Solace & Grief by Foz Meadows

Solace & Grief by Foz Meadows (The Rare, Book 1)
Solace & Grief by Foz Meadows (The Rare, Book 1)

If you’ve ever wondered what Sydney would be like with paranormal beings lurking about, Foz Meadows’s debut YA novel pits vampires and psychics and a swan-obsessed cat in a medieval dungeon under Hyde Park.

BOOK GIVEAWAY: Read on for a chance to win a signed copy of Solace & Grief. Ends Wednesday, March 24 AEST.

In all my years at Sydney Uni, I’ve always wondered about this door. It’s hidden in a little garden between the Main Quad and the Pharmacy building. Every time I walked past it I wondered. So imagine my delight when I realised that Foz Meadows opens that door for me in Solace & Grief … and leads me to a world of magic, vampires and prophecies.

Solace Morgan walks out of her foster home the day she turns 17, convinced she’s a vampire and that she no longer belongs to her old life. She ends up at the Downstairs Club and meets a bunch of squatters, gets drunk, and before she knows it she’s living with her new set of best friends.

The beginning of the novel is a little drawn out and seems to go nowhere for a while. I mean, interesting stuff happens to Solace, but I just didn’t feel like I cared too much until it turns out that Solace’s friends have their own peculiarities. Like Electra, who manages to keep the pantry stocked even though no one ever goes out for groceries. Or Manx, who can turn into a big house cat that is ‘very intimidating, if you’re drunk.’ Or Glide, who … dreams.

Capricious doors

When Solace and her friends answer a survey about people with special abilities, they discover that they’re part of the Rare—gifted beings whose talents have been a mystery and whose ‘presence en masse … could create a magic door between two distant locations.’

Meanwhile, Solace keeps having strange dreams that may or may not be real, including about a man named Sharpsoft who claims a connection with her family. And even as Solace tries to discover more about her ancestry, she and friends are drawn more deeply into the alternate world they’ve discovered, which includes a hidden science lab at Town Hall, an underground dungeon at Hyde Park, and more than one capricious door.

Myths and characters

Meadows explains the mythology of Solace’s world and introduces elements of her past through various means, including a ‘tripwalk’—a kind of prophetic hallucination for people with gifts—and a journal written by Solace’s mother. But there was so much information crammed into the story, and so many other characters, that I was befuddled by it all. If you like mythologies and mysterious pasts, though, there’s plenty of it in this book.

I was more interested in the relationships between Solace and her friends, some of whom are paired up, and one of whom becomes a romantic interest. As a vampire, Solace’s gift was probably the least interesting for me (given that I’m a bit over paranormal romance), so maybe I was also slightly frustrated at not knowing as much about the other characters. There just aren’t enough pages for Evan*, Jess, Manx, Electra, Harper, Paige, Laine and Glide. Meadows gives allows them all to wield power over the course of the story, but I was left wanting more! (Although now that I think about it, this is a very effective ploy to entice me to read the next book.)

I had a few other nitpicks. For example, I felt that Solace seemed much older than 17 and that there was a disconnect between her past in chapter 1 and how well she was able to adapt to her new home and friends. I also couldn’t understand why everyone kept walking. Walking from Paddo to the CBD! There are buses, people! (Although maybe this is because I’m lazy and I wear impractical shoes.)

* My favourite character. Dear Foz, please don’t let him die. Thank you.

Prophecies and fetishes

The second half of Solace & Grief introduces riddles and hints at a prophecy that hints at a secret romance. I’m a sucker for riddles and prophecies and romance. I love, love, love them! And this is where the book turns around for me, from being so-so to a must-read-the-sequel-now. Meadows also hints at undiscovered powers, not just for Solace, but for the others. I’m a sucker for mysterious powers.

Wait. Actually, I think it was the cranky cat with a swan fetish that really sold the book for me.

Yay or nay?

This book is a good debut novel and I’d recommend it solely on the fact that it’s set in Sydney—except that there’s enough meat in the story to make it interesting beyond where it’s set. Solace and her friends’ gifts are revealed slowly but deliciously, and the end of the book is a real page-turner.

Still, there’s something seductive about an alternative world featuring landmarks and streets that I know and see everyday. It changes the experience for me a reader. Ever since I read Solace & Grief, I look at Town Hall differently, and as I pass the same doors mentioned in the story, my hands are itching to reach out and open them. Yes, I’m convinced there’s a dungeon underneath Hyde Park.

