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The Shadow Lamp by Stephen R. Lawhead

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Title: The Shadow Lamp (Bright Empires, #4)

Author: Stephen R. Lawhead

review

Firstly, THIS MAY BE MY FAVORITE BOOK OF THE SERIES YET. Hard to say, because they’re so good, but you know. Just so much is HAPPENING in this! (Speaking of which, it’s increasingly difficult to review these books as the series goes on, without spoilers, but I’m continuing to do my best.)

Questing, beloved characters who are so fun to read about, adventures on the high seas and across many times and places, and something about the end of the world… all make an excellent, gripping adventure. Like I said, possibly my favorite in the series yet!

THERE IS SO MUCH GOING ON AND IT’S SO EXCITING. Things have been happening through the entire series, of course, but I feel somehow that there was MORE, and there’s a lot coming to a head in this one. It’s positively thrilling. 😀

One of the things I was very excited about, was various of the characters finally meeting up! I simply love it when a story follows several people on their own journeys and then they start meeting and… it’s the best. I’m not going to say WHO is meeting up, because that may range into spoiler territory? BUT IT’S FABULOUS.

Speaking of characters, I’m so attached to these! Even the ones I started out disliking, or being wary of, I like now. (Villains aside. *cough*) Kit (so funny and British and… and… KIT-like!), Mina (I want to be her), Etzel (his food, though!), Giles (his new part in the story—HE IS THE BEST), Cass (new heroine, who’s growing on me), Haven (wow. So hard to figure out), Gianni (Italian hand-gestures when he talks!), and all the rest of the cast, old friends and new. One of my favorite things is seeing these characters interact. ❤ Especially in CERTAIN PAIRS. *cough*spoilers*cough* Anyways, they’re all great and I love them. 😀

The dialog in this book. Gold. GOLD. It’s clever, funny, or thoughtful in turn. And the writing as a whole is so enjoyable to read. (I still love the chapter and part titles too. “In Which Tomb Robbing Is Encouraged.” “Many Unhappy Returns.” “The End of Everything” [okay then]. “In Which Time Is of the Essence.”)

Two random fun moments I loved: When Kit eats so much he vows he’ll never eat again—until smelling Etzel’s honey-and-walnut rolls. 😄 And when Kit is teasing Cass about the Brothers Grimm living around the corner and she almost falls for it—priceless. 😀 There are so many fun incidents.

What the villains are up to, as well . . . So much going on and all quite fascinating. O_O Not saying anything about them but EEK. THINGS.

Also: nautical adventures and pirate attacks and THINGS. Whenever Captain Farrell is mentioned, I can’t help thinking of a certain song. (And, for the matter of that, I love names like Smollet and the Black Spot sneaking in and reminding me of other beloved high-seas adventures…) It just makes the book feel like an even richer tapestry, filled with all manner of references for the attentive eye to pick out. It was so rewarding to read closely.

England, Prague, Egypt, and other fascinating places are back in this one, the Zetetic society is working to figure things out, and the plot is slowly but surely making new twists and turns and taking new shapes. I really wonder how they’re going to get out of this one!

I want to go to Prague and eat pastries at Mina and Etzel’s Kaffeehaus, and to have tea with the Zetetic society, please and thank you.

This book used the word “eucatastrophe.” It made me very happy.

The final scene before the epilogue. SLOW MOTION. That scene is sticking with me. These books have a way of ending at these amazing, chill-inducing, vivid scenes. I love it.

THE EPILOGUE. OH MY GOODNESS. I CAN SAY NOTHING ELSE. BUT. THINGS. O_O

I’m finally reviewing this book because I’m about to start the final book and I’m so. excited. And have some slight trepidation. (How can this finish?? What’s going to happen??) But mostly excited. I HAVE SO MANY QUESTIONS. I can’t wait to see how the series wraps up!

Some favorite quotes

“Good afternoon,” she said, pausing to cast a critical eye over him. “Are you among the living at last?”

“Hi, yourself,” replied Kit.

“Ley leaping?”

“The man who showed me called it ‘crossing the Coyote Bridge.’”

“That’s a new one.”

“He’s the Lord High Alchemist and, just so you know, he takes his position very seriously. If we see him, a bow and curtsey are in order. And whatever you do, do not mention the Turks. Oh, and be sure to call him Herr Docktor. He insists.”

