Sometimes Heaven Can Be Hell
Halcyon is the answer for anyone who wants to escape, but paradise isn’t what it seems.
A self-sustaining community on a breathtakingly beautiful island, Halcyon is run for people who want to live without fear, crime or greed. Its leader has dedicated her life to the pursuit of Glam Moon, a place of eternal beauty and healing, and believes the pathway there can only be found at the end of pleasure.
On the heels of tragedy, Martin Lovegrove moves his family to Halcyon. A couple of months, he tells himself, to retreat from the chaos and grind. Yet he soon begins to suspect there is something beneath Halcyon’s perfect veneer. As the founder captivates his young family, Martin sets out to discover the truth of the island, however terrible it might be, where something so perfect hides unimaginable darkness beneath…
Rio Youers is a British Fantasy Award-nominated author whose short fiction has been published in many notable anthologies, and his novel, Westlake Soul, was nominated for Canada’s prestigious Sunburst Award. Rio lives in southwestern Ontario with his wife Emily, and their children.
What I Thought
If you still have the Halloween spirit after last night’s festivities this is a perfect scary book to pick up.
The ‘Utopian’ Halcyon island of the title is only glimpsed in the first part of the book and instead we focus mainly on Martin and his family and the tragedy that leads them to Halcyon. Investigating his youngest daughter Edith’s night terrors leads to the realisation that they are not the benign nightmares that children simply ‘grow out of’.
I whipped through the first 100 pages and again at various points during the story. When the thrill kicks in it grabs you. The pacing was a strong point and for me Halcyon lives up to the page-turning moniker.
This is a modern horror thriller that uses the fears of the modern day to create a chilling exploration of terrorism, radicalisation and cults and also what happens when you become disillusioned with your country and fellow man. There’s a line in the book that says “Vulnerability in the wrong hands is a dangerous weapon.”
There is a supernatural element in the book but the real monsters are all human – or at least pretending to be. As with the best villains they too have their own demons to contend with but their exploitation of the vulnerable is the real evil in this book.
There is definitely content in the book that won’t be to everyone’s taste -trigger warning for torture and sexual abuse. However for me the characters were engaging enough to be invested beyond this.
The blurb on the back compares Youers to Koontz or King and this definitely has a feeling reminiscent of The Shining/The Stand era. I would definitely pick up another of his books to read when I feel like being scared.
Do check out the rest of the stops on the tour to see what everyone else thought.
Thank you to Titan books for the free copy I received for the purposes of an honest review.
In case you missed my review of Nevermoor, which was one of my favourite reads of last year you can see it here.
In this follow up to the magical Nevermoor, Jessica Townsend’s heroine Morrigan Crow, now twelve, has passed the entry trials to the Wundrous Society and is looking forward to beginning an array of exciting classes. However due to her ‘very special talent’ which no one can know about, her teachers, Scholar Mistresses Dearborn and Murgatroyd have other plans for Morrigan and they are mostly boring.
It’s only the conductor of Unit 919’s hometrain, the aptly named Miss Cheery and new teacher Mildmay, who makes exploring the streets of Nevermoor exciting, that save Morrigan from having a completely terrible time. Jupiter is always away searching for missing people, half her unit don’t trust her and then there’s the school bully to contend with.
Her loyal friend Hawthorne and Cadence are both back too, along with the madcap residents of the Hotel Deucalion including my favourite the sarcastic Fenestra.
Halloween returns with a spooky seance, as does the evil Wundersmith Ezra Squall. Will Morrigan escape his clutches this time?
I love this series. If you like Harry Potter definitely pick this up. It’s just as magical, Morrigan faces her own daily battles but is part of a wider battle within her world. Much more of the location of Nevermoor is explored and Morrigan and her friends stumble on some nasty places.
The characters are simply brilliant. So vivid and fun. The only problem with this series is that kids will want to keep reading well past bedtime and adults will want to borrow this whilst younger readers are asleep.
Wundersmith is released today – 30th October making it the perfect Halloween read.
Jackson Superhero might not be a real name, but it is a story about a real boy, and as the name suggests, Jackson is far from ordinary. By day, a rare disease limits his ability to move freely, but at night he is far from grounded. When the sleeping hours come around, and weightlessness takes over, Jackson takes to the skies. He knows what it means to need the support of others, which is why when he hears a call for help, he is quickly there to lend a hand.
Darren Garwood is the father of Jackson, a real boy living with a rare and terminal illness called Krabbe disease. Darren came up with the Jackson Superhero series because as Jackson can’t move during the day, Darren wanted to help him dream at night, when he was free to be anything he wanted to be. Jackson Saves an owl is written in lively, fantastic rhyme, and is the first in the Jackson Superhero series.
What I Thought
This is an adorable picture book about helping others simply because you can. It is A4, around 20 pages and is set out in rhyme.
Of course I was touched by the story behind this. See more about Darren and Jackson’s story on YouTube – https://youtu.be/xiZ65fP0u3U.
But, what kid doesn’t want to be a superhero though? Your littlest readers will love listening to this, exploring the pictures, making sounds, and when they are ready, reading it for themselves.
The illustrations are stunning and I love that they look so drawn and coloured in. The pencil shading is a retro touch in this age of computerised drawing. I also love the subtlety of the initial drawing of Jackson sat in his beanbag chair with a stomach tube, a slight prompt for children to talk about but not essential to the story.
The heroics are also something very simple, no laser eye beams, showing children that it may be easier to help others than they think.
All in all this is such a cute picture book, created for one special boy but with much wider appeal.
Do check out the other stops on the blog tour. Thanks to Faye and the publisher for my copy for the purposes of this honest review.