Tag Archives: ghosts

A Dark Inheritance (Unicorne Files #1)

Title: A Dark Inheritance

Author: Chris d’Lacey

Series: Unicorne Files #1

Michael Malone is just trying to get to school when he encounters a dog in distress. Little does he realize that meeting will change his life. In more ways than one. Michael possesses a power that can alter reality itself, a power that has come to the attention of secret groups like UNICORNE. He might delve deeper into the mystery of his father’s disappearance, but first, he has to figure out what’s up with that dog . . .

This was a lot of fun. Michael has one of my favorite types of powers: the ability to twist up the reality he’s in to reflect the things he’s thinking about. Only, as the plot shows again and again, he doesn’t have a lot of control over unintended consequences. Things that get jokingly mentioned suddenly become fact, the way things always have been. I loved the way this played out throughout the story. Michael’s clearly got power, but given the consequences, it’s always a gamble for him to try to use it.

The mystery was also well done, with the layers slowly revealed and a mostly satisfying resolution. The only thing that disappointed me was that it was hard to figure out just why this had the effect it did on Michael. Is he sensitive to ghosts as well as able to manipulate reality? And what, exactly, happened with that ending? I’m just hoping Michael was as clueless as I was and someone next book will explain it to him. The only thing I can figure is that something he was considering during that final confrontation ended up becoming an additional side effect.

I was also hoping to see more strangeness than just Michael, although I admit I don’t know how the plot would have worked it in without feeling like it was a tangent. We get a few hints at other things, but nothing more than a really vague idea. But that’s something that could easily be picked up in a future book, so I’ll just hope it follows through.

Overall, I would have liked this better if it had been clearer why the dog’s problem resonated with Michael the way that it did, and if the end had been a bit less vague. Still, I’m interested to see where this goes in future books. I rate this book Recommended.

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Vault of Shadows (The Nightsiders #2)

Title: Vault of Shadows

Author: Jonathan Maberry

Series: The Nightsiders #2

Milo is not having a good week. Milo somehow not only outsmarted the deadly Huntsman, an evil human made worse by the alien Bugs modifying him to be a supersoldier, but stole the egg containing all the Bug’s DNA and technology patterns. And the Nightsiders who helped with that—a tree spirit, a fire salamander, a rock boy, and a werewolf—are now part of the uneasy alliance with the last of humanity to take back the Earth.

But the Huntsman isn’t about to forget Milo. He’s determined to retrieve the stolen egg. And he’s got an entire race of aliens ready to support his every plan.

I still wonder if these aren’t a bit too dark for the age range, or if maybe this would work better for me if Milo wasn’t 11. On the one hand, the book doesn’t flinch away from the fact that when the Earth gets overrun by alien invaders, not even kids get a free pass. On the other, we’re not only dealing with people Milo knows dying, but it goes beyond that to human sacrifice (although this does at least happen completely offscreen).

The stakes go even higher, too. This time around a villain from the Nightsiders appears, someone who would prefer humanity to go extinct and will even join with the Huntsman to do it (parallels to the Wild Huntsman are likely intentional).

Milo’s dreams provide the only real edge his group has. Glimpses of past, present, and future warn and guide them. I did like the library, and the ghost who reads there. I also really appreciated the book pointing out that although Milo can only see his own group of resistance fighters, there is still fighting in the rest of the world, and all of them are contributing towards the hope of success.

Overall this is still a strong followup to the first book, although something about it still doesn’t quite click with me. Still, as long as the horror aspects aren’t too bothersome for the reader, it’s a good read. I rate this book Recommended.

The White Road of the Moon

Title: The White Road of the Moon

Author: Rachel Neumeier

Meridy has always been able to see ghosts. With her black eyes and Southern blood, she’s distrusted as a witch even among her own village. But when an encounter with a strange ghost leads her to a journey she never expected, she finds herself in the middle of a conflict that has raged for hundreds of years. And even death won’t stop the fighting . . .

I love the worldbuilding in this. The border between life and death, the ghosts, the White Road of the Moon, the real and the ethreal—it feels like the story explains everything well, but still barely scratches the surface of what might be possible. And as Meridy learns more about what is possible, and what she can do, it’s interesting to see how it compares to the daydreams she has in the very beginning, where she wants to be a sorcerer and delve into the most powerful arts. I also want to mention the bits of poetry, which I’m curious to hear in audiobook format, and whose translations are nicely lyrical.

The characters are equally solid. Meridy is young and ignorant of the wider world, but well-educated for all that. I liked how believable her journey was, both in its events and in her emotions. I also really liked Herren (poor kid). He’s vastly put-upon, but never complaining, and I think he lends a somewhat different facet to all those types of stories about young children being the Chosen One. (Technically, Meridy could also fit that role, but she’s more of the Mentor than the Chosen One herself.) Herren’s fate is something everyone’s squabbling over, but he himself only has the smallest choices in all of it. Yet they are the choices that decide everything.

The ghost characters are also a lot of fun. Being ghosts, they don’t follow quite the same rules as ordinary folk, but with Meridy there to lend a hand, things can get a lot more interesting.

And I especially liked the ending. The imagery of prophecy flows through the events, and I loved the way everything was portrayed.

All in all, this is a great book. It’s pretty self-contained, but I wouldn’t be opposed to seeing a sequel somewhere down the road. I rate this book Recommended.