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Infinity by Allaina Daniels (Xandrian Series Book 1)

My lovely guest reviewer, Jennifer Lee Clayton (Author of the Chosen Saga series) has reviewed Infinity previously and asked me to read and review it too. She had loved it so much so I had really high hopes for it.

Infinity is about a young lady, Carmen, who has had a tough upbringing. She loves her OCD best friend and business partner, Lissy. Carmen has the ability to talk to animals via telepathy which makes her extremely good at her job as an canine behaviour specialist, although she has no idea where this ability arises from. Lissy runs the business and Carmen does the business! All is well until Carmen comes across a ridiculously attractive guy that she has seen before, in her dreams! Carmen runs for the hills, terrified at this bizarre turn of events but gorgeous Gabriel follows her. Determined to win Carmen’s affections, a battle of wills ensues.

I’ll be honest, I found the first quarter of the book quite hard-going. I just couldn’t get invested in the plot at all and wondered if I’d ever get through the book. However, I stuck with it and I’m really glad I did. Once the momentum of the relationship between Carmen and Gabriel got going, this book was a much easier and enjoyable read. In fact, I couldn’t put it down to the point that I read it way past my bedtime to finish it!

I’m not sure if I found the whole “talks to animals” a bit too Dr Doolittle and just a bit bizarre or if Carmen’s attitude was just a bit too annoying to make her likeable initially, but the more Carmen showed her vulnerabilities, she became a much more endearing character. I found myself championing Gabriel eventually, but not before I wondered why he was bothering. Daniels has written a lovely character in Gabriel and it felt a bit like he was fighting a pointless battle. However, I did come round to the plot eventually and found myself cheering them both on.

Daniels’ writing style is engaging on the whole. As I say, I haven’t really been able to pinpoint why I found the beginning of this book a bit hard work but the narrative is eloquently written, perhaps more so as the book goes on. I preferred Lissy and Gabriel’s characters than Carmen’s. I found her a tad self-absorbed and irritating, but I think that was supposed to be the point, to show how much Carmen had been damaged by her traumatic childhood and the deep distrust she has for anyone other than Lissy and her family. Ultimately, Daniels effectively shows how love can conquer all, even when you try to deny it, and that there are good, honest people in the world, you just have to believe that they are there.

Once Carmen and Gabriel are on the same page, this book flows so much better and gripped me enough to want them to find a happy ever after. I read the last three quarters of the book in two nights. It took me considerably longer to read the first quarter. What I would say is, stick with it. It gets so much better that you will not regret giving this book the benefit of the doubt. It may be a slow burner but by the end of the book it is on fire! I look forward to reading the next instalment!

 

A Ghost of Magic by J L Clayton

A few months ago, I had a conversation on Twitter with JL Clayton (@JLClaytonBooks) and since then, she has become a lovely friend. The magic of social media! Having read her first two books in the Chosen Saga, A Spark of Magic and A Blaze of Magic, in quick succession, casting aside another sequel from another author that I had been eagerly awaiting, I was really keen to see where she would take Charlie and her band of lust-filled boys on her magical journey. 

I wasn’t disappointed in the least. Clayton has developed Charlie from the obstinate, innocent teenager of book one to a determined, feisty young lady in book three. That’s not to say that Charlie has fully evolved into someone who knows what she wants and goes for it, but she has most certainly made a progression from book one and two, as she becomes more aware of her powers and what she can do with them.

At the end of A Blaze of Magic, Nikko was struck by a spell by the evil Kate and Charlie unsuccessfully tried to revive him, instead making him a ghost who was tethered to Charlie’s magic. In A Ghost of Magic, Nikko is getting used to life as a ghost while Charlie is determined to try and find a solution to his ghostly state. However, Nikko is just one of her worries as Crispin, the Traveller, looms large. Disguised as new boy, Cris, he weaves his way into Charlie’s life in order to gain her powers and toy with her along the way. As he manipulates her friends and manages to quell any suspicions raised about who he really is, Crispin finds himself fighting a burgeoning feeling of affection for Charlie.

