What I’m reading

The Necromancer’s Rogue

Susie Dinneen Review The Necromancer's Rogue

A few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to meet Jyx, the hero of The Necromancer’s Apprentice. I immediately liked him for his impatience, and watched with equal parts of glee and horror as the mummy chaos unravelled. (I mean, if you’re surrounded by mummies you may as well bring them back from the dead, right?) My only complaint then was that the book was too short.

I’m even luckier now because Icy Sedgwick has just released the second instalment of her Underground City series, The Necromancer’s Rogue. It’s a great expansion of the Underground City, in which we meet new characters and get embroiled in the world of the city and the people and creatures who live in it.

The new characters are wonderful, from the very creepy Mr Gondavere (what is he up to? It can’t be any good) to Vyolet the kick-ass Shadowkin. The Necromancer General Eufame is back too, and this book starts with Jyx having to rescue her from the dreaded House of Correction, before they can stop Mr Gondavere and his wicked plans.

Icy Sedgwick is a wonderful writer. The descriptions are rich and vivid, bringing this fast-paced tale to life. Read the Necromancer’s Rogue for a whole lot of fun.


The Necromancer’s Apprentice

Necromancers Apprentice.jpgHow can anyone resist a book that is described as “Magic, murder and mummies!”? It’s the line that made me want to dive straight into Icy Sedgwick’s The Necromancer’s Apprentice – the first book in her Underground City series.

The apprentice of the title is Jyximus Faire, a student at the prestigious magic academy in the City Above. He doesn’t fit in because he lives in the poor Underground City, and also because he’s far ahead of the other students: Jyx is always impatient to learn and use magic, which lands him in trouble.

He gets even more trouble when he’s recruited as the Necromancer General’s apprentice. The Necromancer, Eufame Delsenza, is a delicious character who has entombed the skeleton of a previous assistant in the floor of her vault, a reminder that Jyx should do as he’s told.

The problem is that Jyx is told to sweep the floors. He’s desperate to do more and learn more, even though Eufame has forbidden him from doing so.

The vault is full of mummies that the Necromancer needs to raise from the dead. Jyx is certain that he can do it himself, but can he do it properly?

The Necromancer’s Apprentice is a fun action-packed read with great characters. The only problem? It’s too short!

Susie Dinneen Review The Necromancer's Apprentice

Of Magic and Memory

Of Magic and Memory

This is an enchanted and enchanting story about Ava, who is trying to make sense of the world after her mother, Ginger, dies. When she discovers that Ginger was caring for Russet, a winged boy, and his twin sister, Ebony, in the forest, she is no longer certain of anything. She becomes close to the twins to learn more about her mother, and in the process begins to care for them deeply.

During this time of grief, a new danger enters VanVere, the forest town where the story is set, threatening Ava, Russet and Ebony. It’s up to Ava to figure out how her own magic works to protect them.

Cristy Zinn is a talented, skilful writer. The imagery is poignant and fresh, the writing lyrical and lush. I loved the world she created. The one thing I wanted more of was the baddies: what they got up to together and perhaps even more wickedness. This is a beautiful fantasy – read it and be enchanted.

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Dragon’s Green

dragons greenEffie Truelove spends her afternoons in her grandfather’s library, desperate to learn magic and the secret behind her mother’s disappearance years before in the strange Worldquake that changed everything.

She is tasked with looking after her grandfather’s collection of rare magical books, but when they fall into the hands of the supremely yucky Leonard Levar, she needs to rescue them. Luckily she has help from her friends – super smart Maximilian, Lexy the healer, Raven whose mum is a famous author, and Wolf, the tough rugby lover – and magical items from her grandfather.

Effie has to travel to the Otherworld to find out what she needs to restore her grandfather’s collection and the secret behind Dragon’s Green.

Dragon’s Green, by Scarlett Thomas, is the first book in the Worldquake Sequence; the next two are coming out in the next two years. You know when Philip Pullman calls a book “ingenious and original… A cracking good yarn fizzing with intelligence,” you really should read it.

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The Secret of Nightingale Wood

thumb_20161126_171423_1024When I come across a particularly beautiful passage in a book, I mark it with a sticky note, and as you can see from all the cat stickies prowling through my copy of The Secret of Nightingale Wood by Lucy Strange, it’s a remarkable book.

It’s the story of a girl called Henry (I loved it from that moment) who finds comfort and meaning in the world of books. After her family’s life is turned upside down, they move to Hope House to start afresh, but, of course, they don’t.

Henry’s father has gone away for work, and her mother is ill. The vile Doctor Hardy wants to lock her away in Helldon, an asylum where horrific “treatments” await. He even thinks that Henry has inherited her mother’s madness.

Through the book, Henry unravels the secrets of Hope House, discovers what the adults around her don’t want her to know, and in the process lets go of a dark story she’d been holding on to.

This is a beautiful book – both the story and the way it’s written. It is an enthralling read that kept me up past my bedtime.

You can read a preview on her publisher’s website.

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A few recommendations

These past few months, I’ve been reading a lot, but not writing about anything here. So I thought I’d put together a list of a few stand-out books that have delighted my imagination lately.


Murder Most Unladylike

Set in 1934, this is the first Wells and Wong mystery, by Robin Stevens. Imagine Sherlock Holmes and Watson are trying to untangle a murder, but they are schoolgirls, and Holmes is from Hong Kong. This is a lot of fun.

The Mystery of the Jewelled Moth

This is the second book in Katherine Woodfine’s Sinclair’s mysteries – set in the decadent Sinclair’s department store in London. I adored the first book, The Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow, but The Mystery of the Jewelled Moth didn’t have the same magic for me.


Raymie Nightingale

If you haven’t read Kate DiCamillo, you need to start. This is gorgeously honest, beautifully written and full of hope. All Raymie Nightingale wants is to win the Little Miss Central Florida Tire competition so her dad will see her in the newspaper and come home.

Goodbye Stranger

Rebecca Stead is another favourite author of mine for the way she portrays the interior worlds of her characters. Meet Bridge and her friends, who are figuring out what growing up is all about.

Pea’s Book of Best Friends

There’s no resisting this bubbly, honest, kind story about Pea and her search for a new best friend when her family moves to London. Susie Day writes about the “big issues”, like being a white girl with a black sister and having two moms, with the lightest of touches.

For the Boys


Ben knows all the rules of being a teenager, but he breaks one of the most important: never tell your mum anything. This is Edyth Bulbring in top form.

Liccle Bit

Lamar, known to everyone as Liccle Bit, is just trying to impress a girl and stay out of trouble when he gets tangled up in a gang. Alex Wheatle writes his voice superbly.

The End of the World

Elevation: The Thousand Steps

Ebba lives with her sabenzi in a bunker deep in Table Mountain because the world outside is a wasteland. Only it’s not, as Ebba discovered when she is elevated. You’ll race through this book by Helen Brain.

The Mark

Another one by Edyth Bulbring, and this time she’s taking on the dystopian trope of the chosen one. Juliet, or Ettie, is supposed to follow her fate, which is dictated by the mark on her spine, but she has other plans.

Have you read any of these titles? What did you think of them?