Friday, 24 May 2013

Strangeness and Charm by Mike Shevdon (Book Review)

From the back cover:

Niall Petersen’s whole life has been turned on its head by the revelation that he can do magic. Now a Warder for the ancient Courts of the Feyre, duty and honour must be upheld. His daughter Alex, newly awakened to her own magical powers, has been saved from the terrifying Bedlam prison, but in freeing her, Niall has released others of their kind into the population – half-breed fey who have been mistreated, abused and tortured by the very institution that was supposed to help them.”

“Now Niall must track them down and persuade them to swap their new found liberty for the security of the Courts – but is the price of sanctuary merely to swap one cage for another?”

This is the third novel in The Courts of Feyre urban fantasy series. Sixty-Nine Nails and The Road to Bedlam introduced Niall Petersen learning about his inherited abilities as a wraithkin, joining the Warders to protect the High Council. Due to personal feelings over his daughter’s welfare taking precedence over his duties at the Feyre Court; Niall is encountering a strained relationship with his boss, Gavin. Increasing the tension is Blackbird, who has delivered a son, and needing some time away.

Niall’s daughter, Alex, is irritated and frustrated at being under “house arrest” at the location of the Courts. After a brief reunion with her mother, Katherine, Alex runs away; joining up with Eve, a fey mongrel and her companions from Porton Downs where they had undergone scientific experiments. Together they obtain six ancient relics from different locations in London for a ritual Eve plans to change the universe with.

Niall has been assigned to search for the errant fey mongrels and bring them in to the Feyre Court. Alerted to one location, he uses his glamour to skirt a roof top extension to enter an upper bedroom in the next house. There he locates the “huge black cat” he encountered at Porton Down during the rescue of his daughter. After dispatching the shape-shifter there is a touching scene with a girl named Lucy. Another location is of a roof top garden, a beekeeper’s delight.

Told in multiple points-of-view from different characters, the story unfolds in richness and depth. Historical detail of locations such as the Tower of London, British Library, Covent Garden, Glastonbury, the Houses of Parliament and London provides a colourful background. Scenes with the aviary of the ravens at the Tower of London and the interior of the Houses of Parliament were memorable with the action unfolding to ramp up the suspense.

As in his previous novels in this series, Mike Shevdon provides further information on the historical detail surrounding The Ceremony of the Keys which forms the background.

Another enjoyable read in this series which I recommend wholly and look forward to the next in this series.

With thanks to Darren Turpin for providing the review copy.

Book format: Mass Market paperback, 392 pages
Publisher: Angry Robot Books, imprint of Osprey Publishing
Author website: Mike Shevdon
Available in paperback and ebook at:

Saturday, 4 May 2013

Heathrow Park Trail (Toronto Ontario)

This afternoon I decided to explore one of the walking trails in North York named the Heathrow Park Trail. This walking trail extends from Exbury Road south to Jane Street near Heathrow Road. On a warm sunny day, like today, it was a pleasant saunter under newly budding trees and a light breeze.

The trail begins adjacent to Exbury Park at 136 Exbury Road with a paved portion down a short incline in a southerly direction. At the bottom is a junction where a trail to the left leads to Tavistock Road. This portion of the trail was closed for repairs by the Parks Department of the City of Toronto.

Looking back toward Exbury Road (straight ahead) with a fork near the post to the right of centre and a path leading to a beamed staircase to west end of Tavistock Road over a small bridge.
The trail narrows slightly, the pavement changing to packed dirt and gravel sections. Repairs are being made to the water channel of Heathrow Creek to stabilize the banks and the culverts leading in from the side streets.

While making my way down the trail I met several walkers in both directions.

The above photo is looking back (north) along the trail.

Toronto City Parks have a code of conduct for their trails throughout the city:

Stay on the existing trails.

Respect trail closures.

Keep dogs on leash.

Leave no trace.

There are several litter bins along the trail including blue recycle bins.

The trail crosses Heathrow Drive to continue south.

Here the trail makes it way between residential homes linking it to Heathrow Park and Jane Street.

The photo below is looking east to Heathrow Park from the gate to Jane Street via a parking lot of a small strip plaza.

Looking toward rear of parking lot where entrance to Heathrow Park and the Heathrow trail is located.

Many locals use the trail as a shortcut to the Sheridan Mall shopping centre and local merchants in the area.
More information on Toronto's city trails can be found at :

Photo Credits: BEMartin All Rights Reserved.