Clayton’s real talent is in the way she changes the narrative voice to suit each character so that they could have been written by different authors, they are all so distinctive. In this book, the story is told in turn by Nikko, Charlie and Crispin. Clayton doesn’t try and make Nikko and Charlie appear older than they are. Whilst they are on the cusp of adulthood, their naivety is displayed through the narrative, whereas Crispin is more formal, an adult in every sense of the word.

There is a real sense throughout the book that this book is a build up to something big and although there are climactic episodes in A Ghost of Magic, it still feels like this is an ongoing journey and certainly the ending of the book leaves more questions than answers, which is a good way to leave it when, as I understand it, this will be a four book series. Clayton keeps the reader gripped throughout as Charlie is duped on regular occasions then enlightened to her powers and to those surrounding her.

The men in Charlie’s life play the largest presence as Tru, Jace, Asher and Crispin fight for Charlie’s affections. I have my own opinion on who Charlie should end up with but time will tell! That’s assuming that these suitors really are in love with her and not being drawn to her by magical means. However, I think that this will be addressed in the next book. At least, I hope so!

Ultimately, this book is a rollercoaster journey between the mortal and magical worlds. Clayton navigates Charlie through her confusion over her powers and emotions by juxtaposing Charlie’s ever-changeable thoughts to Crispin stoic determination and arrogance that he reigns supreme. Clayton has answered questions raised by A Blaze of Magic and left plenty of questions to be answered in the next book. I, for one, can’t wait to read it.

Deliciously Ella Every Day: Simple recipes and fantastic food for a healthy way of life
Ella Woodward Deliciously Ella Every Day: Simple recipes and fantastic food for a healthy way of life 20 days in the top 100 Release Date: 21 Jan. 2016 Buy new: £20.00 £10.00

Harry Potter Colouring Book
Warner Brothers Harry Potter Colouring Book 119 days in the top 100 Harry Potter Colouring Book (560) Buy new: £9.99 £4.99 46 used & new from £3.41

The Girl on the Train
Paula Hawkins The Girl on the Train 374 days in the top 100 The Girl on the Train (9245) Download: £6.99

Sleep Tight
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Amy Snow: The Richard & Judy Bestseller
Tracy Rees Amy Snow: The Richard & Judy Bestseller 20 days in the top 100 Amy Snow: The Richard & Judy Bestseller (201) Download: £3.99

Someone to Save You
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One with You (Crossfire)
Sylvia Day Release Date: 5 April 2016 Buy new: £7.99 £5.59

The Black Prince:Part 1 & 2 by PJ Fox

It is only a few months ago since I read, and loved, The Demon of Darkling Reach and The White Queen by PJ Fox but I feel like I have been waiting forever for the final two books in this amazing tetralogy, The Black Prince: Part One and The Black Prince: Part Two. I got a tantalising taster when I read the first seven chapters a month or so ago and it made me all the more desperate to see where Fox would take her two main protagonists, Isla and Tristan. Yet, I quickly realised that although Isla and Tristan are still the main protagonists, in these final two books, Fox gives equal, if not more narrative to other characters who are as worthy of the page space as Isla and Tristan.

The Black Prince Part One and Two follows on from Isla’s marriage, and sacrifice, to Tristan, as battles are ensuing across the lands to try and overthrow the King, led by Maeve, Asher’s mother. When Tristan acknowledges that he is Asher’s father, and Isla adopts Asher as her son, he becomes a pawn in a vicious battle between the warring sides. As Hart becomes an integral part of Tristan’s fighting force, he tries to battle his own demons as he finds love and great success in his own right. However, there are enemies hidden in all manner of places and some closer than they think, and there are plenty of unexpected twists and turns throughout the two books.

