Dreamstrider is a romantic fantasy novel with a distinctly historical feel. It is Lindsey Smith’s third published full length novel, and to her creditDreamstrider is a romantic fantasy novel with a distinctly historical feel. It is Lindsey Smith’s third published full length novel, and to her credit, it’s practically bursting with diversity and fresh ideas. It is, however, a very flawed novel that required much more work on several aspects including composition.
Dreamstrider throws us straight into a complex world with very little in the way of explanation. It’s almost entirely up to us to figure out our way around, to understand the rules and limitations that apply to Barstadt and its inhabitants. I’ve had this same problem with Smith’s previous work, Sekret. She doesn’t pay too much attention to exposition and it always costs the reader (and consequently her) dearly.
I need to be very clear on the fact that Lindsey Smith’s imagination was put to very good use in this book. While I already mentioned that I found the exposition lacking, the complexity of the world, the social structure, the religious aspect and paranormal abilities were all on a very admirable level. It took a while to truly understand the world and its many intricacies and better explanations would have made the process less daunting and much more enjoyable, but that doesn’t change the fact that Smith has really outdone herself with the worldbuilding she offered.
The romance brought another disappointment, with the exasperating lack of honesty and communication between best friends. The idea of so much background between Livia and Brandt was stupendous, but I felt that it wasn’t used to its full potential. These two had years of history between them, all that work as partners for the Ministry, and yet they behaved like strangers, unable to read each other or talk about what’s most important.
While it gets huge points for originality and detail, Dreamstrider is a novel I would hesitate to recommend. There are just too many things that were left unclear and unexplained, too many characters that required more work and development and even the ending seemed a bit too rushed and well-rounded.
A Murder of Mages is an excellent new fantasy novel with a distinct urban fantasy feel, a rich and imaginative police procedural that tries to do so
A Murder of Mages is an excellent new fantasy novel with a distinct urban fantasy feel, a rich and imaginative police procedural that tries to do so much and for the most part succeeds. It is a very dark novel set in Maradaine, a poverty-ridden city in which violence happens at every corner. We follow Satrine Rainey as she struggles to find her footing after an accident which leaves her husband unable to provide for their family.
It’s clear from the start that Satrine is a true mama bear, ready to do almost anything to feed her two daughters. She has no problem falsifying her letter or recommendation to become a police inspector, even if it means going back to her old neighborhood where she suffered terribly as a child.
Her partner there is Minox Welling, brilliant and misunderstood. He solves impossible cases, but he doesn’t play well with others and his fellow inspectors avoid and ridicule him. Welling soon realizes that Satrine is keeping secrets, but he also sees that she’s a great investigator and he decides to keep quiet. He has his fair share of secrets too, so why would he work against the first partner he’s liked in ages?
I enjoyed Satrine and Minox’s dynamic, especially since there was no possibility of romance. Satrine has a husband at home, and although he’s unable to walk or communicate, it’s clear that she loves him very much. With romance completely out of the picture, we are able to focus on what is truly important – the ritualistic murders of mages Satrine and Welling are working on.
As we learn more about the unforgiving city called Maradaine, we can’t help feeling grateful that we’re observing it from afar, and not actually living in it. It’s a dark and gritty place where poverty and crime rule the streets. It has a distinct historical feel, especially when it comes to women’s rights, and it’s vaguely reminiscent of Victorian London, at least the more unsavory parts of it. Maresca didn’t focus too much on worldbuilding in this first installment, choosing instead to give us only the information we absolutely need. His priority was always the mystery, and it was an excellent one. This is my first book by Maresca, but from what I understand, this isn’t his first series set in this world. It’s possible that the worldbuilding suffered because he counted on his old readers, the ones already familiar with it. But the setting was good enough even for us newbies and it provided a decent enough foundation that can be built upon in later installments.
There will be time for more details about Maradaine down the road. With two well-established characters and so much potential to work with, I predict an even better second installment. Like most series, this takes a while to really pick up, but it’s clear already that we have much to look forward to.
A copy of this book was kindly provided by the publisher for review purposes. No considerations, monetary or otherwise, have influenced the opinions expressed in this review. ...more
Chantress Fury, the final book in Amy Butler Greenfield’s YA historical fantasy trilogy, continues in the same vein as its two predecessors. It’s beauChantress Fury, the final book in Amy Butler Greenfield’s YA historical fantasy trilogy, continues in the same vein as its two predecessors. It’s beautifully written, gorgeously detailed, deeply emotional and romantic. Greenfield’s writing is elegant and perfectly polished. It’s something I always admired about her – her style is graceful and flawless without being flashy or disruptive. She also does a lot of research, so even though her story is filled with magic, it is loosely based in reality. King Henry in Lucy’s story is Henry Seymour, an actual historical figure and a distant relative to King Charles I.
