Books by N.M. Browne

SILVERBOY by N.M. Browne
Released: March 1, 2007

This compelling magical adventure rises above its many flaws. Fifteen-year-old Tommo is an escaped spellgrinder's apprentice, and like all boys of his profession, he is dying. Ground spellstone dust has given his skin an eerie blue glow, and has afflicted him with the quivers, a degenerative illness that will soon lead to an unpleasant death. Nevertheless, he's determined to end his days in freedom. On the run from the hangman, he falls in with Akenna, a foul-mouthed fisher girl fleeing her abusive father. All the teens want is sanctuary, but they won't be able to find safety unless they rescue their nation from the cruel usurper of the throne. For some reason, he thinks Tommo and Akenna are a danger to him. The complexities of world-building are too extensive for this brief tale and require an excess of exposition, but are nevertheless cleverly original. Inexpert prose and a rushed conclusion detract, but overall, Tommo's story is both intriguing and worthwhile. (Fantasy. 12-14)Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 1, 2005

In a complex fantasy with mythic overtones and strong themes of love and guilt, a magic stone imparts visions that link ancient male- and female-centered cultures to their far-future hybrid descendant. Each time would-be archeologist Nela touches a black pebble turned up at her father's dig, she witnesses scenes from long ago in which Jerat, a young warrior desperate to save his dying younger brother, forces Moon-Eye, an enchantress of the forest-dwelling Night Hunters, to sing a spell that actually remakes the world in the image of the singer's heart's desire. But it all goes wrong, for Moon-Eye has fallen in love with Jerat, and Jerat with power—and the magic's misuse lays a killing blight on the whole land that is still active in Nela's time. The tale suffers from a lack of balance, as Jerat is so dominant a character that the others come off as a thin supporting cast, and the tale's slow-building emotional pressure is blown off in a too-quick and easy climax. Still, some strong writing and a setting containing three vividly nuanced invented societies will carry readers along. And—how rare—it seems to be a stand-alone. (Fantasy. YA)Read full book review >
BASILISK by N.M. Browne
Released: May 1, 2004

Rej, a comber from the squalid caves beneath the city of Lunnzia, and Donna, the courtesan's daughter, form an unlikely alliance to bring back dragons and save the world in this appealing dark fantasy. Since the revolution, which toppled the monarchy two decades before, the oppidans of Lunnzia have lived in poverty-stricken, legally enforced equality. Donna is sent to scribe for the Doctor Esteemed Melagiar, where she realizes the privileged don't share the cold and hunger of the citizenry. As if avoiding trouble and corruption weren't enough, Donna is given a new charge: Rej has violated ancient treaties by leaving the catacombs to avenge a murder, and a spy network places him in Donna's nervous care. Rej and Donna are drawn into dangerous plots when they witness horrors at the Doctor Esteemed's home. Linked by shared dreams of dragons, they need to overcome intrigue, sexual ploys, and extensive torture as they discover the debauched wickedness of their parents' generation. Suspenseful and rather original, marred only by pedestrian language. (Fiction. 14-17)Read full book review >
Released: May 1, 2003

Browne offers that rarity: a sequel more polished and engrossing than its predecessor. Warriors of Alavna introduced Dan and Ursula, drawn through a yellow fog into Roman England. Once again, they enter the mist to search for their homes and families only to arrive in fifth-century Britain, where the Saxons are attempting to conquer the Roman and Celtic populations. In the Britain of the historical King Arthur, Dan and Ursula have changed; they have lost some powers and have acquired others. Their adjustment to the changes provides interesting insights into the protagonists' true characters and the nature of their friendship. Browne skillfully integrates details from the first adventure into this story as plot events require. Like the first installment, this is a page-turner that will leave readers panting for the next in an exciting young adult fantasy series. (Fiction. 12-15)Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 1, 2002

On a field trip, British students Ursula and Dan disappear into a yellow-colored fog. The other side of the fog is an alternate Britain in the time of the Roman conquest. The central characters—one a six-foot-tall, overweight teenage girl, the other a short, always-doing-the-right-thing male classmate, are fully developed and likable. Ursula may be an outsider, but she has grit and humor. Dan is a popular, smart jock, but he is also protective and empathetic. The characterization proffers enjoyable ironies: Ursula becomes a warrior and a sorcerer; Dan becomes a "berserker." Secondary characters are important. In addition to their reality as people, they portray the beliefs of the time and lend depth to the story. The plot is great: short periods in which the characters grow and develop skills sandwiched between the violence of battles. The world-building, in which ecological, historical, and cultural elements both support and energize the plot, is masterful. The climax works—barely—because the deft plotting leaves little time for thought. An unfortunate number of loose threads, in both characterization and resolution, provide an unsatisfying ending that leaves readers wondering if the story is really finished or if the author plans a sequel. These are minor cavils against a skillfully written, involving fantasy. The mysterious beginning and the plot's brisk progress will catch the interest of YA readers; the development of unlikely friendships among the very different characters and the coming-of-age story will sustain it—author victorious. (Fiction. YA)Read full book review >
HUNTED by N.M. Browne
Released: June 1, 2001

Karen is attacked by a group of six or seven girls and the fear and pain seem overwhelming until she suddenly realizes that she is running like a fox, the hounds are baying, and there is no safety no matter how hard she runs. Transformed by her fear into a real fox with a sharp sense of smell, bushy tail, and an animal cleverness new to her, Karen Fox gets help from Mohl, a sheepherder. Meanwhile, at the hospital, her body is in a coma and her grandparents suffer as they wonder if she'll ever come out of it. The story's core takes place in the world of Mohl and the fox. Mohl senses that Karen Fox is exceptional, and their alliance grows as he finds his own world of herding sheep suddenly turned topsy-turvy. Stunned and on the run himself, he is wanted for crimes his long-dead father is accused of committing. In this place, somewhat akin to a medieval world with a matriarchal line of succession for the kingdom and a religion emphasizing the supernatural, the outlaws gradually become involved in a rebellion. All the time the clock is ticking as Mohl early on reveals that an arl left in animal shape longer than 24 days will die. With subtlety and style, Browne gradually makes this world complex and intricate, giving Karen a critical role to play as an arl—a creature visiting from another plane of existence. Watching the Queen move from one simultaneously existing level of reality to another provides just that sense of possibility, convincing readers that there is a logic to Karen's ultimate choice. Karen must decide between returning to her body in our world or staying to help the rebels who have befriended her. Combining shapeshifting with a complexly realized fantasy world in a fast-paced plot, this would make an intriguing contrast to Rubenstein's Foxspell (1996), which emphasized the experience of morphing. Clever and compelling. (Fiction. 10-14)Read full book review >