Monday, July 18, 2011

Relic Master: The Dark City

By Catherine Fisher
Genre: Fantasy
Rating: 4 1/4 stars

In this interesting beginning to the Relic Master series, 16 year old Raffi is an apprentice to Galen of the old Order--a group with some mystical powers who are able to manipulate certain old relics from times past.  The Order is now hunted mercilessly down by the Watch, a brutal army-like organization, although most villagers still support the Order in secret.  Carys is one of the Watch, acting as a spy, trying to bring in Galen dead or alive.  But when she finally makes contact, she is surprised to find that the "tricks" the Watch told her about have roots in truth.  And as Galen and Raffi work their way towards the ruined city of Tasceron to try and find salvation for Galen's lost powers, Carys joins their quest.  Can the unlikely trio find what they are looking for?  A great, fascinating beginning to the series.  Readers will want to move onto book 2, The Lost Heiress.  You may also want to check out Catherine Fisher's other excellent series, including Snow-Walker, Incarceron and the Oracle Prophecies.


By Donna Jo Napoli
Genre: Historical Fiction/Fairy tale retelling
Rating: 4 1/4 stars

Xing Xing's father is dead, and Xing Xing is now basically a servant in her own Chinese cave home to her stepmother and stepsister Wei Ping.  The whole goal of her stepmother is marry off her daughter well so that the rest of them will be taken care of and to that end, Wei Ping's feet have been bound in the traditional way to help make her walk in that desirable way.  As Wei Ping suffers the pain of bound feet, Xing Xing's only joy is the beautiful fish that lives in the nearby spring that comes to her when she calls.  Xing Xing believes it is her mother's spirit, helping her.  When Stepmother sends Xing Xing off on a journey to sell nuts to a doctor, for the first time she begins to find a little independence and self-reliance.  And slowly, Xing Xing realizes she may be worth more than the nothing she was always taught she was.  A Cinderella tale set in China during the Ming dynasty which will hold readers with its very different setting.