Tag Archives: Isobelle Carmody

The Glory Days by Isobelle Carmody

Overview
Image result for green monkey dreams isobelle carmody book cover

Title: The Glory Days
Author: Isobelle Carmody
In: Green Monkey Dreams (Isobelle Carmody)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Dystopia, Fantasy
Dates read: 31st March 2021
Pace: Medium
Format: Short story
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Year: 1996
5th sentence, 74th page: She touched the pencil with the tip of her finger.

Synopsis

The Glory Days are long gone. But some people still remember them…

Thoughts

I always love the post-apocalyptic feeling of Isobelle Carmody’s writing. There is just something so poignant about it all. And she always points out the things that are horribly wrong with our society. And honestly, this short story was no exception.

Ultimately, I finished this short story with a hurt-heart feeling. It was just… intense. There is something about looking at our society and reflecting that can really and seriously pull on the heart strings.

The key words that jumped out at me with this story – sorrow, anguish, betrayal, pain and love…

<- Green Monkey Dreams CollectionRoaches ->

Image source: Allen & Unwin

Billy Thunder and the Night Gate by Isobelle Carmody

Overview
Billy Thunder and the Night Gate: Isobelle Carmody: 9780141300986 ...

Title: Billy Thunder and the Night Gate
Author: Isobelle Carmody
Series: The Gateway Trilogy #1
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: FamilyFantasy, Young adult
Dates read: 10th – 15th May 2020
Pace: Medium
Format: Novel
Publisher: Puffin Books
Year: 2002
5th sentence, 74th page: Covering it over, she thought is was much better in sotires, where no one ever seemd to have to go to the toilet or eat or bathe.

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Synopsis

Rage Winnoway’s mother has been asleep since she had a terrible accident. In a quest to find healing magick, Rage and her animal friends travel through a strange gateway to Valley, a land of mythical beasts, talking dogs and streets that change shape.

But Valley is no paradise. Harsh guardians rule a sinister black city, and fugitive witch folk work forbidden magick.

Rage desperately wants to go home, but the one person who can help her, a wizard, has disappeared. Her only guides are the treacherous firecat and an enchanted hourglass…

Thoughts

I first read this book when I was a lot younger. And it’s been a long time since I’ve had the pleasure of picking it up. But now that I have… wow. It’s just as good as I remember. I picked up so many new nuances and moments throughout. And, having had the pleasure of actually talking to the author for an interview once, I can also see a bit more of her personality through the pages. All of which I found exceedingly pleasurable and wonderful. Fun and still impossible to put down, even if I did know exactly what was going to happen…

As a child, I related a lot to Rage and her loneliness. That, and her extreme attachment to her dogs. As an adult, I really haven’t changed. I still feel like I don’t quite belong with the rest of my friends, and don’t actually have that many friends. And I have a super strong connection to my dogs. The main difference between then and now? I’m happy with that reality. I have managed to collect a few true friends that I enjoy spending my time with… and the rest of it? I’m more than happy in the pages of a great book like this with my dogs fighting for primo-lap space.

One of the things that I have always found characterises Carmody’s writing is the use of a message in her writing. In the case of this novel, it is that sometimes rules aren’t that good. Sometimes you need to break the rules and stand up for yourself if the situation asks for it. The other message is about love and family. Not leaving those you love behind and staying loyal and true to those whom you love. Both are integral, unforgettable aspects of this storyline and you walk away feeling like being yourself is enough. And that you should always try to stick around for the ones that you love.

There is nothing so good as returning to a well-loved story from your childhood. Except, maybe, returning to a well-loved story from your childhood and discovering that you love it just as much as an adult. After all, it can be a little crushing when your memories don’t quite hold up to the reality. That is certainly not the case for this novel. Whether your young or old, male or female, if you like fantasy… you’ll love this.

<- More Isobelle CarmodyThe Winter Door ->

Image source: Amazon

Greylands by Isobelle Carmody





Overview
Image result for greylands isobelle carmody book cover

Title: Greylands
Author: Isobelle Carmody
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Death, Fantasy, Mental health
Dates read: 1st – 2nd January 2019
Pace: Medium
Format: Novel
Publisher: Ford St
Year: 1997
5th sentence, 74th page: She stroked the bundle of rags tenderly, and a strange thought entered Jack’s chilled mind.

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Synopsis

One wakeful night in the aftermath of his mother’s death, Jack enters a land devoid of colour or scent. Here he meets the tragic laughing beast and Alice, a strange girl with a secret.

