In twelve-year-old Giacomo's Renaissance-inspired world, art is powerful, dangerous, and outlawed. Every artist possesses a Genius, a birdlike creaturIn twelve-year-old Giacomo's Renaissance-inspired world, art is powerful, dangerous, and outlawed. Every artist possesses a Genius, a birdlike creature that is the living embodiment of an artist's creative spirit. Those caught with one face a punished akin to death, so when Giacomo discovers he has a Genius, he knows he's in serious trouble. Luckily, he finds safety in a secret studio where young artists and their Geniuses train in sacred geometry to channel their creative energies as weapons. But when a murderous artist goes after the three Sacred Tools--objects that would allow him to destroy the world and everyone in his path--Giacomo and his friends must risk their lives to stop him.
Rebel Genius is tense and mysterious, seeping with artistic flair. It's a dangerous race against time to find the Sacred Tools, and Giacomo will have to make some impossible decisions if he wants to keep everyone safe.
Giacomo is a lonely boy, left homeless and without any kind of help or support after the death of his parents. Hiding in the sewers with his sketchbook, he struggles to eke out a living, stealing old bread so he can eat. When his Genius appears, he's worried. He's panicking. Having a Genius means capture, means being found and locked away, as per the laws of the tyrannical ruler Nerezza. But someone else finds him first, a secret group of artists and their Geniuses training to use art and their creative energy as a weapon. This is the start of something, the start of potential hope in Giacomo, and the start of a deadly journey to find things powerful and lost.
The world-building is intriguing. There's a a massive sense that the author drew from Renaissance Europe, especially Italy, when it comes to Giacomo's world and the reverence given to art. Here art is something magical, something vital. Something living. Something that can be harnessed, used for good or evil.
This is a tense adventure. There's a lot for Giacomo to learn, to overcome, to discover both about the world around him and about himself. Secrets abound, danger lurks. Perhaps it's a little dense at times, but there are so many characters, so many things happening that almost everything needs to be described. The illustrations were a great addition to the story. With it being so visual, being about art and shapes, the charcoal-esque drawings come in at perfect times. I would recommend this to readers looking for a new middle grade adventure series.
(I received an advance copy of this title to review from Raincoast Books.)...more
Everyone loves the Graces. Fenrin, Thalia, and Summer Grace are captivating, wealthy, and glamorous. They've managed to cast a spell over not just theEveryone loves the Graces. Fenrin, Thalia, and Summer Grace are captivating, wealthy, and glamorous. They've managed to cast a spell over not just their high school but also their entire town—and they're rumored to have powerful connections all over the world. If you're not in love with one of them, you want to be them. Especially River: the loner, new girl at school. She's different from her peers, who both revere and fear the Grace family. She wants to be a Grace more than anything. And what the Graces don't know is that River's presence in town is no accident.
The Graces is a complicated, haunting tale of wanting, mystery, and magic. Of searching for a place to belong and refusing to let go of it.
River, as she now calls herself, sees herself, is searching. She's lonely and lost, looking for friends. Looking for someone to care about her, support her, help her, and she knows the Graces can help her. How fascinating are they, with their auras and their attitudes, with their secrets and their customs. They just have to be witches, right? They just have to understand her, make her feel like she belongs.
I think this book nails a certain aspect some experience while a teen (that can also extend into adulthood), the aspect of being alone, of having no one close to you who you can lean on, and going out and finding that support. River is new to town, new to everything around her. She knows what's in her past, the secrets she keeps locked away deep inside, and when she looks at the Graces she sees people who might understand. People who can help her, who will support her and who she can support in turn. She's looking for a connection, for friendship. For love. And soon she gets what she wanted. But she hasn't taken into account the secrets the Graces are hiding. Or that her own secrets are far more dangerous.
I struggled to get into this. River sounded whiny, sounded childish. Maybe a little stuck-up. Definitely obsessive. Definitely repetitive. As the book went on I was curious as to what was going to happen, what magic there was. If it was real or if River was making it all up in her head. I was certainly surprised as the story progresses, as events unfolded and secrets were revealed, but there were moments when it dragged. It's like a darker version of the movie The Craft, if such a thing is possible, set in a small town somewhere in what I think is Great Britain. Knowing this is book 1 of a duology, I'm intrigued as to what will happen next, but I don't know if I'm desperate to know.
