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Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Winners of The Los Nefilim Giveaway!!! (by Mihir Wanchoo)


The Los Nefilim giveaway has ended and here are the names of the three winners who were randomly selected:
- H. Lynnea Johnson 
- Ben Lambrechts
- Erik Jarvi 

The winners have been notified by email as well and many congratulations to all three. Our thanks to all those who entered.
Tuesday, June 28, 2016

GUEST POST: Swords and Shotguns: Writing Characters in Epic and Urban Fantasy by Gail Z. Martin


 
 
Today we welcome Gail Z. Martin to Fantasy Book Critic. She is here to share her amazing insight into writing characters in epic fantasy and urban fantasy.

Gail Z. Martin stops by to celebrate the release of some amazing books. The first book is The Shadowed Path, which is the first Chronicles of the Necromancer book in 5 years.

The second book release of Modern Magic: Twelve Tales of Urban Fantasy, which is a collection of 12 full books from 12 bestselling authors.

Without further ado, please welcome Gail Z. Martin!
 
**************************************************************
 
Swords and Shotguns: Writing Characters in Epic and Urban Fantasy

by Gail Z. Martin


People are people--how much of a difference does a couple hundred of years make?

A lot--and less than you might think.

I write epic fantasy and urban fantasy, and co-authored with Larry N. Martin, steampunk. That's a pretty broad time span, from roughly the late fifteenth century to the Victorian era, to modern day. The protagonists are all human, though some have enhanced abilities and immortality. And while being human doesn't change over those centuries, other factors that influence how we define our humanity and our place in the universe certainly do.

It's true that people remain much the same in their love, hate, ambition and failures. In every age, human beings fall in love, cherish their family and value friends, suffer betrayal and grief, take risks and make mistakes. Yet our times and our surroundings, as well as our world view, inform and constrain the choices that occur to us to consider, and shape the courses of action we believe are open to us.

My two epic fantasy series--The Chronicles of the Necromancer/Fallen Kings Cycle and The Ascendant Kingdoms Saga--take place in worlds other than our own, but with roughly the social structure and technology of late fifteenth century Western Europe. Monarchies and the nobility hold resources and power. Most people remain in or close to the villages where they were born. The lowest classes are bound to the land, and the highest classes owe fealty to a lord. Religion, alchemy and magic define how the cosmos function, and inform one's view of where one fits in that cosmology. Duty to one's king or liege lord supersedes individual choices. 

Existential questions are seen through the lens of dedication to the gods and goddesses, or the teaching of clergy. Most peoples' destiny is determined by birth and caste order, as well as whether or not they can do magic. Defying convention and culture is possible, but carries heavy social and personal consequences. A great deal of personal identity is determined by group identity: family, kingdom, religion, gender, ethnicity, caste, profession. Individualism as we think of it in modern times is a radical notion which threatens the status quo. Myriad social obligations to one's family, clan, village, Guild, and kingdom define one's use of time. 

In the Iron & Blood Steampunk series, it's the height of the Victorian age, and human self-confidence is at an all-time high. Science overcomes new obstacles and solves old mysteries every day, and it seems like just a matter of time until the secrets of the universe are laid bare. Technology emerges to meet every challenge, and inventions are proof of limitless creativity. Every day, in every way, the world is getting better and better. 

And yet, cholera and malaria and typhus and Yellow Fever scourge cities. Life is good for the upper classes, and, well, 'Dickensian' for those who aren't. Infant mortality and childbed fever kill civilians while thousands die in places like Gettysburg and Antietam. Colonialism and racism take a horrendous toll which will not be seen or grasped for another century. Victorians bow under the weight of grief, and spiritualism is on the rise, seeking the answers science can't provide. Strict social etiquette and suffocating class and gender roles restrict and constrain, and being openly LGBTQ earns prison or worse. People are people, but the Victorian lens through which the self and the world is viewed is narrow and particular. 

