The Catalyst by Helena Coggan Review

Image Source: Goodreads

Image Source: Goodreads

The following synopsis has been taken from Goodreads.

Rose Elmsworth has a secret. For eighteen years, the world has been divided into the magically Gifted and the non-magical Ashkind, but Rose’s identity is far more dangerous. At fifteen, she has earned herself a place alongside her father in the Department, a brutal law-enforcement organisation run by the Gifted to control the Ashkind. But now an old enemy is threatening to start a catastrophic war, and Rose faces a challenging test of her loyalties. How much does she really know about her father’s past? How far is the Department willing to go to keep the peace? And, if the time comes, will Rose choose to protect her secret, or the people she loves?

The Catalyst by Helena Coggan

Release Date: 19th February, 2015

Pages: 448

Publisher: Hodder and Stoughton

Format: Hardback

Source: Purchase

The Catalyst is one of those books with an interesting premise but it turns out to be a fairly average read. The author, Helena Coggan, is a teenager and it shows in the writing. Don’t get me wrong, though. I think that it is fantastic that Helena has achieved a goal of hers at such a young age, especially when many young people are struggling to get started in life. I do feel, though, that it would have been beneficial to have waited at least a few years before publishing The Catalyst as Coggan certainly has potential.

The main character, Rose, needed much more development. This also applies to the rest of the characters in the novel, as none of the stood out and came across as very flat. The relationships between the characters also needed more work. The only relationship that was believable was the one between Rose and her father. The rest of the relationships, such as the friendships between Rose and her best friends, were unconvincing. It was difficult for me to believe in the story when I found it hard to believe in the characters.

With regards to the writing and the progress of the plot, I often felt that I was reading a rough draft, rather than the finished novel. There were many times that the plot felt like it was going in one direction, and then it would suddenly switch and head off in another direction. This became rather annoying. Sometimes the perspectives of the characters would switch unexpectedly and this would leave me feeling confused.

As I previously mentioned, I wish that Coggan had waited at least a few years before seeking publication. I really do think that she should take the time to hone her craft, as she has the potential to contribute something special and unique to YA. Even though The Catalyst is fairly average, I’ll be looking out for more novels by Coggan in the future, as she does have talent to tap into.

2/5 stars

 – Liz

Darkmere by Helen Maslin Review

Image Source: Goodreads

Image Source: Goodreads

A castle. A curse. A dangerous summer.

Leo has invited Kate and a few friends to spend the summer at his inheritance, Darkmere Castle: as wild and remote as it is beautiful. Kate thinks it will be the perfect place for her and Leo to get together – but instead, she’s drawn into the dark story of a young nineteenth-century bride who haunts the tunnels and towers of the house. And whose curse now hangs over them all. (Synopsis taken from Goodreads)

Darkmere by Helen Maslin

Release Date: 6th August, 2015

Pages: 368

Publisher: Chicken House

Format: Paperback

Source: Purchase

I tried hard to like Darkmere by Helen Maslin. I really did. I honestly feel quite apathetic towards Darkmere. Having said that, I do have some points to make about the book and, sadly, most of them are negative.

To be honest, I found the whole story to be unoriginal and predictable. There are two storylines that run concurrently throughout Darkmere and that is something that I like as a writing device. However, it was really easy to see which direction the storylines were heading in. When events occur in the book, I wasn’t reading anything new. Nothing about the plot made Darkmere stand out from the rest of YA fiction.

Darkmere presented me with a host of characters that I just didn’t care for. I couldn’t find anything about the characters that was likeable and I wasn’t able to gel with Kate, the main character in the story. This made it difficult for me to root for Kate and I found myself not really caring what happened to her as a character. As I have been writing this review, I have been trying to remember other details about Kate and her fellow characters but I can’t. Kate, her friends and the other characters we meet just aren’t memorable.

One thing I did appreciate about the book is that the characters are affected by issues that real teenagers have to deal with. The characters have problems at home, drink alcohol and smoke weed, amongst other things. References to these things, however, got old after a while and sometimes it felt like partying and going to the beach were the only things happening in the book.

By the end of the novel I was bored. This is mainly because Darkmere is too predictable and pretty uneventful. I do have to say, though, that the writing is the strongest part of the novel. It was the writing that encouraged me to continue with the book. I do believe that the author has the ability to write something special, so I will be keeping an eye out for any future novels that she publishes. Darkmere will hopefully be a stepping stone to greater things for Helen Maslin.

2/5 stars

– Liz