Saturday 30 April 2011

In My Mailbox 80

This meme was started by the fabulous Kristi who was inspired by Alea. Check out their blogs for more information. All summaries are from the book jackets.

With my post going all over the place while I’m at uni, I stopped doing IMM, but while I’m home for Easter, I thought I’d see if I could get myself back to normal again. So, here are the books I got for review this week:

Divergent – Veronica Roth

One choice decides your friends, defines your beliefs and determines your loyalties...forever.

When sixteen-year-old Tris makes her choice, she cannot foresee how drastically her life will change. Or that the perfect society in which she lives is about to unfold into a dystopian world of electrifying decisions, stunning consequences, heartbreaking betrayals and unexpected romance.

One choice can transform you.

Thanks to Harper Collins for this shiny finished copy. It sounds amazing.

Hells Bells: Samuel Johnson vs. the Devil, Round II – John Connelly

Samuel Johnson is in trouble. The demon Mrs Abernathy is seeking revenge on him for his part in foiling the invasion of Earth by the forces of Darkness. She wants revenge, and when a scientific experiment goes wrong, she gets her chance: Samuel and his faithful dachshund, Boswell, are pulled through a portal into Hell.

But catching Samuel is not going to be easy. Mrs Abernathy has reckoned without the bravery and cleverness of one boy and his dog, or the loyalty of Samuel’s friend, the hapless demon, Nurd. Most of all, she hasn’t planned on the intervention of an unexpected band of little men, for Samuel and Boswell are not the only inhabitants of Earth who have found themselves in Hell.

If you thought demons were frightening, just wait until you meet Mr Merryweather’s elves...

Thank you to Hodder and Stoughton for this surprise.

Prince of Hazel and Oak: A Shadowmagic Novel – John Lenahan

Having returned to the real world from Tir Na Nog at the end of the last book, our hero Conor finds himself arrested for the murder of his family.

When he explains to the cops that his dad is safe and well and enjoying life as king of the land of elves, imps and banshees they understandably think he is a nutcase.

That is until he is rescued by Celtic warriors on horseback and whisked back to Tir Na Nog, accidentally bringing a policeman with him.

Once safely in The Land, Conor finds that all is not well. His father is dying, the girl he loves is betrothed to another and a rather confused American cop is wandering around causing havoc.

It falls to our young hero, and his band of friends, to find a cure for the king. On their epic journey they encounter one of the most mystical and dangerous races, the shapeshifting Pooka, and find their fates linked in ways they could never have imagined.

Thank you to HarperCollins for this surprise. It sounds like serious fun.


Wednesday 27 April 2011

Poetic Ponders (7)

Thanks to the awesome Sara for this button.

During this year studying English Literature and Creative Writing, I’ve developed a new appreciation for poetry. With this in mind, I thought that I’d start a new weekly feature on So Many Books, So Little Time in which I share with you my favourite poems. They may be ones I discover on my course or ones I’ve loved for a long time.

Hopefully some of you will join me in sharing some awesome poems.

In A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man – James Joyce (1914)

Are you not weary of ardent ways,
Lure of the fallen seraphim?
Tell no more of enchanted days.

Your eyes have set man’s heart ablaze
And you have had your will of him.
Are you not weary of ardent ways?

Above the flame the smoke of praise
Goes up from ocean rim to rim.
Tell no more of enchanted days.

Our broken cries and mournful lays
Rise in one eucharistic hymn.
Are you not weary of ardent ways?

While sacrificing hands upraise
The chalice flowing to the brim,
Tell no more of enchanted days.

And still you hold our longing gaze
With languorous look and lavish limb!
Are you not weary of ardent ways?
Tell no more of enchanted days.

We looked at this in Creative Writing as a way for our tutor to reintroduce lyrical and romantic language into what he sees as a very unromantic modern world and to get us to try our hand at writing a villanelle – a very difficult poetic structure. I failed, but my friend did brilliantly well using this as inspiration.