My Deadly Curiosities dark urban fantasy series is set in modern-day Charleston, SC with a secret coalition of mortals and immortals who eliminate supernatural threats and get haunted and cursed objects out of circulation. Cassidy is our modern contemporary, shaped from our current culture, yet her psychometry enables her to sense a whole additional reality as she reads the history of objects by touch, and her knowledge that the supernatural is real informs her choices and world view in a way that sets her apart from those who don't share her secrets. Sorren, a nearly 600 year-old vampire, knows how to adapt to changing times, yet his reactions and insights are a product of six centuries of enculturation and observation, and he will never again be part of his own time period. 

When you've come face to face with Voudon loas and ancient god-like beings and battled monsters and creatures right out of legend and myth, your existential framework is going to be a little bent. When you know that the things that go bump in the night are real, when you've saved the world a couple of times though no one knows it, that changes your reactions to what's on the news, shifts your perspective about what's important, and changes your priorities. 

How are the characters different among the subgenres? For me, they're a combination of the familiar and the unfamiliar. The aspects that make them human--love, hate, passion, the need for connection and the desire to complete a task, make a difference or right a wrong--make the characters identifiable and relatable. The aspects that are influenced by culture impart believability within the timeframe of the story and make them interesting and memorable, truly a part of their era. For an author, it's a fun challenge to bring off a mix in a way that forges an emotional connection for the reader. And as a reader, when that mix is done well, it opens a gateway to experience different lives and different times.

Check out The Shadowed Path, my newest epic fantasy collection of Jonmarc Vahanian short stories in paperback and ebook from Solaris Books. And be sure to also look for Modern Magic: Twelve Tales of Urban Fantasy, a 12 book, 13 author ebook boxed set including Trifles and Folly, the first-ever collection of 10 Deadly Curiosities Adventures short stories!

From June 21-June 30 I'll be doing my annual Hawthorn Moon Sneak Peek Event blog tour, and I hope readers will stop over to my website, find out what all is going on and where to find the posts, giveaways, contests and fun events. And of course, please look for The Shadowed Path at your favorite bookseller!
  
The Hawthorn Moon Sneak Peek Event includes book giveaways, free excerpts, all-new guest blog posts and author Q&A on 22 awesome partner sites around the globe. I'll also be hosting many of my Modern Magic co-authors guest posting on my DisquietingVisions.com blog during the tour.  For a full list of where to go to get the goodies, visit www.AscendantKingdoms.com.

About the Author

Gail Z. Martin is the author of The Shadowed Path (Solaris Books), Vendetta: A Deadly Curiosities Novel in her urban fantasy series set in Charleston, SC (Solaris Books); Shadow and Flame the fourth and final book in the Ascendant Kingdoms Saga (Orbit Books); and Iron and Blood a new Steampunk series (Solaris Books) co-authored with Larry N. Martin.
 
She is also author of Ice Forged, Reign of Ash and War of Shadows in The Ascendant Kingdoms Saga, The Chronicles of The Necromancer series (The Summoner, The Blood King, Dark Haven, Dark Lady’s Chosen); The Fallen Kings Cycle (The Sworn, The Dread) and the urban fantasy novel Deadly Curiosities.  Gail writes three ebook series: The Jonmarc Vahanian Adventures, The Deadly Curiosities Adventures and The Blaine McFadden Adventures. The Storm and Fury Adventures, steampunk stories set in the Iron & Blood world, are co-authored with Larry N. Martin.
 
Her work has appeared in over 30 US/UK anthologies. Newest anthologies include: Robots, The Big Bad 2, Athena’s Daughters, Heroes, Space, Contact Light, With Great Power, The Weird Wild West, The Side of Good/The Side of Evil, Alien Artifacts, Cinched: Imagination Unbound, Realms of Imagination, Gaslight and Grimm, Baker Street Irregulars, Clockwork Universe: Steampunk vs. Aliens.
 




Saturday, June 25, 2016

COVER REVEAL: Children Of The Different by S. C. Flynn


They used to say “never judge a book by its cover”. Well, forget that. Just look at that cover – look at it! This is the cover that Californian artist Eric Nyquist created for my Australian post-apocalyptic fantasy novel CHILDREN OF THE DIFFERENT. The novel releases on September 17 in ebook, paperback and audiobook and is available now for pre-order. Here is the blurb:

Nineteen years ago, a brain disease known as the Great Madness killed most of the world’s population. The survivors all had something different about their minds. Now, at the start of adolescence, their children enter a trance-like state known as the Changeland and emerge either with special mental powers or as cannibalistic Ferals.

