As the title indicates, After the Fall, Before the Fall, During the Fall follows three different string...more(originally reviewed on Starmetal Oak Reviews)
As the title indicates, After the Fall, Before the Fall, During the Fall follows three different strings of the same story. One of them takes place around 2013-2014 and focuses on the bright mathematician Julie Khan. She is working on an algorithm that is taking mysterious incidences of child kidnappings and odd store robberies and trying to predict future targets. Meanwhile, around the same time, we see what is happening to the Earth: a dangerous bacteria is mutating and spreading fast. Lastly, in the year 2025, we have Pete, a child born into a place called the Shell. They were put there by an alien race they call the Tesslies and who, they say, causes this destruction to Earth. There is very few of them left and they’re only hope is to jump back into time and grab any child they can to bring back with them before their time runs out. They need them to repopulate Earth.
This novel is a short one but it does pack a punch. You get to watch as the story unfolds from these different points of view all the while dying to know what happens. And in the case where you know what happens, because we’ve heard about it, you really hope that somehow it will all be okay. That’s what I like about apocalyptic novels: the sense of dread of the upcoming events. It’s even better that in After the Fall, you don’t exactly know how the world is destroyed until the end of the story. Pete and his friends from the Shell don’t entirely know either – all they know is that it’s the Tesslies’ fault and now they can’t live anywhere but a sterilized facility.
Of course, it is not just the end of the world that’s fascinating about this book. Kress creates interesting, real characters that you can connect to. Julia Khan, a smart mathematician with her own personal issues is trying very hard to figure out the mystery of the disappearing children. Contrasting this good-natured character is Pete, a young man who dwells on his hatred of the Tesslies and his jealously of his Shell-mates. Pete is characterized with a lot of basic emotions, like a child, probably because of his stunted life in such a stark and unloving place. Fortunately, there are good people with him, including the woman McAllister, one of the original survivors placed in the Shell by the Tesslies. She’s determined to restart the human race and puts this duty above all else.
But essentially, this book is about humans and our view of the Earth and possibly how an alien race views us as well. The ending was my favorite part with hard choices and a good twist.
Overall, I loved After the Fall, Before the Fall, During the Fall. It’s a short, fast-paced read that really delivers all that you would want in a post-apocalyptic tale. I definitely recommend this to any science fiction reader looking for a story with good science and that packs an emotional punch.
Review copy of this book was provided by the publisher.(less)
Jemisin has really created a fantastic new world in The Killing Moon. Right from the first pages we are transported into a richly visualized land fill...moreJemisin has really created a fantastic new world in The Killing Moon. Right from the first pages we are transported into a richly visualized land filled with politics and dreaming and magic. Ehiru is a Gatherer, a priest whose duty in Gujaareh is to usher people from sleep to the afterlife in the dreaming place of Ina-Karekh. He gains a new apprentice, Nijiri, who is a young man he has seen grown and trained by the Hetawa to become a Gatherer. Nijiri both admires and loves Ehiru and their relationship is beautifully touching and complex. Enter Sunandi, a diplomat from the land of Kisua, who uncovers a plot by Gujaareh’s Prince to start a war with her nation. She finds herself in unlikely company with Ehiru and Nijiri as they all rush to prevent this potential war.
I'm always so excited when Sanderson comes out with a new novel. I’m even more excited if that novel is not Wheel of Time or another doorst...more(3.5 stars)
I'm always so excited when Sanderson comes out with a new novel. I’m even more excited if that novel is not Wheel of Time or another doorstopper in a epic saga (not that I am against those, just sometimes would like something shorter to read). As soon as I heard of this fewer than two hundred page story–short by his standards–I requested it immediately.
I picked this book up in the mood for something fun, set in a historical setting and with lively characters. This is exactly what I got. This is the s...moreI picked this book up in the mood for something fun, set in a historical setting and with lively characters. This is exactly what I got. This is the story of Sebastian Tweed and Octavia Nightingale, young adults who cross paths as they search for their kidnapped father and mother, respectively. Together, using logic, cunning, and spirit, they hunt down the devious villains and try to save the entire British Empire from certain disaster.
So last year the first book in the Jeremiah Hunt series, Eyes to See, was released and I read it. I was drawn to the idea of the main charact...more3.5 stars
So last year the first book in the Jeremiah Hunt series, Eyes to See, was released and I read it. I was drawn to the idea of the main character being a guy who traded his eyesight to be able to see the dead. In King of the Dead we’re back with Hunt, Denise Clearwater the mage and Dmitri the berserker as they are on the run from the FBI after Hunt was framed as the famous serial killer the Reaper. They travel to New Orleans after Denise has a vision of something terrifying going on there. There they meet up with an old friend of Denise’s, Simon Gallagher, also a mage. Apparently evil beings are sucking the life out of people and leaving empty shells behind and the group decides to get to the bottom of it.
Fighting Gravity is a science fiction romance debut from author Leah Petersen. I actually re...more(3.5 stars) (originally reviewed on Starmetal Oak Reviews)
Fighting Gravity is a science fiction romance debut from author Leah Petersen. I actually read this book in one day and was surprised by many things.
The story is told first person point of view from the character Jacob Dawes. He tells the story like he’s recounting it from some point in the future; there’s a lot of emotion and flows like it would through his memory. The story starts from his early childhood at eight years old when he’s selected from the slums of New Mexico to attend a prestigious school called Imperial Intellectual Complex for his special intelligence. From there it goes on to how he meets the Emperor of the galaxy, Peter, and how they form a romantic relationship. Their relationship is tested by the difference in their two classes: Jake is an unclass, the lowliest of the low, and there is no one higher then Peter in the galaxy. They are also tested by their personalities and choices they make along the way.
I was surprised at how focused Fighting Gravity was on the romantic relationship between Jake and Peter, although this wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. There’s a lot of drama in their lives (most of it caused by Jake) and it makes for a rollercoaster ride of a read. There are some good world building going on I wish I had seen more of such as the other planets, races, and how the social structure of the world works. So much is dependent on class and your social standing to the point where almost everyone’s actions are informed by where you are in the totem pole. Jake himself is an interesting narrator albeit a frustrating one. His life is pretty tragic; it includes abuse from his father and later his superior at IIC. Much of these actions is blamed on the fact he is an unclass and therefore everyone hates him (but not everyone) and I felt this was true for most of the novel. Even when his class wasn’t a factor, he was still the target of everyone’s hatred. On top of this, even when he wasn’t being targeted, he made almost every choice he had in the worst way. He caused a lot of problems for himself and never really learned from anything he had done.