(I received an e-galley of this title to review from Amulet Books through NetGalley.)...more
Sixteen-year-old Elli was a small child when the Elders of Kupari chose her to succeed the Valtia, the queen who wields infinitely powerful ice and fiSixteen-year-old Elli was a small child when the Elders of Kupari chose her to succeed the Valtia, the queen who wields infinitely powerful ice and fire magic. Since then, Elli has lived in the temple, surrounded by luxury and tutored by priests, as she prepares for the day when the Valtia perishes and the magic finds a new home in her. Elli is destined to be the most powerful Valtia to ever rule. But when the queen dies defending the kingdom from invading warriors, the magic doesn't enter Elli. It's nowhere to be found. Disgraced, Elli flees to the outlands, the home of banished criminals—some who would love to see the temple burn with all its priests inside. As she finds her footing in this new world, Elli uncovers devastating new information about the Kupari magic, those who wield it, and the prophecy that foretold her destiny. Torn between the love she has for her people and her growing loyalty to the banished, Elli struggles to understand the true role she was meant to play. But as war looms, she must align with the right side—before the kingdom and its magic are completely destroyed.
The Impostor Queen is a tale of magic and fate, of the intended and the unexpected, of will and servitude. A tale of making the choice that will let you hide from war and death versus making the choice that will save a kingdom.
Elli is meek and clueless about the world outside the temple, but she is inquisitive. She wants to know more, more about the magic that will fill her body when she takes over as the Valtia, more about the Kupari out in the city, more about the rumours of conflicts between bandits and miners. More about the possibility of war against the Soturi. But then, when she's found to have not taken in the magic of the former Valtia, she's discarded. Nearly killed. She survives because she doesn't want to die, she's lost and confused but wants to continue living. Of course, she didn't expect that she'd end up in the outlands, to end up in the company of thieves and the banished. She didn't know that she'd discover more truths outside the temple rather than inside. She didn't know she'd have to decide on whether or not to go back.
What first interested me in this wasn't the world-building or the magic, but they did intrigue me as the book went on. As Elli moved from a position of honour and importance to one of fear and possible death, as she was kicked out and left to somehow survive in the outlands as winter starts to creep across the land. The idea that the magic of the Kupari is only fire and ice, only those two elements, was curious. This world has magic, but specific types of magic. That usually isn't the case in terms of fantasy settings with magic, and I found this to be rather unique.
What first interested me in this book was that Elli was described as a bisexual princess, which is true. I was so surprised. Elli has lived a lonely life with only wizened elders and her handmaiden at her side. It was so nice to see this part of Elli, this sexual and romantic attraction to both men and women, described as something real. As something she would've acted on, if their positions had been different. If she'd found the courage to say something before everything changed. That alone made me want to read this because it's something that, unfortunately, appears so rarely in fantasy. I would definitely recommend this to fantasy fans looking for something different. Knowing that the next book is more of a companion novel than a sequel, I'm interested in seeing this world from a different side, interested in seeing how they come together.
(I borrowed an e-book copy of this title from the library.)...more
In the enchanted kingdom of Brooklyn, the fashionable people put on cute shoes, go to parties in warehouses, drink on rooftops at sunset, and tell theIn the enchanted kingdom of Brooklyn, the fashionable people put on cute shoes, go to parties in warehouses, drink on rooftops at sunset, and tell themselves they've arrived. A whole lot of Brooklyn is like that now—but not Vassa's working-class neighborhood. In Vassa's neighborhood, where she lives with her stepmother and bickering stepsisters, one might stumble onto magic, but stumbling out again could become an issue. Babs Yagg, the owner of the local convenience store, has a policy of beheading shoplifters—and sometimes innocent shoppers as well. So when Vassa's stepsister sends her out for light bulbs in the middle of night, she knows it could easily become a suicide mission. But Vassa has a bit of luck hidden in her pocket, a gift from her dead mother. Erg is a tough-talking wooden doll with sticky fingers, a bottomless stomach, and a ferocious cunning. With Erg's help, Vassa just might be able to break the witch's curse and free her Brooklyn neighborhood. But Babs won't be playing fair.