Cass gave Kit a look that said, Pinch me, I’m in a dream, and Kit returned it with a glance that said, You cannot make this stuff up.

“Then, by all means, tell me about the Zetetic Society—if that is allowed.”

“No need to be snarky, Mr. Clarke,” chided the woman.

“Forgive me for being—what was it?”

“Snarky.”

Gianni paced to the other side of the room, hitting his stride as he warmed to his thesis, his hands describing complex Italianate gestures in the air.

[Page 283 (hardcover edition), last six lines, end of chapter 27. I’m not typing it here for reasons of semi-spoilers, BUT SO CUTE.]

“Cassandra, my dear,” said Kit, mimicking the old-fashioned, elevated tone of his late great-grandfather, “we should all very well know by now that there is no such thing as coincidence.”

summary

From Goodreads:

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The quest for answers—and ultimate survival—hinges on finding the cosmic link between the Skin Map, the Shadow Lamp, and the Spirit Well.

The search for the map of blue symbols began in a rainy alley in London but has since expanded through space and time and includes more seekers.

Kit, Mina, Gianni, Cass, Haven, and Giles have gathered in Mina’s 16th-century coffee house and are united in their determination to find a path back to the Spirit Well. Yet, with their shadow lamps destroyed and key pieces of the map still missing, the journey will be far more difficult than they imagine. And when one of their own disappears with Sir Henry’s cryptic Green Book, they no longer know who to trust.

At the same time, the Zetetic Society has uncovered a terrifying secret which, if proven, will rock the very foundations of Creation. The quest for answers is no longer limited to recovering an unknown treasure. The fate of the universe depends on unraveling the riddle of the Skin Map.

factoids

Date read: October 25, 2016

Rating: 5 stars

Genre: (Oh boy, let’s see if I can pigeonhole it at all…) Historical Fiction / Fantasy / Sci-fi / Christian / Time

Age Group: Young Adult. Adults will enjoy too!

Published: 2013

Pages: 378 (hardcover)

Series?: Book 4 in the Bright Empires series. (Book 1: The Skin Map — read my review here. Book 2: The Bone House — read my review here. Book 3: The Spirit Well — read my review here.) Followed by Book 5: The Fatal Tree.

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Favorite Character: ALL OF THEM. (Also known as Kit, Mina, Giles, etc.)

Source: Read from the library; have since acquired a copy because I needed to own this series.

Other Notes: Make sure to start the series properly with The Skin Map!

findbook

{Goodreads} • {Amazon} • {Barnes & Noble} • {Author’s Website}


Thanks for reading!

Dream away in those pages . . .

~ The Page Dreamer

Hexwood by Diana Wynne Jones

Title: Hexwood

Author: Diana Wynne Jones

Date read: April 6, 2017

Rating: 5 stars

Genre: Fantasy/Sci-fi/Contemporary/Time/Arthurian

Age: Toeing the line between YA and Adult? New Adult? Anyways, slightly darker.

Year pub: 1992

Pages: 449 (paperback)

Fave character: MORDION. Mordion Mordion Mordion

Source: Birthday present, preciousss

Find: On Goodreads here

Favorite quote:

“Can’t you treat yourself with a bit more consideration?”

“Why should I?” Mordion said, hugging the duvet round himself.

“Because you’re a person, of course!” Ann snapped at him. “One person ought to treat another person properly even if the person’s himself!”

“What a strange idea!” Mordion said.

An ordinary modern-day British girl (kind of), named Ann, stumbles into an epic fantasy world (…sort of), and meets a pigeon-hole-defying, spoiler-drenched man named Mordion, and a boy named Hume (maybe).

There are also robots. And dragons.

There’s also an inter-galactic sci-fi mess going on, some Arthurian legends sprinkled around the edges in totally unexpected ways, and oh, yeah, the entire thing is out of order in a time-bending confusing labyrinth of plot-twists.

Nobody is who they seem (or rather, they may be somebody else… or several somebody elses. I literally kept a list/diagram while I was reading).