Overall, I am pleased I decided to pick Fighting Gravity up. I was happy with Petersen’s debut, which was written well and held a good narrative voice in Jake (even though he could be so stubborn and silly sometimes). I also really appreciated the male romance between Peter and Jake as it’s not very common in science fiction. I recommend this to those looking for a romance-filled light scifi read that focuses more on people and their relationships rather than large action sequences. I feel like the ending left an opening for a sequel (without being a cliffhanger) and I’d be interested in seeing how that plays out.
Review copy of this book was provided by the author.(less)
This is a novel about sheep. Well, it has sheep, of the livestock and human variety. A sheep will follo...more(originally reviewed on Starmetal Oak Reviews)
This is a novel about sheep. Well, it has sheep, of the livestock and human variety. A sheep will follow the actions of the bellwether, the member of the flock who is a little more motivated than the rest. What makes them blind followers and what causes humans to follow trends and take up the latest fads?
Sandra Foster is a stats expert and scientist researching the origin and causes of fads in order to be able to predict – or instigate – them. This is a very attractive prospect for her employer, a company who funds scientific research in hope for a lucrative breakthrough. At her office she meets chaos theorist Bennett and they find themselves, through seemingly unfortunate events, working together on a project to find the source of apparently chaotic human behavior.
Bellwether is a short book, especially by the author’s standards, but it is a lovely, compact story about science, research and pop culture. At the beginning of each chapter is a short description and history of a fad such as hoola hoops, mood rings and Ouija boards. This added a fun and interesting aspect to the story since everything is so focused on origins of these very things.
I’ve read a few books by Willis already and she’s made it into my list of favorite science fiction authors. She has a really great way to make her stories accessible to the reader through relatable and often hilarious characters. Bellwether is no exception. The whole novel is a comedy of manners, misfortune and mistakes all centered on the character of Flip, the office interdepartmental assistant. She is so thoroughly aggravating in her attempts to look and act differently from society while managing to be the worst office assistant ever. I really enjoyed these interactions between Flip, Sandra, Bennett and the other coworkers. It really added the element of chaos in a story about chaos.
I’m slowly making my way through all of Willis’ backlist because I really think she can’t write a bad book. I loved Bellwether for being a short, entertaining book about the science behind pop culture and human group behavior. This kind of diverse storyline is really what I look for in speculative fiction and I would recommend this book to those looking for the same.(less)
Triggers really intrigued me through its premise: the fact that a group of people, through some kind of...more(originally reviewed on Starmetal Oak Reviews)
Triggers really intrigued me through its premise: the fact that a group of people, through some kind of freak event, are able to access another person’s memory. One of the person affected by it is the President of the United States, who winds up in the hospital where this all goes down after he is almost killed by a would-be assassin. Someone is now able to access the President’s memories and Secret Service agent Susan Dawson.
There were many things about Triggers I enjoyed, although overall I would say I didn’t feel as into it as I would have liked. The science of memories was fascinating and seeing how the group’s newfound ability to access another’s memories was just plain cool. There’s physics and biology which Sawyer really manages to explain in a compelling and approachable way. Also, his writing is deft at creating the right amount of suspense for this kind of action-packed novel.
Another great thing about Triggers was the topical nature. It’s set just a bit in the future but not so much that things are unrecognizable. The United States has been attacked several times by terrorists and even the President had almost been killed. This creates a fast-paced political thriller that has many cinematic qualities, with the more apparent plot being the mystery of who has the President’s memories.
My only reservations are caused by what I believe is the fact I didn’t connect too well with the characters. There’s many, many characters and we get to experience the discovery of memories as they do, which makes for a lot of background information. The only character I really came to connect to was Susan Dawson and that’s because I felt sympathetic about her loyalty to the President.
Overall,Triggers was fascinating and well-written, but it wasn’t enough to make this a must-read. It would definitely be a great read for those who are motivated by the mystery of the memory phenomena itself, or those who are particularly interested in science fiction political thrillers. There are twists and turns and I didn’t really see the end coming, which is a good thing. I would definitely read more Sawyer in the future, and I particular would like to finish his WWW series.
Review copy of this book was provided by the publisher.(less)
The past week or so I’ve been on a huge craving for something historical, or Victorian, or Austenesque...more(originally reviewed on Starmetal Oak Reviews)
The past week or so I’ve been on a huge craving for something historical, or Victorian, or Austenesque with a bit of fantasy and I knew that Shades of Milk and Honey would temper it. It’s a story about Jane Ellsworth, the eldest daughter of the family at twenty-nine and on her way to spinsterhood. She has a younger, more beautiful sister looking for a husband and managing to outshine Jane in almost any situation. Except glamour. Glamour, in this 19th century alternate history, is part of the feminine arts along with drawing, painting and piano. Women learn this as part of their studies in the hope of attracting a good husband – and any eligible man would find a woman skilled in the art of glamour enticing, as they really enhance the home with their magic.
Much of the book is spent around Jane and her sister Melody’s social engagements with the neighbors, the Dunkirks and the FitzCamerons. All of these interactions – Melody and her young courtiers, Jane and Mr. Dunkirk – seem a little mundane and predictable in this kind of story. We all know of the romances of this period and there are common tropes such as the young scoundrel trying to woo all the ladies, the quiet yet brooding artist, and the overbearing noble everyone tries to please. The part where this novel stands out is in the subtle world building. Glamour isn’t just what you think it is – the ability to alter the way something looks or is perceived. Glamour is the art of manipulating folds in the ether to create tableaus, enhance artwork, record music, or to also change your appearance (although this is frowned upon). I was pleasantly surprised and charmed by the way Kowal weaves glamour magic into the story in such a seamless way.
Unfortunately I wasn’t as impressed with Jane as a character. While I like to root for the underdog, Jane lacked substance in many areas. Although she is twenty-nine and almost given up with finding a husband, she seems to be obsessed with suitors and overly concerned with her appearance. She has talent as a glamourist and is perhaps a sweet person, but I found her motivations shallow. On top of that, I didn’t really connect with her romance (if that’s what it was) that was playing out through the book. She interacted and maybe showed interest in some of the suitors but there wasn’t really any chasing or butterfly-inducing love.
That being said, the last 50 pages of the book really picked up the pace and the stakes. I really enjoyed these last scenes and didn’t see the romantic ending coming. I was largely happy with the ending and it solidified tracking down the sequel to find out more of what happens.
