After an explosion destroys his ship, the world believes Prince Merik, Windwitch, is dead. Scarred yet alive, Merik is determined to prove his sister'After an explosion destroys his ship, the world believes Prince Merik, Windwitch, is dead. Scarred yet alive, Merik is determined to prove his sister's treachery. Upon reaching the royal capital, crowded with refugees, he haunts the streets, fighting for the weak—which leads to whispers of a disfigured demigod, the Fury, who brings justice to the oppressed. When the Bloodwitch Aeduan discovers a bounty on Iseult, he makes sure to be the first to find her—yet in a surprise twist, Iseult offers him a deal. She will return money stolen from him, if he locates Safi. Now they must work together to cross the Witchlands, while constantly wondering, who will betray whom first? After a surprise attack and shipwreck, Safi and the Empress of Marstok barely escape with their lives. Alone in a land of pirates, every moment balances on a knife's edge—especially when the pirates' next move could unleash war upon the Witchlands.
Windwitch is danger and deception, a search for answers and a determination to survive. Battered, sore, slightly broken, they must continue if they want to save the Witchlands from what's building in the north.
Merik is hiding in Nubrevna, depressed and furious. Focused on revealing the secrets of his sister, Vivia. They must learn what he knows. That she tried to have him killed. That he can save them. Iseult is on the run, on her way to Marstok. For that's where Safi is heading with her empress kidnapper. But the Bloodwitch Aeduan is on her trail, sent there by both his own desire to hunt her down and a sudden bounty on her head. With all the unspoken things between them, can they trust each other enough to make a deal? Or will one betray the other? Safi is stuck near the pirate lands of Saldonica with Vaness, Empress of Marstok. They have no ship, no crew, no supplies, and soon no water. But they are not alone. And a good pirate is always on the lookout for a good bargain.
Some of the plots and plans that drive certain characters were revealed in the first book, and some more were revealed here, but this seemed like more of a journey kind of book. Travelling towards a goal, towards answers, towards the hidden and the buried away. Everyone is searching, for a place or a person or an idea. For the truth. But the truths they find aren't the ones they expected.
There were some things that surprised me, some characters I was surprised to see. Like the ones who are hunting down Safi and Vaness. Like Vivia's new point of view. After only seeing her through Merik's eyes, it was intriguing to see Nubrevna from her point of view. To see her reasons for her actions. The romance aspect of the series takes a big hit to the point where there's only hints of it, and I can see why. I do think some fans will be upset at the lack of clever banter between Safi and Merik. But considering the events of this book, particularly the reveals and the explosions of the ending, I think they'll be desperate to read the next book.
(I received an advance copy of this title to review from Raincoast Books.)...more
Alys was seven when the soul eaters came to her village. These soul eaters, twin sisters who were abandoned by their father and slowly morphed into soAlys was seven when the soul eaters came to her village. These soul eaters, twin sisters who were abandoned by their father and slowly morphed into something not quite human, devour human souls. Alys, and all the other children, were spared—and they were sent to live in a neighboring village. There the devout people created a strict world where good and evil are as fundamental as the nursery rhymes children sing. Fear of the soul eaters—and of the Beast they believe guides them—rule village life. But the Beast is not what they think it is. And neither is Alys. Inside, Alys feels connected to the soul eaters, and maybe even to the Beast itself. As she grows from a child to a teenager, she longs for the freedom of the forest. And she has a gift she can tell no one, for fear they will call her a witch. When disaster strikes, Alys finds herself on a journey to heal herself and her world. A journey that will take her through the darkest parts of the forest, where danger threatens her from the outside—and from within her own heart and soul.
The Beast Is an Animal is deep, dark, and dangerous. Full of mystery and sorrow, of something that wears at the soul.
Alys is a girl of secrets. Secrets that would do her no good if they were spoken aloud. Secrets about the soul eaters and how she saw them as a child. Secrets about the Beast and how she's seen It, how It asked for her help. After the death of her parents, of the village, she becomes watchful in a town of fundamentalists, of those who fear what they cannot see or feel. Those who fear the Beast because It is unnatural, because It is like nothing their holy books say should be revered. Alys knows that walls, preaching, and finger-pointing won't keep them safe from the soul eaters. But what about what lurks inside Alys, hungry, waiting. She knows she's not like the other children, knows what's inside her. Knows it is the most dangerous of secrets.
Throughout the entire book a question raced through my mind. If the Beast is an animal, then what are the soul eaters? What is Alys? What are the townsfolk of Defaid? If the Beast is an animal, are we the monsters? Are we the ones that should be feared, the ones that go bump in the night? So many monstrous things are done by humans in the name of faith and good intentions and self-preservation.
This story is atmospheric and chilling, so unlike most books I've come across. It's deep and draining, mysterious and eerie. It's a slow burn, this story, but it takes time for anger to grow, for fear to develop. For death to come. This is a book about fear and judgement, about life and death, about what makes a home a home instead of just a place. I would definitely recommend this to those looking for something very different in terms of YA, like The Walls Around Us and The Darkest Part of the Forest.