FEATURING:

  • Dragons
  • Robots
  • King Arthur and Merlin (sort of)
  • Time which is… fluid, shall we say, and more complicated than Doctor Who
  • A tragic brainwashed assassin to rival Bucky Barnes (he’s got nothing on this guy)
  • A complex plot-within-plot that makes my head hurt and kind of makes Inception’s layers look like a children’s cartoon
  • Several hundred plot twists
  • An unexpected romance
  • One of my new favorite characters of ever (not sure how I feel about this)
  • Weirdest book I’ve ever read
  • Has more genres mashed in it than I’ve ever seen in a single book (Contemporary/Fantasy/Sci-fi/Time/Arthurian/Romance/YA/Adult/DWJ)
  • Darker than most DWJ books (except Deep Secret)
  • One of my top five-or-ten DWJ books (despite the darkness/weirdness… don’t hold it against me; I’m surprised at me too)
  • First new-to-me DWJ book since my How to Read Diana Wynne Jones blog posts (part 1) (part 2); it lined up with pretty much everything, x100000
  • I need to reread it now, please and thank you

Don’t read this as your first DWJ, and if you do read it, know you’re getting into an insanely complex, inter-genre, rather dark story, for which reason I only recommend it to older teens/adults. If I recommend it at all. I loved it to bits but have a feeling that it’s far too weird to recommend to anyone at all. I literally can’t predict who would/wouldn’t like this. You’ll either a) love it a ridiculous amount (*raises hand*), b) hate it, or c) not understand it at all. I have a feeling there’s no middle ground.

Anyone who has read it: TALK TO ME! I need somebody who understands my confused feels about this book.

If you need me, I’ll be in a corner with my mind blown, contemplating re-reading this book so that I can understand it, and generally having a massive book hangover. Because how am I going to find anything to read, after this mindbending confusing thing, that will not feel like bland cardboard? HELP. *collapses* (I’m hoping Stephen Lawhead’s The Fatal Tree might help me with this… *reaches for bookshelf*)


Thanks for reading!

Dream away in those pages . . .

~ The Page Dreamer

The Pinhoe Egg by Diana Wynne Jones

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The March Magics theme this year is “A Matter of Lives and Death” — the Lives part referring to the Chrestomanci series, since Chrestomanci is the title of a nine-lifed enchanter.

For the Diana Wynne Jones read-along for March Magics which Kristen @ We Be Reading is hosting, four of the Chrestomanci books were featured.

Today I’m looking at the final one, The Pinhoe Egg. I just read it for the second time and had an absolute blast with it! ❤ *hugs book* So, so good! ^_^

Here, have a review. (Please excuse the flailing; I can’t help myself.)

Title: The Pinhoe Egg

Author: Diana Wynne Jones

factoids

  • Date read: March 5, 2017
  • Rating: 5 stars
  • Genre: Fantasy
  • Age: YA
  • Year pub: 2006
  • Pages: 515 (hardback)
  • Series: Chrestomanci, #6
  • Fave character: Chrestomanci
  • Source: Library
  • Notes: Re-read aloud (reading for second time), for March Magics Diana Wynne Jones readalong

[Find The Pinhoe Egg on Goodreads]

review

AAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHH I LOVE THIS BOOK SO SO MUCH!!! It may be my absolute favorite Chrestomanci book ever. ❤ And one of my top DWJ books, period.

Just so much is going on in this thing! Not to mention all the fabulous characters, including several familiar ones.

It’s closer to an actual sequel-type-book than Diana Wynne Jones usually wrote. A lot of her sequels follow entirely different characters, just in the same world, with cameos. This was more of a proper sequel to Charmed Life and some of the other Chrestomanci books, and it was such a delight to be back at Chrestomanci Castle with Cat, and Chrestomanci, and Millie, Janet, Roger and Julia, etc. New characters Marianne Pinhoe and her brother Joe were great fun. I also really liked Irene! And a certain character who’s a spoiler ‘til near the end… but he was great too! 🙂

It’s HILARIOUS, too. Julia and Janet going into a horse-craze, Roger and Joe and their inventing, etc. (WE BELONG TO CHRESTOMANCI CASTLE!)

And I so so enjoyed reading about Chrestomanci and his misadventure or two and how he fixes things when he knows about it; Marianne and the Pinhoe shenanigans; Cat and his problems with having to raise a baby griffin, keep a horse happy, help Marianne without Chrestomanci (doesn’t go so well), and learn more about his magical abilities, because he is, after all, going to be the next Chrestomanci someday.

These CHARACTERS, though!

