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Review Time! The Fires of Tartarus by Emma Leech

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It’s been two years since Emma Leech’s The Heart of Arima. A LONG two years, I might add, and while of course, I’ve loved the intermittent offerings from the Les Fees series, it’s fair to say that Les Corbeaux: The French Vampire Legend is the series that stole my heart.

From it’s early days on Wattpad to the first instalment The Key to Erebus being published in 2012, I was hooked on the story of Jehenne and Corvus from the start. Set in the Dordogne countryside and weaving a story involving vampires, witches, fae and ghouls, Erebus instantly threw fresh light onto what had become a tired genre. Fast forward four years, and what was a refreshing paranormal romantic adventure, has become something of an epic extravaganza, which I’m delighted to say, is going to stretch to a four book series, instead of the three I had expected. And why not? Because clearly there’s still much to tell of this tale that has its origins not only in the supernatural world, but also in Greek mythology.

Following the series and the author on social media, and as is the way with many paranormal romances, undoubtedly it’s the male protagonist that gets the main share of the limelight where the fans are concerned, something which I totally get, but which also often leaves me feeling a touch of sympathy for the female MC. Particularly when that female MC happens to be as kick-ass as Jehenne. I do recall in the early days of the series, Jehenne sometimes got a bad rap from those expecting someone slightly more ‘Bella Swan’ and instead being given more sass than a sack full of ‘Selene’s’. But, having been exhausted by too many weak and so-desperately-in-love-far-too-quickly-with-the-bad-boy female protagonists, I was craving for a character like Jehenne – someone with a bit of grit about her, someone who was feisty and independent and who was likely to give the guy a hefty kick in the balls if he so much as spoke to her in the wrong tone of voice. I liked Jehenne instantly and I never once stopped rooting for her, even if at times, I could see she was about to end up in a whole heap of trouble. She wasn’t perfect, she felt real, and that, to me, was key.

And besides, you can forgive a character for their flaws, if essentially, they learn from them and grow and whoa, has Jehenne grown! The Fires of Tartarus is like a coming of age story for Jehenne, having had to take the helm as Master of Corvus’ family, while also battling to rescue him from where he languishes in Tartarus itself. We see a new Jehenne, one who has to learn to believe in herself while keeping control of all the chaos surrounding her and mourning the loss of the love she so desperately wants back. I’m not going to delve too much further into the plot here, in case of spoilers, but suffice to say that it was a total delight to see just how far Jehenne had come since the first book in the series. She was masterful, she was strong, she fought to be the person Corvus always maintained she was and she did everything with a touch of humility that showed she was still the Jehenne we had grown to love, just a more grown-up and in-control Jehenne.

Of course, I’d love to wax lyrical about Corvus in this review, because he is still one of my all-time favourite characters but if I talk about him here, I’ll reveal way too much of the plot and nobody wants to see that in a review! Instead, I’ll just let you find out for yourselves, Tartarus gives us a very different Corvus to the one we knew in Erebus and Arima, but still one with the ability to make all the female readers sigh a bit and in need of a cold shower or two 😉

Also interesting to see was the continued development of some existing characters – I’ll guarantee you now that Sariel, Lucas and Cain will become firm fan favourites – plus the addition of the glittery and magical Kai, Emma has built solid network of three-dimensional characters around our two MC’s that helps bring this book to life, until you feel invested in each and every name on the page.

With a slightly darker, and noticeably hotter edge to book three in the series, Emma has managed to create something which transcends the paranormal romance genre, a story in which world-building takes centre stage, where places like Tartarus and Alfheim seem as familiar as London and Paris, where vampires, witches, fae and angels are most definitely all real and where you wouldn’t bat an eyelid to meet a Cockney-ghoul called Rodney. At its heart, it’s the age-old battle between good and evil, but with an angst and fire that will have you turning page after page, sobbing into your pillow and then punching the air with triumph.

Want a story with grit, passion, love, hatred, war and a bit more passion thrown in for good measure? Then The Fires of Tartarus is a five-star epic spectacular that you won’t want to miss!

Roll on book four – just don’t leave us waiting too long, Emma 😉

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Review time! The Key To Erebus – Emma Leech

Afternoon friends, writers, readers and weirdos

Time for another rare review from yours truly, this time for another Wattpad devotee, Emma Leech and her fab novel The Key To Erebus.

The Key To Erebus was the first offering that I read from a fellow Wattpadder and also probably the first ever vampire/paranormal fiction I’ve read where the action is set in somewhere other than the UK or the U.S. I loved the backdrop of the Dordogne countryside and found it to be a refreshing break from the norm and one that immediately caught my attention. I mean, vampires and witches in the French countryside? Really? Yeah, why the hell not!