In the great forest of South West Western Australia, thirteen-year-old Arika and her twin brother Narrah go through the Changeland. They encounter an enemy known as the Anteater who feeds on human life. He exists both in the Changeland and in the outside world, and he wants the twins dead.

After their Changings, the twins have powers that let them fight their enemy and face their destiny on a long journey to an abandoned American military base on the north-west coast of Australia…if they can reach it before time runs out.

Eric’s cover is not only beautiful and striking in itself, but it also captures two key concepts of the novel. The main character, Arika, comes out of her Changing with a power that I call “mental shapeshifting”: she does not actually change physical shape. The Nyquist cover plays with this idea and shows the creatures morphing out of a kind of mental slime in Arika’s brain; they form first in the most primordial part of the brain and then move up into the conscious mind, growing lighter in colour as they go.

The other main concept that appears on the cover is the echidna at the bottom; the “evil spirit” of the Changeland appears there in this form.

The cover uses contrasting colours to bring out aspects of the story. Arika’s light blue face emphasises the strangeness of what she is going through. The animals and slime are shown in typical sun-touched “Australian” colours like orange and yellow, while the shades of the Anteater and his world suggest the underground from which he is emerging, as well as his cold psychopathic cruelty.

For me, Eric Nyquist was the only artist for this project. His feel for the beauty and the mystery of nature is exactly right. I think Eric’s creativity was really stimulated by the novel’s imagery: he sent me an amazing set of preliminary sketches for the cover and variations on the final design! Thanks, Eric, for a wonderful piece of artwork. If you like the cover and the blurb, then I am sure that you will like CHILDREN OF THE DIFFERENT.


Here is the beginning:

The group were getting ready to go on a Wrecking when Arika’s Changing started. Narrah heard the strangled choke in Arika’s throat and spun around. Arika was lying on the wooden floor of the hut, her limbs tense. Her green eyes turned up in her head and then closed. Narrah gulped. His mouth was dry and his heart was racing as he watched his twin sister turn pale and shiver like rippling water. Her little face looked very fragile under her black shoulder-length hair. The water lily drawn in dots of white clay paint that curved around her left eye from forehead to cheekbone twisted and jumped. Narrah had painted the lily on his sister’s face with his fingers just yesterday. How long ago that seemed now.

‘It’s started,’ Manya, the twin’s foster-mother said. ‘It is time.’

Manya had taken care of the twins ever since they had become orphans at five years old. Was Arika leaving him now? Narrah never wanted to feel alone like he had when their parents died. It had been raining that day and the forest was dark. He could still smell the strong eucalyptus scent rising off the huge karri trees that stood like crying gods dripping tears on the little lost humans far below. He and Arika used to think of the giant trees as forest deities. It was impossible not to, having grown up underneath their trunks, squinting into the sun every day to try and see their waving tops tickling the sky. But if they were gods, Narrah thought, then they were just as cruel and indifferent as any others he had heard about in Manya’s stories and in the Settlement’s few books she had used to teach the twins to read.

Narrah glanced at Manya’s wrinkled face and then back at Arika. Yes, it was time, he knew. Arika was thirteen.

‘Soon, it will be your turn,’ Manya said to him, ‘but not yet.’

Narrah stared down at Arika’s face, normally so like his own but now a set mask twisted by occasional spasms. Each time the nerves under Arika’s skin flickered, Narrah felt a chill run through him. Arika shuddered a little and Narrah jumped. Was she in pain? What was she feeling? Did she know he was there?

Up until a few moments before, Arika had been standing normally and Narrah had been in touch with her feelings, as he always had. The twins had shared their lives like that, from a distance, for as long as they could remember. They called it the Path. It was like a road that linked them. They could walk along it, meet and then sense each other’s precise thoughts as if they were standing together. They used the Path for their most secret and personal things.