Cat is just a fabulous hero. I really like him a lot, for some reason.

Marianne is a lot like Cat, though his opposite in some ways. They’re fun together.

Millie is the best mum/wife ever. She’s so calming and great! Gah.

Time would fail me to talk of sullen Joe Pinhoe, Roger and Julia, Cat’s sort-of-sister Janet, the lovely Irene (formerly Pinhoe; yes, there are a lot of Pinhoes in this), and all the rest. But it’s such an awesome cast!

Plus Klartch the griffin. There’s also a unicorn. Yesss to the fantasy goodness.

Last, but far from least, Chrestomanci himself is the absolute BEST!

I felt like we got to see an unusual amount of Chrestomanci in this one, which was fantastic! His dry and witty dialog, his sarcastic look that makes you want to melt into the ground, his elaborate dressing-gowns (one for every day of the year, according to an interview with the author!), his elegant suits, his vague looks that mean he’s paying extreme attention, his calm ability to step in and fix a magical disaster efficiently and with some great sarcastic remarks — as soon as he knows the disaster is there, of course (since the main characters often don’t tell him until it’s almost too late).

But he’ll also make sure that the right people help fix it, so that they learn from their mistakes, etc., and also that the right people get their comeuppance. It was also fabulous/hilarious to see him more in a parental-type-role, dealing with the antics of his son and daughter, Roger and Julia, as well as with young Cat and Janet.

AND HIS DIALOG. I CANNOT GET OVER HIS DIALOG. He’s sooo funny and dry and sarcastic and just… I cannot. (It was absolutely so much fun reading this book aloud, if only for his lines.)

Chrestomanci (a.k.a. Christopher Chant, since Chrestomanci is merely the title of the nine-lifed enchanter) is simply one of the absolute best characters ever; and if ever I was in a magical difficulty, I’d definitely want his help!

I love this series, and although I would read dozens more if there were any, this book was the perfect ending for it. Classic DWJ, and Chrestomanci is one of my top-favorite characters ever. ❤

Have you read any of the Chrestomanci books? (Which is your favorite?) If not, you must read one ASAP, because they are delightful books, and you need Chrestomanci in your life!

Thanks for reading!

Dream away in those pages . . .

~ The Page Dreamer

Wild Robert by Diana Wynne Jones

Title: Wild Robert

Author: Diana Wynne Jones

  • Date read: March 1, 2017
  • Rating: 5 stars
  • Genre: Fantasy (Contemporary)
  • Age: Juv. Fiction/YA?
  • Year pub: 1989
  • Pages: 100
  • Illustrator: Mark Zug
  • Fave character: Wild Robert… sometimes. 😉
  • Source: Library
  • Notes: Read in honor of March Magics (2017)

[Find it on Goodreads]

What if a mysterious magical being who had been asleep for 350 years, woke up in modern times, found the castle of his former home turned into a tourist attraction, and decided to make mischief? That’s Wild Robert for you! Heather has a lot to put up with when she accidentally summons him into her tourist-crammed day… Shenanigans ensue!

Quite short read (100 pages including illustrations and large print; I read it in a sitting) and a very fun way to kick off March Magics/Diana Wynne Jones March 2017! 🙂

I’d never read this one before. It made me think a little bit of Eight Days of Luke, and maybe a dash of Howl’s Moving Castle for one tiny reason. DWJ once again blends fantasy, history, modern times, humor, strangeness, and fascinating characters in a bizarre but heart-capturing read.

It’s not all fun and pranks though… there’s a deeper mystery and something sinister behind all of this, and the reveal twisted my heart and made me feel bad for poor Robert! I was conflicted about this strange impish character — he definitely keeps you guessing. 😉 He’s a fascinating mystery, I guess you could say.

It was quite enjoyable, and I loved the twist at the end about who Robert is! 😀

It stopped rather before I wanted it to… I could have read another two or three hundred pages on this!! So at first I was sliiightly disappointed about that, but at the same time it works perfectly, ending at just the right place to let the imagination wander free about what might happen next… 😉 So I’m happy with it. 🙂 DWJ always leaves you wanting more!

(It almost made me consider wanting to write a fan-fiction continuation, I wanted to know so badly. The idea of fan-fiction almost never crosses my mind. Heehee.)

