Book Review

This Vicious Way – Madeline Dyer

Happy publication to Madeline Dyer, as This Vicious Way, the latest novel set in her Untamed world is released today.

BLURB:

REVENGE IS NEVER EASY…

Aged five, Inga was snatched from her sister’s arms by Bridie’s Assassins, a group of Untamed rebels who believe the way to win the War of Humanity is to use more Untamed children as soldiers. For seven years, Inga’s life consisted of violence, exploitation, and death as they shaped her into their most deadly weapon. Then she escaped.

Now twenty-one, Inga has spent the last six years seeking revenge on the assassins—using the skills they taught her against them—and trying to find her family. She knows the Gods and Goddesses are behind her, because with every assassin she murders, Inga’s gifted with a vision of her cousins, Keelie and Elf. And soon—very soon—Inga is sure she will find her family again. She’s just got to kill all the assassins first.

But when she discovers her own sister is now leading the assassins, Inga’s resolve is tested. Sure, she will stop at nothing to get the life she deserves—even if it means putting other Untamed in danger and losing herself—but can she kill her own flesh and blood?

“Madeline Dyer’s This Vicious Way is an unyielding exploration into the motivations of a young assassin. Inga’s determination to end the cycle of abuse that shaped her life makes for a gritty, heartbreaking, and captivating story.” — Sarah Mensinga, author of Currently

“This Vicious Way is brutal in all the best ways. It will suck you in and tear you apart, put you back together and then do it all over again. What a ride! If you want a fantastic dystopian world, with unique and flawed (but totally kickass) characters– this is totally the book for you.” — Stacey Trombley, author of Trial of Thorns

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REVIEW:

As you have probably released by now, I am a huge fan of Madeline Dyer’s writing, and particularly the books set in her Untamed world, and I devour them the very second that I can get my hands on them. I was lucky enough to receive an advance copy of This Vicious Way, and I honestly think this is the best book yet. I couldn’t read it fast enough. If you haven’t read any of the previous books set in this world, and This Vicious Way is the first one you pick up, it really doesn’t matter as it works perfectly as a standalone book and does not have to be read in conjunction with the others (although I would encourage you to read them all because they are great.

This Vicious Way is the darkest of Madeline’s books to date, and opens up a side to the Untamed world that we haven’t seen before, where instead of it being Enhanced against Untamed it is Untamed against Untamed. As the sixth book set in the Untamed world, this struck me as an interesting way to keep the story fresh, and shows that things aren’t always black and white.

The way the story unfolds switching between current day and flashbacks adds a depth to the main characters, as a picture of what led them to become the people they are today slowly reveals itself. Having two starkly different female lead characters who have developed in such contrasting ways, despite their shared childhood experiences, made this book a really interesting read.

As with all good books, there is the one character you love from the second you meet them, and the one you find that you love to hate. For me, these characters were Amelia and Falkes respectively, Amelia for her warmth and acceptance of Inga, and Falkes because as much he was a hateful specimen, I found I had a grudging respect for him and the motivation behind some of his actions.

This is a fast-paced, action-packed book, but at the same time manages to be deeply emotional, and at times completely heart-breaking. Madeline’s books just get better and better, and I can’t wait to see what comes next!

Extracts

Captive – Madeline Dyer

Some (hopefully all) of you will have seen my review of Captive, a collection of poetry by Madeline Dyer, a few days ago, and will know how moved I was by the poems. If you missed it, you can find all the details here. Today, I am honoured to be joining the blog tour for the book, and to have the privilege of sharing one of Madeline’s poems with you.

Drowning and Melting

My feet are cold candles on the beach,
and my eyes are teapots,
and I see things I shouldn’t see,
because my vision is twice and nothing is right
when the monster dances in my brain.

And why won’t the doctors extinguish
the fire that burns my veins until the tubes wilt?
Because now I am drowning and melting
as I dance between worlds waving my flags,
trying to be noticed among all the crying girls.

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Book Review

Captive – Madeline Dyer

Happy publication day to Madeline Dyer! The ebook of her first book of poetry, Captive, is released today. I was lucky enough to be given an early copy by Madeline, so read on for all the details and my thoughts on the book.

