Every year the Cardiff International Arena changes from a concert venue to a top convention hall crammed with swarms of TV and Film fans attending the Film and Comic Con, Cardiff. Converging on the centre of Cardiff is an assorted crew of Sherlock’s with Deerstalkers, Marvel and DC superheroes, Disney princesses, Imperial Storm troopers following Darth Vader and assorted geeks decked out in shirts of their favourite shows. There was even an appearance from the Mystery Incorporated gang and their Mystery Machine featuring Scooby Doo.
When visiting Comic Con you come to realise that Cosplaying has become a central part in the overall experience. The near-compulsory cosplay code can mostly mean that if you choose not to dress up you can stand out more than someone wearing the costumes. Many celebrities often use this to their advantage by dressing up in a costume of their choice and walking the floors of the Comic Con without being noticed.
From panels on Doctor Who and Cosplay showcases, to Thunderbird action figures, the comic con welcomes with open arms that which the rest of the world might think a little bizarre. The hall is crammed packed with stall after stall of different shops selling all sorts of collectables. A personal favourite of mine was the autograph section that sold the autographs of every actor or actress you could think of. Everywhere you looked on the autograph stalls there were famous names with Daniel Craig, Ian Mckellen and Benedict Cumberbatch to name but a few. I decided to opt for Angela Lansbury and Jim Dale. Two very big idols of mine.
It never ceases to amaze me with the lengths some people go to create amazingly accurate costumes from famous films, games and television shows. I knew that it was important to participate in this also so my brother and I decided to go as different incarnations of Doctor Who from the hit BBC series. I was dressed as Peter Capaldi with the striking red lined coat and done up shirt button and my brother dressed as his favourite Doctor David Tennant with a Fez added for good measure. One of the star guests at the Comic Con was Jemma Redgrave or as Doctor Who fans may know her Kate Lethbridge Stewart. As her fans gathered to have their photo taken there was an obvious sense of community about the event with many people talking to each other and having photos of their own taken. I even met a fellow incarnation dressed as Matt Smith’s Doctor.
With something for every fan of Film, TV, Gaming and Comic’s there is no reason why you would not want to go and in the words of Shrek “Let your freak flag fly” with pride! Although a word of warning you will most definitely be left with a feeling of wanting to have more money to buy all of the things you see.
The next Comic Con Cardiff will be held on the 29th – 30th of October 2016. Get your tickets now to avoid disappointment. They are available at: http://filmandcomicconcardiff.com/
I recently read Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas, and was thoroughly swept away by the books intensity.
The story is about how a group of friends, among them, Anna and Elise, who are two best friends, and Anna’s boyfriend, Tate, go on a week-long trip over spring break. The trip is relaxing, until Elise is found murdered in the house they were staying in. Our story experience is with Anna, who goes through the trials and being held in prison on account of being the prime suspect of the case. I won’t be going into deep detail about the plot, as it is something I could never recreate as skilfully as the author Abigail Hass and also because there are major spoilers and I would hate to ruin the story for anyone who may be interested.
The plot is complicated, yet magnificently executed. It is written in a way that shows you the truth in calculated chunks before the trial so you can pick apart what happened and speculate on the direction you believe you will be led. Some things happen before the trial they are linked with but with two things happening in that scene, one is relevant the next moment, and they still perfectly fit together for you to gain the bigger, complicated picture. Everything is up for questioning, everything about everyone, who could have done it, and why. It is all up for you to wonder about, but you know that you have to keep going. I felt very compelled as I was reading. The book was such a page turner that I took a break for lunch during a revision session, began reading as I ate, and didn’t put the book down until it had ended. It is so enthralling, the way the characters interact and the way the plot unfolds that you can practically feel yourself saying that you have to know what happens. You just have to know…
From our perspective, which is Anna’s perspective, we see as she pleads innocent and goes through, quite literally, the trials and tribulations of the case and the investigation. We root for her, and feel sorry and scared for her. We feel protective of her and even hope she gets a not-guilty verdict. She is a wonderfully complex character with a harrowing story and truly phenomenal portrayal.
The writing is amazing. It easily and brilliantly shows the struggles of dealing with a tragedy, but is also unimaginably inciting and exciting. The structure of the novel is wonderful, with flashbacks and far-off memories, the present day, and a ‘three months later’. It is alluring, and keeps you blissfully intrigued as you unwind the story and see it out in front of you.
