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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 Midnight Guardians by Ross Montgomery

Review - The Midnight Guardians by Ross Montgomery

Sometimes at the darkest hour, hope shines the brightest…

When Col’s childhood imaginary friends come to life, he discovers a world where myths and legends are real. Accompanied by his guardians – a six-foot tiger, a badger in a waistcoat and a miniature knight – Col must race to Blitz-bombed London to save his sister.

But there are darker forces at work, even than the Nazi bombings. Soon Col is pursued by the terrifying Midwinter King, who is determined to bring an eternal darkness down over everything.

The Midnight Guardians is a fantastic story about two great wars.

The first of these is World War II and the blitz. Col has been evacuated, he's lost his dad and he's missing his sister Rose. He's seen a vision of a massive and terrible air raid coming and is desperately trying to get to London in time to save Rose. The pain, loss and devastation caused by the air raids comes across really strongly, especially in the sequences set in London. As well as the direct impact of the bombing we also see other elements, from blackmarket goods to mental hospitals for the shell shocked, and with Ruth we get to see another element again, as we see the war from the perspective of a young German jew far from home with no information about her parents.  It's all very moving and really brings across the plight of people caught up in that dreadful conflict. 

Mirroring the blitz is a second war, this one started in the spirit world though its effects ripple through our own. The King of Midnight, a dark and vengeful god of death, is rising in power through all that death, darkness and destruction and is challenging his counterpart, the Green Man, for power. With the Green Man in hiding, it looks like the King is all but unstoppable, just needing that last big raid to swell his powers to the point where he can rule both worlds.

I'm not a big fan of world war stories, but I do love a good fae story and this part of the book absolutely thrilled me. The concept of that balance of nature, between light and dark, death and life being upset by WW2 is so clever and works so well, especially as we see the balance tip in different directions as the story progresses.

The core characters, Col and his imaginary friends, now guardian spirits escaped from the King to try and help Col, are just wonderful. There's a definite Labyrinth tone to them and many of the spirits they meet and I could absolutely picture the bickering knight, the King of Rogues, and characters like the animated trees and talking stones as Henson creations. There's so much humour to them, but also so much compassion and love, and it's nice to be reminded that we can all be vulnerable beneath our armour.

With its core themes of finding love and friendship and using them to fight back the darkness, The Midnight Guardians is a beautiful fantasy tale.


The Midnight Guardians by Ross Montgomery is out now, published by Walker Books.

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


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