Immediately we are introduced to our main protagonist, Jehenne, somewhat a troubled girl, suffering from nightmarish visions of the future and around whom strange things tend to happen and strange ghostly figures tend to appear. After too many disagreements with her parents, Jehenne takes herself off to stay with her eccentric, odd grandmother; a lady who has her own herb room, has a penchant for croissants, reads tarot cards and doesn’t bat an eyelid when ghosts pop in for a chat. That’s right, Ines Corbeaux is a witch and Jehenne finds out she has definitely inherited the family abilities; in fact she’s a pretty damn good witch, only she doesn’t quite know this yet.

Not long after taking root in her grandmother’s home, Jehenne is soon thrust into the dangerous and unpredictable world of supernatural creatures: shape-shifters, faeries (not quite the Tinkerbell-like cuties you might expect), ghouls, sirens and vampires.

Talking of vampires, step forward elder vamp Corvus, dangerous, sexy and powerful and more than a little miffed when he learns of Jehenne’s existence seeing as she looks more than a bit like his long-lost beloved.

When a fledgling vampire kills a keeper; protector of one the supernatural worlds most precious artefacts, the whole supernatural council is called into session and all fingers start pointing towards the vampires themselves, and Corvus and Jehenne are reluctantly thrown together in the mission to discover the perpetrator. Throw in a serious grudge against Corvus from Ines and an unwanted attraction to the vampire her grandmother would like to see dead, you just know Jehenne’s troubles have only just begun.

What I loved most about Erebus, is that you never quite know who to trust. None of the characters are quite what they appear to be on the surface, there are many secrets, many lies and danger lurking around every corner which keeps you turning page after page, desperate to know who is telling the truth and who is the enemy.

Jehenne is feisty, strong-willed and independent with just that right amount of vulnerability you need to keep you rooting for her right to the very end and Corvus is fantastically alluring as the lead vamp. Chuck in the ghoulishly wonderful Londoner, Rodney with all his ‘blimeys’ and ‘luvs’ to add in a hint of humour and the whole novel is a recipe for a real page-turning romp of wicked proportions.

If you’re looking for a read that has all the right elements to keep you on the edge of your seat and characters you’ll fall in love with, then The Key To Erebus is the one for you!

Five out of five, Emma. Fabulous stuff!

Emma’s novel, The Key To Erebus, is available to read via Wattpad or you can also buy from Amazon currently for free!

http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Key-Erebus-Corbeaux-ebook/dp/B009OEKJ0E/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1365252896&sr=1-1&keywords=the+key+to+erebus

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The Book of Lost Souls by Michelle Muto: A Review

As an 11-year-old graduate to the university of adult horror, the idea of young adult fiction never really appealed to me, even at the age when it probably should have. I never really got further than Judy Blume when I was in middle school, and although I read those books religiously (as did all of my class-mates) I had already dipped my toes into a world of giant man-eating rats, Pennywise The Clown and more blood than a Hammer horror film.

Young adult fiction was a genre that I bypassed. That is until the Twilight novels were published and I felt myself, like many others, being drawn into the world of Bella, Edward and Jacob. The Twilight series, despite now appealing to a much wider market mostly thanks to the movie franchise and a certain English actor with rather lovely hair, were written for the young adult reader. They have been awarded numerous accolades for Children’s and Young Adult Fiction and have spent a spectacular 235 weeks in the New York Times Bestseller list for Children’s Series Books.

After years of immersing myself in the murky waters of adult horror, it seemed strange and somewhat alien to be drawn into reading a series intended for the teenage market. But nevertheless, I enjoyed reading them. I would never go as far to say I hold them up there with the works of King, Herbert and Rice (each to their own, you understand) but I completely respect and admire what Meyer has achieved and found myself wanting more as soon as each book in the series was finished.

I admit, I’m not sure I should enjoy YA fiction. I feel slightly as if I am betraying my first fictional love. It’s a bit like saying “look, I’ve read all the serious stuff involving blood and gore and now I just want to go back and ready about twinkly vampires and school proms”. For a thirty-six year old, I feel a bit at odds with this. It’s like what Judy Blume herself said in Forever “Like my mother said, you can’t go back to holding hands”.

But, as you may have already noticed, I have this weird masochistic fascination with being proved wrong.

