Thunder and Shadow by Erin Hunter

Genres: Childrens, Xenofiction
Publisher: HarperCollins
Publication Date: September 6th 2016

4 OUT OF 5 STARS

“‘You will take this Clan over my dead body.’ Delight sparked in Darktail’s gaze. ‘That sounds fair.’”

Separated from each other Twigkit and Violetkit struggle to fit in with their new clans. Meanwhile, the rogues who destroyed SkyClan have found their way to the lake. They’re ruthless – and it looks like ShadowClan will be their next target.

Thunder and Shadow has managed to breathe life into the Vision of Shadows arc after it’s dreadfully dull opening with The Apprentice’s Quest. I had very low expectations going in and this book far exceeded them.

There is very little of the dull travel plot that quite a few books in the series fall into, however the actual plot is a bit messy. There is a lot going on between the rogues’ reappearance, the kits struggling to fit in, ShadowClan’s sickness and Onestar’s madness. The original quest to save SkyClan is mostly pushed aside and following the several new plots is a bit messy but it’s still a major improvement from the previous book.

It was also refreshing to follow Twigkit and Violetkit instead of Alderpaw. Alderpaw was a rather bland character – and a sort of unnecessary third medicine cat. Twigkit and Violetkit have an exciting plotline and as a bonus Violetkit is in ShadowClan. It’s great to finally have a main series protagonist outside of ThunderClan. It was a wonderful new point of view and it made the relationship between Violetkit and her sister more interesting.

This book is not without faults of course. The characters are the most notable issue. Too many of them have extreme personalities that veer into nonsensical. Jayfeather is more crotchety than ever. Bramblestar makes several stupid and uncaring decisions. Needlepaw’s personality goes through a blender and comes out worse than before. Onestar no longer cares about the warrior code and it can no longer be argued that he’s even a decent leader when he used to be a friendly and well-meaning cat.

Overall it’s one of the better books in the series. It has drama, death, betrayal and high stakes. It does, however, have to be appreciated for what it is. It’s a children’s book. The writing is simple, most things are clear cut but that doesn’t mean it’s not enjoyable for adults to read.

One of the better books in The Warrior Cats series, even if the series has far outlived it’s prime.

Read this if you’re a fan of: Watership Down

Warrior Cats: A Vision of Shadows by Erin Hunter

Genres: Childrens, Animals, Xenofiction
Publisher: HarperCollins
Publication Date: March 15th 2016

2 OUT OF 5 STARS

“Embrace what you find in the shadows, for only they can clear the sky.”

The clans have lived in peace for many moons since the great battle, however, a new prophecy threatens to destroy the peace. A time of great change if coming for cats of all clans, and they’ll need to figure our how to find what’s in the shadows if they want to save themselves.

Though the Warrior Cats series is long running, it’s never been amazing. A Vision of Shadows is perhaps one of the weakest books in the main series. It opens with a prophecy, as all the arcs do, but then it’s pretty stagnant. There’s a lot of walking, then a short bit of action before more walking. Opening books are traditionally more exciting, if I was not already invested in the series I wouldn’t have made it to the end, which does show some potential.

The characters aren’t as robust and relatable as they should have been. Alderpaw definitely has a personality, but it doesn’t have levels. The same goes for Needlepaw and Sparkpaw, they aren’t well-rounded characters despite being the protagonists. Worse off are Cherryfall and Molewhisker who have almost no character traits at all. There was a good opportunity for Hunter to use older characters, or at least characters with substance in Cherryfall and Molewhisker’s place.

As mentioned before the ending is the highlight of this book. It finally feels like something is happening. Granted, the book ends immediately after the most exciting moment, but promises that the rest of the books in the series could be better.

BUY THE BOOK

Read this if you’re a fan of: Survivors

Warriors: Tallstar’s Revenge by Erin Hunter

Genres: Childrens, Adventure, Animals, Xenofiction
Publisher: HarperCollins
Publication Date: January 1st 2013

1 OUT OF 5 STARS

“Sandgorse chose his own destiny. Why should he get to choose yours, too?”

When Tallstar is just an apprentice tragedy strikes Tallstar is determined to blame a rogue, Sparrow, and needs revenge. He will have to leave his clan and family if he is to punish Sparrow properly. Along the way Tallstar will discover that sometimes your friends know you better than you know yourself.

