this baby had that draw – and I might have ugly-cried the entire second read. The sheer emotional impact Morris delivers is absolutely phenomenal, the language powerfully evocative, and the story so rooted in reality that I found it hard to draw a line between fact and fiction. I loved every minute of this book, even the uncomfortable bits, and haven’t yet passed an opportunity to recommend it to family and friends.


YA


girl like that

Read it. No, seriously, read it. A Girl Like That by Tanaz Bhathena is so damn good. This is the kind of book that denies categorization as YA or literary fiction, but it demands to be read because of it’s relevancy, willingness to tackle some rather horrible and universal issues, and because the writing is simply beautiful. Irreverent, poignant, and punchy where it matters I’m willing to bet A Girl Like That is going to have some serious staying power.

wolves

I read a lot of YA fantasy, an not much of it ends up with a review on the blog. But The Gilded Wolves by Rouhani Chokshi was the kind of amazing that has me wishing for a movie deal. The originality of the world building alone had me absolutely blown away, the diversity of the characters enraptured, and the uniqueness of the magic utterly bewitched. This book was so fun and fresh that I jumped out my seat with legitimate joy when it became clear that a sequel would be forthcoming. I just wish I knew more about said sequel… like, now!


Comics & Graphic Novels


photo

Okay, so I know this baby could fall under historical fiction, but I decided it belongs with with the graphic medium rather than the subject matter. Dark, uncomfortable, and painfully real despite it’s abstraction through comics The Photographer of Mauthausen stuck with me for weeks after I turned the final page. Given how much of the story was told through photographs I don’t think that a traditional novel would have done this retelling any justice. Heartbreaking and poignant, I would definitely put this on a list titled “If you only ever read one graphic novel it has to be…”

YvainOkay, so I know that this baby was actually published in March of 2017, but I didn’t get around to reading it until this year. But M. T. Anderson’s retelling of this classic medieval tale, accompanied by Andrea Offermann’s exceptional illustrations absolutely stole my heart. Seeing Yvain: The Knight of the Lion retold in a way that is both entertaining and accessible to modern readers of all ages ticked all the right boxes for me. It made this list purely because I find myself directing students to it at least once a week, and because I can read it over and over again and get something new out of it each and every time. Whether you’re a fan of Arthurian legends, fast paced action, or a touch of magic this baby is damn versatile it hurts.

emmie

Invisible Emmie by Terri Libenson is one of those books that I picked up on a whim and ended up sticking in the back if my mind in a recurring kind of way. There are a great many works out there to help middle grade readers navigate the complexities of friendship and fitting in, but this one stood out from the crow. I think the thing that I loved the most was that Invisible Emmie doesn’t have any real mean-girls to overcome, but that it focuses on self acceptance and discovery – that alone is worth it’s weight in gold!


Crime Fiction


9780749023621 hidden bones hb wb

Ugh. Ugh, ugh ugh! So much good. I mean, I barely have the words to describe how much I loved reading The Hidden Bones by Nicola Ford. It had the perfect balance between crime, drama, and archaeology and I was legitimately angry when it ended because I wanted so much more! It’s been a long time since I found an archaeologist/ author that I loved as much as the O’Neil Gear’s, and I have no doubts that Ford will be a strong contender for my next fan-girl fascination.

birthday

My love of Carol Wyer’s work should be no secret by now so finding The Birthday on this list will be no surprise. Not only was it the perfect start to a new series, it was an absolutely outstanding novel! I adored Natalie Ward and her team and the crimes presented are dark and twisty in all the right ways, with just enough gore to keep you horrified but not so much as to make you pause or put the book away. This was, by far, my most favourite police procedural of the year – and I simply can’t wait for the next instalment to hit shelves.


Literary Fiction


vow

This baby makes the list because I loved it despite my decided hatred of romance. Maybe it was the fashion, maybe it was the setting, maybe it was the exceptional cast of supporting characters, but The Secret Vow by Natalie Meg Evans won me over and had me gushing in no time at all. It was the perfect way to close out the year.

1000Last but not least, we have my very first read of 2018 – which was so powerful I haven’t stopped trying to push it on all of my Canadian family friends despite our inability to locate a regular supply in print. Woman at 1, 000 Degrees by Hallgrimur Helgason blew my socks off (pun fully intended) and opened my eyes to the world of Icelandic literature. Witty, blunt, and beyond captivating Helgason’s creation was the most memorable way I could have started the year.


So there we have it, my top reads of 2018!

Thank you all for being so wonderful and supportive, and I look forward to what 2019 has to offer.

See you in the new year!

– J

#BlogTour #Review: Splinter by Joshua Winning @SentinelTrilogy @JoshWinning #YALit #Fantasy

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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.


Synopsis

hHnO1d4g.png‘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.

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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


Review 

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!


Author Information

tmD8l7QAJoshua 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.

#Review: The Vault of Dreamers by Caragh M. O’Brien #YA #ScienceFiction

Look! A review… finally!

