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Three more short reviews

Still behind on reviews, mainly due to having our grandaughter here to stay and then being slightly unwell for a couple of days. So anyway, I'm going for three short ones again, The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper, The Accidental Sorcerer by K.E. Mills and Father Brown by G.K. Chesterton.

First up, The Dark is Rising.




This is book two of Susan Cooper's 'Dark is Rising' series. Book one, which I read several weeks ago, was set in Cornwall and involved the Drew children as they followed the clues of a map to find a certain item. For book two the setting changes to the Thames valley and the Stanton family of nine children, the youngest of which is Will, aged eleven. It's just before Christmas and, after a heavy snow storm, Will leaves the house and finds himself in another century where nothing he is familiar with exists. Except the smithy and in there is Mr. Dawson the smith, telling him he's an Old One and in great danger. A white horse appears and takes Will to two doors in the nearby hills. He feels compelled to enter and meets Merriman an enigmatic wizardly sort, who confirms that Will is, in fact, the last of the Old Ones and it's his job to gather six signs to save his family and friends from The Dark. And even if he completes these tasks that will not, of course, be the end of it...

Simply delightful, while at the same time being genuinely creepy! I loved the very wintery setting to this one - it would make an excellent Christmas or winter read for anyone of any age as the writing is mature and not at all simplistic. I felt the writer knew children and the way they act and talk very well indeed. To be honest, all of the characters are very well rounded and feel real, particularly The Walker in the shape of an old tramp, who is menacing Will at the start. Terrific second book to this series, I have the third volume, Greenwitch, on order and can't wait to read it.

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Next up, The Accidental Sorcerer by K.E. Mills, which was a birthday gift from the lovely nakeisha.



Gerald Dunwoody is a third-grade wizard who got his qualifactions via a corresspondence course. As wizards go he's not exactly top of the heap and has ended up in a dead end job with a gov dept. checking code violations. And then he accidently blows up a factory, during which something odd happens with his magical powers. But he loses his job anyway and has to search for a new one. His high-flying friend, Monk Markham, points him towards an ad in a newspaper. It seems the king of neighbouring New Ottosland needs a new court magician - for some reason he can't keep one and has been through many in recent months. Gerald applies and is sent for. When he arrives with his luggage and talking 'bird' he meets the king's sister, Princess Melisande, an independant, very ordinary woman who it appears is actually running the country. Eventually, Gerald meets the king and receives a surprise. He is asked to do things a third grade wizard is not supposed to attempt, and shouldn't be able to do. But it seems he can. Things start to get out of hand as the, clearly unstable, king starts to make unreasonable demands. Why? What's he up to? And where did the sacked wizards actually go? On his quest to find some answers Gerald is in for some serious shocks and wishes more than once that he was back in his very boring old job.

Great fun. I really enjoyed this fantastical romp with it's mad royals, pompous gov. officials, and mystical creatures of which I can't say too much or it would spoil the plot. The book is pacey with a great deal of humour and Gerald is an excellent main character with his down to earth attitude and underdog demeanor. Until I was given this book I'd never heard of it or seen it in bookshops - which is a shame as I think fantasy fans would enjoy it. It's book one of three in a series called 'Rogue Agent' and I shall be hoping to catch book two, Witches Incorporated, in the library sometime.

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And last but not least, Father Brown by G.K. Chesterton.



I'm fairly sure I've already done a couple of posts about this anthology of Father Brown crime stories that I've been reading for ages, so I'll keep this brief. This particular anthology, which I found in a charity shop, includes stories from five of Chesterton's short story volumes about the detective cleric. Favourites include The Invisible Man, The Hammer of God, The Sign of the Broken Sword (which has one of the most atmospheric intros I've ever read), The Perishing of the Pendragons (a cracking Cornish story), The Blast of the Book and The Insoluble Problem. Those were my favourites but, to be honest, every story in the anthology was well written, clever, and very readable. I was very struck by Chesterton's gorgeous writing... so intelligent and amusing with skilful descriptions which set the mood and tone very effectively. I certainly plan to keep an eye out for complete editions of any of his Father Brown books or his novels of which I do actually own one: The Man who was Thursday. Highly recommend this author if you've never tried him.



Pic from http://www.fantasticfiction.co.uk/

Comments

Ooh. Now you've got me!

I'm going to start looking for the Accidental Sorcerer and I really look forward to reading it!
I hope you enjoy the book if you decide to try it.