Vassa in the Night is a dangerous tale of magic, cunning, and impossibility. A tale of curses and luck, of clever dolls and captured watchmen, of a lonely girl looking for the missing piece of herself.
Vassa is complicated. Her world is complicated. She's smart, sarcastic, and alone. Her mother dead, her father gone, her stepmother not in the mood to care much about a daughter not biologically hers, and her stepsisters who sometimes like her but mostly bicker at her. All Vassa has is Erg, the wooden doll given to her by her mother, but Erg can only do so much, like eat food in Vassa's pockets and steal trinkets from her stepsisters when no one is looking. Vassa needs to find her strength, her willingness to fight back. Sometimes she has to do it on her own. Sometimes she has to be strong and face her fears, face the things that make her sad.
I love it when authors combine the real world with magic, when it's sort of commonplace and running alongside cars and subway trains and cell phones. Here, the creepy magic of Babs Yagg and her bizarre stores is mixed into Vassa's Brooklyn neighbourhood. Where the locals know that there's magic afoot and know to steer clear of it. You never know what magic is in your neighbourhood. I'm not that familiar with the tale of Vassilisa the Beautiful, the Russian folktale, but there were elements I recognized. This just made me want to revisit the original.
This is one of those impossible to describe books. It has a number of things: impossible magicks, sarcastic heroines, intriguing side characters, inescapable situations, and a cunning villain. I did enjoy reading this, reading about Vassa and her struggle to survive the nights in BY's, reading about the different characters and creatures that would pop up looking for answers. This is definitely a different kind of fairy tale retelling set in the present day. So if you like real life plus the (supposedly, presumably) impossible, then definitely give this a read.
(I received an advance copy of this title to review from Raincoast Books.)...more
To everyone who knows them, best friends Miel and Sam are as strange as they are inseparable. Roses grow out of Miel's wrist, and rumors say that sheTo everyone who knows them, best friends Miel and Sam are as strange as they are inseparable. Roses grow out of Miel's wrist, and rumors say that she spilled out of a water tower when she was five. Sam is known for the moons he paints and hangs in the trees, and for how little anyone knows about his life before he and his mother moved to town. But as odd as everyone considers Miel and Sam, even they stay away from the Bonner girls, four beautiful sisters rumored to be witches. Now they want the roses that grow from Miel's skin, convinced that their scent can make anyone fall in love. And they're willing to use every secret Miel has fought to protect to make sure she gives them up.
When the Moon Was Ours is haunting and magical, a look at identity and secrets, at wanting to keep the things we love close so no one can steal them away.
This is one of those impossible to describe books for me. Reading this book hurt. Like my heart was instantly tied to Sam's, to Miel's, and I was helpless against their pull. Against their struggles, against their joy and fear and sorrow. Against their love, against their secrets that tear them apart. This book hurts in so many ways, in exquisite ways. Like roses and thorns, the scent lush and heady and the pricks sharp and painful. It was so easy for me to feel for Sam and Miel, to want their secrets kept secret, to want them to just be. But it's never that easy. They have to face the things that hurt them, that scare them.
At the end, when I finished, this book hurt so much I wanted to cry. Cry for boys like Sam, for girls like Miel, for girls like Ivy Bonner. This story is a lyrical and mesmerizing gathering of identity, cultural practices and customs, family, magic and impossibility, and love. Because they love, they want. Because they love, they protect. A glorious, heart-breaking fairy tale of a story. A must-read....more
Swashbuckling space pirates, legendary dragon slayers, death-defying astronauts, and monster queen royalty. All this (and more!) in Beyond, the queerSwashbuckling space pirates, legendary dragon slayers, death-defying astronauts, and monster queen royalty. All this (and more!) in Beyond, the queer sci-fi and fantasy comic anthology. Featuring 18 stories by 26 incredible contributors, the Beyond anthology celebrates unquestionably queer characters hailing from across the spectrum of gender and sexuality, from and centre as the heroes of their own stories; exploring the galaxy, mixing magic, having renegade adventures, and saving the day!
