This week’s One Word review will be Erin’s Diary: An Official Derry Girls Book by Lisa McGee.
And the award for the underrated classic that is overdue a resurgence goes to…
The Wind Singer by William Nicholson
Reading Challenge: Studio Ghibli Reading Challenge
Prompt: When Marnie Was There – A book from your childhood
I used to love The Wind on Fire trilogy when I was a kid. It’s about time that I revisited it to see if it’s just as good as I remember. The Wind Singer itself is an ancient instrument in the city of Aramanth. Some say its song has the power to bring peace and happiness but it hasn’t played for years and, though Amaranth is safe, it’s far from happy. Everyone toils and studies to improve their family ratings and move up the colour ranks. The pressure to succeed is all too much for Kestrel Hath. She stages a big rebellion against the system and, while escaping punishment, she is given an ancient map that will lead her to the Wind Singer’s voice. She, Bowman (her twin brother) and Mumpo (a boy that Kestrel really doesn’t want to be friends with) must escape the city and take the voice back from the dreaded Morah.
Amaranth is a very well-built world with a good easy-to-understand and brutal political system. Kestrel and Bowman make good main characters. I love the fact that Kestrel and her family don’t automatically have all the answers on how to make Amaranth better. Kestrel isn’t a smart-mouthed rebel who’s ahead of her time and falls into leading a revolution. She’s a kid who’s been pushed to her limit in an unjust system and just can’t hold it in any longer. She doesn’t know what she wants or even what she really feels – she just knows she can’t go on in the current system anymore. Though they are twins, she and Bowman are very different in temperament and share an unexplained but well-implemented bond which allows them to speak through thought. Both of them have different skills that compliment each other and allow them to solve any problem that comes their way. The biggest surprise, of course, is Mumpo. He seems like a joke character written by someone with a cruel sense of humour at first but never underestimate him. The story never stops for a moment. The journey to find the Wind Singer’s voice is a thrilling one that steadily builds with the right amount of rise and fall to an incredibly breathless finale. It’s a fantastic read and I would recommend it to anyone looking for a new fantasy series or even just a good standalone story.
And the award for the book with one great plotline that was sadly not the main one goes to…
Slaves of the Mastery by William Nicholson
Reading Challenge: Booklist Queen’s 2022 Reading Challenge
Prompt: Two Books by the Same Author (Part 1)
Since they were already in my Audible library, I decided I might as well continue the series. Five years have passed since the events of the previous book. Amaranth is peaceful – and ripe for the taking. The Mastery sacks the city and an ambitious captain takes all of the citizens hostage. Except for one. Kestrel Hath manages to avoid the Mastery’s clutches but she won’t leave her brother and her people to suffer. She goes on a journey to find a way to break them free – and runs into a rather surprising source of help.
I don’t remember much about this book but I do remember how entertaining Sisi was. She didn’t disappoint this time. She’s spoiled but she’s certainly not a brat. In fact, I dare you to get to the end of the book without loving her and her character development. The only reason I’m not giving this book full marks is because of Bowman’s half of the book. It feels like the secrets and powers he learns came a bit too easily and too conveniently to him. More action and drama could have been added, as well as Bowman practicing and honing his skills before the big climax. There were some shocks but not enough of them. It felt like Kestrel’s story was well-rounded with tension, humour and great characters but Bowman’s could have done with a bit more page space and time. That said, the world building of the Mastery had a good amount of nuance and the Master himself was an interesting character. So was the captain in his way though I felt more could have been done with him. The story itself didn’t end very well. Like Lirael, it felt like it was just setting up for the third book. With a bit of clever editing, this and Firesong could have just been one long and better book. As it is, the finale wasn’t nearly as satisfying as the first book’s ending and it honestly left me feeling a bit deflated. A bit of a disappointment but it was still an entertaining read.
I hope to see you again very soon.