Great fun! ^_^

What would you do if you were a magical person who woke up after 300 years and found your castle turned into a tourist attraction? And have you ever read a book where you wanted the ending to continue? Let me know in the comments!

Thanks for reading! 🙂

Dream away in those pages . . .

~ The Page Dreamer

10(ish) Thoughts on “Aunt Maria” by Diana Wynne Jones

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Title: Aunt Maria

Author: Diana Wynne Jones

factoids

  • Date read: March 1, 2017
  • Rating: 5 stars
  • Genre: Fantasy (Contemporary)
  • Age: YA
  • Year pub: 1991
  • Pages: 274 (hardback)
  • Fave character: Antony Green and Chris
  • Source: Library
  • Notes: Alternate title; UK title is Black Maria. Read in honor of March Magics

[Find on Goodreads]

review

10(ish) Thoughts on “Aunt Maria” by Diana Wynne Jones

1. First thing’s first: Time travel! There was a bit of time travel near the end of the book, which was SUPER awesome! I will not say anything more about it, but suffice to say that it was fabulous.

2. It’s told in first person by Mig, a girl who likes to write (kindred soul!). She tells us the story in her journal. I don’t always care for first-person, but I really liked how it was her journal! It gave the story such an immediate feeling and all the descriptions etc. felt so up-close-and-personal, somehow. And it didn’t feel like a normal journal-or-letters type story, because it wasn’t under daily headings or anything, but had more of a flowing-together sort of feeling. Anyways, it was so well done.

3. Favorite characters! Mig’s brother, Chris, is awesome. 😄 I really enjoyed his character! Chris(tian) not Chris(topher) as he likes to stress when Aunt Maria gets it wrong. 😛 He’s outspoken and has wonderful strong feelings of fun or anger, and is just great. While I’m thinking of favorite characters, Antony Green was fabulous. 😀 I really, really liked him! I also can’t say anything about him because he’s one of those fascinating characters with SO. MANY. SPOILERS. Ahem. But he’s great. 😀

4. The plot was super interesting and complex, with so much going on under everything, even though it seemed pretty ordinary on the surface for awhile. It was soooo strange! (Like DWJ books always are.) But also fascinating. The undercurrent of magical things, the strange, almost sci-fi/dystopia set-up of the strange village, Cranbury-on-Sea, with its people divided into vacant worker-men, women who work for Aunt Maria, and clone-like children in an “orphanage.” There are so many questions about EVERYTHING, so it’s very much a mystery (especially since we’re in Mig’s limited point of view).

5. On that note, for a good half of the story, I wondered why it WAS Mig’s POV, because it seemed like it would have worked better from Chris’s perspective. He was the one who was doing everything to start with, and Mig is always telling us things about what he thinks. But then things happened and everything clicked, and I realized exactly why it had to be Mig telling it and it made perfect sense. So I liked that. 🙂

6. Dislikes: Aunt Maria was awful! (So were her followers.) Eep. She acts like a sweet, innocent, helpless old woman, but she’s sooo creepy! Not that that’s a bad thing, exactly (meaning it’s not something I dislike about the book, I just dislike her. XD). I don’t care for splitting-up-couples storylines, so I’m not sure how I feel about that part, though under the circumstances I suppose it turned out as well as it could.

7. I felt like there was a lot of deep stuff going on… It really felt like it was presenting a lot of thoughtful takes on society and men and women etc. It was really interesting and I can’t really explain it. I might be able to put my finger on it better on a second read, but my first thought is that it had some fascinating ideas about society.

8. The characters were all so complex and well-written that most of the time I was kept guessing and re-adjusting on who I thought was good, bad, or on their way between changing back or forth, or just (as was often the case) had bits of good and bad mixed up in them just like real people.

9. Also contains: humor; a wolf-hunt (which is not what it seems); cats and wolves who are not what they seem; a fascinating bit on what it’s like to have a cat’s perspective (so adorable!); a mysterious elderly brother-sister pair (she’s tiny, with a tendency to fall over; he’s brusque and grumpy with a tendency to practice the art of swordsmanship—mostly standing holding a sword over his head); an ending which wrapped things up in a way that for the most part I really liked; and, of course, lots and lots of tea.

10. I think I need to reread it.

Favorite quotes:

What’s the good of being civilized, that’s what I’d like to know? It just means other people can break the rules and you can’t.

