Last year I read and enjoyed the first book in the series Shadow Magic. You can find my review, and more information about the author here. The second book in the series is out this week on the 6th and I’ve been lucky enough to get an early copy (opinions are still mine though).
In a world ruled by six ancient Houses of Magic, a girl and a boy begin an epic and dangerous journey of discovery . . . Lileth Shadow, princess of darkness, is struggling with her growing powers. Castle Gloom is filling with ghosts, zombies roam the country and people throughout Gehenna are disappearing. Then Lily is attacked in her own castle by a mysterious sorcerer known as Dreamweaver and his army of jewel-spiders whose bites send victims to sleep. Thorn, and his giant bat Hades, must save Lily from the realm of sleep and help her overcome the evil Dreamweaver in order for her to reclaim her kingdom.
What I Thought
First up, can I just say, I love these covers. They definitely make you want to pick up the books and delve in. I also love that they clearly feature young children and reflect the age of our protagonists Lily and Thorn.
In this book, some of the challenges to be faced are, unwanted proposals, trolls, decomposing and wandering zombies and spiders whose bite can send their victim to sleep, as well as doing other nasty things (spiders – *shudders*).
As we discovered in the first book, women aren’t supposed to do magic and this is another thing Lily battles with. She also discovers that as well as necromancy and power over shadows, dreams are another arena where she can use her power.
In the first book I thought that our two young leads jumped to conclusions too quickly but I didn’t notice that here, instead they both appear to be growing into their responsibilities.
These books are an engaging read within an interesting fantasy world, and they contain a fair bit of humour too. I certainly giggled a few times. I’m particularly fond of the character Dott, Lily’s troll maid, in this book. Gabriel is also back, and just as annoying.
A MYSTERY NO ONE CAN SOLVE
The Vanishings started without warning. People disappearing into thin air – just piles of clothes left behind. Each day, thousands gone without a trace.
A BABY NO ONE WANTED
Max was abandoned in a bookshop and grows up haunted by memories of his parents. Only he can solve the mystery of the Vanishings.
A SECRET THAT COULD SAVE THE FUTURE
To find the answers, Max must leave this world and enter the Beginning Woods. A realm of magic and terror, life and death.
But can he bear the truth – or will it destroy him?
A STORY THAT WILL TAKE YOU TO ANOTHER WORLD
Greater than your dreams. Darker than your fears. Full of more wonder than you could ever desire. Welcome to the ineffable Beginning Woods…
What I Thought
When I found out about this book it sounded right up my street and I was really intrigued by the premise of vanishing people.
I feel really bad that this review is coming well after the release date but for some reason it seemed to take me a whole month to read this book, and I don’t think that’s entirely the book’s fault. Everytime I picked it up I enjoyed what I was reading – I even took it along to the beach to read a few chapters.
The language in this was so good, and I’m pretty sure there are a few more words in the world after this book, such as ‘psychomotherapractologisteopath’.
The mystery of the opening where people are vanishing and Max is trying to find out what is happening was intriguing, and the Book House setting was particularly appealing.
When the action shifted from the World to The Beginning Woods it threw me off I think, and I also got a little confused about which reality the action was taking place in at times, but I think that’s because I was reading it in bits.
Max’s search for his forever parents and his constant question ‘who am I’ didn’t resolve in quite the way I expected – which isn’t a bad thing.
My favourite relationship in the book was between Max and Martha – the ghost girl he befriends. It reminded me a little of the graphic novel Saga.
The book has been compared to Gormenghast and Labyrinth, neither of which I’ve actually read, though I have seen. I think those are fair comparisons and there is definitely an element of the surreal in The Beginning Woods.
I couldn’t decide whether to give this 3 or 3.5 stars and if you like fantasy that gets you thinking about the meaning of reality then I would recommend it. I think my brain wasn’t in the right headspace for the slightly more challenging read that this was.
I received a free copy in exchange for an honest review.