Saturday, February 18, 2017

Orphan X by Gregg Hurwitz

Evan was only a child when Jack Johns came into his life and changed it forever.  Through years of training Evan changed from a child lost in the system, to a highly trained member of the Orphan programme.  For years he roamed the globe completing covert operations for the American government, a lethal assassin who could move through the world with barely a ripple.  He never questioned orders, never hesitated, and over time he has made his way onto the most wanted list for countries - including his own.  He is the ultimate burnable resource, if he is compromised he will be disavowed and on his own.  Working alone, Orphan X moves through the world with only one real connection - his handler Jack Johns.

Freeing himself from the Orphan programme comes with a cost, but years later Evan puts his unique set of skills to good use helping people in need.  His mission is simple - help one person one time, and then when his mission is complete they pass the details of the "Nowhere man" onto a single person who needs help.  It is a simple system, and until now no one has been able to track him down.  His elaborate set up of safe houses and safe vehicles helps him blend into almost any environment, and years of training mean he is almost impossible to capture or kill.  His system of checks and balances have kept him untraceable and safe for years, but nothing lasts forever.

When a new case falls in his lap Evan is surprised it comes so quickly, which makes him cautious - just as well as his new case is more dangerous than he anticipated.  As he tries to balance his increasingly normal life in the real world, with the increasingly dangerous shadow world he has grown up in, Evan is walking a knife's edge.  The people after his client are professionals and they are going to test all of Evan's skills.  They say you aren't paranoid if people are really out to get you - guess that means Evan isn't paranoid.

As a professional librarian I try and keep an open mind and read as widely as possible, because you never know when you are going to be asked for a book recommendation.  I don't tend to stray too far into the thriller genre because the books can very quickly get bogged down in detail that you have to read through to get to the story underneath - luckily that was not the case for Orphan X.  Gregg Hurwitz has created a believable and relateable character in Evan Smoak, a flawed imperfect person who has somehow managed to rise above his training to become a compassionate yet oddly clinical guardian angel.

The action and drama are carefully balanced into a whole that keeps you turning page after page until the end because you can't believe what is over the page, and because each time you turn the page you get hints of what is to come which means you keep turning the pages until the very end!  Sprinkled throughout the novel are technical references that lend authority to the story, but not to the point where your eyes glaze over.  Hurwitz has done a wonderful job of creating Evan as a character, he has his flaws and his quirks, and despite his training he has managed to hold onto his humanity.  Over time it is clear that his humanity is starting to win - but it may be at a cost.  An amazing debut novel, and hopefully it doesn't take too long for book two to arrive so I can see what is next for Evan Smoak.

If you like this book then try:
  • The killing kind by Chris Holm
  • Breaking Creed by Alex Kava
  • The Postcard killers by James Patterson and Liza Marklund
  • The basement: A novel  by Stephen Leather
  • City of the lost by Kelley Armstrong
  • Eeny meeny by M.J. Arlidge
  • Truth or die by James Patterson and Howard Roughan
  • Dead secret by Ava McCarthy
  • Never never by James Patterson and Candice Fox
  • Darkly dreaming Dexter by Jeffry P. Lindsay
  • Kiss the girls by James Patterson
  • Kill me if you can by James Patterson and Marshall Kamp

Reviewed by Brilla

Thursday, February 16, 2017

The sleeping beauty killer by Mary HIggins Clark and Alafair Burke

The sleeping beauty killer is the fourth book in the Under suspicion series that began with I've got you under my skin by Mary Higgins Clark.  While you can read this book on it's own, there are some ***SPOILERS*** if you have not already read I've got you under my skin.  I recommend reading the first book in the series before reading any others.

Television producer Laurie Moran has been riding the wave of success with her television series Under Suspicion - which has tackled the seemingly impossible task of investigating cold cases using the innovative technique of bringing the witnesses and potential suspects together at the scene of the original crime.  The three specials they have already filmed and released have been well received, the formula seems to work well - and the sttractive and intelligent host doesn't seem to hurt either. 

