Peter R. Ellis' Seventh Child was published by Elsewhen Press as an e-book in January 2015. The paperback edition will be published in March 2015.
Information about Peter R. Ellis:
Peter would like to say he's been a writer all his life but it is only since retiring as a teacher in 2010 that he has been able to devote enough time to writing to call it a career. Brought up in Cardiff, he studied Chemical Physics at the University of Kent at Canterbury, then taught chemistry (and a bit of physics) in Norwich, the Isle of Wight and Thames Valley. His first experience of publishing was in writing educational materials which he has continued to do since retiring. Of his fictional writing, Seventh Child is his first published speculative fiction novel.
Peter has been a fan of science fiction and fantasy since he was young, has an (almost) complete collection of classic SF by Asimov, Ballard, Clarke, Heinlein and Niven, among others, while also enjoying fantasy by Tolkien, Donaldson and Ursula Le Guin. Of more recent authors Iain M Banks, Alastair Reynolds and China Mieville have his greatest respect. His Welsh upbringing also engendered a love of the language (even though he can't speak it) and of Welsh mythology like the Mabinogion. All these strands come together in the Evil Above the Stars series. He lives in Herefordshire with his wife, Alison, who is a great supporter.
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Information about Seventh Child:
September Weekes is accustomed to facing teasing and bullying because of her white hair, tubby figure and silly name, but the discovery of a clear, smooth stone at her home casts her into a struggle between good and evil that will present her with sterner challenges.
The stone takes her to Gwlad, the Land, where the people hail her as the Cludydd o Maengolauseren, the bearer of the starstone, with the power to defend them against the evil known as the Malevolence. September meets the leader of the people, the Mordeyrn Aurddolen, and the bearers of the seven metals linked to the seven ‘planets’. Each metal gives the bearer specialised powers to resist the manifestations of the Malevolence; manifestations formed from the four elements of earth, air, fire and water, such as the comets known as Draig tân, fire dragons.
She returns to her home, troubled and wondering if she will be called to Gwlad again. The leader said she was a seventh child but she only has five siblings. A month later, on the night of her sixteenth birthday, she discovers that her mother had given birth to September’s dead twin before she was born. That night she is drawn back to Gwlad to find that two years have passed and the villagers have experienced more destructive attacks by manifestations. September must now help defend Gwlad against the Malevolence.
The history of science has been an abiding interest for Peter R. Ellis since university, and as a result has featured in a lot of his educational writing. Now, Evil Above the Stars has enabled Peter to explore in a fictional setting one of his recurring ideas: that old theories were correct up until the time that a new idea came along, i.e. that the universe changes with our perception of it. As a chemist, he is also intrigued by the ideas embodied in alchemy. Drawing it all together are elements of Celtic mythology from his Welsh upbringing. Although ostensibly a fantasy for young adults, it is can just as easily be classified as science fiction, and will appeal to readers of all ages.
Seventh Child is the first volume in a thrilling new fantasy series, Evil Above the Stars, that will appeal to anyone who likes fantasy, especially fans of JRR Tolkien and Stephen Donaldson.
A REVIEW OF PETER R. ELLIS' SEVENTH CHILD
Peter R. Ellis' Seventh Child is the first novel in the Evil Above the Stars fantasy series. It's a compelling epic fantasy novel with charming Celtic flavour. It's a good and promising start to a new series.
Seventh Child is mostly an epic young adult fantasy novel, but it will appeal to readers of all ages. I think it's nice that the author has written a novel that can be read and enjoyed by readers of all ages. It's suitable for many readers and can be enjoyed even by those who don't normally read fantasy novels.
This novel was a pleasant reading experience for me. I found it fascinating, because it differed from most new fantasy novels by having elements of Celtic mythology, cosmology and alchemy in it. There are a few new novels in which authors have added this kind of elements to their stories, but this novel manages to be different from them, because the author clearly seems to be fascinated by Celtic mythology, cosmology and alchemy and writes about them in a loving way.
In my opinion Seventh Child is a surprisingly intriguing and daring combination of the above mentioned elements. The author blends the different elements seamlessly. It's actually amazing how well he blends them and how fascinatingly he writes about alchemy.
Here's a bit of information about the story:
September Weeks is being bullied and teased by others, because she looks different. She has found a pebble that takes her to Gwlad, the Land. When she arrives in Gwlad, she is hailed as Cludydd o Maengolauseren, the bearer of the starstone. September is believed to have the power to defend the people of the Land against the evil known as the Malevolence. She meets the leader of the people, Mordeyrn, and the bearers of the seven metals (each of the metals draws its power from one of the planets). She is told that she is the seventh child. She doesn't believe it at first, but then finds out that she really is the seventh child, because her twin sister had died at birth. When September visits the Land again, she hears that two years have passed and terrible things have happened while she was away. Soon she finds out that she has to travel to Arsyllfa...
