Inheritance is the first book in Lisa Forrest’s Inheritance series and is a debut novel that explores ancient circus performers like never before in this unique and fresh tale!
I have to be honest; I was really excited to read this novel. I’m always excited to read new Aussie fiction, especially when the novel is set in Australia and Inheritance very much caught my attention the moment I read about its unique concept. Unfortunately, Inheritance didn’t completely live up to my expectations, although I will consider reading the next instalment to see how Forest continues to develop the story.
Inheritance follows seventeen year old Tallulah, a young woman who has always known she was different. When Tallulah begins training at the esteemed Cirque d’Avenir, a school for budding circus performers and artists, Tallulah discovers that the abilities and secrets she has always shared with her nanny Irena mark her as something special, a Cirkulatti. Drawn into dangerous Cirkulatti politics and a centuries old mystery, Tallulah slowly discovers that her abilities set her apart from even the Cirkulatti and mean she’s even more different than she ever imagined.
I think the concept within Inheritance is absolutely sensational. I’ve never seen such manner of circus performers explored and linked in the way Lisa Forrest manages to do so in Inheritance. And yet I don’t think it met the potential it displayed when I first began the book. I would have liked to spend a little more time understand all the different performers; clowns, strongmen, flamethrowers and more, rather than focuses so much on Tallulah’s life which in my eyes paled in comparison to the possibilities of the circus folk.
Overall I didn’t mind Tallulah as the main character, but where were times when I struggled to connect with her too. I understand Forrest wrote Tallulah’s character with the intention of her being powerful and having a huge importance to the Cirkulatti that we still don’t yet understand, but sometimes this came across as too obvious and I felt it was thrown in my face repeatedly when it wasn’t necessary.
I liked the different characters in this book and how they form different friendships with Tallulah. I would have liked to have seen more of certain individuals as they really would have complimented the story more. I was a bit perplexed by Tallulah’s love interests, as I thought one was too obvious and the other almost non-existent, although it was clear Forrest wanted to display a connection between Tallulah and this certain guy.
Inheritance is a very detailed book and races towards a climactic ending that sees betrayals come to light by some characters you’re simply not expecting. A solid start to a new series but an Aussie author; I may just be persuaded to pick up the second book to see what happens next! (less)
**spoiler alert** Firstly, I'd like to say a big thanks to Bloomsbury Australia for providing me with a copy of this in exchange for an honest review!...more**spoiler alert** Firstly, I'd like to say a big thanks to Bloomsbury Australia for providing me with a copy of this in exchange for an honest review!
A rich and compelling read, The Winners Curse is a beguiling tale of politics, secrets and honour woven together with a complex love story that spans different social standings and sees a strong young woman face losing everything she loves for the chance to save her people.
I’ll be honest, heading into The Winner’s Curse I was really apprehensive as I’d never read any of author Marie Rutkoski’s work and didn’t know what to expect. To begin with the stunning cover stole my heart and the description at the back of the book had me very excited, but I was worried. I’d seen some mixed reviews and wondered if perhaps the book wouldn’t live up to my expectations. Well, it didn’t…it exceeded them!
The Winners Curse has to be one of my favourite books this year so far; I’m just putting that out there! From the moment I opened the book, I found myself entranced by Rutkoski’s glorious tale. The Winners Curse is a stunningly written tale of deception and war that sees Rutkoski depict two very different societies of people; the Valorian, a powerful and strong race and the Herrani who are enslaved to the them and fighting to regain their freedom.
Told predominantly through the eyes of Krestal, the daughter of the Valeroin's most celebrated general, The Winners Curse is a wonderfully depicted novel. Marie Rutkoski excels in her world building and wonderfully follows a young woman who has only two choices for her future; to either marry or enlist in her empire’s military. With neither choice appealing to her, but with time running out to choose, Krestal’s life dramatically alters when she witnesses a slave auction one day and takes a chance by purchasing a young slave by the name of Arin who calls to her as a kindred spirit.
As the main character, I really liked Krestal. Even though she is a noblewoman and has been raised as a lady, she’s quite capable and biting. Krestal is level headed and quick thinking. She is a strategist and despite her instance that she does not wish to join the military, has quite a mind for it. She knows how to take care of herself and makes some really self-sacrificing choices in The Winners Curse.