Now the Changing had separated them. Since the Great Madness, it had happened to everyone they knew who reached their teens. It seemed to wait inside them until then. The twins had desperately wanted to understand the Changing and find the truth about the Great Madness before their time ran out. And now it had.

For months the twins had talked about it, and Narrah had sensed Arika’s fear while she had sensed his. They had known that girls entered the Changing earlier than boys, and that meant they couldn’t experience it together. Now Narrah could feel nothing of what Arika was going through. The Path had not given any warning that Arika was about to go into her Changing right at that moment, and now the Path was closed. That separation scared Narrah more than he could have expected. The simple wooden hut and the life the twins had always known seemed very small.

A kookaburra’s cackling laugh broke out nearby. Narrah glanced out the window. The chunky brown bird was sitting out there somewhere among the endless trees. The kookaburra always sounded jolly, and Arika used to love watching the family building its nest and the chicks growing up. But the kookaburra laughed just as loudly while it broke the backs of the snakes it ate.

Go here to read a much longer extract.


Pre-order the book (US) and book (UK)

AUTHOR INFORMATION: S. C. Flynn was born in a small town in South West Western Australia. He has lived in Europe for a long time; first the United Kingdom, then Italy and currently Ireland, the home of his ancestors. He still speaks English with an Australian accent, and fluent Italian.

He reads everything, revises his writing obsessively and plays jazz. His wife Claudia shares his passions and always encourages him.

S. C. has written for as long as he can remember and recently decided to self-publish his post-apocalyptic fantasy novel, Children of the Different and, together with an American support team, aimed for a book as good as those created by the major publishers. He blogs on science fiction and fantasy at scyflynn.com. He is on Twitter @scyflynn and on Facebook. Join his email newsletter list here.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

"The Invisible Library: The Invisible Library #1" by Genevieve Cogman (Reviewed by Cindy Hannikman)




Visit Genevieve Cogman's Website Here

OVERVIEW: Collecting books can be a dangerous prospect in this fun, time-traveling, fantasy adventure from a spectacular debut author.
 
One thing any Librarian will tell you: the truth is much stranger than fiction...

Irene is a professional spy for the mysterious Library, a shadowy organization that collects important works of fiction from all of the different realities. Most recently, she and her enigmatic assistant Kai have been sent to an alternative London. Their mission: Retrieve a particularly dangerous book. The problem: By the time they arrive, it's already been stolen.

London's underground factions are prepared to fight to the death to find the tome before Irene and Kai do, a problem compounded by the fact that this world is chaos-infested—the laws of nature bent to allow supernatural creatures and unpredictable magic to run rampant. To make matters worse, Kai is hiding something—secrets that could be just as volatile as the chaos-filled world itself.

Now Irene is caught in a puzzling web of deadly danger, conflicting clues, and sinister secret societies. And failure is not an option—because it isn’t just Irene’s reputation at stake, it’s the nature of reality itself...

FORMAT: The Invisible Library is the first book in an adult fantasy/sci-fi series. It is a mix of mystery, action, adventure, steampunk, magic, and time travel.

The Invisible Library stands at 352 pages. It was released June 14, 2016 by ROC in the US. It was released January 15, 2015 by Tor UK.


ANALYSIS: Librarians. Secret societies. Books. Spies. Adventure. Alternate universes. Vampires and werewolves. Victorian London. Dragons. Time Traveling.

All of these things separately are things I love and the thought of combining them is a bit nerve-racking. After all, there are so many elements and none of them really related that something, somewhere will get lost, but that doesn't happen with the Invisible Library. The Invisible Library tackles the tough task of combining these elements into a book that is not only a delightful read, but probably one of my favorites for the year.

The Invisible Library tells the story of a secret society of librarians that have committed themselves to 'The Library'. Upon becoming an agent of The Library, or essentially a Librarian, these individuals vow to work on missions that involve heading to alternate realities (some of which are considered 'chaos filled' which means that magic and reality combine to create a chaotic situation) and retrieving rare/unique copies of books. Unfortunately, retrieving these rare books isn't always an easy task.

