Thursday, April 11, 2019

Snitch 2: A Year of Relative Madness by Edyth Bulbring

My first response to finishing Snitch 2 by Edyth Bulbring was "Wow! This was fun!" and it's rare to find a YA novel that has that magic combination of wit, humour and just a touch of the absurd. While I don't think it would have been vital to read book 1 first, I reckon it would most certainly help with context. Edyth is clearly comfortable with her characters, and it shows, and I feel that they truly shine in book 2, with the addition of a few more.

Most of all, this is a clever book, filled with characters who are all interesting, and who are constantly at cross purposes to each other – with many unintentionally (for them) humorous results. I won't go into the story too deeply, except to say that the Smith household is turned upside down when Uncle Charlie's mom, Gogo, comes to stay.

Ben himself hits a rocky patch in his relationship with Elizabeth, whose love for the rescued pitbull Baby puts Ben in second place when it comes to her affections. Not only that, but there's another rival for Elizabeth's attention on the horizon too, and Ben's attempts to get the better of the situation are both painful and absolutely adorable.

If you, like me, were a huge fan of the Adrian Mole books back in the day, then don't hesitate to pick up Edyth's Snitch books. You'll thank me later. I think what I love the most about Ben Smith's narrative is his sincerity, which is refreshing in a South African climate where we so often fall prey to apathy and cynicism. If you want to be reminded about what makes South Africa such a special place to live, then these stories will rekindle your love.

Thank you, Edyth, for this delightful book. You've exceeded my expectations with this funny, joyful story. Snitch 2 is a quick, clever read that will leave readers with a smile on their face.

Monday, April 8, 2019

Ravensblood (Ravensblood #1) by Shawn Reppert

It can be argued that mages in a contemporary setting has been done to death, but there's something about Shawna Reppert's Ravensblood that drew me in. The story has a sort of Harry Potteresque feel, but imagines a world where magic has been normalised – and what the possible impact it would have on society.

There's the division between light and dark mages, with enough grey areas between to make me happy that this story had some morally ambiguous areas. And then there's the fact that I'm a sucker for redemption arcs and broody anti-heroes of a gothic bent. Which makes this novel very much a not-so-guilty indulgence for me between other, more serious reads.

And if there wasn't a bit of Severus Snape in Corwyn Ravenscroft then I'll eat my magic mouse.

This the first in a series, so I'm glad to see there are more books to follow up, as I've grown rather attached to both Cass and Corwyn. The story thus far is quite simple – Cass lost her taste for dark magic and returned to serving the light – and more specifically the Guardians – a sort of special force to protect society, but she still has a huge stigma attached to her due to her association with the notorious Corwyn – or Raven as she calls him. Cass's partner, Zack, is an Aussie with attitude, but he's a man of honour who stands by Cass when others are quick to judge her.

Corwyn is the right-hand man of the dark mage William, who hides behind his magical wards while biding his time to bring about a new age that sees him as the great overlord.

Look, I'm not going to spoil what happens, but there's a lovely redemption arc narrative here, with the whiff of a not-quite love triangle. I like the fact that the dark and light mages are portrayed as human – not just convenient caricatures. Not all the good guys are squeaky clean and some of the bad guys are pretty decent people too – just that their outlooks on life set them at polar opposites. And I reckon that's probably what kept me reading.

While Reppert doesn't cover any fresh ground in terms of tropes, she tells a good story with heart, and motivated me to purchase book 2 in this series the moment I was done. Consider me invested and looking forward to what happens next.