Overall, I enjoyed this quick, light fantasy and recommend it to fans of Austen or historical fantasy. It’s a little predictable and familiar, but offers charming magic and a fun story. Shades of Milk and Honey is followed by Glamour in Glass, which I hope to read and explore this world further.(less)
It might not be wholly original these days, but I thoroughly enjoy Brandon Sanderson’s books. His origi...more(originally reviewed on Starmetal Oak Reviews)
It might not be wholly original these days, but I thoroughly enjoy Brandon Sanderson’s books. His original books, not the latest Wheel of Time installments (I’ve never gotten into that series). Mistborn is probably my most favorite out of all of his work, followed closely by The Hero of Ages, the third and final book in the series.
Mistborn contains everything I like about Sanderson’s novels. First, it has a great magic system (technically more than one system, even). People in this world inherit the ability to burn metals they consume to power different abilities based on which metal is burned. For instance, burning pewter increases physical strength and endurance. It’s called Allomancy and most people who are Allomancers are able to burn one metal. Very rarely though, there are those who are mistborn and can burn all metals. This makes mistborn very, very powerful.
The story follows Vin, a young woman living with a thieving crew and later invited to join another lead by a man named Kelsier. Both Vin and Kelsier are mistborn, a very rare thing indeed, seeing as those they are both part skaa. Skaa are a class of people who are slaves and don’t carry the alomancy genes. Kelsier has a mega plan – to overthrow the entire final empire, run by the ruthless dictator the Lord Ruler. The plan is very elaborate, but most of all, it’s about empowering the skaa to rise up and reject the life they have been living for thousands of years under the cruel hand of the Lord Ruler. Vin, who obviously sympathizes with the plight, finds herself a mistborn and training to further her abilities with Kelsier.
What really stands out for me in Mistborn is how the story starts off as a heist plot and turns into something way more involved. It’s not just about Kelsier and his heist, it’s about him trying to change the world he lives in and eventually finding out sometimes people need to be given the right kind of hope in order to inspire change. So much information is given to us that for most of the first part of the book, it seems like the story isn’t going anywhere. However, once through the set up, the novel really delivers some exciting plot twists and revelations.
I would definitely recommend this book to readers looking for a unique and expertly crafted fantasy world. It really doesn’t get much better than this, with a fun and cinematic magic system, a dark villain and an exciting cast of characters. It might take some time to warm up, but once it does, it’s worth the wait.(less)
This is one of those times where I did not finish a book, not because it was bad, but because I just co...more(originally reviewed on Starmetal Oak Reviews)
This is one of those times where I did not finish a book, not because it was bad, but because I just couldn’t get into it. Hunter and Fox is a pretty standard fantasy: set in a place with an evil overlord, magical beings and taverns all over the place. There is some good world building here with the different races and an event called the Harrowing which basically decimated one of them.
I think what made this book hard for me to get into is the characters and their story. There are three of them: Talyn (the Hunter), Finn (the Fox) and Byre (Talyn’s sister). The story is told from each of their perspectives but even by half of the book, they had yet to really come together. Talyn has the potential (and probably intention) of the badass female protagonist but she just never got there for me. And I know Ballantine is able to write a badass female character, as seen through Sorcha in Geist. I struggled to find the direction this book was going and finally decided to stop.
Overall, this had a lot of potential for me but was just too slow and I had trouble connecting with any of the characters. I bet there’s others out there who’d really enjoy this, but just not me.
Review copy of this book was provided by the publisher.(less)
This is Deborah Coates debut novel, set in South Dakota. It centers on Hallie Michaels, a sergeant in...more(originally reviewed on starmetal oak book blog)
This is Deborah Coates debut novel, set in South Dakota. It centers on Hallie Michaels, a sergeant in the army serving in Afganistan. She travels back home with ten days leave due to her sister’s death. Right from the get-go, Hallie is shown to be a tough, smart and courageous woman who is out to find the real truth about her sister’s death. Everyone is saying it was suicide but Hallie has reason to believe otherwise.
Oh, and she can see ghosts. After dying temporarily while in the field she woke up to find she could see the ghosts of the dead. She can’t communicate with them and can’t always tell what they want, but they are attracted to her and follow her around. One of them is her sister Dell, which probably stirs Hallie to be even more concerned about her death.
Slowly, weird things start to be revealed in her small county, about her sister Dell and her recent activities in a local weather research company. Hallie is guided by the ghosts and her own instincts, leading up to a big reveal.
I read Wide Open in one sitting, which is unusual for me since it takes quite a lot to pry me away from other things that I usually need to do in a day. I loved it and the more I think about the story, the more I think it’s one of my recent favorites. I was very impressed with Coates writing and how she handled the plot. The pacing was excellent; the mystery built up slowly, without those annoying scenes that are inserted to throw the main character off the trail in order to delay the conclusion. I think what helped this is that Hallie has only ten days before she has to go back to Afganistan to solve the mystery of her sister’s death and so the whole book takes place in that time period. Things move fast and while I did eventually guess the answer to the questions Hallie was looking for, there were also some twists concerning other characters that surprised me.
I also thought Coates nailed the setting. Since I tried, and failed, to read Graveminder by Melissa Marr, I’ve wanted to read a creepy, atmospheric contemporary fantasy. It takes place in the rural areas of South Dakota; there are lots of farms, cowboy hats and tractors. Since we see things from Hallie’s point of view, the ghosts are intermingled in her experience of her home and the weight of her sister’s death puts a cloud of darkness over everything. The creepy factor comes across very well.
Lastly I would have to say Hallie herself was an important part of my enjoyment of the story. She’s no no-nonsense, clever, determined, and desperate to find the truth about what happened to her sister. She doesn’t even back down in a bar fight against a few men. I also found her interactions with her old friends and her father to be entirely real; the different ways in which people grieve are deftly handled.
Overall, I would definitely recommend Wide Open. It’s a great contemporary fantasy with a good mystery and a good take on the paranormal. It’s not your usual paranormal fare, with a sweet and unforced romance, and a subtle yet intriguing use of the supernatural. I hope Coates writes more fantasy as I would definitely like to see what she does next.
Review copy of this book was provided by the publisher.(less)
I was a little apprehensive about reading Arctic Rising once I got the book in my hands, mainly because I haven’t read a book of this genre before (ecological thriller) and also because I was afraid of what it had to say about climate change would hit too close to home. Then I knew I had to read this book.
The Earth of Arctic Rising is a familiar one but with some major differences. The polar ice caps have all but melted away and it’s created a dramatic shift in politics, economy and ecology. Canada has an advantage, since they claim a lot of land in the Artic. There’s now a passageway that wasn’t possible before because of ice and this has caused people to take advantage of the vast waters. That’s where Anika comes in, the main character of the story. She’s a pilot of an airship that monitors the ships passing through – specifically to monitor for radioactive material being transported or dumped.