***

“There goes Mig with her happy endings again,” Chris said. But I don’t care. I like happy endings. And I asked Chris why something should be truer just because it’s unhappy. He couldn’t answer.

***

Thanks for reading! 🙂

Dream away in those pages . . .

~ The Page Dreamer

Magician’s Ward by Patricia C. Wrede

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5starrating

Title: Magician’s Ward

Author: Patricia C. Wrede

factoids

Date read: January 6, 2017

Rating: 5 stars

Genre: Regency Romance Fantasy

Age: YA

Year published: 1998

Pages: 288 (paperback)

Series? Book 2

Favorite character: Mairelon

Source: From library sale

Notes: I didn’t read book 1: Mairelon the Magician. (Also note: both books are available in a collection titled A Matter of Magic, which has the added perk of having a nicer cover than either volumes do alone.)

review

Georgette Heyer meets Diana Wynne Jones (though without quite the ridiculously wild shenanigans/characters and not as uproariously funny, yet still amusing in its own right) in a Jonathan-Strange-esque historical fantasy setting. Basically, this is a Regency Romance with magic. How delightful is that? 😀

It’s technically a sequel… but I got along just fine without having read the first book (titled Mairelon the Magician).

Our heroine, Kim, is a former street thief, who used to live on the streets of London, masquerading as a boy, and now lives in a fine house in London as the ward of Richard Merrill, a.k.a. Mairelon the Magician. Apparently the first book is about how they met. Mairelon is an upstanding gentleman (not to mention a somewhat young, handsome, and rich one, and therefore not ineligible) who, oh yes, also happens to be a magician.

The enjoyments of this novel include:

  • Getting to see a girl who lived most of her life as a street-thief try to fit well enough into Polite Society (think Jane Austen heroines) so that Mairelon’s Aunt Agatha won’t have a fit at her being improper (hint: Kim isn’t always trying, plus she has bad habits of talking in street-thief slang, so this does not always go well), while also being Mairelon’s apprentice and learning magic and trying to look after him in her way, while trying to solve a mystery.
  • Being immersed in the alternate history Regency setting, where magic is an established part of the world and it all makes total sense, and makes for a very fun read.
  • A mystery which kept me puzzled right through, involving an attempted-burglary in the house library, mysterious books, unusual magics, and suspense about various magical goings-on.
  • Mairelon himself, a character I took to at once and adopted into my “favorites” category. He reminded me somewhat of a slightly tamer version of Chrestomanci or Howl (likely because he’s a magician), and his cleverly cutting words where he manages to be impolite without seeming so (sometimes) were simply a joy. You can see he doesn’t really always care what Polite Society (so-called, as he says) thinks of him, but has to tread the line carefully so as to not utterly scandalize his aunt. MAIRELON IS AWESOME. That is all. ❤
  • Kim and Mairelon together are fabulous too. I will spoil nothing, but they’re great. 😀
  • Other characters, who include Hunch the loyal and grouchy manservant, a Russian Prince, some French magicians, and Mairelon’s mother who’s a fascinating character in her own right.
  • Humor and fun dialog too. ❤

Really, I don’t know what else to say. It’s a Regency Romance with fantasy, fun characters, and—oh yes—it’s by Patricia C. Wrede, who wrote the amazingness that is the Enchanted Forest Chronicles (Searching for Dragons being one of my top-favorite books ever).

Jane-Austen-with-magic-and-mystery-and-cutting-dialog-and-Mairelon. What more need be said?

Fantasy Regency Romance should be a thing. I had no idea I was missing it, but now I need more of it in my life.


What think ye, my Pagelings? And have you ever read a Regency Fantasy? If so, PLEASE SPILL BECAUSE I WANT ‘EM.

(Posting this fantasy review today in appreciation of February is Fantasy Month hosted by Jenelle Schmidt!)

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Thanks for reading!

Dream away in those pages . . .

~ The Page Dreamer

 

The Spirit Well by Stephen R. Lawhead

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5starrating

Title: The Spirit Well (Bright Empires, #3)

Author: Stephen R. Lawhead

review

The middle book in this 5-book series, The Spirit Well was another great addition to the Bright Empires novels. Enthralled, I sped through it in just a few days and can’t wait to continue the saga. Once again, I’m in a hurry to review this one, in effect capturing my thoughts at this point, so I can scurry along to read book 4, The Shadow Lamp… I must find out what happens next!

