Saturday, January 28, 2017

A Taste For Monsters by Matthew J. Kirby

Evelyn must escape the merciless London streets for her survival. Hiding her disfigured face and hungering for asylum, Evelyn seeks employment at the London Hospital. The hospital has a position working for someone else hiding from the world: Joseph Merrick, the Elephant Man. Evelyn is scared by the hideous being, but she grows to love and respect the childlike man inside the malformed body. After a few months, she and Mr. Merrick are visited by several female ghosts, the recent victims of the new serial killer, Jack the Ripper. These visits sap Mr. Merrick’s strength and he begins to decline rapidly. If Evelyn doesn’t resolve the final wishes of these women, Mr. Merrick will die.

Kirby’s story is a supernaturally satisfying thriller certain to keep readers up through the night as they follow Evelyn’s misadventures. Life has not been kind to Evelyn. London’s brutal streets has cost Evelyn her family, her face, and her happiness. She comes to the London Hospital hoping to hide her own pain as she helps others to heal. When Evelyn is given the position as Mr. Merrick’s maid, it turns out that her own marred looks lead to a strong friendship with the misunderstood Mr. Merrick. He teaches Evelyn that there is still hope and beauty in the world, even if people reject or shun her. This sensitivity draws the wandering Ripper victims to Evelyn and Mr. Merrick. Mr. Merrick cannot physically handle their ghostly presence and he begins his own decent to death’s door. The thought of losing her friend spurs Evelyn on to face the unforgiving London streets again. This time she is armed with insight to know who the real monsters are in her world. A rich murder mystery for ages fourteen and up.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Crown of Three by J. D. Rinehart

A prophecy tells of royal triplets who will overthrow their evil father, King Brutan. After their birth, the newborns—Agulphus, Elodie, and Tarlan—are smuggled away to three faraway kingdoms. Thirteen years later, Agulphus is a contortionist scheduled to perform in Brutan’s court. Far away Elodie is kidnapped by rebels who want her to lead their army against Brutan. Meanwhile, Tarlan is flying with his tribe of giant eagles to find his siblings. Agulphus is arrested and put into a cell with King Brutan’s oldest child and Agulphus’s half-brother, Prince Nynus. Agulphus helps Nynus to escape and returns him to his mother, Queen Magritt. But the queen takes advantage of Agulphus and uses him to unknowingly kill Brutan.

Even though the characters are middle-grade age, this story is more appropriate for young adults because of the plot complexity and the graphic, bloody scenes throughout the story. Besides the more mature content, Rinehart’s series is totally engrossing as readers follow the deadly misadventures of Agulphus, Elodie, and Tarlan. When readers catch up to the teenage triplets, each one is well established in their separate lives. However, destiny has different plans for them. For this book, each sibling learns about and accepts their leading roles in defeating Brutan. But that role cannot be fully realized when their father becomes a zombie. Any fans of The Chronicles of Prydain, The Lord of the Rings, or The Inheritance Cycle will thoroughly enjoy this series.