Monday 25 April 2011

Bite Club: The Morganville Vampires - Rachel Caine

Bite Club: The Morganville Vampires – Rachel Caine

Pages: 442
Publisher: Allison and Busby
Release Date: 3rd May 2011

Other Titles in this Series: Glass Houses, The Dead Girls’ Dance, Midnight Alley, Feast of Fools, Lord of Misrule, Carpe Corpus, Fade Out, Kiss of Death, Ghost Town

Morganville is a quiet college town where vampires and humans live in relative peace. But lately a great deal of blood is being spilt...

Having survived a number of adventures with her new night-dwelling friends, college student Claire Danvers has come to realise that for the most part, the undead just want to get on with their lives.

But someone else wants them to get ready to rumble.

There’s a new extreme sport being broadcast over the Internet: bare-knuckle fights pitting captured vampires against one another – or, worse, against humans. Claire soon discovers that what started as an online brawl will soon threaten everyone in Morganville. And if they want to survive, they’ll have to do a lot more than fight...

After ten books centred on Claire, Shane, Eve and Michael, I should, in theory, be bored of The Morganville Vampires books. But I continue to devour and love each and every book in this awesome series.

To mix it up a bit in Bite Club, we get something that I’m sure made many fans of the series sequel quite a lot: Shane’s POV. I really do love him. Rachel Caine gives us a rare first-person glimpse into the very messed up and confused mind of Shane Collins with random interspersions of his POV in the middle of chapters. I think this may be because we actually don't see that much of Shane otherwise, though I’ll leave why up to you to read and find out yourself. But this boy gave me palpitations throughout Bite Club: I wanted to hug him as well as give him a well-deserved slap. He’s such a fantastic character.

As well as the expected fast-paced and action-packed plot that I’ve come to expect from a Morganville Vampires novel, Bite Club also packed a serious emotional punch. The stress of living in Morganville and the dangerous nature of Claire, Michael, Shane and Eve’s lives began to show in the relationships between Shane and Michael and Shane and Claire. What also didn't help was all of the pressure and secrets that were resting on Claire’s shoulders which showed in Bite Club with Claire doing, saying and feeling some things that were distinctly un-Claire.

It’s probably very obvious with the tone of this review how deeply I care about these characters. I love and care for them as if they were real people. Which some people may see as slightly worrying... But, regardless of that, I really do care about them which made Bite Club a book that was frequently painful to read. Such a wide range of emotions were thrown at me: anger, sadness, worry, anxiety and utter relief when it ended. There are fairly few series where I’ve become so involved with the characters. I even feel affection for Amelie and Oliver. And of course there’s Myrnin who you can't help but love, if only for his vampire bunny slippers.

Bite Club had me on the edge of my seat in panic for a large portion of it and left me wanting more. Bring on Last Breath!


Friday 22 April 2011

The Twilight Saga: The Official Illustrated Guide - Stephenie Meyer

The Twilight Saga: The Official Illustrated Guide – Stephenie Meyer

Pages: 543
Publisher: Atom (Little, Brown)
Release Date: 12th April 2011

Other Titles in this Series: Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse, Breaking Dawn, The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner

At long last, all the pieces come together...

In 2005 Twilight introduced readers to Bella Swan and Edward Cullen, and a worldwide phenomenon was born. Since then, millions of readers have followed the breathtaking vampire love saga as it continued in New Moon and Eclipse and culminated in Breaking Dawn.

Now, for the first time, Stephenie Meyer reveals secrets of the series as well as additional exclusive material taken from her personal notes, including character profiles, genealogical charts, maps, extensive cross-references, and in-depth conversation with author Shannon Hale and much more.

With nearly 100 gorgeous full-colour illustrations and photographs throughout, this official guide allows readers to experience the Twilight Saga as never before, from Bella’s first day in Forks to the riveting final pages of Breaking Dawn.

I know that it’s not cool to be in love with The Twilight Saga anymore, but when the release date for this was finally announced, I pre-ordered it immediately.

The guide opens with an easy, relaxed conversation/interview between Stephenie Meyer and Shannon Hale. As a blogger, you become quite used to the accessibility of authors, but Stephenie Meyer remains very private and untouchable so it was so good to hear from her in a relaxed and informal way. You get a better glimpse of the real person behind the name.