The book makes you feel a range of emotions, and is especially good at making you feel intense, but hopeful. Scared, but knowing. It’s quite the experience. But it is especially skilled at teaching you not to believe everything you read. There is a twist, a truly unexpected twist, that puts the whole novel in an entirely different light, and leaves you stunned and wanting more. I know that I certainly did.
Links to further information on the author
Members of the Young Critics and 3rd Act Critics have selected their own personal highlights of 2015. Their first choice is that a cultural event they have reviewed or attended. Their second is something they have personally experienced which has resonance for them as an individual.
Young Critic Lois Arcari
2015 is, like all other years, impossible to forget for many reasons. One such reason was an amazing blur, both individually and for the Young Critics as a whole – the celebration of Welsh talent and its abilities at the annual BAFTA Cymru awards. For a review and as a day, what was daunting turned easily to something wonderful, truly hopeful and encouraging for a defiantly blossoming industry in the face of cuts to the arts and critics of its worth. An event that continues developing to give Wales international renown. This day was both an honour, and a joy to be part of.
My personal pick of this year is something as much as a cultural event, platform for debate, national icon and builder of careers and friendships alike as it is a show – the incomparable Doctor Who. In light of criticisms thrown at showrunner Steven Moffat for a number of years now, this season has episodes widely regarded as some of the most experimental, diverse and emotional at least post revival. Whilst I was worried at the apparent superficiality of this choice – Doctor Who is iconic for a reason. Not least this past season because of the sensational acting masterclass in acting from Peter Capaldi, and Jeanna Coleman. Coleman has laid claim to being a divisive character, but personally I think her performance is one of the most raw, layered and deftly handled in the show’s history, especially when coupled with Moffat’s no holds barred approach. Though missteps were made, they were made in interesting ways. The Doctor, expertly handled, has always been a personal character – an icon of unflinching hope and possibility that even helped through uncertainty and anxieties through eager viewing last year following a serious car accident. Seeing the characters, writing and ambition grow in tandem has been moving and joyous, and the many layers encouraging fans to analyse, speculate, and always, always hope. As the show-runners (as a brilliant personal meeting at the aforementioned BAFTA Cymru awards with Russel T Davies showed) did with the same love.
3rd Act Critic Barbara Michaels
My first choice would have to be Mack and Mabel at WMC. The production was brilliant on all fronts, Barbara reviewed this production for The Reviews Hub
Secondly my personal choice is Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake with male dancers as the swans. A new take in one of the most popular classical ballets and spine tingling.
Young Critic James Briggs
For my choice of 2015 I would like to say Jersey Boys at the Wales Millennium Centre because this was the first production that I reviewed for Young Critics and so if I had not chosen to attend that show I would not have been so involved with Young Critics this year.
Review Jersey Boys, WMC by James Briggs
For my second choice of 2015 I would like to say the Doctor Who Symphonic Spectacular that was at Cardiff Motorpoint Arena back in May this year.
This is a review by Wales Online about the show
Young Critic Kiera Sikora
I would definitely say my favourite production which I reviewed in 2015 was Alix in Wundergarten- Difficult Stage/Other Room
My second choice would be A Doll’s House- Sherman Cymru a relevant retelling of a theatrical classic!
Young Critic Amina Ali
My first choice would be the TV series Agent Carter
My second choice would be the Black Lives matter movement. I feel it’s important because as a black person the miscarriages of justice are almost personal. It is important to know that there are people standing up for people like me.
Young Critic Sian Thomas
My first choice would be the book Unspeakable by Abbie Rushton, I feel I wrote my review well and there was to my surprise online interaction with the author and her publisher on Twitter. I know someone also bought it as a consequence of my review which I thought was amazing!
My second would be the release of the World of Professor Layton which is a big art book about my favourite ever game that came out around November 5th and I really enjoyed and felt the closure of the series ending personally.
Young Critic Bethan Hooton
My number one event of the year would have to be the One Direction concert – seeing your favourite band live is something you will never forget!
My second choice would be getting my GCSE results – 2 Cs, 7Bs, A, A* . I was so proud of myself for these grades, and I got into college with them to study subjects that I now really enjoy and love.
We are all looking forward to what 2016 will bring!
Upon reading The Game Of Love And Death by Martha Brockenbrough, I dare say I’ve found my new favourite book! My previous one had been The Thief Lord by Cornelia Funke, which still holds a very special place in my heart, however I was barely ten chapters into The Game Of Love And Death when I realised I loved it just as much, and very, very possibly, more.