What I loved about this tetralogy is that Fox packs in so much information and so many characters, who could easily be main protagonists in their own right, yet I was never lost as to what was happening. Fox doesn’t skimp on the descriptive parts of the narrative, but neither does she overload you; the ratio for action and description is perfect. As I’ve mentioned in past reviews of Fox’s works, her talent for creating flawed, yet brilliant characters is amazing. She perfectly balances her main characters and surrounds them with a few extreme characters, such as Rowena and Rudolph to create a exquisite narrative that gives so much, yet doesn’t confuse the reader. The narrative is clever enough to keep the reader guessing as to who is friend or foe, but is clear enough to at least arouse suspicion in various parties.

As a reader, you can easily place yourself in the environment that Fox outlines. Her ability to paint a picture with words is truly a wonder to behold, whether it be the grandeur of Caer Addanc or the gross camping site of the warring troops. Fox uses her historical knowledge to give her descriptions authenticity and to give the reader a true indication of the medieval landscape.

However, it is her characters that make these books as fantastic as they are. Despite Tristan’s dark nature and demonic rituals, he is a very alluring character and, as a woman who loves the idea of a chivalrous man looking after the woman he loves fiercely, I absolutely fell for Tristan. His all-powerful persona allows him stand tall above and beyond the other characters in the book and a reader could forgive him anything. (The claws would be an issue though, as I’ve mentioned before! No man should have nails longer than mine!) I loved Isla too, and she is such a formidable character. She is a strong woman who has embraced her life with Tristan and as a mother to Asher and is not often afraid to speak her mind in defence of those that she loves. Her flaws are those that most people can relate to; she worries that she isn’t enough for Tristan, and that she is somehow to blame for her family’s nasty traits. However, the way Fox brings Tristan and Isla together and entwines them to become one entity leaves no doubt in the reader’s mind that these two characters were made for each other. The reader can also see that her concerns about her family are completely unfounded and they are just nasty pieces of work. The fact that Isla feels these things, however, makes her a particularly agreeable character who the reader champions throughout the novels.

Hart comes into his own in these two books. Whilst I loved his character in the first two books, it is in the two The Black Prince books where Hart is given a leading role. He is another perfect example of a character that is quite gross in many ways, yet the reader is left more than willing to ignore his baser features to appreciate what a wonderful character he is. Partnering him with Callas initially, they are a formidable duo who work together with a fantastic synchronicity. We are then introduced to Arvid, a tribesman with a bluntness that insults and amuses in equal measure, who becomes Hart’s right hand man. He is a loyal friend and provides much amusement to those who he isn’t insulting. Hart’s relationship with Lissa is beautifully depicted by Fox as both characters have their own issues but ultimately are drawn together and like Isla and Tristan, they rely totally on what their respective partners can give them, despite being able to hold their own in whatever situation presents itself to them.

Asher is also more prominent in these books, in fact, plays a very important part in the plot of these two novels.  Again, he is wonderfully developed by Fox, in terms of his expectations, dreams and the fact that he is only still a young boy who idolises those close to him but still can’t help but wonder how he has found himself in the position he is in. He emulates Tristan to some extent but his youthful worries and uncertainties give Asher more depth as a character and I found myself mentally shouting at him to watch his back and hoping he didn’t get swayed by his insecurities.

I could quite easily discuss each character at length and tell you how well written they are but I fear I would give far too much away and I would like to strongly encourage people to read these books rather than feel they didn’t need to because I’ve divulged too much here. However, I must mention Rowena, Isla’s sister, who has gone from being a vain little princess character in book one to a downright evil, vindictive, witch in these two books. She has been so well developed over the course of the four books that she never ceases to surprise with some of her actions and responses. Ultimately she keeps testing Isla’s loyalty to her to the limit and while Isla never seems to quite sever ties with her, I often wished she would! Rowena’s character is multi-functional in these books and her purpose is ever changing, keeping the reader amused and appalled in equal measure.