Will Jack escape before the terrifying wolvers find him? Or is he destined to be trapped in the Greylands forever?

Only the cats know…

Thoughts

I really had no idea what to expect from this novel. I know that I love Isobelle Carmody’s writing, but this is the first truly young novel that I have read by her. It is also, weirdly enough, the first standalone story that I have read. And man, I wasn’t disappointed. This was one of those stories that left me thinking, contemplating and wondering long after I turned the final page. This is certainly one of those stories that lingers long after you finish, in the best way possible.

The fragmented nature of this story highlights Jack’s misunderstandings and confusion beautifully well. As do the mystical and dreamy scapes in which he moves – both the real world and the Greylands. The settings are so incredibly vivid and yet vague that you can see the hazy contrast perfectly in your minds eye, and it emphasises the symbolism behind Jack’s confusion and grief.

Even if you don’t fully understand what is happening throughout Jack’s adventure, the beginning, middle and end (literally named this) give a great account as to what the symbolism means. And also the ways in which this reality bisects with our own. Having the character write his own story is a new-to-me ideal, and I loved how well it worked.

Dealing with grief and issues of mental health can always be quite difficult. And there are few literary pieces I’ve found that deal with such topics in an open, accessible way. The fact that this is done in a language that young children can access is all the more impressive and is exactly what helps this story to linger in my mind’s eye so strongly.

 <- Green Monkey Dreams ReviewMetro Winds Review ->
Image source: Ford Street Publishing

The Red Queen by Isobelle Carmody

Overview

The Red QueenTitle: The Red Queen
Author: Isobelle Carmody
Series: The Obernewtyn Chronicles #7
Rating Out of 5: 3 (On the fence about this one)
My Bookshelves: Australian author, Dystopia, High fantasy, Science fiction
Pace: Slow
Format: Novel
Publisher: Penguin Books
Year: 2015
5th sentence, 74th page: When the govamen signals God that the world is clean, the Tumen will open the wall.

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Synopsis

I saw the moon crack and open like an egg, and a seethe of transparent beasts emerged…
I heard a sound like thunder inside the earth and the ground shook and broke open like a vast stony maw. It spat out fire and I saw wolves falling into a molten gold stream…
I made my way along the ancient tunnel, following Maruman, who ran lightly ahead of me. I did not ask how he had come to be here. He was the Moonwatcher as I was the Seeker.

This was where we had been destined to come together. Before Elspeth Gordie can continue her journey to find Sentinel and prevent it unleashing the horrors of the Great White, she must fight free of a strange prison, where people are laid to sleep forever or cling to a suffocating existence, believing the world beyond their walls is already utterly anihilated.

But at the end of her journey, nothing is as she imageind. She is drawn into the struggle for a kingdom, only to find the Destrooyer is at the heart of the turmoil, waiting for her.

Somehow she must do what she has sworn to do, for the sake of the world and all of its creatures. She must complete her quest, no matter what it costs…

Thoughts

I finally finished the series! Not only was this one of those series that was a long time in the making (and completion), but it was also one of those series that I bought the last book, and then left it on my shelf for 2 years. Partly because I wanted to reread the entire thing before I put my hands on the final book, but it’s a fairly complex and convoluted series all up. And, quite honestly the last two books kind of drag for me. To the point that I actually skim read The Red Queen. It was okay, but it wasn’t enough to fully draw me into the story and make me just completely digest and absorb every single word.

I liked that this was the complete conclusion to this series. It was the end of Elspeth’s long journey, and the end of an era of my literary life. (I can remember reading Obernewtyn when I was much younger, and it was part of growing up for me). However, I found a lot of the storyline quite distracting and not as concise as the first half of the series. Mostly I got lost in the storyline. Still amazingly written, but not as captivating as some of the past stories.

All in all, I’m glad that I read this. It made me feel satisfied that I finally finished a series I started long ago. But, it’s probably not one that I would read again in a hurry. There are many other books that I would much rather drown myself in.

<- The Sending Review The Dark Road Review ->
Image source: Penguin Books Australia

The Sending by Isobelle Carmody

Overview

The SendingTitle: The Sending
Author: Isobelle Carmody
Series: The Obernewtyn Chronicles #6
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: Australian author, Dystopia, High fantasy, Science fiction
Pace: Slow
Format: Novel
Publisher: Penguin Books
Year: 2011
5th sentence, 74th page: The futureteller nodded composedly and said there were other gifts.

