‘Jen has settled into a peaceful life when a terrifying event awakens old fears - of being homeless and alone, of a danger horrible enough to destroy her family and shatter her world forever. She is certain that Naryfel, a shadowy figure from her past, has returned and is concentrating the full force of her hate on Jen's family. But how will she strike? A knife in the dark? An attack from her legions? Or with the dark arts and twisted creatures she commands with sinister cunning? Wyndano's Cloak may be Jen's only hope. If she can only trust that she has what it takes to use it. A tale of madness, friendship, and courage, "Wyndano's Cloak" reveals the transformative power of love and forgiveness, and the terrible consequences of denying who you really are.’
Princess Jenren lives in a castle in the kingdom of Aerdem with her mother, father, brother and best friend Bit, her brother’s fiancée. However, her life has been far from easy: thanks to her aunt, the evil Queen Naryfel, Jenren, or Jen to her friends, spent a large part of her childhood separated from her family and living as an orphan in the magic-less Plain World before learning of her royal heritage.
When Queen Naryfel strikes again, Jen and her mother are captured, whilst her father and brother are attacked by a magical plant which is slowly suffocating them.
Bit sets out with her friend the Countess Petunia on a quest to the Plain World for a doctor who can free Dash and the King from their captivity. Meanwhile, Jen befriends a mysterious young man named Blue whom she must learn to trust if she and her mother are to escape.
Jen knows the key to saving her family and their kingdom is the magical Wyndano’s Cloak, but having been injured the last time she wore it, Jen is reluctant to use it. Can she overcome her fear if she has to?
This award-winning fantasy novel is aimed at girls aged between about 10 and 15. It has mainly females as its core protagonists. Whilst I think in principle this is a wonderful idea, and the book certainly provides several very good female role models, it did seem a little one sided, I missed the boys!
I thought the character development in this tale was superb, particularly in the case of Bit who really grows in confidence during the book. All the leads are put in very unusual and uncomfortable situations and it was brilliant to see how they coped and came out stronger and better people for enduring their hardships.
A.R. Silverberry's liking for ending a chapter with a cliff hanger is a well-tested technique and one which succeeded in keeping me reading ‘just a couple more pages’ before bed. With plenty of twists, turns and surprises the plot kept me intrigued and anxious to find out more.
For a book named after the cloak in it, the item of clothing in question was barely mentioned, I would have liked it to have been referenced far more frequently so there was an enhanced feeling of anticipation when Jen puts it on again. When it finally is used, I was so caught up in the immediate happenings that I’d almost forgotten about the cloak’s existence at all.
This novel is sure to be adored by its readership. Silverberry has created an exciting and enticing story set within an enchanting and magical backdrop that’s bound to captivate many. Despite it being aimed at a considerably younger audience than myself I enjoyed it and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it for the teenage market.
3 and a half stars
“A young boy Tom goes to his Grandfather's home in the village of Cairn Holme to spend his summer holidays. Staying in the small village deep in the Scottish Highlands his grandfather reveals to him that he is the bearer of a magical staff. In the wrong place at the wrong time, Tom finds himself dragged back in time to fight great evil using the staff he knows little about. Forced to learn the lore which is his heritage in a matter of weeks, he struggles against dark forces to help keep he and his family alive. A baptism of fire, the little boy who is obsessed with magical adventures finds himself in the middle of a story from which he cannot escape”.
When Tom Mackay goes to stay at his grandfather’s house in Scotland just before his thirteenth birthday, he has no idea how suddenly his life is going to change. How could he know the old wooden staff his grandfather carries with him constantly is actually an intensely magical object, used by his family for centuries? The Mackays are in fact bound to prevent an ancient power connected to the land around them from falling into the wrong hands. Tom suddenly finds himself in a completely different time and is thrown into an adventure. He must master using the staff if he is to help to prevent an evil force from rising up and creating untold devastation.
I liked the book’s Scottish setting and enjoyed the descriptions of the beautiful landscapes and scenery. I thought the idea of a magical staff being passed down through the generations was pretty original and I loved the idea of the familial tradition involved. I also enjoyed the part that the friends of the family played in the fight against evil; they may not have had magical powers, but they were very loyal and brave.