The Invisible Library follows the story of Irene, a young professional spy/agent for The Library. She – along with a novice by the name of Kai - are given the task of retrieving a rare book from an alternate London that has vampires, werewolves, Fae, and advanced steampunk like inventions. The task seems easy enough, until they get to the new universe and discover that they are not the only people looking for the book and one of those people is a man that was thought to be an urban legend amongst The Librarians.

Kai and Irene spend most of the book looking for clues and trying to sort out who has the book, who is an ally, who is an enemy, and what is going on political wise with The Library. They also trying to solve a mystery, find the book, beat a "bad guy", and learn more about each other.

I absolutely loved The Invisible Library. It is pretty much everything I look for in a book. It has action, adventure, mystery, and books – lots and lots of books. Even though The Invisible Library is a favorite of mine and I enjoyed it, it is far from a perfect book. I'll highlight some of my favorite aspects of the book and talk about some of the aspects that didn't really work for me.

A huge highlight of The Invisible Library is the way Genevieve Cogman weaves so many seemingly unique concepts into one coherent story. There are a lot of elements that could come across as disjointed or random, but it all comes together nicely.

Another aspect I found enjoyable was the way Genevieve Cogman was able to take a familiar world and give it a unique twist. Everyone knows what Victorian London is/was like, but the Victorian London we were introduced to in the book was new and unique. It felt different, which is what added to the excitement of the book.   

One of the things I found a bit frustrating about The Invisible Library was some of the seemed felt awkward or a bit out of character. The scene that comes to mind is within the first 25% of the book when Kai and Irene are forced to spend a night together in a hotel that resides in their alternate London. Kai mysterious, and what feels a bit out of character, starts throwing himself at Irene. He asks if she wants to sleep with him and feels hurt when she rejects it.

Previously, there had been no indication that Kai had any romantic feelings for Irene. The two had just met a few short hours before. It just seemed out of place.

Another aspect of The Invisible Library that felt awkward was the way the world was introduced. Instead of going for a complete info dump that involved explaining how The Library worked, how alternate universes worked, the role of the Librarians and supernatural creatures, and who the bad guys were, Genevieve Cogman goes for a more 'learn while you read approach'.

The learn while you read approach is great, as it speeds up the book. You aren't bogged down by lengthy descriptive paragraphs, but it sometimes makes you feel like you missed something. There were times when I was like 'who is this' or 'what is this', only to discover that we hadn't learned about it yet and would learn the answer to that question several chapters later.

I will admit that The Invisible Library isn't overly complex. It isn't overly simple either, but if you are looking for something extremely detailed, it probably wouldn't be this book. The main focus of the book isn't in creating overly detailed characters, but in the world building and adventure. The characters develop throughout the book, but it is clear that isn't the main focus of the book.

 Even though The Invisible Library isn't a perfect book, it is an enjoyable one. Immediately upon finishing it I had two things in mind. First, I wanted to become a Librarian. I mean who wouldn't want to be a time traveling spy who is on a mission to save rare books. Second, I couldn't wait for the second book.

Overall, The Invisible Library is a fun easy read. While the main plot might – to some – seem predicable, the unique world building and action more than make up for it. This is a definite must read for any book lover.  
Friday, June 17, 2016

WORLDWIDE GIVEAWAY: The Los Nefilim Omnibus by Teresa Frohock


Official Author Website
Order Los Nefilim HERE
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of Miserere
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of The Broken Road
Read The Character Of Environment by Teresa Frohock (guest post)
Read an excerpt of Love Crystal and Stone by Teresa Frohock

Teresa Frohock’s debut Miserere confounded genre readers and absolutely amazed readers and authors alike with its dark tone and fantastic prose. She then followed her debut with fantastical tales of angels, daimons, and mankind in 1930 turbulent Spain. Fantasy Book Critic & Teresa Frohock are giving away three copies of "The Los Nefilim” Omnibus to Three Lucky Winners!!!

To enter, please send an email to fbcgiveaway@gmail.com with your Name, Mailing Address, and the subject: Los N. Giveaway has ENDED and was open to participants WORLDWIDE!

