Rebecca Hall's Instrument of Peace was published by Elsewhen Press as an e-book in June 2016. The paperback edition will be published in September 2016.

Information about Rebecca Hall:

Rebecca started writing when she was supposed to be studying for her exams at Otago University but somehow passed anyway, eventually graduating with a decorative piece of paper. She moved to the UK to pursue a career in publishing and after a couple of mishaps ended up in Edinburgh and sold Instrument of Peace to Elsewhen Press, which is not quite the career she had in mind. The career she did have in mind was along more editorial lines which is why she is now a volunteer at Inspired Quill and a freelance copy-editor for everyone else. She also has a blog which she infrequently remembers to update, where those mysterious things known as short stories can be found.

Even after two years, she is baffled by the fact that the British use miles, pints and 1p coins but things like pineapple lumps, black forest chocolate and L&P have not caught on. Rebecca would like to make it very clear that she is a Kiwi and absolutely NOT an Australian (or South African) and she will do almost anything for chocolate.

Click here to visit her official website.

Information about Instrument of Peace:

Raised in the world-leading Academy of magic rather than by his absentee parents, Mitch has come to see it as his home. He’s spent more time with his friends than his family and the opinion of his maths teacher matters far more than that of his parents. His peaceful life is shattered when a devastating earthquake strikes and almost claims his little brother’s life. But this earthquake is no natural phenomenon, it’s a result of the ongoing war between Heaven and Hell. To protect the Academy, one of the teachers makes an ill-advised contract with a fallen angel, unwittingly bringing down The Twisted Curse on staff and students.

Even as they struggle to rebuild the school, things begin to go wrong. The curse starts small, with truancy, incomplete assignments, and negligent teachers over-reacting to minor transgressions, but it isn’t long before the bad behaviour escalates to vandalism, rioting and attempted murder. As they succumb to the influence of the curse, Mitch’s friends drift away and his girlfriend cheats on him. When the first death comes, Mitch unites with the only other students who, like him, appear to be immune to the curse; together they are determined to find the cause of the problem and stop it.

A REVIEW OF REBECCA HALL'S INSTRUMENT OF PEACE

Rebecca Hall's Instrument of Peace is the first novel in the Symphony of the Cursed fantasy series. This novel was nice surprise for me, because it's an intriguing young adult fantasy novel that will be of interest to many readers who enjoy reading entertaining and fast-paced fantasy stories with magic and curses.

Instrument of Peace is a refreshingly modern yet old-fashioned fantasy novel with an emphasis on entertainment. It has a bit similar feel to it as Kim Newman's The Secrets of Drearcliff Grange School, but is different from it. It is also slightly reminiscent of a few other modern fantasy novels due to it being a story about a magic school.

I've noticed that young adult fantasy novels have become increasingly popular during the recent years and many new novels are being published by several publishers. Rebecca Hall's Instrument of Peace is a fine addition to the ever-growing canon of these novels, because it's partially rooted in reality, but has classic magical charm to it.

Here's a bit of information about the story:

- The events take place at the Academy of magic near Mount Ruapehu and Lake Moawhango in New Zealand.

- Mitch has been studying and living at the Academy of magic for years and considers it to be his home, because he doesn't have a close relationship with his parents. A new girl called Hayley arrives at the Academy. Mitch tries to be friendly and shows her the places, but secretly he thinks that she won't last long at the school and will be sent elsewhere. Soon an earthquake causes problems and Mitch almost loses his little brother, but Hayley saves him.

- The earthquake is not a natural phenomenon, because it's a result of an ongoing war between Heaven and Hell. This is just the beginning of the problems at the Academy, because a Twisted Curse begins to affect the staff and students. As things get worse, Mitch and his friends try to find a way to stop the curse...

It's great that the author has set the story in New Zealand, because it's a seldom used location for fantasy stories. This added a lot of freshness to the story.

The characterisation works well, because the author has created an interesting cast of teachers and teenaged characters. During the story she gradually reveals more information about the characters.

Mitch is an interesting protagonist that readers can easily relate to. Mitch's problems may touch many readers, because he is estranged from his parents and is much closer to his teachers than his parents. The author writes well about his life and feelings. Mitch's concern towards the safety of his little brother, Cullum, is handled well, because he genuinely seems to be concerned about his well-being.

Hayley is also an interesting character, because she is genius and she has magic. She doesn't know anything about her parents. She has a golden peacock feather that is not what it seems to be.

There are many classic elements in this novel that readers will easily recognise (these elements range from a magic school to mirrors that are used to talk over long distances). Along with these elements, the author has added a few elements, which are not often seen on the pages of young adult fantasy novels, because she writes about a war between Heaven and Hell and about giant lake lizards.

One might easily think that a novel about a school of magic would be boring, because many stories have already been written of such schools, but this novel is anything but boring. It's good entertainment to young adult readers who like entertaining fantasy novels, because it's an engaging novel due to its fast-paced story. It's fun to read about how the students are educated. The author's depictions of magic studies are interesting, because the students are taught many things about different subjects, including Alchemy.

I like the author's vision about magic, because she doesn't merely tell what people can do with it, but also tells about its limitations. For example, long distance magic can be used, but it may not be precise magic. She also tells about the different forms of magic (pyrokinesis, pyromancy, celestial magic etc) and mentions such things as Teratology, Xenobiology and Cryptobotany.

Taniwha was a pleasant surprise for me, because it's a giant lake lizard. I didn't expect to find anything like it in this novel, because giant lizards are a bit rare in modern fantasy novels. It was nice that the author also revealed an interesting piece of information about the Loch Ness Monster.

The Twisted Curse adds plenty of excitement to the story, because it affects the staff and the students alike. Only a few lucky individuals are safe from it, because they're immune to it. The curse starts small, but gradually its effects become worse and even dangerous as teachers and students succumb to its fatal influence and can't help themselves.

Reading about what happens when the curse begins to affects people was interesting for me, because it caused various problems. I enjoyed the author's way of writing about the curse and its effects, because I've always been fascinated by curses in fantasy novels. It was fun to see what the author wrote about the curse.

Besides being light and entertaining and having plenty of magic, this novel also has depth. I was surprised by how fluently the author wrote about abandonment issues, because Mitch and his brother are alone at the Academy without their parents. To me, this feels like a kind of a metaphor for what happens at real-life boarding schools.

I like the way Rebecca Hall keeps things in motion and moves the story fast forward. She has created a light and entertaining story that lacks boring moments.

Perhaps the most important thing about this novel is that it shows how much fun reading a good story can be. I think that this kind of light fantasy novels may help many young readers to overcome their fear of reading long stories, because once you begin to read a good story, you'll find yourself fully immersed in it and reading becomes fun.

Because Instrument of Peace is Rebecca Hall's debut novel, it has a bit of roughness around the edges, but it's a good novel (and it's worth reading). It has clearly been written out of love for storytelling, because when you begin to read it you get a feeling that the author enjoys writing and aims to entertain her readers. This novel was such a nice surprise that I look forward to reading the sequel, Instrument of War. I have a feeling that many things will happen in it.

If you're in need of a new young adult fantasy novel, you should consider reading Rebecca Hall's Instrument of Peace. It will appeal to young adults and adults alike, because it's exciting and fast-paced entertainment. It's an intriguing start to a new fantasy series.

Good, light and entertaining young adult fantasy!

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