Category Archives: Fantasy

Fiction with strange or other worldly settings or characters; fiction which invites suspension of reality. Includes: fantasy (Dungeons & Dragons, High Fantasy, Dark Fantasy, Epic Fantasy), fables (mythical creatures, like unicorns, faeries, ghosts, Greek and Roman gods, vampires, zombies, werewolves and other were-animals), non-Biblical angels and demons, and other non-sensical or magical creatures or characters.

The Taken by Iserles

the-takenFROM THE PUBLISHER: The first book in a thrilling fantasy trilogy starring one of the animal kingdom’s most hunted heroes. Foxcraft is full of excitement and heart, and a touch of magic.

The Taken
Foxcraft #1
by Inbali Iserles
Scholastic Press
September 2015

Isla and her brother are two young foxes living just outside the lands of the furless — humans. The life of a fox is filled with dangers, but Isla has begun to learn mysterious skills meant to help her survive. Then the unthinkable happens. Returning to her den, Isla finds it set ablaze and surrounded by strange foxes, and her family is nowhere in sight. Forced to flee, she escapes into the cold, gray world of the furless. Now Isla must navigate this bewildering and deadly terrain, all while being hunted by a ruthless enemy. In order to survive, she will need to master the ancient arts of her kind — magical gifts of cunning known only to foxes. She must unravel the secrets of Foxcraft.

REVIEW: A fox, Isla, returns to her home one day to find it destroyed and her family missing. So she goes in search of them. To find them she will have to gain new magical abilities (Foxcraft). While this is a pretty straight forward premise, this story diverges from the expected by placing the world of the magical foxes firmly in contemporary human society (think muggles). This isn’t just about fantastical creatures who live in a fantasy setting and I appreciated that. Personally, I found the book to be a little slow at times and ended up skimming some chapters to get to better ones later on. By the end, there was a satisfying set up for the next book in the series. I found it a fun, interesting, easy fantasy read. But I’m not the target audience.

Here’s what my 12 year old daughter thought: “This book is absolutely amazing! It’s so full of adventure and mystery. I really loved the idea of foxes and how the story was laid out. I enjoyed the interactions between the characters and how they acted differently towards each other. I think everybody will enjoy this book a lot for those reasons! And many many more!” So satisfied target audience: achieved.


Sunshine is a 12 year old avid book reader who we love to ask what she thought of the books she reads so we can share a young reader’s perspective with you!

Scott Asher is the Editor-in-Chief of BookGateway.com. His personal blog is AshertopiA – a land flowing with milk and honey… and a lot of sticky people where he turns real life into stupid cartoons, writes on Christianity, Zombies, and whatever else he wants and posts Bible studies from his classes at church.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

The Galaxy Pirates: Hunt for the Pyxis by Ferraris

galaxypiratesFrom the publisher: On the night Emma Garton’s supposedly boring parents are kidnapped, she is forced to face the truth that they’ve been lying to her about many things. The most important of which? They aren’t even from planet Earth.

The Galaxy Pirates: Hunt for the Pyxis
by Zoe Ferraris
Crown Books for Young Readers
August 2015

To find her mom and dad, Emma and her best friend, Herbie, must leave Earth and enter the Strands—the waterways of space, where huge galleons ply the intergalactic seas. But a journey through the constellations won’t be easy—not with every scoundrel in the galaxy determined to find them and the pyxis, a mysterious amulet that holds the key to saving their world.