Thank you for entering and Good Luck!

GIVEAWAY RULES: 
 1) Open To Anyone WORLDWIDE
 2) Only One Entry Per Household (Multiple Entries Will Be Disqualified)
 3) Must Enter Valid Email Address, Mailing Address + Name
 4) No Purchase Necessary
 5) Giveaway has ENDED
 6) Winners Will Be Randomly Selected and Notified By Email
 7) Personal Information Will Only Be Used In Mailing Out the Books To The Winner

Thursday, June 16, 2016

"Every Heart A Doorway" by Seanan McGuire (Reviewed by Cindy Hannikman)




Visit Seanan McGuire Author Website Here

OVERVIEW: Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children
No Solicitations
No Visitors
No Quests

Children have always disappeared under the right conditions; slipping through the shadows under a bed or at the back of a wardrobe, tumbling down rabbit holes and into old wells, and emerging somewhere... else.

But magical lands have little need for used-up miracle children.

Nancy tumbled once, but now she’s back. The things she’s experienced... they change a person. The children under Miss West’s care understand all too well. And each of them is seeking a way back to their own fantasy world.

But Nancy’s arrival marks a change at the Home. There’s a darkness just around each corner, and when tragedy strikes, it’s up to Nancy and her new-found schoolmates to get to the heart of the matter.

No matter the cost.

FORMAT: Every Heart A Doorway is an urban fantasy/fantasy novella. It stands at 173 pages and was published by Tor on April 5, 2016.

Even though it is ultimately an 'adult' novel, Every Heart A Doorway could be appropriate for a more mature teenage audience. There are some graphic scenes involving dead bodies and some topics (such as the main character being asexual or the secondary character being transgender) that may make it not appropriate for some audiences.

ANALYSIS: Some books have that unique ability to capture your attention instantly. Every Heart A Doorway by Seanan McGuire was one of those book. I was barely three pages into the book and I was already immersed in the world and forming an emotional bond with our first main character – Nancy.

Every Heart A Doorway tells the captivating tale about a boarding school for young adults between the ages of 12 and 18, but unlike regular boarding schools this one is designed as a rehabilitation center of sorts. All of the young adults who are present at the school have at one point in time journeyed to alternate fantasy worlds. These worlds include everything from lands with fairies and unicorns and rainbows or Wonderland weird worlds, to just plain scary/horror universes or the land of the dead.

All of the children at the school are struggling with one major problem – they want to go back to their fantasy world, but they have been cast out from it and it might not happen. This has caused all the children to experience what can only be described as PTSD-like symptoms. Of course, the children also have to deal with other "real life" issues, such as forming relationships, dealing with parents, navigating the scary world of high school, and overcoming bullying.

Nancy, our main character of the story, is a new student at the boarding school. Unfortunately, right as she arrives at the school murders start happening. Every Heart A Doorway follows Nancy and her new friends as they work to find themselves, solve a mystery, and work to potentially find their hidden doorway that will lead them back to their fantasy world.

Every Heart A Doorway may seem – from its description – to be a light, fluffy fantasy novel, but it emotional and dark. Many of the characters are struggling with extreme emotional issues and various problems, which leads to a disturbing/creepy feel to the novel.

One of the amazing things about Every Heart A Doorway was how detailed almost all the characters were. This is only a 170 page novella, but every character from Nancy to the secondary characters of Jack and Jill, was fleshed out and felt real. A pretty amazing feat when you consider the novel also had to create a world/backstory and progress the current plot all in 170 pages.

Characters weren't the only extremely well-thought out or creative element. I was intrigued with the whole hidden door/alternative universe concept, which was extremely detailed and fascinating to me. I probably could have read an entire 400 page novel on just this concept alone, but it was extremely well-done given the short page count.

While I did enjoy the novel, I have to admit the murder mystery part of it fell flat for me. The mystery element comes in about a quarter of the way through the novel and it never really felt well developed. It had a very rushed feel to it, especially when things were solved and everything was 'wrapped up'.