Then the unthinkable happens: Anika’s ship is shot down by a radioactive vessel and her partner is killed in the crash. As she tries to find out why this unjustified violence happened, a conspiracy emerges when the vessel’s crew and cargo all but disappears into the system. Worst of all, Anika becomes a suspect and finds herself a liability because she’s the only living witness to what went on that day she was shot out of the sky.
I was intrigued from the beginning of Arctic Rising, and once Anika went on the run from both the government and unknown assailants looking to kill off a witness, it was a fast ride. Arctic Rising has a very cinematic quality; there’s a good flow to the plot and many action-packed scenes. I could picture each scene and how it would be shot in a high budget movie, and that’s a good thing. However, like with all mysteries, I felt like until I got to the parts were we start getting the slow reveal of what’s going on, it was a bit hard to connect to the story. But about a third into the book, it really picked up and I was hooked.
One of the things I liked most is Anika. From her early appearances she solidified as a pretty awesome woman. After being attacked and almost murdered, she figures out who might be behind all this, and instead of running away she doesn’t hesitate and goes straight after them for answers. How many times does that happen in books? She’s a heroine that takes her fate into her own hands and does what she’s got to do.
Of course, what is a science fiction book without world building? In this future we see how global warming has altered the planet. The arctic is now a hub of activity and controversy. There are people trying to profit from it, but also those who are trying to reverse the damage. We also see the effects on other parts of the world through the character of Roo, a man from an island in the Caribbean. His island was flooded and sunk by the rising waters.
Overall, after the first 50 pages or so, I was really into Arctic Rising. The mystery was good; I really didn’t know what was going to happen until the end. There’s a lot of action and it’s definitely a fast read. Most of all, I enjoyed the speculation on what the world would be like after global warming melts the arctic ice. I’d recommend this book to those looking for an exciting ecological thriller.
Review copy of this book was provided by the publisher.(less)
Codename: Sailor V was the predecessor to Takeuchi’s Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon and was never transla...more(originally reviewed on starmetal oak book blog)
Codename: Sailor V was the predecessor to Takeuchi’s Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon and was never translated to English, until now. It’s the story of Sailor V, or Sailor Venus and how she becomes a sailor senshi. Minako Aino is a first year middle school student who loves to sleep, eat, play video games. She’s approached by a talking white cat, Artemis, who tries to get her to realize her potential as a hero.
The first thing I noticed about Minako’s story is that it’s very similar to Usagi’s (Sailor Moon). Their personalities are very similar (both love video games, not very good students, outgoing ) while some characterizations are the same as well. Minako has many references to the moon and even has a crescent –shaped compact for transforming. I even though Minako’s mother looked and acted an awful like Usagi’s. This isn’t really a bad thing, it’s actually kind of cool to see how Takeuchi developed the character of Sailor Moon and what the role this series played in that.
Reading this was reminding me all the things I loved about Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon: the light-hearted shojo and school life story and the beautiful artwork. Takeuchi knows how to draw gorgeous pictures, however, some of the action scenes in this volume were lacking in detail.
As for the story – we aren’t given much substance. For many of the first chapters, the enemies and storylines felt very repetitive to the point where I was starting to wonder if the story was going to go anywhere. Luckily, the last two chapters were better. One of them was my favorite, where Sailor V wins a trip to Hawaii and hilarity ensues.
Overall, I loved getting to follow along in Takeuchi’s and Minako’s journey to Sailor Moon through Codename: Sailor V. As an existing fan I enjoyed all those things I fondly remember. This volume is fun, light and features some great artwork as we know Takeuchi can do. I would mostly recommended this to those who are interested in the history of the Sailor Moon series or are particularly fond of the character Sailor V.(less)
I don’t think I’ve read a book quite like The Cloud Roads before. The world building is fabulous in its detail and scope due to the fact that this wor...moreI don’t think I’ve read a book quite like The Cloud Roads before. The world building is fabulous in its detail and scope due to the fact that this world is so different from our own. It’s called the Three World, and it’s a vast world populated with any kind of fantastical species you could probably hope for, and no humans to be found. Everything has a touch of magic, from the shape-shifting Raksura to the floating islands and flying ships.
The story follows Moon, a Raksura who doesn’t know he’s a Raksura. All he knows is that he can shape-shift into a creature with spines, claws and wings. He gets by by passing as a regular ‘groundling’ and finds it’s not so hard since there are so many different people in the world. I really liked Moon and at times I was frustrated with him (but that just means he’s a good character). He’s alone in the world, trying to find his place, and when he finally finds one of his own he lets his fear of rejection take over and becomes stubborn and closed off. When Moon finally finds his own people, the Raksura, we meet other great characters. Some of my favorites were Chime, another who struggles with identity, Jade, a burgeoning Raksuran Queen, and Flower, a kindly mentor.
The crux of the story involves Moon’s identity crisis and his quest to find somewhere to call home. There’s also another part of the story, that of the Raksuran group of Indigo Cloud, who are being attacked and harassed by the Fell. The Fell are similar to the Raksura in many ways, except they prey on other intelligent creatures. They insist on blackmailing Indigo Cloud into joining with them so that they can become even more powerful.
I was delighted while reading The Cloud Roads; the world-building is unique and creative and the story of Moon is endearing. What really synched everything for me were the characters. In less than 300 pages Wells manages to define all the characters that you really connect to them. The prose could have been clunky due to all the information we have to absorb because of the extensive world building, but it’s deftly handled and released to us through Moon, who is learning along with us. Overall, I really loved this book and look forward to reading the sequel, The Serpent Sea as soon as possible. Oh, and I will definitely be picking up some of Wells’ backlist as well.(less)
I’ve seen The False Prince compared to The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner. Which may be awesome for you, but I’ve read The Thief and wasn’t as impressed as some (although, I’m determined to continue the series because I think it deserves more of a chance from me). I thought maybe I wouldn’t enjoy the ‘young male thief protagonist in a world of dangerous politics of kings and queens’ story, but I was wrong.
There’s not a whole lot to the plot of The False Prince. Four orphans are collected by a nobleman named Conner and brought to his estate for a test. The test includes writing, reading, riding fighting and etiquette lessons. The catch is that after two weeks he will pick one boy – the best – to take the role of impersonating a prince named Jaron who is said to be dead at the hand of pirates four years earlier. Conner wants to place this prince upon the throne to thwart some of his fellow ambitious nobleman eying the throne for themselves.