BLURB:

I just want to get better and see the stars and believe in hope again.’

Captive, Madeline Dyer’s first poetry collection, is based on the therapy writings she produced when she was experiencing psychosis and OCD due to Autoimmune Basal Ganglia Encephalitis, a rare type of brain inflammation caused by the immune system attacking the brain. While her communication skills and cognitive abilities diminished due to the effects of the inflammation, she was able to share her thoughts and emotions via the written word, process that gave her great comfort when she otherwise felt possessed.

Captive provides readers with a glimpse of her tormented mind during this dark time of loneliness, loss, and fear.

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PURCHASE LINK:

Click here to purchase

REVIEW:

I have long been a fan of Madeline’s fiction writing, and so I subscribe to all of her social media accounts. As such I am familiar with her struggles to a certain extent, and have been following her progress through her Medium page. I know how hard 2019 was for her, but even so, reading these poems was completely and utterly heartbreaking and I am not ashamed to admit that I cried through most of them.

It is incredibly brave of Madeline to open herself up to the world in sharing these intimate thoughts with the world in order to give people an insight into what it feels like to live with PANS. The raw pain that runs throughout the writing is almost palpable and really opened my eyes to what it must truly be like to live with OCD.

Whilst I was touched by the almost brutal frankness of all of the poems, I found “Things People Say” and “Psycho particularly upsetting – as a chronic illness sufferer myself I know how hard it is for people to understand, and how cruel their words can be sometimes, so this really touched a nerve with me.

“Don’t” hit home for me, as the son of my dearest friend struggles with OCD. People use the phrase so flippantly but they have no idea what it is truly like for sufferers. I have been guilty of this myself in the past, but now having experience of people who are fighting a constant battle, I can understand, to a certain extent, just how hurtful this can be.

A final mention has to go to “An Apology to the Ponies.” As I said earlier, I cried my way through most of this book, but this poem had me sobbing. Even thinking back to it now as I type this review brings a tear to my eye.

Captive feels like such an important book, both for sufferers of OCD, to hopefully help them to see that they aren’t the only people struggling with the thoughts in their head, but also for anyone who wants to gain an insight into what it is truly like to be constantly fighting an internal war with yourself.

For more information on Madeline, please visit her website.

Blog

This Vicious Way – Cover Reveal

I am thrilled to be taking part in the cover reveal for the latest book by Madeline Dyer today. I don’t have the official blurb yet, but here is what I can tell you. This Vicious Way is the second book in the brilliant The Dangerous Ones series, and is set in the same world as Madeline’s previous Untamed series. It can be read as a standalone, but if you want my advice, get yourself to the bookshop/internet and grab a copy of all the previous books set in this world as quickly as you can. You won’t regret it!

The Dangerous Ones series is a dystopian/adventure series, and is aimed a slightly older audience than the Untamed series, being Upper YA/NA rather than pure YA, but honestly I haven’t been able to call myself a young or new adult for quite some years now and I still love them. A Dangerous Game, the first book in this series, is my favourite of Madeline’s books so far, and so I am very excited to find out what is in store with This Vicious Way.

Anyway, without further ado, here comes the cover…

This Vicious Way

The cover was designed by Molly Phipps at We Got You Covered Book Design, and I think it perfectly reflects the tone of the series so far.

If you want to know more about The Dangerous Ones series, have a read of my review of A Dangerous Game.

Meet the Author

Madeline Dyer

I am doing my happy dance today because I have an interview with the wonderful Madeline Dyer to share with you all. Grab a cuppa and a biscuit and come on in and join us.

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What inspired you to create the Untamed world? 

The initial premise of the first book evolved when I saw the music video for “La La La” by Naughty Boy and Sam Smith. More specifically, there’s a scene in that video where what appears to be a human heart is being sold at a market, and it got me thinking about what would happen if all the things that a heart represents—such as love, happiness, and lust—could be bought at a market, just as easily as clothing and food. This idea became the basis for the augmenters—artificial emotions that only allow the user to feel positive qualities, at the expense of their humanity—that the majority of mankind are addicted to, and thus the distinction between the Enhanced Ones (those who take augmenters) and the Untamed (those who don’t) was born.

