The first in a supernatural new series from the author of Wonderland, Her Majesty's Royal Coven follows a top secret government department of witches and the deadly threat to the nation that they must confront. Hidden among us is a secret coven of witches. They are Her Majesty’s Royal Coven. They protect crown and country from magical forces and otherworldly evil. But their greatest enemy will come from within. There are whisperings of a prophecy that will bring the coven to its knees, and five best friends are about to be caught at the centre. Life as a modern witch was never simple … but now it’s about to get apocalyptic. Prepare to be bewitched by Juno Dawson’s first adult series. A story of ancient prophecies and modern dating, of sacred sisterhood and demonic frenemies.
A darkly beautiful dual-timeline novel with a captivating mystery, for fans of Diane Setterfield and Kiran Millwood Hargrave When Tartelin Brown accepts a job with the reclusive Marianne Stourbridge, she finds herself on a wild island with a mysterious history. Tartelin is tasked with hunting butterflies for Marianne's research. But she quickly uncovers something far more intriguing than the curious creatures that inhabit the landscape. Because the island and Marianne share a remarkable history, and what happened all those years ago has left its scars, and some terrible secrets. As Tartelin pieces together Marianne's connection to the island, she must confront her own reasons for being there. Can the two women finally face up to the painful memories that bind them so tightly to the past? Atmospheric and deeply emotional, The Unravelling is the captivating novel from the author of The Illustrated Child.
A debut that sings, in fact roars with strong vibrant themes, beautiful storytelling, and fabulous characters. Three women sit centre stage as the trials begin to find the next rulers of the Empire, each has different coloured blood and were born to very different roles. This is the first in the The Final Strife series, and Author Saara El-Arifi has created the most compelling world with roots in Ghanian folklore and Arabian myths. A vivid energy crackles into life from the start. The sense of place is immense, I saw, I felt, I believed. The three very different young women who lead in the story, in such different ways, have fascinating characters. The story flows through some thought-provoking topics, from oppression and rebellion through to drug addiction. Love can be found in its many guises including friendship as well as romance. While tyranny rules, this in an inclusive land in terms of relationships and diversity. I would say this is definitely not for younger teens due to content, but is suitable for those heading towards their twenties as well as adults. This first book sets up the continuing story rather wonderfully and I can’t wait to see where we head next. A LoveReading Star Book and Liz Pick of the Month, The Final Strife, so very clever, bold and provocative has set aflame a new world that promises much, highly recommended.
With its unique perspectives and bone-deep insights into humanity, Ottessa Moshfegh's writing never fails to amaze, and Lapvona sees her bold brilliance shine once again. Thirteen-year-old shepherd boy Marek lives in the blighted medieval fiefdom of Lapvona, with this setting providing the brutal story-world stage to reveal humanity’s depraved underbelly – greed, corruption, barbaric imbalances between the rich and the poor, with the notion of human suffering being a virtue deployed by those in power. Marek “was a small boy and had grown crookedly, his spine twisted in the middle…his legs were bowed. His head was misshapen”. Told by his father that his mother died in childbirth, Marek loves Ina, the blind village midlife; a wise woman with connections to nature and scared knowledge beyond that of the church. With her house in the woods underlining her liminality, Ina is a woman of miracles. The only sick person to have recovered from the plague, in her forties “sweet and creamy milk” weeps from her breasts. Meanwhile, the village’s depraved governor Villiam literally lords over Lapvona from his lavish hilltop manor, with Father Barnabas on hand to do his dirty work. As famine and drought cause the villagers to starve, he lives to excess away from the death and violence, with Father Barnabas arranging intermittent appearances to maintain the weaponising of religion as a means of control. As the story moves through the seasons and Marek becomes entangled to the lord, brutality and catastrophes mount, and all order is disrupted. With all the rich, brutal language and ambience of a dark folktale, this remarkable novel has deep allegorical resonance.