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Synopsis

It came to me then, like a chilly draught from an unseen gap, that I had always known in my deepest heart that it would be like this, a slipping away froma life full of people I had come to love, in a place I had helped to shape, in a land I had helped to free.

The time has come at Elspeth Gordie to leave the Land on her quest to find and stop the computermachine Sentinel from unleashing the deadly Balance of Terror arsenal. But before she can embark on her journey, she must find a lost key. And although she has long prepared for this day, nothing is as she anticipated.

Elspeth’s search will take her where she never thought to go, and bestow upon her stranger companions than any she ever imagined. It will lead her far from her destination to those she believed lost forever.

And it will test her, as she has never been tested before…

Thoughts

Finishing this book has been a long time coming. I started rereading the series when The Red Queen came out, and I hadn’t ever quite gotten to The Sending. Over two years later, I finally managed to find the time to actually sit down and read this story. It is intense and quite a long haul, but it is most certainly worth the time and brain power that I put into it. It is going to take me quite a while to finish The Red Queen as well, over a month (much like The Sending), but it is an epic journey, and sometimes spending the time to take an epic journey is definitely worthwhile.

Up until this moment in the series, Elspeth’s journey has been about finding the clues, but also helping her fellow Misfits. She’s created a home, a life, and a reality in which she is proud to live and love. Yet, there is a constant looming cloud of her upcoming quest. Finally, the moment has arrived, and as with every moment in this series, there are some fantastic conflicting emotions throughout. Yet, that is only the start of the story, really. Although Elspeth slinks away in the  night, she still manages to find herself some unlikely companions. Ones that will make the rest of the battle throughout The Red Queen all the more interesting.

As much as I loved this story, I did find it quite long winded. I think that’s because it is almost a midway point between Elspeth’s life in the Land and the end of her epic quest. There is a lot of setting up throughout this story, and a lot of moving from one point to another. Yet, the actual action is quite light. Especially in comparison to the first five stories. Yet, although it means that I took a lot longer to read this (it was easier to put down), it was still a great tale. One that I truly can’t wait to read the conclusion to.

<- The Stone Key Review The Red Queen Review ->
Image source: Goodreads

The Stone Witch by Isobelle Carmody

Overview

Under My HatTitle: The Stone Witch
Author: Isobelle Carmody
In: Under My Hat (Jonathan Strahan)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Australian authors, Easy reading, Fantasy, Witches
Pace: Fast
Format: Short story
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Year: 2012
5th sentence, 74th page: We were, however, tilted heavily to one side.

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Synopsis

A woman who doesn’t like kids sits on an aircraft, preparing to go on a journey. The flight attendant brings a child traveling alone to take the seat beside her. The woman is none too happy about this turn of events and studiously tries to ignore the little girl. For the most part it seems to be working until the plane hits some major turbulence. Just as it seems the plane is about to crash, the woman is transported into a world that she has dreamed about many times before. The little girl along with another older woman named Rose and her dog are there as well. Rose sends the woman and girl on a fantastical journey to find a stolen amethyst egg. Whether or not they succeed in their mission will ultimately determine their fate and may also teach them a few things about themselves in the process.

Thoughts

Planes, children and death, three things that kind of freak me out, all combined into one very enjoyable short story. But honestly, I didn’t expect anything less from one of my favourite authors!

There always seems to be an underlying story of fate and quests in Carmody’s work, and this story is no different. After Hester’s worst fears seem to be realised, she is sent on a quest with a small child to a potentially glorious future. Ultimately, she is forced to face a decision that makes her face up to her own future, or that of another human being’s.

The vividness of Carmody’s writing stays with me long after I have finished the final page of her stories. The Stone Witch is no different, and I can’t get those final moments of the story out of my mind.

 <- Burning Castles Review Andersen’s Witch Review ->
Image source: Frances Hardinge

Under My Hat edited by Jonathan Strahan

Overview

Under My HatTitle: Under My Hat: Tales from the Cauldron
Author: Jonathan Strahan, Diana Peterfreund, Frances Hardinge, Garth Nix, Holly Black, Charles de Lint, Tanith Lee, Neil Gaiman, Ellen Klages, Ellen Kushner, Delia Sherman, Patricia A. McKillip, Tim Pratt, M. Rickert, Isobelle Carmody, Jane Yolen, Peter S. Beagle, Margo Lanagan
In: Under My Hat (Jonathan Strahan)
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: Easy readingShort story collections, Witches
Pace: Medium
Format: Collection
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Year: 2012
5th sentence, 74th page: “Was he?” asked Mari.