There’s something very conflicting about this story. Although Krestal’s voice is the dominant one throughout the story, The Winners Curse is also detailed through Arin’s eyes at times, creating a delicious layer of complexity within the story. You’ve got two opposing sides, both equally right and equally wrong in their choices; they’re both fighting for power and supremacy over the other, even if their motives and drives differ at times. For me, The Winners Curse made me question a lot of humanity and I liked the way Marie Rutkosi explored the pitfalls of war and the effect if can have on the simple people who have to live with its consequences.
As the male lead, and someone who’s POV we experience during The Winners Curse, Arin was a very complicated character himself. He was enslaved when the Velarian invaded his home and has spent the last decade of his life being treated like an animal and forced to work for those who conquered his country; having been repeatedly bought and sold over the years. The contradiction in Arin is that although he is used to manual labor and hard work at the hands of his masters, he is also very cultured and intelligent; having been someone of class prior to the war that turned his world upside down. He hides a lot of secrets, many of which see him keeping certain truths from Krestal; something that impacts on their growing relationship, especially seeing how disastrous Arin’s intentions and plans will bring destruction to Krestal's world.
Personally, I just found this book to be a real conundrum because neither side could win without bringing disaster down upon the other. Who is deserving really isn’t who you expect at the times and the change in power and position is something that shifts multiple of times within the novel.
With Krestal and Arin’s relationship a focal point in the story, but also woven together heavily with politics and war, I really liked what Rutkoski did with their relationship. Both from different classes, they're very different but connect so beautifully. Krestal can be herself with Arin and she appreciates him for his swift mind and manner rather than his use. They really are star crossed lovers with betrayal something neither can avoid when love mingles with war and I’m so very excited to see how Rutkoski develops their romance in the next book considering the shocking ending.
Author Marie Rutkoski launches herself into the fantasy genre with her explosive novel The Winners Curse, proving that she is definitely a voice to watch in the future! (less)
Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira is an emotional and moving debut novel that explores the devastating effects of grief and the impact it can have on a young person who is just trying to determine who they are and where they fit in life.
In all honesty, I’m not sure if I can completely wrap my head around this book. I certainly enjoyed it—it was an interesting read and kept me entranced, but at the same time now that it’s finished I’m not exactly sure what to think. Ava Dellaira made me think and really feel at times with her unique and unusual story.
Love Letters to the Dead was actually a very awkward book to read. And I don’t necessary mean that in a bad way. Love Letters to the Dead is written as a series of letters written by our protagonist Laurel to late stars that shone bright and died too soon. What starts out as an assignment for a class at school soon becomes an ongoing obsession for Laurel as she writes to the famous names we all know and love like Kurt Coban, Jim Morrison, Amelia Earhart, Judy Garland, Janis Joplan, River Phoenix, and Heath Ledger amongst others.
Having just begun high school, Love Letters to the Dead depicts a time in Laurel’s life where she’s just trying to figure out who she is, as an individual and a person. She’s in a position I think we can all sympathize with and understand, as peer pressure, pain and uncertainty mingle. Laurel’s voice comes across as naïve, lost and alone, although I don’t necessary think she is innocent. Even prior to the loss of her older sister May, Laurel experienced harsh truths and betrayals at the hands of those around her and she’s really quite frayed at the seams.
Throughout the novel it becomes clear that Laurel harbors a lot of anger, guilt and betrayal where her sister is concerned. Laurel held May to such high esteems and the hero-worship attitude she had towards her was something that was shattered over time by the realization that May wasn’t as perfect as Laurel always believed her to be.
Laurel’s voice comes across very young and through her writing she almost seems younger than she is, although as she tells her story through the various letters it becomes abundantly clear that Laurel is moving fast towards a future she doesn’t have complete control of.
With those around her facing their own demons, Love Letters to the Dead is a mix of Saving June by Hannah Harrington and The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. Laurel’s friends Hannah and Natalie are conflicted and messy, and coming from a broken home means Laurel doesn’t have anyone to turn to with her dad doing the best he can and her mother half-way across the country.
As Laurel deals with her inner demons, falling in love for the first time and slowly making mistakes as she bends to peer pressure and expectations, she manages to put herself in some dangerous situations, something that was really hard at times to understand as the reader. I kind of just wanted Laurel to grow up and get over simple things, but the journey she is on won’t allow that until she faces some harsh truths.
Ava Dellaira explores the self-destruction that can be brought on by grief and anger as her heroine continues to struggle in Love Letters to the Dead. Deep, meaningful and infinitely painful Love Letters to the Dead is as well written as it is difficult to read, but so, so worth it.