REVIEW: I really enjoyed this book! I think that there was a lot of thought put into this book, and a lot of creativity, and that’s why I personally love it so much! I was of the edge of my seat the whole time I was reading because I was so excited to find out what would happen next! It’s a very adventurous and imaginative book, so I think that anybody who likes adventure and intensity will love this. I really enjoyed reading or watching the characters really come to life from the pages. They are so well described and thought out and all their personalities are amazingly put together! When I was done reading I felt as if I knew them as real people. They felt so alive to me, after reading that book I just feel very inspired to go out and do something fun or adventure somewhere with friends. I really think this could be considered enjoyable to all ages I’d say around 12-13 and up due to some of the language. Overall all I can really say that I didn’t enjoy about it was all the bad language they used. Because the characters come out to be so young…I didn’t really expect that from them, but I guess I can’t blame them…the were basically living with pirates haha. My personal favorite part is when they go to space for the first time and they get to explore everything and they just seem so astonished by their surroundings! I wish that I could live in this book. I really hope a second one comes out soon! I just know everybody will really love reading this amazing story.


Sunshine is a 12 year old avid book reader who we love to ask what she thought of the books she reads so we can share a young reader’s perspective with you!

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

Wabanaki Blues by Melissa Tantaquidgeon Zobel

wabanaki-blues-coverMona Lisa LaPierre’s parents give her little notice that she’ll be spending the summer after graduation  in a remote cabin with her curmudgeonly grandfather.    Mona must learn who she is in the face of family secrets and her dual Native American heritage.

Wabanaki Blues
by Melissa Tantaquidgeon Zobel
The Poisoned Pencil
June 2015

When Mona’s parents announce they’ll be heading to Russia to study bears, Mona is shocked to learn she’ll be spending the time with her granfather in remote New England woods.  She is forced to miss graduation and the chance to get her crush, Beetle, to notice her before they part.

Mona, the child of both Mohegan and Abenaki tribes, has a passion for blues.  This passion and the voice of her grandmother Bilki keep her grounded as she goes on a journey to learn the truth about a young woman’s disappearance and in reality, about herself.

Zobel, being Native American herself, really paid tribute to her heritage.  Instead of watering down Native traditions and stories, they took forefront in this novel.  Zobel shares her traditions and writes them with such reverence and respect.

I REALLY wanted to like this book.  Unfortunately, too many story lines and crossing details made it hard to keep the different parts of the story straight.  It’s a genuine coming of age story told in an uncoventional way, which I appreciate.  It just became very complex in a way that wasn’t able to keep me engaged.  Complex in the name of suspense is fantastic.  This just fell short of that for me.


Robin Gwaro is the Young Adult and Women’s Literature Editor at Bookgateway.com. She currently spends her days wrangling her 8 year old science nerd and 5 month old busy body.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

 

The Blood of Angels by Sinisalo

booldofangelsOrvo, a Finnish beekeeper, has been watching the spread of the collapse of colonies of bees worldwide with trepidation and fear. And now one of his colonies has disappeared as well leaving only the dead queen in their wake.

The Blood of Angels
by Johanna Sinisalo
Peter Owen Publishers
October 1, 2014

In the United States and other places around the world the collapse of bee colonies has heralded economic disaster. No pollinization means no fruits or other plants that require bees to grow and develop. Without that food, domesticated animals and humans don’t have enough to eat. Prices skyrocket. Inflation brings nations to their knees. It looks a lot like the apocalypse to Orvo. But what has his attention as much as his newly collapsed colony is the activities of his son.

[SPOILERS] His son blogs for animal rights and equality. As he moved from basic questions and a call for right treatment to radicalization he ends up on the wrong side people who would rather kill him than dialog. And they do. [END SPOILERS]

Dealing with all the loss, Orvo happens upon a magical gateway to another world in, of all places, the upstairs of his barn. The doorway leads to a pristine world that seems to be without humans but abundantly full of bees and plant life. The question is what to do about the door, the impending apocalypse and his personal struggles.

Sinisalo breaks the narrative of her novel into bite sized – or I should say blog sized – entries. All counting down to the final day after the first collapse. In between Orvo’s story we get blog posts, with comments, to move the story along and fill in back story. Since the book does not move day by day, instead it jumps days, we miss some things only to read of them later. This device serves to add tension and interest to a premise that could be rather tedious. After all, other than visiting the “Other World” Orvo doesn’t leave his home for the duration of the novel.