It is time for Laurie to come up with a new special, and it seems like she has the perfect one on the hook when it falls through.  It may have been fate looking over her shoulder though, as a new potential case has literally fallen into her lap.  Fifteen years ago Katherine "Casey" Carter was sentenced to prison for the death of her fiancĂ©e, and she was dubbed "Crazy Casey" because she kept saying she was innocent despite the evidence. Getting studio boss Brett to allow her to run with the story is only part of the battle, she also has to deal with one of the most powerful families around, and deal with being saddled with a new host with dubious credentials.  Laurie isn't afraid of a challenge - which is just as well because this is the most complicated and challenging case yet!

Mary Higgins Clark and Alafair Burke have found a winning formula with this great series - it has strong characters that have developed across the series, a simple yet believable premise, and some truly intriguing cases.  I was wondering if they would further develop the series as it was running the risk of becoming truly formulaic, but The sleeping beauty killer does shake up the expected formula - mainly because of the introduction of a new host for the show which has allowed the writing partnership to explore relationships in the series in new ways. 

The book also varies the formula because it tackles a case that has already been solved in a court of law - which is brilliant because it opens up the potential for the series at a very early stage.  I also found the plot of The sleeping beauty killer to be more complicated, but in a good way.  I like to be challenged by what I am reading, and like to see if I can figure out what is happening before the big reveal at the end and I did not see this one coming which was something of a thrill.  This series is thoroughly enjoyable and has a formula that works, and with each new book in the series it just gets better and better because we are starting to know more about the characters and their personal lives. 

I read book two and three out of order which was not too big a deal, but you really need to read the first three books before tackling this fourth book in the series.

If you like this book then try:

Reviewed by Brilla

Saturday, February 11, 2017

The Cinderella murder by Mary Higgins Clark and Alafair Burke

The Cinderella murder is the second book in the Under suspicion series that began with I've got you under my skin by Mary Higgins Clark.  While you can read this book on it's own, there are some ***SPOILERS*** if you have not already read I've got you under my skin.  I recommend reading the first book in the series before reading any others.

After the success of her first television special for the Under Suspicion series, producer Laurie Moran us under pressure to find the next unsolved crime to feature.  The series has a very specific type of crime it focuses on, and while there are lots of unsolved crimes out there, not everyone is willing to take their chances with a trial by media.  Laurie has already chosen the next story for the series, but it may be tricky to get all those involved in the original case in front of the camera. 

Twenty years ago college student Susan Dempsey rang her parents to tell them she wasn't going to make it home for her fathers birthday because she had an audition for a role in a new movie - it was disappointing for her to miss the birthday party, but when the Police called to say they had found her body her parents were devastated.  Because Susan was found lying in a park with one shoe on and one shoe off the case was dubbed the Cinderella murder by the press - a name that stuck much to her mothers disgust.

In a surprising turn of events Laurie and her team are able to bring together all the people involved in Susan's life at the time of her disappearance, and as the filming progresses it becomes clear that everyone has secrets.  It is up to Laurie and her team to break through all the secrets and lies to uncover the truth, and hopefully bring some peace for Rosemary - the mother who has mourned her daughter for twenty years.  Laurie and her team are playing with fire though, some people don't want their secrets to come to light, and once you have killed someone it easier to do it again, and again.

This is a well written series that keeps you guessing right up until the end of each book - with little hints and clues that you have to unravel to try and stay ahead of Laurie and her team.  I like it when an author challenges you to think about what you are reading, and Mary Higgins Clark and Alafair Burke have managed to do that time after time.  These books also have a deep understanding of what makes people 'tick', and the authors use chapters told from the perspective of the different characters to flesh out the story without distracting from the 'real' story.  Using different perspectives and short chapters helps keep this story moving while also allowing us to see the people behind the story.

