This short story touched on a fear and worry that I myself, as a writer have – dying before I have finished telling the stories that are swirling around in my head. Harding’s grasp of this and her ability to twist this fear into a ghost story that had my spine tingling and left me internally cringing created a great short story which I am genuinely struggling to get out of my head. What better way to inspire a writer to actually write, than tell a story about one who is no longer able to put pen to paper?
Although this is a ghost story, and a phenomenal one at that, it also makes me want to do a health detox. After all, that was the instigating factor for the paranormal chaos that followed. Plus, the idea of removing toxins from the body is always an interesting one. Although, each and every person tends to have their own take on how this works, I mostly enjoyed the idea that the detox focused on removing things like alcohol and cigarettes. Yes, there were other aspects of the detox factor, but the idea to find a happier, healthier you was inherent within the characters’ motivations – something which I can appreciate. The fact that a happier, healthier body meant better access to the paranormal world and the girls’ spiritual understanding? Just a fantastic angle to the story!
The first four books in the Ranger’s Apprentice series focus on Will’s apprenticeship, and therefore, a lot of the time, it is Halt that eventually gets him out of the slightly tricky situations in which he finds himself. However, as a newly qualified Ranger, Will must find his own style and strength on his first solo mission. This progression of Will’s place in society is so seamless, that it isn’t until at least halfway through the book that you realise that you are half waiting for Halt to appear out of nowhere to offer some friendly advice and guidance.
John Flanagan does a wonderful job of taking a nationality as it would have lived and existed in pre-modern times and twisting them to suit his Ranger’s Apprentice series. The Skandians are a fantastic mimicry of the Vikings and manage to capture your interest from the very beginning. However, it is in Oakleaf Bearers that this talent is truly highlighted – the Gallicans and Temujai bring eerily familiar flavours to the tale of Will, Halt, Evanlyn and Horace’s exploits across the seas. Yet, he manages to set these antagonist peoples up in a way that isn’t insulting or degrading to the French and Mongolians upon whom he based these peoples. They may be the bad guys, but they have their own families and ways of life, which Flanagan makes obvious.
This series really begins to read as one continuous story in the third instalment – the journey that Will and Evanlyn take in this novel begins immediately after the end of The Burning Bridge. Likewise, the end of this tale blends seamlessly into The Oakleaf Bearers. Sometimes this is an incredibly odd and sometimes unenjoyable tactic in an authors writing, however, Flanagan is able to pull it off seamlessly. I spent the time reading this not only turning the pages eagerly to find out what happens next in the chapter, but also to get to the next chapter to read the secondary storyline.
I don’t often read historical fiction, it’s not a genre that I’ve ever been exposed to. But, when I met Wendy through Swinburne University and decided to read her book… just wow, wow. I’ve never read such a heart-rending and fascinating story. The fact that it is based upon something that truly happened just made every moment of tragedy and triumph all the more powerful and poignant.
To me, Abhorsen is all about duty and honour; it’s importance and how difficult it can truly be to pursue such a calling in life. Saving the world from certain doom is a great calling, if you are not the one who has to shoulder that responsibility. Lirael grabs this responsibility and her birthright with both hands and clings on. The way that she takes on a world of pain and obligation that she never thought was hers is inspiring and beautiful. It is a great reminder of the ways in which we should all grow a backbone and take charge of our own lives and destinies.
Lirael has long been one of my favourite literary heroines. She doesn’t quite fit in with her family, is immensely insecure, and is seriously struggling to find her place in life. Her multi-layered creation and the vulnerability in her tale pulls at the heart strings, and makes her all the more relatable to everyone who has struggled to find their place in life. From their teens to adulthood.
I love that this is a series about necromancers – it is different and unique in a way that no other series I have read is. The binary distinction between life and death is echoed in the wall between ‘The Old Kingdom’ and ‘Ancelstierre’. The anti-necromancer, or Abhorsen, just made the entire tale all the more entrancing – partner this with beautiful writing and an entrancing storyline, and I dare you not to fall in love with Sabriel.
This is my least favourite of the Obernewtyn Chronicles – it is the slowest of the stories and very, very detail oriented. Not that this is a bad thing, but I like to be swept along with the story so that I forget that I’ve spent three hours reading instead of doing some responsible adult act. Having said that, this detail-oriented approach is so important to make sure that the rest of the story is understandable. When playing with fate and prophecies, it is incredibly important to set up the storyline – every single detail has a great significance that can only rear its head books after it has been set up.