Book Review – Children of the Sun by Michael Andrews.

Children of the Sun is the fifth and final book in The Alex Hayden Chronicles, which follow the adventures of Alex, a thousand year-old teenage vampire who is caught between his past as a notorious vampire warrior and his present as a reformed character and adopted nephew of Harry, a modern day police officer in Blackpool.

Children of the Sun is a fitting end to the Alex Hayden Chronicles. The plot ties up all the loose ends in a satisfying way but still manages to introduce some surprising new developments and exciting twists and turns.

Everything that is in the other books in the series is there and more. Children of the Sun is an easy read and a great mix of fantasy and modern-day crime fiction. It contains well-developed and likable characters, an intricate and intriguing plot, fast-pace and excitement, humour and irreverence and a hint of romance.

In Children of the Sun, we are reunited with all our favourite characters and yet more aspects to their personalities and backstories are revealed. We physically meet some characters for the first time and come face to face with some new and terrifying monsters.

For those in the know, there is a nod to some locations that are, shall we say, very familiar to the author and his friends.

While we were introduced to the darker side of Alex in The Cauldron of Fire and Dragonfire, The Children of the Sun takes this to another level and it is by far the most violent and disturbing book in the series. But, if JK Rowling can do it, then why can’t Michael Andrews?

Every time I start one of these reviews by saying this is not my usual reading genre but I loved it, and Children of the Sun is no different. I romped through it in half a day and was left with a contented soul and a smile on my face. I thoroughly enjoyed getting lost in Alex’s world for a few hours and am more than a little sad to be saying a final farewell to him and his cronies!

Bad Moon Rising, Frances di Plino

51+NUe19-iL._SX311_BO1,204,203,200_

I read this book because I had a personal interest in the author and her writing. It is a classic crime thriller, which is not my favourite genre, but I am trying to expand my reading experience to help me with my own writing.

I enjoyed the book largely because it is well-written and, as such, a clear and easy read. It follows the usual formula; flawed detective trying to catch a deranged serial killer at the same time as dealing with his own personal problems. There are multiple (obvious as such for me) red herrings that throw up a lot of potential suspects. The ending is unexpected, imaginative and cleverly crafted. I certainly didn’t see that one coming!

It did grab my attention and did engage me throughout, despite it not being my usual type of read. For me, by its very nature as a classic, formulaic crime thriller, the plot and characters were predictable. If you are a crime fan you will love it. My partner watches endless crime thrillers on TV, whereas I am very easily bored by them.

As a developing writer, I read this with a particular interest in the writing style. In this respect I was not disappointed! It is a lesson in plot and character development and an example of, almost perfect, sentence structure, grammar and punctuation. The writing is clear and easy to understand – I don’t think I had to re-read a single sentence to get complete clarity on its meaning.

All in all, an enjoyable read but, because I’m not a crime fan, I probably won’t read the rest of the books in the series. If I did, it would be because I wanted to find out what happens to some of the characters and the development, or otherwise, of some of the budding romances. If you are a crime fan I would definitely recommend.

 

 

 

 

For the Lost Soul, Michael Andrews

Sorry, Potential Spoiler Alert!

Published in 2013, this is Michael Andrews’ first novel. A twisting and turning adventure of angels and demons battling for the Soul Key, that will unlock the gates of heaven to the Fallen Ones. The Lost Soul himself, Joe, a bullied, teenage suicide victim, currently in Limbo, has been assigned Protector of the soul of an innocent child, Adam. If he can save Adam from Satan’s’ clutches, he will also save the souls of every other child who has taken their own life as a result of bullying.

The opening of the book immediately grabbed my attention and made me want to read on. It was intriguing and set the context well. I really wanted to settle down find out what had happened to Joe to make him do what he had done.

I wasn’t expecting what would happen next, as I was quickly immersed in a supernatural world of angels and demons, more intricate and complex than I could ever had imagined. We even ended with a bit of a Sci-Fi twist! For me, this is one of the great strengths of Andrews’ writing. His imagination is incredible, as evidenced in his series, The Alex Hayden Chronicles, a teenage fantasy tale, rich with vampires, werewolves, pixies and witches.

I enjoyed the refreshingly irreverent and humorous take on God and his gang of celestial creatures. Some of the characters are extremely well-crafted. I loved the little demon, Durchial, and hated Gill, Joe’s evil sister, in equal measure. I’ll be honest, I was really looking forward to meeting the Big Man himself and was a little disappointed when we met everyone else but him.