I loved reading about all of the intricacies of the mythology. Stephenie Meyer has created such meticulous and specific details allow her world to work and make sense. There are also the character profiles. In these, Stephenie Meyer including what seemed like every detail she herself knows about her characters. From their maker to their birthday, if she knew it, it was included. I especially enjoyed Alice’s profile as we got her full back story, including things about her that she doesn’t even know. The overlap of some of the characters stories did get a little repetitive occasionally, though.

Every answer you could possibly think of to do with The Twilight Saga is answered by Stephenie Meyer is included in The Official Illustrated Guide along with complete playlists for all five books, beautiful artistic renderings of the characters from Stephenie’s descriptions and art by her fans. This is an essential read for fans of Bella, Edward and Jacob.


Monday 18 April 2011

City of Fallen Angels - Cassandra Clare

City of Fallen Angels – Cassandra Clare

Pages: 425
Publisher: Walker Books
Release Date: 7th April 2011

Other Titles by this Author: City of Bones, City of Ashes, City of Glass, Clockwork Angel


Clary is back in New York and life is good: she’s training to be a Shadowhunter and is finally able to call Jace her boyfriend. But nothing comes without a price. When Jace inexplicably begins to pull away from her, Clary is forced to acknowledge that she herself has set in motion a chain of events that could lead to the loss of everything she loves. Even Jace.

Love. Blood. Betrayal. Revenge.
The stakes are higher than ever...

I don’t really know how to start with reviewing City of Fallen Angels other than it took my hesitant expectations and trampled on them.

For me, The Mortal Instruments trilogy ended perfectly with City of Glass so I was curious and a little apprehensive as to how Cassandra Clare would continue on the stories of Jace, Clary and Simon; though very excited to have more books in one of my favourite series and more Jace of course. My apprehension was wasted: I LOVED City of Fallen Angels.

There is so much going on in each of these books that having read City of Glass when it came out in July 2009, my memory of all of the details of Simon’s mark and Clary’s involvement with it was a bit hazy. It didn't prove a problem though as I was given enough for the details not to matter too much. But then again, I think the details make this series. The complexity of the many different strands mythology combine to make a mind-blowing world that completely entraps me. I want to be a Shadowhunter!

One of my favourite things about City of Fallen Angels was the links back to Clockwork Angel (Cassandra Clare’s prequel trilogy to The Mortal Instruments) that I found. They were especially obvious with Magnus and Camille as they were obviously around at that time and knew the Herondale’s. Which led on to mentions of Will, who I fell for in Clockwork Angel, though not as hard as I did for Jace.

And speaking of Jace; what on earth was going on with him?! His grumpy attitude went farther than ever before and his avoidance of Clary was painful. I wanted to shake him and tell him to man up and tell her what was wrong! And then the ending happened... Wow. Cassandra Clare really does like to mess with her characters.

After City of Fallen Angels's explosive “What the Hell?!” ending, I’m dying for the next instalment, City of Lost Souls, and I really wish I didn't have to wait a whole year for it.

A huge thank you to Walker Books for providing a review copy.


Friday 15 April 2011

Entangled - Cat Clarke

Entangled – Cat Clarke

Pages: 372 (ARC)
Publisher: Quercus
Release Date: 6th January 2011

From Goodreads: The same questions whirl round and round in my head:
What does he want from me?
How could I have let this happen?

17-year-old Grace wakes up in a white room, with a table, pens and paper - and no clue how she got here.

As Grace pours her tangled life onto the page, she is forced to remember everything she's tried to forget. There's falling hopelessly in love with the gorgeous Nat, and the unravelling of her relationship with her best friend Sal. But there's something missing. As hard as she's trying to remember, is there something she just can't see?

Grace must face the most important question of all. Why is she here?

A story of dark secrets, intense friendship and electrifying attraction.

I have no idea why I waited as long as I did to read Cat’s debut. I loved every page of it.

