Friday, July 21, 2017

Three new fantasy books from IFWG Publishing

Brave’s Journey by Jan Goldie, IFWG Publishing Australia

Jan is a freelance writer living in Tauranga. This is her first book for YA readers, and was originally shortlisted for Storylines’ Tom Fitzgibbon Award 2014 as well as being a finalist in the Sir Julius Vogel Awards 2016. Jan has also had several short stories published in anthologies.
At the start of the story we find Brave being bullied by a school mate, Riley, and his two sidekicks. 

During this bullying we pick up the first signs of the supernatural – as Brave gets angrier, a storm erupts and its intensity is obviously driven by Brave’s emotions. It’s not long before Brave’s mother is forced to reveal that he has supernatural powers, he comes from another world, and he’s the heir to the kingdom of Arvalonia. A short time later Brave, his uncle, his mother, and Riley the bully are sucked into a magic portal which whisks them into the mysterious country of Arvalonia.

A large part of the story focuses not on Brave but on True, a girl who lives in Arvalonia. True is involved in the battle against an evil witch called Mallevia, the cruel queen of Arvalonia. Brave and True eventually meet up in Arvalonia, and become important players in the war against the queen and her powerful magic.

The plot spins along at a great rate, offering plenty of action, suspense and magic for readers of about 12 to 14 who like other-world fantasy.

ISBN 978 1 925148 84 8 $US15.87 on Amazon (also available for Kindle) Pb

Reviewed by Lorraine Orman

The Rejects: Ginomees Trilogy Book 1 by Ali Foster, IFWG Australia

I wasn’t familiar with this publishing house, so did some research. It was originally called the International Fantasy Writers’ Guild, and describes itself as an independent publishing house specialising in children’s and speculative genre fiction (their website is at The author lives near Masterton and has had three picture books published. This is her first junior novel.

Set in a strange world where no humans appear to exist, it tells of a box of rejected garden gnomes (ie. imperfect) that gets deposited at the dump, whereupon the gnomes come to life, emerge from the box and start talking to each other. They seem to have a kind of half-knowledge – for instance they know what to do with paint and a paintbrush, but they don’t know what their names are. They set off to look for adventure but it comes sooner than expected when some of their gnome hats are stolen by a band of wild ginomees. The Rejects are determined to get their hats back.

I’m not sure what age of readership would enjoy this story. It’s hard to spot one main well-developed character for young readers to identify with (though the gnome called Noname might be the one), and the constant bickering-type dialogue among all the gnomes can slow the plot at times. So it may only suit determined readers of upper primary ages who really like gnomes. The cover will give them a good idea of the story inside. It’s also available as an e-book.

ISBN 978 1925496253 $19.99 Pb

Reviewed by Lorraine Orman

The Locksmith: Reforging Book 1 by Barbara Howe, IFWG Publishing Australia

I’m presuming this is Barbara Howe’s first published novel – she’s certainly hit the ground running. The Locksmith is the first in a 5-book series, sitting within the YA/Adult High Fantasy genre. The main character is nineteen, so it’s better for older teens rather than young ones. It’s a long, demanding read but I was hooked in the first chapter – it’s a great escape from reality.

The story is set in a fantasy country controlled by four magic guilds – fire, air, water and earth. Some people are mundane (with no magic power) and others have differing degrees of magic power focusing on one of the guild elements. Lucinda knows she is mundane. But that doesn’t stop her applying to join the Fire Guild in the hope that she’ll earn some money and find a good husband. She meets the entry challenges and starts work in the kitchen of the Guild stronghold. But strange things happen and Lucinda finds that she is not mundane at all.

She becomes involved with the powerful and charismatic Fire Warlock – but then a war intervenes, and Lucinda must use her special magic to give the Fire Warlock both life and love.

Drawn in vivid detail, the fantasy world is intriguing and believable – I lost myself in it. Lucinda is an admirable heroine – both brave and self-effacing, sometimes confident and sometimes full of doubt. As the publicity promises, I can’t wait till the next book comes out.

Just one tiny quibble – I wish the cover had not been done in such sombre colours, and the heroine didn’t look quite so timid. Given the bold themes of fire and magic, the cover could have been done in bright, exciting colours to attract the reader’s eye.

ISBN 978 1 925496 28 4 $26.95 Pb (also available as an e-book)

Reviewed by Lorraine Orman

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