(I received an advance copy of this title to review from Simon & Schuster Canada.)...more
Thirteen-year-old Jessamine Grace and her mother make a living as sham spiritualists—until they discover that Jess is a mesmerist and that she reallyThirteen-year-old Jessamine Grace and her mother make a living as sham spiritualists—until they discover that Jess is a mesmerist and that she really can talk to the dead. Soon she is plunged into the dark world of Victorian London's supernatural underbelly and learns that the city is under attack by ghouls, monsters, and spirit summoners. Can Jess fight these powerful forces? And will the group of strange children with mysterious powers she befriends be able to help? As shy, proper Jess transforms into a brave warrior, she uncovers terrifying truths about the hidden battle between good and evil, about her family, and about herself.
The Mesmerist is haunting, the story of a young girl's journey into the darkness of London and the monsters that hide there.
Jess has an important mission given to her almost immediately. Taken to London by her mother, she's told that she's a mesmerist, someone who can read thoughts and dream of the future. With this revelation, she's introduced to the group her mother once associated with, a group of those with mysterious abilities who fought against ghouls and necromancers. She's confused, worried to be sure, but there's a part of her that always wanted to have an adventure. To save those she cares about from evil-doers and monsters. But this kind of evil was unexpected. And it isn't long until her new guardian, a mysterious man with a curious nature, reveals to her the work that is to be done.
I found this to be a rather quick read, time seems to pass almost too quickly, but the moments are there for Jess to learn and investigate, for her to wonder and explore. For her to hear the truth about her deceased father. And it's nice that she's not alone, that there are others like her in Emily and Gabriel to stand alongside her. I would definitely recommend this to fans of spooky and mysterious middle grade books.
(I received an advance copy of this title to review from Raincoast Books.)...more
Seventeen-year-old Ruby is a fireblood who must hide her powers of heat and flame from the cruel frostblood ruling class that wants to destroy all thaSeventeen-year-old Ruby is a fireblood who must hide her powers of heat and flame from the cruel frostblood ruling class that wants to destroy all that are left of her kind. So when her mother is killed for protecting her and rebel frostbloods demand her help to kill their rampaging king, she agrees. But Ruby's powers are unpredictable, and she's not sure she's willing to let the rebels and an infuriating (yet irresistible) young man called Arcus use her as their weapon. All she wants is revenge, but before they can take action, Ruby is captured and forced to take part in the king's tournaments that pit fireblood prisoners against frostblood champions. Now she has only one chance to destroy the maniacal ruler who has taken everything from her and from the icy young man she has come to love.
Frostblood is full of danger and magic, set in a land icy and hostile towards a fireblood like Ruby. This is all about her finding her place, finding her power, and learning to use it before time runs out. Before she's hunted down.
Ruby is reckless and spirited, full of fire. All she wants is the chance to live, but when her mother is killed in front of her, all she wants is revenge. But her powers are erratic, wild. She has no control after a childhood of hiding her fire. If she wants to survive, if she wants her revenge, if she wants to help her saviours and new friends, she'll have to find her control. Or else she'll fulfill the dark side of a looming prophecy.
I like the idea of this, of the heroine who is angry and reckless, who's full of frustration and weaknesses. She's never perfect, never hints at it even as she slowly learns some measure of control. And she's rather susceptible to the darkness that lurks as she's pitted against the gladiatorial champions of the ruthless king. As much as I liked Ruby and her battles, this felt so familiar. Like so many other fantasy novels I've read over the past few years. The setting, the heroine's past and her journey, the evil king. I feel like I read this for Ruby herself as opposed to Ruby and the fantasy setting, the plot and the world-building. I am curious as to what will happen next, if Ruby will succumb to the darkness, but I don't know how curious.
(I received an e-galley of this title to review from Hachette Book Group Canada through NetGalley.)...more
Danny Tozer has a problem: she just inherited the powers of the world's greatest superhero. Until Dreadnought fell out of the sky and died right in frDanny Tozer has a problem: she just inherited the powers of the world's greatest superhero. Until Dreadnought fell out of the sky and died right in front of her, she was trying to keep people from finding out she's transgender. But then her second-hand superpowers transformed her body into what she's always thought it should be. Now there's no hiding that she's a girl. It should be the happiest time of her life, but between her father's dangerous obsession with curing her girlhood, her best friend suddenly acting like he's entitled to date her, and the classmate who is secretly a masked vigilante, Danny's first weeks living in a body that fits her are more difficult and complicated than she could have imagined. She doesn't have much time to adjust. Dreadnought's murderer, a cyborg named Utopia, still haunts the streets of New Port City. If Danny can't sort through the confusion of coming out, master her powers, and stop Utopia in time, humanity faces extinction.
Dreadnought is powerful and explosive. It's about identity and power, about good and evil, about safety and danger. It's about hope and fear, about sacrifice and strength, about making the difficult decisions that we think come easily and naturally for those we call heroes.