Grace recounts her story in sharp, snappy and concise prose. Her almost stream-of-consciousness narration is infallibly modern with her firm grasp on modern teenage slang. But her real talent lies in getting across this modernity without sounding like an adult trying to be a teenager. Cat Clarke writes Grace in a way that her voice lifts her off of the pages and into my heart. Her voice is so full of emotion, whether it be angst, anger, joy or unbearable hurt, and completely identifiable as her own.

Entangled is a complex and enigmatic novel. We are thrown into the deep end with Grace from the very beginning and so I literally HAD to keep reading. There are so many questions thrown up in the first few chapters: Who is Ethan? Why did he kidnap Grace? Why did she want to kill herself? All of these things that Grace herself didn't know drove the novel forward at a remarkable pace considering she was locked in a white room and telling her story through flashbacks for the entirety of Entangled.

Through these flashbacks we got Grace’s story leading up to her as she is writing. With this Cat Clarke subtly tackled lots of issues that far too many seventeen-year-olds have to deal with: self-harm, suicide, teen pregnancy and broken families. But it’s not in any way patronising or forcing warnings and messages down the readers throat.

Although I guessed a few of the major plot twists, they were dealt with beautifully and still managed to surprise me. Entangled is a stunning debut and promises big things from Cat Clarke.

For my British Books Challenge 2011 and 2011 Debut Author Challenge

A huge thank you to Quercus for providing a review copy.


Wednesday 13 April 2011

My So-Called Phantom Lovelife - Tamsyn Murray

My So-Called Phantom Lovelife – Tamsyn Murray

Pages: 209
Publisher: Piccadilly Press
Release Date: 1st March 2011

Other Titles in this Series: My So-Called Afterlife, My So-Called Haunting

I knew the boy was different when I saw him walk on water.

When fourteen-year-old Skye Thackery meets Owen Wicks, it’s not exactly love at first sight. She’s getting over a broken heart and he’s, well, a ghost.

But as Skye gets to know him, she can't help wondering what it would be like to kiss him. Dating a ghost isn’t easy, and things get worse when Owen declares he’s found a way to stay with Skye for ever.

As Owen prepares to risk everything, Skye wonders if his desire to be more than just a ghost will cost them everything.

I thoroughly enjoy this series. They are funny, intelligent and easy reads that also have elements of darkness in them.

Tamsyn Murray has drawn up a set of brilliant characters. Skye is an amazing protagonist: her snarky comebacks and quick wit make me snigger every time; her boy issues sit along with her growing struggles with being psychic so perfectly that it doesn’t really occur to you me it’s slightly strange to have them need equal brain space until after and her relationship with Celestine and Jeremy makes me smile. Then you have the darkly arresting Nico who I couldn’t decide whether I liked or trusted for quite a while and Mary, the ghost who haunts Skye’s house, whose funny 16th Century speech lightens the mood regardless of the omens that she declares.

My So-Called Phanton Lovelife cements a style that I’ve come to associate with Tamsyn Murray. I perfect blend of stylish, modern writing, light humour and darker moments create a beautifully written and balanced novel that I would recommend to anyone with good taste in books. Along with this, Tamsyn Murray gets in lots of subtle pop culture references that fix My So-Called Phantom Lovelife firmly in 2011. Though this is a positive now, it may date the book very quickly.

I’ve loved every book in this series and I highly recommend you all read them while I wait impatiently for Tamsyn’s next book.

For my British Books Challenge 2011


Monday 11 April 2011

Afterlife - Claudia Gray

Afterlife – Claudia Gray

Pages: 360
Publisher: HarperCollins
Release Date: 3rd March 2011

Other Titles in this Series: Evernight, Stargazer, Hourglass


Destiny awaits Bianca and Lucas...

Bianca and Lucas have always believed they could endure anything to be together. When a twist of fate not only transform Bianca into a wraith but also turns Lucas into a vampire – the very creature he spent his life hunting – they are left reeling.

Haunted by his powerful need to kill, Lucas can turn to only one place for help...Evernight Academy. Bianca is determined to remain with him. But with the vampire leader of Evernight waging a war against wraiths, her former home has become the most dangerous place she could be, despite the new powers her ghostly transformation has given her.