Beyond is a comic anthology full of emotion, honesty, and hopes for more visible representation in science fiction and fantasy. Each story hammers home the idea that queer characters, meaning gay or lesbian or bisexual or transgender or non-binary or genderfluid or however the character defines themself, are present in sci-fi and fantasy. That they have their stories to tell. They they can be the hero or the heroine, the saviour or the rescuer. That they don't have to be the villain, immoral or evil or horrifying. That they are people, even when they're aliens, creatures, or androids.
All 18 stories are wonderful in their own way, each with amazing art, but here are some highlights.
"Optimal" by Blue Delliquanti. Sort of a prequel story to her ongoing webcomic O Human Star, this tells the story of Sulla, the young android made by Brendan Pinsky in order to keep the consciousness of his research partner Alistair Sterling alive, and her figuring out how to navigate in a new body. A female-gendered body. Because, according to Sulla, there's always room for improvement.
"O-Type Hypergiant" by Jon Cairns is intriguing, a sort of pure impossible science fiction story rooted in science and possibility (if such a description could ever make sense). The Instamen are artificial humanoids, sent off by humans to catalogue stars and live on time-bending satellites. It's a rather poetic story with some wonderfully detailed artwork.
"Twin-Souled" by Bevan Thomas & Kate Ebensteiner shows a tribe of aboriginal people using their magicks to combine with totems to protect their village. These people fight for love, for the ability to love whomever they wish, no matter their gender, and to be whomever they wish, no matter their gender. Even when the spirit of the totem they are bound to is a different gender than they are. To me, this story is one of the saddest, but it's filled with so much hope and love.
"The Next Day" by A. Stiffler & K. Copeland. In a world where the sun had gone dark, where the shadows stretch across the land and light is rare, a man wanders. He claims that without light, man is without hope. But one day he meets another wanderer, and as the two of them travel, as they fight against thieves, as they grow closer, the man discovers that when they are together, he needn't fear the dark. Because his light is close to him.
I love the idea of this anthology. Too often queer characters are pushed to the side in genre fiction, in prose, comics, and film, but now there's this continues wave of webcomics and crowdfunded anthologies with a huge variety of queer characters. If the modern world as we know it is full of people of different genders and sexualities, why can't science fiction and fantasy be the same way? Why can't there be more escapist genre fiction for queer people in print, on TV screens and movie screens? There's already tons of it for straight people. These stories drive home the fact that queer characters can have hopes and dreams, that they can have fun and laugh. That they can have pasts shrouded in mystery. That they can make mistakes, have regrets. That they can be in love, and be willing to fight for that love with every inch of themselves.
It makes my heart happy that this anthology exists, that there are people out there working so hard and creating amazing stories filled with diversity. If you've been looking for a collection like this, full of aliens and magic and hard journeys and honest emotion, full of representation, then check it out. I think an anthology like this is perfect for teen readers.
(I backed this anthology on Kickstarter and received a PDF and a physical copy. Those interested in Beyond can head over to the Beyond Press website.)...more
The city of Tarreton is powered by magic, from simple tablets that light lamps to advanced Sagery that can murder a man from afar. Isaveth has a talenThe city of Tarreton is powered by magic, from simple tablets that light lamps to advanced Sagery that can murder a man from afar. Isaveth has a talent for spell-making, but as a girl from a poor neighborhood she never dreamed she could study at the most exclusive magical school in the city. So when she's offered a chance to attend, she eagerly accepts. The school is wonderful, but old and new enemies confront Isaveth at every turn, and she begins to suspect her scholarship might be more a trap than a gift. Even her secret meetings with Esmond, her best friend and partner in crime-solving, prove risky—especially once he hatches a plan to sneak her into the biggest society event of the season. It's their last chance to catch the corrupt politician who once framed her father for murder. How can Isaveth refuse?
A Little Taste of Poison is utterly magical and mysterious, captivating and charming. It's a story of intrigue, of family and faith, of struggle. A story of righting wrongs and helping friends. Of revealing the truth, no matter how dangerous it is.