Again, the character list, “previously”, and ending essay were amusing and enlightening — I just love how even the extra beginning and ending matter are interesting. In short, I love basically every word of these books — literally.

The story itself is progressing in quite a fascinating manner, branching out in all directions (past/present/etc.). There were many new revelations! Some of a tragic or scary nature… and others verrrry intriguing… Let’s just say there’s a lot going on (and as the series progresses, it’s increasingly difficult to write spoiler-free reviews, but I shall do my best). The writing continues to be phenomenal as well and it’s just a pleasure to read. 🙂

There’s quite a collection of characters by now, but I never got them mixed up, and they were one and all delightful to read about. There were several point-of-view characters, both familiar and new; most notably Cassandra Clarke. I think I like Cass. *nod* Kit and Wilhelmina continue to be my favorite people to read about, on their separate journeys. I JUST LOVE THEM SO MUCH. ❤ I always love reading about them. It’s also always interesting to get glimpses at the lives of the generations of the Flinders-Petrie family: Arthur, Benedict, Charles, and Douglas, piecing things together. (And I’m also beginning to know what to think about them… hmm…) I still loathe Burleigh and Snipe, for the record. (But what’s a book without some well-placed loathing for the villains, I ask you.) Still on the fence about Lady Fayth… I love Etzel and Giles, and En-Ul and his River City Clan. We can add the Zetetic Society (mostly Brendan [Irish accent!], Rosemary [tea!], Tess [oh goodness, this lady! XD]) to our list of new acquaintances — still working on what I think about the society as a whole since I feel only recently acquainted with it, but methinks I like these people — as well as Brother Lazarus, who’s a definite new favorite. He’s an extremely quotable chap. 🙂 The people in these books are so well written!

Once again, we’re all over the map and time-periods, and I absolutely love it. Modern-day Arizona (that’s new! We hadn’t been to America yet…), the Stone Age, Egypt, China, 1600s Prague, 1800s Italy, 1970s Spain, 1930s Damascus, present-day London, 1800s England, medieval Oxford… (And of course Black Mixen Tump. I love saying that name — dunno why — even though it’s a scary place.) What a delightful tapestry of time and locality! Not to mention sprinklings of different languages (German, Spanish, Italian, French, Latin) for an extra immersive, authentic flavor. These books positively ooze rich multi-cultural feelings and it’s glorious.

I’m not sure exactly why I felt this way (maybe because we didn’t in book 2?) but it was neat to pop back into modern-day London again! That part, and the contrast with the older time periods, was great. Love love love! (Sale! Everything must go! 😄 Goodness, how awful. :P) And ah, good old Grafton Street, bringing back memories of the opening of book 1… It makes me all nostalgic. (I still can’t help but feel that the opening chapter of The Skin Map, “In Which Old Ghosts Meet”, when paired with the presence of a “Grafton Street” in London, is suspiciously like a reference to a certain old song I know… Especially when so many characters in these books are so fond of repeating that there’s no such thing as coincidence…)

Some of the interlacing storylines, especially Mina’s, make my head hurt, and I love it. Time travel-y stories are delightful to read about. She hadn’t… done something important yet that we saw happen in book 1 — MIND. BLOWN. I was even trying to make a time/character thread diagram, which… didn’t go so well. 😄 I’m still trying to wrap my head around some of the time-y things.

Did I have quibbles or uncertainties? Maybe a couple. One part was very sad… even though I should have expected it. But still. Sadness. 😦 There were a couple things that had me pausing to reflect, leading to some interesting ponderings, so even if I wasn’t sure how I felt about them, they at least served the purpose of making me think. I’ll have to see how things pan out in the rest of the series, but they didn’t make me dislike it, per se, just… unsure. So my quibbles aren’t really quibbles, and I don’t have any concrete complaints.