From here, I added more and more layers to my worldbuilding—predominantly by asking myself questions about how a society like this would operate and function. But I wanted to make this dystopian world a little different too, and I always knew I wanted there to be spirits in this world too. I love fantasy, and creating a world that is both dystopian and has strong fantastical elements was something that really appealed to me. And, thus, this series is set in an alternate present-day earth where augmenters have been around for hundreds of years, but it’s also a world where spirits walk the land and are very much part of the landscape. There’s a whole mythology and religion that the Untamed have created around the spirits and nature and other Divine beings (a mythology that the Enhanced Ones have rejected in favour of technology). It was really fascinating seeing how this world managed both the conflict between the Enhanced and the Untamed, and between technology and spirits.

Everything about the Untamed world feels so real. How did you go about the worldbuilding required to create something that feels so authentic? 

I’m so happy you think this world feels so real! That was something that was really important to me, and something I considered carefully when creating this world. Because my worldbuilding requires so much suspension of belief—you’ve got spirits, Gods and Goddesses, the prophetic bison, and the Dream Land—I knew that I absolutely needed to be as detailed and factual as possible in many other areas, as well as making sure that this book is as visual as possible.

I spent months and months researching and fact-checking different areas to make sure that everything but the fantasy elements were as fact-based as they could be, realistic, and familiar. Thus, a lot of the survival skills that the Untamed use to survive are real-life survival skills, and many of the plants Seven and Corin come across are also ones readers will recognize—and I made sure to include their descriptions within my imagery when establishing setting, so even if it was a plant that was unfamiliar to the characters (and so they didn’t know the name of it) readers who are familiar with that terrain may still identify it.

The volcano in Fragmented (book two) is based on a real-life volcano, and I talked with numerous volcanologists and professors at universities, to make sure my depictions of this volcano and the old lava tubes—from the type and colour of the rock, to the smells and temperatures inside the old tubes—were accurate and realistic.

Including little things like this which readers can use to ground themselves in this world that is both similar and so different, is something I think really helped to give a strong sense of ‘place’.

What made the original Enhanced create the augmenters?

So, it’s human nature to strive toward perfection and improve the human condition. This can already be seen in the medical advances in the last few centuries, in particular. This desire to live a better life, free from pain, suffering, etc., was what drove the creation of the first augmenters in my Untamed world, as they were designed to make people stronger and faster. It wasn’t until a little later that they focused on making people happier too, and thus ‘positive emotions’ became the main focus of the augmenters, as well as a line that allows for phenotype change, under their belief that a more ‘beautiful’ appearance allows the person to feel happier as well.

But it’s important to remember that the first augmenters were actually created by the Untamed, as the Enhanced are the result of the augmenters and their humanity-destroying effects.

Do you have any favourite quotes from any of the books?

Yes! This is from Destroyed (book four).

Raleigh laughs. “You are not a killer.”

“You don’t know what I am.”

I absolutely love these lines as they show both Raleigh’s pretentious nature in that he assumes he knows what Seven is or isn’t capable of, while also revealing how controlling he is as he tells Seven she is not a killer. To him, it’s not a question, and there’s no doubt about it. It’s a fact, and he assumes he knows her better than she herself does. This definitely plays into the cat-and-mouse chase between the two of them that we’ve seen across all four books, and the mind-control and mental manipulation he exerts over her in books one and three.

But Seven’s reply is what I think really makes these lines really fantastic. She’s no longer the scared or vulnerable girl she was in book one. She has grown into herself, her powers, and books three and four are where we really see her as a confident and determined character. Now she has the power to face Raleigh on her own terms, and she directly confronts him and challenges the foundations that he’s stood on for so long (as he has always told her he knows what’s best for her).

This is definitely the moment where the power-balance shifts and readers see who Seven really is now.

What was your favourite book to write? Why?

