Monday, August 5, 2013

Read to Review #2 Tethers by Jack Croxall

In the wake of a cold Victorian winter, Karl Scheffer and Esther Emerson discover an anonymous journal filled with strange passages and bizarre scribblings.

The journal soon draws them into a covert and sinister conspiracy, a conspiracy centred around an otherworldly artefact with the power to change everything …

Karl and Esther have spent almost every day of their thirteen years in the quiet market town of Shraye. Stifled by their rural surroundings and frustrated by their unfulfilled ambitions, they find the allure of the journal’s mysterious pages impossible to ignore. The book seems to be beckoning them away from Shraye, away from their homes and towards the coast where an unsolved disappearance has set in motion a dark chain of events.

The voyage the teenagers soon find themselves undertaking is one of desperate importance and true peril; it will change the way they see the world, and each other, forever


*I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review; that in no way changes my opinion or rating for this book. *

Thoughts on the Overall Book: This was the kind of book I loved to read when I was a kid, and I obviously still do. It had action, a cool mystery, and a bit of fantasy thrown into the mix, overall making a quick-paced, enjoyable story.

Cover--Yea or Nay: Yes, I like how it has the Viniculumn on the front, though I do wish the cover gave some indication to the time period of the story.

Characters: Karl and Esther are the kind of characters I love in these sorts of books. They're smart, capable kids, and I like how they're still in the 'best friends' sort of stage so there's no romantic conflict between them. Karl is the thinker, and quieter of the two, whereas Esther is more the firebrand of the duo. That sometimes bothers me in older characters, but because they were thirteen, I think it worked great, and brought more to the table. The villains weren't quite as evil or dastardly as they could have been, but for the type of story this was, I think they worked out well enough. They didn't come across as cartoon villains either, so that's always a good thing.

The Romance: None.

Writing Style: It's not the most beautiful writing I've ever read, but I liked it. It's fast paced, without speeding through the story and confusing the reader with too much movement. The only thing I would say against it was that on occasion I had a hard time picturing the setting. Usually this only occurred when other things were going on in the story like where they're in Locus Two in the end. But as a writer myself, I can understand that describing things while working on an action scene can be hard for the fact that if you put too much info in, it will slow the story down too much. So, while I would have liked a little more description on the machine and such in that scene, and a couple other shorter parts, I can forgive it in that sense.

Accuracy/ Believability: This is a fantasy, but it's set in Victorian England (which is a great time period to have a historical fantasy set) and as far as accuracy went, I was pleased. Clothing, customs and propriety seemed to be sound enough, and I liked the sort of rugged accents that Karl and Esther have. I'm not exactly sure how I felt about Esther's winning a sword fight against a man, but I guess anything is technically possible and it wasn't so spectacular that that it was totally implausible. 

Problems/What bothered me: Nothing.

Conclusion: 3 stars. I really liked the epilogue of the story, and how it promised a sequel. Overall, "Tethers" is a fun escapist read and I enjoyed it quite a bit. 

Recommended Audience: Girl or guy read, perfect for ages 12-14 but older teens and adults would also enjoy the story too, of course =)

About the Author

Born in High Wycombe, Jack Croxall now lives in rural Nottinghamshire with his chocolate Labrador, Archie. He has a degree in Environmental Science from the University of Nottingham and currently toils away as a science writer in between working on his books. He tweets via @JackCroxall and blogs at

About Tethers

Genre: YA Victorian fantasy

Reviewers’ Comments:

Reminiscent of the exploration stories of Enid Blyton and Arthur Ransome, the kids find themselves on a metaphorical rollercoaster cart racing down the tracks. And the brakes are off. Sword fights, pistols, unfortunate deaths and curious objects, the plot thickens with every twist and turn. Suddenly Blyton meets H.G. Wells, and a brilliantly paced steampunk tale of machinery and science-based magic unfolds. (MuggleNet)

Somewhere between Pullman's Sally Lockhart mysteries and Moonfleet sits Tethers, a rip-roaring debut novel. Sharply written with well observed characters that you can root for, Tethers has you turning pages faster that Ronald MacDonald can throw out burgers. (Sharon Sant – author of the Sky Song trilogy

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