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Reviewed by Gillian Polack
Kate’s grandmother, Jillian, is a witch, though not, as Kate hastens to point out, in the way that most people know the word. Kate lives just outside a small Australian town and has her own special powers. She’s fascinated by Jarrod, a new kid at school, and it soon becomes clear that he’s not quite normal, himself. Soon events will bring them together and take them away from the familiar … and into the past.
Allen and Unwin (2010)
Reviewed by Lorraine Cormack, May 2010
One of the worst things about Blackout was realizing that it is book one of two, and I’m going to have to wait for the sequel to find out what happens. Very little is resolved in this volume; it’s very clearly only half a story. That’s not to say it’s a bad novel – it had me thoroughly engrossed, and I’m eager to read the sequel – but it is incomplete.
Blackout is set more or less in the same world as several of Willis’ earlier novels, including Doomsday Book. I say more or less because although the starting point of the novel is Oxford in 2060, where historians take for granted the ability to time travel to the period of their specialty to do first-hand research, much of the action of the novel takes place in another period. Specifically, World War II.
Allen and Unwin (2010)
Reviewed by Tansy Rayner Roberts, May 2010
This is, quite simply, the Connie Willis novel that her fans have been waiting for. With novels such as To Say Nothing of the Dog and The Doomsday Book, with stories such as “Fire Watch,” her interest in World War II history and in particular the Blitz has been evident – but it has taken until now to produce her Great Blitz Novel.
The bad news for fans is, this is only half of said novel. The second half is being released as All Clear at the end of 2010. Little concession is made to the gap between publication, with Blackout simply pausing on a very minor cliffhanger, as if there has been a paper shortage. But, you know, those of us who have been waiting a decade for a Willis novel will naturally suck it up and wait the extra ten months or so.
Harper Voyager (2009)
ISBN: 978 0 7322 8855 6
Reviewed by Tehani Wessely, March 2010
Kannon Jarratt has only recently lost her foster mother, Yuki, who has raised her since she was found, in horrifying circumstances, at the age of two. Kannon, now twenty-two, is struggling to maintain Yuki’s dojo and the training offered there in her own, when Des, a retired police officer who worked her case twenty years before and is as good as family, comes across a lead on her her mysterious past. Could she really be Celeste, daughter of the illustrious time marshall Victoria Dupree? It seems there’s only one way to find out, so Kannon heads to the USA in search of answers, only to be thrown into a mystery bigger than she could have imagined. Thrown back in time to ancient Rome, Kannon will need to use every bit of cunning, strength and training she has just to survive, and make use of every possible ally to find Victoria, and the truth about her past.
While I thoroughly enjoyed the premise of Gladiatrix, and it was a fast, action-packed read, I had a few quibbles with it. The main problem I had was with the dialogue of characters in Rome. I know that the “voices” are being filtered through first person narrator Kannon, who is getting everything from her modern day translator, but the tone simply didn’t ring true for me, and it constantly threw me out of the story.