I accidently read book three before book two but it did not spoil the story at all - but in recommending this series it is really important to read the first book in the series first.  I have also found that it pays to read book three before starting book four!  This series is lots of fun to read because it is challenging to figure out whodunit before Laurie and her team can figure it out, and the switching perspectives means that you get a full reading experience because you get to experience the story from all sides with all the motivations and secrets that keep things very interesting indeed.  Hopefully there are many more books to come in this series because it has become one of my favourite series of all time.

 If you like this book then try:

Reviewed by Brilla

Monday, February 6, 2017

Red right hand by Chris Holm

Red right hand is the sequel to The killing kind and while it can be read separately I recommend reading the series in order before reading anymore of this review as there are ***SPOILERS*** about what happens in The killing kind in this review.

You life can change in an instant, and in the case of one man it changes for the worse when he is caught up in an act of terror.  Frank Segreti walked away from his criminal past when he walked into the FBI to confess his sins and bring down his former employer, but he died when the safe house he was in was blown to kingdom.  It was a blow to the case because they hadn't finished debriefing him, but it was also a more personal lose for the agents involved in the case because federal agents died in the same explosion.  Years later a family trying to recreate an old family photo inadvertently drags Segreti back into the public eye when they capture him on their home movie - quite impressive for a dead man - but now his life is in danger once again.

FBI Special Agent Charlie Thompson was drawn into the Segreti case through an odd stroke of luck, and now she is being told to stand down rather than following up on the case and trying to bring Segreti in.  In an act of desperate inspiration, and most likely career suicide, Agent Thompson reaches out to hitman with a conscience Michael Hendricks.  Hendricks may be the only chance Segreti has of making it out of this mess alive, and the only chance Agent Thompson has of getting Segreti back into the fold safely to testify against the Council.  If Hendricks accepts the job he will be waltzing into an active disaster zone crawling with cops and federal agents that would love to bring in one of the FBIs most wanted criminals.  The bad guys have the power and enough weaponry to take on a small army, but Hendricks is determined to bring down the Council no matter what the cost.

I read The killing kind last year and immediately put my name on the holds list for Red right hand because I couldn't wait to see what was next for Michael Hendricks and the people in his life.  Chris Holm writes well, keeping his story moving at a blistering pace that doesn't leave you time to get bored or distracted because the next piece of the puzzle or next explosive action scene is just over the next page.  While the story is fast paced, it is not shallow - you still have time to make connections to the characters, and over the course of the novel you get a feel for who the different people are and what makes them tick.

If you like to read books that are well written, have enough detail to keep you interested but not so much detail that you drown in facts and descriptions - then you will probably love this series.  I don't usually stray too far into the action genre, more paddling in the thriller/crime end of that particular genre pool, but there is a lot to like here.  I have to confess that I was more than a little bit miffed (and then laughed) when I read the blurb on the front of the paperback edition from The Sunday Times which describes it as "Roaring tough guy fun" because although Hendricks is a tough guy this is not a book the guys should have all to themselves, there is a lot for the girls to like here too!  Hopefully we don't have to wait too long for another book in the series.

If you like this book then try:

Reviewed by Brilla

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Private Delhi by James Patterson and Ashwin Sanghi

Private Delhi is the second book in the Private series set in India.  You can read this book independently but you will get more out of it if you have read Private and Private India first so you can get to know some of the characters before jumping into the action. 

After the events in Mumbai it seemed like a miracle that Jack Morgan was able to convince Santosh Wagh to stay with Private, let alone set up a brand new office in the bustling city of Delhi.  It is a fresh start for Santosh and his team, although it can be difficult to leave the demons of the past behind and so Jack stopping by to check on progress is no surprise - but the case that has landed in their laps is a surprise. 

A young couple seeking some privacy for a romantic encounter stumble across a hidden body disposal factory, where the remains of an unknown number of victims have been disposed of in barrels full of corrosive acid.  Bad enough, but when the remains are found on property belonging to the Government it pushes the grisly scene into a political conspiracy.  The two arms of the Delhi government are at war with each other - each side determined to bring down the other and seize power for themselves. 