One of the boys picked for this test is Sage. He’s quite young, around 14 years old I think, but he’s certainly a firecracker. He’s probably one of the most entertaining and clever heroes I’ve read in a while and definitely in a young adult or middle grade book. I wish more characters could be like him. He’s not perfect either; he’s actually quite stubborn and foolish, but that is driven by perhaps a deeper plan he has to further his own goals. Not once did I expect to know what this kid was up to nor did I think anything he did or came up with was farfetched. He’s just a well-rounded character. I think what lent to this is the extremely consistent and clear voice Nielsen writes for him (the book is told from first person perspective).
Another aspect that impressed me about The False Prince is the utterly honest and plain way the harsh world Sage lives in described. Orphans don’t live some kind of romantic life as a thief on the streets. No, Sage and his friends often starve, get beaten or treated abusively. Beyond that, there are ruthless villains in this book that don’t hesitate to murder and cheat their way, even against children. I was expecting things to be tamer but instead I got a harsh vision of the world Nielsen thought up.
Even though I guessed where the story was going by the end of it, there were still things that I never figured. I appreciated the clever reveal and was happy with how all the character’s stories were tied up. My only real peeve about The False Prince was the relationship between Sage and the servant girl Imogen. Why did he even notice her? I felt like their kind-of-romance was there just to insert a female character into the story and she ended up being inconsequential (even though some of her actions do affect the plot, I felt it could have been anyone used for that role).
Overall, I really enjoyed The False Prince and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys stories of thieving boys and string-pulling villains with sinister political plots. Also, it’s a great mystery that has a good reveal and climatic ending. This is the first in a series and I’ll be definitely following up on Sage’s story.
Review copy of this book was provided by the publisher.(less)
This is such a weird book. I don't even know how to write a review for this because I still don't kno...more(originally reviewed on starmetal oak book blog)
This is such a weird book. I don't even know how to write a review for this because I still don't know what I was reading. I'll try my best to explain. Charles Yu is the main protagonist in the book, who sort of rescues people who get lost in their time travelling adventures. One day, he runs into his future self and shoots him and creates a time loop. He spends part of that loop reading/writing a book called How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe which also happens to be the book YOUR reading. Brain 'splode.
Meanwhile, the book has another major plot: Yu and his relationship with his parents, in particular, his father. His father is lost in time and he's trying to find him while also trying to come to terms with their past together.
To be honest, for the first 80 pages or so, I wanted to quit. I think every 3 pages I thought seriously about putting the book down. It was just because it was so dense, so introspective and lacking in any action that I couldn't find myself interested in the story. While I enjoyed Yu's science fictional universe and his clever concepts, I just didn't care. Then the time loop occurs and it gets more interesting. Charles tells so much about his past that I just got lost in it all. It was hard to grab onto any character, except maybe TAMMY, the computer program.
There is some great stuff here though. The writing shows a lot of skill and the time traveling quite fabulous. I loved the interaction of reading the same book that the character is reading inside the story. At one point Charles flips to the back of the book to see what happens and then I did as well. We had the same result and it was pretty awesome.I just wish there was more to the plot than Charles finding his father and working out his thoughts and memories. When characters (even if they were computers) conversed, it really set off for me, but unfortunately there wasn't a lot of that.
I’m sorry if this doesn’t seem like much of a review, but it’s a tough book to qualify. All I can say is, if you’re looking for out-of-the-box science fiction, funky time travel and/or a story about a boy and his father, then give this a shot. (less)
Warning: spoilers for the first book, Daughter of Smoke and Bone.
I have some mix feelings about this sequel. In many ways I felt this was a typical se...moreWarning: spoilers for the first book, Daughter of Smoke and Bone.
I have some mix feelings about this sequel. In many ways I felt this was a typical second book in a series in that it kind of felt like filler and not much happened to progress the main plot. This book is over 500 pages and I felt maybe 100-200 was actually relevant. The book picks up with Karou trying to rebuild the chimera from the devastation they endured. She’s hiding out in Morocco and resurrecting as many chimera she can manage, under the watchful eye of Thiago. Meanwhile, Akiva is trying to change things in Eretz, where the last of the chimera are being hunted down and murdered by the seraphim.
On the whole, I enjoyed this book. It has elements of fantasy that I love: mythology, god-like beings (in this case the djombi) interacting with humans, a folklore-feeling to the story. One of the surprisingly pleasant aspects of the novel was humor invoked by the narrator. From the very first pages and the story of Paama’s glutton husband, I found myself smiling all the way through. I felt that after the first part of the book the tone changed a bit and because more serious, more ethereal. We are meant to follow Paama and her journey with the Chaos Stick to learn some sort of lesson or to have some sort of revelation.
At that point I had some trouble connecting with the story. Lord has some of the most entertaining and eloquent writing contained in this book, along with great fantastical ideas. In particular, I loved the sisters and their magic and the Trickster character. However, I’m not really a fan of the narrated story, one that appears as if it was told orally at some point. Also, following Paama in her fable-like adventure wasn’t enough to sustain me. I wanted answers, action, and some kind of major conflict. One could argue that Paama receiving the Stick was the major conflict, but I felt it was too metaphorical for me, or too easily meant to happen in order for her to grow.
Redemption in Indigo is a deftly written and wholly unique book by an author that will definitely remain on my radar. I feel like it just wasn’t entirely for me due to the type of narration and story. I would recommend this to those interested as I’m sure you won’t be disappointed. The ending is quite good as well, which was a major bonus for me.(less)
I’m not sure where to start with this one. There’s a lot going on in The Last Page. Let me start by saying I didn’t expect it to be this kind of fantasy, one with very dark magic, zeppelins, industrialization and politics. Huso really takes plenty of time developing his world and setting up the stakes for the story. Not a whole lot of the novel was spent directly on the main plot – that of the civil war within Stonehold and how its king, Caliph Howl manages it. Of course, there’s a major side plot with his girlfriend, Sena, who is a trained witch trying to open a legendary magical book. There were some parts I thought were unnecessary, such as the very long introduction of Caliph and Sena as students at school. That seems so far away now that I’ve read the whole book and I wonder if it was really important.
Anyways, I thought the world building was really good. It takes place in a world with kings, princes and warring nations much like traditional fantasy settings. However, there’s a lot of industrialization and I’m hesitant to call it steampunk because there isn’t really a Victorian/alternate history part to it. But there are zeppelins, advanced technologies and harsh conditions such as the need to create a sort of factory farming to feed the masses. There’s also magic, called holomorphy, which uses words, numbers and blood to cast. It’s a dark magic and I really liked the imagery involved and the real consequences to using it.
