Author Archives: Sapphire

About Sapphire

Hi, I'm 23 years old. I enjoy reading fantasies, mysteries/thrillers, romances... mostly fiction. My choice in movies is widespread. Series mostly consist of crime and comedy shows with occasional dramas and sit-coms. My close friends and family kept saying (complaining) that I critique most of what I read and watch, so I decided to pursue it, here!

Book Review: Merry Christmas, Henry by Aubrey Wynne

4.5

Henry

Henry is a quiet, unassuming, shy man who works the night shift at a museum in Chicago as a security guard. Since he was ten, art has been his escape and source of joy. As a young man he came across a zesty woman who became his best friend, and who procured for him the job he loves. One night, two paintings are gifted to the museum, and of the two, the second, unremarkable one by an unknown artist captivates him and becomes his obsession. Years pass by as Henry continues with his lonely yet content life, until one Christmas when a miracle truly occurs and changes everything.

Merry Christmas, Henry caught my attention as soon as I read a sample preview. It is a small book which can easily be finished in a short while. It is a beautifully written, heart-warming and bittersweet tale of a lonely man with a gentle heart who finally finds a place for himself. The characters, the story, the atmosphere as soon as you read the first line hook you, and pull you further in. It’s a living, breathing tale wonderfully written where despite the short length you immediately appreciate the skill and the richness of the character.

The tender narrative and vivid descriptions make the story come alive. It’s hard to believe this is the author’s first published work. The writing is crisp, mature and leaves you wanting more. A great read for anytime of the year.

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Waiting for Wednesday #17

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“Waiting On” Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.

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Raze by Tillie Cole

Date of Publication: December 30th, 2014

Synopsis (Author’s Website):

To take back life, one must first face death…

One man stripped of his freedom, his morals…his life.

Conditioned in captivity to maim, to kill and to slaughter, prisoner 818 becomes an unremorseful, unrivaled and unstoppable fighter in the ring. Violence is all he knows. Death and brutality are the masters of his fate.

After years of incarceration in an underground hell, only one thought occupies his mind: revenge…bloody, slow and violent revenge.

Revenge on the man who lied.

Revenge on the man who wronged him.

Revenge on the man who condemned him and turned him into this: a rage-fueled killing machine. A monster void of humanity; a monster filled with hate.

And no one will stand in the way of getting what he wants.

One woman stripped of her freedom, her morals…her life.

Kisa Volkova is the only daughter of Kirill ‘The Silencer’ Volkov, head of the infamous ‘Triad’ bosses of New York’s Russian Bratva. Her life is protected. In reality, it’s a virtual prison. Her father’s savage treatment of his rivals and his lucrative and coveted underground gambling ring—The Dungeon—ensures too many enemies lurk at their door.

She dreams to be set free.

Kisa has known only cruelty and loss in her short life. As manager of her father’s death match enterprise, only grief and pain fill her days. Her mafia boss father, in her world, rules absolute. And her fiancé, Alik Durov, is no better; the Dungeon’s five-time champion, a stone-cold killer, the treasured son of her father’s best friend, and her very own—and much resented—personal guard. Unrivaled in both strength and social standing, Alik controls every facet of Kisa’s life, dominates her every move; keeps her subdued and dead inside…then one night changes everything.

While working for her church—the only reprieve in her constant surveillance—Kisa stumbles across a tattooed, scarred, but stunningly beautiful homeless man on the streets. Something about him stirs feelings deep within her; familiar yet impossibly forbidden desires. He doesn’t talk. Doesn’t communicate with anyone. He’s a man beyond saving, and a man she must quickly forget…for both their sakes.

But when weeks later, out of the blue and to her complete surprise, he’s announced as the replacement fighter in The Dungeon, Kisa knows she’s in a whole lot of trouble. He’s built, ripped and lethally unforgiving to his opponents, leaving fear in his wake and the look of death in his eyes.