It is a story in which Love and Death, personified as people (who can also transform into other disguises and animals) choose two people for their “game”. It is somewhat reminiscent of The Book Of Life, however is much more intriguing. It begins in 1920, and takes place properly throughout 1937. Death, back in 1920, chose Flora as their player, while Love chose Henry as their player. The game is that Flora and Henry have to fall in love before a certain date (July 7th). They must “have courage and choose each other above all else”, and if they do that, Love’s prize is that they can live on, while Death’s is that they will claim the life of their player.
I have never read a book before where the characters have been filled with so much emotion and charm that I had to stop and take a breather. I have never quite experienced how passionate and loving a person could get like I have reading this book. The way a character would babble and sputter, or just think. I have never felt my heart swell through the written word like I have reading this book.
Henry, seeing as he was chosen by Love, is a character filled to the very brim with passion and appreciation and love. I have never seen anything even remotely akin to it before. He is poetic in a way that I find hard to describe, but it is such a beautiful and ethereal way that I wouldn’t want to tarnish it by trying. The way he moves, and talks, and even thinks is just so perfectly flowing to me, and it all falls right into place, comfortable and sound. As a person who is big on reading, and writing, and imagining, I have never ever come across a character quite like this in anything before. Flora, because she was chosen by Death, is much more realistic and grounded, but this also comes from dealing with many social issues around the time. She has a much more guarded heart, but it is filled with just as much passion as Henry’s. While Henry loves music, Flora loves fixing planes and flying them. They are hardly similar, but you, as I certainly did, still wholeheartedly vouch for them.
Since it is set in 1937 in Seattle, there are a lot of historical references and racial tension, which definitely plays into the importance of The Game, and the story as a whole. Flora is a person of colour, while Henry is white. The odds, in terms of this fact, seem to be against them if they are to win for Love. But who can say what the outcome is? Their different skin colours at the time period prove quite the challenge to overcome, and it is hard to watch them go through it. It is hard to see two characters you love so dearly be so harshly separated by something that shouldn’t be an obstacle at all.
The story is intense, and there is always something happening. It’s the kind of story you wish you could reach into and move the characters around so everything will end happily. The story draws you in from the very, very first word until the last, and it is exceedingly difficult to tear yourself away from the pages. There is so much to feel as you read it, so much worry and exhilaration, so much love and hope. It’s a miracle my own heart didn’t beat right out of my chest as I read it.
The writing is stunning. It’s beautiful, poetic, and portrays such clear, vivid images in the reader’s mind, so they feel like they are right there as part of the story. I always prefer finding writing that is nice, and makes me feel something in my gut, and I found just that in this book. I really love, among all the books out there, when I find one with the perfect style of writing that makes me wish I could do something as amazing as that. I am drawn to pretty words and intricate stories, and upon finding one, I know I’ll never really let it go, and this is how I feel about The Game Of Love And Death. With all the literature out there, I feel so fortunate to have found a book like this, and I don’t think it will be an action I will ever be able to repeat.
I am rather melancholic over the whole story. With the racism and the pressing view that someday, good things come to an end, living things will die, things will go wrong – Someday, someday, someday – it feels heavy, and sorrowful, but there is always another side to the coin, a shinier side, one that feels much more joyful. Love exists because death exists, and you shouldn’t be afraid of someday. If you constantly worry over the end, you’ll never experience the middle, and what happiness the middle could bring you. You shouldn’t be afraid to love.
I would recommend this book to anyone. It is such a thrilling read, and such a heartfelt one, that I’m sure anyone would enjoy it. It was the most beautiful book I have ever read, and it will linger in the back of my mind for a very long time.
A friend recently told me to read one of their favourite books. I was looking for a new read and decided that I, even though I am not much of a fan of war stories, I would finally let myself be swayed and give the book and the topic a chance from their recommendation.
I read All Quiet On The Western Front by Enrich Maria Remarque recently. It was rather renovating and is the beginning of a change in my perspective I am glad to note.
I loved the writing it was vague and descriptive yet soft but heart wrenching. The kind, I think, that could probably only be found in a war story. I’ve always loved finding writing that is somewhat poetic, and sounds like someone stitched all the letters and words together carefully, with an unwavering hand – I really love finding that, among the world of literature – and that I found. The kind of writing that makes you double back and think, the kind that really makes you realise how deep things are.