Isaveth is a wonderful heroine. Ingenious and compassionate. Loyal and trusting. Curious and inquisitive. Her and her family have struggled for years and she's learned to be cautious when it comes to gifts. Especially when it comes to the upper class of Tarreton. But this scholarship, this chance to learn more about magic, to learn about Sagery along with what she already knows about Common Magic? It's hard for her to resist. It also means she can continue her investigating with Esmond, the one-eyed boy formerly known as Quiz. Isaveth can't not ask questions, she can't let things go by when it comes to people in charge abusing their power, treating families like Isaveth's, poor families, Moshite families, like they're less than them. But when those in charge are willing to do anything to get their way? It's hard for Isaveth to keep pushing.
And Esmond! We get more glimpses of his family life, the life he was running from when he first met Isaveth in the first book. It's not a happy life. It's privileged, it's fancy, but it's cold and unforgiving. It's a strict set of rules that Esmond doesn't necessarily agree with. It's a father who would rather drink and a brother with dangerous plans and powerful accomplices. He has to be careful if he wants to reveal the truth of his brother to the city, because Eryx isn't stupid when it comes to hiding his tracks.
In the first book, we only saw so much of Tarreton, of the city that Isaveth and Esmond race through before time runs out. Now we see more, like Tarreton College and its students, some of whom aren't completely stuck up and pretentious. We see more of Esmond's house and the figures that inhabit it. But the familiar things are still there, like Isaveth's house on Cabbage Street, like her father and her sisters. Like the supportive Moshite community.
As with the first book, this covers all manner of important and current ideas and topics. The class divide. Wealth and poverty. Privilege. Religion. Politics. It's so layered, from family disagreements to classroom bullies to political intrigue, all in a story about a young girl learning magic and solving mysteries with her best friend. I found this book and its heroine to be charming and honest, insightful and powerful. A must-read.
(I received an advance copy of this title to review from Simon & Schuster Canada.)...more
After a harrowing journey across the country, Leah Westfall and her friends have finally arrived in California and are ready to make their fortunes inAfter a harrowing journey across the country, Leah Westfall and her friends have finally arrived in California and are ready to make their fortunes in the Gold Rush. Lee has a special advantage over the other new arrivals in California—she has the ability to sense gold, a secret known only by her best friend Jefferson and her murdering uncle Hiram. Lee and her friends have the chance to be the most prosperous settlers in California, but Hiram hasn't given up trying to control Lee and her power. Sabotage and kidnapping are the least of what he'll do to make sure Lee is his own. His mine is the deepest and darkest in the territory, and there Lee learns the full extent of her magical gift, the worst of her uncle, and the true strength of her friendships. To save everyone, she vows to destroy her uncle and the empire he is building—even at the cost of her own freedom.
Like a River Glorious is the continuing tale of a young woman looking for a new home, a place that her and her friends can call their own. But the dark things in her past won't let her go.
Lee is a strong young woman. She's determined, she's tough. She's full of compassion. She's desperate for a home of her own, a place to call her own where she can live in peace and relative comfort with those who've made it to California with her. She's looking to feel safe for the first time in ages, which is hard when she knows her uncle is looking for her. Searching for her, wanting to use her witchy gold-finding ability for himself. Caught up in his business, in his desperate search for gold and power, Lee must stay calm and wait if she wants to survive. If she wants to make it out alive and not alone.
This book isn't for the faint of heart. After all the running and hiding Lee did in the previous book, after the hope she had for a future of her own and away from her uncle, it's hard to stomach what Hiram does to Lee in this book. The kidnapping. The emotional abuse, the physical abuse. What he makes Lee witness. The disgust he has for the Native Americans and the Chinese labourers. The horrible living and working conditions they suffer through. This is a book full of sorrow and oppression, of hunger and suffering and hatred. Of the cost of freedom, the desperation for it. Of greed and obsession.
After reading the first book, I was interested in where this would go. If Lee would ever find a new home. If any of the people she met on the wagon train would tough it out in California with her or if they would turn around and leave. If she'd be able to carve out as much a place of her own as possible, as much as the law would allow an unmarried young woman, or if more men would show up looking to control her. And then her uncle showed up. I'm curious as to how the third book will go, knowing it's a trilogy, knowing how this book ended.