A battle between wraiths and vampires looms, and Bianca and Lucas face a terrifying new reality. They’ve overcome every obstacle life has thrown at them, but is their love strong enough to survive the challenges of after life?

We left Hourglass on such a cliffhanger that Afterlife had to be amazing just to live up to it. And I did really enjoy it.

The theme that ran through the novel was Lucas and Bianca’s acclimatisation to their new states: a vampire and a wraith. The two things that they had hated and would have least liked to be from the very beginning of Evernight. Bianca had to face living as a wraith, basically getting used to being dead. There was also the indecision about revealing herself to her parents back at Evernight. Though Bianca struggled, it was even harder for Lucas whose worst fear had come true. As a vampire, Lucas had become the thing that he had been trained to hate, hunt and kill since he was old enough to stand. But now he was left facing an eternity as a vampire.

His struggles were written with such feeling that I could feel his pain at having to try so hard to resist his hunger that threatened to consume him. And then at the place that was supposed to help him come to terms with his new life, well, death I guess, he was constantly worried about Bianca’s safety. With all of the changes and adjustments that Bianca and Lucas faced, Afterlife didn’t really feel like the last book in the series. There were still more questions arising: What did Mrs Bethany want with the wraiths? Was Bianca going to reveal herself to her parents? Would Lucas be able to manage being a vampire? With all of these questions it felt like a new chapter of their story was beginning.

However, all my questions were eventually answered. We learned more about Mrs Bethany and the story behind her transformation and what she was doing with the wraiths and why. It was a little bit disturbing and completely unexpected. Even though all my questions had been answered, I did feel that some of the secondary characters had so much more story to tell. I wanted to hear more from Skye, I’m sure Ranulf would have some amazing tales, Vic seems like so much fun and, of course, there’s Balthazar. I’m so glad he’s getting his own book!

With the sweetest ending ever, Afterlife finished off an engaging, twisty and lovable series brilliantly.


Friday 8 April 2011

Blog Tour: Liz Kessler

A Day in the Life of Liz Kessler…

…must ALWAYS start with a cup of tea.

Then it’s straight down to work.

Oh, except I just need to do a few yoga exercises first. (I don’t actually enjoy yoga very much, but it helps keep my back happy – which is important when you spend hours every day at a computer.)

During the yoga, Poppy (my dog) will generally come over and sit on whichever bits of me she can reach. Once she’s bored of this, she’ll go and stand by the door to my study and cry.

Yoga finished, tea nearly cold, it’s up the stairs to my study, where Poppy will install herself on the ‘Buddha Bag’ and I get straight down to work.

Ah. OK, sorry. Not quite yet.

First, there are emails to reply to; there is facebook to update and as of recently, there is Twitter to tweet.

And THEN, down to work?

Well, nearly. Except I’ve finished my tea, and need another one now.

Eventually, after I’ve been up for about an hour, have attended to everything that could possibly need attending to, phoned my sister, emailed my publisher, cuddled the dog and met my early morning Earl Grey requirements, I get down to work!

If I’m writing the first draft of a new book, I have a word target each day. My usual rule is that I have to write 2,000 words a day. If I’m editing, my rule is usually to edit a chapter a day. Either way, once I’ve met my target, I’m free to do what I like – but if it takes all day then I have to stick with it till I’m done.

It’s important to have lots of breaks throughout the day. I’m very good at this part of my job. My breaks include:

• Walking the dog
• Visiting a friend for a cuppa
• Chilling and chatting with neighbours in the garden
• Phoning my Mum
• Going out for lunch
• Going for a swim
• Generally faffing. (A lot.)

The important thing to remember, though, is that all of these things are part of the creative process. Ask any writer. It’s while you’re doing something completely mindless that you often get your best ideas. As I tell my friends, I’m not really lounging around sunbathing in the garden. I’m thinking of ideas!