The characters are a breath of fresh air, and they’re all so human in situation where you are glad to find it so. They all still joke and laugh against all of the odds. They were all friends in the most unfortunate of situations, and could smile after being dragged through the worst anyone could imagine. And you even see the other side of the coin – the gut wrenching fear, the depression, the melancholy. You worry for them, you hope someone survives.
The whole story is written in the perspective from one German soldier, Paul Bäumer, and his story stirs around with his classmates that were forced to enlist with him because of a pushy teacher. The lot of them go through Hell on Earth, but still manage to have, somehow, good things happen to them. There are six characters we focus on mainly, Kemmerich (we don’t focus on him for very long as he died early on), Haie, Albert, Müller, Kat, Paul Bäumer, and Tjaden. They all have their own tragic fates, just as you were beginning to believe that they would make it and we would hear of their lives afterwards. Each death or goodbye is heartbreaking and alarmingly real, and comes as an abrupt shock, though it really shouldn’t when you really think about it. They are all they’re own people, and the change from someone in school to fighting for Germany is astonishing, since you can see how they change, how they become more hardened and more serious, and more sad, more gloomy. You go through all their trials and tribulations with them, feeling the fear and the happiness and the sorrow.
While this was not my first war story experience, this is the one I enjoyed the most. Even while it was melancholic and nerve wracking, it was a story I’m glad to have experienced, and will heartily thank my friend for telling me about it. It really was a wonderful read.
I recently read a book called Unspeakable by Abbie Rushton. The book was wonderful and compelling, and quickly entrances the reader in its words.
The biggest thing I noted about the book was the fact that it involved LGBT(+) characters, and LGBT(+) struggles. Living in an age where more and more people are becoming more and more tired of the basic “boy meets girl, girl meets boy, they fall in love,” kind of plot, it is always refreshing to find an author who writes LGBT(+) characters, as they do need a lot more representation in anything, really. Media, books, movies, TV shows, and so on. Seeing the LGBT(+) struggles in the book would be wonderfully relatable for LGBT(+) people, who would be thankful to see that they aren’t alone, even if they need to connect with book characters to see so, but that’s fine, too. It’s probably harder to find LGBT(+) books than a , heteronormative one, so I am very glad that this book was written. The two LGBT(+) characters are the main character/s Megan and Jasmine.
The writing is exquisite, and flows very well sentence to sentence, paragraph to paragraph, and chapter to chapter. Since the book is in the point of view of a sixteen year old girl, the writing really shows the character through it, which made it much easier to conform with, in my opinion, since I am also a sixteen year old girl, but I think many other teenagers (or even young adults) would agree. The writing is simple, and good. Relatable, and beautiful.
Throughout the book, there is usually lines of bold text, which is in a different font, and serves the purpose of our main character’s (Megan) darker thoughts. However, I saw the “darker thoughts” a bit deeper. I thought, that perhaps, the resembled something akin to anxiety or depression. People with anxiety or depression usually have thoughts like those I have seen sprinkled throughout the story. So to top it off, not only was there LGBT(+) representation, but also representation for those who may suffer from mentally illness, too. It does not end sourly, Megan gets her happy ending, so I believe this could show the simple message of: Everything gets better. Because it does. It does get better.
The characters are varied, and complex, and mysterious. Our main character, Megan, can’t speak. She is mute. After an incident us readers know very little about as it is hinted at more and more as the story progresses, we start to understand with every passing page why Megan is the way she is. I, especially, became particularly attached to Megan. She is a very lovable character with a past that you wish you could fix for her. You hope that her problems get resolved, and that she is okay. Her life seems to be filled with more downs than ups, and you see how those events take their toll on her and her well-being. She has a secret involving the “incident”, not the best of family situations, and not the greatest school situations, either. You hope beyond hope that she is okay.
Another character, Jasmine, is a mysterious girl who moved to Megan’s small town, and once again, us readers are left in the dark as to why, only being able to latch on to the hints given and speculate beyond what we really see. She is very bubbly and talkative, and easily befriends Megan, who is very much the opposite of her, but they get along very well. Her and Megan’s dynamic is lovely, and surprising. She moved from Cyprus, and loves to tell wonderful stories about the place, and loves to tell Megan just how beautiful it is there.
Another character I really liked was a character named Luke. Luke knows Megan’s secret involving the “incident”, but they are still friends against the rest of the world. He has a dreary family situation, but is still able to smile. However, he is complicated, with emotions that the readers can’t really, well, read. He seems to change suddenly, laugh it off and apologise, and go back to how he was. He has a big secret of his own, and his entire character is wonderfully mystifying, crucial, and massively remarkable.