Now, about the characters. I liked Caliph. He inherits the throne to Stonehold and yet he really doesn’t want it. He spends a lot of time complaining how he doesn’t want it but by the end, he really embraces his role. Sena, trained as a Shradnae witch, goes against her fellow witches in search of a book said to contain powerful magic. Sena is a strong, capable woman and her romance with Caliph is true and yet she never depends on him. She holds her own in the story. However, she really is the only woman who has any real role. For about the first half of the book, there are other witches but I felt they were only there to show Sena’s backstory and eventually their storyline is kind of faded out. I would have liked more women in the novel and for them not to have been villains.
Overall, I really, really liked the world building, the darkness and the twists and turns of the story. It was slow and hindered by the use of a lot of made up words but I definitely found myself drawn back to it. As a debut, I found it to be good while there were some reservations about the female characters. The sequel is out in a couple weeks, called Black Bottle, and I will return to Stonehold to find out where the author takes the story.(less)
Empire State is not really like anything I’ve read before and I mean that in a good way. It combines so much awesomeness into one package. The story is this: two super heroes fighting in their high tech armor create a hole in reality and subsequently another reality. Our protagonist is Rad Bradley, a fedora-wearing private investigator who takes the job of finding a missing young woman. He drinks lots of illegal booze and rationed coffee because the Empire State is in Wartime against a mysterious enemy. This takes Rad to a plot to destroy the world (or worlds) as we know it. Like I said, there’s a lot of awesomeness: airships, robots, fedoras, and superheroes. Not to mention the stellar setting: Prohibition-era New York.
All these things I loved. At the center of this story is a mystery (can’t have a detective without a mystery…) and there were so many twists and betrayals I didn’t see coming. Rad is our main character and I enjoyed his subtle goodness and his determination to solve the mystery (and save the world), but there were also other characters I enjoyed. One of them is Captain Carson, a quirky old time adventurer who helps Rad throughout the story.
I may appear vague because I don’t want to give away the ending or any of the reveals about this world. What I will say is that there’s a fascinating take on the alternate reality and how this affects the people and places in our world and theirs.
The only issues I had with Empire State was that I found it took some time to really get into the story. Everything takes some time to get set up but once it is, it’s pretty fast-paced. I would have also liked to have seen more women, or more of the women that are in the story. However, I found Empire State very enjoyable. Christopher melds so many ideas together: superheroes, Prohibition, noir fiction, science, alternate realities and creates a powerful fantasy package. I never once thought this world was unbelievable and I think that’s a great accomplishment.
Review copy of this book was provided by the publisher.(less)
I picked up The Iron Wyrm Affair at Book Expo this year and came home with it as one of my most anticipated reads, despite not knowing much...more2.5 stars.
I picked up The Iron Wyrm Affair at Book Expo this year and came home with it as one of my most anticipated reads, despite not knowing much about it beforehand. While Satincrow offers some good fantasy ideas, The Iron Wyrm Affair faltered on its execution.
Wow, I really am regretting not reading Okorafor before. This was one of the most richly developed and original young adult novel I’ve read in a long...moreWow, I really am regretting not reading Okorafor before. This was one of the most richly developed and original young adult novel I’ve read in a long time.
Okorafor’s simple yet intense writing style creates a quick read that’s chalk full of amazing world building. The book takes place in Nigeria, the main character being Sunny, an albino.
Green Lantern: Rebirth is the story of how Hal Jordan, apparently the best-ever Lantern, is redeemed...more(originally reviewed on starmetal oak book blog)
Green Lantern: Rebirth is the story of how Hal Jordan, apparently the best-ever Lantern, is redeemed from destroying the Corps and doing some other really Nasty things. Really, I still don’t really get what happened to Hal in the past – all I know is that he’s got some Spirit of Vengence inside him doing weird and vengeance-y things while also being tormented by Parallax. Some of these scenes bring internal torment to a whole new level.
One reason why I wanted to read Rebirth as my first Green Lantern comic was that it is a rebirth and therefore would be a good time to jump into the mythos. From that perspective, it was a good choice. We get a lot of the back story of the Lanterns: Hal, Kyle, John and Guy. We also get a lot of Lantern mythology about how their green power works and how the Corps came to be. Like I said, I came into this with only what I gleaned from the movie, but it seems like the writer probably retconned a lot of the history. It doesn’t make a difference to me, but maybe longtime fans may feel differently.
What I struggled with most was what was actually happening in the present. It was rough trying to orient myself to what was going on with Hal. The artwork is pretty great and fit the mood and story perfectly, but sometimes it didn’t make it easier to understand what was going on from a mystical level with the Spirit and Parallax.
In the end, I enjoyed the Lantern story and am even more convinced that Green Lantern is the DC hero for me. One thing that solidified this is how Batman acted like a big jerk the whole book and in the end, I preferred the Lanterns’ 'lighter' style. The other JLA members make appearances which is fun. I do wish there were more women in this miniseries and I’m thinking that it might be common for there to be practically none in the Green Lantern books (other than the love interests). I’m willing to find out, though. To people who have no experience with Green Lantern, this is a rough start, but could be worth it in the end for the mythology and the reinstatement of Hal. (less)
Let’s start by saying how much I enjoyed reading a smart young adult novel that wasn’t a dystopia and...more(originally reviewed on starmetal oak book blog)
Let’s start by saying how much I enjoyed reading a smart young adult novel that wasn’t a dystopia and didn’t have the usual love triangle. The story follows Ephraim Scott, whose life changes when he finds a coin with Washington’s head facing the wrong way commemorating the state of Puerto Rico. He discovers that when he makes a wish a flips the coin, it comes true. Or close to true.
For the first half of the novel, Ephraim uses this newfound power to take care of all the things gone wrong in his life. His mom’s a drunk and he likes a girl named Jena. Of course, this magic coin ends up being used on girls. Things start to go wrong when other things in Ephraim’s world changes along with his wish. People become different, events rearrange themselves.
I felt like there was a lot of this “discovery” phase for Ephraim – nothing particular happening for quite a while except making wishes and seeing how they turn out. Not until he shares this power with his best friend Nathan does things really start to go downhill. Actually, the whole story changes in that it becomes a science fiction thriller with a very human bad guy with a gun.
There are a lot of things to like about Fair Coin. All the characters: Ephraim, Nathan, Jena feel like real teenagers. Their minds are preoccupied on their crushes and other shallow things – I wanted Ephraim to do something selfless with the coin but he never quite gets there. On top of that, I felt like Ephraim didn’t have any real feelings for Jena other than her being cute and smart, and still he bases almost all his choices on her.
