Series/Standalone: This is book one in the Iron Age series
Acquired: Kindly sent for review by the publisher
Summary (from Goodreads):Bloodthirsty druids and battle-hardened Iron Age warriors collide in the biggest epic fantasy debut release of 2014. LEGENDS AREN'T BORN. THEY'RE FORGED. Dug Sealskinner is a down-on-his-luck mercenary travelling south to join up with King Zadar's army. But he keeps rescuing the wrong people. First, Spring, a child he finds scavenging on the battlefield, and then Lowa, one of Zadar's most fearsome warriors, who's vowed revenge on the king for her sister's execution. Now Dug's on the wrong side of that thousands-strong army he hoped to join - and worse, Zadar has bloodthirsty druid magic on his side. All Dug has is his war hammer, one rescued child and one unpredictable, highly-trained warrior with a lust for revenge that's going to get them all killed . . . It's a glorious day to die.
My review: As most of you know I'm not much of a fantasy reader but I decided to give Age of Iron a go when it was pitched to me as something Game of Thrones fans will love. I've read and enjoyed every instalment of ASoIaF so far so I figured I'd give it a go and see if it stood up to the hype.
I went into Age of Iron with a few reservations (as I mentioned, I'm not a huge fantasy reader, I'm easily distracted and this is a pretty chunky book) but I'm pleased to say my reservations were unjustified, and Age of Iron is well worth adding to your TBR pile.
It's clear from the get go that Watson is an accomplished writer. He relies on stark imagery and blunt, direct prose to tell his story, which is refreshing change from the purple prose I've been disappointed by in some fantasy novels. Taking into account this is his debut novel, it makes it even more impressive.
Age of Iron is the first instalment in the series and it strikes that delicate balance of laying out series-length story lines, as well as having its own standalone plot lines. The ending was satisfying but left me wanting more, in a good way, not a frustrated way.
Age of Iron focuses on a section of history that is largely missing from novels and movies, so it was great to see Iron Age Britain brought to life. It was certainly a difficult, brutal era to live in and I loved learning more about that period of history through Watson's book, without feeling like I was reading a history textbook.
The characterisation in Age of Iron is strong, and I found myself warming to Dug from the outset. He might be a little rough around the edges but it's impossible to dislike him. He's got a mouth like a sewer and he's worn out and older than your average hero, which I really liked. It's nice to read about somebody with some life experience, rather than an eighteen year old 'chosen one' who can do no wrong.
This is a great book to lose yourself in as the evenings grow darker and the air gets more bitter. Curl up under a blanket and stop counting down the days until Game of Thrones returns to our screens, because delving into Age of Iron is a great way to spend a few evenings.
This review has been written as part of the Age of Iron blog tour, so have a look below to make sure you don't miss out on the rest of the tour!
Summary (from Goodreads):Jodie is cursed with a terrible gift. She just doesn't know it yet. When she stumbles across one of her dead father's old papers on sound waves in the attic, it sets her on a terrifying journey to find out more, leading her across the streets of London to the dark, untrodden tunnels of the Underground, where she is forced to face the truth. Her worst nightmare is about to become real. Worse, she can hear it coming.
My review: As you know I'm a big fan of horror so I'm always excited to read any new releases. YA horror is hugely under-represented so it's always a treat to find a new one in my TBR pile. As such, I went into Killing Sound hoping to discover a creepy, well-written story that I'd be able to recommend to anybody looking for a new YA horror. Was I disappointed? Read on to find out...
Chicken House have this cool bit of marketing where they choose three words to sum up the book and print them on the back cover - such a good idea. For Killing Sound they've chosen 'spine-chilling', 'supernatural' and 'suspense' and I think they nailed it.
I find that a lot of YA horror tries and fails to deliver genuine scares but this is somewhere where Killing Sound really excels. It manages to create a real feeling of unease and parts of the book really did unsettle me. I like that Southern went more for creating a creepy atmosphere than relying on gore or cheap shocks to scare his audience - it helped the story feel more like an old-timey sci-fi horror, which is a huge plus in my book.
The idea of a horror story built around sound waves was something I've only come across a couple of times before and I found it such an interesting concept. I found myself thinking of JG Ballard's Track 12 and Roald Dahl's The Sound Machine while I was reading Killing Sound - both of which I definitely recommend!
Killing Sound felt like a horror novel on the more sophisticated end of the spectrum and I like that I was kept guessing right until the final pages. Speaking of which - THAT ENDING! I obviously can't give much away but, gee whizz, that's one I won't forget in a hurry. I was so engrossed by the end that, after I finished the epilogue, I had a moment where I was a bit shocked to find that I was reading a book rather than watching a film - it's just that immersive and visual and the narrative flows so easily that it feels like something you're experiencing in front of you, rather than reading.
So, to hark back to my earlier question - no, I definitely was not disappointed. Killing Sound is one of the most unique novels you'll read this year and I wholly recommend curling up with a blanket and hot chocolate and delving into this creepy, unsettling story.
Killing Sound by Paul Southern out now in paperback and eBook (£7.99, Chicken House). Find out more at doublecluck.com.
Make sure you swing by the other blogs on the list for the next stops on the blog tour!