Danny is kind and caring, but afraid of what should be the safest place in her life: her home. Her father constantly berates her and criticizes her, refusing to listen to Danny's point of view. Refusing to understand that Danny is a girl, that Danny is transgender. After Danny's transition, after Dreadnought gave her his powers and her body changed, the excitement and the joy in her voice is unmistakable. She's finally in a body that she wants to be in. She looks and sounds the way she wants to. Danny is finally happy, but it doesn't last. Her father is still furious, derisive and emotionally abusive towards her. And while the local superheroes are happy that Dreadnought's powers are still available, some aren't so interested in a lesbian transgender superhero.
I found the superhero aspect to be interesting. There's this new trend of superhero stories where authors look at the grey areas of being a protector and saving cities. The moral aspects, the financial aspects. The human aspects. For all their powers, they're still people. They still have loved ones, hopes and dreams, personal lives. Seeing the other side of superheroes lives, the 'home from work' side, is great. But I also appreciated the awesome fight scenes.
The start of Danny's story as a superhero certainly has some highs and some lows. There were times when I was so happy for Danny, going shopping for girls' clothes, flying around New Port City. Hanging out with an actual girl friend. And the times when Danny was beaten down and depressed, all the times her father would hurl insult after insult at her, I was so upset during those moments. I would definitely recommend this to those who enjoyed Heroine Complex or Superior, to those looking for some powerful diverse YA.
(I received an e-galley of this title to review from Diversion Books through NetGalley.)...more
Teenage witch Cam isn't crazy about the idea of learning magic. She'd rather be no witch than a bad one. But when a trio of her mother's wicked witchTeenage witch Cam isn't crazy about the idea of learning magic. She'd rather be no witch than a bad one. But when a trio of her mother's wicked witch friends decide to wreak havoc in her high school, Cam has no choice but to try to stop them. Now Cam's learning invisibility spells, dodging exploding cars, and pondering the ethics of love potions. All while trying to keep her grades up and go on a first date with her crush. If the witches don't get him first, that is. Can't a good witch ever catch a break?
Seriously Shifted is clever and magical, an entertaining continuation from the first book but able to stand on its own.
Cam's back, ready to try and be as normal as possible. She still sees herself as suffering but not as much as before. Before Sarmine turned out to be her real mother, before she vaguely accepted her magical leanings. But only when it's ethical, which means no evil things and no killing creatures for ingredients. The thing is Sarmine isn't the only wicked witch out there, especially when some of her old school friends show up looking to cause some mayhem. Now Cam's on the case, trying to figure out who their targets are and saving the day while being a good witch about it.
It was interesting when Cam brought ethics into spellcasting and ingredient-gathering. She's surrounded by wicked witches, scrambling to get all her minion chores done before Sarmine tries to take over the world, and she's sure she can find a plant-based ingredient that works just as well as newt eyes or powdered pixie bone.
I think this is a great read for those looking for a mixture of magical troubles and contemporary teenage problems. Cam has to juggle a lot of things, like working spells and friendships and classmates and a boyfriend. It's a good combination of the fantastical and the realistic. And Cam and Jenah's friendship is still great, still supportive and solid but willing to give when one screws up. Sarmine is still evil, but she's trying to teach Cam about being a witch as best as she can. There are hints of a tenuous truce between the two of them. If you enjoyed the first, then make sure you pick this up.
(I received an advance copy of this title to review from Raincoast Books.)...more
After being falsely accused of spying by the nefarious Major Merrick, Delilah Dirk and Mister Selim sail to England to clear her name (and beat the taAfter being falsely accused of spying by the nefarious Major Merrick, Delilah Dirk and Mister Selim sail to England to clear her name (and beat the tar out of the Major while they're at it). But once on her home turf, Delilah encounters an adversary mightier than the entire British Army: her mother.
Delilah Dirk and the King's Shilling is a brand new adventure with a familiar adventurer and her practical companion. But the situation is far stickier this time around, and it won't be as easy to escape from.
Delilah Dirk is back at it, righting wrongs and investigating treasure and inconveniencing Mister Selim. This time, the story starts in Portugal with the saving of a young boy from his controlling and battle-hungry father. But then, like always, Delilah and Mister Selim fall into a dangerous situation and have to fight their way out of it. Things are different this time around, there's a lot more to do with revenge and Delilah's personal feelings about the scum they come across. And then there's the added struggle of her having to navigate her investigating and adventuring around her unsuspecting mother.
There are hints of why Delilah has made a name for herself in Europe and around the world, why she's spent her days adventuring. She's not the kind of young woman who would sit around at luncheons, flit about at balls and dinners. She needs excitement in her life, she needs to do something. She won't be tied down.
There's some more plot going on in this book, compared to the first one. The first was certainly about Mister Selim and how his life changed after meeting Delilah. Now, things are complicated. The two have fallen, rather handily, into the gaze of an English Major looking to place some blame and espionage onto someone that isn't him.
The artwork is just as it was in the first book, the colours slightly muted once Delilah and Mister Selim arrive in England, the characters' faces expressive and constantly changing. It was obvious whenever Delilah was frustrated or Mister Selim feeling put out or inconvenienced by Delilah's decisions. A good follow-up to the first, a great showing at expanding this world, the time period and its problems, and an intriguing ending that hints at some possible revenge in the future. If you enjoyed the first book, you'll enjoy this.
(I received a finished copy of this book to review from Raincoast Books.)...more