With one side controlling the Police and access to information, the other seeks out the help of Private - but there is more going on than meets the eye.  A killer is loose in the streets of Delhi, a killer with a very specific MO who is meticulous in their planning and very focused on their targets.  No one is safe from this calculating and careful killer, and the team of Private Delhi is going to have their work cut out for them if they hope to catch the killer before they make their final strike.  In a city where corruption is rife and nearly anyone can be bribed, how do you solve the case that no one officially wants solved?

Private is an interesting and diverse series, introducing the reader to a large cast of characters and some truly amazing cities all over the world.  In the case of Private India and Private Delhi Patterson has partnered with Ashwin Sangha and the result is a world brought to life in all it's rich and uniquely Indian flavour.  India has a long and colourful history of government corruption and bribery, and Patterson and Sanghi embrace that fact without flinching and use it to weave a web of secrets, conspiracies and corruption that is completely believable and absorbing.  A great addition to the Private world.

If you like this book then try:
  • Private by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro
  • Private London by James Patterson and Mark Pearson
  • Private games by James Patterson and Mark Sullivan
  • Private # 1 suspect by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro
  • Private Berlin by James Patterson and Mark Sullivan
  • Private Oz by James Patterson and Michael White
  • Private India by James Patterson and Ashwin Sanghi
  • Level 26: Dark origins by Anthony E. Zuiker and Duane Swierczynsk
  • The postcard killers by James Patterson and Liza Marklund
  • Level 26: Dark origins by Anthony E. Zuiker and Duane Swierczynski
  • The survivors club by Lisa Gardner
  • The surgeon by Tess Gerritsen
  • Vodka doesn't freeze by Leah Giarrantano
  • Zoo by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge
  • NYPD Red by James Patterson and Marshall Karp
  • The basement: a novel by Stephen Leather
  • Step on a crack by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge
  • Darkly dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsay

Reviewed by Brilla

Friday, January 27, 2017

Devil's advocate by Jonathan Maberry

When your father is in the United States Navy you get used to moving around, but that doesn't mean it gets easier.  For Dana Scully the move to small town Craiger, Maryland is one move of many - nothing special.  Her older sister Melissa has made herself at home in their new town, but making friends is harder for the reserved and shyer Scully sister.  Settling into routines is only part of the challenge, Dana has been having vivid and disturbing dreams, and when she sees a girl in the locker room who happens to be dead she finds herself even more on the outside looking in.  There is already a divide between the town kids and the navy kids, and being labelled a freak makes it harder for Dana to fit in.

When it becomes clear that there is a link between Dana's dreams and the teenagers who are dying, she can't resist investigating.  For someone who wants to have faith and wants to believe, it is a challenge to figure out what is real and what is not.  Her new friends may be able to help her solve the mystery, but not everyone is what they seem.  With her dreams haunted by an angel that leaves a trail of death and destruction, Dana seeks help to untangle her developing psychic gifts.  Time is running out though, the angel has plans for Dana Scully, and so does the mysterious Agent Gerlach.  Can Dana untangle the mystery before someone else dies?

I have been an X-Files fan for years, eagerly watching each episode (when it finally appeared on New Zealand television) and ordering copies of the books from the States (because you couldn't buy them here!) so when I discovered the X-Files origin books I was eager to read them to see how the younger characters were portrayed.  I read Agent of chaos first because it had Mulder as the main character, and after reading a few other books to clear the story out of my head I jumped into Devil's advocate and I have to say that after finishing it I was left with the rather unflattering impression that while Kami Garcia nailed the Fox Mulder character, Jonathan Maberry missed something when he wrote the backstory for Dana Scully.