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Synopsis

Broomsticks.
Black Cats.
Pointy Hats.

They can mean only one thing – somewhere nearby, there must be a witch. From fairy tales to fims to fiction, witches cast their spells and capture our imaginations.

Now the biggest names in fantasy and young adult literature have come together to make a little magic of their own. Neil Gaiman, Holly Black, Diana Peterfreund, Margo Lanagan, Peter S. Beagle, and Garth Nix are just a few of the authors who have toiled over their cauldrons and conjured up bewitching new creations inspired by and celebrating the might and mystery of the witch. Assembled by one of the most well-regarded anthologists in the science fiction/fantasy world, this rich, intelligent collection will enchant readers of all ages.

Thoughts

Short story collections are always good fun. They’re a great way to discover new authors, and the common thread through them can be so unique and different. Sometimes I even struggle to find the common thread! Not with this amazing collection though. It’s simple. Witches.

Strahan did a great job of putting together this fun and cute little collection of witch-y tales and I’m actually kind of disappointed that it’s over. Although I bought it to read B is for Bigfoot by Jim Butcher, the rest of the stories really jumped out at me. It’s actually difficult to pick an absolute favourite – they all had this twisted, fun, unexpected adventure that they took me on. Closing the cover of the book, I feel like I’ve gone on journeys through distant lands (and realms) and come back to land squarely on earth. Which is actually kind of disappointing… time to find my next epic journey of witchcraft and wings…

<- Crow and Caper, Caper and Crow Review Stray Magic Review ->
Image source: Frances Hardinge

Legends of Australian Fantasy edited by Jack Dann and Jonathan Strahan

Overview

Legends of Australian FantasyTitle: Legends of Australian Fantasy
Editors: Jack Dann & Jonathan Strahan
Authors: Garth Nix, Trudi Canavan, Juliet Marillier, Isobelle Carmody, Kim Wilkins, Sean Williams, D.M. Cornish, Ian Irvine, John Birmingham, Jennifer Fallon & Cecilia Dart-Thornton
In: Legends of Australian Fantasy (Jack Dann & Jonathan Strahan)
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Australian authors, Fantasy, Short story collections
Pace: Fast
Format: Anthology
Publisher: Harper Collins Australia
Year: 2010
5th sentence, 74th page: ‘And… and from the Charter, milady.’

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Synopsis

From two of the best editors working today … These are the legends of Australian fantasy – eleven of Australia’s best-loved and most widely read writers … Gathered together by equally legendary editors Jack Dann and Jonathan Strahan to produce an entirely original compilation … Celebrate the legends of Australian fantasy. Extraordinary voices … extraordinary worlds. Come to Erith, to a faerie tale with a sting, or to Obernewtyn, long before the Seeker was born. Revisit a dark pocket of history for the Magician’s Guild or get caught up in the confusion of an endlessly repeating day in the Citadel. Cross the wall, where Charter magic is all that lies between you and death. A trip with a graverobber can be gruesome, and it’s hard to share the fear of a woman who must kill her husband if her child is to rule … A mysterious tale plays out in Sevenwaters. Catch up with Ros and Adi as they prepare for the greatest change of all. Other twists in these fabulous tales bring us to demonic destiny and an alternate WWII.

Thoughts

I love pursuing Australian authors – after all, I would love to be one one day, and they are my people. So, discovering that there is a book that features not one, not two, but nine of these phenomenal people made me break out in a huge grin. And I wasn’t disappointed. Actually, the main disappointment came when I finished the last novella and had to find a new anthology to go and read.

The pace of each of these nine novellas was entirely unique and, in most cases, quite unexpected. The only tie that they had to one another was that they are all fantasy stories, and they tied into a series or world created by the author. Which, ultimately means that I have another seven series to go out and buy (I already owned two). Sometimes, this kind of variety doesn’t really work. The stories don’t flow well and it is really just feels haphazard in how they’re collected. But, the short author introduction at the beginning of each story and the rationale behind the story worked brilliantly and made it a cohesive whole.

If you want a taste of the brilliance that some of Australia’s finest fantasy authors have to offer, I’d definitely recommend that you buy this book. Or borrow it, whatever tickles your fantasy. It was a fantastic welcome to a few new worlds and I’ve got a couple of new books to add to my shelves now.