Another character I really like was a minor character called Callum who we only ever saw as our main characters were waiting for the school bus. We only ever saw him getting bullied for his sexuality, that as far as I have seen was not confirmed. We see Megan (who also got bullied a few times in the story) sometimes giving him small bouts of reassurance, which I really took a shine to. I, while feeling bad for him because he was bullied, really enjoyed the mutual reassurance from both Megan and himself as a dynamic.
Megan’s home life was also an interesting one. Her mother had her when she was about sixteen, and there is little to no mention of the father. However, grandparents were around, which made things all the better, until they passed away. As a new mother, Megan’s mum often got things wrong. She would say the wrong things at the wrong time, or do something wrong at the wrong place, or just generally mess things up. It was difficult to see the relationship be strained by easy mistakes, and I’m sure it was something both parents and teenagers could understand.As a mother with a mute daughter, obviously life is stressful. It shows how stressful communication between a mother and a daughter is, and whether one is mute or not, it envisions the struggle as very real, and very true. Many readers like myself would understand the struggle very personally.
The plot execution was grand. With suspense to match the scene in such a perfect way, as if they were holding hands. The characters thought process is perfect to your own, leading you down the perfect path of the plot.
The plot twist is otherworldly. I was shocked, and couldn’t stop reading until I had finished the book. (At 1am, no less!) It was beautifully executed in a way that turned all the facts I was sure I had known completely on their heads, leaving me to read, and read, and read, until I was sure again. It was wonderfully suspenseful, brilliantly climatic, and amazingly addicting.
I would recommend this book to anyone who is into romance, and mystery, and suspense. I believe it would be a wonderful read to many teenagers and young adults, too. It’s a brilliant book with a brilliant story, fantastic characters and lovely writing.
Unspeakable has been nominated in the Edinburgh International Book Festival, First Book Award, which celebrates the wealth of new writing included in the Edinburgh Book Festival programme. You can vote for your favourite at the link below
The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell left me in love with the present and terrified of the dystopian.
It was a long, long journey of a woman’s life, where every chapter is around ten years. There are six chapters. It starts when she’s 15, sometime around the early 1980s, and ends around 2040. You see, clear as day, as the book goes from the past that does not feel too far away to some of us, to the comfort of the present, to what the future could turn out to be. It was somewhat scary, to me, at least, and left me wondering if the world could turn out as it was described in the text.
Her life is hard. Her life is hard, and taxing and trying and very, very long. It gets worse as time goes by, and you end up just hoping for it to get better. The situations dwindle into the frightening, you just want her safe. Her name is Holly Sykes.
It’s a hard book to talk about. It’s very changing. Every new chapter, aside from the first and last, which are in Holly Sykes’ perspective, is in a different point of view every other time, and it is not declared whose point of view you are reading from. You have to work it out when you see what characters are interacting, and when the character reacts in first person to a name. It is easy enough to do once you have the swing of things, but at first, it is rather unsettling. Holly Sykes is in every chapter, even if not immediately.
Other characters come to love her very dearly, and you do, too. She is loving, and loved, and lovable, while also being strong, and fearless, and caring, and every other positive adjective under the sun. During the worst of times she is realistic, and rightfully afraid, but also very, very capable of doing the right thing. She helps a lot of people as a reaction to the cards that life had dealt her. She sees herself in others and has to help. And she does.
It is a long book. It may have been a little longer than I myself had bargained for. (It’s 613 pages. I’m used to smaller books in series or stand-alone-s, so this was a piece of work to finish.) It would be wonderful for those who enjoy the dramatic plot, and also the aftermath, for those who enjoy long, long chapters, beautiful writing, complex characters, and excellent settings.
The book could be labelled spiritual, I believe. There is a lot of talk of “psychic moments” and “voices” and immortality, but this still intertwines perfectly with the rest of the story. Mysteries, love, family issues, health issues, and the somewhat realness that fits perfectly with the wildness.
It was thrilling. I enjoyed it heartily.
Ok I admit it, I’ve never read a Zombie book, and haven’t watched any shows about them either, except the first 4 episodes of The Walking Dead. I’ve decided that I want to make this review slightly different, so instead of reviewing it once I’ve finished the book; I’m going to review it as I read it. This way I won’t forget anything that I wish to comment on, and it’s a bit different, so here goes!