While the story builds to a predetermined end day after collapse it ends in a way that is not sure to satisfy all readers but in a way that is true to Orvo’s character. Without spoiling the story, we see an outcome that leaves the reader with exactly enough to continue to think of the story but not enough to close it out and put it on the shelf to be forgotten. And I think that’s the point. Whether or not Sinisalo agrees with her protagonists son – especially on some of the more radical posts, the message is clear: are we destroying our planet? What would happen is colony collapse were real?

Oh, yeah: it is real. Search for bee collapse online and you’ll find quite a bit to substantiate that bees do in fact seem to be on the brink. And how that would affect our world would be devastating.

A surprisingly intriguing story about a topic that wouldn’t normally be considered as a thriller. A mix of fantasy, science and family drama this book is worth a read.


@ashertopia is the Managing Editor of BookGateway.com. He is an avid reader and a lifetime learner. His favorite genres include science fiction, fantasy, as well as theology and Christian living. His personal blog is AshertopiA – a land flowing with milk and honey… and a lot of sticky people.

This game was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

Guardian Herd: Starfire by Alvarez

GuardianEvery 100 years a black foal is born to destroy or unite the five herds. Last time the foal nearly destroyed everything. The question is whether or not this new one, Star, will follow in those hoof prints.

The Guardian Herd: Starfire
by Jennifer Lynn Alvarez
Harper
September 2014

The other horses are afraid of Star’s first birthday and do what they can to stop him from ever becoming who he is prophesied to become. The book is about whether or not Star will make it to his first birthday and the realization of his powers. Other herds decide they want Star to get his powers – but for their designs. War between the herds ensues.

I gave this to my 12 year old daughter, an avid reader, to try but she couldn’t get through even a few chapters before becoming bored. I have to admit that while the book recommends this to 8 to 12 year old kids the truth is that the age really is closer to 8 to 10. This is strictly written for elementary students in my experience. It’s very simplistic and fantastical, but not in a mature way that will hold more mature reader’s attentions.

It is well written, however, and there is a lot going on in the story and is set up to be a series of easy reads. Language and content is clean as well.


@ashertopia is the Managing Editor of BookGateway.com. He is an avid reader and a lifetime learner. His favorite genres include science fiction, fantasy, as well as theology and Christian living. His personal blog is AshertopiA – a land flowing with milk and honey… and a lot of sticky people.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

The Harbinger by Huntingford

An unbelievable good book. This new writer has a vivid imagination that will delight and thrill you as you read this amazing book.

The Harbinger
by Christopher Huntingford
Self Published
August 2013

The main character is Prince Alexander Wolfield, the fourth son of King Magnus. The dynasty has ruled the Kingdom of Alveus for the past 300 years. Today is Prince Alex’s 18th birthday. Today he is to select his own private guard from the King’s men. Father Malachus presents Alex with an amazing light-weight armor. The armor is infused with the blood of the gryphon. But that may be the only thing that is going well for Alex at his celebration. When Alex can’t find a guard he can trust he declines to select one and the King is very angry when he is told about the lack of following custom prompting Alex to leave the castle – taking only his horse and his dog with him. And so the adventure begins in earnest as Alex searches for twelve good men that will be loyal only to him and along the way he finds much more than he bargained for.

Alex’s journey gets him into all kinds of trouble. He is almost assassinated, visits far off realms, and finds that magic and magical creatures still exist in the land. He also uncovers a plot to destroy his homeland. Racing to stop the plot and save his people the question remain: will Alex’s destiny be revealed?

I loved the book. It is full of mystery, courage, misplaced loyalty, a mother’s love and just plain good. This is truly a page turner and a keeper. Maybe the author will write a sequel. Will Alex ever become king of Alveus?

Highly recommended for readers of all age.


The Golden Reviewer, is an 80 year old avid reader reviews the newest in Christian fiction and non-fiction with a sprinkle of the secular on top..

