Thursday, August 5, 2010

Empire of the Undead by Gary Cross, Penguin NZ
This is the second title in the Chronicles of Blood series. The first was Plague of the Undead. Strangely, the publishers have not mentioned the previous title anywhere on this volume. This may indicate they want it to be regarded as a stand-alone title – but I don’t think it’s successful as a stand-alone. Empire begins with several pages of back story – a technique which only works when the reader recognises it as material from a previous book.
It’s 1666. London has burned, taking a massive horde of vampires with it. The heroine, Mary, recently turned into a vampire herself, has been whisked away by the vampire master on a ship to the New World. They are pursued by Mary’s brother, Peter, who is travelling with the vampire hunter Lucius. Throw in a storm, a bunch of pirates, a pyramid made of gold and jewels, some local natives who can do magic – and a tribe of horrendous creatures called the Vampiri (far worse than your average vampire) – and you have a tasty stew of blood, death and horror. It’s not to my personal taste, but I can see teenage boys of about 14 to 16 lapping it up with enthusiasm (pun intended). Visit the author’s website at http://garycross.com/ to find out more.
ISBN 978 0 14 330517 0 RRP $22
Reviewed Lorraine Orman

Tussock by Elizabeth Pulford, Walker Books Australia
Thirteen-year-old Kate is devastated when her father goes missing after a light aircraft crash. This thoughtful story looks at the few days after the crash when the family members are waiting for news and veering between hope and despair. Kate keeps up her courage by lighting a lamp for her father in the window of an old hut in the hills. While her younger sister Madeline builds a Stone Man (based on a local legend) who is meant to help their father to safety. But both girls are distracted when they meet a mysterious boy at the hut – Troy, who is participating in a nearby boot camp for disturbed teens.
Troy and Kate develop a delicate and tenuous friendship. When Troy’s abusive father appears on the scene Troy sacrifices his own safety to preserve Kate’s. This helps Kate understand the value of her own father at the same time as she finally hears the result of the search and rescue efforts. Beautifully written, this tale is imbued with the slightly eerie atmosphere of the New Zealand high country. Best for girls of about 10 to 13.
ISBN 978 1 921529 45 0 RRP NZ$19.99
Reviewed by Lorraine Orman

1 comment:

Potting Shed Scrapbook said...

Thanks very much for a lovely review. Really appreciate it! All the best.
Elizabeth P