Chapters 1-5, pages 9-105.
The start of this book, hits the ground running, it sets the tone of the book and gives you an idea of what this book is going to be about – given you probably will find out about this in the description of the book, however, I went into this book blind. You get a really good feel for the characters in the first 100 pages; you get to know them and their personalities. It also makes you wonder about certain characters and whether they are who they seem. I already have some assumptions about some characters and what they’re really like. There’s not much action so far with Zombies which I’m a bit gutted about, but I’m hoping that soon there will be more action. I love the style of the book so far. I love the main character Ali, and I really enjoy her humour. I’m looking forward to the possible romance and the friendships that still have yet to be created.
Chapters 6-10, pages 106-206.
I absolutely love the characters! The main character Ali, has such an energetic personality, but still holds some sadness to it. She is witty, and more often than not will speak her mind. Her friendship with Kat is one that I envy. I also really like the ‘love interest’ shall we say, Cole. He has a shielded personality, and is very secretive about himself. The relationship between Ali and Cole is perfect, and they balance each other out. My assumptions have been verified, and the story has seriously picked up. There’s a lot of action, and background telling – admittedly it’s a lot to take in, so hopefully it’ll be explained more. The writer is telling the story really well, and the action scenes have gotten my heart to beat faster than normal. For my first zombie book, I am very impressed. I love the ‘rules’ let’s say, that explain why certain things happen or cannot happen. I’m really enjoying the plot and cannot wait to see where it goes in the coming chapters.
Chapters 11-13, pages 207-294
The one thing I noticed is that there aren’t many Alice in Wonderland references, considering this is supposed to be a re-telling of that story. The chapter titles are similar, and a white rabbit is mentioned often but there isn’t anything other than that, so far. I’m questioning whether it can be classed as a re-telling. That said, I’m still enjoying the story. I really love Ali as the main character, her personality is great! The story of the Zombies and certain characters background has been explained a lot more, and it was done excellently. There is a lot of information to take in, but it is re-enforced as the story carries on. The character relationships that have been formed has been written brilliantly, especially the rivalry between Cole and Justin. The differences between each of the characters are really intriguing and they all balance each other out. The character development for Ali has to be my favourite part in the last 100 pages that I’ve read and I can’t wait to see where her character goes.
The last 100 or so pages.
It really picked up during these last one hundred pages. A lot of secrets were revealed, and you learnt even more about the characters. Ali’s character really develops, and she comes to terms with a lot of things she beforehand had struggled with. There are some major twists and turns of events, which made it very action packed! Again, I loved Ali’s and Kats friendship, it’s just so natural and fun. They both have a wicked sense of humour and I can’t wait to see what happens to their friendship in the coming books. To be honest, I thought the major action scene, that set up the plot-line for the sequel, was very short lived, and kind of anti-climatic. Yes, it was out of the blue and surprised you, but it seemed to just breeze past. I did enjoy it though. The ending is a great set up for the sequel (which I may or may not be buying tomorrow to read ASAP). The romance was perfectly written, it wasn’t the main focus but it still had you interested in Ali’s and Cole’s relationship or lack thereof.
My overall thoughts.
Great, well developed and well thought about characters, with great character arcs and development throughout the book. Amazingly written character relationships, and rivalries. The humour was perfect and quite a few times I found myself laughing out loud. The plot arc was brilliant, and very well executed. I definitely recommend this book if you’re into Zombies, want to get into Zombies or are just looking for a new book.
Poison by Bridget Zinn a very intense book with a gripping plot.
The book is about a girl, Kyra, (Or Kitty, which is her nickname that was commonly used throughout the story) who is a very skilled potioner, with a very serious job to do.
At this point I should warn for spoilers, since there may be a few.
Kyra, in the midst of this medieval, princes-and-princesses, kingdoms-and-knights and witchcraft and wizardry, is the only one who is aware that her kingdom is going to fall into ruin, so she is the one who must be the one to stop it. The only way to do that is to kill the princess of the kingdom, who was her former best friend. When she first tries to assassinate the princess, her poison dart misses, and now as a fugitive, she’s on the run from the authorities, and still pushing forward with her job to do.