A review copy of this book was generously provided by the publisher. Check out our pictures and write-up of the Sydney launch of Solace & Grief here and here.


Solace & Grief by Foz Meadows (The Rare, Book 1)For a chance to win a SIGNED copy of Solace & Grief, in 25 words or less tell us what mysterious door you’d like to open and where it would lead.

Some rules: You must post your answer as a comment to this post. Multiple entries are fine. By entering, you give us permission to quote your entry in future blog posts and articles. Overseas readers are welcome to join in. The giveaway ends midnight on Wednesday, March 24 AEDT. Wandergurl, Decadence and I will pick our favourite answer. The winner must provide a delivery address within 1 week after we announce the result on the blog.

2010 Aussie Author ChallengeTitle: Solace & Grief
Series: The Rare (Book 1)
Author: Foz Meadows
ISBN: 9781876462895
Release date: March 2010
Publisher: Ford Street Publishing
Format: B format

Where you can buy this book

AUSTRALIA: Abbeys | Bookglobe | Booktopia | Borders | Dymocks | Fishpond | Galaxy | Gleebooks | Kinokuniya | Nile | QBD | Readings | More
EBOOKS: Not available
WORLDWIDE: Amazon US | Amazon UK | The Book Depository


  1. Mary Preston says:

    My Grandmother had a back room we were never allowed to enter. It was kept locked & no-one would say why.  A solid old door locked with a key that lay heavily in my hand. As a child it was always a source  of intrigue for an overactive imagination. I think now it would just lead me to – the skeletons in the closet.

  2. Lyzie says:

    My old school was over a hundred years old, it had been a children’s hospital and an orphanage before becoming a storage place for antiques which is when my school bought it. There was this one door that was always locked, we used to ask all the teachers what was behind it but either they didn’t know or they just wouldn’t tell us. I have no idea what was in the room but man would I love to find out!

  3. Dale Tomlinson says:

    I remember at School in the old parts there were always locked doors, we always imagined that boarders from long ago were trapped in there, they were never open, so we will never know what was behind the closed doors.

  4. Ken Staines says:

    I’d like the mysterious door to a woman’s heart opened up once and for all, so then I could self install.

  5. Eva Kiraly says:

    The doors would creak open very slowly, opening  into a magical world of peacefullness, everyone doing as they please, happily  frolicking  in the streams and waterfalls, fairytale animals like Pegasus and Unicorns running and flying around without a care in the world

  6. Wendy says:

    I’d love to open a huge gold door. I would find myself in a fantastic space,  full of love, happy people, beautiful lights and wonderful scenery. There would be laughter all around and a place I wouldn’t want to leave.

  7. Eileen Bajema says:

    At my grandparent’s house, my grandfather built a bomb shelter into the middle of the house. I often would walk over the trapdoor on the floor, hear the floor creak, and imagine it would lead to Narnia.

    I still do sometimes…

  8. roberto colombi says:

    the door leading to Miranda Kerr’s bedroom… Hope it would lead to interesting adventures? oh yes! yeS! yES! YES! YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  9. Camille says:

    A door that will transport me into the world of a book I currently have in my mind while opening it, sort of like Narnia style but NOT Narnia lol

  10. M says:

    Crossing the Skelton Gallery floor and weaving up the uneven tread of the old staircase she found the carved mahogany door of lore. With thumping heart Agnes glanced surreptitiously around as she turned the handle.  Beyond the threshold she would find mankind’s past present and future.      

  11. Catherine says:

    A dark, ominous door stood before her. It had stood there, always untouched, never opened. The pull towards it was strong and powerful, almost hungry for her to enter through it. Questions that constantly ran through her head were about to be answered. With a deep breath and a thumping heart, she reached forward, turned the brass knob and pushed open the door. Inside was something completely different from what she was expecting and to what the door had been inferring. It was warm, the sun shining bright, like a spring afternoon. She stood in something similar to a meadow, with an orchid to her right, and the vague silhouette of a house in the distance to her left. For the first time in many years, she felt the sense of belonging. Her lips curved up into a unfamiliar smile and tears ran down her cheeks as she saw the man step out from behind the tree.

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