Agent of chaos was effortless to read and I read it in a single sitting, but I had to force myself to keep reading Devil's advocate.  If I had to explain why it comes down to two things - one, the story was too in-depth and convoluted - two, the character just doesn't seem to sync perfectly with the adult version of Dana Scully that has become so familiar from the television show and other novels.  If the focus of the novel had been another character I would have enjoyed it much more, but so many little things kept bugging me.  Don't get me wrong, this isn't a bad book - for me it just feels like it was slightly wrong the whole way through.  Judge for yourself though as you may be able to ignore the little niggles and thoroughly enjoy the book.

If you like this book then try:
  • I hunt killers by Barry Lyga
  • The Christopher killer by Alane Ferguson
  • The X-Files origins: Agent of chaos by Kami Garcia
  • X-Files: Ground zero by Kevin J. Anderson
  • X-Files: Ruins by Kevin J. Anderson
  • X-Files: Antibodies by Kevin J. Anderson
  • X-Files: Skin by Ben Mezrich
  • X-Files: Whirlwind by Charles Grant
  • X-Files: Goblins by Charles Grant

Reviewed by Brilla

Thursday, January 26, 2017

All dressed in white by Mary Higgins Clark and Alafair Burke

All dressed in white is the third book in the Under suspicion series that began with I've got you under my skin by Mary Higgins Clark.  While you can read this book on it's own, there are some ***SPOILERS*** if you have not already read I've got you under my skin.  I recommend reading the first book in the series before reading any others.

Laurie Moran is preparing to pitch the possible topics of the next Under suspicion special to her boss Brett Young, when another possible storyline appears in her office in the form of a grieving and desperate mother.  Five years ago Amanda Pierce was getting ready to marry in Florida, but on the night before her wedding she vanishes without a trace.  She was immediately dubbed the Runaway bride and her disappearance was treated as a perfunctory exercise in police work.  Years later her mother Sandra reaches out to Laurie in the desperate hope that she can revisit the case and solve the mystery of Amanda's disappearance.

When her boss agrees to do the special Laurie is a little surprised, but as the pieces fall into place for organising the venue and the rest of the people involved in the case it seems that fate is stepping in to help get the mystery solved.  It soon becomes clear to Laurie that everyone is keeping secrets, that not everyone is what they seem, and that even five years later people are still hurting from the sudden disappearance of a young woman who had everything to look forward to.  As Laurie and Alex dig deeper into the mystery and start uncovering the secrets people have kept buried, the truth is slowly revealed - but there is more than one life at stake here.

After very carefully trying to read this series in order, I managed to pick up book three (All dressed in white) before picking up book two (The Cinderella killer) - but I don't think I ruined any surprises for myself.  This series is engaging because not only does it rely on cold cases (which adds distance from the cases) but also because it has rapidly switching chapters which mean you get to see what is happening from different points of view.  Some of the chapters are very short, which maybe a distraction from some readers, but I am used to it having read countless James Patterson books and I tend to like that style as the story keeps moving at a decent pace. 

This is a very good series if you enjoy modern whodunnits - Mary Higgins Clark and Alafair Burke have a well blended writing style and they seamlessly present the story as one voice.  The cold case may be the centre of the story, but the people and their stories are woven around the centre so that you are left knowing them and why the case unfolded the way it did.  I am looking forward to getting my hands on The Cinderella killer so I can see how their second case ended - and it looks like the fourth book (The sleeping beauty killer) will have more about the core cast of characters which is something to look forward to as well.

 If you like this book then try:
  • I've got you under my skin by Mary Higgins Clark
  • The Cinderella murder by Mary Higgins Clark and Alafair Burke
  • City of fear by Alafair Burke
  • Now you see her by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge
  • Behind closed doors by B.A. Paris
  • Eeny meeny by M.J. Arlidge
  • One step too far by Tina Seskis
  • City of the lost by Kelley Armstrong

Reviewed by Brilla

Monday, January 23, 2017

Specials by Scott Westerfeld

Specials is the third book in the Uglies series so this review contains ***SPOILERS*** about what happens in Uglies and Pretties - and this is a series where you really need to read the books in order for maximum understanding and enjoyment.

