Posts Tagged ‘Percy Jackson’


I’m not going to dwell long on this review: it concludes the story begun in Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children and continues in Hollow City from which this book continues directly. It is also my last book of 2015, and Miss Peregrine was my first book of 2015 so it gives my year a nice symmetry.

It also doesn’t take long to read.

Having entered London in Hollow City, Emma and Jacob narrowly avoided being abducted by the nefarious Caul, Miss Peregrine’s evil brother. The other children from the first two books are abducted.

Rather than flee, Jacob and Emma with the help of Addison – a peculiar talking dog – track the wights to another time loop, a labyrinthine Devil’s Acre, where they are assisted by a somewhat taciturn boatman named Sharon. Tall, gaunt, with a hood. Sharon. Really, Riggs? You couldn’t have made him more like Charon? Dangerously close to Percy Jackson territory.

Anyway, within Devil’s Acre, various atrocities are discovered: drug use, slavery and crime.  We also find more allies in the form of Sharon and Bentham.

The depictions of Devil’s Acre were pos
sibly more vivid than those of London in the previous book. And this one had a stronger plot: find the wights’ base,  rescue everyone. Somehow.

Again, this is a strongly paced novel preferring action to emotion and that’s where the writing is strongest especially in the assault on the wights’ fortress. I also did enjoy the full awakening of Jacob’s peculiar gift: not just to be able to see the hollows, nor to be able to communicate with them but actually merge with their consciousness and maintain full control over an army of them.

The ending of the book – which so many people have praised – I found difficult. I don’t normally do this but…


Jacob wins. Everyone is rescued. A mythical time loop containing the additional second souls which give peculiar people their gifts is discovered. Bentham who was also Miss Peregrine’s brother betrayed Jacob *boo! and then betrayed Caul *yay! The mythical time loop is destroyed with Bentham and Caul in it.


So the world of peculiardom has died? The thousands of souls contained in the library and which create peculiars had been destroyed. So I’m expected to celebrate what is essentially a genocide? A mass extinction of innocent souls?

And Jacob is from the present with a family to which he would like to return; but has fallen in love with Emma – his own grandfather’s ex – who is from 1940 and would age to her true age within a few days of being out of a time loop. She can’t be in the present; Jacob can’t bring himself to abandon his family in the present. That’s a nice conflict as a writer. A little clumsily handled perhaps. But a nice conflict. The hero who saves a world he cannot share.

So how does Riggs resolve it? The destruction of the time loop containing the library of souls stops the aging-forward problem. And no one knew. So on the day, the very moment, that Jacob is about to be institutionalised because of his ‘delusions’ about the peculiars, they turn up and rescue him. And can live happily ever after.

I just found that far too trite. Too convenient. Too deus ex machina.

And then there’s the Hollow – the first one that Jacob bonded with – which we learn retain an aspect of consciousness – left in Bentham’s house having its blood and tears drained indefinitely to power the Panloopticon device?

Maybe I’m reading too much into what is, essentially,  a kids’ adventure book. But the ending bothered me.0




I confess.

I only read this and the next book (Library Of Souls) to complete a trilogy for my 2015 Reading Challenge. And because I was running out of time. I did complete them by 31st December… just a little slow blogging about them. Due in part to a busy Christmas and also to an abraded cornea which pretty much destroyed my ability to read and type or see generally since New Year.

So, this book picks up the story from Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children as Jacob – from modern day America – and his friends including Emma, Jacob’s girlfriend and his own grandfather’s ex-girlfriend – yes, you read that correctly – flee their invaded time-looped island back to 1940s war-torn Britain. There, they face the dual terrors of the war itself and of the hollows and wights who had destroyed their original loop-refuge.

Miss Peregrine herself – the children’s matriarchal ymbyrne – had been kidnapped, rescued but stuck in bird form. And there is a loose directionlessness to the plot as a result. They happen upon a lost loop inhabited by peculiar and talking animals, trip over a band of gypsies with their own peculiar child gradually becoming invisible, and generally head towards London with no real idea of what to expect or what to do once they get there. Carrying a child’s book whose tales and nursery rhymes spring out as plot devices from time to time seemed a little forced. A portable deus ex machina.

