Christopher Nuttall's The Very Ugly Duckling was published by Elsewhen Press in a digital edition in January 2014 and will be published in paperback in April 2014.
Information about Christopher Nuttall:
Christopher Nuttall has been planning sci-fi books since he learned to read. Born and raised in Edinburgh, Chris created an alternate history website and eventually graduated to writing full-sized novels. Studying history independently allowed him to develop worlds that hung together and provided a base for storytelling. After graduating from university, Chris started writing full-time. As an indie author, he has self-published a number of novels. The Royal Sorceress was the first of his novels to be published by Elsewhen Press. Chris is currently living in Borneo with his wife, muse, and critic Aisha.
Click here to visit the author's official website.
Click here to visit the author's blog.
Information about The Very Ugly Duckling:
Not every ugly duckling becomes a swan...
In the wake of the disastrous attack on the Golden City, Lady Light Spinner has become Grand Sorceress and Elaine, the Bookworm, has been settling into her positions as Head Librarian and Privy Councillor. But any hope of vanishing into her books is negated when a new magician of staggering power appears, one whose abilities seem to defy the known laws of magic.
Johan is a Powerless, a person born to a magical family yet lacking powers of his own. His dreams of a better life are curbed by his family, who see him as a cripple at best and a burden at worst. But when a political protest goes horrifically wrong, Johan discovers that his true powers have merely been buried, waiting for their chance to explode into the world. As he comes to grips with his newfound talents, he realises that he finally has a chance to achieve his ambitions.
But for the Golden City, reeling after the devastation of six months before, he may be the greatest threat the city has ever seen. Elaine must unlock the mystery behind his powers before the political factions can kill him... or use him to unleash a nightmare.
Returning to well-loved characters from Bookworm, the first book in the Bookworm series, as well as introducing some new ones, Bookworm II: The Very Ugly Duckling explores power - and the effect it has on the human mind.
A REVIEW OF CHRISTOPHER NUTTALL'S THE VERY UGLY DUCKLING
Christopher Nuttall's The Very Ugly Duckling is the second part of the Bookworm fantasy series. It's an entertaining and well written sequel to Bookworm.
Because I enjoyed reading Bookworm, I was eager to read The Very Ugly Duckling. I liked this novel very much, because it was good escapism and the author had come up with an interesting story. The story captured my attention immediately when I began to read it and I found myself reading it as fast as possible, because the story flowed effortlessly from start to finish.
Just like Bookworm, this novel is a combination of adult fantasy, young adult fantasy, traditonal fantasy and modern fantasy. This combination works well, because all the different elements complement each other and the story is good. I think it's good to mention that although there are a few young adult elements in this novel, it's mostly an adult novel, because there are politics and certain sexual references in it.
In Bookworm the author concentrated mostly on writing about Elaine and what had happened to her. In this novel he writes more about Elaine, but also concentrates on writing about Johan and his problems. He also writes about politics and how the Golden City is trying to recover from the devastating events that took place six months earlier. All these things add quite a lot of depth to the story.
Here's information about the story:
Elaine has become the Head Librarian and a Privy Councillor. She has settled well to her position as the Head Librarian. Johan Conidian is a Powerless and can't use magic. He's the shame of his family and his father keeps him mostly locked up in the house. During a political protest Johan suddenly creates a magical pulse and faints. When he wakes up, he meets Elaine who is trying to figure out what kind of a magic user he is, because it's unheard of a mundane to suddenly develop magical powers. His magical powers seem to defy normal laws of magic. Elaine begins to help him and teaches him to use his powers...
The two main characters, Elaine and Johan, are both well created characters. In the previous novel the author wrote fascinatingly about Elaine and her life, and now he continues to deepen her character (Elaine has become the Head Librarian and she has several responsibilities). Johan is an interesting character, because he differs greatly from all other magicians and doesn't want to be controlled by his father (Johan's powers developed late and he rejects his family).