I know, I know, I have been far too quiet lately. But, it’s been one heck of an adjustment with the new job and being on a computer almost all day that I’ve had a hard time sitting down in the evenings to write reviews. So today I am delighted to present my 5 star review The Vault of Dreamers by Caragh M. O’Brien, and absolutely gripping YA read!


dreamerTitle: The Vault of Dreamers

AuthorCaragh M. O’Brien

Publisher: Roaring Book Press

Publication Date: September 16, 2014

Genre: Fiction, YA, Science Fiction, Dystopian Fiction, YA Romance

Themes: Family, Friendship, Boarding School, Reality TV, Medical Testing, Consent Romance

Features: N/A


My Rating: 5/ 5


Synopsis

From Goodreads…

WELCOME TO THE PRESTIGIOUS Forge School of the Arts, where every waking moment of the students’ lives is televised. For twelve hours a day, every class, conversation, and gesture is broadcast to millions of viewers. And for twelve hours each night, the students undergo an induced sleep, proven to maximize creativity.

Rosie Sinclair has staked all her dreams of becoming a filmmaker on succeeding at Forge. But when she skips her sleeping pill one night, she discovers an insidious world behind the cameras. As she navigates the Forge landscape of art and manipulation by day, Rosie finds it increasingly difficult to trust either her instincts or her mind. The only thing she knows for certain is that she must unearth the ghastly secret that the Forge School is hiding.

From the author of the Birthmarked Trilogy comes a fast-paced, psychologically thrilling novel about what happens when the dreams you follow are no longer your own.


My Review

Where do I begin with this book? Normally I would say something like ‘this might listed as YA, but can be enjoyed by all.’ And while that might be true, straight up this is some seriously kick ass YA lit! I shouldn’t have expected anything less from Caragh M. O’Brien as I adored the Birthmarked trilogy, but with The Vault of Dreamers I was completely blown away.

The whole concept of high school as reality TV, 24 hour monitoring, advanced arts school had me hooked from the blurb. In all honesty, it sounded exactly like the kind of school that I would have applied to as teen and I simply couldn’t stay away. The execution of the concept far exceeded my expectations, so much so that I have already gone out and purchased the other two books in the trilogy! But more than anything, I loved how O’Brien balanced relevant and contemporary issues with page-gripping fiction. These included the high suicide rates of contestants, discussions on bodily autonomy, consent, poverty, abuse and so much more.

The Round of 50 cuts was something that I found to be particularly brutal. I couldn’t imagine having my entire future determined by public opinion and yet it seems to be something we crave as a society. It hurt to see Rosie’s good intentions used as ammunition against her, but it hurt even more to see the impact that constant public scrutiny can have on a person. And while the majority of teens won’t be on nationally televised reality shows, the constant pressure of social media combined with the drama of high school is sure to be relatable. Huge props to O’Brien for tackling the persistent issues of high suicide rates amongst former reality TV contestants, I can only hope that works like this get people thinking, or better yet, get them talking.

I really appreciated how the romantic aspects of this story were handled as well. The fire was there, but in an innocent almost toned down way that left the focus squarely on the interpersonal dramas and the psychological warfare being waged. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the whole Rosie/ Linus storyline, but it was subtle enough and healthy enough of a relationship that it didn’t inspire any rage (which is rare for me, as I normally hate romance in teens novels for many, unrealistic reasons).

And the mind games! SO WELL WRITTEN. Take note my friends, I don’t use all caps often. But the way in which everything presented felt so real, and the gaslighting got me so wrapped up that I too began questioning whether or not Rosie was dreaming for some of the more fantastical elements and whether or not all of her breakthrough ideas were truly her own. But in the face of all it, I adored how Rosie stayed strong and convicted in spite of the challenges thrown her way.

I got lost in the sense of fear, of game play, and of the all-encompassing politics as the story progressed. And even though Rosie gathered herself quite the team to help her through, she is a fierce female character who plays one hell of a game. I appreciated her strength and tenacity, her dedication to her family, and her unwavering commitment to finding the truth even when it looked like she had been completely beat.

My only complaint was that I felt there were some threads of the story left that weren’t wrapped up at the end, like whatever happened to Linus and Burnham. But this was just the first book in a trilogy and there had to be something juicy enough to pull you along into the next instalment right? And let’s not forget what happened to Rosie! I’ll avoid spoilers here, but if you’ve read the blurbs for the other books chances are good you have an idea. But that final chapter! Oh man, I just had to know where she went and how.

Altogether this was a fun, engaging, and well written story that is sure to grip the attention. Sure, Rosie’s a little on the teenaged girl mindset, but her behaviour is right in line with her age and situation. Honestly, I liked that she wasn’t mature beyond her years but know that some might find her annoying. Regardless, this is one of my favourite reads of the year because it had it all – drama, suspense, romance, and intrigue. Would I recommend it? Oh hells yes!

Now pardon me while I disappear again to read the rest of the series.


