By Kat Pauly, year 11

One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus

One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus is a novel that follows the lives of five students who cross paths in detention. I’m not usually one for a contemporary novel and at first look the story appeared quite cliché however I have dedicated numerous hours of my life to Riverdale and this book was similar in certain areas so I gave it a go. Addicting. McManus was incredibly smart in the way she constructed the story to follow the four perspectives with each chapter switching characters, which for some books can be confusing however the character’s stark differences made them easy to distinguish and helped add to the suspense. The story did have some romance, expected and others quite surprising which was a nice asset to an intense situation. What set this apart from other teen murder novels was the character who was murdered. McManus’ characterisation of Simon evoked an anger in me as he was student who wrote a gossip blog for his school (very gossip girl like xoxo), exposing quite intimate and personal details of the student’s lives. I’m not saying he deserved to die however, I struggled to sympathise with the situation and felt worse for those on trial. In addition, I found other characters quite dry at times as they were not developing like others in the novel and their storyline felt a bit repetitive however the overall edge to the storyline exceeded my expectations. Strong recommendation for anyone who likes to be kept on their toes and wants an easy read. Also Riverdale fans, hit it up!! 7.5/10

Genre: Mystery, Young Adult, Contemporary

Age Recommendation: 14+

Where you can find it: Berkelouw, Kobo (Ebook), Booktopia

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/32571395-one-of-us-is-lying

Mentionable Quotes:

“It concerns me you’re avoiding a promise not to murder me.”

“I know what it’s like to tell yourself a lie so often that it becomes the truth.”

“Some people are too toxic to live. They just are.” 

 

Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake

Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake is a supernatural novel that demonstrates the power one individual can have on another’s perception of the world. The main character Cas is a hunter who hunts those already dead. His father use to be a hunter as well and in a weird and abnormal way passed the family business down to his son. However, Cas lost his father when a hunt did not go as expected and since then Cas has been on a vengeful quest to gain strength to eventually take out the monster that took his father. Then he meets Anna. Kind of a classic boy meets girl situation except she’s dead and he’s trying to kill her. Super intriguing read with a really great character development. Blake’s description of her characters creates a clear imagine of the situation and at sometimes the imagery was quite graphic but that’s what happens when you hunt the dead. The beginning was a bit slow and disengaging but once Anna came into the storyline I found it hard to put down. This story is so unique that I can’t compare it to anything I’ve read before. My heart broke for Anna and her story. Being a young teen who was violently murdered she quickly became a character I felt the strongest emotional connection to and was invested in her journey. Definitely a good Halloween novel to get you in the spooky spirit!!  8/10

Genre: Horror/ Paranormal, Romance, Young Adult

Age Recommendation: 15+

Where you can find it: Berkelouw, QBD, Dymocks, Kobo (Ebook), Booktopia

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/9378297-anna-dressed-in-blood

Mentionable Quotes:

“Move, hunt, kill. Like lather, rinse, and repeat.”

“I’m not a superhero,” I say. It’s an awful tag. It’s egotistical, and it doesn’t fit. I don’t parade around in spandex.” 

“I peek over the back of the couch and there she is, my goddess of death, her hair snaking out in a great black cloud, her teeth grinding hard enough to make living gums bleed.” 

 

As I Descended by Robin Talley

As I Descended by Robin Talley is an incredible and twisted retelling of Shakespeare’s Macbeth. I know what you’re thinking, year 9 English overworked Macbeth and you want to stay clear of anything remotely related to the story. So did I but this book has a modern setting with a paranormal edge. Like Macbeth the story takes place with a couple, in this novel the couple are Maria and Lily. In an interesting turn of events there is a terrible accident involving another student at the school and suspicions rest on Maria and Lily. There’s guilt, lies and ghostly spirits. I had trouble sleeping after reading this novel late at night. The start was slow and I was a bit hesitant as I was not the biggest fan of Macbeth but I’m happy I continued. The dynamics of this couple are absolutely amazing and like the Shakespeare classic there were dominant traits seen in both however once the guilt set in it was clear to see who the ringleader was. Furthermore, the paranormal elements were first introduced with the classic Ouija board and curious group of teenagers. The perfect setting for a morbid turn of events. Talley lay out clues throughout the story that made expectations for the end nearly impossible. The ending stayed quite true to Macbeth but was still devastating as a reader who sympathised with these characters. Such a good read, especially if you believe in spirits!! 9/10

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Retelling, Horror, LGBT

Age Recommendation: 15+

Where you can find it: Berkelouw, QBD, Kobo (EBook), Booktopia

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/28218948-as-i-descended

Mentionable Quotes:

“First, though, she had to go back out there and smile at everyone. Fake her way through the rest of the night and another three days. Pretend to still be normal.”