Tally Youngblood is part of Special Circumstances, the secret policing force that keeps the Pretties in line and under control.  But even in Special Circumstances there are the elite, and Tally and her fellow Cutters are that elite - pushing themselves to the limit to root out the Uglies and Pretties working with the New Smoke.  It is a never ending task, and it soon becomes clear that Tally and Shay are going to have to take matters into their own hands to stop the New Smoke once and for all - without the knowledge of their commanding officer Doctor Cable.  Tally is determined to bring down the New Smoke and their leaders, because they cost her, and they are going to pay.

Specials in the last book in the original Uglies series, and brings to a close the story arc that started in Uglies.  As I have said before this series is a great read, but rather difficult to review well as the twists and turns are what makes it such a great read (and I don't want to risk spoilers).  Binge reading this series is definitely the way to go, as it keeps the events fresh in your mind and makes it easier to connect all the dots together.  Tally is an interesting character to see the world through as although she is often a pawn in other peoples games, she shows amazing resilience and adaptability - she is also flawed and human which makes her the imperfectly perfect hero. 

There are a lot of themes across these novels that are interesting to explore and question.  As one of the earliest examples of a dystopian series, Westerfeld has created a world where everyone is perfect and happy as adults so there is no war, serious disease, or poverty - but there is also no freedom, no real individuality, and everyone is kept under control in a somewhat sinister way (because everyone willingly submits to it).  There are times when I wish there had been a little more *pow* with the writing itself, but the characters make up for that over the course of the series. 

This series would work well for a class reading with themes around social control, friendship, and the implications of making everyone the same.  It is also a series that you can enjoy for it's own merits.  While this is officially the last book in the series, there is a fourth book (in the trilogy) called Extras which is set in another city and continues with some of the same themes and characters.

If you like this book then try:
  • Uglies by Scott Westerfeld
  • Slated by Teri Terry
  • Renegade by J.A. Souders
  • XVI by Julia Karr
  • Partials by Dan Wells
  • The testing by Joelle Charbonneau
  • Proxy by Alex London
  • Article 5 by Kristen Simmons
  • In the after by Demitria Lunetta
  • ACID by Emma Pass
  • Perfected by Kate Jarvik Birch
  • Reboot by Amy Tintera
  • The scorpion rules by Erin Bow
  • The hunt by Andrew Fukuda
  • Variant by Robison Wells
  • The forest of hands and teeth by Carrie Ryan
  • Sister assassin by Kiersten White
  • The declaration by Gemma Malley
  • Breathe by Sarah Crossan
  • Inside out by Maria V. Snyder

Reviewed by Brilla

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Agent of chaos by Kami Garcia

Life hasn't been the same for Fox Mulder since his sister Samantha disappeared when she was 8 years old.  His parents have separated and live separate lives - his mother stayed in the family home in Martha's Vineyard, but his father has moved to Washington, DC to be closer to his work.  At seventeen years old Mulder leads an independent but lonely existence, his father is often gone for days at a time and he left behind his friends in Martha's Vineyard.  It's not all bad in DC though, for the first time in years he doesn't have to worry about the whispers about his missing sister, he has been able to start his senior year of high school without the past hanging over him. 

His weird factor is not completely gone though, the other students and teachers know about his photographic memory - and they would think he was even weirder if they knew about his interest (his father calls it his obsession) with serial killers and abnormal psychology.  When he stumbles across a crime scene where a child's body has been discovered, Mulder is the only one who makes the connection between the body and a missing girl.  The children are both 8 years old, and he can't help but make the leap that it might have something to do with his sister Samantha.  As Mulder digs into the case he takes his new bestfriend Gimble and his bestfriend from back home, Phoebe, along for the ride.

