Sunday, January 21, 2018

The Nightshade Chronicles #2: The White Assassin by Hilary Wagner

The White Assassin (Nightshade Chronicles, #2)My name is Juniper, and I am keeping a life-changing secret from the other rats in Nightshade City. We've  imprisoned Billycan, but many of my friends don't understand why I haven't had the murderous rat executed. I'm hoping the serum we've given him will reveal a kinder rat than the most vicious killer we've known. I fear what might happen if Julius ever discovers Billycan is his real father. However, there is a more serious problem threatening our city. There's a traitor among the council. That's the only explanation for how Billycan obtained maps of our secret tunnels as he prepared for an invasion. The serum seems to be having a positive effect on him, but will it force him to reveal the identity of his accomplice? Are the changes just another sign of his trickery? How can I doubt the trust of my friends, when I'm keeping terrible secrets of my own?

I recommend you read the first book in the series to fully understand Billycan's evilness. This book had more mystery in it due to the unknown traitor. All of the characters are suspect, but several of them will be central in readers' minds. Clues are presented to change the attention, but my first instincts were correct. The author includes flashbacks to Billycan's time in the lab, and they help to explain his disturbing behavior. A couple of other lab rats return to become key characters in the current events. Juniper is the main character in this plot, as he tries to coax the truth from Billycan and battles with his own internal struggles. Again, I suspected his big secret, but I'm not sure it was as devastating as he made it seem. This book is more similar to Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH than book one, as the lab experiments were key factors in the conflict. As in that book, it's revealed that mice were also test subjects and have unusual intelligence and life expectancy, just like the test rats. Overall, I'm enjoying the series and recommend you give it a shot.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

The Nightshade Chronicles #1: Nightshade City by Hilary Wagner

Nightshade City (Nightshade Chronicles, #1)My name is Clover, and time is running out. Killdeer, leader of the Catacombs, has made me a Chosen One and plans to put me on display during the Grand Speech. My Uncle Juniper has been secretly watching out for me since my parents' deaths, but Killdeer and Billycan will kill him if they discover he's still alive. They murdered the previous ruler, and Billycan thought he'd killed Juniper during their coup. Juniper is now creating a new city for escapees and will overthrow Killdeer when the time is right. However, he doesn't know the Grand Speech has been moved up two weeks earlier. I have no way of contacting Juniper, and I'm getting desperate. The disgusting and dangerous Killdeer came to my home and tried to force himself on me, when ironically, Billycan stopped him. Tomorrow, I am to become Killdeer's Chosen One and my life will be lost. 

You'll enjoy this book if you liked the Redwall books. Some parts also reminded me of Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH, since a couple of characters had escaped experimentation in a lab. Billycan was the most notable due to his large size and viciousness. Even though Killdeer was the ruler, Billycan was the most feared character. The setting mostly takes place underground, and the land of humans is known as Topside. It was creative and amusing to see earthworms aiding the rebels by helping with the digging of tunnels. Although I enjoyed the book very much, there wasn't one main character to connect with. The focus shifted from Clover, to Juniper, to other characters. I would have liked to mostly follow one rat throughout the plot. Also, there were several moments where I was sure the plot would take a suspenseful turn, only to have the characters escape danger. I was okay with the way things turned out, but these moments seemed like missed opportunities for more excitement and suspense. It looks like this book is part of a trilogy, so that may explain the decisions to move things along. Overall, I really enjoyed the book and suggest you give it a shot.