Evie’s Ghost by Helen Peters

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Title: Evie’s Ghost

Author: Helen Peters

Genre: Children’s Historical Fiction

Publisher: Nosy Crow/Allen and Unwin

Published: 28th June 2017

Format: Paperback

Pages: 304

Price: $14.99

Synopsis: Classic children’s fiction from the author of The Secret Hen House Theatre.

Evie couldn’t be angrier with her mother. She’s only gone and got married again and has flown off on honeymoon, sending Evie to stay with a godmother she’s never even met in an old, creaky house in the middle of nowhere. It is all monumentally unfair. But on the first night in her godmother’s spare room, Evie notices a strange message scratched into the windowpane, and everything she thought she knew gets turned upside down. After a ghastly night’s sleep Evie wakes up in 1814, dressed as a housemaid, and certain she’s gone back in time for a reason. A terrible injustice needs to be fixed. But there’s a housekeeper barking orders, a bad-tempered master to avoid, and the chamber pots won’t empty themselves. It’s going to take all Evie’s cunning to fix things in the past so that nothing will break apart in the future…

~*~

Evie’s Ghost is the kind of novel that whilst for kids, is perfect for anyone who enjoys a mystery or historical fiction, and is a delightful time slip novel set in the early nineteenth century. Thirteen year old Evie has been sent to the country to stay with her godmother, Anna, whilst her mother and her stepfather go on a holiday without her. Annoyed at her mother, and with a dislike of her new stepfather, Evie reluctantly arrives at the house, and is devastated to learn of a lack of technology – and feels cut off from her friends and the world until an encounter with a ghost at her window draws her two hundred years into the past, to a grand house – where she must serve as a house maid to the Fanes who had once owned the property her godmother and others now live in, divided into apartments, and the interior grandeur lost. Waking up in 1814, Evie soon discovers a mystery to untangle, and someone to help – the daughter of the owner, Sophia Fane, in love with a gardener but who is being forced to wed someone double her age. With only a few days to work things out, Evie must find a way to help Sophia and get back to her time before she is missed.

Evie’s Ghost manages to tell an intriguing story, and uses the right amount of suspense and mystery, revealing things as they need to be revealed throughout the story, allowing the reader to immerse themselves in the characters and time period. The initial shock of being yanked from the twenty-first century into the nineteenth century and Evie’s response to the food and clothes, and the people, as well as their reaction to her, and the way she speaks, laughing off her suggestion of cleaning machines as dreams that will never eventuate all work together to bring the modern and old worlds together, and for Evie to adapt, though she sometimes slips up with modern dialogue, it works for her character, illustrating the stark differences between her time and theirs.

Telling it in first person gave the story a great impact – seeing both worlds through Evie’s eyes ensured that the strength of the contrasting worlds and attitudes towards class and gender, and Evie’s shock at how people treated each other – gave the story more power, I think, and allows the reader to feel as though they are experiencing these attitudes with Evie. Showing this contrast through her eyes ensures that the varying aspects of the time periods are experienced by her and therefore, by the reader through a personal account. I felt immersed in the world in this way, but have also read third person novels where it has been done exceptionally well, and I think that comes down to the writer as well as the point of view character, and Helen Peters has done a really food job with Evie and her story here, culminating in a conclusion that had hints dropped here and there but that I still questioned at times, making sure I had all the clues right before my aha moment.

This novel worked because of these contrasts, and because of the compelling story that allows the reader to immerse themselves in the world of 1814 and Evie’s desire to help Sophia and get back to her time. The publisher’s website says it is aimed at readers aged between nine and twelve, and it is a good book for this age group, but I enjoyed it, as I enjoy time slip novels, historical fiction and mysteries, and Evie’s Ghost managed to combine all three to create a story that I read rather quickly, eager to see how it was resolved. I would recommend it to any reader who enjoys history, mysteries, and female heroines who resolve things for themselves.

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Draekora by Lynette Noni

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Title: Draekora (Medoran Chronicles #3)

Author: Lynette Noni

Genre: Fantasy/YA

Publisher: Pantera Press

Published: 1st April 2017

Format: Paperback

Pages: 448

Price: $19.99

Synopsis: “I swear by the stars that you and the others slain tonight will be the first of many. Of that you have my word.”

With Aven Dalmarta now hiding in the shadows of Meya, Alex is desperate to save Jordan and keep the Rebel Prince from taking more lives.

Training day and night to master the enhanced immortal blood in her veins, Alex undertakes a dangerous Meyarin warrior trial that separates her from those she loves and leaves her stranded in a place where nothing is as it should be.