I am an undeniable fan of the X-Files and own six books that tie into the original television series and I was a little dubious about picking up Agent of chaos and Devil's advocate because I was more than a little worried that they might mess with the characters or be too different - so I was more than pleasantly surprised to find that I got completely lost in the story.  The expected X-Files moments are there (the CSM, Agent X, sunflower seeds, insomnia, sleeping on the couch) but there was so much more which makes it appeal to a wider audience. 

Even if you haven't seen a single episode of the X-Files this book makes sense and is a thoroughly engaging crime thriller.  There are passing moments that hint at the future to come, but predominantly this book is about a brilliant teenager who tackles a serial killer.  Adults and teenagers alike will enjoy this book, and it adds nicely to the mythology of Fox Mulder and why he is the way he is!  If you read this and want more X-Files novels then try hunting around at your local library or bookstore, or jump online and see if you can find the books written in the 1990's.

If you like this book then try:
  • I hunt killers by Barry Lyga
  • The Christopher killer by Alane Ferguson
  • The X-Files origins: Devil's advocate by Jonathan Maberry
  • X-Files: Ground zero by Kevin J. Anderson
  • X-Files: Ruins by Kevin J. Anderson
  • X-Files: Antibodies by Kevin J. Anderson
  • X-Files: Skin by Ben Mezrich
  • X-Files: Whirlwind by Charles Grant
  • X-Files: Goblins by Charles Grant

Reviewed by Brilla

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Ever the hunted by Erin Summerill

Life has never been easy, or kind, to Britta Flannery.  Her mother was from the neighbouring kingdom of Shaerdan, and she can not hide her mixed heritage - and the people in her village make no secret of their distrust and outright hatred of Britta.  The only saving grace was her father, who taught her all the skills she needs to survive in the woods.  Britta can track men and animals and can shoot a bow and arrow with deadly accuracy - skills that come in handy when you are trying to feed yourself or track down a criminal as the King's bounty hunter.  For years it has been Britta and her father Saul, but when Cohen apprentices to her father to become a bounty hunter their small family grows, but then Cohen walked out of their lives.

When Saul is murdered Britta must follow the custom of spending two months of mourning in the family cottage, and she nearly starves to death because none of the villagers follow the custom of bringing food to the grieving family.  When her mourning is up Britta makes the decision to poach in the King's forest to feed herself - a decision that leads to her making a terrible bargain to save her life.  She the choice of death by hanging for poaching, or tracking down Cohen - who is accused of killing her father.  Determined to live, Britta takes the deal and begins a game of cat and mouse with the student who learned alongside her.  It will be a brutal journey with many challenges, and Britta will have to face physical and emotional challenges if she is to unwrap the mystery of her father's death.

Like quite a few of my books recently, I found Ever the hunted on Instagram and was drawn in by the brief description and amazing cover art.  Reading the blurb was also tantalising - it promised so much and in some ways I was almost afraid to pick the book up in case it failed to meet my expectations - but I needn't have worried!  Britta is a strong female lead in the tradition of many fantasy series for young people, she is perfectly flawed and grows as she travels on her quest and learns some of the hard adult lessons we all learn as we grow older.  There are some of the traditional fantasy archetypes here and they are well executed - the villain, the young adventurer, the wise woman, and the first love. 

This is a fantasy novel that will appeal to older readers as well as younger teens with an older reading age - there is no gratuitous violence or sex, but there is strong character development and a believable world.  Summerill has created one of the rare straddling series, one that can be enjoyed by younger and older teens alike.  I particularly liked the fact that she didn't try and burden you down with too much detail, she allowed her world to expand over time - and her characters also expand in this way, allowing you to settle into the story without having to spend time untangling characters and what was important.  Some readers may feel that she is a little light on detail at the start, but I strongly recommend reading the book all the way through before you make any decisions as it is well written and answered all my questions by the end.  Now we just have to wait a year for the next book in the series.

If you like this book then try:

Reviewed by Brilla