Kisa becomes obsessed with him. Yearns for him. Craves his touch. Needs to possess this mysterious man…this man they call Raze. 

Why am I awaiting this book?

I don’t usually read these kind of books, and definitely don’t wait for them. I only read them if I happen to come across them, and don’t feel like reading anything else. And though this one sounds as grisly, dark, yet as similar as they come, I’m hoping the book is as interesting as the blurb. For a change, why not?


 

fifty miceFifty Mice by Daniel Pyne

Publisher: Blue Rider Press

Date of Publication: December 30th, 2014

Synopsis (Amazon): What if a man is placed in the Federal Witness Protection Program against his will?
And doesn’t even know what he supposedly knows that merits a new name, a new identity, a new life?

Jay Johnson is an Average Joe, a thirty-something guy with a job in telephone sales, a regular pick-up basketball game, and a devoted girlfriend he seems ready to marry. But one weekday afternoon, he’s abducted on a Los Angeles Metro train, tranquilized, interrogated, and his paper trail obliterated. What did he see, what terrible crime—or criminal—is he keeping secret? It must be something awfully big. The trouble is, Jay has no clue.

Furious and helpless, and convinced that the government has made a colossal mistake, Jay is involuntarily relocated to a community on Catalina Island—which turns out to be inhabited mainly by other protected witnesses. Isolated in a world of strangers, Jay begins to realize that the only way out is through the twisted maze of lies and unreliable memories swirling through his own mind. If he can locate—or invent—a repressed memory that might satisfy the Feds, maybe he can make it back to the mainland and his wonderful, even if monotonous, life.

Set in a noir contemporary L.A. and environs, Fifty Mice is a Hitchcockian thriller as surreal and mysterious as a Kafka nightmare. Chilling, paranoiac, and thoroughly original, it will have readers grasping to distinguish what is real and what only seems that way.

Why am I awaiting this book?

Well, who wouldn’t pause and want to, after reading that synopsis? Especially after reading a couple of reviews? Complex, mind-bending thrillers are so fun…


Movie Review: Gone Girl

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Gone Girl is a 2014 mystery thriller based on a 2012 novel of the same name, written by Gillian Flynn, who also wrote the screenplay. The film is directed by David Fincher (Fight Club, Zodiac, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, The Social Network, and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), and stars Rosamund Pike, Ben Affleck, Neil Patrick Harris, Tyler Perry, and Carrie Coon.

On the occasion of his fifth wedding anniversary, Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) reports that his beautiful wife, Amy (Rosamund Pike), has gone missing. Under pressure from the police and a growing media frenzy, Nick’s portrait of a blissful union begins to crumble. Soon his lies, deceits and strange behaviour have everyone asking the same dark question: Did Nick Dunne kill his wife?

Not having read the book, I cannot judge how well this movie has been adapted to the screen, but, having seen it and knowing that the author herself wrote the screenplay, I found it to be one hell of a film.

Gone Girl is a dark, abstract, psychological thriller. It deals with issues like how we perceive the people we love, and how much we understand them, media frenzy, the economy and its effect on marriages. It’s a film exploring the dysfunctionality of the modern world. It’s a well-paced film that maintains its quite suspense as you journey through the investigation of Amy’s disappearance, and the flashbacks of Nick and Amy’s relationship.

The sharp dialogues and the affected, highbrow exchanges keep you focused, and yet, for me, also managed to keep the characters at a distance, so you never invest in one emotionally. However, it’s this affected distance that makes the twists and reveals that much more powerful. The beauty of the story lies in the fact that, despite having predicted some plot advancements and turns, the way they happen still manages to surprise you.

The actors do a wonderful job with a unique pair of unlikable main characters. Ben Affleck successfully portrays the ambiguous husband. You don’t know whether to sympathise with him or be suspicious of him; as in the movie, he swings from being hated, to not, repeatedly. Rosamund Pike gives a strong, powerful performance which packs a punch. Her apathetic expressions contrast with the emotive, candid narration and, generate intrigue and anticipation. She stole the show.