I can honestly say that this has been one of the best series of books I have ever read. In a very short period of time, PJ Fox has become one of my favourite writers and I fully intend to read her back catalogue, as well as her regular updates to her Wattpad book, Book of Shadows. I have been telling everyone who listens that they should read this series and will continue to do so, as I think that this series captures the essence of the traditional classic novel, but bypasses the restrictions of what was deemed appropriate to give the novels a modernity that enhances the classic style. I have nothing at all bad to say about this series other than to say that I’m gutted that the experience is over. In the Afterword to The Black Prince:Part 2, Fox poses some questions about what happens next and she says she is leaving it for the reader to decide. That’s not to say that Fox doesn’t tie the story off well. She does, but there is definitely scope for more. I would be the first to read any follow up to Isla and Tristan’s story and given their predilections, I bet a whole host of stories could be written based on them. Also, to anyone in the film industry, these books would make an epic film. It would never be as good as the books, but then again, they never are!

Cursed by Fire & Kissed by Fire (Books 1 & 2 in the Blood and Magic Series) by Danielle Annett

I recently signed up to the Blog Tour for the release of Kissed by Fire by Danielle Annett. However, I needed to read Cursed by Fire first. It was my intention to read each book and review them separately, but I was so intrigued by the first book, I had to read Kissed by Fire (a good sign for any reviewer) to see where Annett was going to take the tale, hence, this is a dual book review!

In Cursed by Fire, the reader is introduced to Aria Naveed, a mercenary and psyker – meaning she has pyrokinetic powers, bursting into flame, often at will, but sometimes it is out of her control, particularly when she is stressed. The opening to the book is quite a brutal one as Aria and her boss, Mike, find the body of a little boy, Daniel,  who they have been employed to find, murdered seemingly by a vampire. However, as it transpires that the Daniel was a shifter, someone who can transform into an animal, this act is seen as a potential spark to a war between the vampires and the shifters. In order to avoid a battle between the two groups, Aria is hired by the shifters to find out who killed Daniel. Helped by her best friend and shifter, James, Aria investigates Daniel’s murder, uncovering a plot to incite the war, but she is determined to find out who killed the little boy. All the while, Aria is being watched by a handsome stranger, who despite her resistance to him, feels an attraction towards him. However, Inarus is not who he seems and Aria is torn between her attraction for him and her innate defensive response.

Cursed by Fire gives the reader an idea of the hierarchy in this place where paranormals and humans live side by side, not necessarily harmoniously. The characters are intriguing, and the plot has a feel of Veronica Roth’s Divergent about it. Similarly, there are factions, in this case, shifters vs vampires vs humans/Psykers, who have lived alongside each other out of a desire to keep the peace but there are members among each group who wish to take control. Like many first books in a series, this book lays the groundwork for future books, but has plenty of action to draw the reader in.

Kissed by Fire flows a little better than Cursed by Fire, most likely because there are a lot of characters in the first book to get accustomed to and a societal dynamic to get a grasp of. Cursed by Fire ends with a 3rd person narrative in consideration of Declan Valkenaar, the Alpha of the Pacific Northwest Pack of shifters. The reader is given a hint that perhaps Declan feels more for Aria than has been previously displayed. In Kissed by Fire, we find out just how true this is. As Aria takes over at Sanborn Place, the mercenary firm she works for, she is keen to get back to work and takes a job at a farm where a being has been attacking the farmer’s animals. The farmer is convinced it is a creature only know as a myth, but when it turns out that there may be some truth to the myth, Declan’s hand is forced into completing an act that seals Aria’s fate. As Aria comes to terms with this turn of events, along with her mixed feelings for Inarus and the still-unsolved murder of Daniel, the reader is taken on a fast-paced journey.

