The Cottingley Secret by Hazel Gaynor

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Do you believe in fairies?  Could you? If you have ever had thoughts of garden nymphs and fairies, this is the book for you. Written in two timelines, both tell the story of hope and believing in yourself and sometimes things not everyone can see with the naked eye. There is also discussion of why we believe what we do and how does this belief in the whimsy fairies actually fill gaps? A lovely little tale, beautifully described and a delight to read. Try it! (Submitted by Jamie)

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Chilling Adventures of Sabrina by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa

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As she approaches her sixteenth birthday, Sabrina Spellman faces an impossible choice: accept her birthright and become a witch, or choose to live her life as a mortal and experience real love with her sweetheart, Harvey. A simple enough premise, but throw in two deranged aunts, an undead demoness bent on blood revenge, a talking cat with his own agenda, and a visiting cousin who may not be as innocent as he appears, the approach here is wildly thrilling.  Chilling Adventures of Sabrina isn’t for everyone. For starters, it is incredibly dark: it deals with witchcraft, and not your run of the mill, Bewitched, wart on the nose, riding a broom kind of witchcraft, either: it’s more ‘bride of Satan,’ human sacrificing, end of the world inducing, demon unleashing, ancient ritual invoking kind of witchcraft, the kind that really spooks you through and through. The writing is incredible, the drawings are atmospheric and chilling, and as a super fan of the new CW show Riverdale, I was elated to see that there is a connection between Sabrina’s Greendale and Archie’s Riverdale universes. I couldn’t put this graphic novel down, and that’s saying a lot for someone who doesn’t particularly like graphic novels! I was so engrossed in this that I pre-ordered the next book. I can’t wait to follow this scary story even further! (Submitted by Mandi)

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The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson

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This book grabs your attention on the first page and never lets it go: “Accidents ambush the unsuspecting, often violently, just like love” (unnamed narrator, p.1). The narrator of the novel may at first seem beyond redemption: he’s a drug addicted, porn producer who pursues vices at every corner until he is brutally maimed by fire in a car accident. The book follows his slow and painful recovery in the burn ward and the people he meets along the way including the beguiling and mysterious sculptress, Marianne Engels, who claims that they were lovers in medieval Germany, when she as a nun and he was a mercenary. The author seamlessly weaves other tragic tales of love – parental love, unrequited love, self-love – throughout the narrative and introduces us to captivating characters from around the world – Japan, Iceland, England, and Italy. While this novel falls squarely within the historical fiction genre, it also touches upon the idea of time as circular, amorphous and includes magical, mystical and surreal elements. I heartily recommend this novel to all readers passionate about deeply drawn characters, multicultural themes, and page-turning prose that you just can’t put down! (Submitted by Andrea)

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Kings of the Wyld by Nicholas Eames

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I had just about given up on heroic fantasy. Then, I discovered Kings of the Wyld, a fresh and lively standalone adventure that is gripping, funny, and occasionally brutal. The plot is familiar. Circumstances force a former mercenary band of heroes to reform for one last quest. But the mixture of classic high fantasy tropes from Tolkien, the grittiness of Joe Abercrombie (without the pessimism), and the light satirical touch and humour of Terry Pratchett, give this story an engaging vigour.

In the end, it’s a very human story with sympathetic, likeable characters, especially the main protagonist Clay Cooper. He is an affable man who would like to put his violent past behind him and enjoy a peaceful life with his family. But of course, fate is not done with him yet. He must rise to the occasion one more time, and persuade his erstwhile companions to join him. Along the way they face every sort of magical and monstrous creature in the fantastic bestiary, and face some mighty foes in battle. They must rediscover the power of friendship and family, and what it means to be a hero.

 Recommended for lovers of heroic fantasy or anyone who likes a rousing adventure and doesn’t mind a certain amount of graphic violence. (Submitted by Jim)

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This Dark Endeavour: The Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein by Kenneth Oppel

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This Dark Endeavour is a prequel to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. I am always a bit skeptic about prequels that are written a century or more after the initial novel. Yet, this book is a pleasant surprise: it is believable (as if indeed it is the real pre-story to Frankenstein). This Dark Endeavour is like a triple-flavoured ice-cream. The novel literally has lots of layers: history, science, magic, love, integrity – just to name a few. All of these subjects are covered deeply enough to create a sense of realism, but not too deep to instill a sense of boredom. Kenneth Oppel does a marvelous job depicting 18th century Europe: I submerged into it head and toes! There is never a dull moment; the novel is always moving forward. There are three main characters: Victor and Konrad Frankenstein (twin brothers) and their cousin Elizabeth. The three of them grew up together and were happy playmates until they reached their adolescent years. Very soon, they learn too many things at once: love and friendship don’t always go together, jealousy knows no boundaries, passion and duty are often on the opposite ends of the spectrum, and there is never a good or smart way to outwit death… (Submitted by Mariya)

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