Nevertell by Katharine Orton

‘Don’t trust your eyes…’

Oh my. That cover…!

Welcome to the freezing, harsh landscape of Siberia. Here we find a forced labour camp filled with prisoners arrested in the purges of the ‘Great Leader’, Joseph Stalin, and home to 12 year old Lina and her mother, Katya.

There are thousands in the camp – whole families – many arrested on minor charges. The vast majority are required to work in the mine. Lina however, who was born in the camp and has known no other way of life, has inherited her grandfather’s talent for gardening and as such, is allowed to work in the greenhouse under the strict gaze of Commandant Zima. Zima is preparing for the Officer’s Banquet in a week’s time and is hoping that the vegetables Lina grows will win him prestige amongst the officers. The word around the camp is that Zima is Lina’s father, which is why he gives her preferential treatment. Lina isn’t so sure…

At the very beginning of the book, we learn about an escape plan involving Lina, her mother, Vadim – a 16 year old prisoner who ‘already has the tattoos of the criminal underworld’, Alexei – described as ‘Vadim’s muscle – twice (his) age and double his size’ and old Gleb. An unlikely group to be working together but all selected for the individual skills they can bring to the attempt. At the last minute, Lina’s best friend – Bogdan Buyan – the only other person of her age in the camp – tags along. His parents are political prisoners in another camp. His father is a map maker and Bogdan brings along draft maps of Leningrad and Moscow; as such, he is allowed to stay.

Katya is known throughout the camp as playing ‘a ruthless game of poker’ and she sets up a game with the officers to serve as a distraction on the night of the escape. Before she leaves, Katya gives Lina a beaded necklace of her grandfather’s and tells Lina to make her way to her grandmother in Moscow – she was away when her husband, Katya and her son were arrested and is therefore still free. We learn that she has great power…

It isn’t long before they run into problems on the outside and Lina and Bogdan end up on their own. This is only the start of their problems as they are captured again – this time by the Sorceress, Svetlana, also known as ‘Man Hunter’ and her invisible wolves – humans who have been captured and wolfbound to serve her forever. How will they escape this time…?

’NEVER TELL CHILDREN ABOUT THINGS THEY CANNOT SEE…’

I devoured this book. I loved it from the beginning, but when the magical elements were introduced I couldn’t put it down. Children (and adults) will love accompanying Lina and Bogdan on their adventure!

Page count: 384

Age group: 9-12+

Links:

Amazon.

Goodreads.

Waterstones.

I would like to thank both Net Galley and Candlewick Press for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

The Sleeping Warrior by Sara Bain

Sleeping Warrior

This book came highly recommended by a fellow bookworm. I couldn’t wait to read it so a huge thank you to Sara Bain for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review.

As any of you that know me will be aware, my TBR list sits at about 4 years long so it takes a pretty interesting-sounding read to push its way to the front of the queue. This is what happened here…

What the blurb says:

LONDON solicitor Libby Butler’s life is in a self-inflicted mess. Her affair with her boss is going nowhere as is her position in the prestigious city law firm where she works. A narrow escape from the knife of south London’s elusive serial murderer, The Vampire Killer, has challenged her outward bravado and left her nerves and personal life in tatters.

When duty calls Libby to a metropolitan police station in the middle of the night, she meets the enigmatic Gabriel Radley. Dressed like an ancient warrior in studded leather armour, Gabriel has a habit of disappearing from police custody and danger appears to dog him.

Gabriel is searching for a ‘stone’ he has lost, its value ‘beyond human imagination’, that will help bring a ‘monster’ to justice. When Libby agrees to help him, she unwittingly plunges her life into a series of disasters and neither she nor any of her friends are safe.

A cult who call themselves The Awakened, a gangland thug and his henchman, a female assassin, a detective chief inspector from Scotland Yard, and even the serial killer, all become inadvertently embroiled in the chase for the stone and the pivotal force of Gabriel.

As the death toll rises, Libby is forced to face herself, learn the true value of life and the potent significance of the Sleeping Warrior within.

Can you see why now? A murder mystery with a dashing hero and a paranormal element, this absolutely rang all of my bells! Oh but it is so much more.

Sara Bain’s writing style is simply brilliant. The dialogue she creates and her humour are absolutely addictive. Each character in this novel has an entirely unique voice and the way she combines the mundane (in terms of language) with the fantastic (in terms of events) had me rattling through this novel at a rate of knots: ‘Don’t be a bloody fool! Of course not. If he was the Vampire Killer, I would certainly know about it. He’s never even read the Twilight Saga’.

Libby is entirely likeable. She isn’t beautiful, or perfect, or above blame and she sure as hell makes mistakes and behaves badly at times. Hooray! A human female protagonist! And that’s not all. We also meet Rose Red in this novel – a complete kick-ass female Russian assassin but one who is as far removed from a caricature as you can get. There is much more to her than meets the eye. So, what? Two strong female characters? Damn right!

Gabriel is a ‘Vascaran’ (so there!) and is just amazing; I challenge any woman to read this and not fall a tiny bit in love with him. So what if he’s from another dimension? ‘Despite his outward beauty, an inner magnificence shone from within Gabriel… He was ruthless yet forgiving; terrible yet gentle: it was this perfect balance of conflicting qualities that made him so captivating to his friends and bewildering to his enemies’. To some extent he acts as Libby’s conscience and softens some of her harsher edges: ‘A good man whose love you do not deserve sits in a cold cell awaiting injustice…’

There are plenty of characters to get to know – from those that come from the ‘real’ world to those that don’t. Each is drawn brilliantly. Sat here at my computer I can absolutely picture Nicole, the interfering psychiatrist, as well as Carl the hot-shot lawyer and Libby’s philandering boss. But equally, I can also picture Shinar: ‘the most malevolent creature Rose Red had ever encountered and she would forever feel tainted and filthy’.

The novel is an action-packed exploration of good versus evil and its blend of realism and fantasy absolutely works. What a debut! One of my favourite reads of the year so far.

Get a copy on kindle NOW! It’s only £1.84 at the moment – an absolute bargain: The Sleeping Warrior

If yo’d rather have the book: The Sleeping Warrior