I like to be able to feel a sense of realism in the books I read, something to relate to, and while this book is jam-packed with vampires, shifters and psykers, the battle of wills between each powering force is something that can be related to the politics of today’s society. The sense of tenuous compromises and living on a knife edge are all valid scenarios that we hear in the news each day. Aria is a great main protagonist, flawed but strong. She reminded me a little of Stephanie Plum, heroine of Janet Evanovich’s “Numbers” novels. These books aren’t remotely comedic like Evanovich’s novels but Aria always seems to be in the wrong place at the wrong time and usually ends up coming off worst.  That said, she is strong, feisty and really likeable.

Annett has written two really good books and I have no doubt that there will be more to come from this series. They are not necessarily books I would have picked up to read, but they were entertaining nonetheless, and I think any issues I have with it are down to personal choice. I’m not completely sure I understand the Declan connection, although perhaps this will be explored in future books. I was a little disappointed that James is not the love interest, but I’m sure Annett has a plan for her characters and I am invested enough to want to know what happens next. Cursed by Fire and Kissed by Fire are action-packed, mystery-filled novels and will appeal to readers who like an adventure.

 

The White Queen by PJ Fox

Following my recent review of The Demon of Darkling Reach, I’d been looking forward to when I’d get chance to read the second book in The Black Prince trilogy, The White Queen. I wasn’t remotely disappointed, although perhaps a little surprised at what I found when I began the first chapter.

The narrative doesn’t start where I would have expected it to, i.e with Isla and Tristan as their relationship develops. Indeed, it was several chapters later where we would rejoin the couple. Instead, the reader learns how the Tristan Mountbatten became The Demon of Darkling Reach in the first place. We are introduced to the original Tristan Mountbatten, Duke and necromancer, and the circumstances surrounding his reasons for summoning a demon in the first place. We are also given the demon’s point of view before, during and after he inhabits Tristan’s body, becoming the Tristan we know and love from book one. This tactic, ironically, humanises the demon and the reader cannot help but sympathise with the demon and his plight.

Fox illuminates how the demon made a split-second decision to inhabit the original Tristan’s body at that moment and had to figure things out for himself with no real guidance from anyone else. Juxtaposed with Isla’s own struggle to comprehend the enormity of the decision she has made to marry a demon and the changes she will be required to make, the reader feels a greater affinity with Tristan as he guides Isla as best he can and shows her how he does love her in the only way he can.

As with book one, the narrative is beautifully written, intricate in the descriptions of locations, emotions and educating the reader about historical traditions and processes. As with The Demon of Darkling Reach, the issues transcend not only the space in time from when the demon inhabits Tristan to the time he meets Isla, but also to the present day. Religion, war and prejudice play a massive part in current affairs, as does love and jealousy, and Fox has an amazing skill to make these historically based narratives resonate with the same issues from today’s society.

This book reads a little slower than book one but it is no less enjoyable for it. While book one puts the situation in front of the reader, this book explores those dynamics in greater detail. If The Demon of Darkling Reach raises many questions, The White Queen provides plenty of answers, them raises a few more! However, like The Demon of Darkling Reach, The White Queen reads like a modern gothic novel, much smarter than the gothic novels that pre-date it.

I was eager to get to the part where Tristan and Isla meet again at Caer Addanc, willing Isla’s journey to pick up speed whilst simultaneously taking in all the information provided by Fox that builds up the characters further. In fact, while frustrating a little at times, Fox cleverly builds up the tension by showing Tristan’s own struggles then expanding Isla’s journey to Darkling Reach, allowing Isla to expose her fears to the reader and  exacerbating the anticipation of their first meeting on Tristan’s territory.

I love Tristan. I’m not sure that I would be willing to make the sacrifices that Isla makes but there is something very attractive and appealing about the enigmatic demon. Whether it is his power, his self-control or the way he treats Isla with such respect and gentility, I don’t know, but I want them to have a happy ending together, in whatever way they can. Throughout the narrative of these first two books, Fox leaves the reader in no doubt that there are strong feelings between Isla and Tristan and that they connect in a way no other couple, certainly in these books, seem to be able to do.