The film is strong, well constructed and the direction detailed. And despite the sinister mood it manages to be quite funny. The weakest part was the ending which could’ve been shorter and seemed wanting. Like the rest of the movie it was too, a surprise, however, it was somewhat unsatisfying.

Gone Girl is a twisted tale of a haunting character. A story that will linger with you. It’s best suited for those who enjoy dark thrillers.

Even though I wanted to read the book before the film came, I couldn’t manage it. But after watching this movie, I’m definitely going to read it and update this review with that of the book (I hope).

 


Book Review: The Gift of Charms (The Land of Dragor Series #1) by Julia Suzuki

3.5

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*** I was given a copy of this ebook in exchange for an honest review ***

Dragor is an isolated valley, the only place on the planet inhabited by dragons and hidden from prying eyes. Here dragons have lived in peace since the great war against the humans and dragsaurs. Now, to stay safe and strong, they ensure their existence stays hidden, and go about their everyday lives. And yet something seems to be missing in their lives, preventing them from feeling completely happy and at ease.

Yoshiko is a dragon hatchling born under abnormal circumstances. Something about his birth raises alarm in the dragon community but, the truth is hidden and Yoshiko’s parents manage to keep their son from harm. Now, he’s a youngling like any other, about to attend the Fire School for the first time so he can also learn and grow to be a strong and skilful dragon. But, school isn’t as easy and exciting as he thought it would be and Yoshiko struggles to fit in.

Gradually he comes to find that he is different from all dragons of his age, in fact any dragon he’s ever met or heard about. And as he struggles to deal with things, he eventually finds out that there’s more to him and the dragon community than he thought. How will Yoshiko fare, and will he be able to face up to his destiny?

The Gift of Charms is a charming tale (no pun intended) of a young dragon who constantly feels out of place. One who is different not just figuratively but literally. The story follows his growth from a shy dragon to one who works hard on getting stronger, and learns to accept and understand his differences from others. This gives him the strength to take on an unimaginable task and do something no other dragon has ever done before.

I had not realised as I accepted this book to read and review that it is for middle grade children. So yes, I was a little put down (not to mention, lost for a while as to what to do). But I decided to continue with the story for two reasons. Firstly, because it seemed to be an interesting and cute story and secondly because it’s about dragon life! What do the dragons do, how do they live? What are their habits? How is their society and culture? This is the first book I’ve read which deals with these things and it was fun! Fun, to read about a young dragon as he goes to school, meets a bully, struggles with his abilities and is curious about his own world. Just imagining all of it was delightful, and so cute! I can totally imagine this as an animated movie.

While I liked reading this tale, I wish it had slightly more detailing and was a little slower. The information and history of the dragons and their past could’ve been better in narrative form rather than as dialogues. There are a few errors here and there, but otherwise this is a well written story about a unique world. The characters are also nicely developed. However, I sincerely hope there’s more to Yoshiko’s difference and the way that uniqueness manifests. Also, there was never a hint of something lacking in the dragon community which makes them whole. And since the ending was extremely rushed, the lack of explanation was more apparent, especially considering the title of the book. And lastly, Yoshiko’s venture and interaction with a certain someone was not lengthy enough. Everything was over and done with in a breath! It seemed too easy. Basically, everything comes down to the fact that the book was a bit too fast paced and was definitely rushed at the end.

Overall, a captivating story which is sure to be fun for young kids and an extra kudos from me for concept.

 

 


Waiting on Wednesday #13: The Retribution of Mara Dyer

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“Waiting On” Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.

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The Retribution of Mara Dyer (Mara Dyer Trilogy) by Michelle Hodkin

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Date of Publication: November 4th, 2014

Synopsis (Goodreads):

Mara Dyer wants to believe there’s more to the lies she’s been told.
There is.