I’ll generally work all morning and most of the afternoon, depending on what other things are going on at the time. Sometimes I’ll finish at lunchtime. Sometimes I’m so involved in what I’m doing that I’ll be at it till late in the evening. Usually I’ll work five days a week, but sometimes more and sometimes less. One of the great things about being a writer is that if I feel like working extra days, I can, and if I feel like taking a day off, I can!

So if I’m right in the middle of the book, I’ll usually be hard at it till tea time. But if the surf’s up and the sun’s shining, you’ll probably find me down on the beach by mid afternoon.

And even though, to the untrained eye, I might look as if I’m sunbathing and body boarding, you and I both know what I’m really doing. I’m staring creatively into space, seeking inspiration for my next book. In other words, I’m working very, very hard.

Thanks, Liz! Make you check out the other stops on the tour, visit Liz at her website and pick up a copy of Liz's new book A Year Without Autumn.


Wednesday 6 April 2011

Where She Went - Gayle Forman

Where She Went – Gayle Forman

Pages: 260 (ARC)
Publisher: Doubleday Children’s (Random House)
Release Date: 5th May 2011

Other Titles in this Series: If I Stay

From Goodreads: It's been three years since the devastating accident . . . three years since Mia walked out of Adam's life forever.

Now living on opposite coasts, Mia is Juilliard's rising star and Adam is LA tabloid fodder, thanks to his new rock star status and celebrity girlfriend. When Adam gets stuck in New York by himself, chance brings the couple together again, for one last night. As they explore the city that has become Mia's home, Adam and Mia revisit the past and open their hearts to the future and each other.

Told from Adam's point of view in the spare, lyrical prose that defined If I Stay, Where She Went explores the devastation of grief, the promise of new hope, and the flame of rekindled romance.

This review is in a very different style for me as I also submitted it for a creative writing assessment. Let me know what you think!

Gayle Forman’s long-awaited follow up to If I Stay is just as exquisitely written as its predecessor. I’ll admit to being a little hesitant at first as Where She Went is set three years after Mia’s story began and seen through a very different pair of eyes: Mia’s boyfriend of If I Stay, Adam.

Forman writes Adam’s anguish in simple but evocative prose than still retains a musicality that lifts her words off of the page, leaving them floating in the air around you. It is so raw and tangible that I feel Adam’s pain myself as he remembers Mia’s abandonment of him, his alienation of his band mates and the loss of the Hall’s. The anger that his sadness brings him; the anger that turns him to girls and a reliance on anti-anxiety pills is almost palpable and it makes me wonder of the effects that a person can really have on another.

This man has everything he has ever dreamed of: money, fame, success and thousands of screaming fans, and yet all he wants is Mia. Instead of the pleasure that Shooting Star’s success should induce in him, it has only resulted in pain, stress and isolation for him. This may reflect the idea that the album that made his band famous was written by him in reaction to Mia’s abandonment and so the snippets of the songs on that album that are present at the beginning of every other chapter give you an even deeper insight into the mess of Adam’s mind and how damaged and broken Mia’s leaving for New York left him.

It is amazing how Forman can provide her readers with so much. There is three years of uncharted time in Adam and Mia’s lives since they were left at the end of If I Stay and yet as I turned the last page I of this novel I felt that I had walked with them every step of the way. I had been at the edge of the stage at every Shooting Stars gig, I had watched Adam auction off his beloved guitar, I had roomed with Mia through Julliard and played alongside her at Carnegie Hall the night they were reunited. Where She Went covers such a tiny time span; a little over twenty-four hours. Twenty-four hours in which old lovers fall back in love, where secrets are spilled, huge messes are mopped up and there story starts again.

Because that’s what I feel Where She Went has done for Adam and Mia. In previous book we left them on a knife edge. Mia had chosen to stay because of Adam’s plea and Mia had awoken from her coma with months of physiotherapy and healing to do as well as grieving for her entire family to get through. Although they were together again, would they stay that way? And though they didn't, Where She Went provided the opportunity for two beloved characters to recover from their ordeals and start again. The end of this book is only the beginning of a new chapter of their story.