“How long had the things been creeping into her dreams at night? How long had they been whispering into her ears as she slept?”                                 

“Those times, her pain wasn’t a part of her anymore. Those times, she was a part of it.” 

 

Heartless by Marissa Meyer

Heartless by Marissa Meyer is a retelling (once again) of the very famous Alice in Wonderland however from a unique perspective, the Queen of Hearts. This novel documents the life of Catherine (Queen of Hearts) before the happenings of Wonderland. It is here that we learn why and how she became the heartless villain, however in this novel she is merely the victim of a broken heart. Meyer’s characterisation of the Queen is unrecognisable and made myself as a reader understand the intricacies of Catherine as we see her in a very vulnerable position. Her family is unaccepting of her dream to be a baker and her resentment towards a future proposal that will tie her to the throne. Then we have Jest. He is mysterious and at times quite complex but he and Catherine become a rather perfect match. What I loved about this novel is the forbidden relationship, very Romeo and Juliet. They lean on each other for support and continually put themselves in danger to save the other. The novel is beautifully written and captures the magic and madness of what is to come throughout the storyline. It’s nice to read a story from the villain’s perspective as you can truly understand that these people are evil for a reason. The ending was bittersweet and I really empathised for Catherine with the overall outcomes however have a new respect for her as a villain. 9/10

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Retelling

Age Recommendation: 13+

Where you can find it: Berkelouw, QBD, Dymocks, Kobo (Ebook), Booktopia

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18584855-heartless

Mentionable Quotes:

“The easiest way to steal something, is for it to be given willingly.”

“When pleased, I beat like a drum. When sad, I break like glass. Once stolen, I can never be taken back. What am I?”

 “One to be a murderer. One to be a Martyr. One to be a Monarch. One to go Mad”

 “Her rage split her open.”

 

Hunted by Meagan Spooner

Hunted by Meagan Spooner is also a retelling but this time of Beauty and the Beast which immediately had my attention. I am a Beauty and the Beast addict and if any book is remotely similar or regarded as a retelling it will already be in my ‘to be read’ pile. In other words, I thoroughly enjoyed this. I will say it wasn’t my all-time favourite Beauty and the Beast retelling (my fav is A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas) however this was definitely up there with it. As the title suggests our female protagonist Yeva is a hunter, who has set her eyes on hunting the Beast. These two characters were magnetic but there was also a strong hesitance in their relationship which I think really intrigues a reader because you wouldn’t pick this book up not wanting there to be a little romance. Furthermore, this novel also switched between the perspectives of Yeva and the Beast. Although the beast’s perspective was usually a page it was honestly one of my favourite aspects of the book. I think his perspective was raw and animalistic, Spooner really captured his struggle and inner battle quite naturally. It was magical yet realistic because the characters were so vividly human. The writing honestly deserves a 10/10 alone because the way in which Spooner created this world was lyrical and it was an intimate experience as a reader because the words held so much personality and vulnerability, making the novel hard to fault. The only trouble I had was the pace at times became slow, however it was overall a book I would read again and hopefully soon! 9.5/10

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Retelling

Age Recommendation: 14+

Where you can find it: Berkelouw, Dymocks, Kobo (Ebook)

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/24485589-hunted?from_search=true

Mentionable Quotes:

“She wept because she did not know what she wanted, and because she wanted everything.”

“Fire cannot hurt us. And yet, when we light her a lantern, there is a moment as we watch the wick flare in the darkness-a moment in which I want to touch the flame. Just to see if I can still be burned.” 

“Because while hatred is a fire only man feels, he does not hate the beast that comes in the night. Mankind fears it, fights it, drives it off, but he does not hate it. No one hates the bear, the wolf. They don’t hate the wind or the snow. They don’t hate the death…. They hate each other.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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