It’s a lofty notion, I know. The general rule is that the original is always the best. But there’s just something special about settling back into a story you know and love, and seeing your favourite characters off on more adventures. Recently I’ve been able to do just that, and it was wonderful.
1 // Spies in St. Petersburg (Taylor & Rose: Secret Agents #2) by Katherine Woodfine.
With Sophie still missing in action after their explosive mission in Paris, Lil decides to take matters into her own hands. On a new mission for the Secret Service Bureau, can Lil find Sophie in misty, mysterious St. Petersburg? Can they uncover the identity of their true enemy and can they trust anyone—even the Bureau? It’s time for Sophie and Lil to put their spy skills to the test.
I ADORE THIS WORLD. If you’ve never read Taylor & Rose: Secret Agents or the original series The Sinclair Mysteries, you are missing out on a vividly drawn Edwardian London that makes you want to go for afternoon tea and stock up on elegant hats. But it’s so much more than that. Katherine Woodfine is a master of mystery and action, and ever since Lil and Sophie have branched out to form their own detective agency both have cranked up a notch. St. Petersburg is just as beautifully imagined as London, and the political intrigue and the impending threat of war is dealt with in such a subtle and effective way. If you like historical mystery with strong female leads, you CANNOT sleep on this wonderfully twisty-turny story. I think this latest instalment is the best yet.
2 // Aru Shah and the Song of Death (Pandava Quartet #2) by Roshani Chokshi
Aru is only just getting the hang of this whole Pandava thing when the Otherworld goes into full panic mode. The god of love’s bow and arrow have gone missing, and the thief isn’t playing Cupid. Instead, they’re turning people into heartless fighting-machine zombies. If that weren’t bad enough, somehow Aru gets framed as the thief. If she doesn’t find the arrow by the next full moon, she’ll be kicked out of the Otherworld. For good.
But, for better or worse, she won’t be going it alone.
Along with her soul-sister, Mini, Aru will team up with Brynne, an ultra-strong girl who knows more than she lets on, and Aiden, the boy who lives across the street and is also hiding plenty of secrets. Together they’ll battle demons, travel through a glittering and dangerous serpent realm, and discover that their enemy isn’t at all who they expected.
I raved about the first of Aru’s adventures last year, and I was so excited to get my hands on the second book in this series. If you (like me) read and loved the Percy Jackson series, then Aru Shah will be right up your street. Roshani has created a world and story just as imaginative and funny as Rick Riordan’s, but one that feels completely fresh and original. Packed with LOL-moments as well as moments of emotional development that really pulls on the heartstrings. Aru’s second adventure is just as fun and action packed as the first, but what got me was Aru’s growth. She really matures over the course of this book and it’s a pleasure to see. I can’t wait to see where she goes next!
3 // Wundersmith: The Calling of Morrigan Crow (Nevermoor #2) by Jessica Townsend
Wunder is gathering in Nevermoor …
Morrigan Crow may have defeated her deadly curse, passed the dangerous trials and joined the mystical Wundrous Society, but her journey into Nevermoor and all its secrets has only just begun. And she is fast learning that not all magic is used for good.
Morrigan Crow has been invited to join the prestigious Wundrous Society, a place that promised her friendship, protection and belonging for life. She’s hoping for an education full of wunder, imagination and discovery – but all the Society want to teach her is how evil Wundersmiths are. And someone is blackmailing Morrigan’s unit, turning her last few loyal friends against her. Has Morrigan escaped from being the cursed child of Wintersea only to become the most hated figure in Nevermoor?
Worst of all, people have started to go missing. The fantastical city of Nevermoor, once a place of magic and safety, is now riddled with fear and suspicion…
Like everyone else on the planet, I ADORED Nevermoor. But this second instalment really ups the stakes. I read this in one sitting, glued to the pages and unable to put it down. I definitely have a soft spot for the whole magical-school plotline, and Jessica pulls it off with aplomb. This is just a brilliant series, imaginative and original and written to perfection. I’ve seen so many comparisons to Harry Potter, but Nevermoor is amazing without these comparisons–I think the reason why readers see similarities between the two is because Nevermoor inspires the same kind of hopeful joy that Hogwarts does. It’s a (pun completely intended) wunderful story and will stay with me for a very long time.