Monday 4 April 2011

Darkest Mercy - Melissa Marr

Darkest Mercy – Melissa Marr

Pages: 327
Publisher: HarperCollins
Release Date: 3rd March 2011

Other Titles in this Series: Wicked Lovely, Ink Exchange, Fragile Eternity, Radiant Shadows

Send the messengers for the Faery Courts. This is the end.

Aislinn took a steadying breath. “I need to find out where Keenan is. If he’s not home, I’m going to war without him...which is not ideal. Someone knows where he is.”

“I do not, my queen. I give you my word that I will find out, though.” Tavish’s restrained facade slipped, and she saw the faery-cruel expression as he asked, “Are there limits to the methods?”

The Summer King is missing; the Dark Court is bleeding; and a stranger walks the streets of Huntsdale, his presence signifying the deaths of powerful fey. Love, despair and betrayal ignite the Faery Courts, and in the final conflict some will win...and some will lose everything.

This review is in a very different style for me as I am also submitting it for a creative writing assessment. Let me know what you think!

Reading Darkest Mercy was like slipping into an old, comfy pair of jeans that I haven’t worn in a while; both familiar and new. As the final instalment in a five book series, lots of loose ends and story arcs needed to be tied up in Darkest Mercy because the series focused on the stories of Seth and Aislinn; Keenan and Donia; Leslie, Niall and Irial; Ani and Devlin; Sorcha and The Hunt with each one of the first four books dedicated to one or two of the couples until they all came together in Darkest Mercy without losing the originality and intricacy that I’ve come to expect from Melissa Marr’s writing. And then each of the pairings brought the Faery Courts and their politics, traditions and hierarchies that are associated with them.

The Courts are evoked so perfectly that I can envisage the vicious brutality of the Dark Court, the strict and controlled High Court, the harsh and uncompromising nature of Winter and Summer’s frivolity and passion. Each Court has particular types of fey that fit in with the motives and traditions of each Court, such as the thistle-fey who belong to the Dark Court and the Winter Queen’s ly-ergs. But what astounds me about the Faery Courts the most is how they fit seamlessly into our world.

Marr describes the clashing of Faery and the mortal town of Huntsdale, Pennsylvania so lyrically and vividly that when I feel unexpected gusts of wind on the streets, I find myself wondering, however illogically, that maybe, just maybe, there are faeries warring just beyond my sight...

As well as the magic of Marr’s enchanting prose, the characters are what have made me devour each book in the Wicked Lovely series. This goes as far as me feeling sad as I turned the last page of Darkest Mercy on the end of stories that I’ve followed for four years. Although Darkest Mercy is comprised of a cast of complex and exquisitely wrought characters, my strongest feelings laid with the ones we were introduced to first: Aislinn, Seth and Keenan. And reaching back to my memory of the first book, Wicked Lovely, I’m stunned by their development and growth. With some series’ characters grow stale; they do not develop and change along with the story but remain exactly the same. This cannot be said for Marr’s characters in the slightest.

The premise of the entire series is based on the curse of the Summer King, Keenan, so throughout the series we’ve been waiting for him to find his queen and hopefully reverse the damage done by his curse. And he did. But his 900 year long quest didn't turn out quite how I imagined, and yet now, I realise that there was really no other way. And then you have, Aislinn, the heroine of the Wicked Lovely saga. The shy, scared and lonely girl of Wicked Lovely has become the strong, powerful and rightful Summer Queen by overcoming loss and hurt and making decisions that would dictate the future of Faery for centuries. With Seth you have a truly remarkable person who has very little and yet would sacrifice it all for the people that he loves and cares for with very little thought. His loyalty and dedication is admirable and makes him an even more compelling character to the reader as well as to Aislinn.

Though Darkest Mercy is in no way a literary feat or likely to be in line for the Man Booker, it is the best type of fiction in my opinion. There is spellbinding writing, an ingeniously woven and intricate plot, complex characters that I can easily connect with and a mythology that’s both twisted and romantic and utterly mesmerising. In other words, Darkest Mercy is escapism in its purest and guiltiest form.