Despite the clunky or rushed feeling at the end of the novel, I was impressed with Every Heart a Doorway. It certainly isn't your light, fluffy Narnia/Wonderland novel, even though it seems like it might be from the overview. It is a novel that is emotionally engaging, unique, and creepy/weird.

While it may not be my top read for the year, it certainly is up there. I would recommend Every Heart a Doorway  to fantasy lovers who are looking for something unique or for those that have ever wondered how characters reacted when they left their fantasy world and returned to their real lives.
Sunday, June 12, 2016

"Charmed: Fairy Tale Reform School Book 2" by Jen Calonita (Reviewed by Cindy Hannikman)






 Visit Jen Calonita's Website Here

OVERVIEW: Charmed is the exciting sequel to the wildly popular Flunked -- second in the brand new Fairy Tale Reform School series where the teachers are (former) villains. "Charming fairy-tale fun." -Sarah Mlynowski, author of the New York Times bestselling Whatever After series.

It takes a (mostly) reformed thief to catch a spy. Which is why Gilly Cobbler, Enchantasia’s most notorious pickpocket, volunteers to stay locked up at Fairy Tale Reform School…indefinitely. Gilly and her friends may have defeated the Evil Queen and become reluctant heroes, but the battle for Enchantasia has just begun.

Alva, aka The Wicked One who cursed Sleeping Beauty, has declared war on the Princesses, and she wants the students of Fairy Tale Reform School to join her. As her criminal classmates give in to temptation, Gilly goes undercover as a Royal Lady in Waiting (don’t laugh) to unmask a spy…before the mole can hand Alva the keys to the kingdom.

Her parents think Gilly the Hero is completely reformed, but sometimes you have to get your hands dirty. Sometimes it’s good to be bad…

FORMAT: Charmed is the second book in the middle school/children's series, Fairy Tale Reform School. It is a fairy tale retelling of sorts. It doesn't retell the stories, but it has the same characters and themes, but with a unique twist.

While Charmed does a good job of catching people up on what happened in Flunked (the first book), it is best to read them in order.  

Charmed stands at 288 pages and was published March 2016 by Sourcebooks Jabberwocky.

ANALYSIS: Flunked, the first book of the Fairy Tale Reform School series, was a fast, fun children's novel. It followed the life of a young thief (Gilly Cobbler) who was caught and sent away to Fairy Tale Reform School. Fairy Tale Reform School is designed to help fairy tale character right their wrongs and learn how to become productive members of their respective fairy tales. After all, not everyone can be the hero, villain, or princess; some people do have to be the baker, cobbler, or famer.

Now, Charmed is the second book of the series and picks up shortly where Flunked left off. Alva (our big bad for the series and is a version of the evil fairy queen from Sleeping Beauty) has been locked up. Meanwhile Gilly Cobbler, who was once an overlooked young thief who is trying to reform herself, is now considered a hero for what she did in Flunked, but all is not well.

It appears as if Alva may have a mole inside Fairy Tale Reform and it is now up to Gilly and her friends to find them, but that may prove difficult. Gilly and her friends will be put to the test they face new situations and outside influences that will push their friendship and loyalty, as well as potentially jeopardize their quest to bring peace to the land.

Essentially, Charmed is a fun, not overly complex children's novel that is perfect for anyone looking for a quick, occasionally funny novel. The characters are surprisingly detailed for such a short novel and while the story does follow the whole twist on fairy tale characters, it does have a slightly unique touch to it that makes it its own story.

While I found Charmed enjoyable, I have to admit I didn't like it as much as Flunked.  Gilly, our main character, was loveable and a delight to follow in Flunked, but that changed in Charmed. Gilly was horrible in this novel. She was egotistical, self-centered, and extremely mean to her friends. The worst part of it all was she didn't see herself acting that way and couldn't understand why her friends were so upset.

Overall, Charmed was fun and fast paced. I loved the way the world is shaping up and the friendships that are forming between the characters. The adventures they have are fun to follow, while not being overly complex. It is a great book for the age it is intended for, but adults looking for something fun to read or those who enjoy a quick fairy tale retelling will enjoy it too.

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