Things don’t always add up in these books, though they are generally well worth checking out.  Spoilers kept to a minimum.

5.  The Hanging Girl by Eileen Cook

What it’s About:  Skye has been faking psychic abilities for years to make some extra cash, but now she is working with the police to investigate a classmates kidnapping.  Little do the police know she actually has inside information on the case, but things quickly begin to spiral out of control.

What I Thought:  This is a mostly decent mystery, but one of the key plot points around which the story revolves seems to contradict things that came before it, at least to me.  Which makes the entire narrative feel rather shaky.

4.  You Owe Me a Murder by Eileen Cook

What it’s about:  Stuck on a class trip with her ex-boyfriend making her life miserable, Kim is surprised to be approached by another girl who presents the suggestion that she could kill the ex, as long as Kim kills someone for her.  But she can’t possibly be serious, right?

What I Thought:  A better choice than The Hanging Girl.  This one also tries to throw in a plot twist that doesn’t quite seem to work, hinting that maybe the protagonist is an unreliable narrator part way into the story.  Thankfully, this doesn’t have the same destructive impact as the plot twist in the previous novel, so the story doesn’t really fall apart around this twist.

3.  Wundersmith by Jessica Townsend

What it’s about:  Morrigan continues to try to create a life for herself in Nevermoor, leaving her previous miserable existence behind.

What I Thought:  A solid sequel to Townsend’s debut, though unfortunately a few of the characters we grew to know and love or hate) in the first book seem to be more in the background, or even not there at all.  As a result, I didn’t like it quite as much as the first book.

2.  Killing November by Adriana Mather

What it’s about:  November is baffled when her father ships her off to a strange boarding school, were the students are seemingly taught to be the strategists who control the world from the shadows.  She feels completely lost, and someone seems to be targeting her for elimination.

What I Thought:  I didn’t like this quite as much as Mather’s witch books, but it was still a decent read.  One problem that stuck out to me, one of the antagonistic characters is first introduced seeming to be part of one clique, but everytime we see the character after that, they are clearly part of a different group of students.  This discrepancy never seemed to be explained, and it feels like maybe the plans for the character were changed, but that first scene is left over from the original plan.  Ultimately, Killing November takes a little while to o get going, and neither the story nor the characters drew me in quite as much as in Mather’s other series, but it’s still worth checking out.

  1.  The Devouring Gray by Christine Herman

     

    What it’s About:  After her sister’s death, Violet Saunders moves with her distant mother to her mother’s hometown of Four Paths, and is shocked to learn that it is far from a normal town.  In fact, the town is prison to a monster, locked up the founding families of Saunders, Hawthornes, Carlisles and Sullivans, who continue to protect the town using their magical abilities.  Justin Hawthorne is the golden boy who is set to lead the town’s next generation, though his confident persona hides a mountain of insecurities, especially since he failed the initiation ritual that was supposed to grant him his powers.  His former friend Harper Carlisle despises him for abandoning her after own ritual went wrong, and wants to overthrow the Hawthorns as the leaders of the town.  Brooding Isaac Sullivan is Justin’s loyal ally.

     

    What I Thought:  Seems to be a bit of a love it or hate it book.  Put me in the former, in spite of some issues, such as the occasional moments of somewhat clumsy writing.  Harper thinks the family rituals are an open secret only to immediately acknowledged that really she doesn’t know much about the other families rituals, a character is said to take patrols in one scene and later said to not, etc.  Also, while Four Paths is a small town, there are a lot of characters milling around.  The book does a good job with the main cast, but there are a number of side characters who fail to make an impression, a potential issue if they emerge as important later.   Indeed, there is one very important moment in the book where a character is revealed as an important figure in the plot, and I was a bit taken out of the moment as I tried to remember if we had ever seen that character before.  One final note, there is one character who I didn’t particularly truest or like, who’s arc seemed a bit inconsistent at times.  That said, we will have to see what happens with that character in the sequel before I can say if the overall arc will make sense or not.

Published by Andrew Clendening