So I ticked Twilight off my list and felt pretty pleased with myself for having got through it without wanting to write a stern letter to Meyer herself demanding to know why she hadn’t killed off half the characters in a brutal blood-fest and why she hadn’t let Edward and Bella bump nasties in the first book (although I really was tempted with the latter as they did frustrate the hell out of me).

Then a strange thing happened. Having started to make more of a concerted effort to connect with other writers on Twitter, I found that the majority of my new followers were in fact, YA writers. Probably one of my earliest followers was a lady called Michelle Muto, author of The Book of Lost Souls and Don’t Fear The Reaper. We didn’t connect much in the early days. I would do the odd random #FolllowFriday for which Michelle would always express her gratitude but other than that I was never really sure what we would have in common, other than being writers. I didn’t want to fake myself as a big YA fan, when in reality I didn’t believe myself to be one.

I downloaded the Kindle app to my PC and found myself automatically purchasing The Book of Lost Souls, mostly out of sheer curiosity. I wanted to check out some of my Twitter friends work. I wanted to see if I could compare Dark Sanctuary to other novels and see whether it was good enough; whether it could stand side by side with theirs, when I eventually make the leap to getting published. I never expected to enjoy it. It was a YA novel after all and I just didn’t see how I could ever connect with it.

And, I’m shamed to say, there it sat for some time until Father Christmas brought me the Kindle itself and having some time over the holiday period to catch up on some reading, I was determined to give it a shot.

The Book of Lost Souls centres around sixteen year old Ivy MacTavish and her friends, all Kindreds (witches, vampires, werewolves, demons) living side by side with the Regulars (non-supernatural beings) in the town of Northwick. Ivy herself is a witch, and we first meet her when she has come up with a not-so-cunning plan to transform her friend’s brother’s horned-toad lizard, Spike, into a human, so that she can take him along to the Northwick High Halloween Party in order to make Dean, the intended target of her affections, jealous.

“What?” I hear you say “no evil rodents? No vampires hell-bent on wiping out an entire town?”

Nope. But strangely, I was reeled in. I think what got me first was the humour. Newly turned lizard Spike, still not quite in charge of his human faculties, causes absolute mayhem at the party in an attempt to lick embroidered dragonflies off the chest of Ivy’s enemy in matters of the heart, Tara and Uncle Lucas (Ivy’s friends crazy geriatric werewolf uncle) gate crashes the party with a few prized bones raided from the local cemetery. I found myself actually howling (not in a werewolf sense of course) and that always goes a long way with me, as not many authors ever make me actually laugh out loud. In fact, I can probably count on the fingers of one hand which writers have done so: Janet Evanovich, Terry Pratchett and Jeremy Clarkson.

Yet here I was, getting sucked into a YA novel on account of it’s humour. And then came the more serious undertone to the book.

We learn that Ivy’s family is tainted with rumours of dark magic, her own father having abandoned her and her mother years before after getting involved in some pretty sticky murderous business that has left its own dark stain on Ivy herself. Many expect her to be just like her father, and when she comes across a dark magic book ‘The Rise of the Dark Curse‘ in the cemetery, Ivy embarks on a mission to discover who left the book there to be found whilst trying to avoid accusations as townsfolk begin to be murdered around her and battling with her own growing fascination with the book’s tempting magic.

As Ivy got more and more sucked into the whispering dark pages of the book, I found myself getting well and truly sucked into Michelle’s story. All of sudden, I forgot that I was a grown woman reading a YA novel. It didn’t matter. I was completely immersed in really what is simply a great story. Touching on friendship, relationships, family, feelings of abandonment and betrayal, there was nothing here that I couldn’t relate to now or at least remember experiencing when I was a teenager.

Does it matter that the story is about a sixteen year old girl? No.

Does it make it any less interesting and enjoyable to read about a teenager, when the reader is an adult? Not at all.

And I think that’s the whole point about young adult fiction that I have been missing all this time, or at least, trying to ignore. It really doesn’t matter if the intended market is much younger than you actually are. If the story is good enough, if the characters are captivating and well-written, then that really is enough to open up the book to a wider market. You only have to look at Twilight and Harry Potter to know that its true. Okay, so I know that a successful film franchise definitely has it’s benefits, but at some point, someone read those books and decided they were able to open them up to a wider audience, because they already knew that they could appeal to all ages.

So, next time you let that YA novel sit festering on your Kindle or think twice about clicking that download button, take a small word of advice from a fellow sceptic, and just give it a go.

You never know….you might just become a fan.

 

Please feel free to follow Michelle on twitter @michellemuto or check out her blog http://michellemuto.wordpress.com

 

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