Book Review

The Fatal Oath – Michael L Lewis

Today I am kicking off the blog tour for the latest instalment in the Oath series by Michael L Lewis, The Fatal Oath. Many thanks to Michael for providing me with a copy of the book, and to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to be a part of the tour.

BLURB:

1957. Blackleigh is an elite public school for boys in Yorkshire where prejudice and seething hatreds are never far below the surface. Violence erupts against any Junior who the Seniors deem unfit.

Jonathan Simon is 16, in his third year, and is self-conscious about being Jewish and having a birthmark on his cheek. He knows that: 1) The school code of conduct mandates no snitching, 2) The student Prefects, not the faculty, have absolute power to discipline and 3) Mr. Paul Wood, the temporary Headmaster, is weak and ineffectual.

Jonathan meets Bobby Stuart, an American transfer student, who is also worried about being accepted. Their friendship binds them together as they soon run afoul three ruthless and ambitious Seniors in the House; Gabriel, Murray and Hausman – also known by their fanatic followers as ‘The Black Armbands’.

As the pressure mounts, ambitions grow, friendships become closer and scheming increases. As for Jonathan, the year is only beginning…

PURCHASE LINKS:

Bookshop.org

Amazon UK

Waterstones

REVIEW:

Having read and enjoyed both The Oath and The Wicked Oath, I was keen to find out what Jonathan Simon’s third year at Blackleigh had in store for him. With the departure of many of his tormentors from previous years, surely this year would be a better one – or would it?

The arrival of new students at the school means new friendships for Jonathan, and with a potential new love interest, everything seems to be looking good for a positive year. However, ambitious students with their own agendas soon lead to a vicious power struggle. With the headmaster more than happy to leave discipline to the prefects and turning a blind eye to exactly what punishments are being dished out, Blackleigh quickly becomes a dangerous place to be for any student who doesn’t fit the ideal, with groups of vigilantes hunting down any “undesirable” student unlucky enough to be caught on their own.

Whilst the occurrences in the previous books were shocking enough, The Fatal Oath has an almost Lord of the Flies feel to it, with mob rule taking over, and an adult presence being almost entirely absent. As with the previous books, the actions of certain factions within the school make for uncomfortable but compelling reading.

New students, new prefects and a new headmaster combine with old grudges to make this year at Blackleigh the most dangerous yet.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Michael L. Lewis was born and raised in England. After preparatory school in London, he was educated at Stowe School, Buckingham. This is the third novel in the Oath series, taking readers on a journey through the lives of three dynamic schoolboys between the ages of 13 and 15, and the extraordinary triumphs and tragedies that they experience. Michael now lives in Los Angeles, California, has a law degree, and writes full-time. He was on the Board of Trustees for several schools and has been a member of the same book club for twenty-five years.

Michael says, “The books in the ‘Oath’ series are all inspired by my incredible experiences at a Boarding School in the North of England and on School Boards in Los Angeles. Each book in the series stands alone with totally separate main themes united by the exploration of prejudice, the unequal playing field in education, and the abuse of human rights. They will appeal to adults as well as young adults and are entirely set in an elite public school in Yorkshire.”

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Book Review

Bluemantle – Karen Langston

Come with me to the dystopian city of Wydeye, as I join the blog tour for Bluemantle by Karen Langston. Many thanks to Karen and The Book Guild for providing me with a copy of the book and to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for inviting me to be a part of the tour.

BLURB:

LIVE MUSIC IS OUTLAWED.

Set in the sun-scorched city of Wydeye, the totalitarian Authority controls its citizens through fear and cultivated dependence. Live music is deemed a threat to order and is forbidden by law. Punishment for participation is severe.

Chase Newell discovers his sister is missing. His search for her leads him to the underground music Scene, with its ageless Troubadours who must risk their lives to perform in order to survive. To do this, they rely on Bluemantle.

As the Authority’s control-obsessed leader, Governor Blix, and her evil-incarnate Chief of Command, Wulfwin, step up their efforts to seize the Troubadours and destroy the Scene, the risks escalate.

While the Troubadours are forced to act, will the citizens of Wydeye wake up to Bluemantle’s invitation and find choice beyond the caves of their own making?

PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon UK

Waterstones

WH Smith

Bluemantle Cover Image

REVIEW:

I have really missed live music over the last year, and can’t imagine what it would be like to never experience it again. It was my love of music that led me to want to read this book, to see what life would be like without it.

The strange magic of the Troubadours is intriguing and plays cleverly off the way readers will know how music can touch your soul, the passion and energy created by live music. However, as I read, I began to wonder if they were the good guys I had originally thought them to be. My distrust of this group of enigmatic musicians meant that I struggled to gel with some of the characters, which in turn led to a slight feeling of being disconnected from the story. For a large part of the book, I wasn’t sure who I should be rooting for, although I was fond of Ursel and Naylor. Despite being suspicious of just about everyone and everything, I was still startled by more than one revelation as the story unfolded, and it was these surprises that overrode the disconnect and kept me engaged in the story.

I enjoyed the fact that we see the apparent enemy, the Authority’s perspective. Instead of them just being a distant hated force, I loved seeing their thought processes and the stories behind their actions. While the concept of the book as a whole put me in mind of the musical We Will Rock You, which I love, this was cemented with Governor Blix making a formidable Killer Queen, and Wulfwin her faithful Khashoggi. Wulfwin’s interrogation tactics are brutal and stomach churning at times.

There is a rawness to the writing which seems to perfectly reflect life in Wydeye, or at least in overground Wydeye. Karen Langston shows her skill as a writer as this harshness melts away to more fluid writing style as we head underground, almost as if the music of the Troubadours is getting under the skin of the reader as it does with their followers. This is a real talent, and I look forward to reading more from this author.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Karen Langston Author PicKaren Langston is a British novelist, writing speculative and science fiction for adults.

Karen has an MA in English from the University of Kent. Prior to becoming a full-time writer, she was a secondary school teacher of English, a senior project manager developing qualifications for professionals in the creative media industries and a self-employed property developer. She lives in Kent with her husband.

BLUEMANTLE is her first novel.

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Make sure you visit the other blogs taking part in this tour.

Bluemantle BT Poster