(I downloaded an e-galley of this book from HarperCollins through Edelweiss.)...more
After years of living in America, Clare Macleod and her father are returning to Ireland, where they'll inhabit the house Clare was born in—a house buiAfter years of living in America, Clare Macleod and her father are returning to Ireland, where they'll inhabit the house Clare was born in—a house built into a green hillside with a tree for a wall. For Clare, the house is not only full of memories of her mother, but also of a mysterious boy with raven-dark hair and dreamlike nights filled with stars and magic. Clare soon discovers that the boy is as real as the fairy-making magic, and that they're both in great danger from an ancient foe.
The Radiant Road is a magical and mysterious fairy tale rich with imagination and possibilities, of history and fireflies. Of hope and fear and purpose.
Clare is a quiet, lost girl. A lonely girl. A girl who locked away all of her memories of her mother and her mother's stories because it was too painful for her to remember. And so she stayed alone in her head, travelling with her father, writing her words in her secret notebook. Because not every child grows up with stories of making and of the Strange. Not every mother taught their daughters about faeries and magic and secrets tucked away in their commonplace books. Clare, with her stories and talk of faeries, is seen as weird and foolish by other kids, so she makes herself grow up fast. Until she and her father return to Ireland. Until she sees the boy with the black hair, until she remembers it isn't all stories and nonsense.
There is a rich world here full of faeries, if that's what you call them, magic, and creation. There is a realm of possibility living alongside Clare's human world, a realm that invites dreaming and making the impossible. A realm of wonder but also of deep, dark, dangerous secrets. With the human world growing, changing, this other world needs protection. It needs Clare and her glorious house with a tree inside of it.
Clare is caught in that space between the fantasies of childhood and the harsh realities of purpose and decision-making. Between possibility, between running through the streets barefoot and fancy-free, and hitting those teenage years when you're forced to start thinking about your future. High school, college, jobs. But in this space Clare discovers who she is, what she can do. What her true purpose is in this little hill house with the yew tree inside of it. I would recommend this to fans of magical and almost poetic storytelling, to those looking for a lost heroine who's on a hard road to find her way again.
(I received an advance copy of this title to review from Penguin Random House Canada.)...more
Kaz Brekker and his crew have just pulled off a heist so daring even they didn't think they'd survive. But instead of divvying up a fat reward, they'rKaz Brekker and his crew have just pulled off a heist so daring even they didn't think they'd survive. But instead of divvying up a fat reward, they're right back to fighting for their lives. Double-crossed and badly weakened, the crew is low on resources, allies, and hope. As powerful forces from around the world descend on Ketterdam to root out the secrets of the dangerous drug known as jurda parem, old rivals and new enemies emerge to challenge Kaz's cunning and test the team's fragile loyalties. A war will be waged on the city's dark and twisting streets―a battle for revenge and redemption that will decide the fate of the Grisha world.
Crooked Kingdom is a tense, heart-pounding race against time, against a city searching and demanding. It's a search for secrets and answers and against the heavy boots of men who would refuse to give up what they've bartered and cheated for. One must always be careful of who he cheats, who he comes across, because the game can change in the blink of an eye.
The Dregs are back. Kaz. Inej. Nina. Matthias. Jesper. Wylan. Each has their own defined personality, their own goals. Their own strong opinions and thoughts on the world, on those that attempt to rule over Ketterdam and make a profit. Their own faith and beliefs. But just because they've come together, just because they're working together, plotting together, doesn't mean they always get along. Some of the best moments occur when they're butting heads, when their personalities and motives clash against each other. Quite often, it's against Kaz.
This is a shocking, deadly, deceptive ending to a duology that began with a plan to pull off the most impossible of heists. This is a quick search for ideas, a last push towards vengeance and justice, towards making those who deal and swindle without care pay with their wallets and their pride. Perhaps with their lives. This is a last stand, an explosive conclusion. A must-read for fans of this world and its previous books, for readers looking for compelling and realistic characters.