I have no idea how Fox intends to end Tristan and Isla’s story and these novels often take a route that is completely unexpected, so I have no doubt that no-one could predict at this stage how Fox will close off these characters. However, this trilogy is one of the most interesting series I’ve read in a long while and I am eagerly awaiting the next instalment. Watch this space!

Until Jax: Until Him

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My Sister's Secret

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After Anna

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The Demon of Darkling Reach by PJ Fox

Recently, I started following PJ Fox on WordPress after I commented on a post she wrote about 50 Shades of Grey. I decided to download The Demon of Darkling Reach because Fox is such an eloquent writer in her blog posts and I was curious to read her novels. To be honest, books containing  demons, vampires or indeed, any other supernatural beings are not usually to my tastes, but I was surprised at how I fell in love with this book so quickly.

The Demon of Darkling Reach is about a young woman called Isla, a strong, pragmatic Earl’s daughter, who steps in to save her younger sister Rowena from a marriage of convenience, so that Rowena will be free to marry her childhood sweetheart, Rudolph. She reluctantly puts herself forward to marry the dark and mysterious Duke Tristan Mountbatten, who has been betrothed to Rowena to save the Earl’s manor from destitution. Tristan, however, is not quite like any other man Isla has ever been in contact with, especially with rumours circulating that he may have murdered his two previous wives, amongst others. Initially frightened of him but determined to save her sister from a life of unhappiness, she finds herself more and more drawn to the enigmatic Duke despite having certain fears confirmed and finding out that Tristan is far from an ideal future husband.

Fox has written a fascinating, intelligent narrative. While reminiscent of classic gothic novels, Fox applies a modern twist. There is not quite as much descriptive narrative as you may find in the classics, but there is enough to emulate the essence of these novels, with some more modern attributes, such as swearing and much more overt sexual scenes than you would find in, say, Wuthering Heights or Northanger Abbey. Fox challenges the pre-conceived ideas of the improprieties of society, whether it be through religious or political beliefs. She even challenges the influence of outside sources, much like today’s media influence on society, in the shape of the importance of a book on relationships that Rowena swears by and quotes often, called The Chivalrous Heart.

The characterisation in this novel is nothing short of brilliant. Isla is a strong and likeable main protagonist. She desires love with substance, although she is a realist when she considers that this kind of love is a rarity and most marriages are borne out of convenience or financial gain for the groom or bride’s father. She has no interest in the false image of love that her fickle sister, Rowena, desires. Rudolph is depicted as suitably ridiculous, yet a seemingly perfect match for Rowena. Tristan is horrifying and alluring at the same time. In fact, at times it is easy to forget that Tristan is a demon. If it wasn’t for the fact that he has “claws”, I’d find him somewhat attractive myself! Isla’s mysterious witch friend, Cariad, whilst being an enigma herself, provides the reader with a vehicle to gain answers to questions about Tristan in her own mystically cryptic way. 

The reader is also provided with an education by Fox on mediaeval practices, as well as highlighting that the same personal issues transcend the ages. To love and be loved is an innate human desire. Money talks. Knowledge is power. Religion and politics has an impact on all of society whether it is accepted or rejected. I also had to look up a number of words that Fox uses in the dictionary too whilst I was reading this. Whilst this may have irritated some readers, I was fascinated to learn new words that are not used regularly now but would most likely have been common-place in mediaeval times. 

The Demon of Darkling Reach is a wonderfully intellectual and fascinating novel, not only because of the educational elements but for the intricate plot and engaging characters. I absolutely loved this book and if it wasn’t for the fact that September is a blog-tour-crazy month, I’d be reading the sequel, The White Queen, immediately. As it is, it will have to sit in my Kindle library, constantly tempting me to abandon all the other books I need to read and encouraging me to once again be ensconced in Isla and Tristan’s unconventional, yet strangely beautiful relationship. This is one of the best books I’ve read this year and I am really looking forward to the first space in my blog tour diary to read the next instalment. 