I had lower expectations of this than I did with the first and the book met them better. L It’s a good read. A decent tale. Riggs does have a tendency to tell rather than show and the horrors of bombing raids in London seemed a little two-dimensional as does the description of the hollows, the monstrous mindless, multi-tongued creatures. He also seems not to be so comfortable with the emotional relationship between Jacob and Emma as he is with the scenario he’s created and the range of characters and action scenes.

If I were to summarise a list of pros and cons, it might look like this:

Pros: imaginative concept, creepy photographs,  good pace.

Cons: slightly pedestrian writing, too much telling, lack of description; two-dimensional characters with unconvincing emotions, directionless.

There was, however, a significant and unexpected twist in the final chapters which I hadn’t seen coming.

Fair play, Mr Riggs, fair play.

I’ve been meaning to get round to reading Joe Abercrombie’s The First Law trilogy for a while but haven’t managed to find the time recently. Work. Children. Babies. Goatee growing. You know: the things that take up your time.

But with the summer holidays coinciding with a new book, Half A King, I thought I’d start there.


Half A King is a fantasy novel aimed at the Young Adult audience which is a difficult one to succeed with: the pace required to satisfy a modern teen male audience brought up on video games, instant gratification and the internet can be inimical to the development and depth required to create an authentic High Fantasy world.

Does this one succeed?

Not entirely, in my opinion.

Gettland is one of the kingdoms around The Shattered Sea, the world of the novel. Whilst fictional, The Shattered Sea has echoes of Norse and Viking culture and language which lends the novel both a familiarity and alienness. It’s not as ubiquitous in our culture as the Greek or Roman mythologies of the Low Fantasy Percy Jackson series; but stories of burning longboats and raiding parties are still part of most school children’s education.

The novel focuses on Yarvi, second son to the King who unexpectedly ascends the throne in the opening chapter, following the deaths of his father and older brother. The novel proceeds to follow his slightly tenuous grip on the throne in a series of adventures and set backs. At its heart, it is a coming of age book as Yarvi is forced to follow a journey into adulthood. As is typical of this genre, our unlikely hero collects unlikely allies and forged unexpected friendships to aid him on his journey.

Abercrombie maintains the pace of the novel well: Yarvi’s various exploits are episodic and at times we seemed to lurch from one incident to another. Only once or twice does Abercrombie slow things down enough to try to develop characters and their relationships. For me, it marred the book a little.

Nor was I terribly keen on the main character, Yarvi. He started engagingly enough: the youngest son, rejected because of a malformed hand, reticent and shy, forced into a role he did not desire and for which he was ill-suited. So far, so good. But he becomes an altogether less engaging character as the novel progresses and far more blood thirsty and distinctly lacking in empathy. The attempts to humanise him – through his friendships with Rulf, Jaud and Ankram and the hint of romance with the somewhat exotic navigator Sumael – did not convince me. It’s hard to give specifics without giving spoilers away but there is one point in particular when I was quite shocked by his lack of empathy.

As someone who dislikes violence, I was also mildly concerned that violence – or more precisely “steel” -was often viewed as the “answer” to almost every problem. In fact, on several occasions, we were told exactly that. I’d have liked Yarvi, having been trained for the Ministry, a scholarly and advisory role, to have been more reliant on his wits and tongue and less reliant on befriending people to fight for him.

One character I did like a lot, though, despite his fairly minor role, was Grom-gil-Gorm, a neighbouring King. His presence was quite magnetic, especially as we generally viewed him from the point-of-view of Yarvi kneeling at his feet.

There is something very much of the Game Of Thrones atmosphere in this novel: Laithlin, Yarvi’s mother, is reminiscent of Cersei Lannister; the historical-fantasy world; the inter-familial violence; the competing religions; the ambiguous characters trying to balance honour and ambition. Personally, I found Phillip Reeve’s Here Lies Arthur more effective on many levels and navigating the same ocean with far more satisfying results. For my review of that book, see here.

Another blog review on this book is here.