Tuesday, 31 March 2020

Snowdonia Chronicles - Sarah Mussi

Snowdonia Chronicles

The Snowdonia Chronicles is a three part fantasy adventure story aimed at readers aged 12+ and written by multi-award winning children's author, Sarah Mussi. I was sent all three books by Vertebrate Publishing and, given the crazy times in which we're living, I was super grateful to be able to lose myself in them this afternoon!

Initial Thoughts: This is a thoroughly modern YA romance that just happens to be set against a backdrop of ancient Welsh mythology. As I was reading I kept thinking it would be a great way to introduce the Mabinogion and general Welsh folklore to readers who might not otherwise be interested.

We follow the story through first person POV, via main character Ellie, along with clever use of text messages and status updates. The story is easy to follow, even with the fantasy elements and interwoven Welsh language, and the characters are all well drawn enough for you to become quickly invested in their destinies.

Now on to the book by book reaction...

Snowdonia Chronicles Book 1 and 2

Here Be Dragons

Ellie Morgan wants to find love - just not with George, the nice but not in that way boy next door. When Christmas Day sees her out as a rescue volunteer on Snowdon, the one thing she really isn't expecting to come face to face with the boy of her dreams... But, up on the magic mountains of Snowdonia, the path of true love is never going to run that smoothly. [2015, 428 pages]

My verdict: 5/5. This one was my favourite of the three, probably because I really enjoyed getting to know the characters and the slow unravelling of the mysteries. I was impressed with how well Mussi wove the modern setting and the age old fantasy elements together too. The Kindle edition of Here Be Dragons is free right now on Amazon, so you have literally nothing to lose by checking it out. :)

Snowdonia Chronicles Ellie

Here Be Witches

Rhiannon has been Ellie's bestie since forever but when she turns traitor Ellie struggles to make sense of it - is Rhi really a snake or are there more sinister forces at work? [2017, 416 pages]

My verdict: 4/5. I felt like this book embraced the fantasy tropes much more openly than the first book, but the 'Knockers' (Bwca) ended up being one of my favourite things about Here Be Witches so I'm not complaining. It even inspired me to get my sketchbook out which is a pretty rare event these days!

Here Be Wizards

With wildfires raging across Snowdon Ellie and her friends face their greatest challenge yet. Can they save Wales before time runs out? [2020, 450 pages]

My verdict: 3.5/5. There are some parts of this books I really like; the beginning was especially well done and I loved the subtle linking of Changeling children with the modern BEK (Black Eyed Kids) phenomena. Merlin was another stand-out part of this book for me - I kept picturing him as a kind of cross between Disney's Sword in the Stone Merlin and Austin Powers! The lower rating is because I'm not a big fan of the ending. I don't want to go into detail for risk of spoilering, and other readers may well find it really satisfying, but it had a few elements that sat uneasily with me.

Even with that said, overall I enjoyed the trilogy and feel all fired up to go reading up on some of the folklore it touches upon. You can get the entire Snowdonia Chronicles trilogy from Vertebrate Publishing, including postage, for just £12. That's less than £1 per 100 pages!

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