That's all I'll write about the story, because it wouldn't be fair to reveal more about the happenings. I'll only mention that this is the beginning of an exciting and wondrous story.
September Weekes is a well-created protagonist. She isn't like everybody else, because she's a bit plump and has white hair. She is accustomed to being bullied and teased. When she arrives in Gwlad and has to travel to a faraway place, she realizes that she has to learn many new things. She also realizes that she has become the target of the Malevolence's attacks and has to defend herself against evil.
The secondary characters are also interesting characters. It was especially fun to read about Eluned who could shapeshift into different types of animals, but I also enjoyed reading about the Mordeyrn, Cynddylig, Tudfwlch and Heulwen, because the author wrote well about them and their doings.
I'll also mention that I enjoyed reading about Malice, because the author wrote fascinatingly about her hatred and intentions. I'm not going to reveal who Malice is, but I can mention that her purpose was to bring destruction to the Land.
The author wrote perfectly about how September felt about her changed body when she arrived in the Land. She suddenly looked more mature and had a fit woman's body. The author handled September's feelings and confusion well, because she had acquired the body she wanted to have and was a bit confused about what had happened to her.
One of the best things about this novel is that September questioned certain things and wasn't sure if she really could be the person that the people of the Land wanted her to be. She didn't have any kind of practice of the skills that people talked about, but was told that she would learn to use the starstone and everybody had faith in her. This added quite a lot of depth to the story.
It was interesting that when September used the stone to defeat evil, she drew the attention of the Malevolence towards herself and thus endangered herself and others around her. She was almost like a beacon to the evil and the evil tried to find her. The Malevolence reacted quickly to her presence and tried to attack her.
One of the most intriguing aspects of this novel is that it doesn't have a normal kind of an evil person, because the evil comes to the people of the Land from beyond the sphere of stars and manifests itself in many ways and wreaks havoc into people's lives. The manifestations are formed of the four elements of earth, air, fire and water. Reading about this kind of cosmic evil was fascinating for me, because it's been a long time since I've read anything like this in new fantasy novels. Normally when authors write about cosmic evil, it's often related to Lovecraftian weird fiction and horror fiction, but not in this case, because this novel is Celtically inspired fantasy.
There were many excellent scenes in this novel. As an example, I can mention that it was interesting to read about the fierce birds that were ridden by pure wickedness, the Adarllwchgwin (the Adarllwchgwin were manifestations of evil). There's also an excellent scene in which September notices that people can be affected by the Malevolence and may act dangerously towards others.
Worldbuilding works nicely in this novel, because Peter R. Ellis has created an interesting fantasy world with seven different regions and gradually reveals more information about the world. In my opinion the author paints a vivid picture of the world and its different places. He easily evokes images in the reader's mind by writing about the landscapes without overwhelming the reader with too many details. I think it's possible to say that he has a traditional approach to worldbuilding and things related to it.
The author writes realistically about village and town life, because he describes how people carry out their daily tasks and how they live their lives. People have a down-to-earth kind of way of life that will fascinate many readers.
It's possible that experienced readers will notice that there are a few similarities to the novels written by J.R.R. Tolkien, Ursula Le Guin and Stephen R. Donaldson. It's nice that the author has added certain elements from their novels to his story, but doesn't imitate their novels. He has created an original story that is faithful to its roots that lie in classic epic fantasy (there's a charmingly old-fashioned yet slightly modern feel to the story).
I found it interesting that the author has courage to tell about how bad things happen to good people and how people can be affected by the powers of the Malevolence. For example, people were hurt and died when they tried to help September.
I think it's good to mention that this novel has a useful pronunciation guide to the old tongue used by people of the Land (the old tongue is derived from Celtic languages such as Welsh). The glossary is also useful to readers, because it can be used to check certain words.
Peter R. Ellis seems to be a good and talented young adult author, because he has written a debut fantasy novel that differs nicely from other young adult novels by having Celtic elements in it. I'll soon read the sequel, The Power of Seven, because I want to know how the story continues. Because the story was compelling and the ending was exciting, it'll be fun to find out what happens to September and other characters in the next novel.
I give this novel strong four stars, because it's a good debut novel that will be of interest to many readers. It's something a bit different.
Peter R. Ellis' Seventh Child is an entertaining fantasy novel. The author has written a story that pulls readers into another world that is different from our world, but also reminiscent of it. If you like entertaining and exciting epic fantasy that can be recommended to young adult and adult readers alike, this is the novel that you've been looking for, because it's good entertainment for both readerships.
An intriguing fantasy novel with Celtic elements!