Chantress Fury takes place in the early 1670’s and the world Greenfield paints for us is gorgeous: a dash of court politics, a formidable enemy, considerable magic and a romance to remember. Lucy truly discovers her powers in this book, but with such powers come solitude and isolation. People either fear her or want to use her in some way, and besides, King Henry leaves her very little time to socialize. Lucy’s loneliness was heartbreaking in this book and the amount of emotion that came through made me admire Greenfield even more.
I mentioned the romance, which I loved from the start, but oddly enough it was Fury’s weakest point. I wanted to see a united front from Lucy and Nat, but instead I saw stubbornness and a whole lot of misunderstandings. Truly these two needed to talk things through and face their enemies together, instead of fretting over silly things and being pigheaded and proud.
Mary Jane Wells narrates the story beautifully, just like the previous two. She has a soft British accent and a really pleasant voice, which is just right for our Lucy. She was able to convey and even amplify the feeling of loneliness and isolation. She mostly narrates stories I’m not really interested in (some historical romances, for example), but I hope she’ll get a chance to read more YA. She is truly wonderful.
Minor grievances with romance aside, the Chantress trilogy is everything you could ever hope to read. The writing is smooth and just wonderful, the world is gorgeous, and Lucy is a character you’ll never forget.
It has been pointed out far too many times that The Girl at Midnight shares many similarities with Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor. Some miIt has been pointed out far too many times that The Girl at Midnight shares many similarities with Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor. Some might consider this to be a compliment and an instant recommendation, but for me, it was a sign that I should consider very carefully before reading it. But while it was clear right from the start that the stories do indeed share many elements, it was also clear to me that The Girl at Midnight lacks that pretentiousness I strongly disliked in Taylor’s books.
The world of Avicen and Drakharin is a magical, but dangerous place. I loved discovering these two cultures hidden beneath our own, learning about their customs and bonds, their friendships and sacrifices. With so many things borrowed from authors like Laini Taylor and Cassandra Clare, The Girl at Midnight has very little originality to offer, but these two cultures, one with feathers and the other with scales, certainly work in its favor.
I liked Echo right from the start, her feisty personality made me root for her in every situation. She made some bad decisions and some impressively brave ones, she had regrets and she made sacrifices, but she approached everything with the best of intensions and she followed her heart at all times, even when it lead her somewhere completely unexpected.
Although important, romance isn’t at the forefront of this story, which is good because it came very close to ruining it completely. There are far too many love triangles to count, too many infatuations to keep track of, and the whole thing is a huge incestuous mess that made me very uneasy. It was hard to get invested in something that was problematic on two different sides, and even secondary romances had far too many problems to count.
Grey’s writing is elegant and pretty, capable of evoking the right emotion at the right time. Her sentences aren’t overly decorative, but their fluency is excellent and it is very easy to separate all the narrative voices. If she can separate her story from others that came before it and find her own original path, she might just be an author destined for greatness.
The ending isn’t a cliffhanger, but it also doesn’t feel like an ending at all. If feels more like a beginning, a promise of thing to come, adventures even more dangerous and exciting for Echo, Caius and their small group of dreamers. A dangerous road lies ahead and I’m excited to be taking it with Melissa Grey and her wonderful characters.
We all know that good YA fantasy is hard to find. It’s where we find the brightest stars, but it’s also the most challenging of genres. For a debut auWe all know that good YA fantasy is hard to find. It’s where we find the brightest stars, but it’s also the most challenging of genres. For a debut author, writing in the same genre as Melina Marchetta, Kristin Cashore, Megan Whalen Turner, Rae Carson and many, many authors, can be very risky and, I assume, somewhat intimidating. After reading The Storyspinner, I believe Becky Wallace is one of the good ones. Not great just yet, but very promising indeed.
The Storyspinner is told from multiple points of view, and through the eyes of many, we follow two different storylines that eventually collide. Both are equally interesting, although I was partial to the storyline with the stronger romance. Constantly switching between six point of view characters could have been disastrous, but Wallace made it work with seeming ease.