I only noticed last night that you had friended my book blog. I've friended you back on my everyday journal because I don't tend to read my book blog flist very often and I hate to miss stuff. :-)
Good reviews, indeed! You make me want to read them all. Time to go to the local Borders store...

I'm sorry to say I've never read the Father Brown series. There used to be a TV series based on the books, and they were reasonably entertaining, but they probably bore only a passing resemblance to the original.
Sorry to be such a bad influence. ;-)

People were always recommending Father Brown to me when I was much younger. Of course I ignored them, thinking the books might old fashioned and stuffy. Well, perhaps I've become old fashioned and stuffy in my middle age because they now suit me very well. lol. The only dramatisation of the books I remember is one with Kenneth More, but have no idea if that was a movie or a TV series. Either way, I don't think I saw it.
I'm so glad you enjoyed the Cooper. It's one of my favourite winter books. I've never been able to bring myself to watch the (apparently) awful film made from it.
Yes, I've heard that the film is pretty bad - did they move the setting to the USA or something? It would have been preferable for them to have let the BBC get their teeth into it. Shame.
I'm so glad you enjoyed the Accidental Sorcerer - I did think you would, it seemed your kind of thing.

J has read Father Brown, I haven't (yet). And The Dark Is Rising 'series' is definitely on my to read list.
I loved the book, and thank you so much for choosing that one for my birthday. :-) I'm keen to read book 2 now.

Glad to hear The Dark is Rising series is on your to read list. I'm pretty sure you won't be disappointed. They're classic 1960s and 70s children's books in the manner of Enid Blyton, imo.

I think Father Brown is pretty much classic crime territory. No idea why it's taken me until I'm in my 50s to gets to them but I'm glad I did.
I'm so glad. And you are very welcome indeed. I hope you can track it down.

They definitely sound like my cup of tea.

I don't know why I haven't read them either. Hmmmm.
The Dark is Rising series is awesome. Joan recommended it to me and I now want to re-read it. Haven't read the Accidental Sorcerer, so I've added that to my list.
I agree about The Dark is Rising series, even though I've only read the two so far. An author who didn't dumb down her writing just because she was writing for children.

Have just started The Shape of Water by Andrea Camilleri. Have you read any of his Inspector Montalbano books? (This is the first one.)
I've got a couple in Mount TBR, but they don't seem to be getting anywhere near the top *g*. So I'll be interested to hear what you think of this one.
Finished it yesterday (it's a very quick read) and yeah, it was okay. I suspect they get better to be honest. I'll do a few words later in the week.

How are you doing... are you a bit better now? Job stuff sorted?
Not doing too bad, thanks. Still a bit up and down health-wise. But, touch wood, job hassles sorted for the time being.
Glad to hear the job aggro is sorted, if only for the time being. Will keep my fingers crossed for you. Hope your health stabilizes soon.

And congrats on your plinth thingy! Wow. I couldn't imagine doing something like that if my life depended on it!
Dunno what possessed me to apply, apart from thinking that it would be a scream and that my name wouldn't come up . . .!
Ooo marvellous reviews. :)

I'll definitely give the Rogue Agent Series a go (once I've worked my way through the two shelf loads I've just accrued :D).

I haven't read any Chesterton and I'm rather inclined to now. *adds to list*
The Rogue Agent books are fun and even if you don't get them for a while it's quite nice to keep lists of potential buys I think.

I think you might like Chesterton... and the nice thing is you often see anthologies of his work in charity shops.

I know what you mean about shelf loads of books. I read a lot of book blogs over on Blogspot and the people there are really bad for my tbr pile. As are you and nakeisha I might add. ;-)
Excellent. Oh yes, it definitely is! I only wish my list had been bigger when I went to Hay-on-Wye...

:) Oh that is good *keeps an eye out* You know, I picked up Neil Gaiman's Coraline to read yesterday (D has had it for a while) and who should be quoted in the front? G. K. Chesteron! Funny.

Glad it's not just me! I had a big clear up of the bookcases and ghot all my tbrs in one spot - took up two and a half shelves all told. Ah, yes! Lots of good book blogs over there (you have one too I see :) *g* Yes, v basd for the tbr pile! *whistles* Nuttin to do wiv me, Gov. *g*

p.s. love the icon! Got D season four for his birthday, so guess what's been playing all weekend... (I'm 'almost' sick of the theme tune, 'almost' ;)
I love Chesterton! "The Hammer of God" is one of my favorite short stories.
I was really quite surprised at what a fantastic writer Chesterton is. I'd love to read some of his essays now but there are so many I don't know where to start. LOL.