Review: The Singular and Extraordinary Tale of Mirror and Goliath by Ishbelle Bee

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FROM THE BACK COVER:

1888. A little girl called Mirror and her shape-shifting guardian Goliath Honeyflower are washed up on the shores of Victorian England. Something has been wrong with Mirror since the day her grandfather locked her inside a mysterious clock that was painted all over with ladybirds. Mirror does not know what she is, but she knows she is no longer human.

John Loveheart, meanwhile, was not born wicked. But after the sinister death of his parents, he was taken by Mr. Fingers, the demon lord of the underworld. Some say he is mad. John would be inclined to agree.

Now Mr Fingers is determined to find the little girl called Mirror, whose flesh he intends to eat, and whose soul is the key to his eternal reign. And John Loveheart has been called by his otherworldly father to help him track Mirror down…

In this disturbing fairy-tale for adults, a little girl called Mirror is being chased by a demon called Mr. Fingers. Mr. Fingers is determined to eat her and use her powers to solidify his reign on the Underworld. The only thing between the girl and certain death is a shape-shifter called Goliath Honeyflower.

Set in Victorian England, this book is full of dark characters in darker situations doing terrible things under the guise of being upright citizens. A clockmaker, well sought after, fills his clocks with the souls of children. A boy named Loveheart is taken to the underworld and driven mad. Even the heroine, Mirror, is more than she appears after having been stuffed in a ladybird clock by her grandfather.

There is such a bright and beautiful level of madness in this story. The way the pages are laid out with text that grows and swirls around the page adds to the lovely level of crazy. Our heroes are insane. Our villains are also insane and in the middle is a little girl who isn’t human any more just trying to escape back to Egypt.

I think this is the closest you could come to going mad safely. It has the same feeling as falling down the rabbit hole in Alice in Wonderland but the level of madness is higher, more dangerous and definitely bloodier. The world is well built and easy to slip into. Scents, colors and typography are used to make it into a full body experience.

You are drawn into the world from the first page. Each chapter choses a character’s head to be trapped inside, making you feel closely related to all the characters. Loveheart is more the protagonist than Mirror and he quickly became my favorite character with his flamboyant outfits and black eyes. But Mirror holds her own, aging rapidly to meet the dangers that surround her. And Mr. Fingers is the stuff of nightmares.

For me this was a perfect read. I zipped through the book, caught up in the insane imagery and unusual word choices. It feels very visceral, using all the senses to keep you engaged. If this were a painting you could stare at it for days, the layers would be thick and full of hidden gems.

I highly recommend this book if you are a fan of Lewis Carroll and don’t mind squelchy bloody, gruesome bits in your fairy tales. I would give it five out of five stars. The only thing I can complain about is that it isn’t longer. This story features epic world building with well developed characters.

I am looking forward to reading more from Ishbelle Bee in the future and can’t recommend her enough.

Her website is : http://ishbellebee.com/

Scott Spotson Friend to Wizards & Author of My Wizard Buddy

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I recently sent a lot of emails back and forth with self-published children’s author Scott Spotson. We met on Goodreads and decided to read one another’s books. He was kind enough to read and review my book: Spooky and The Ghost Chorus in return for me reading and reviewing the delightful My Wizard Buddy (Book 1) which he co-wrote with Brian Wu. After I was done I had so many questions I just had to badger Scott a bit.

Writers are curious creatures and I just had to get to the bottom of just what makes Scott tick. We’ll start off with my Amazon/Goodreads Review and follow it up with a short interrogation of Scott Spotson. Enjoy!

My Wizard Buddy by Brian Wu and Scott Spotson is an entertaining magical romp. Tyler is a sad lonely boy who never has any of the newest games and is terrorized by his older sister. But one day he decides to accept an invitation to be best friends with an odd boy named Dirk. That’s when Tyler’s life gets exciting because Dirk is a wizard! Dirk’s magic is more of the wish variety and he and Tyler cause all kinds of fun. There are no real villains in this story except the demons that live in our own minds. Ryan, a popular boy lost his father to cancer. Dirk seems to be dealing with issues he isn’t saying and of course Tyler is dealing with the urge to be accepted. I enjoyed the read. Fun book. I would recommend it to the YA crowd.


KK: Where did you get the idea for your series Wizards Wars?
Scott: The imagination that comes from having an imaginary friend was the impetus behind my wizard series My Wizard Buddy. What if you could have a friend who could make anything happen, but such a friend could be kept a secret from the rest of the world?

KK: What made you decide not to have an antagonist? 
Scott: Many children’s books do not have an antagonist. That’s because children are looking for a slice of life, to reflect their experiences to date. They’re not looking for an ultimate battle, they’re looking for something that perks their interests. Think of several books that show a slice of life, such as Diary of a Wimpy Kid; Judy Blume books such as Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret; Ramona Quinn books; James and the Giant Peach; and The Phantom Tollbooth. 

KK: Why did you decide to self publish?
Scott: I think self-publishing is a good idea, rather than take up too much time of the established publishing industry. If your book is any good, prove it with your sales and reviews, then show the publisher what you’ve done. Makes sense!

KK: When we meet Tyler he is a very lonely boy. Was your intention to deal with issues like bullying and loneliness? 
Scott: I don’t think it was my intention to deal with bullying and loneliness, but rather than these nicely worked into the plot. Definitely loneliness, since that is a reason we often have imaginary friends. Also, I wonder if due to the increase in entertainment and tablet technology, if loneliness among children isn’t increasing. 

KK: In the first book Dirk uses magic indiscriminately. Are there consequences for each spell cast? Loss of energy?
Scott: No, there are no consequences for Dirk. This is not accidental. In all my wizard books, every wizard is infinitely powerful with magic. The only things wizards cannot do is bring people back from the dead, or control people’s minds, and if you think about it, these obstacles actually render wizards pretty powerless with controlling humanity.

KK: Self publishing is risky business. How are you using social media to promote your book?
Scott: I don’t rely heavily on social media. I do have it, but I find that the quality of the books–and getting them out there to start with–are more important factors. I’m very grateful to the marketing whiz of BookBub though, because they listed one of my books, Life II, twice.

KK: Are you currently working on any new books?
Scott: I am ghostwriting three books–one, an epic fantasy; two, a dystopian humour book; and three, a mystery/adventure novel (actually, that is co-authored with another).

KK: Where can people find your books?
Scott: People may go to www.scottspotson.com or just type in “Spotson” on Amazon or Goodreads. 


Bio: Scott Spotson is a novelist who excels in imagining scenes of intrigue and adventure within ordinary lives while daydreaming, then pulls together various plots to create a compelling story. He likes to invent “what if?” scenarios, for example, what if I could go back to my university days, and what would I do differently? What if I could switch bodies with friends I am jealous of, like the guy who sold his software for millions of dollars and does whatever he pleases? What if I had the power to create clones of myself to do my bidding? Scott then likes to mentally insert himself into these situations, then plot a way to “get out” back to reality. This is how “Life II” and “Seeking Dr. Magic” were born, within weeks of each other. He’s still working on dreaming up a situation where he gets to smash a pie in the face of his boss, with no justification whatsoever – how to get out of that one?