Wednesday, January 20, 2016

The Book of Learning by ER Murray

The Book of Learning is the first book in the Nine Lives Trilogy and was published by Mercier last September. It tells the story of a twelve year old girl called Ebony Smart who lives with her grandpa in West Cork. However as the book opens Ebony’s grandpa has just died and she is devastated. While she longs to stay in the only home she has known she is whisked away by a strange character called Judge Ambrose who informs her that she has an aunt in Dublin who will be looking after her from now on. Ebony is less than pleased at this turn of events, in fact she is having what can only be described as the worst birthday ever. Luckily it turns out that Aunt Ruby is a brilliantly fun character and even better she and Ebony are part of an ancient order of people with special powers. Unfortunately someone is trying to kill off members of the order and it’s up to Ebony to stop them. This is a smart, funny adventurous story with a tough and resourceful heroine at its heart. This book is perfect for fans of Derek Landy and Shane Hegarty and I would also recommend it to fans of Ruth Long’s Young Adult fantasy series as it features some great adventures around Dublin city’s landmarks. The writing is absolutely brilliant and it is a wonderful book to read aloud as I discovered when I promised to read my daughter just a couple of pages and couldn’t resist devouring several chapters. It has a great opening line ‘The thick, black night hangs heavy with murder.’ E. R. Murray’s next book is a Young Adult novel called Caramel Hearts in April and the next instalment in the Nine Lives Trilogy is due in August. It is no surprise to hear that The Book of Learning has been chosen as 2016 Citywide Reading for Children Campaign by Dublin City of Literature, as it is a stonking good read.  The Campaign runs until the end of March and the book is available in all Dublin City Libraries and in all good bookshops. Find out more here

Monday, January 11, 2016


Truthwitch is an astonishingly good novel. This is the kind of book that fans of YA fantasy have been waiting for. If you love Kristin Cashore and Naomi Novik then you will love Truthwitch. The story focuses on two young witches; Safiya and Iseult whose bond of friendship is unbreakable, they are forced to flee from their home and everything they have known when the tentative peace between the empires is shaken and war looms. While there is romance in this novel it very much takes second place to the most important relationship, that of the two young women. Dennard’s world building is phenomenal and I hope this is just the beginning of a very long series. With various factions at war and different magical abilities the storytelling is fast paced, full of adventure and high stakes thrills. As a Truthwitch Safi could become a powerful tool used by either side in the political and military struggle and her own family may be just as ruthless as her enemies, so she must avoid capture at all costs. Iseult is a threadwitch but she is unsure of herself and of her powers and both girls are hunted by a brutal bloodwitch with frightening powers. Making allies and enemies along the way the girls must find their way to safety. This is brilliant storytelling which will appeal to readers of YA and Fantasy fans alike. Thanks to Lauren Welch at Tor Macmillan for a review copy of this book