The world she created for us seems simple at first, but it gets more complicated as the story progresses and I hope that the hardcover includes a map because keeping track can be difficult at times. In the beginning, we seem to have two worlds divided by a impenetrable barrier. One is the world of Keepers, filled with magic and wonders, and the other is inhabited by humans. When the barrier starts weakening, a group of Keepers has to cross for the first time in 300 years to find a missing princess and renew the wall between worlds. The world is a bit more complicated on the human sides, with so many dukes and their countries to keep track of. The political games may be light in this book, but they are nevertheless thrilling.
By constantly jumping from one storyline to the other, the author managed to keep the tension high throughout the lengthy novel. She made us care equally for all characters, which made the jumps between them all the more interesting. We also have two romances, one on each side and one stronger than the other. Johanna and Rafael stole my heart from the very beginning, and even when they despised each other, the tension between them was palpable.
But the ending was mean! I don’t appreciate cliffhangers and in fact, they are counterproductive in my case. I am less likely to pick up a sequel after a cliffhanger, strictly out of principle. A good novel should be able to pull us back for more all on its own, without relying on cheap tricks. And yet, I will be picking up the next Keepers' Chronicles book the second I can. It's just that good.
Clash of Iron, the breathlessly awaited sequel to Angus Watson’s Age of Iron is finally here. I’ve been wanting to get my hands on this book ever sinc Clash of Iron, the breathlessly awaited sequel to Angus Watson’s Age of Iron is finally here. I’ve been wanting to get my hands on this book ever since I finished Watson’s debut. When done right, historical fantasy is my favorite genre, and this author definitely knows what he’s doing. In Clash of Iron, he takes us one step further in exploring the British Iron Age, a period that gives him free reign and ample opportunities. Not much is known about that time, which gives Watson a lot of space to take the direction he chooses. We know, however, that Iron Age in Britain ended with Roman invasion, and that threat is at the forefront of our heroes’ minds in this book.
The first half of Clash of Iron is a bit slower than we’re used to. With so many points of view and without a definite threat on the horizon, the story lacks focus for a while. Romans’ arrival has been predicted and prophesized, but not many believe that they’re an actual threat. As a new queen, Lowa is determined to unite the tribes and give them a chance for survival, but others are not exactly cooperative.
I thought Lowa was particularly interesting this time. She struggled so much with her newfound power, unsure how to treat people or how to properly earn (or demand) respect. Most of the time, I felt that she was in over her head and the ineptitude was often quite evident from the results.
Like its predecessor, Clash of Iron is unapologetically bloody. It was a dark time and the low price of human life was reflected brilliantly in Watson’s story. There were times when it was a bit hard to read, but overall it gave the story and extra layer of authenticity, for which I was grateful. The ending is very intense, not a cliffhanger per se, but emotionally harrowing nevertheless. With so many things going on and so many enemies coming from all sides, sacrifices have to be made and lives must be lost. Watson showed us many times that he is merciless when his story requires it, and this ending was no different.
Things are a tangled mess right now, especially when we know that the Romans actually invaded in the end, which ended the Iron Age. With that in mind, the ending seems to be pretty clear. I only wonder how Watson might handle it. We’ll find out later this year in Reign of Iron. ...more
Oh, Magonia, you strange, strange book, it’s going to take me months to decipher you.
Magonia by Maria Dahvana Headley has so many things going for itOh, Magonia, you strange, strange book, it’s going to take me months to decipher you.
Magonia by Maria Dahvana Headley has so many things going for it, I’m not even sure where to begin. It’s a book that simply refuses to be compared or classified; even determining its genre is proving to be impossible. It’s a delightful combination of science fiction, fantasy, and even dystopia, and it easily balances the three, never allowing one to overtake the others.
Headley brings us a previously unexplored story of flying ships and sky sailors. She took a fairly unknown story from the 9th century, used it to her best advantage, and breathed something wholly new and original into it for good measure. The final result is magical: a cloud realm, bird people, sky pirates and magical songs, all combined to create a book unlike anything I’ve ever read before.
Headley writing style is lyrical and gorgeous. There have been many comparisons to Laini Taylor and Neil Gaiman, and they aren’t entirely exaggerated or wrong. But I must say that in this too, she gives us something that’s entirely her own. Her understanding and use of language to create or dispel tension, to project moods and atmosphere, is simply astonishing.