She doesn’t stop to think about where her quest for the truth might lead.
She should.

She never had to imagine how far she would go for vengeance.
She will now.

Loyalties are betrayed, guilt and innocence tangle, and fate and chance collide in this shocking conclusion to Mara Dyer’s story.
Retribution has arrived.

Why am I awaiting this book?

Finally! After two years it’s almost here. I can’t wait to find out what happens ahead in the story, about Mara and Noah’s pasts and how the story will end. So excited!


Book Review: The Revenge of Seven (Lorien Legacies #5) by Pittacus Lore

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The fifth book in the I Am Number Four series. The Garde have suffered an unbearable loss. Number Five has betrayed them. Eight is gone forever. Ella has been kidnapped. The others are now scattered.

In Chicago, John makes the unlikeliest of allies: Adam, a Mogadorian who turned his back on his people. He has invaluable information about Mog technology, battle strategies, and weaknesses. Most important, he knows where to hit them: their command base near Washington, DC. During the assault, however, John and Adam learn the unimaginable truth: it is too late. The Mogadorians have commenced their ultimate invasion plans.

With a front-row seat to the impending invasion, Ella finds herself in the hands of the enemy. For some reason she’s more valuable to them alive, and they’ll stop at nothing to turn her.

Meanwhile, Six, Nine, and Marina make their way through the Florida Everglades, hot on the trail of the traitorous Five. With the development of a new Legacy, Marina finally has the power to fight back—if her thirst for revenge doesn’t consume her first.

The Garde are broken and divided once again, but they will not be defeated. As long as one still stands, the battle for Earth’s survival is not lost. (Amazon)

Writing a review for the fifth book in a series can be tricky. But, assuming and hoping that whoever reads this will have read the rest of the books, let’s begin. This was one of the stronger books in the series in terms of writing, character appeal and story. The Rise of Nine and The Revenge of Seven are the best books for me. The Power of Six was mostly irritating because of John, and The Fall of Five was predictable. It was so obvious that Five was not to be trusted that there wasn’t anything left for me to enjoy. Also, Eight died in it. Enough said.

To start with I have an issue with the titles of the books. After the first one, none of the books have had much relation to their titles. With The Revenge of Seven, when you also consider the cover blurb, you expect the book to have Seven’s POV and revolve around her grief and pain over Eight’s death which drives her to take revenge on the Mogs, especially Five, and really kick ass with her new legacy. But nope, the reality is far from it. She barely had a presence other than to be a silently threatening (not) person, who behaves more nun/priest like as the novel progresses. I have a suspicion she’ll actually return to a convent, considering her behaviour in the end, which is not cool. I loved the way her character was introduced in the second book. I much preferred her narration over Johns’ then. This time she was the least favourite because she did nothing but brood.

Moving on, this was a good book, with plenty of action and laughs, along with parts in between when the story progresses and you learn more about Setrakus Ra and Ella. And there’s also the highly anticipated union of all the members especially Adam and Four, which was the best. My favourite character is Adam, and I loved his presence and involvement in the plot. He had a final showdown with his dad, and I’m glad he got that closure and officially moved on as his own person.

Six and Sam didn’t have much of an impact considering one of the POVs was Six. I didn’t like the direction her relationship with Sam took. For once I preferred John and Sarah, though I was still really happy when she went off the picture. In the previous books she and John have been the most annoyingly space-occupying parts. The focus on romantic relations is a bit much when there’s so much more that could’ve been happening; friendships are the better part of this series.

The strongest and most enjoyable scenes were the ones with Ella, Adam and the last few chapters. The tense atmosphere and impending doom you feel when Ella spends time with Ra, and the invasion, was great. Five’s repentance didn’t do much for me, since in the other book and novellas also I felt nothing for him. He’s the one character who failed to evoke any emotions other than complete distrust and dislike. I felt that there could have been a little more focus on Marina and Nine in terms of their grief and her forgiveness.