Christopher Nuttall writes well about the difficult relationships between the characters. I enjoyed reading about how bad a relationship Johan had with his family, because he's been treated badly by all members of his family for not having any magical powers. His bad experiences thoroughly estranged him from his family. It was fascinating to read how Johan felt about his father, Duncan, and his brother, Jamal, because he didn't think nicely of them. He had to endure bad - and even dangerous - treatment from them and he didn't like it all. He had a bit nicer relationship with his sister, Charity, but they also had a few problems.
Writing about all things magical seems to be easy for Christopher Nuttall. He's one of those authors who write fluently about magic and how it is used in different ways. His descriptions of magic and magical abilities are entertaining and also amusing.
It was nice to read how eager Elaine was to do research in order to find out how Johan's magic works. Johan's magic and his magical abilities were so different from normal magical abilities that his magic seemed very odd and strange to Elaine. Because Johan couldn't do certain things, but some things were easy for him, Elaine tried to help and teach him.
It was captivating to read how Johan reacted to his new powers. He was both afraid of his powers and fascinated by what he was able to do. Because he had always been bullied, he suddenly had a chance to defend himself and it made him feel good.
In my opinion Christopher Nuttall explores power and what kind of an effect it has on the characters in an interesting way. The author writes about how magic users have plenty of power and how they use it to their advantage. He also writes surprisingly fluently about the addictive power of magic and what it can do to careless users who let themselves be seduced by it.
It's great that the author concentrares on writing about Elaine and Johan's powers, because they're different kind of characters who have different powers. It's interesting that both of them could be a serious threat to the society and the whole world. Johan's magical abilities are so great and odd that they may be a threat to others. Elaine differs from Johan, because she has all the knowledge (including dangerous knowledge) of the library in her head and that makes her a very dangerous person if somebody would be able to use her knowledge for evil purposes.
Christopher Nuttall writes fascinatingly about rivalry and pranks among family members and students. Rivalry is common among those who have magical powers and so are pranks. Pranks help children and students to develop their powers, so nobody pays much attention to them.
There are interesting mystery elements in this novel. The source of Johan's powers is a great mystery to everybody. Because Johan has suddenly achieved great powers, Elaine, Dread and Lady Light Spinner are afraid that the Witch-King may be the source of his powers. The possible threat of the Witch-King adds a nice element of danger to the storyline.
There are many interesting scenes and happenings in this novel. For example, the scene in which Johan confronts his family after he has gained magical powers is a great and unforgettable scene. Because Johan is tired of being controlled by his father and hasn't forgiven him what he had to endure when he didn't have magic, he isn't as easily controlled as he used to be. He refuses to be told what to do and isn't afraid to show how he feels about his family.
It was nice to read how Elaine and Johan travelled away from the city. Their trip together was written well, because Johan enjoyed being elsewhere. The author wrote fantastically about Elaine's feelings about certain things at the cabin, because the cabin was primitive in almost every sense of the word.
I also enjoyed reading about the Leveller movement, because many magicians thought that it was a serious threat to their way of life. The author wrote surprisingly well about the politics and power play involving this movement, because magicians thought that the Leveller movement could be dangerous to them.
Johan and Elaine's conversations about dating and sex were interesting. Although Johan has powerful magic, he's still an inexperienced teenage boy and doesn't have any kind of personal knowledge about dating and sex. He's interested in girls, but hasn't had a chance to date anybody because his father didn't allow him to leave the house, so he doesn't know much about things related to dating.
Everybody who likes the Bookworm series will be pleased to know that there will be a third part. The third part is called The Best Laid Plans and it will published later this year. I look forward to reading it, because it'll be fun to see how the story continues, because the ending of this novel is fantastic and suggests that several things will be explored further in the third part.
Christopher Nuttall is one of those rare individuals who have an ability to write good entertainment. I like his novels, because they offer fantastic escapism to readers who are interested in entertaining fantasy stories. The Very Ugly Duckling is an excellent example of Christopher Nuttall's ability to write interesting entertainment.
I can recommend The Very Ugly Duckling to readers who enjoy reading entertaining fantasy novels. It's pure light-hearted escapism from start to finish and the characters are interesting, so it'll be of interest to readers who enjoy reading well written fantasy entertainment.
My final words are: This novel is good and interesting entertainment!