The book touches on some difficult subjects which the author handled sensitively. Bullying and child abuse were central themes of the novel. The thoughtful exploration of youthful sexuality was particularly well handled.

This is Andrews’ first novel and it did show in places. At times it was overwritten and clunky, with a tad too much tell and not enough show, leaving the reader feeling a little bit patronized. I also found the middle third of the book a bit slow and had to force myself to push on through.

However, I’m glad I did. The closing chapters were fast-moving and exciting. Poor little Adam encountered some horrible people and got into some truly awful situations. I greedily consumed the last few chapters, as it built to a spectacular climax with a plethora of unexpected plot twists.

So, did Joe save Adam’s soul? Did Satan win the Soul Key? Was Joe damned to hell?
You’ll have to read the book to find out!

For the Lost Soul is available on Amazon at £10.99 for the paperback edition and £2.99 on Kindle.

Dragonfire, Michael Andrews

dragonfireDragonfire, the fourth and latest book in The Alex Haydon Chronicles, was published in October 2018. It continues the tale of Alex, a thousand-year-old, teenage vampire who is caught between his past as a notorious warrior, and his present as a reformed character and “adopted” nephew of a Blackpool police officer.

The novel is a fast-paced, easy read, that exudes imaginative supernatural fantasy, but is set in modern-day Blackpool.

Alex is an authentic and likeable character. In this book, the darkest in the series so far, we are shown, for the first time, glimpses of his violent nature, but because we know him so well, we are somehow able to forgive him.

Unlike many Science Fiction and Fantasy books, Dragonfire does not take itself to seriously making it an enjoyable read for the less avid fan of the genre. It is peppered with gentle sarcasm and tongue in cheek humour. I particularly enjoy the way that Alex sardonically dispels long-accepted human myths about vampires, and corrects ill-informed versions of history, as someone who was actually there as events unfolded.

Dragonfire is available on Amazon at £3.99 for the Kindle edition and £9.99 for the paperback.

The Cauldron of Fire, Michael Andrews

Cauldron** spoiler alert **

This was the best so far for me in The Alex Hayden Chronicles. The quality of the writing has improved with each book, making the characters even more engaging and the story flow more naturally. However, part of the enjoyment came from having read the first two books in the series and getting caught up in the story.

I love how the supernatural world is expanding exponentially! In book one we just had Vampires and Witches. Book two, introduced werewolves, and now we have even more powerful witches, bramble pixies and ogres!

I enjoyed the way the flashbacks are integrated into the story, gradually revealing Alexander’s past and, indeed, the past of all of the supernatural characters and how they are linked. This book brings a lot of plot lines together in a very satisfying way and there is a sense that events are reaching their conclusion.

There were some real moments of tension in this book and I found myself afraid for Alex and wondering how on earth he was going to get himself out of a situation. Of course, he always does. A tiny criticism is that the relatively easy way he always extricates himself, is not always worthy of the build up and feeling of extreme danger that is created.

In this book we see Alex feed on a living human for the first time and this adds some realism to the story – he is a vampire after all!

Looking forward to reading book 4 now

The Howling Wind, Michael Andrews

51l+eY1WolL._SX311_BO1,204,203,200_** spoiler alert **

Despite it not being the type of book I would usually read I enjoyed the second book in the Alex Hayden Chronicles.

The characters are developing well, particularly Alex. The plot is deepening and becoming more intriguing. I really want to read the next book to find out what happens next.

I’m enjoying the budding romance between Petra and Alex and asking myself if Alex will chose to remain a vampire or not?

The introduction of werewolves to the cast of supernaturals was fun!

I am also enjoying the gradual revelation of Alex’s back story.

The style of writing is pleasing – a modern take on the vampire genre with a dose of humour and irony.

Looking forward to reading The Cauldron of Fire now!

Under a Blood Moon, Michael Andrews

underabloodmoon

I really enjoyed this book.

It is not the genre I would usually read but I was pleasantly surprised. It was an easy read, light, fast-paced and imaginative.

I particularly enjoyed the mix of vampire lore with other fantasy concepts and modern day crime fiction.

The characters were unexpectedly engaging and I read quickly wanting to find out what happened to them.

 

I loved the idea that there is an intricate underworld of vampires, vampire hunters and witches just beneath the surface of our ordinary lives.

I would recommend it, especially for young adults, and plan to read the others in the series when I get through my current reading list. For the genre, I would have given 5 stars were it not for the fact that on occasion it felt a little rushed and some incidents were glossed over a little as the story jumped to the next stage.