I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
The Invisible Hand: Shakespeare’s Moon, Act I by James Hartley
Release date: February 22nd, 2017
Publisher: Lodestone Books
Genre: Young adult, fantasy
The Invisible Hand is about a boy, Sam, who has just started life at a boarding school and finds himself able to travel back in time to medieval Scotland. There he meets a girl, Leana, who can travel to the future, and the two of them become wrapped up in events in Macbeth, the Shakespeare play, and in the daily life of the school. The book is the first part of a series called Shakespeare’s Moon. Each book is set in the same boarding school but focuses on a different Shakespeare play.
Time travel, Scotland and Macbeth? Oooh…yes please!!! I love all three to tiny pieces and was totally interested when I started reading this book.
The story takes place at a boarding school in Britain where the main character, Sam, has basically been dumped as his parents are either too busy working or too ill to look after him. One night, Sam awakes to find himself in another person’s body and in the middle of a Scottish battlefield. Is it a dream? Will what happens in the past affect the future?
I really liked Sam! The poor thing…I just really wanted to give him a million hugs throughout the story, especially as more was revealed about his family. He was shy, adorable and quite brave considering the circumstances that he constantly found himself in. There’s a scene where he finally makes a connection between his own time traveling and the events in Macbeth that made me smile. He shouts out about how he was there and everyone thought he was absolutely crazy. And why wouldn’t they? But that just endeared him to me even more. Super cute! The one thing I didn’t understand was how calm he was when he woke up to find himself in a time different time period. I would have been freaking out! Not to mention beyond terrified. Instead he was calm and felt safe. Huh?!
Although quite short (it’s about 160ish pages long) I found that some parts really dragged. The story began quite strong with the introduction of Sam, his life at the boarding school and boom! Medieval Scotland, battlefields and mysterious women by a well. I was intrigued and wanted to know more. However, the constant flipping back and forth kind of killed the momentum for me. I wanted more scenes from the past and not the present. As the story progressed the time travel scenes became few and far in between. That’s not what I signed up for! Honestly, it was a bit disappointing. That said though, the time travel scenes were extremely well written. The included the best scenes from Macbeth and the witches! I loved the witches in the play and was not let down. Creepy!
Overall, this story was an interesting start to a new series. I am interested in seeing how the author will mix in the other plays. I also just realized there’s a prequel set at the school during World War II called Heart of Winter. Gothic tale about the macabre? OK! Let’s do this…
Assassin’s Creed: Renaissance by Oliver Bowden
Release date: November 18th, 2009
Genre: Historical fiction, fantasy
Betrayed by the ruling families of Italy, a young man embarks upon an epic quest for vengeance. To eradicate corruption and restore his family’s honour, he will learn the art of the assassins. To his allies, Ezio will become a force for change, fighting for freedom and justice. To his enemies, he will become a threat.
“From now, his life was forged for one purpose and one purpose alone – revenge.”
I was genuinely surprised by how much I enjoyed this book. I went in with low expectations because let’s face it, books based on videos games are usually not very well done. They just can’t capture what made the video game so enjoyable. Plus, it’s a long, like really long, book. I saw that it was 500+ pages and nearly gave up before starting it. But I love the games and decided to give it a chance. I’m so happy that I did! It was so much fun and really engaging.
As someone who has played the Assassin’s Creed video games the book didn’t really offer anything new in the way of plot. It literally is the storyline of the video game written out, but with cheesy one-liners, an even more animated Leonardo Da Vinci and tons of Italian insults. I cringed, I laughed and enjoyed every second of it! I think the author did a fantastic job writing all of the action scenes. It wasn’t just a play-by-play of events. It felt like I was really there engaged in the fight. While remaining very close to the storyline of the video game, it did lack present day scenes involving the Animus. I kind of missed the flipping back and forth between the time period.
The book was definitely written for fans of the video game franchise as it offered little in the way of an explanation of the Assassin/Templar war. I could totally see readers with little knowledge of the backstory being very confused. However, even with its faults, Assassin’s Creed: Renaissance was a wonderful entertaining piece of writing. I’m very much looking forward to picking up the next book in the series.