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Chris Wooding

Chris Wooding(1977- )
Chris Wooding’s first novel was published when he was 21. He writes dark fantasy and sci-fi for children and adults. He also wrote the children’s anime series Broken Sky. Several of Chris Wooding’s novels have won children’s literature awards. Read excerpts at his website.

Catchman: A too-elusive serial killer

Catchman by Chris Wooding

There’s a murderer loose in the city. Catchman (1998) centers on a group of homeless teenagers and the news circling around a serial killer nearby, who has been dubbed the ‘Catchman’. As victims surface one by one, the tension grows and with it, tempers run high among the teens.

One of the greater strengths of Catchman was the intriguing set-up. I actively wanted to know what was going to happen from the beginning of the story and throughout the narrative. The tension of the background, Catchman included, helped lend gravity to the struggles of the young protagonists.

The main creep factor (the Catchman himself) wasn’t immediately threatening enough for me to get into the heads of the characters. To me, the elusive villain was too elusive — to the detriment of the story. The murders in the city always feel far off and as such do... Read More

The Haunting of Alaizabel Cray: It’s all wonderfully new

The Haunting of Alaizabel Cray by Chris Wooding

If you enjoy the atmosphere and imagination of Philip Pullman, Garth Nix, or Philip Reeve, then you're sure to like Chris Wooding, a YA fantasy author who does not feel the need to fill his fantasy world with elves, dwarfs, wizards, dragons and every other fantasy cliché that's been done to death since Tolkien published The Lord of the Rings.

Some authors are willing to explore new territory, and Wooding is one of these. The Haunting of Alaizabel Cray... Read More

Poison: Clever ideas, and style

Poison by Chris Wooding

The fantasy genre owes Chris Wooding a huge favour. In a genre awash with sad Tolkien knock-offs filled with magic swords, plucky heroes, wise wizards, princesses-in-distress and other tired clichés, Wooding continues to churn out exciting and intriguing stories that contain a rare force of imagination. Even though Poison is not quite as successful as some of his earlier efforts (especially The Haunting of Alaizabel Cray) it certainly deserves credit for its skill, style, fast-pace and clever ideas.

Which is ironic considering I was rather concerned on reading the first chapter. A young girl named Poison lives in the gloomy swamplands of the Black Marshes, together with a woebegone father and a nasty stepmother. An outcast in her own village (she chose... Read More

The Weavers of Saramyr: Creepy, rich, layered, and ultimately satisfying

The Weavers of Saramyr by Chris Wooding

Chris Wooding has once again branched out and attacked another flavour of fantasy. This time the story brings the reader a sophisticated beginning to what promises to be a mysterious, cutthroat, and complex trilogy: THE BRAIDED PATH. Both the physical and social settings are richly described and beautifully rendered throughout. The Weavers of Saramyr introduces us to a nation torn apart by sickness, an empress who is all out of options, survival against the odds, and unlikely freedom fighters. The Weavers of Saramyr is no less than gripping from the first page through to the last.

There is a sickness in the lands of Saramyr. It manifests in deformed animal and plant life across the nation. Farmers call the soil evil, wildlife is slowly... Read More

Storm Thief: Not for the full of stomach

Storm Thief by Chris Wooding

From the get go, Storm Thief has you on the edge of your seat. Chris Wooding once again creates a very vivid and realistic world full of danger and suspense, and the characters to go along with it. We meet stone-hearted villains, a frightened and bewildered half-machine-half-man creation, a day-dreaming thief, and many more. This is not for the faint of heart, or the full of stomach.

Orokos is an isolated city on an island in the middle of a vast ocean. It's immensely over-populated, so the poor, the weak, and the sick find themselves living in the slums. If you find yourself inhabiting this cut-throat environment, there is no way out. Many come to live in the slums after being affected by one of the probability storms that plague the city. These unpredictable storms are caused by the chaos engine and they can change your eye colour, make your bones turn into glass, make build... Read More

The Fade: One of Wooding’s first excursions into the world of adult fantasy

The Fade by Chris Wooding

Nations divided by vast lakes, destinations defined by stalagmites and minerals, a world without a sun: The Fade (2007) takes place in an unfathomable network of caves beneath the surface of an unknown planet. Here the reader finds a cavernous underground in the midst of jealous war. Two distinct races of beings fighting over their shared bubbles of space. It is on the battlefield that we meet the protagonist and learn that she is a highly skilled and thoroughly trained one-woman war machine. Soon, we also learn that she has a loving family and a complicated set of allegiances. This is the foundation upon which The Fade is built.

Orna is an elite assassin and highly trained warrior, who fulfills many roles for the family she has been sworn to serve since birth. It is while she is on a mission in the midst of the ongoing war that she is captured and forced to live out the rest of... Read More

Retribution Falls: Everything I wanted from a tale about sky pirates

Retribution Falls by Chris Wooding

Confession: I love pirates. Stories with pirates in them have captivated me for as long as I can remember (and I’ll blame my family for sitting me in front of such movies as Muppets Treasure Island and The Princess Bride) and continue to bring me great joy. With this in mind, you can imagine how excited I was when I found a pirate story by one of my favourite authors, Chris Wooding. Retribution Falls is everything I could have asked for from a swashbuckling tale: there are old foes, daring escapes, dirty jobs, betrayal, heartbreak, and breathtaking battles. Also, in a fashion I have grown to love, Wooding delivers a myriad of things that I didn’t ask for but absolutely wanted. If it wasn’t already apparent, I loved this story about flying pirates.

Darian Frey... Read More

Malice: Don’t buy it for the graphics

Malice by Chris Wooding

The children's fantasy/sci fi novel Malice is set in two worlds: modern day London and Malice, an eponymous comic book whose chief villain, Tall Jake, takes kids into the dangerous world of the comic if the right ritual is performed. In an attempt to better convey this two-setting concept, Malice melds a graphic novel/comic with a young adult/middle grade novel, with mixed results for the author (Chris Wooding) and illustrator (Dan Chernett).

The graphic aspect of the novel is by far the poorer stepchild here. The illustrations are mostly poorly or simply done, the action in the panels is not always clear, and it’s rare that one feels the illustrations are necessary or are enhancing the actual story. The concept isn’t a bad one, but it feels stuck in a (literally) muddy middle ground. Malice w... Read More

More speculative fiction by Chris Wooding

Stand-alone novels:

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews

Pale — (2012) Young adult. Publisher: The Lazarus Serum can bring you back from the dead — but when you come back you’ve changed — you’re a Pale, an outcast. It’s the last thing Jed wants, but an accident changes everything and Jed’s forced to discover the true cost of living forever.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsSilver — (2013) Young adult. Publisher: Perfect for fans of Michael Grant and Charlie Higson, this thrilling novel about a mysterious virus spreading through a boarding school is like 28 DAYS LATER meets ASSAULT ON PRECINCT THIRTEEN. Who will turn silver next? When a boy is bitten by a strange silver beetle, he becomes the first victim of a mysterious infection. But this is no ordinary virus. It turns flesh into metal, and pupils into machines. As the virus spreads and more terrifying, blood-thirsty machines appear, a small group manage to barricade themselves inside the school Can they keep the machines at bay long enough for help to arrive? Is help even coming? Meanwhile the virus is spreading and its victims are changing… evolving… becoming stronger… The world as our heroes know it is turning silver. Will any of them survive?