As friends become enemies and enemies become friends, Alex must decide who to trust as powerful new allies—and adversaries—push her towards a future of either light… or darkness.

One way or another, the world will change…

~*~

The third book in the Medoran Chronciles series picks up soon after the devastating events of Raelia, where Bear, D.C. and Alex find themselves spending their Kaldoras holidays without their friend, Jordan, who has been Claimed by Aven. Transported to Meya during this trip, Alex is sent on a varranguard test to see how she deals with the Meyarin abilities she acquired in battle with Aven. Soon, Alex encounters Xiraxus, a draekon trapped in her time, and is ripped two thousand years into the past, where she must wait for Xiraxus to be strong enough to transport her back to her own time, whilst using the time she has to learn about Meya and how Aven of the past becomes the Aven of the future, her future. Carefully trying to keep her secret of mortality from Aven, and the other Meya, Alex goes by Aeylia, and begins her education and interaction with tose she knows in the future, but not in the past. It is up to Alex to survive this time in the past, whilst her friends in the future are stuck in time. She must make hard decision that will see tragedy come down upon those she cares about, Meya and human. In the third book, Alex is tested in ways that she could never have imagined since stepping through the doors to Medora and Akarnae in book one, and where she must find a way to get back to her world to prevent the Aven of the future from destroying the world and everyone she cares about.

aww2017-badgeIn this third instalment, I didn’t know what to expect. Alex and her friends, D.C. and Bear, are still trying to find a way to free Jordan from the clutches of Aven and keep Medora and Akarnae safe from his destruction. It kept up a good pace, like the first two, where Alex, though out of her depth at first, finds a way to settle into her new surroundings whilst staying true to her character and adapting what she knows and can do to ensure she is not discovered, though it may only be a matter of time before her secret is revealed, and Aven wreaks havoc on his family and Meya.

I enjoyed the draekons in this book. Xiraxus was adorable and a great asset to the story. Being away from Akarnae was refreshing, as readers get to experience Meya, and Draekora, two other regions of Medora, and begin to put the pieces of Aven’s rebellion and other hints dropped in the first two novels together. I enjoyed reading this one, and it kept me awake late a couple of nights hoping to get to the end, but at the same time, wanting to savour it and enjoy it – whilst anticipating the lengthy wait for book four, hopefully next year. Another great instalment from Lynette Noni, and a tick in my Australian Women Writer’s Challenge, and in another reading challenge for the fantasy category.

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The Puzzle Ring by Kate Forsyth

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Title: The Puzzle Ring

Author: Kate Forsyth

Publisher: Scholastic/Pan Macmillan

Category: Historical Fiction/Children’s Fiction

Published: 1st June 2009

Pages: 409

Price: $16.99

Synopsis: An ancient curse. A ruined castle. A journey back in time.

Hannah Rose was not quite 13 years old when she discovered her family was cursed. . . .

The arrival of a mysterious letter changes Hannah’s life forever. One day she is an ordinary teenage girl. The next day she discovers she is heir to a castle in the Scottish highlands—a castle that was cursed more than four hundred and forty years ago.

The curse has haunted her family for generations, culminating in the disappearance of Hannah’s father the day after she was born. A prophecy tells of a Red Rose who will save a Black Rose, solve the puzzle ring, and break the curse. Red-haired Hannah is determined to be the one.

Yet, to break the curse, she must go back in time to the last tumultuous days of Mary, Queen of Scots . . . a time when witches were burnt and queens were betrayed and the dark forces of wild magic still stalked the land. . . .

 

~*~

If you’re looking for something new to read, then go no further than Kate Forsyth’s 2009 novel, The Puzzle Ring. Set in Scotland, the novel begins in modern times, with the main character, Hannah Rose Brown, discovering the truth about her heritage.

From the opening words about not quite thirteen-year-old Hannah Rose Brown, I was hooked.  The opening line swept me into the action and I soon found myself preoccupied by the book, dreaming about it, eager to get back to it when I was away from it.

The Puzzle Ring has become on of the books I own that I want to revisit and practically re –read as soon as I have finished it for the first time. I felt at home in Scotland, drawn to the ancestral home of my own family. Kate Forsyth created a world that I could feel myself living in. I smelt the snow, heard the sounds of Wintersloe and smelt the sixteenth century smells, found myself playing for Mary, Queen of Scots and helping Hannah in her quest.

This book reaches a wonderful conclusion that I never saw coming and it fitted the story perfectly. I cannot wait to revisit this book.