The book has a very beautiful setting, the kind of setting that’s all wilderness. Woods and forests and rivers are described wonderfully. Even food, since the main character is entranced by cooking, is described in the way that makes you want to buy every cooking book and become a chef yourself. It even describes the kind of mythical creatures involved spectacularly. The writing is lovely you can imagine the clink-clink-clink of the potion vials when they are used. You can clearly imagine how the colours will glow inside the vials, and how the pouch that holds the vials would move when they’re spilled out or tied back up when they’re packed away.
The plot is wonderfully executed, with plot twists to make you bite your thumbnail in anticipation, and make you unable to stop turning the pages. It has scenes which make you fear for the character as if you know them personally.
The magic throughout the story makes you want to read more into it, learn more of the magic of that world. The potions are intriguing, the creatures are curious, the plot is enthralling, and the characters are fascinating.
There are a number of captivating characters who are easy to get attached to. There are even the character’s pets that you get attached to. The main character, Kyra, ends up getting a piglet called Rosie, and it is easy to see how she develops from seeing the piglet as a “worker pig” to a loving pet, who she cares for very much, despite the things said against it. My favourite character would have to be the main character, Kyra. She’s smart and witty and fiery. To me, she’s easily lovable, with a complex life that ends well, as she deserves.
The book is beautifully written with an intricate plot and riveting characters. It’s a very good book for people who were intrigued with the world of Harry Potter, and for those interested in wonderful magic, intense scenes and adoring love.
“Long ago, dragons were hunted to near extinction by the Order of St. George, a legendary society of dragon slayers. Hiding in human form and growing in their numbers in secret, the dragons of Talon have become strong and cunning, and they’re positioned to take over the world with humans none the wiser.
Ember and Dante Hill are the only sister and brother known to dragonkind. Trained to infiltrate society, Ember wants to live the teen experience and enjoy a summer of freedom before taking her destined place in Talon. But destiny is a matter of perspective, and a rogue dragon will soon challenge everything Ember has been taught. As Ember struggles to accept her future, she and her brother are hunted by the Order of St. George.
Solider Garret Xavier Sebastian has a mission to seek and destroy all dragons, and Talon’s newest recruits in particular. But he cannot kill unless he is certain he has found his prey: and nothing is certain about Ember Hill. Faced with Embers bravery, confidence and all-too-human desires, Garret begins to question everything that the order has ingrained in him: and what he might be willing to give up to find the truth about dragons” – Talon, Julie Kagawa
I read the first 75 pages of this book in about 3 weeks, and then the other 370 pages in 3 days. This was purely because of exams, and in a way I wish I had held off reading the book until my exams were over so I could devour the whole book as one. I loved it! The characters, plot and the setting. The story was told amazingly, which I’m not surprised at since it is a Julie Kagawa book! I love dragons, and this book was the best I’ve read yet! Honestly, it was slow-paced during the first half of the book, but in the second half it really picked up especially in the last 100 pages. In this book there was a lot of world building and story setting ready for the sequel. It was a great setup for the coming books. The dragon world ‘Talon’ was explained excellently, even if there are some twists and turns about it later on in the book. Whilst reading I was fully enthralled in the world, I was so intrigued and wanted to find out more and more.
The characters in this book were amazing! There wasn’t a flat character throughout the whole book. Each character was important and helped push the plot along. You could tell that each character had been well thought-out and they were all very complex. There wasn’t a single character that I didn’t like, besides possible one called Colin (no spoilers!) I loved all the different character relationships. I loved the sibling bond between Ember and Dante, and I loved seeing how that progressed and changed during the book. The friendships were really well constructed, and made me want to be a part of the world just to be involved with those friendships. I loved the banter between all the characters too, the way they all bounced off of each other. The jokes they made about and with each other. I also really like seeing the differences between Ember and Dante, and how that difference became increasingly bigger towards the end of the book. The character development in this book has to be my favourite, especially for Ember and Garret! They learnt that not everything was as it seems, and the way Julie Kagawa had their characters progress was just great. I can usually pick out a favourite character, but this time I can’t, I honestly love them all too much.
This is definitely a series that I’m going to keep up with. I’m going to get my hand on a copy of Rogue as soon as possible! I cannot wait to see how Ember and Garrets story progresses. I want to see how Dante is coping with the task his was given in the epilogue. There are just so many characters that I need to know about (Riley and Wes for example) I’ve read 9 Julie Kagawa books, and all novella’s she has written for her Iron Fey series, and this is by far my favourite book. I can’t wait to see how it all unfolds!
I seriously recommend Talon, if you’re into Dragons, and Fantasy. It keeps you wondering, and the characters are remarkable!