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Blog Tour Review - The Only Way Out is Death by Varun Gwalani

 Blog Tour Review - The Only Way Out is Death by Varun Gwalani Twelve powerful people are kidnapped and imprisoned in an empty hotel. Each one of them has three choices: Live out the rest of their days peacefully in the hotel, Die by suicide so the rest of their companions can go free, Or murder one of their companions so they alone can go free. The Only Way Out is Death follows the story of these twelve people from the perspective of a young lawyer, Kiriaki, told as the events unfold. She has to forge messy alliances, navigate complex relationships and feuds, and, above all, try to stay alive. Meanwhile, the mastermind of this death game is lurking just out of view, watching them closely, making sure they are primed for murder. Will Kiriaki find the mastermind before it's too late for her? Will she outmanoeuvre the cutthroats before they cut her throat? There are twelve selfish lives in the hotel. Will it end in twelve selfish deaths? The Only Way Out is Death is a fascinating nov

Review - The Crackledawn Dragon by Abi Elphinstone

Review - The Crackledawn Dragon by Abi Elphinstone

11-year-old Zebedee Bolt is on the run. Again. Only this time it’s not the police who find him. It’s an evil harpy called Morg. And when she hauls him into Crackledawn, an Unmapped kingdom that conjures sunlight for our world, Zeb discovers running away only gets you so far.

When magic’s involved, you’ve got to pick a side. And though Zeb vowed he wouldn’t trust anyone ever again, he didn’t expect to stumble aboard The Kerfuffle, an enchanted boat belonging to a girl called Oonie and her talking chameleon, Mrs Fickletint.

Suddenly, Zeb finds himself on a voyage complete with silver whales, fire krakens and underwater palaces. Can he muster up enough trust in others, and in magic, to summon a dragon, find the Ember Scroll and defeat Morg once and for all?

This is a story about saving the world but it’s also a story about trusting friends, and chameleons, even when kingdoms are falling apart. 

I have adored the Unmapped Chronicles series since the World Book Day book, Everdark, so I was very excited to get my hands on an early copy of the final book in the series, and what an impressive finale!

The Unmapped Chronicles is Abi's Narnia, a vast, complex world of magic and wonder. Like Narnia, it is a world that runs parallel to our own, with people, mainly children, from our world occasionally finding their way there through magical portals of all kinds when an appropriate saviour or two might be needed. 

The imagination, the inventiveness, the ridiculous yet oh so clever naming of everything and everyone, the Unmapped Kingdoms are alive with magic and wonder, and I've come to care about each one and all their brilliantly bizarre inhabitants.

But the true magic in these stories is that Abi Elphinstone takes characters who are broken, who are hurting, who don't fit in and lash out at the world around them, and drops them into these magical stories where they're able to find what they need.

This, for me, is the most striking difference between Abi's books and the children's fantasy I grew up reading, and it's sometimes startling, occasionally upsetting and always rewarding. Zebedee Bolt, alone and distrusting of the world, is another brilliant example of this.

The Crackledawn Dragon is another Abi Elphinstone story that is just bristling with empathy and understanding and compassion and love, and that's as magical and beautiful as the dragons, merfolk and Unmappers in the story.

It's a beautiful conclusion to the series, I can't wait to see what Abi does next, and it's all wrapped up in a gorgeous George Ermos cover.

With the Unmapped Chronicles series, Abi Elphinstone has secured her position as one of the great children's fantasy authors.


The Crackledawn Dragon by Abi Elphinstone is out now, published by Simon and Schuster

I was given a review copy via Netgalley in return for an honest review.


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