A few more brief thoughts/reactions:

  • I love how the experiences of Kit and Wilhelmina in the times/places they “adopt” (or… perhaps adopt them?) are so good for them. ❤ They really benefit from their adventures, which is fabulous.
  • There is much tea and yummy foods. (In the words of Brendan: “That will be Mrs. Peelstick making tea. We live on tea, it seems.” …I love this book.)
  • It’s still perfectly enjoyable/appropriate for Young Adult readers, as well as for older adults, I would say — basically, everyone should read it.
  • Some more tendrils of Christianity creep into this book than in the previous two — the tapestry is widening out.
  • The language barrier/misunderstanding about the map was very well done.
  • The new ley lamp is absolutely fascinating.
  • The moment when a certain… erm… cat shows up by a certain… erm… road — that was one of those priceless moments of AAHH which I loved. No idea why, I just did.
  • I found the Spanish peoples’ reactions to Kit to be hilarious — nobody wanted to deal with him, and they kept shuffling him off to somebody else. 😄
  • That ending! How can it stop there? *flailing around* These books do have a tendency to simply stop and leave one squirming for the next one. 😉 I must read book 4 ASAP.

Overall? I greatly enjoyed this one and can safely say that it has joined the ranks along with The Skin Map (book 1) and The Bone House (book 2) as excellent specimens of books in a series I’m enjoying more and more.

Now if you’ll pardon me, I have a large book titled The Shadow Lamp (Quest the Fourth) calling my name, which I intend to devour at once. Toodle-pip and all that.

I will leave you with some quotes from The Spirit Well to help convince you that you need this series in your life (because you do, you know).

FAVORITE QUOTES

“I insist you go away before we both say something we will have need of confessing.”

“Dear lady,” offered the priest with a smile, “there are no accidents.”

Kit spent the next few hours idling in the gate-keeper’s lodge as a sort of quasi-captive — he was not locked up, nor was he free to go, for every time he got up and tried to leave, the porter came running after him, scolding in Spanish, and he was pushed back into the lodge. [I have no idea why I laughed so hard at this, but there you go.]

The old lady regarded her with a sudden intensity, then announced, “I’m going to adopt you, dear heart. I hope you don’t mind.”
“Not at all,” Cass replied. “But do I look like I need adopting?”
“Not in the least,” Tess answered.

Probably, I should have locked Kit in the strongbox as well, she thought sulkily. [Wilhelmina, of course.]

“I am gobsmacked. … You clever little thing.” [Mina again. I love her dialog.]

“Don’t you know?”
He shook his head. “Nobody tells me anything.” [<– The story of Kit’s life, right there.]

“It does not matter where one starts; it is where one finishes that makes all the difference.”

summary

From Goodreads:

3spiritwell

The search for the map — and the secret behind its cryptic code — intensifies in a quest across time, space, and multiple realities.

But what if the true treasure isn’t the map at all . . . what if the map marks something far greater? Something one world cannot contain? Those who desire to unlock that mystery are in a race to possess the secret — for good or evil.

Kit Livingstone is mastering the ability to travel across realities using ley lines and has forged a link from the Bone House, a sacred lodge made of animal bones, to the fabled Spirit Well, a place of profound power.

His friend Mina is undercover in a Spanish monastery high in the Pyrenees, learning all she can from a monk named Brother Lazarus. Still determined to find Kit, she is beginning to experience a greater destiny than she can fathom.

Cassandra Clarke is overseeing an archaeological dig in Arizona when a chance encounter transports her to 1950s Damascus. There, she finds herself unwillingly drawn to the Seekers — the last living remnants of the Zetetic Society who need her help to track down the missing Cosimo Livingstone and his grandson Kit.

But there are darker forces at work in the universe whose agents always seem to be one step ahead of the rest–and they’re all desperate to gain the ultimate prize in this treasure hunt where the stakes increase at every turn. At the heart of the mystery lies the Spirit Well.

factoids

Genre/Category: Historical Fiction / Fantasy / Sci-fi / Time Travel / Christian / Contemporary

Age Group: Young Adult. Adults will enjoy too.

Published: 2012

Pages: 375 hardcover

Series?: Book 3 in the Bright Empires series. (Book 1: The Skin Map — read my review here. Book 2: The Bone House — read my review here.) Followed by The Shadow Lamp, and The Fatal Tree.

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When Read: October 5-7, 2016

Favorite Character: Wilhelmina and Kit.

Source: Library

Other Notes: Be sure to pick up the first two books first! 🙂

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{Goodreads} • {Amazon} • {Barnes & Noble} • {Author’s Website}


Thanks for reading!

Dream away in those pages . . .

~ The Page Dreamer