“a fantastical story with plenty of excitement” – review of Instrument of War on Risingshadow

Artwork by Alison Buck
Artwork by Alison Buck

On Risingshadow, Seregil of Rhiminee has reviewed Rebecca Hall’s latest novel, Instrument of War, the second book in the Symphony of the Cursed trilogy following on from Instrument of Peace. Seregil enjoyed Instrument of Peace (see his review here) and says he was excited to read Instrument of War. So it’s just as well that it is “just as good” and is an entertaining read for those who love “exciting and fast-paced YA fantasy fiction”. In fact he says it not only lives up to the first book but “even surpasses it”.

The book is a “well written sequel” and he says that those who have read Instrument of Peace will feel immediately at home with the story and “be delighted to immerse themselves in it, because the author delivers a good story”, adding that she “wonderfully maintains tension and excitement in this novel and goes boldly forward with the story”. This book “deepens the story arc” offering exciting and thrilling moments because Rebecca “keeps on building upon what she created in the first novel”.

Seregil says he consider Rebecca’s books to be excellent additions to the increasingly popular YA fantasy genre because she “uses classic elements in a fresh and modern way”. The cast of characters, he says, is “delightfully versatile” with good characterisation because Rebecca writes fluently about “the characters’ feelings, lives and abilities”. He especially likes Rebecca’s “more entertaining and original approach” to vampires, avoiding the common clichés that are often overused in YA faction. He thinks that many readers will like Rebecca’s “vision of vampires, because in her novels the vampires feel much fresher than in many other novels”. He also finds her approach to magic to be “intriguing” and effortless, as is her ability to combine various fantasy elements. He says “I liked it a lot in Instrument of Peace, but now I find it even more intriguing, because she doesn’t seem to hold back anything anymore, but delivers a fantastical story with plenty of excitement.”

Seregil says that, although many YA novels have been written about magic schools and angels, “this novel stands out due to its interesting story and exotic setting” adding that the backdrop of New Zealand locations “adds lots of freshness to it”.

In conclusion, Seregil says that Instrument of War is “one of those rare novels that will captivate younger readers from the very first chapter and will make them read it in one sitting, because the story is immersive”. He is now looking forward to reading the concluding novel Instrument of Chaos (which will be published early next year) because “the story arc is fascinating”.

His final verdict: Good, intriguing and well written YA fantasy that is exciting and fast-paced entertainment for readers of all ages.

You can read Seregil’s full review here.


“a brightly shining gem of epic YA fantasy” – review of Mandigo and the Hellhounds on RisingShadow

Artwork: Alison Buck
Artwork: Alison Buck

On RisingShadow, Seregil of Rhiminee has reviewed Mandigo and the Hellhounds by Anders Reemark, the first book in the Mandigo series. Originally published in Danish this is an English translation by Nina Sokol. Seregil starts by describing this as “an epic, fast-paced and well written fantasy novel for young adult readers” although he adds that it “will also be of interest to adult readers who love entertaining fantasy novels”. Seregil observes that much recent fantasy has been in the style of George R.R. Martin’s books, which he welcomes, but does mean he’s come to miss Tolkienesque fantasy with magic, evil forces, elves and wizards; so he says that he was thrilled to read this novel because “it feels refreshing to read this kind of classic fantasy for a change”. It was a “pleasant and rewarding reading experience” because the “story was good”, the “events were satisfyingly dark and epic” and it had an “easily likeable protagonist”. He also complimented Nina Sokol on managing to convey the nuances of the original Danish story to English-speaking readers.

Seregil considers Mandigo and the Hellhounds to be “one of the best epic YA fantasy novels written during the recent years” because it has “clearly been written out of love for classic epic fantasy” and as soon as you start to read you “immediately feel at home with the story” with elements such as “young magic users” and “evil forces”. It is, he says “a brightly shining gem of epic YA fantasy”, a “a well-constructed and thrilling story about an epic battle between good and evil, family secrets and magic”.

Seregil felt the main characters were interesting and well-created, and Anders pays attention to relationships and the characters feelings for those around them, especially those who are different. He enjoyed reading about the way magic works in this novel, and the secrets of Bloodstone. He also enjoyed the impressive world-building and the fact that the world of Stormlands has a dark history. He adds that “Anders Reemark’s vision of good and evil is interesting and has a timeless quality to it. The impending threat of the Lord of Shadows added a fascinating touch of darkness and malice to the storyline.” He liked Anders’ “fluent and fast-moving prose” and a writing style that keeps the story moving fast forward. “It’s great that he effortlessly builds up tension from the intriguing prologue towards the epic ending.”

He sums up by saying that Mandigo and the Hellhounds has everything he’d expect to find in classic YA fantasy fiction, which not only appealed to him, but made him “read the story as fast as possible”, adding that on reason it is interesting is that it has “a Scandinavian feel to it. After having read several English fantasy novels, this novel felt like a breath of fresh air to me.” It is “one of the best YA fantasy novels I’ve read during the last couple of years”, it “wholly captivated me with its gradually unfolding story and dark atmosphere”.

He concludes that Mandigo and the Hellhounds is “epic YA fantasy fiction at its best and most intriguing, because it feels almost like a tribute to classic fantasy stories”.

You can read Seregil’s full review on RisingShadow here.