This is definitely one of the weakest Super Editions Erin Hunter as written. The age old adage “show don’t tell” seems entirely lost on this novel. Characters are meant to be the best of friends suddenly over very few interactions. The two characters barely know each other and I’m supposed to believe their ond is more powerful than anything because the book tells me so.

Unlike the other Super Editions I’ve read it does very little to give insight into Tallstar’s life. Why does he become leader? He doesn’t seem like the sort of cat that deserves the position but the book conveniently skips over any development straight to his leadership ceremony.

It dawdles far too much on his appreticeship and his travels and it makes his development seem sudden. Tallstar spends a huge portion of his life seeking revenge and in a split second he decides not to, which is reasonable, but he’s also totally fine with how things have changed.

It was a good premise, but it would have done better as a single book in an arc. As a super edition it tried to cover too much and left the characters and relationships suffering for it. We hardly see any growth, the book just tells you how the characters have grown without any evidence. Erin Hunter has written plenty of better super editions and if you’re not a completionist, feel free to leave this one out.

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Read this if you’re a fan of: Crookedstar’s Promise

Warriors Cats: A Path of Stars by Erin Hunter

Genres: Childrens, Xenofiction, Animals
Publisher: HarperCollins
Publication Date: September 1st 2015

3 OUT OF 5 STARS

“A word that reflected the kinship he felt with those he hunted and fought beside. ‘They have their own Clans.’ He meowed suddenly.”

The cats have begun to settle into their different groups. Rules have been made and followed by the group cats. The rogues are not as happy. A dangerous cat called Slash is determined to make trouble for the clans. He is more cruel than any cat they’ve faced before. If the group cats want any chance of surviving Leaf-bare they must work together.

Meant to be the finale the the prequel arc, Path of Stars falls short. It is quite a fast-paced and interesting story. The problem is that the series promised to demonstrate how the clans became the well-oiled machines they are in the rest of the series and it doesn’t quite manage that. It’s easy to see the ghosts of the ideas. There’s faint references to mentors, medicine cats and deputies, but nothing is ever concrete. A naming system is never developed. We don’t really get a full sense of all these traditions and rules becoming official.

The ending, while bittersweet, feels like it cut the entire story short. So many ends are left untied. Even if there were plans to continue with these characters it feels as though the arc is left unfinished. The villain isn’t quite dealt with, the clans are not quite formed. Romances feel rushed or unfinished. So many questions about the lore that SHOULD have been answered in this prequel are left hanging. It was entirely enjoyable as a story, but as an ending it was handled poorly.

BUY THE BOOK

Read this if you’re a fan of: Crookedstar’s Promise

Warriors: Crookedstar’s Promise by Erin Hunter

Genres: Childrens, Xenofiction, Animals
Publisher: HarperCollins
Publication Date: July 5th 2011

3 OUT OF 5 STARS

“I will be loyal to my Clan above everything. What I want doesn’t matter. The Clan must always come first.”

Another Warriors Super Edition! This time we follow Stormkit on his journey to become Crookedstar. After permanently disfiguring his jaw, Stormkit doesn’t know if he’ll ever be a proper warrior, but he dreams of a strange cat who tells him of his destiny. He will be the greatest leader any clan has ever seen, if only he wants it enough.

Crookedstar is another cat with a tragic life, the main culprit being his terrible mother. It’s painful to read about how she treats her kit. Unfortunately after he gets through that the most interesting part of the novel is over. It’s easy to guess what happens in his life, and it doesn’t give us many twists. Unlike Bluestar and Yellowfang (other Super Edition stars) most of Crookedstar’s life is obvious. There’s not much new information except the involvement of Mapleshade which was dense at best. It seems unlikely that Crookedpaw would so readily believe her. The peak into the life of RiverClan (one of the less involved clans in the main stories) is a fresh take on it. Ultimately it’s a solid installation to the series, but not a remarkable book on it’s own.

