I am an obsessive reader but with two mischievous boys to care for every day and a website to maintain every night, I don’t get many chances to read nowadays. So when I do pick up a book, I want it to be amazing. Fantasy fiction has always been my genre of choice and when Razorbill.ca gave me the chance to review the award-winning young adult fantasy novel Half World and its sequel Darkest Light by Hiromi Goto, I couldn’t resist the chance to check them out.
I started with Half World, which was the story of Melanie Tamaki:
As the unpopular and impoverished only child of a loving but neglectful mother, Melanie Tamaki is just barely coping with school and life. But everything changes on the day she returns home to find her mother is missing, lured back to Half World by a vile creature calling himself Mr. Glueskin. Soon Melanie embarks on an epic and darkly fantastical journey to Half World to save her mother. What she does not yet realize is that the state of the universe is at stake…
After the first page I knew that I wouldn’t be putting this book down until I had finished it; I was instantly drawn into the mystery and terror of Melanie’s adventure. This is not light fantasy by any means; the story is engaging but also surprisingly dark and Goto’s colourful descriptions of the bizarre horrors that fill Half World really create a drawn-out sense of suspense. I loved the fact that the action started immediately and remained fast-paced and absorbing right through to the end. When Melanie left Half World with a small baby, I was completely satisfied by the end of the story and honestly couldn’t imagine how the sequel would be able to add anything significant.
Then I opened Darkest Light, which was the story of Gee:
Adopted as an infant, Gee has been kept ignorant of his troubled past. Now, at sixteen, he is a loner both despised and feared by his classmates. Dark feelings slowly grow inside him, but as he struggles to control them, his past catches up with him. Abandoning his adoptive grandmother and the place he has called home, Gee is compelled to travel to Half World, one of the Three Realms all living things must pass through. Fractured at one time, the Realms of the Flesh, Spirit and Half World have been reunited, but they are at risk: their fate rests on Gee’s own journey of self-discovery. With two unlikely companions, a heartless cat and a self-destructive Neo Goth girl, Gee must fight the monstrous and the horrific – and, most difficult of all, he must overcome his own propensity for evil.
I quickly realized that Darkest Light would be just as riveting as Half World. It completed a circle that began with Melanie’s journey and the way that it combined the coming-of-age story of a teenage boy and the bizarre horrors of Half World was absolutely brilliant. I literally finished these books in one day because they were both so absorbing that I had to know how they ended. Considering the fantastical subject matter of these books, Goto did an incredible job of painting a realistic picture of Half World in my mind that was both disturbing and fascinating. These are books that I’ll be reading again and again.
If you love books as much as I do, why not check out the amazing online community at Razorbill.ca? There are great discussions about young adult literature, quizzes, promotions and the latest releases from Razorbill on the site. It’s a great way to stay up-to-date on everything new that’s happening at Razorbill. And Razorbill is even offering one lucky Mommy Kat and Kids reader a Hiromi Goto prize pack containing Hiromi Goto’s novels Half World and Darkest Light, a $34 value! These multiple award-winning novels really are a stunning example of Canadian literature at its finest so check them out for yourself and enjoy epic fantasy that teaches readers there is always reason to hope, even in the darkest times.