REVIEW: The Queen’s Poinsoner

Author: Jeff Wheeler

The Kingfountain Series

Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult, Fiction, Magic

Format: e-Book

Goodreads Synopsis

King Severn Argentine’s fearsome reputation precedes him: usurper of the throne, killer of rightful heirs, ruthless punisher of traitors. Attempting to depose him, the Duke of Kiskaddon gambles…and loses. Now the duke must atone by handing over his young son, Owen, as the king’s hostage. And should his loyalty falter again, the boy will pay with his life.

Seeking allies and eluding Severn’s spies, Owen learns to survive in the court of Kingfountain. But when new evidence of his father’s betrayal threatens to seal his fate, Owen must win the vengeful king’s favor by proving his worth—through extraordinary means. And only one person can aid his desperate cause: a mysterious woman, dwelling in secrecy, who truly wields power over life, death, and destiny.

I decided to try this book after being recommended it late last year (you can read more about that here).

Wheeler’s writing style appeals to me. Despite using ‘fancy’ words like “forsooth”, he is still able to keep the language accessible and this story was a quick and easy read. The magical world that the story is set in was also different enough to hold my interest, while also keeping some familiar tropes.

I did struggle a bit with the age of the main character. There seemed to be some inconsistencies in the way that Owen was portrayed in terms of his maturity and how he would handle situations. While he did grow throughout the story, it wasn’t always a linear development. Having Owen be 8 years old was a difficult ask. He was, I think, perhaps a bit too young? Other than obsessively playing with bricks (a ‘young’ thing to do), the rest of what he got up to could just have easily been done by say an 11 year old. The fact that he was playing with a girl who already knew she would marry Owen when she was older felt a little odd for them both to be so young. I’m not sure, it just didn’t seem to sit quite right with me.

While I haven’t picked up the next book in the series yet, I would like to read it. There is a jump in time for the next book which doesn’t leave me with the need to rush out and find out what happened next. That’s isn’t to say that a time jump is a bad thing. I think it will be helpful for Owen to have had some time to grow up a bit.

Really enjoyed the story. Loved the writing style. Would strongly recommend.

And that was January

Reading Progress

This year things are going AM.A.ZING-ly reading wise and it is largely down to this woman:

These are the books I read in January 2019:

And here are my current reads:

Challenge Progress

  • 2019 Goodreads Challenge – 3/30
    • Free Reads – 1/10
    • Clear Your Shelves – 0/10
    • An Author’s Work – 2/10

Now to get review writing…

REVIEW: Legends of Muirwood Trilogy

Book Titles: ‘The Wretched of Muirwood’ (Book #1) | ‘The Blight of Muirwood’ (Book #2) | ‘The Scourge of Muirwood’ (Book #3)

Author: Jeff Wheeler

Legends of Muirwood

Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult, Fiction, Magic

Format: e-Book

Goodreads Synopsis

‘The Wretched of Muirwood’ (Book #1)
In the ancient and mystical land of Muirwood, Lia has known only a life of servitude. Labeled a “wretched,” an outcast unwanted and unworthy of respect, Lia is forbidden to realize her dream to read or write. All but doomed, her days are spent toiling away as a kitchen slave under the charge of the Aldermaston, the Abbey’s watchful overseer. But when an injured squire named Colvin is abandoned at the kitchen’s doorstep, an opportunity arises. The nefarious Sheriff Almaguer soon starts a manhunt for Colvin, and Lia conspires to hide Colvin and change her fate. In the midst of a land torn by a treacherous war between a ruthless king and a rebel army, Lia finds herself on an ominous journey that will push her to wonder if her own hidden magic is enough to set things right. At once captivating, mysterious, and magic-infused, The Wretched of Muirwood takes the classic fantasy adventure and paints it with a story instantly epic, and yet, all its own.

‘The Blight of Muirwood’ (Book #2)
The Aldermaston, the protector of Muirwood Abbey, is directed by the Medium to make Lia the new hunter of Muirwood. This will take some doing and a lot of training, but with leather bracers, a shooting glove, and quivers in hand, Lia rises to the challenge. Her first real order is to protect Ellowyn Demont from rivals like the Queen Dowager and the Earl of Dieyre. Lia knows very little about the princess’s land of Pry-Ree, but when Ellowyn is abducted, Lia will join forces with Colvin to bring her back. Lia and Colvin must venture into the heart of a fallen kingdom, one devastated by an encroaching sickness called the Blight. It is here that a dark new secret is revealed – one that will make safeguarding the Abbeys nearly impossible. 

‘The Scourge of Muirwood’ (Book #3)
When a deadly plague is unleashed in the land of Muirwood, the fate of the world is placed in the hands of a young woman named Lia. Charged to be a magical protector, Lia volunteers to be sent on a desperate quest to rescue the squire Colvin, her love, and his pupil Ellowyn Demont, the alleged heir to the fallen kingdom of Pry-Ree. Still recovering from the injuries of her last adventures, Lia sets off across land and sea warning the kingdom of the oncoming plague. The journey leads her to Dochte Abbey, where her friends are supposedly held. Instead, though, a fallen enemy lies in wait for her, as well as an unbearable new truth. The revelation will force Lia to choose between the lives of her closest friends and her deepest desires…

The trouble with reviewing books is deciding whether or not you should be objective or subjective. That’s why I take the easy route and just share my experiences while reading. I read the three books in very quick succession, so it is hard for me to remember which book things happened in. Hence the series review.

