Young read­ers rel­ish true dan­ger

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - FRONT PAGE - Dani Colvin

CITY OF HEAV­ENLY FIRE

Book six in The Mor­tal In­stru­ments Se­ries by Cas­san­dra Clare ( Walker Books, soft­cover, $ 22.95)

SO here we are, at the fi­nal in­stal­ment of the rollicking Young Adult se­ries about de­mon- slay­ing Shad­owhunters, war­locks, were­wolves, vam­pires and faeries.

Along the way, Clare has also pro­duced the three- part Vic­to­rian steam­punk pre­quel se­ries, The In­fer­nal De­vices. Her fans have been wait­ing for the an­swers to ev­ery­thing, but also dread­ing hav­ing to farewell the char­ac­ters they have come to know and love.

Clare han­dles both with aplomb but also spends a lot of time set­ting up a new se­ries of sequels. Called The Dark Ar­ti­fices, it fea­tures new char­ac­ters and is set in Los Angeles five years af­ter the events of the cur­rent se­ries.

Here, Clary’s de­monic brother Se­bas­tian is com­ing closer, us­ing the In­fer­nal Cup to trans­form Nephilim into fright­en­ing crea­tures who form his new army.

Tear­ing fam­i­lies and friends apart, he turns Shad­owhunter against Shad­owhunter, and with this war on each other, the Nephilim can­not pro­tect the world from demons.

Clary, Jace, Is­abelle, Si­mon and Alec take mat­ters into their own hands and en­ter the de­mon realms, where no Shad­owhunter has gone be­fore, to try to save their own people and the hu­man race from com­plete oblit­er­a­tion.

Clare keeps this bleak, in­tri­cate story go­ing at a cracking pace, with the wheels lib­er­ally greased by her rich and vivid imag­i­na­tion and full- throt­tle de­scrip­tive prose. The dark­ness is al­le­vi­ated by wise­crack­ing hu­mour and plenty of time for the char­ac­ters to deal with their ro­man­tic is­sues.

One could ar­gue that the lat­ter is given a lit­tle too much oxy­gen but the story is writ­ten for Young Adult fans who have been de­mand­ing ac­tion and res­o­lu­tion, not their par­ents, and, as in­vested in the char­ac­ters as they are, they are bound to love it.

They are likely to be less en­am­oured with the deaths of sev­eral char­ac­ters but this is a dark se­ries, and to give ev­ery­one a happy end­ing would be to di­min­ish the in­tel­li­gence of the writ­ing and the sense of dan­ger.

THE GE­OG­RA­PHY OF YOU AND ME

By Jennifer E. Smith ( Head­line, soft­cover, $ 19.99)

OWEN lives with his wid­owed dad in the base­ment of a posh build­ing in New York while Lucy lives with her af­flu­ent par­ents on the 24th floor.

At first glance, their worlds are sep­a­rate, but when a power out­age sees them stuck to­gether in a lift be­tween the 10th and 11th floors one hot Septem­ber night, they be­gin to talk.

Even such a brief time to­gether leaves an in­deli­ble mark, and even when they are pulled fur­ther apart by cir­cum­stance and ge­og­ra­phy, Owen and Lucy can­not quite let each other go.

Through post­cards sent across the world, they keep a thread of con­tact alive, even when ev­ery­thing else seems to fall apart.

Smith has a won­der­ful econ­omy with words – some of her chap­ters are only one sen­tence long – but it has huge ca­pac­ity to con­vey emo­tion and vul­ner­a­bil­ity. Owen and Lucy have their pain and fragility, as well as their own joy and strength.

Both char­ac­ters are search­ing for a place to call home, when home turns out to not be what they thought it was.

A beau­ti­fully writ­ten book about loss, lone­li­ness, love, con­nec­tion and hope.

SEA OF SHAD­OWS Book one in the Age of Leg­ends tril­ogy by Kel­ley Arm­strong ( Atom, soft­cover, $ 16.99)

THIS book has strongly di­vided its Young Adult read­er­ship, with re­view­ers slam­ming it for be­ing slow and bor­ing, while oth­ers have praised it for great char­ac­ters and in­trigue. I’m on the side of those who en­joyed this first in­stal­ment.

Draw­ing on Ja­panese and other mythol­ogy and cul­ture, Arm­strong tells the story of twin sis­ters, Mo­ria and Ashyn, who as Keeper and Seeker of their vil­lage are charged with pro­tect­ing their people from the rest­less spir­its that in­habit the For­est of the Dead, where the em­pire’s crim­i­nals are ex­iled to die.

But when evil strikes their vil­lage, it strikes harder than any­one could ever have en­vis­aged. Mo­ria and Ashyn race across a ter­ri­fy­ing waste­land that is filled with reawak­ened mon­sters of leg­end to warn the em­peror, but there is even more evil await­ing them at court.

The book does re­quire pa­tience but when the ter­ror comes, it is truly dark. Depend­ing on your take on things, Mo­ria is ei­ther an in­fu­ri­at­ing loud­mouth or a feisty war­rior, and Ashyn is ei­ther in­sipid and dull, or filled with quiet re­straint and strength. Their re­spec­tive prospec­tive ro­mances also dif­fer widely in per­son­al­ity.

The ac­tion, when it oc­curs, is ex­cit­ing and the back­ground story of how this so­ci­ety works and how leg­end, spir­its, sor­cery and ev­ery­day life mix to­gether sets ev­ery­thing in place for a re­ally promis­ing fol­low- up.

THE SE­QUIN STAR By Belinda Mur­rell ( Ran­dom House, soft­cover, $ 16.99)

AF­TER her grand­mother suf­fers a ter­ri­ble fall, Claire finds a cheap- look­ing se­quinned star pin among her be­long­ings. Why would her stylish grand­mother own such a thing?

Claire finds the an­swer when she is hit by a cy­clist and wakes up in 1932 in the camp of the Ster­ling Broth­ers Cir­cus.

She is be­friended by cir­cus per­form­ers Rosina and Jem, who ar­range for her to stay with them and help out with the work un­til she can get back to her par­ents, though they have no idea that she is from the year 2014.

The lit­tle group be­friends Kit, a wealthy young man, who vis­its the cir­cus – and Rosina – of­ten. When he is kid­napped, the three teenagers de­cide to find and res­cue him.

This is a most en­joy­able story from Mur­rell, who has writ­ten three other time- slip sto­ries that give up­per pri­mary/ young teen read­ers a glimpse into Aus­tralia’s his­tory.

Here the set­ting is the Great De­pres­sion, and Claire learns much more about her grand­mother’s past life and how she met her grand­fa­ther.

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