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

Star Wars: Razor’s Edge by Wells

razorsedgeLeia as we’ve never seen her, but as we always knew she was: kicking butts and taking names!

Razor’s Edge
Star Wars: Empire and Rebellion
by Martha Wells
read by January LeVoy
LucasBooks / Randomhouse Audio
September 2013

After the events of Episode IV A New Hope, Princess Leia is still reeling from the destruction of her home planet while working with the Rebellion to build a base on Hoth. To do that, she will need to procure supplies so travels to a region of space overrun with pirates to meet with a consortium who may be willing to sell. On the way, she comes across pirates attacking another ship; not just any pirates, but pirates flying an Alderaanian ship! Unable to allow the blasphemy she gets involved quickly setting off a series of events that get her, Han and her crew in serious trouble with a local pirate stronghold and ultimately the Empire.

I loved this book! It is exactly what we knew about Leia but never really got to see. She is in charge, decisive, and makes gutsy decisions to do the right thing no matter the cost. We also get to see the budding attraction between Han and Leia without all the other main characters of Star Wars getting in the way.

(Pre-Jedi Luke and Chewy do show up but don’t play a large role in the story.)

This is one of many new books that fill in the gaps between the movies of the original trilogy (along with Kenobi and Scoundrels in 2013) and I love every minute of them. I like the universe, but I fell in love with these characters as a kid and revisiting them now is a joy I didn’t realize I was missing until I read these books.

A note about the audiobook: Star Wars books are always a treat. They feature sound effects, background noises and music, and usually readers that can mimic the characters well. With original characters like Leia and Han this is especially important to fans. Unfortunately, January LeVoy – who is an amazing reader, like on Star Wars Into The Void, also from 2013 – wasn’t up to the task to read many of the characters. Han is gruff but doesn’t remind us of the real Han. Leia is feminine but isn’t Leia either. It didn’t detract too much, but it didn’t add to the book either.


Scott Asher is the Editor-in-Chief of BookGateway.com. His personal blog is AshertopiA – a land flowing with milk and honey… and a lot of sticky people where he turns real life into stupid cartoons, writes on Christianity, Zombies, and whatever else he wants and posts Bible studies from his classes at church.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

The Battle of Verril by Lallo

verrilThe final book in The Book of Deacon trilogy, Myranda and the Chosen must face the invaders from another world. But the generals of the D’karon are fearsome enemies that apparently can’t be killed. Even more troubling, the prophecy that brought the Chosen together states that only four of them will survive the final battle, and one will die.

The Battle of Verril
The Book of Deacon #3
by Joseph Lallo
CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
July 31, 2012

As the final book of the trilogy, the author’s writing shows quite a bit of improvement, and I can only imagine that the act of writing such a lengthy trilogy was a growing experience and a labor of love.

That said, it was quite a labor to reach this point in the story, and there are plot holes and problems from the previous books that continue to overshadow the successes made with this final chapter of the trilogy.

The characters, both good and bad, actually begin to take on more layered personalities, but their rocky foundations still leave much to be desired.

As final battles go, things continue as you would more or less expect them to. Although I couldn’t help but wonder why a war that has lasted for over a century and was supposedly engineered by an invading force from another dimension would only just now be reaching its conclusion.

In the end, the overall story isn’t bad, just poorly executed. The entire series would have probably done better as a single book and with a generous amount of editing. Still, the author has shows quite a bit of improvement and has since written a few side stories that take place in the same universe, but have a much higher quality of writing.

Anyone who has managed to make it this far, should definitely check out some of the author’s later works.


Matthew Scott is the Dark Fantasy & Horror Editor of BookGateway.com who describes himself as just another average reader who enjoys sharing his opinion on various books, authors, and whatever else may cross his path.