And the ending, OMG the ending. It was awesome and crazy and typically a cliff-hanger. But the kind you love and hate simultaneously because you’re left open-mouthed at the developments, and horror that it ended in the middle of something so massive and fantastic! I can’t wait to read what happens in the, hopefully, last book. I hope it’s long and written like this one where the focus is on more important things than teenage relationship angst. This was a very exciting and fulfilling book for me, and there are things I can’t wait to find out, like:

I’m pretty sure there’s even more to the Ra-Lore-Ella scene, but what will it be? And that Ella will be the end of Ra – Yay.

Who is GUARD?? Can’t wait to find out in Mark’s novella.

What of Sam? Who else? And what of the rest of the Guarde, and Ra with the pendants and chests?

Ultimately, I just hope Adam, Ella, Sam and the Chimeras don’t die.

 


Waiting on Wednesday #10: The Mistletoe Promise

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“Waiting On” Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.

mistletoe promise

The Mistletoe Promise by Richard Paul Evans

Publication: Simon and Schuster

Date of Publication: October 28th, 2014

Synopsis (Amazon):

A love story for Christmas from the #1 bestselling author of The Christmas Box and The Walk.

Elise Dutton dreads the arrival of another holiday season. Three years earlier, her husband cheated on her with her best friend, resulting in a bitter divorce that left her alone, broken, and distrustful.

Then, one November day, a stranger approaches Elise in the mall food court. Though she recognizes the man from her building, Elise has never formally met him. Tired of spending the holidays alone, the man offers her a proposition. For the next eight weeks—until the evening of December 24—he suggests that they pretend to be a couple. He draws up a contract with four rules:

1. No deep, probing personal questions
2. No drama
3. No telling anyone the truth about the relationship
4. The contract is void on Christmas Day

The lonely Elise surprises herself by agreeing to the idea. As the charade progresses, the safety of her fake relationship begins to mend her badly broken heart. But just as she begins to find joy again, her long-held secret threatens to unravel the emerging relationship. But she might not be the only one with secrets.

Why am I awaiting this book?

Well, it’s been a while since I read a romance, especially one where the focus is on the relationships rather than thrills. Hopefully, it’ll be good.


Book Review: The Reflections of Queen Snow White by David Meredith

3.5

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*** I was gifted a copy of this ebook in exchange for an honest review ***

What happens when “happily ever after” has come and gone? 

On the eve of her only daughter, Princess Raven’s wedding, an aging Snow White finds it impossible to share in the joyous spirit of the occasion. The ceremony itself promises to be the most glamorous social event of the decade. Snow White’s castle has been meticulously scrubbed, polished and opulently decorated for the celebration. It is already nearly bursting with jubilant guests and merry well-wishers. Prince Edel, Raven’s fiancé, is a fine man from a neighboring kingdom and Snow White’s own domain is prosperous and at peace. Things could not be better, in fact, except for one thing: The king is dead.

The queen has been in a moribund state of hopeless depression for over a year with no end in sight. It is only when, in a fit of bitter despair, she seeks solitude in the vastness of her own sprawling castle and climbs a long disused and forgotten tower stair that she comes face to face with herself in the very same magic mirror used by her stepmother of old.

It promises her respite in its shimmering depths, but can Snow White trust a device that was so precious to a woman who sought to cause her such irreparable harm? Can she confront the demons of her own difficult past to discover a better future for herself and her family? And finally, can she release her soul-crushing grief and suffocating loneliness to once again discover what “happily ever after” really means?

Only time will tell as she wrestles with her past and is forced to confront The Reflections of Queen Snow White.

That, is a beautiful and precise description of this book. It successfully captures the interest and imagination, compelling one to dive into the post “happily ever after” world and find out what has happened to Snow White after all these years and what her life has been like.

Real stories don’t end at happily-ever-afters. There’s more to life than the eternal stretch of perfection that fairy tales would have you believe. David Meredith does a fine job of carrying forward the story and life of Snow White as a real person with believable and relatable troubles.