Vivid and spirited, Dark Earth spins a magical tale that feels as though it could have been passed down through the ages. After their father dies, Isla and Blue seek sanctuary in the remains of Londinium. I simply adore the mention of the brooch in the Author’s Note at the beginning, this introduction and the brooch stayed with me as I read. Costa award-winning Rebecca Stott creates a land and story that is easy to slip into. The descriptions imprinted themselves in my minds eye. This female-led tale is a melting pot of religions and cultures at a time when England was dominated by warlords scrambling for power. The two main characters each display different strengths that act as a magnet for the other. I felt as though this story could sit with the legend of Arthur, as though it has always been in existence, as part of a truth. The ending feels almost touchable, and I would be very happy to discover that there is more to come from this time and community. Oh, and I adore the cover, it’s not only stunning, it also speaks perfectly of the contents. I’ve chosen Dark Earth as a Liz Pick of the Month, thoughtful and engaging it spins history, magic and myth together quite beautifully.
The tyranny of the gods is absolute, and they are capricious, malevolent and almost all-powerful, playing cruel games with the fates of mortals for their own ends . . . A vibrant and powerful epic set against an alternate Bronze Age, this tale of gods, men and monsters, conspiracy and war, is a rich, compelling and original read from a master of the historical and fantasy genres. The people caught up in toils of the gods are merely trying to survive. Victims of vicious whims, trapped by their circumstances or pushed beyond what the mortal frame can bear, a handful of god-touched mortals - a scribe, a warlord, a dancer and a child - are about to be brought together in a conspiracy of their own. A conspiracy to reach the heavens, and take down the corrupt and aging gods . . . who are already facing troubles of their own . . . An epic that draws on a wide variety of myths and legends, gods and heroes, this new trilogy is a must read for fans of Dan Simmons and Madeline Miller alike.
The warrior cats leap off the page in this original full-color adventure—a stand-alone graphic novel set in the wild world of Erin Hunter’s #1 bestselling Warriors series. On the verge of a bitter leaf-bare, ShadowClan stands on the brink of its own destruction. When battle-obsessed Brokenstar banishes Nightpelt and the rest of ShadowClan’s elders to the farthest edges of Clan territory, Nightpelt is shocked at his cruelty. But he’s determined to ensure he and his fellow exiles survive the coming frost—and live to reclaim a ShadowClan that takes care of its own. Set during the events of Warriors: The Prophecies Begin, this action-packed, stand-alone adventure is perfect for longtime Erin Hunter fans and new readers alike. The bestselling Warriors series in full-color graphic novel form makes an excellent gift. Other Warriors graphic novels include Warriors: Winds of Change and Warriors: A Shadow in RiverClan. Read them all!
This enchanting, empowering sequel to This Poison Heart, one of our 2021 favourites, twists, turns and captures the heart through exquisite storytelling and world-building. Blending compellingly relatable characters with ancient magic, Greek myth, and a sweeping quest to save loved ones, it’s as lush and thrilling as the kind of flamboyant botanicals its endearing protagonist has the command to conjure. Briseis has powerful ancestresses, and the power to create and control plants. Though she’s long worked to hide her gifts, she now has an opportunity to save her mother’s soul. In order to find the last piece of the Absyrtus Heart that will enable her to realise this, she must turn to her blood relatives and find her place in her ancient magical lineage. Briseis’ quest sees her voyage to a Greek island and battle with enemies who are descended from Jason, Medea’s vindictive husband. With tension mounting as time slips away and it seems as if deadly foliage has taken a stranglehold, love blossoms for Briseis too, making this consummately exhilarating.