Towards the end we get the big reveal – I thought it would be the end of the story, but it actually opens up a whole new plot with scary villain and some intriguing science. I felt the story had two sides and it didn’t always flow between each other. This also caused a lot of the end to be rushed since we had to resolve the conflict with the big bad and also tie up the loose ends with the coin.
Overall, I did enjoy Fair Coin and appreciated it for what it was: a different kind of young adult novel with a great science fiction story. There are some bumps along the way, the plotting, the pacing and some of the character’s lackluster choices when given power that is practically omnipotent. The end does wrap things up but I hear there’s a sequel coming out sometime next year. I’d be curious to see where Myers takes it. For one, I know I’d be interested in seeing more about the origins of the coin and the effect it has on the world.
Review copy of this book was provided by the publisher.(less)
I’ve followed John Scalzi’s blog Whatever for quite a while and wanted to read his books for some time but haven’t done so until now. As soon as I saw the synopsis of Redshirts I knew I had to read it. Luckily for me he was signing copies at BookExpo America last week. I read it on the train ride home which is some kind of record for me even though the book is a fast read.
Redshirts is a bit different in his structure. The actual story takes place in the first couple hundred pages and is then followed by three codas, or short stories. The main part of the book is this, and I’ll stay away from spoilers as much as possible: in a space opera-y future, some new ensigns join the crew of the Intrepid. Andrew Dahl is one of these new ensigns and once aboard him and his friends notices that whenever there’s an away mission, one low ranking team member never returns alive. He decides to investigate this seemingly impossible matter and gets an answer maybe no one expects.
Of course, this is spoof on Star Trek and how redshirts always end up dying for dramatic effect. It’s also a spoof on everything silly in the science fiction drama and I have to say it was utterly enjoyable. I was giggling all through the book. There’s a lot packed in here for those who are familiar with Star Trek and similar television and fans will have a fun time trying to find all the Easter eggs.
Now, there’s really not a lot I can go into without spoiling the ending. But I will say this: the ending went somewhere I didn’t expect it to, partly ridiculous and partly awesome. The three codas offer some closure to the mysteries left behind, but also provides some more questions. It’s not like I felt that there were loose ends, just that the ending allows you to interpret some of the events in your own way.
My main criticism is that there’s a giant cast of characters and none of them really felt well defined. There’s definitely more focus on the plot and the humor of it all but it would have been nice to be able to discern some of the secondary characters from each other more easily. Even thinking back now I can’t distinguish many of them.
Overall, I recommend Redshirts to those looking for a light, entertaining couple of hours; especially if you’re a geek and know something about Star Trek (but you don’t need to know everything). I definitely look forward to reading more of Scalzi’s work.
Review copy of this book was provided by the publisher.(less)
It’s been quite a while since my last real review and I’m sorry for that – it’s just been so busy around here lately and I’ve been in a sort of reading slump. Maybe it’s just anticipation for Diablo II to come out and then the trip to Book Expo America having an odd effect.
I think maybe Earthseed suffered a bit from my reading slump or maybe it participated in it a little, at least in the beginning. The story starts out as something like a Degrassi episode but in space. A bunch of young people have been raised from insemination on a ship called Ship – and they are being taught and groomed for the eventuality of settling on a planet and expanding the human race. Our main protagonist is Zoheret, a clever, introspective girl living her life on Ship. Of course, in this first part of the book, there’s a lot of drama. Who likes who, who sleeps with who, what a jerk so and so is. There were also some thoughtful interactions between the characters and Ship about life and science and what their duty to humanity is. I just couldn’t get around some of the more typical teenager angst to see the more meaningful stuff.
Maybe if I read this back in 1983 it would have seemed fresher by this point. It’s somewhat of a generational ship story and we get to experience what life might be like in a place where people have spent their entire lives.
After Part One and we got more to the point of the whole story, the truth about Ship and the mission, I finished the book in one sitting. It was like I was reading a different book. I really, really enjoyed it and found myself more invested in the characters and their mission. I won’t explain much past here since it would be very spoilery, but suffice it to say that the book picked up and had some great twists and turns.
One of the highlights for me out of the entire novel is Ship itself. It obviously has some great artificial intelligence programmed in but I often felt Ship had more than that, a personality, and could grow and change on its own. I thought it really did care about its passengers and its mission. Although Zoheret is a respectable female heroine she wasn’t that interesting to me compared to Ship. I’d probably call it a lack of personality.
Overall, I felt Earthseed had a rough start for me but definitely started to pick up after part one. I thought all the big reveals were great, clever and unexpected. This is definitely a good book for fans of science fiction and young adult novels and in fact I think it offers something different than other young adult science fiction these days. There’s no ridiculous romance or silly science. I’ll definitely be checking out the sequel, Farseed as soon as I can.
Review copy of this book was provided by the publisher.(less)
God’s War is a very meaty, complex story that really transcends genres. It’s set in a far away world called Umayma, where two major religious and political factions – the Nasheenians and the Chenjans – are fighting a never-ending holy war. They each practice a form of Islam and their conflict mirrors much of what we see in our world in religious disputs. In this futuristic world with bug magic, this really grounds the story in issues we are familiar with.
And there is much that is not familiar, thanks for Hurley’s fantastic worldbuilding. This is Hurley’s debut novel and she blows her world building right out of this universe (perhaps literally). The setting is another world, probably settled hundreds if not thousands of years earlier, and predominately takes place in a desert. It’s hot, filled with beetles and locusts and blood and sand. Our main character is Nyx, trained as a ‘bel dame’ – a sort of official assassin of the Nasheenians. She is now a bounty hunter working for whoever will pay her and her crew. There’s also people called magicians, who often manage boxing matches but also have the talent of controlling bugs in the use of magic. Bugs can be used to communicate over distances, heal people, or create light. There is yet another layer to the fantasy in this world and that is shapeshifters. But this isn’t straight fantasy, as I mentioned before, but also combines science fiction elements of aliens (from outer space) and technology. All of this mixes to create a truly unique reading experience.
One of my favorite things about this novel is the diversity: the diversity in the genre, the culture and also the characters. There are characters of every color, sexuality and religious background. The Nasheenians are predominately female, since so many males are drafted into the war and die there. Women are in power and essentially run the show on everything. Nyx was never a character I particular liked but I liked what she represented. She’s tough, hard, and loyal to her crew.