 <- The Enchanted Review To Hold the Bridge Review ->
Image source: Harper Collins Australia

The Dark Road by Isobelle Carmody

Overview

The Dark RoadTitle: The Dark Road
Author: Isobelle Carmody
Series: The Obernewtyn Chronicles #0.5
In: Legends of Australian Fantasy (Jack Dann & Jonathan Strahan)
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Australian author, Dystopia, High fantasy, Science fiction
Pace: Fast
Format: Novella
Publisher: Harper Collins Australia
Year: 2010
5th sentence, 74th page: So she got out her blue mug.

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Synopsis

A one-eyed cat weaves its way through Hannah’s dreams, beckoning her up high mountains where she must walk the dark road. Her pilgrimage will take her through desert dunes, and deep into the strange recesses of long-hidden memories. Guided only by an old letter and her psychic intuition, Hannah’s journey will test her ageing limbs, as she carries the weight of her mother’s prophecy to her salvation, or peril …

Thoughts

Strictly speaking, it’s not necessary to read this short story before you read the Obernewtyn Chronicles. Actually, it’s not even necessary at any point throughout the reading of the series. but, if you are like me and can’t quite get enough of the series, then this is definitely worth a read. It tells the tale of the days when Cassandra was first foretelling the coming of the Seeker and how Hannah worked into this story. It’s a great background read.

The thing that I loved most of this short story was the voice that told it. Hannah’s daughter fills in so many missing gaps of the past age, yet it is her elderly acceptance of such a moment that is truly beautiful. The vivid descriptions of her journey and the sense of mystery throughout are so indicative of Carmody’s style of writing that it is impossible to stop reading this tale once you have started.

 <- The Red Queen Review Obernewtyn Review ->
Image source: Booktopia

The Stone Key by Isobelle Carmody

Overview

The Stone Key

Title: The Stone Key
Author: Isobelle Carmody
Series: The Obernewtyn Chronicles #5
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: Australian author, Dystopia, High fantasy, Science fiction
Pace: Medium
Format: Novel
Publisher: Penguin Books
Year: 2008
5th sentence, 74th page: He knew as well as I did that the delicious, sweet, brown powder was both scarce and violently expensive now that Sadorian ships no longer put in at Sutrium.

Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

Synopsis

There was a great crash and wood splintered… I had a brief glimpse of a group of Herder priests, bald and robed, peering at me, and then the sundered remnants of the locker door were torn aside and a rough hand reached in to haul me out by the hair. A Hedra captain stared into my face with eyes that burned with a fanatical fire above a thin nose and a lipless slash of a mouth…

‘You will die in great pain and very slowly, mutant,’ said the Hedra master.

When Farseeker Guildmistress Elspeth Gordie sets out from Obernewtyn to travel to Sutrium at the end of Wintertime, she quickly learns that not everyone welcomes the changes brought about by the rebellion. Captured by an old and vicious enemy, she is drawn deep into the heart of the Herder Faction, where she learns of a terrible plot to destroy the west coast.

To stop it, Elspeth must risk everything, knowing that if she dies, she will never complete her quest to find the weaponmachines that destroyed the Beforetime.

But is she succeeds, her journey will lead her to the last of the signs left for her by the seer Kasanda…

Thoughts

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.

There are two aspects of this story that I love though, the idea of tearing down a religious dogma and that of our potential for future medical treatment. The technology that Carmody describes when treating one of the sick characters is so plausible, that I’m kind of surprised we don’t have it already. It is so easy to imagine having that kind of technology within the next 10 years and using it in much the same way to cure infectious diseases. And then there’s destroying a harmful religious dogma. I’ve often believed that people take religions to twist the mass population to their own needs. And, bringing down such a group is possibly my favourite part of the whole story – tearing down this source of evil is fantastic.

Ariel returns to the forefront of the story in The Stone Key. The combination of his manipulative powers and inability to empathise with others creates a truly spine tingling antagonist. For me, he is the very embodiment of what it means to be malicious and evil. A lot of villains are the ‘bad guys’ because of some misguided urge, or inability to control their urges. But it is often possible to see how their past has shaped who they are, but Ariel? There is nothing in his past that highlights his need to intentionally harm others. Although, Carmody implies throughout her writing that he is actually defective and this is the cause of his wrongness.

<- The Keeping Place Review The Sending Review ->
Image source: Penguin