Wednesday 26 May 2021

Shadow and Bone Box Set

I have been watching Shadow and Bone on Netflix and loving it. Currently on my second viewing.

I have taken the plunge and ordered the first three books as a box set. If like me you are interested in getting the books, then you may wish to know that the first three books are available as a box set from The Works for £15. These are the old covers.

Note - you will have to pay postage if you don't top up with other books to their minimum free postage amount.

If books are reissued with new covers (for example when they end up on Netflix or get made into movies) I tend to pop onto The Works just to see if the old covers are there for slightly less. Doesn't always happen but it's always worth trying.

Monday 24 May 2021

The Beast and the Bethany - Jack Meggitt-Phillips

Ebenezer Tweezer is a youthful 511-year-old, who keeps a beast in his attic. He feeds the beast all manner of things, things that are increasingly rare and hard to find and in return the beast provides him with a potion that keeps him young...but the beast grows even greedier and now it wants to eat a child. What is Ebenezer going to do?

This book has a brilliant opening line - "Ebenezer Tweezer was a terrible man with a wonderful life." Immediately you want to know more. It's a fantastical tale which requires some suspension of disbelief. This is the kind of world where if you're in need of a child you can just visit an orphanage and get one. Kind of like Despicable Me but instead of Minions in the basement there's a horrible beast in the attic.

Both Ebenezer and Bethany are not that nice to begin with and it's interesting seeing how they develop as characters. Ebenezer has kind of fallen in to being bad without too much thought over what he's doing as long as it doesn't cause his life inconvenience. Bethany's bad behaviour is caused by a much different reason and I like how this isn't spelled out but we gradually learn why she is so badly behaved.

The recommended age range is 8 and up and I think this is about right as there are some scary moments in it, especially towards the end. Something rather unpleasant also happens at the beginning which may upset more sensitive children but what's going to happen is pretty much signposted and lets you know that the beast means business.

I like that things happen early in the book and then they are referred to later in the book. Not in a big fanfare-y way. In a way that requires you to have been paying attention at the beginning to either get the joke or understand where the plot is going. I like that the author doesn't spell everything out he assumes that the children reading the book are along for the ride and he doesn't dumb things down for them.

I think I would have given it 5 stars, except the sweet shop scene at the beginning really annoyed me, it didn't flow logically. Suspension of disbelief is required for a fantasy novel but I don't believe you can make two conflicting statements about a character within a few pages and not pull the reader out of the story. I don't think most readers would be bothered by it but like I said it annoyed me.*

Overall though - this is a great read, it moves along at a fast pace and you want to know what's going to happen next. The ending is definitely setting up a sequel. So it will be interesting to see how Ebenezer and Bethany fare against the Beast in round 2.

* On page 27 Ebenezer says "Whenever he visited the local sweet shop..." implying that he has visited the shop more than once and that presumably he goes there to buy sweets and therefore knows how much sweets cost. Then on the next page he sets up his own sweet stall and charges stupid amounts (£253) for the sweets. I thought these three pages could have been cut from the book and made it a better book. The zoo bit which preceded it was much funnier and a stronger scene.

I received a free copy of this book to review.