I haven’t even gotten to the plot yet, have I? Nyx puts together a crew to complete the hunts she is hired for; one of those crewmembers is Rhys, a Chenjan magician who escaped into Nasheen from his own past. He’s not a very good magician but he has some kind of bond with Nyx. Nyx is summoned by the Queen and put on the job of finding a woman, an alien, who poses a danger to Nasheen if she should help the Chenjans with the war. This sparks a long and hard battle to find this woman and essentially prevent one side of the war from gaining an extreme advantage over the other.
This wasn’t a fast read for me. It’s felt very dense because so much is packed into this story and because I often felt following Nyx as a character was hard due to her unflinching personality and harsh surroundings. However, I was so enraptured in this world that I always kept going. The pet peeve I had for most of the novel was how Nyx’s bel dame sisters always kept hounding her. Didn’t they have anything better to do than stalk and annoy her? They seemed to always pop up in the worst times and it wasn’t always clear as to why they even cared what she did.
I really loved this book for its unique fantasy setting, the magic that will make you feel like that itch you have on your leg is a beetle, and strong diversity in the characters. I can honestly say I never read anything like it. I definitely recommend this to those looking for a different fantasy experience. Thankfully, this book is followed by its sequel Infidel, out now, and then by Rapture, out later this year.(less)
The Thirteen Hallows opens with a bone-chilling first chapter, one of the most exciting openings to a...more(originally reviewed on starmetal oak book blog)
The Thirteen Hallows opens with a bone-chilling first chapter, one of the most exciting openings to a book that I remember reading in a long time. It really hooked me from the first page and from there I could tell that Scott and Freedman would take me on a ride of the very well-written, thrilling and shocking story of The Keepers of the Hallows and their objects.
The story follows Sarah, who, either by chance or fate, has her world turned upside down when she finds herself charged with the care of one of the thirteen hallowed objects, a sword. She must protect it from the main villain of the story, who is trying to collect all thirteen objects to pretty much take over the world. It all sounds very epic and it is. It’s also a very horrific story, one with more gore than I anticipated. But this isn’t a bad thing; I actually thought the horror of the reality of the situations Sarah finds herself in to be refreshing. The whole book spans only a few days and much happens, creating a very fast-paced and exciting journey.
I did have some issues with the plotting, though. Two major pet peeves of mine where present in this story. One of them is the Nasty Villain who gets Flunkies to do his job for him, no matter how incompetent they are, while he watches and criticizes from afar. I know this is a common trope, but watching these flunkies fail so much and take so much time doing it while the villain could just try to get something done himself annoyed me. It created a situation where I felt the villain wasn’t as scary as he should be. There were a few instances where the bad guy does appear himself and those scenes I enjoyed.
The other pet peeve was the inclusion of the police in this story. Many people are being murdered so it’s natural the police would get involved, but I felt they, for no real reason, kept trying to blame Sarah for the crimes. At some points they make some pretty extreme leaps to connect her to the crimes and I felt this was just way too unbelievable for me (someone who takes detective work pretty seriously).
The Thirteen Hallows was an exciting ride, if not a slightly bumpy one for me at times. I wanted so much to see what happens to the hallowed objects. One of my favorite aspects about this novel was the inclusion of British and Christian lore. I found the prose to be deftly executed in creating an exciting and terrifying world. However, this book was not without some faults that could have improved the story a lot for me. I would recommend this with these reservations in mind to those particularly interested in British and Christian lore or who’s looking for a fast-paced story with a good helping of horror.
Review copy of this book was provided by the publisher.(less)
Thief’s Covenant starts off as a pretty traditional, unsurprising young adult fantasy novel. Young fema...more(originally reviewed on Starmetal Oak Reviews)
Thief’s Covenant starts off as a pretty traditional, unsurprising young adult fantasy novel. Young female protagonist, Adrienne Satti, aka Widdershins, is a thief living in a standard Europeland town (you know, tavern, nobility, etc). People have French names, so I believe that maybe the culture is slightly inspired by the French. Widdershins is recovering from a tragic past that we are shown in just the first few pages – her friends and reputation is shattered when a demon slaughters her and the rest of the worshippers of the god Olgun. In this world there are many gods, some tied to different families or cities or both. Officially, there are 147 of them, part of the Pact, which is organized and monitored by the church. Olgun is not part of this Pact. Widdershins and Olgun find themselves relying on each other for survival when their group is slaughtered and take to the streets with a life of thievery.
For a good long while I really didn’t know where the story was going. Widdershins, being the only known survivor of the slaughter, becomes the main suspect. Running away only helps solidify her guilt and much of the first half of the novel is spent her trying to avoid the city Guardsmen. She also has trouble with the Finder’s Guild – she owes them percentages on her heists, as any thief in the city must pay. Not until maybe halfway or more through the novel do we get to the meat of the story, the mystery of who ordered the massacre of Olgun’s followers.
I think the slow buildup was partly caused by the structure of the story. We are essentially being told two separate stories from two different times. One is before the massacre, of Widdershin’s life leading up to it. The other part is afterward, in the present time. I really thought that this created a great background to Widdershin’s character and provided a good history for us to connect to; however, jumping back and forth wasn’t always the most convenient. Sometimes I wanted more of the past, sometimes more of the present and it seemed to create frustration.
All this being said, I think I loved this story. The author’s voice was really enjoyable to read. He has a subtle, humorous way with describing mundane things. For example, on page 34:
Not long before, when she could take it no longer, the lanterns in the upper-story windows flickered and died, suggesting Baron Weasel-face had finally retired to his burrow for badly needed (and blatantly ineffectual) beauty sleep. The downstairs light continued to burn, no doubt for servants who, having stood and watched as rich people grew fat on fancy foods, were now compelled to clean up after the satin-wrapped and brocaded swine.
And on page 47:
She wore a tunic of verdant green and earth-brown breeches topped by a green-trimmed black vest, a combination that made her look vaguely like an ambulatory shrubbery. Those made me giggle.
Additionally, I loved the world building in regards to the religion. I have a thing for well thought-out religions in fantasy and this is one of them. Olgun himself is a great part of that, offering his limited magical abilities to Widdershins when needed.
Lastly, Widdershins herself is a great female character. She’s clever, brave and takes control of her own life quite frequently, despite the powers working against her. I was always rooting for her, which made the great ending even more satisfying.
Although the novel started out a little slow for me, I really ended up liking it. Probably even loving it. I definitely had some criticisms to share about it but I really think it’s one of my favorite young adult fantasies I’ve read in a long time. I wholeheartedly recommend it to those looking for one to dive into. The series continues with False Covenant, which I already have, so I’ll be reading that as soon as possible.
Copy of this book was provided by the publisher.(less)