BUY THE BOOK

Read this if you’re a fan of: Bluestar’s Prophecy

Warriors: Yellowfang’s Secret by Erin Hunter

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Genres: Childrens, Xenofiction, Animals
Publisher: HarperCollins
Publication Date: January 1st 2012

3 OUT OF 5 STARS

“ ‘It’s time to face your destiny,’ Sagewhisker announced. ‘You have to be a medicine cat.’ ”

In this super edition we follow the life of Yellowfang, who acts as one of ThunderClan’s medicine cats in the main series. We see ShadowClan before it’s fall into darkness under Brokenstar and just how things got so terrible that Yellowfang found herself exiled.

Definitely one of the better super editions, it isn’t without it’s faults. The usual mistakes are all there. It also seems a bit rushed at times, Raggedstar loses all nine lives at once to hasten Brokentail’s appointment as leader.

Yellowfang is more than interesting enough to carry the story through her kithood all the way into her joining ThunderClan. It offers a wonderful look into another Clan’s perspective, a nice break from the usual view of ThunderClan. It is a shame names and ages were often confused and that the end seemed rushed while the middle dragged on. It’s definitely one of the best books in the series but still not quite spectacular.

BUY THE BOOK

READ THIS IF YOU’RE A FAN OF: BLUESTAR’S PROPHECY

Warriors: A Forest Divided by Erin Hunter

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Genres: Child, Xenofiction, Animals
Publisher: HarperCollins
Publication Date: April 7th 2015

2 OUT OF 5 STARS

“Each cat here has a home waiting. Even you. But you have to find it for yourselves, and you must find it soon.”

The cats are still reeling from the message their spirit kin left them. Clear Sky is convinced that it means all the cats should unite as one, but the others believe they should spread into different groups and choose homes for themselves.

The plot in this book is negligible. Compared to the last four books in the series we don’t see tons happen. The cats spread out to their new homes and…mainly talk a lot. There are no battles, no new kits. None of the expected structural changes to go from camps to the clans we know. The last book will have a lot riding on it’s shoulders.

A villain is introduced to take One Eye’s place, but doesn’t actually do anything until literally the last ten pages of the novel. Dawn of the Clans has been such a strong arc for the Warriors novels so far that it’s sad to see this book give so little and we can only hope that the final installation manages not only to clear off the villain but show the clans forming the rules and traditions we know.

BUY THE BOOK

READ THIS IF YOU’RE A FAN OF: WATERSHIP DOWN

Warriors: Bramblestar’s Storm by Erin Hunter

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Genres: Xenofiction, Adventure, Children’s
Synopsis: Warriors Super Edition: Bramblestar’s Storm is an epic stand-alone adventure in Erin Hunter’s #1 nationally bestselling Warriors series! What happened to the warrior Clans after the events of the fourth Warriors arc, Omen of the Stars? In this never-before-told story, readers will dive into ThunderClan’s continuing adventures under the leadership of Bramblestar.

The Dark Forest has been defeated, and Bramblestar is now leader of ThunderClan. But the warrior cats must now weather a new kind of storm—or all four Clans will be swept away. Join the legion of fans who have discovered the epic adventures, fierce warrior cats, and thrilling fantasy world of the mega-bestselling Warriors series. This stand-alone entry is perfect for new readers and dedicated fans alike.

Bramblestar’s Storm also includes an exclusive ten-page Warriors manga adventure!(source: Goodreads)

2 OUT OF 5 STARS

One of the over thirty novels in the Warrior Cats series, Bramblestar’s Storm still manages to stand-alone and requires no previous reading. Although a reader new to the series might be a bit confused at first, everything will be explained enough for a new reader.

The book is not without it’s faults, Erin Hunter (really several authors working as one) is notorious for forgetting their own characters and plots. Although no cats were raised from the dead this time, there were a few mistakes which might bother a fan who’s read more of the series. The POV feels a little weak, it’s a character we already know so much about and the story could have been more interestingly told through someone else. The book also feels bogged down by too many events in too small of a time-span.

On the other hand it is interesting and it does introduce a few new, interesting characters for the series to use in future books. There is also plenty of action with battles and a decent amount of drama between the different cat groups.

For an adult reader it’s enjoyable, but nothing remarkable. Slightly older children (the series does have quite a bit of death and violence), especially children with an interest in animals will definitely love this book to pieces.

READ THIS IF YOU’RE A FAN OF: THE OTHER WARRIORS NOVELS