Monday 22 May 2023

The Book That Wouldn't Burn by Mark Lawrence

 Livira grew up in a huddle of huts out on the Dust. A place of hand-to-mouth existence, plagued by creatures living within the Dust, and Sabbers attacking from without. It's one of these attacks that leads Livira to a new future; to the city of Crath and the library there. 

Evar and his family live in another library, one which they cannot leave. They've food and water, and all the books they could ever read, but Evar longs for escape. 

The two meet in a place between worlds; somewhere outside the normal boundaries of time and/or space, and from which they can travel to multiple other worlds. Are Livira's and Evar's home libraries in the same world but at different times, or at the same time on different worlds? In Evar's world civilisation has fallen to the Sabbers; in Livira's it looks like it will happen soon. Is there a way to avoid the cycle of rise and destruction that plaques both worlds.

This is a book which starts out simply with Livira being forced from her home and resettling in the city, but which gradually expands to bring in themes of love crossing all boundaries, of the danger of having unlimited knowledge without checks and curbs on its use, of who should limit that knowledge, of mankind's destiny to repeat its mistakes again and again. The plot twists and turns through time so much that I was left dizzy, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. As Book 1 of a series, not everything is nicely tied off at the end, and I can't wait to read 'whats happens next'.

A great startb to a new trilogy from Mark Lawrence.

Friday 5 May 2023

Gothikana by RuNyx

  Corvina Clemm had never expected to be going to university so to say she's surprised to receive an admission invitation to University of Verenmore would be putting things mildly, but she's not going to turn down the opportunity now she's been offered it.

Situated on a mountain top, cut off from the neighbouring town by dense forests, Verenmore is a place of mystery, dangerous cults, and unexplained deaths, but Corvina finds herself at home there. She also finds herself irresistibly attracted to her tutor Vad Deverell, a man who rumour would associate with strange deaths on campus. Their forbidden relationship could unravel some of Verenmore's mysteries; or it could end in disaster. 

I wasn't sure quite what to expect with this book but I'm finding that lately I'm enjoying quirky, gothic reads, so decided to try it - and I was hooked. Despite the familiar start - unexpected acceptance to a mysterious university/boarding school, with a host of unexplained events in its history - it soon goes its own way. Corvina is a strange protagonist, raised by her single mother in virtual isolation with no friends or family, and to be honest I didn't necessarily trust her intuitions, especially regarding Vad, but that ambiguity is part of the book's appeal.

It's a very readable book, one which keeps you turning the pages, but it's dark, very dark, filled with death and forbidden passion, and sex - lots of sex (don't imagine we're talking Harry Potter here, or even Wednesday Addams, grown up a little). In a preface to my review copy, the Author cautions readers about the subjects raised - death, suicide, parental neglect - and the explicit nature of the sex scenes; it's definitely an 'adult' read, not for younger teens.