REVIEW – Ethereal Series


– Published 18th June 2018


– Published 7th April 2020

by Julian Cheek



book one

Following the death of his brother, Sam’s family feels all messed up. All Sam wants to do is be heard by the people around him and when he falls asleep, everyone around him seems to hear him. The people of his dreams mostly idealise him despite the horrific war he seems to find himself mixed up in. But it is only a dream, one he will wake up from and be back in reality. Every time he falls asleep though he finds himself back in this world called Muanga-Atua. Could it be real? If so, how is he suppose to help put a stop to the fighting, or should he just do nothing and hope to wake up from it all eventually?

book two

“Dreams can’t be real, can they?”

Such is the gnawing question reverberating through Sam’s head as he battles with a dilemma, which refuses to be ignored.

In his dreams, he is always confronted by one simple point: Muanga-Atua exists! And for some un-asked for and un-wanted reason, he – Sam – is expected to save this place from the calamity that engulfs the people of the Turangai. Not only that, but he is also supposed to have some sort of incredible power by which he is expected to destroy both the Bjarke and their leader, Lord Elim, the Turangai’s oppressors.

“But that is ridiculous! Right?”

Determined to ignore all that occurs in this so-called ‘dream world’, he does nothing. That is until one cold, grey, autumn morning a TV news flash captures a shocking series of events, which leads to one undeniable truth; what he has tried to ignore all along in Muanga-Atua has somehow incredibly exploded into his world and it is searching… Searching for him.

His do-nothing approach is just not good enough. Not now. He will have to go back to Muanga-Atua to seek out this power he was supposed to have obtained. Find the power, accept what it can do through him, and go out into that awful place to do battle with someone, or something that makes his very blood run cold.

But how? How can he go into this world and be all that the Turangai think he is, when he still cannot accept the truth? That he is ‘The One’. Sam, Wielder of the Staff of the Ethereals and saviour of their world. And now, apparently, of his own as well.



I want to review both of these together because the second book, being double the size of the first, is very much a straight continuation from the first book. The first book reads all the way through and finishes as though it is merely an introduction to one very long book that includes the both of them. Clearly something done well as it made me want to pick the second book up straight away!

I enjoyed these books for their unique storytelling and world building. From the get go, you’re reading from Sam’s point of view, but instead of just being “I did this, I did that”, you read his thoughts and his feelings. It becomes a very descriptive stream of consciousness and a lot of the writing is there to guide you in Sam’s experience, giving you a very personal outlook on the worlds involved, both real and fantasy. When entering the world of Muanga-Atua, you’re able to really picture every detail as Sam describes his surroundings and his feelings for each encounter with the mist or trees or buildings. You can walk in Sam’s footsteps. I love how this aids the reality of his dreams. What appears to be fantasy seems incredibly real and until you learn one way or another, you find yourself questioning whether or not it really is just a dream or something more. You find yourself waiting for that explanation just as much as Sam, and that moment of realisation immediately sets us off in a new understanding of the world. The first book does well to set all this up by not allowing us to learn too much; giving us mini glimpses into the world and small pockets of information that will later develop into the premise for the second book.

I don’t want to give anything away, but the second book follows Sam learning more about Muanga-Atua, his friends, the Ethereals and Lord Elim whom he has to defeat. In some ways it becomes a classic adventure story, as he travels through this world to complete his quest and learn his truths but amongst this, it creates an interesting discussion on the idea of grief using the young adult, fantasy genre. Sam and his parents are having to deal with the death of his brother and it is very clear that each one of them is dealing with it in a completely different way. In Muanga-Atua, Sam also comes across a number of people who have lost someone or something dear to them, especially during the current time, and each and every one of them finds their own way to deal with it. The two books together give us a lovely commentary on how we might deals with these things ourselves.

All in all, the power of conversation, friends and family, and imagination will always help us through.

If you’re interested in finding out more about these books or, of course, read them for yourselves head over to goodreads, the website or Julian Cheek’s twitter, instagram and facebook.

War of the Snakes blog tour

I reviewed these books as part of the blog tour! Feel free to check out everyone else’s posts!




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