The last thing Saki Yamamoto wants to do for her summer vacation is trade in exciting Tokyo for the antiquated rituals and bad cell reception of her gThe last thing Saki Yamamoto wants to do for her summer vacation is trade in exciting Tokyo for the antiquated rituals and bad cell reception of her grandmother's village. Preparing for the Obon ceremony is boring. Then the local kids take an interest in Saki and she sees an opportunity for some fun, even if it means disrespecting her family's ancestral shrine on a malicious dare. But as Saki rings the sacred bell, the darkness shifts. A death curse has been invoked... and Saki has three nights to undo it. With the help of three spirit guides and some unexpected friends, Saki must prove her worth - or say good-bye to the world of the living forever.
The Night Parade is rich with mythology and magic, with mystery and problem-solving.
At the beginning of the book, Saki comes across as a spoiled 13-year-old girl. She's more worried about her friends in Tokyo and what fun she's missing out on than her grandmother's health, than the customs and rituals that come with the Obon ceremony. Than the shrine in the mountains behind her grandmother's house. She's hard to like because of her dismissive, apathetic attitude. She's also confusing in that she wants to be back in Toyko with her friends but acknowledges repeatedly that she's tired of them, that they're really bullies. She skated the line between annoying and normal teen girl trying to fit in with friends and not spend her school days alone and bullied.
The story itself is filled with Japanese customs, mythology, and magic. Of spirits and witches, of shrines and spirit guides and curses. It's so dense with story, with situation and situation that Saki is pulled into because of her initial mistake, because of her carelessness. But one thing bugged me. I loved how the tanuki was called a tanuki, how the tengu was called a tengu, how the Japanese names for a number of spirits and items were used, but not all of them. The kitsune was called a fox and the orge with its large club wasn't called an oni with a kanabo. The inconsistency bothered me (as this is a review of an e-galley, I wonder if this has been changed in the final copy).
I like how this book is set in Japan with, while written in English, the characters speaking Japanese. The Japanese words weren't in italics, which was surprising to see. For a book about a Japanese girl in Japan falling in with the local spirit world, the lack of italics made the book feel more authentic. But there were some inconsistencies, like with the use of fox instead of kitsune, and why Saki would refer to her parents as Mom and Dad instead of the Japanese terms. The story itself also felt rather long for a middle grade book. I would recommend this to those looking for more middle grade set outside of North America, for those looking for magic and fantasy but set in the real world, and those looking for more diverse middle grade stories.
(I received an e-galley of this title to review from Sourcebooks through NetGalley.)...more
Sixteen-year-old Dusty Everhart breaks into houses late at night, but not because she's a criminal. No, she's a Nightmare. Literally. Dusty is a magicSixteen-year-old Dusty Everhart breaks into houses late at night, but not because she's a criminal. No, she's a Nightmare. Literally. Dusty is a magical being who feeds on human dreams. Being the only Nightmare at Arkwell Academy, a boarding school for magickind, and living in the shadow of her mother's infamy is hard enough, not to mention the crazy events of the past year. Dusty may have saved the day, but there are many days left in the year, and with an old foe back to seek revenge, she'll need all her strength to defeat him and save her friends.
The Nightmare Charade is more danger, more intrigue and hidden things, more secrets and lies. And the final reveal.
Dusty is back to investigating after a summer away from Arkwell. There are so many things on her plate this time around that I'm surprised she has time to sleep. So much of her days are spent worrying and wondering. Worrying about her mother, about Marrow, about finding time to be with Eli like a proper couple, about school. She's not given much time to get back into the swing of things. Instead, she and Eli are tossed head-first and nearly blind into a rather dangerous situation and are expected to solve it quickly. Her snark is still there, her word battles with people who bother her, but her worry and concern take over from time to time.
I was surprised at how easy it was to distrust most of the adults in this book, people like Lady Elaine and Detective Valentine. So few people are straight and honest with Dusty, so few tell her what needs to be said, give her access to the knowledge she needs to make sure she stays alive. How can they tell her that something isn't important, that she shouldn't worry about it? In this situation, everything is important. It's all extremely suspicious, not to mention frustrating.