The Great Convergence by Lallo

greatconvThe second book in the The Book of Deacon trilogy, picks up directly where The Book of Deacon left off. Now that two of the Chosen have been found, it would seem the Perpetual War may finally end. But Lain isn’t interested in stopping a war, and while the prophesied spirit named Ether has finally been summoned, she has emotional bearing of a petulant child. With an end to the war in sight, Myranda has taken up the charge of finding the remaining Chosen, but dark forces are gathering to oppose her.

The Great Convergence
The Book of Deacon #2
by Joseph Lallo
CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
July 31, 2012

Delving a little deeper into the world, The Great Convergence actually starts to build up to a workable plot. Unfortunately, it still suffers from a lot of the problems that plagued the first book. The overall story is still rather convoluted, and the characters too often come across as flat archetypes.

We do, however, finally have a villain or troupe of villains to address. As it turns out, Myranda’s world is being invaded by forces from another dimension, and the war that is currently being fought is really just an excuse to wipe out humanity.

But the villains all come across as the exact same, and I honestly had trouble trying to keep their names straight, since they all seemed to be clones of one another.

Myranda attempt to actually take charge in this book, but since she has no means of forcing the Chosen to act, her attempts to direct them just comes across as whining and nagging.

Lain remains flat and dull as he constantly broods in the background, and his friend Desmeres is little more than greed incarnate. (Actually both characters seem to have absolutely no moral compass and are motivated solely by their own selfish reasons, so it’s little wonder they get along.)

Ether and Ivy are introduced and act like spoiled children throughout the entire story. Ether is snobbish and cruel, looking down on everyone but Lain and herself. Meanwhile, Ivy has all the social grace and attitude of a five year old. And while it’s clear that the author wanted Ivy to be painted in a sympathetic light, her childlike naivete and constant whining wear on the nerves rather quickly.

Ultimately, the story doesn’t really go anywhere, since once again, the narrative comes to abrupt end and we’re left to wait for the next book. But for anyone who has bothered to read this far, the final book is more of an inevitability than anything else.

The Book of Deacon by Lallo

bookofdeaconOrphaned, homeless, and alone, Myranda is a young woman who is just trying to stay alive. The Perpetual War has been raging across the land for years now, and Myranda is one of the few people who sees the constant bloodshed as a waste of life. Her views make her unpopular, and she is forced to wander from town to town seeking shelter. Her life is completely changed, however, when she finds a dead soldier in the frozen wastes and ultimately takes his place in a prophecy that might just save the world.

The Book of Deacon
The Book of Deacon #1
Joseph Lallo
CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
March 18, 2012

Before diving too deep into this book, it should be noted that this is the first in a trilogy. However, unlike a traditional trilogy, the books aren’t self contained stories. Instead, the narrative in the first two books simply drops off and is immediately picked up in the sequels. This makes it a bit difficult to get a clear picture of the overall story from just one book.

As for the characters, themselves, they’re rather poorly designed. Myranda is hopelessly passive and spends the majority of the book being tossed from plot point to plot point. The fact that she has all the personality and bearing of a sack of grain makes her a poor protagonist. She isn’t so much a part of the story as the story happens to her.

Leo/Lain might as well have truly been two completely different characters as his entire nature changes halfway through the first book. We aren’t really given an explanation for his sudden shift in personality, except that the story seemed to call for it.

The rest of the characters randomly appear and disappear, all for the sake of moving the scenes along. Their personalities are little more than archetypes to the point that they might as well have been named like the seven dwarfs in Snow White (Happy, Grumpy, Bashful, etc.).

And then the book ends. Where we’re going and why we’re going there is never really explained beyond a few vague references to a prophecy. The story does pick up and improve as we move to the second and third book, but it still has a tendency to drag.

If you’re looking for something fantasy based that is light, fluffy, and doesn’t require too much thought, the book isn’t too bad. But if you’re not willing to read through all three books to get the whole picture, I’d advise you not to even start.


Matthew Scott is the Dark Fantasy & Horror Editor of BookGateway.com who describes himself as just another average reader who enjoys sharing his opinion on various books, authors, and whatever else may cross his path.