One thing that spoilt this novel a little for me was the large amount of errors contained within it: I spotted two grammatical slip-ups just on the first page. The same words tended to be repeated in close proximity, which I found somewhat off-putting and I also felt at times that there were slight contradictions in the text.
In my view, the book might have benefited from a little tighter editing.
Tom was a likeable and realistic character. He was brave, but also acted his age: he admits to missing his mother and frequently doubts his abilities. It did come across as a little peculiar, however, that he seemed so unperturbed by his sudden time travel!
By far my favourite character was that of Naithara, the laird’s niece who’s working for a wicked demon. I thought her part was particularly well written. She had been taken over by evil but still showed some human weakness and traces of her former self.
I was slightly disappointed with the ending, which seemed incomplete. I can appreciate what the author was trying to do, but I felt a bit cheated. I’m assuming we’ll find out the missing elements during the following chapters of the serial.
I think ‘The Long Staff’ has the potential to be the start of a very good series. Unfortunately I felt it was let down a little by poor editing, but despite this, it was a gripping story with a beautiful setting and a successful cast of characters. I took pleasure from reading it and look forward to the next instalment in the series. 3 starsMore information about Clare Wilson and the Staff Wielder series can be found at: http://www.staffwielder.com/
"Tory Brennan is as fascinated by bones and dead bodies as her famous aunt, acclaimed forensic anthropologist, Tempe Brennan. However living on a secluded island off Charleston in South Carolina there is not much opportunity to put her knowledge to the test. Until she and her group of technophile friends stumble across a shallow grave containing the remains of a girl who has been missing for over thirty years. With the cold-case murder suddenly hot, Tory realises that they are involved in something fatally dangerous. And when they rescue a sick dog from a laboratory on the same island, it becomes evident that somehow the two events are linked.
On the run from forces they don’t understand, they have only each other to fall back on. Until they succumb to a mysterious infection that heightens their senses and hones their instincts to impossible levels. Their illness seems to have changed their very biology – and suddenly it’s clear that the island is home to something well beyond their comprehension. It’s a secret that has driven men to kill once. And will drive them to kill again…"
“Virals” is the beginning of a new series by Kathy Reich, forensic scientist and author of the Temperance Brennan novels. The book stars fourteen year old Tory Brennan, great niece of forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan. Tory lives on a small island near Charleston with her marine biologist father, a man that she only found out existed when her mother died less than a year ago. Whilst she and her three friends are visiting the research island where her father works, Tory meets a family of wolf-dogs; when one of the pack goes missing, she decides to investigate and ends up with a lot more than she bargained for, including a 40 year old murder to solve and a mystery illness.
The book is written in the first person, and Tory makes an entertaining and witty narrator. This style of writing means that the reader very quickly finds out a lot about her and the way she thinks, her background, and, in particular, how intelligent she is.
The paranormal twist in the tale occurs when Tory and her friends contract a newly developed and untested virus from one of the wolf-dogs, and are left with super-sensory powers. These abilities bind the group together as a ‘pack’, and come in particularly handy if you need to sniff out the odd hidden skeleton.
I liked the way that Tory and her gang were all gifted in different areas and worked well together as a group, with Tory as a rather bossy leader! As Tory is only fourteen I thought it was appropriate that there was no real love story in the book, although she does have a small crush. In fact, the four teenagers are brilliant role models for the young adults reading this book – they don’t drink or do drugs, but they’re cool, fun, and work hard at school. I’ll admit they do a fair amount of breaking and entering, but it’s all in a very good cause!
“Virals” is Kathy Reich’s first book aimed at young adults, and I found that I really enjoyed it. I liked the way that this novel worked well as a stand-alone adventure – the plot is tidied away neatly at the end, but the characters are compelling, and it’s so intriguing to imagine where their new powers will lead them, that I’m sure most readers will be anxious for the next instalment. This really was a fantastic mystery, which kept me hanging on right till the end to discover exactly who was responsible for the crimes. The addition of a supernatural element only served to enhance it to my mind.