Now, that's a very nice envelope, not anything I was expecting, so I eagerly opened it up and found...
What a pleasant surprise then to see it contained the author's preferred text version of one of my favourite novels of all time - Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere. And it is gorgeous. Chris Riddell has done the illustrations. I am a big fan of CR's artwork anyway, so, added bonus.
And,to top it all, even the press release is a lovely thing to look at
So, thank you very much to Katie at Headline, and to Headline Books. You've made this Blogger very happy indeed.
Right, first things first, this is likely to only be a short review. I finished Starborn yesterday afternoon and am already a good way into the sequel, Heartland. Also yesterday, I was offered a Netgalley 'treat' review copy of the final volume, Firestorm. (Needless to say I fair snapped the publisher's hand off). For this reason I plan on doing a short review for each book and a more in depth look at the series as a whole after.
So, Starborn... as the first in a new series by a debut author it certainly ticks all the right boxes
Young person living in the middle of nowhere ✔
Mysterious strangers in town as a pivotal day approaches ✔
Lead character leaves home with strangers ✔
Adventure and discovery of Destiny ensues ✔
Yes, as a storyline it feels like nothing new at first, but be patient...
Where a story or series like this can stand or fall is on things like characterisation, world building and the magic system and on these 3 points Lucy Hounsom stands tall.
The Characters - this was a strange one for me. All came across as realistic, believable etc but none stood out. By which I mean, all were equally (ish) effective. I was interested in all but none really above others.
The World - I do like a good map, which this book has, to follow the journey but I also like to be able to 'see' the places visited in my reading mind and not every author can quite pull it off. Lucy Hounsom does - really well.
The Magic - I like my magic to be a bit different to usual, or a new twist at least and I thought LH pulled this off quite well with her Solar and Lunar magic.
So, yeah, I really enjoyed this and, as I say, am already well into book 2.
For this debut I am giving 4/5 stars. I would have gone higher but I expect Heartland and Firestorm will be even better so I have to give myself room to mark up.
It is 15 years after the events of New Pompeii, Nick Houghton is now Decimus Horatius Pullus and the Romans are carrying on in their typically brutal Roman way and the outside world doesn't like it.
When an artefact is uncovered at the real Pompeii that has Nick's name on it it becomes obvious that someone in the future has control of the time travel device (currently held by the Romans in New Pompeii). But who? and how will it affect things?
As with New Pompeii this is a baffling (in a good way) tale that all becomes clear eventually. Swapping scenes between Ancient Pompeii, the modern world and ancient Romans in the modern world took a bit of getting used to but doesn't get in the way of a cracking story.
I previously compared Dan Godfrey's work to that of Michael Crichton (Jurassic Park with Romans) and after reading this I see no reason to change that opinion. I read this book on holiday and got through it in a couple of days but it was the perfect poolside read, a good mix of Sci-Fi and Mystery - what more could you ask for.