There's a lot of emphasis on death this time around, particularly Dusty's. The book screams the massive possibility that she might not make it out alive this time. As it's the conclusion of the trilogy, I went in expecting some big reveals and some bigger battles, and with how the ending went, that's pretty much what I found. Nothing was easy for Dusty, or Eli, or even Selene or Dusty's mom, but that's good. There has to be consequences, even when it's magic. Sometimes the worst consequences happen when the battles are full of magic. The second book felt like it stuttered when it came to including the romance, which I felt was better balanced with the mystery and danger this time, but overall I enjoyed the series.
(I received an advance copy of this title to review from Raincoast Books.)...more
The two-bit town of Rogue City is a lawless place, full of dark magic and saloon brawls, monsters and six-shooters. But it's perfect for seventeen-yeaThe two-bit town of Rogue City is a lawless place, full of dark magic and saloon brawls, monsters and six-shooters. But it's perfect for seventeen-year-old Westie, the notorious adopted daughter of local inventor Nigel Butler. Westie was only a child when she lost her arm and her family to cannibals on the wagon trail. Nine years later, Westie may seem fearsome with her foul-mouthed tough exterior and the powerful mechanical arm built for her by Nigel, but the memory of her past still haunts her. She's determined to make the killers pay for their crimes—and there's nothing to stop her except her own reckless ways. But Westie's search ceases when a wealthy family comes to town looking to invest in Nigel's latest invention, a machine that can harvest magic from gold—which Rogue City desperately needs as the magic wards that surround the city start to fail. There's only one problem: the investors look exactly like the family who murdered Westie's kin. With the help of Nigel's handsome but scarred young assistant, Alistair, Westie sets out to prove their guilt. But if she's not careful, her desire for revenge could cost her the family she has now.
Revenge and the Wild is a tense search for answers and revenge in a dry, desolate, magic-filled setting. A look at trust and belief, and making the decision on whether or not to trust a gut feeling.
Westie is rough and bitter, as jagged as a piece of broken glass. She was let loose by her adoptive father Nigel, allowed to run wild as she grew up, making her rather 'unladylike.' She doesn't necessarily care. She's too busy searching out the missing pieces of her past, searching for the cannibals who killed her family. This search of hers, this hunt, drives her, pushes her. Haunts her. The attack on her, losing her arm, changed her. Thanks to Nigel, she grew up in a safe home, a home that helped her. But it doesn't mean she isn't still haunted by why she saw. What she smelled.
There's some intriguing world-building going on here. It's reminiscent of a historical western setting, what with the saloons and the brothels, the horses and the coaches. The slow encroachment of white people and industry onto Native lands. But then there's an extra layer of clockwork and steampunk-type machines, and a layer of the paranormal on top of that. Of vampires and werewolves and of magic in the land that's starting to disappear. It's a giant combination of genres but I found they all worked together. It didn't seem like too much was happening in terms of the setting.
I wonder when I'll stop being surprised when main characters in YA genre fiction aren't able-bodied, aren't straight, aren't white. Maybe when it happens more often. It was awesome to see Westie, a rough heroine, look to kick ass and take names in a magical Western setting with a mechanical arm. Losing it did shape her, change her, make her focused and ruthless, but the loss of her human arm and gain of her copper one didn't make her less of a person, even though some of the townsfolk see her that way. She was still hunting down cannibals, still searching out clues. Still getting into trouble. Still making mistakes. Still getting tunnelvision and not looking at a bigger picture. Just because she's not able-bodied doesn't mean she won't work as a main character. Hopefully we'll see more main characters with disabilities, physical and mental, in fantasy settings.
There were a number of plot lines circling through this book. Westie's search for revenge. The investors coming to town. The magic in the area slowly disappearing. Westie's own relationships with Nigel and Alistair. Because so much was going on, there was a time or two when I wondered why there were so many. I got a little caught up in so much going on and the excitement of having so many different things from genre fiction in one book. I would recommend this to those looking for a new fantasy standalone with a battered, gruff heroine.
(I downloaded an e-galley of this title from HarperCollins through Edelweiss.)...more