Reviews

Book Review, Artania: The Pharaoh’s Cry by Laurie Woodward

Laurie Woodward is a fellow Next Chapter author (previously, they were called Creativia Publishing) who writes middle grade books the same as I do, and when I read the synopsis for the first book in her Artania series, I was so intrigued I had to grab a copy for myself.

The basic premise for the Artania series is that art is alive and the creations there have their own realm – Artania itself – that is under threat from monsters that want to wipe out all the hope and creativity from the world so they can take over Artania for themselves.

The denizens of Artania, fearful of losing their home, reach out to two young boys who have been prophesied to save them, both of whom have a passion for art but come from drastically different backgrounds: Bartholomew Borax III, whose mother is the head of a bleach company and has such an obsession with cleanliness that he has to hide his art from her lest she declare it unclean and confiscate it, and Alexander DeVinci, a cool kid who moves to a new home with a larger room for him to paint in where he spends most of his spare time, much to his mother’s sadness when he becomes so absorbed in his work that he rarely speaks to her.

As the plot gently unfolds by the switching of viewpoints between the two boys with each chapter, I found I sympathized most with Bartholomew, as his mother is so strict about him staying clean and presentable, and not picking up germs from anywhere, that he really has no interaction with other kids his age at all. When she reluctantly agrees to let him go to a public school, he is very much an outsider and knows none of the social nuances most of the kids in his class use, and it’s only when he draws a detailed portrait that he gains any sort of respect from them.

Alex is very much the opposite of Bartholomew – confident, lots of friends, easygoing parents etc, but his problems begin when his mother becomes seriously ill, and he blames himself for prioritising art over spending time with her. This neglect for art and the negative emotions around it are what the monsters feed on, making them stronger. Yet when the boys are summoned by the Artanians and learn to be friends, Bartholomew manages to help Alex rekindle his love of art.

As this is book one of a series, it only covers a small part of what the boys have to do to save Artania, focusing on a group of pharaohs who have been kidnapped by the monsters. Because of this, a lot of time and detail is spent building up their world, and it’s clear that a lot of research has gone into this book. Many of the characters are true to Egyptian mythology and history, and I actually learnt a bit while reading.

The characters’ motivations were all crystal clear, and I did find myself rooting for the boys when it got to the nitty gritty of the story. I did, however, find the pacing a bit too slow for my liking, but that’s just personal taste – I like fast paced middle grade that doesn’t let me rest, and this just didn’t have that factor. But the idea behind it was still fresh and well thought out.

I don’t know whether I will continue with the series, as despite the strong writing and plot, I can’t say it gripped me as much as I’d hoped it would. But I imagine it will be a firm favourite with many middle grade readers.

Overall, I thought it was a pretty good read.

 

Official blurb:

Young Bartholomew isn’t allowed to go to school, play outside or make art, so he sketches in secret. When Bartholomew meets the skateboarding artist, Alexander DeVinci, he’s yanked into a mythical realm of living paintings and breathing sculptures: Artania.

The two soon learn that the strange world, where everything seems to be possible, is on the verge of destruction. With Egyptian gods and goddesses by their side, they face daring battles and narrow skateboarding escapes.

But can they defeat the evil Sickhert’s army, and bring art back to the world?

Artania

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It’s publication day! Accidental Archaeologist: Half-Wizard Thordric Book Two is finally out!

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As the title of this post would suggest, book 2 in my Half-Wizard Thordric series is now available to buy. Currently, it’s only on Kindle, but in a week or so the paperback will also be available. It’s rather exciting! If you love fantasy, plenty of humour, quests and YA reads, then this may be for you.

However, here’s the blurb just in case you’re not convinced yet:

Three years have passed since Thordric joined the Wizard Council. Together, with High Wizard Vey, they have reformed the council completely.

But while half-wizards can now train their magic freely and join the ranks of the mages, Thordric realizes that there are many who are completely unaware of this. Traveling to the faraway town of Valley Edge, he meets the young archaeologist Hamlet, who is traveling to a dig site where a new discovery has been made.

But not all is as it first appears, and once again Thordric has to put his magic to the test…in order to stop one of the greatest catastrophes their world has ever seen.

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Unofficial Detective is free until the 14th!

Hi guys, just a quick post to let you know that book one in my Half-Wizard Thordric trilogy, Unofficial Detective, is free for four days starting today. So if you’re looking for a new ebook to read and love fantasy and cosy mysteries, you can check it out here.

characters

Character Profile: Lizzie

Full name: Elizabeth Jimmson (Despite being married and then widowed, she always kept her maiden name, with the view that loving someone dearly need not change your entire identity.)

Next of Kin: Eric, son (missing), and Inspector Jimmson Jimmson, brother.

Age: That’s not a very tactful question for anyone to ask, in her opinion.

Favourite Colour: Does one need a favourite colour? She believes it changes depending on her mood, yet the brighter, the better.

Likes: Gardening, baking, teaching, hands-on work. Helping Thordric reach his magical potential.

Dislikes: Being addressed formally and treated differently simply because her younger brother is the Inspector of the local stationhouse. People who like to complain for the sake of complaining.

Life goals: To be reunited with her son, though she knows after so many years it is unlikely. Also to discover what the cause of her husband’s death really was, even if the truth is dark.

Most embarrassing moment: She doesn’t have embarrassing moments, only mild hiccups in her daily routine.

Books featured in: Half-Wizard Thordric Trilogy

characters

Character Profile: Thordric

Full name: Thordric Manfred Smallchance

Next of Kin: Maggie Smallchance, mother

Age: 14 1/2

Favourite colour: Red

Likes: Learning new things and how to control his magic, feeling included, painting, his mentor’s (Lizzie’s) cooking, trying to grow a beard…

Dislikes: Being bullied or made fun off, not being taken seriously, watching his mother carry out postmortems in her morgue, the current state of the Wizard Council.

Life goals: To prove that his magic isn’t dangerous, to have the same opportunities as others his age, to create new spells and potions, and to see half-wizards treated with the same respect as full wizards.

Most embarrassing moment: Too many to count, but having Lizzie catch him naked and then offer him fluffy pink towels to cover up always sticks prominently in his mind.

Books featured in: Half-Wizard Thordric trilogy

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Cover reveal! Unofficial Detective, book one in the Half-Wizard Thordric series!

Ladies and gentlemen, I am squealing with joy to FINALLY reveal the cover of my debut middle-grade fantasy novel, UNOFFICIAL DETECTIVE. Please take a look at the wonderful design my publisher, Creativia, has come up with (plus my unofficial blurb, just to give you an idea of what the book is about!):

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Thordric has been told his whole life that his magic – that of a simple half-wizard – is dangerous and he must never use it. All over Dinia, half-wizards are treated the same, their magic labelled as dangerous and uncontrollable. But deep down Thordric knows that’s not true.

​When Inspector Jimmson reluctantly calls upon him to help out with the investigation into High Wizard Kalljard’s murder, Thordric realises that the old wizard’s life was taken by magic. However, in order to prove his theory, Thordric has to learn how to control his own powers to find the evidence needed.

Will he succeed, or will the perpetrator forever remain a mystery?