I really enjoyed Wheeler’s writing style. The characters had an engaging (at least for me) way of interacting with each other. That helped me become engrossed in the world and invest in the characters. I have noticed that I am now increasingly picky about writing style and narrative voice. I just don’t have any tolerance for stories where I find those things jarring (hence why I gave up on ‘A Glimmer of Hope’ after only 11%).

I was pretty sure I knew Lia’s secret from early on the in story, and although there were attempts to convince me I had it wrong eventually I was proved right. My main motivation for devouring the books so quickly though was not the magic or the intrigue. It wasn’t learning about how society worked in the world. Nope. It was the romance.

And I hate myself a little bit for it.

Remember when you read the ‘Twilight’ saga in a matter of days because the angst was just so real you became addicted to it? A similar thing happened to me in this series. Now please don’t misunderstand me, these books are FAR superior to ‘Twilight’ but as the story lost its way a little bit across the three books I just kept reading. I read past bits that made me momentarily think ‘huh?’ so that I could see the lovers finally unite.

The world created in the Muirwood series is explored by Wheeler in another series but I won’t be picking those up. The last book just left me feeling meh. Which is a real shame, because for most of the series I was much more engaged than that.

So would I recommend The Legends of Muirwood? Yes. Definitely books 1 and 2, and then prepared to be a bit disappointed with the third one.

Overall, a pleasant experience.

REVIEW: The Red House Mystery by A.A. Milne

The Red House Mystery

Book Title: The Red House Mystery
Author: A.A. Milne
Series: N/A
Genres: Mystery, Classics, Crime
Format: Paperback

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Goodreads Synopsis

Far from the gentle slopes of the Hundred Acre Wood lies The Red House, the setting for A.A Milne’s only detective story, where secret passages, uninvited guests, a sinister valet and a puzzling murder lay the foundations for a classic crime caper. And when the local police prove baffled, it is up to a guest at a local inn to appoint himself ‘Sherlock Holmes’ and, together with his friend and loyal ‘Watson’, delve deeper into the mysteries of the dead man.

‘The Red House Mystery’ is a lost gem from a time before Tigger and a perfectly crafted whodunit with witty dialogue, deft plotting and a most curious cast of characters.

As soon as I saw that the legendary A. A. Milne had written a mystery novel I knew I needed to read it. I bought it back in January during my birthday book haul but it took me until August to actually get around to it.

Unusually for me I also read the introduction. To hear the author talk in that familiar style about his writing process was fascinating to me. As was his use of the word “watsonize” which may be my favourite thing to come out of reading it.

The story itself was frightfully British and in the ilk of Agatha Christie. There is a grand house and a visitor who sticks his nose in while trying to solve the crime. While this isn’t a ground breaking formula, it is something I can read time and time again without getting bored.

The twists and turns in this mystery really kept me guessing (as proved by my tweets below).

Other reviewers have suggested that the story is a parody. I’m not sure about that but it is true that the book didn’t take itself too seriously.

There is probably an argument that I am one of those book reviewers who give out 5 stars too easily. But this book was just perfect for me so it would be wrong for me to give it any less.

Perfect for me. Likely to talk about it during reading. Might re-read as I enjoyed it so much.


REVIEW: The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask


Book Title: The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask
Author: Akira Himekawa
Series: The Legend of Zelda #3
Genres: Sequential Art > Manga, Graphic Novel, Fantasy
Format: Paperback

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After sealing Ganondorf in the Sacred Realm, Link returns to the time when he was a boy. Peace has returned to Hyrule, but his old friend Navi is missing. While wandering the forest in search of Navi, he meets Skull Kid, who is wearing Majora’s Mask, an artifact said to grant your wishes. The mischievous Skull Kid steals the Ocarina of Time from Link and turns Link into a Deku Nut!

I’m not usually one for skipping mid-way into a series but this was the first edition available back on Free Comic Book Day when I picked it up. I was excited to dive into my second manga after reading Pokemon earlier in the year.

I like to think that reading manga is reading outside of my comfort zone.  Considering both of my manga reads to date have been about video games I have played, I think perhaps I am kidding myself on that one.

It was initially weird to me that the character of Link was able to talk in the story. He is notoriously silent in the video game but once I was a few pages in I was enjoying reliving the excitement of the game through the book. There are some understandable differences in the story line and these edited out a lot of what you experience as you play through the game. It didn’t take anything away from my enjoyment though. It was still a nostalgic read.

There is an additional short story at the end that left me perplexed. Now I am very good at imagery, symbolism, reading between the lines etc. but I just didn’t get it. That left a rather sour taste for me.

This is very much a book that fans will enjoy. I’m not sure how well others would appreciate it.

Taking that into account, overall this is a 4* read.

4 Star Rating
Perfect except for…