'Disarrhoea' is a compelling set of unique short stories, ranging from sci-fi, to horror, to downright weird – all done in the best possible way of course! The stories are all vastly different from one another and yet keep the reader hooked on what bizarre goings on will befall the next set of characters… and no two stories are alike. The writing style used is very clever and enhances the chilling effect of each tale too, in particular that of 'Fearground'. This story is told purely through the "funfair masters" conversations with the participants, and although there is no detailed description of the scenery, Kevin Vodden does a fantastic job of giving enough description through a one-sided conversation to understand and picture all the spooky events taking place. Quite frankly I have never read a piece so uniquely written and so well executed, it is a sheer stroke of genius! The most striking stories for myself are of course 'Fearground' and 'Terror Pericolosa' as these stories were expressed so well and had strong tension throughout for the reader. 'Terror Pericolosa' was skilfully thought out and produced the perfect blend of sci-fi and emotion, whilst following the nerve-racking story of a research colonist team on a hostile planet. All of these stories are so original and keep you wondering and guessing what happened next, giving the reader a perfect cliff hanger and wanting more!! In conclusion these short stories are simply brilliant, and I would recommend them to any lover of horror, sci-fi or all things a bit weird! I genuinely can not pick fault with any of the tales as I think they are all so encaptivating and told superbly. Kevin Vodden has done a masterful job of encompassing the strange and wonderful. Hermione White, A LoveReading Ambassador
With echoes of the Renaissance Guy Gavriel Kay brings intrigue, revenge, war, and exile face to face with love, friendship, and hope. This powerful and striking story begins with those tasked with an assassination, and grows to encompass many more people and places. Here we continue on in the times from A Brightness Long Ago featuring new as well as previously met characters. If you’ve not yet stepped foot into this particular world (not all of his novels are from these lands), then the quality of writing is such that you can most certainly read All the Seas of the World as a standalone. Please do though visit past books as not only are there truly beautiful stories to discover and the obvious connection to the previous novel, there are other whispers too from longer ago. The map had me poring over memories, and within the list of principal characters I welcomed old friends. While I immediately felt a sense of coming home, my emotions were hung above a sharpened knife edge. The narrator, occasionally present, sits in overview, words sinking into thoughts and feelings, and a little way in I met one particular friend from Brightness who again spoke directly to me. I folded into and around a story that boldly and brilliantly ventures onto the seas. I particularly loved the small slices of individual lives and how they knitted together and influenced the larger scale events. The most inconsequential moment could seem momentous as it formed around one person. It felt as though both history, the present, and the future was being told. Just as a little aside, I have been reading Guy Gavriel Kay’s novels since I tipped into my twenties. He is one of two authors who I count as being hugely positive influences, and from my late teens on I have been able to trust in their integrity, empathy, and principles as I read. You can probably tell from my thoughts and feelings about All The Seas of the World, that I still hold Guy Gavriel Kay’s writing in the highest regard and this new book will sit as a particular favourite. His words, they really make my emotions sing, and that was certainly the case here. So it will come as no surprise that All the Seas of the World sits as a LoveReading Star Book and Liz Pick for its month of publication, it also comes with a standing ovation from me.
Equinox is a historical mystery with a sixteenth century feel and a fantasy twist. The writing is highly descriptive, and the graphic world-building drew me into the setting straight away, with its gloomy backdrop of war and witchcraft. This is a tale of two halves, literally. Two brothers inhabit the same body, one by day and one by night, with echoes of Jekyll and Hyde. They have distinct personalities and careers - the cynical witch hunter versus the musician - and know very little about how they each spend their time, yet they end up having to work together somehow. Tension rises between the two siblings as the book gathers pace from a steady but slowburning beginning to a dramatic ending. This dark read is more witchcraft thriller than crime thriller, and it contains some gruesome scenes so it's not for the fainthearted. As a standalone, it's certainly unique and imaginative.
What a dazzling debut this is. Founded on the alluring concept of a glamourous hotel that changes location each night, Emily J Taylor's Hotel Magnifique presents readers with a sumptuous world of magical soirées and shows. It’s a story that’s shot-through with intrigue, mystery and menace as two sisters longing for a better life discover that the grass might not be greener, however bright it gleams. When Hotel Magnifique comes to her bleak hometown, 17-year-old Jani devises a plan to make sure she and her sister enter it. Her sister gains employment as a singer, while Jani enters a lowlier profession. Within the hotel’s opulent walls, the sisters are separated by their roles, and Jani is quick to catch onto the fact that the contracts they’ve signed might mean more than they’d bargained for. With distrust lurking in every shadow, and a sense of time running out, this sweeping story is a spellbinding read, and comes recommended for fans of the Lady Helen Dark Days Club series and The Night Circus.