I’d say it’s a draw between Fragmented (book two) and Destroyed (book four). I particularly liked writing the Zharat culture in Fragmented, as well as seeing how Seven is recovering from both the addiction that stole so much of her in book one and the loss of her family. But I also really liked writing Destroyed. With it being the final part of Seven’s story, there was a lot I wanted to fit into this book, but it also had to feel like a satisfying end to the series and have its own plot, rather than just tying up all the loose ends and being exciting purely for the sake of going out on a bang. Destroyed certainly shakes up what readers think they know about the Untamed world, raises new questions (and answers), and with new layers of worldbuilding being explored, I hope it’s an engaging and thrilling ride.

Which book did you find the hardest to write? Why?

Divided (book three), definitely!

This is the book where Raleigh (the antagonist) really gets inside Seven’s head. There’s a lot of mental manipulation and mind games, and its tone is greatly darker than the other books. Its structure is also very different to Untamed (book one), and the majority of the action takes place in an Enhanced town (unlike the other books which have more of a road-trip feel to them as the Untamed are on the run), so we really get to see inside the enemy. There’s a lot of worldbuilding that’s solely focused on the Enhanced society, whereas in Fragmented (book two), in particular, it was solely the Untamed society that was explored. I really liked writing this contrast, but found it very hard as Seven’s situation in this book means that most of the action is centred around her internal conflict as she fights the mind control Raleigh has over her, rather than externally (such as in the fast-paced car chase scenes in book one).

Do you have a playlist for your books, or songs that you associate with a particular character?

Yes! Well, only for some books. I’m weird. Whether I create a playlist as I write and edit depends completely on the book that I’m writing—and I remember distinctly that Divided, book three, didn’t have a playlist. I required absolute silence when writing that.

Destroyed did however have a playlist, and it can be found here: https://madonreading.blogspot.com/2018/11/blog-tour-destroyed-by-madeline-dyer.html

I also have a playlist for A Dangerous Game! This is my standalone novel that’s set in the same world as my Untamed series, and although it has a different narrator, Seven and Corin do make appearances in it. The playlist can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLnEZs7UwfVAk82LPChnpL-tBX4EDXMtkw

As you know, I am a massive Corin fan, but do you have a favourite character of your own?

Hmmm…so I like all my characters, but I particularly enjoyed writing the intense scenes with Raleigh! Although Divided was the hardest book to write, I found it fascinating learning so much about him in that book.

Writing from Keelie’s POV in A Dangerous Game was also really fun, and it was refreshing to see such a familiar world through the eyes of another character who’s so different to Seven.

You have spoken of a love of prehistoric fiction. Did this influence you to use the bison as the symbol for seer dream and for how the dreams appeared? I always imagined the dreams as having a cave art quality to them, even before I knew that you were a fan of prehistoric fiction.

The bison was very much influenced by my love for prehistoric art. I studied Ritual and Religion in Prehistory at Oxford Uni, and I loved the modules on cave art. As so many prehistoric paintings focus around animals, and there’s so much evidence to suggest that animals were very important to them (their bones have been found in the foundations of many prehistoric buildings and settlements), I wanted the Untamed culture to be focused around an animal too. I chose a wood bison as I love the symbolism this animal has.

Who/what are your favourite authors/books?

My favourite authors include Virginia Woolf, Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, Louisa May Alcott, Charlotte Bronte, Jean M. Auel, J.V. Jones, Rick Yancey, Richelle Mead, C.L. Taylor, and Ruth Ware.

If you could have dinner with any three authors, alive or dead, who would they be and why?

Only three? Hmm. I’d probably go with Virginia Woolf, A.A. Milne, and Anne Sexton. I think that would be quite an interesting combination, and just listening to their conversations would be fascinating.

Now that the final book in the Untamed series has been released, what comes next? 

I can’t believe that Seven’s story is finished! I’ve got tentative plans for a second Untamed standalone—possibly focusing around a character we meet in Fragmented—but nothing solid on that yet.

And in terms of non-Untamed books, I’ve been working on the first book in a YA science fiction trilogy. Hopefully, I’ll have news on that soon!

I also really want to write a YA thriller.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Madeline Dyer lives on a farm in the southwest of England, where she hangs out with her Shetland ponies and writes young adult books—sometimes, at the same time. She holds a BA Honors degree in English from the University of Exeter, and several presses have published her fiction. Madeline has a strong love for anything dystopian, ghostly, or paranormal, and she can frequently be found exploring wild places. At least one notebook is known to follow her wherever she goes.