The story deals with Snow’s depression after Charming’s death. The intense pain and grief that a person gets lost in when they lose the most important person in their life without whom life seems meaningless. The weight that accumulates over the course of a life with its share of pain and suffering. The book tackles some serious issues and the darker emotions in life.

When it comes to the characters, I did not like Snow White very much. I wanted a little more flesh in terms of characterisation and relationships. And I did not like the heir situation part of the story. As it’s a short story, I can’t say much more without giving things away. The book could have done with a little polishing and editing as there are quite a few errors.

It is for adult, mature readers as it’s a dark re-imaging with some graphic scenes, true to the Grimm style. The language is beautiful with some truly wonderful prose and the plot is different. The author has respectfully, without disturbing the charm of the original fairy tale, transformed the story by giving it a new direction and making it relevant in terms of real life. Some sections were truly touching. Altogether, it’s a very well written first book.


Waiting on Wednesday #7

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“Waiting On” Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.

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The Lost Key (A Brit in the FBI #2) by  Catherine Coulter and J.T. Ellison

Publisher: Putnam Adult

Date of Publication: September 30th, 2014

Synopsis (Goodreads):

The newest entry in the sizzling international thriller series featuring Nicholas Drummond, from #1 New York Times–bestselling author Catherine Coulter.

Freshly minted FBI agent Nicholas Drummond is barely out of his Quantico training when he and his partner, Mike Caine, are called to investigate a stabbing on Wall Street.

Their investigation, however, yields more questions than answers. It quickly becomes clear that the victim, John Pearce, was more than the naval historian and antiquities dealer he appeared to be. What Drummond doesn’t know is that buying and selling rare books was Pearce’s cover, and that he had devoted his life to discovering the whereabouts of a missing World War I U-boat concealing a stash of gold bullion, and an unexpected surprise that only raises more questions. When Drummond and Caine find both of Pearce’s adult children have disappeared, the case assumes a new sense of urgency. The FBI agents know their best lead lies in the victim’s cryptic final words—“The key is in the lock.” But what key? What lock?

The search for Adam and Sophia Pearce takes them on an international manhunt, which threatens to run them afoul of an eccentric billionaire industrialist with his own plans not only for the lost gold, but the creation of a weapon unlike anything the world has ever seen.

Why am I awaiting this book?

FBI, a British agent, antiquities, history, treasures and complexities + just the second book in the series = need I say more?


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Deadline (Virgil Flowers #8) by John Sandford

Publication: Putnam Adult

Date of Publication: October 7th, 2014

Synopsis (Goodreads):

The thrilling new novel in the #1 New York Times–bestselling series.
 
In Southeast Minnesota, down on the Mississippi, a school board meeting is coming to an end. The board chairman announces that the rest of the meeting will be closed, due to personnel issues. “Issues” is correct. The proposal up for a vote before them is whether to authorize the killing of a local reporter. The vote is four to one in favor.

Meanwhile, not far away, Virgil Flowers is helping out a friend by looking into a dognapping, which seems to be turning into something much bigger and uglier—a team of dognappers supplying medical labs—when he gets a call from Lucas Davenport. A murdered body has been found—and the victim is a local reporter. . . .

Why am I waiting for this book?

I haven’t read a book by this author and even though this is the eighth in the series, it sounds like I wouldn’t need to know anything before getting into it, so why not?


Book Review: Talus and the Frozen King (Talus #1) by Graham Edwards

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Talus and the Frozen King is a fantasy novel set in the Neolithic Age, where people like intelligent detectives, philosophers and adventurers with gifts of rational and logical observations were rare. The cover of the book however, shows not a Neolithic man, rather a more medieval looking man. The armor is too sophisticated. An error in itself. Also I saw no elements of fantasy in the book. There are concepts of spirits and the afterlife, but nothing to place it in the fantasy genre. This book was a Historical Mystery to me.

