Justice and Utu by David Hair, HarperCollins NZ
This is the fourth book in the series which began with The Bone Tiki and continued in The Taniwha’s Tear and The Lost Tohunga. The background of this series is becoming fairly complex, so I’d recommend interested readers begin with the first book. The main character continues to be Matiu Douglas, nearly 17 now, who is a trainee tohunga ruanuku (or Adept). He has magical powers which enable him to battle evil tohunga - and travel at will to the Ghost World, aka Aotearoa, which exists alongside our own world. Matui becomes reluctantly involved when his father, a lawyer, is summoned to defend an old enemy in Aotearoa, another magic wielder called Donna Kyle. A complicated situation develops when Donna escapes from prison and goes after her father, a much more powerful magican called Asher Grieve. The resulting chase from Auckland to Kororareka to White Island involves a host of characters and factions (many of them involving real people, such as Governor Hobson). The reader must pay close attention in order to understand what’s going on. Non-stop action, secrets and suspense, bloodthirsty battles, magical duels and eventual death are combined to produce a fast and demanding read for teenage fantasy fans of about 14 to 16.
ISBN 978 1 86950 931 6 RRP $24.99 Pb
The Vitality Code by Michael Oehley, Scholastic NZ
This is the second title in the series The Adventures of Daren Sáner. It’s about a year since I read the first title, but the overarching story came back to me fairly quickly once I was a few pages in. At the same time, there’s enough background detail woven into the first part of the story for it to be happily read by people who don’t know the first book. Daren and his friends are on board a massive spaceship carrying interplanetary settlers on a long journey through space. During his first adventure (which involved time travel) Daren acquired a magical jewel which appears to have the power to control events. In this second title, the jewel takes Daren back to the past again – where he and his friends must fulfil a prophecy in order to save the Súperiae Empire from defeat. But Daren keeps on being switched back and forth in time – sometimes to help the Empire fight against powerful invaders, and sometimes to save the inhabitants of the spaceship from a mysterious killer virus. Plenty of action and adventure; best for fantasy/sci fi fans aged about 10 to 14. Teachers’ Notes available on the Scholastic website.
ISBN 978-1-77543-056-8 RRP $19.50 Pb
Reviewed by Lorraine Orman