Grandpa's Great Escape

David Walliams Release Date: 24 Sept. 2015 Buy new: £12.99 £6.49

Girl Online: On Tour

Zoe Sugg (aka Zoella) Release Date: 20 Oct. 2015 Buy new: £12.99 £6.49

My Sister's Secret

Tracy Buchanan My Sister's Secret 33 days in the top 100 My Sister's Secret (94) Download: £0.99

The Girl and the Bomb

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How I Lost You

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An Inspector Calls (Heinemann Plays For 14-16+)

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Critical Failures 2: Fail Harder by Robert Bevan

When I read Critical Failures Book One by Robert Bevan a few weeks ago, I laughed from start to finish. Of course, I didn’t really have a clue about the world of role-play games but, to be honest, it didn’t really matter. When you read any book, you are transported to a world that is often unfamiliar and as long as you can enjoy the plot and you find some kind of likeability factor with the characters, as I did with Critical Failures Book One, you are happy to figure it out along the way.

Critical Failures: Fail Harder starts where the other book left off.  Toilet humour is ever-present and the grossest character, Cooper the half-orc, is strangely the most endearing. Tim, Dave, Julian and Cooper have found an inn to get drunk in, an ideal location for these men-children to commence phase two of their adventures. Of course, they are joined by Chaz and Katherine, Tim’s sister, who found themselves unceremoniously transported to this fantasy game land.  I like Katherine a lot. She’s strong, feisty and puts the boys in their place. It is her determination to be independent that sets the wheels in motion for the plot, as the boys attempt to rescue her from a supposedly undesirable character. As she is the only female character who gets any proper action, it’s no wonder I’m drawn to her. It would be nice to see Katherine with a female buddy amongst this male-dominated group. Two feisty women are so much better than one!

There are lots of new characters to enjoy in this book. The boys are directed to an inn in a rough part of town called “The Whore’s Head” where a collection of other players who have been banished by Mordred, the Cavern Master, reside. As our group of friends start to understand what they need to do to stay alive and try to find a way home, they make a number of new acquaintances who add another layer of comedy and mirth to the proceedings. I loved the idea of the Four Horsemen being feared by all the residents of The Whore’s Head because they are teenage players who have found themselves in a place where they can wreak havoc without retribution and have easy access to alcohol. Now they have all transferred to their role play characters, it is only their reckless manner and inability to think things through that gives their ages away.

The boys experience a number of hairy scenarios which could easily be the end of them and it seems that they manage to get by in spite of themselves. Again, this adds to the comedy and Bevan generates a number of cliffhanger moments where the characters survive by pure luck. They are their own worst enemies! Yet as a reader, you want them to continue on. At the very least, you want them to be able to return home, but not before they have had a few more adventures.

After reading these two books, and Bevan’s blog (also hilarious, by the way), it seems that he has a great talent for satire. He is able to add an intelligence to the activities of a mainly moronic bunch of characters. The combination of vulgarity, idiocy, yet an uncanny ability to find their way out of life-threatening scenarios, whether by luck or an actual plan, works like a charm to entertain the reader. The names that he gives to things in the fantasy realm add to the already amusing narrative.

Bevan has generated a fantastical world which is intermingled with things that readers can easily recognise, which is perfect for those like me who are new to the concept of Dungeons and Dragons-style role-play. Trials and tribulations are mixed up with inept characters who are insanely funny and although, of course, the plot is key to the flow of the narrative, for me, it is the dynamics between the characters that makes these books so enjoyable and as an advocate of the importance of good characterisation, I applaud Bevan on his ability to generate flawed, yet endearing and hilariously funny characters whose relationships with each other provide continuous amusement with every line of dialogue. I thoroughly enjoyed book two and thanks to the cliffhanger at the end, I can’t wait to read the next one.