The following post contains spoilers for the first book in the series – The Fandom.
It’s a year since Violet, Alice and Katie escaped from the dystopian world of The Gallows Dance – Nate’s been stuck in a coma ever since. Violet re-enters The Gallows Dance, determined to bring her brother home. After an argument that threatens to destroy their friendship, Alice stays behind. But when a rogue fanfic writer emerges online – posting dark new chapters set in the world her friends are trapped in – Alice is the only one with the power to save the story…
Anna Day was shortlisted for the Times/Chicken House Children’s Fiction competition in 2015 with her novel The Gallows Dance. Combining Anna’s novel with The Big Idea runner-up Angela McCann’s idea resulted in The Fandom, a new novel inspired by the world from Anna’s original story. By day, Anna works as a clinical psychologist and lives in Newcastle with her family.
What I Thought
I was lucky enough to pick up an ARC of The Fandom at YALC and loved it so much I requested to be on the blog tour – you can find my original post here.
So I was very honoured to be contacted by Anna and sent a copy of the second book in the Fandom Duology for review.
Seriously if you’ve ever wished you could enter the world of books you love you will adore this series. It’s fun, romantic and full of friendship and sibling love too.
The Fandom Rising picks up around a year after the first book. Nate is still in a coma and Violet, Alice and Katie are ignoring the elephant in the room – the fact that they went into the world of The Gallows Dance. Everyone has put it down to a freak incident and the girls seem to believe they just dropped into comas too. Almost.
Violet and Alice have published a sequel called The Gallows Song, a Utopia in which Nate is alive and well. But then a fan fiction writer calling himself Fanboy starts using the power of the Fandom to make things dark and dangerous again. Nate is at risk in more than one way and it’s time to hop back and save the day.
I really liked how the female friendships are explored in terms of their complexity – conflict and jealousy as well as being there for each other. Girls aren’t just sunshine and sleepovers, or mean girls. Alice is left behind in the real world as a result and the introduction of the character Danny who helps her is welcomed because she can’t do this alone.
The characters we met in the first book are still in The Gallows Dance world and Violet might regret what they’ve written just a little. Even Utopias have conflict when new characters are introduced.
Like the first this was well paced, full of tension and an excellent mystery. Who is Fanboy and can Alice stop him? The answer may surprise you. Will everyone make it back in one piece?
With timely commentary on the nature of art and who stories belong to I loved diving back into this portal fantasy.
I marginally preferred the first book mainly because of the romance but this was a very satisfying follow up. Not going to lie I now want more and the super exciting news is that the series is in development for TV with Fox 21 Studios and the producer of the Golden Compass. My wishes are that they keep it set in the U.K. 🤞🏻and if they film the opening at LFCC this year I’ll be available to be an extra 😉 – just saying. And maybe they extend the story because there are things I need to see that are hinted at in the very end of book two. I’d be happy with extending this to a trilogy too 🤞🏻🤞🏻🤞🏻.
Thank you to Anna and Chicken House who gifted me this copy for the purposes of an honest review.
The fourth and final book in the Who Let the Gods Out? series was recently released and I’ve whipped through all four books this week.
- Who Let The Gods Out?
- Simply The Quest
- Beyond the Odyssey
- Against All Gods
Book 1 Synopsis
When Elliot wished upon a star, he didn’t expect a constellation to crash into his dungheap.
Virgo thinks she’s perfect. Elliot doesn’t. Together they release Thanatos, evil Daemon of Death. Epic fail.
They need the King of the Gods and his noble steed. They get a chubby Zeus and his high horse Pegasus.
Are the Gods really ready to save the world? And is the world really ready for the Gods?
Each book sees a quest to find one of the four Chaos Stones. Will Elliot get them and everything else he wants?
Elliot – 12 year old Elliot is our protagonist and he is a boy who, like Atlas, has the world on his shoulders. Kind, considerate and conflicted.
Virgo – 1,000ish year old Constellation in the body of a young girl sneaks down to earth trying to do an optimal job but discovers that maybe she’s not always right.
Hermes – the messenger god is I think, my favourite character. Hippy surfer dude type. Substitute older brother. Catchphrases includes Bosh and Boom.
Josie – Elliot’s mum. Josie Hooper is a single mother by circumstance, but she’s not well. Clearly experiencing an early onset dementia she cares for Elliot deeply and he for her. His love for Josie drives the whole story.
Zeus – King of the Gods. Flirt, womaniser but really a softie with a good heart of not the most strategic mind.
Thanatos – Our big bad. Daemon of death. Finally released from his imprisonment in Stonehenge he is now after the Chaos Stones to take over the mortal world, and get rid of most of the mortals.
Patricia Porshley-Plum – The real big bad. Umbridge’s posher sister. Mortal. Wants to buy Home Farm Elliot and Jodie’s home, and she doesn’t really mind what she has to do to get it. Nicknamed Horse’s Bum but deserves worse.