Talus and his companion Bran are the Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson of the Stone Age. The similarities and character traits are too obvious to overlook. Now whether this is deliberate, a copy or an homage didn’t make much of a difference to me, though it obviously makes it difficult to not draw comparisons instinctively. However, my observations have nothing to do with this issue.

Talus is a mysterious, highly intelligent bard accompanied by his friend Bran on a journey to the far north. They are following the Aurora Borealis in the hopes that it will lead them to a place where, they’ve been told, worlds meet and time converges; where they may find answers to their own personal quests.

Bran, a former fisherman, is almost at the end of his tether, travelling in the harsh, barren lands in extreme winter. He has lost the drive to seek the mysterious place. But before he can leave, he and Talus hear wild screaming coming from an island down the cliff where they stopped for the night. Talus persuades Bran to check out the dangerous looking island to see what ails the people on it.

They find the island’s king sitting frozen on the ground, naked, surrounded by the villagers. The wailing they heard was the mourning women. Talus quickly deduces, to everyone’s shock that the king was murdered, not frozen to death, and convinces his son, the king-to-be, to let him find the murderer so he can answer for his crime.

The rest of the story is about how Talus, through his observations, draws logical conclusions and finds out information to solve the mystery. Bran is his short tempered friend, with a few demons of his own, who though a bit slow, manages to see and understand things that escape Talus. Together they get embroiled in the lives of the people of that disturbing island, whose shadows are not safe for anyone.

Talus and the Frozen King is mostly a well written novel with an interesting and fairly intricate plot. The world building is well done, and the story very atmospheric. From the very beginning you sense that Creyak is a creepy, uneasy place and it remains so throughout the book.

There are just two female characters in the novel and both are strong, intelligent women who add depth to the story. I really liked that they weren’t the helpless kind or barely there characters.

Coming to the protagonist, Talus is a bard and of course, he narrates a few stories in the novel. I found him to be an unimpressive bard. His language did not seem all that different from the others, but more than that, his storytelling skills were nothing to boast about. When you have a setting and atmosphere like this one, and the character is narrating something, the stage is set for something great. Something that pulls you in, where the words twine and twist through the air, weaving a web of sensations and rapture. Talus failed, quite badly. His oratory was not strong, and his tales too short, some even incomplete and interrupted.

Even his roundabout conversations with fellow humans, especially when he is explaining a clue, or an obvious fact, weren’t always pleasing and fun. And most of the time as the novel was moving towards the end and the answer, his explanations were half formed, incomplete. Too many distractions and cuts to delay the reveal, hence frustrating. Talus’s cleverness had a forced quality to it. The withholding of information from others and hence us, got a little irritating after a while and made the conversations, the transition in scenes and the story stilted and wandering. This led to Talus not being as impressive as his fellow characters and the author make him out to be.

Bran is a little too stupid for my liking even though he contributes to the solving of the mystery in a way Talus can’t. He understands human emotions and sees their connections. But most of the time, he’s impatient and foolish. His tragic back story makes you sympathise. However I didn’t like his attraction to, and fascination with, a female character simply because of her resemblance to someone in his past, and found it unnecessary. And I didn’t feel the chemistry between him and Talus. You don’t feel the bond that forged between them in the past and which has kept them together as a team.

There were also a few contradictions and mistakes on the characters’ observations and reactions. The story began well. But as it hurtled towards the end, it was too rushed. The mystery itself was going at a languid pace even as the action wasn’t, which was frustrating. The answer was forcibly delayed and interrupted constantly.

Another issue was that the characters seemed to not require sleep. Talus and Bran were already exhausted when they came to the island, and yet they don’t sleep for even a few hours for the next few days. They are constantly on the move from one part of the village to another, or doing something or other.

The surprise twist at the end was a definite shocker. It was completely unexpected. Overall the story had promise but it has been weakly characterised and fails at execution. I hope the second book is better.