 

#Review: Beetlebrow by Ben Parker #YA #Fantasy

Today I am delighted to share a review for Ben Parker’s LGBTQ YA novel, Beetlebrow. This little adventure is jam packed with action, has just enough romance to pull at the heart strings, and that hint of magic to blur the lines between fiction and fantasy.


beetlebrowTitle: Beetlebrow

AuthorBen Parker

Publisher: The Conrad Press

Publication Date: April 27, 2016

Genre: Fiction, YA, Fantasy, Adventure

Themes: Family, Friendship, Abuse, Poverty, Class Stratified Society, Survival, Epic Quests

Features: N/A


My Rating: 4/ 5


Synopsis

From Goodreads…

Two sixteen-year-old girls are struggling to survive in the poverty-stricken streets of Stellingkorr. Beetlebrow – devastated by the death of her mother – meets Pook – newly escaped from her drunken parents.

The two girls scale the walls of the royal palace in search of work. King Ancissus – impressed with their ingenuity and skill – tasks them with delivering a cryptic message to the distant eastern city of Dalcratty. Success could save Stellingkorr; failure could mean starvation for its people.

Beetlebrow and Pook are forced to lie, fight and steal to keep heading east. Through the violence and squalor of towns and arid plains, army camps and prisons, they have only each other to depend upon.

“Beetlebrow”, the first book of “The Beetlebrow Trilogy”, is the gritty debut novel from Ben Parker. In this epic coming-of-age fantasy, two bold and fearless young women find a love they could never have imagined.


My Review

I’ll begin this review with a huge shout out to Ben Parker, for not only getting in touch with me through MiniMac Reviews but also sending a paperback all the way to Canada. You see, Canada post is reeeeaaaalllyyy slow, so most of my book love comes in the ePub and Mobi format (which is love as well), so it was a special treat to get a nice, crisp, new book in the mail! Thank you Mr. Parker, your generosity and patience has been greatly appreciated!

And after all of that effort, I am ashamed to say that this baby languished a little longed than  I had anticipated on the TBR pile. Now, I love me some fantasy and adventure books, but I have to be in the right frame of mind to truly enjoy certain themes and genres. As a result, the first two times I picked Beetlebrow up I had that ‘not yet’ feeling and placed it back on the TBR for when the timing was right. But the third time I picked it up, everything just seemed to click and I simply couldn’t stop reading!

Beetlebrow is the kind of character that you can’t help but feel for. Not only is she young, impoverished, and later homeless but her family circumstances and societal restrictions made her predicament exponentially worse. But despite these setbacks, I was drawn to her kind heart, quick wit, and even her street urchin tendencies. I really expected her to be the kingdom’s underdog hero because she had all the right stuff for it, but the ways in which she lived up to that title were completely unexpected and left me cheering out loud.

The premise of the quest isn’t all together new, but the benefit to that was that I knew that I would enjoy the book from the outset. And let’s face it, it’s a tale as old as time and yet it’s still relevant – the elite of a kingdom are bleeding it’s people dry, the common folk are in revolt and have engaged in a full scale rebellion, and two orphan children have set out to change their lives and end up changing the world. If that isn’t the foundation for a modern fairy tale I don’t know what is! Now add in a healthy dose of adventure, a love that has to be hidden from the world, and evil half brother, and a nearly impossible task and you’ve really got something.

I had a much harder time connecting to Pook as I found her to be a rather passive character. But as this story revolves around Beetlebrow I was willing to let her have a damsel in distress without too much complaining, especially since Pook’s character ending up getting me in the feels when her back story finally came out of the woodwork. Once I understood a little about her history, Pook’s decisions and reactions were a lot easier to understand. I look forward to seeing how her character will grow and develop in books two ad three of the trilogy as I think there are a lot of interesting places she can go!

I really appreciated how it wasn’t an easy process for the girls to complete there quest. The faced censure, stigma, and some serious repercussions from their families and law along the way. And I would have to say this applies equally to delivering their message and their romance. While we have come a long way in terms of acceptance, I am sure that the fear of repercussion is something that will resonate with young readers who are facing, or have faced, similar situations in their own lives. And for those that haven’t, I hope it helps to open their eyes to some of the challenges faced every day by young people in the LGBTQ community.

I enjoy that the girls enjoyed a happy ending, but that their relationship wasn’t without trials and tribulations. I appreciated too, how some of the drama stemmed from the fact that one of the girls was more experienced than the other, which is often an issue in many relationships regardless of age. And as a cis reader, this really made their story relatable and easy to engage with. And that fairytale feeling is bolstered by the fact that the girls ran away with one another after a chance encounter. Like all good fairytales there isn’t any time for a proper courtship, and the details of the love story get hammered out after the adventure is well under way.

Finally, I really loved the variety of villains in Beetlebrow. From Alder and Joe for being entitled manipulators, Prince Tyvan for locking away his wife rather than divorcing her, the King for being greedy and disinterested in his people, and Gregory who pursues the girls across the land but turns out to be something else all together. I was constantly surprised by little twists that I never saw coming and absolutely loved being kept on my toes.

Would I recommend this book? Absolutely! It’s well written, engaging, and offers plenty of adventure. I know that it won’t appeal to everyone, but if you like adventure and plucky heroines you should definitely give this one a try! And while Beetlebrow stands nicely on it’s own, I can’t wait for the next to books in the trilogy to be released!


Many thanks to Ben Parker for providing a hard copy in exchange for an honest review, and also for his unending patience in getting that review posted when my life got a little crazy!