Black Amber: A New Fate & Red Bullets
By Nathan Simpson
(Reviewed by Emma Hart)
For those of us who live in New Zealand, there’s both comfort and surprised delight in spec-fic set in our own country. Nathan Simpson’s Black Amber books start in a world of Vegemite and duvets that will be familiar to many.
Very quickly, however, we’re taken from that world to another, one of magic and medieval weaponry. The books’ central characters, brothers Ricky and Tylor, have come into possession of a mysterious magical artefact, which it appears will compel them to travel from world to world, seeking their own home, leaving every set of attachments they might make along the way. I was reminded of Diana Wynne Jones’s YA novel, The Homeward Bounders.
Meanwhile, back in our world, Ricky and Tylor’s friend Samantha is left trying to work out why and how they so suddenly disappeared. This leads her to adventures of her own. Samantha is portrayed as both smart and kick-arse.
The world-skipping means the setting of the books moves from fantasy to science-fiction and back again. As these are worlds which, it emerges, are based on our own stories, there are enough trappings of setting to make the transitions easy.
A New Fate has a sprinkling of unfortunate typographical errors, but fortunately these are absent from its sequel, Red Bullets.
Ricky and Tylor. Two brothers mysteriously find themselves in he strangest of lands after an unexplainable event in their home. And who was the mysterious grey-hooded stranger lurking in the twilight shadows of the garden just before their ordeal began? Thrust into a timeless world for which they are ill prepared, the brothers become entangled with people, giants, orcs and other strange creatures – some set on helping and others set on harming them – in their quest to discover the way back home. With the unexpected challenges, triumphs and tragedies along the way, they begin to discover the real cost of the evil Black Amber, the stone that gives unimaginable power, but demands a dreadful price from the brothers.
Meanwhile, in the world they had suddenly left, explaining their disappearance becomes the quest of Samantha, their friend and confidante. The daughter of the policeman in charge of finding the missing brothers, she unearths a strange sequence of events, and meets an even stranger dying man, with access to amazing magic – yet he can’t control the rapid ageing process that is causing his death. How did this happen to him, and what has he got to do with the brothers?
As Samantha searches to find her friends, they too search to find the answers.
Look out for Book 3 in this series, which should be released in 2017.
[Our reviewer received free copies of the books in return for an honest review.]