As well as this interview, Madeline has lots more exciting stuff happening on her Destroyed blog tour, so make sure you visit all the other blogs taking part.

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Book Review

Destroyed – Madeline Dyer

I am feeling a little bit sad today because I am here to tell you about Madeline Dyer’s latest book, Destroyed. “Why does that make you sad?” I hear you ask. Well, Destroyed is the fourth and final book in the amazing Untamed series, and now I have finished it, and have to leave the much loved characters behind, I am feeling just a little lost.

For those of you who are not familiar with the series, let me tell you a bit about it before we jump into all the juicy bits about Destroyed. The Untamed series consists of four books (Untamed, Fragemented, Divided, Destroyed) and it follows Seven Sarr and her friends and loved ones as she battles to remain Untamed, while the Enhanced, or Chosen Ones, do everything they can to hunt them down and convert them.  I will pop a separate post up shortly with all the blurbs for all the books, so that I don’t blind you with all the info here.

Alongside the series, there is also a standalone novel, set ever so slightly before the start of the series, called A Dangerous Game. I reviewed this book earlier in the year, and you can read my review here.

Right, so now you know a bit more about the series, let’s get back to why we are really here – Destroyed!

BLURB:

Seven Sarr, the most powerful human in the world, is alive–and she’s on the run from her enemy. With the Dream Land gone, the Gods and Goddesses dead, and the Untamed’s number of Seers at a record low, Seven knows she must attempt to control the Lost Souls–including the most volatile and dangerous spirits–if her people are to have a chance at beating the Enhanced Ones once and for all.

But when the Enhanced impose a new threat and Corin’s life is at stake, Seven must make her hardest choice: save the man she loves and let her people perish, or allow Corin’s death so the Untamed can survive.

Locked into a tight countdown to her own demise and solitary entrapment within a torturous realm, Seven must make her decision quickly. Her Seer powers are the strongest, and her death will end the War of Humanity once and for all. When the new morning dawns, the world as she knew it will be gone. What–and who–will be left behind is up to Seven.

Will her love shape the future of the world?

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REVIEW:

Destroyed is a fitting finale to an amazing series. The Untamed series has been a rollercoaster ride from start to finish, and there is no let up through the adrenalin filled events of Destroyed. Where sometimes the final book in a series is just used to tie up the loose ends, this is in no way the case with Destroyed. The twists and turns just keep coming, and every time you think that the battle must surely be over, you find yourself thrown in a completely different direction.

It is hard to say too much with giving away spoilers, but suffice to say in this book, we really see Seven grow into the powerful woman that the Untamed need, as she unlocks her abilities and comes to terms with what she needs to do. We also see the lengths that Raleigh is prepared to go to in order to claim total control over Seven and swing the war in favour of the Enhanced.

The vivid imagery that has been present throughout Madeline’s writing continues here, as we are taken on an exploration of new lands and cultures. The worldbuilding involved in creating something so fantastical, but at the same time deeply believable is a real skill, and one that Madeline has in spades.

As sad as I am to be saying a final farewell to Seven, Corin and their friends, and even to Raleigh, I thoroughly enjoyed the way in which the series came to a head, and I loved seeing some familiar faces from the past, which really added to the sense of closure given by this book.

PURCHASE LINKS:

iTunes

Barnes & Noble

Kobo

Amazon UK

Amazon.com

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

30591626_2044993659121645_3880142398021435392_n (1)Madeline Dyer lives on a farm in the southwest of England, where she hangs out with her Shetland ponies and writes young adult books—sometimes, at the same time. She holds a BA Honors degree in English from the University of Exeter, and several presses have published her fiction. Madeline has a strong love for anything dystopian, ghostly, or paranormal, and she can frequently be found exploring wild places. At least one notebook is known to follow her wherever she goes.

GIVEAWAY:

Madeline is running a giveaway to win a complete set of the Untamed books, which you can enter here.

Keep your eyes peeled for my interview with Madeline which will be coming to a blog near you (i.e. this one) very soon – in just five days time to be precise. In the meantime, please check out all the amazing stuff on the other blogs that are joining me on this tour.

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