Queen Elizabeth and the Royal Family – once you’ve read Maz’s take on the Royals you will never look at them in quite the same way. Like Dahl’s Sophie and the BFG seek support from the Queen, now she’s obviously had some practice and is more prepared to handle the supernatural than ever before.
From the titles which are all punny takes on song titles to accessories such as iGods, literal toilet humour and Ares Sean Connery accent there is plenty to raise a smile for children and adults. And if your kids don’t go around crying Snordlesnot after reading this I’d be very surprised. It’s also beautifully British.
As well as the characters named above there are a whole host of others from Greek mythology and they are highly recognisable with their unique characters and situations slotted perfectly into the plot. From morose emo-rocker Jason to poor Sisyphus battling with his boulder, every character earns their place on the page.
As an adult reading a book series aimed at the 8-12 year old reader there is much to enjoy. The Zodiac council is a commentary on modern politics, and if you are a fan of Marvel’s Avengers the gods have to be the original superheroes.
Totes emotional with ocular leakage
I expected this series to be funny and it is. There were numerous laugh out loud and big grin moments whilst reading but I wasn’t expecting the emotional rollercoaster I got towards the end of book 3 and I think I spent around one third of book 4 in tears. Maz made one particularly brave decision which I was hoping she would make and then was really emotionally taken aback when she did. This series is full of heart and I urge you to read it to/with kids or alone.
Barry Cunningham on behalf of the publisher Chicken House adds a message to the front of each of their books explaining why they picked the book and what the reader has to look forward to. I think this is a lovely and really unique touch and helps build excitement through the series.
Maz is as humorous and full of energy in real life as her books might indicate. She narrated the audiobooks herself and having heard her talk at a couple of signings I think she will have done a cracking job. Maz is an author keen to undertake school visits and will provide an entertaining and educational opportunity discussing writing craft and generally making the kids smile. I can’t wait to see what she comes up with next.
And that’s my review. In short. I loved them. Read them. Boom!
Cosplay ready, Violet and her friends are at Comic-Con. They can’t wait to meet the fandom of mega-movie, The Gallows Dance.
What they are not expecting is to be catapulted by a freak accident into their favourite world – for real. Fuelled by love, guilt and fear, can the friends put the plot back on track and get out? The fate of the story is in their hands…
How The Fandom Came to Be
Chicken House ran The Big Idea Competition and Angela McCann won with this concept. Anna Day was a finalist in the Times/Chicken House Children’s Fiction Competition and has bought Angela’s idea to life.
What I Thought?
I received a proof copy of The Fandom at YALC (the Young Adult Literature Convention) in July 2017. YALC is part of LFCC (London Film and Comic Con) at the Kensington Olympia. The very Comic Convention Violet and her friends are attending in their The Gallows Dance Cosplay.
When I was younger my sister and two male friends of ours used to play this game where we’d ‘get sucked into different TV channels’ and act out a show from that channel. I was also a fan of the old cartoon Dungeons and Dragons… and who hasn’t wanted Hogwarts to be real? So the idea of getting drawn into your favourite work of fiction clearly holds some appeal to me.
Violet, her brother Nate, and her friends Alice (The Gallows Dance fan fiction writer) and Katie (who hasn’t even read Twilight!), find themselves walking into a photo shoot and ending up in a shoot out. The stakes for our foursome are high. From the prologue to the film outline given in the first chapter we know that despite the romance that draws the group into this Fandom the danger is going to be very real.
Violet is a normal girl, she faints – she’s only been on one date that didn’t end well and now she has to play the heroine, the love interest on whose head the fate of an entire society rests. It’s a good thing she has an expert knowledge of the story canon. Except knowing the words isn’t always enough, especially when it’s not clear who’s good and who’s bad, you start to fall for the wrong guy and it really looks like going home is an impossible dream. Violet is a really likeable character and all the way throughout you can see she wants to do the right thing.
One of the characters Baba asks her ‘If you were stuck here… What kind of an Imp would you become?’ Violet has to decide if she is in a romance or something more?
The Gallows Dance is a sci-fi dystopia where humans have been genetically modified as ‘Gems’ and normal imperfect humans are Imps. There’s a Romeo and Juliet type plot, brooding boys Thorn, Ash and Willow, rebels who want an uprising, and nods to The Wizard of Oz, Divergent and The Hunger Games.
As well as the romance the sibling relationship is portrayed well, and even though they are absent the calming presence of Violet’s parents is felt which is somewhat unusual for YA. Female friendships are explored in their complexity and limelight-stealing Alice and compound-swearing Katie remind us that we are dealing with a group of contemporary teenagers.
The story quite quickly goes off script and the group find themselves on a packed adventure with limited time to take the correct path. I found this a really fun read and an excellent homage to my favourite genre.
Don’t forget to check out the rest of the stops on the tour and do pick up a copy of The Fandom which is out this week.
Which fandom world would you definitely not want to venture into?