The story is told from two points of view, and both Aza and Jason are amazing characters. Intelligent, resourceful, geeky, unusual, and loyal, they’ve depended on each other for pretty much everything since they were five years old. When they get separated, Jason’s point of view becomes more than just welcome – it becomes necessary to understand his part of the story, but it also strengthens the emotional tension and offers us an insight into his peculiar and understanding nature.
There were times when Aza’s second world became a bit overwhelming. Although it doesn’t seem that way, probably thanks to Headley’s unusual writing style, the pacing is pretty fast and it sometimes doesn’t give us enough time to process. I’m usually in favor of losing extra chapters and paragraphs, but this book would have benefited from an extra fifty or hundred pages. With such a marvelous worldbuilding, Headley should have allowed herself to use it to its full potential, which I don’t think she’s done.
The ending of Magonia is very satisfactory, but there is much room for a sequel. There hasn’t been an announcement so far, at least I wasn’t able to find one, but I sincerely hope that there’s a second book in the works because this world has so much more to give.
3.5 stars Fans of Throne of Glass, Snow Like Ashes and other popular YA fantasies have much to look forward to. Victoria Aveyard took a much proven for3.5 stars Fans of Throne of Glass, Snow Like Ashes and other popular YA fantasies have much to look forward to. Victoria Aveyard took a much proven formula, twisted it and turned it until, at least on the surface, it became something new. At first glance, Red Queen seems to be exactly what a successful novel in this genre should be. It’s exciting, emotional, highly addictive and it leaves you begging for more.
You’d be hard pressed to find anything original about it, though.
We’ve read this story one too many times, it seems. A poor but resourceful girl suddenly becomes very important in her society. She gets accepted to court under false pretenses and has to secretly learn to be a lady in order to survive. The king and the people around him are cruel and unforgiving. Poor Mare has to watch her people suffer while she’s enjoying all the luxury – even if she is sacrificing herself for the greater good.
Ahh, but the story wouldn’t be complete without a handsome prince or two! Oddly enough, the love triangle (Rectangle? Pentagon? Whatever.) didn’t bother me nearly as much as it did in other similar stories. This is probably due to the fact that the romance itself never struck a chord with me. Other emotions were far more important, like the feeling of hopelessness, abandonment and overwhelming fear. Mare was all alone in a world where everyone was her enemy. Romance wasn’t at the forefront of her mind most of the time, and the same applied to me. Perhaps things will develop in the next installment, but I’m quite happy with the way they are now.
I’ve always had a soft spot for stories that involve individuals with superpowers. X-men is kind of my thing, and so is Hunting Lila and other stories that follow the same path. Red Queen follows along as well – in Mare’s world, people with silver blood rule over those who bleed red, and the Silvers all have some special ability, whether it’s pyrokinesis, mind reading or anything else of the sort. The different powers were by far the best part of this book. Even though they were used time and time again, Aveyard found a way to make them her own, especially when it came to Mare.
While this wasn’t the perfect book for me, neither was Throne of Glass, so please take my opinion with a grain of salt. The story is very promising and I have high hopes for the sequel. I’ll definitely be reading it when the time comes.
4.5 stars YA fantasy is one of my favorite (sub)genres, but it’s also the one I’m most picky about. There are examples of almost flawless series everyo4.5 stars YA fantasy is one of my favorite (sub)genres, but it’s also the one I’m most picky about. There are examples of almost flawless series everyone seems to love but me, and then there are some I practically worship and reread all the time. When Snow Like Ashes started being compared to Throne of Glass, I have to admit I was worried. Throne of Glass is one of those books (and even series) that makes me feel like the odd one out –I appreciate it, but I don’t feel compelled to read the next book at all, and even when I do, I tend to be annoyed with the characters and their actions.
While Snow Like Ashes is similar to Throne of Glass in that it’s YA fantasy and that everyone seems to like it, for me, that’s where the similarities end. I had some trouble starting this book (mostly because of my preconceived notions and misgivings), but once it pulled me in, the experience was beautiful and unforgettable. I not only want to read the second book, I would sell my soul to get my hands on it as soon as possible.
The world Raasch created doesn’t have the intricacy of Cashore’s world or the precise beauty of Lumatere, but it is well done and it has so much potential for further development. Eight kingdoms divided into two group of fours – the Seasons and the Rhythms – are ruled by kings and queens with special conduits of magic. Only Winter has no conduit, not since Spring destroyed the kingdom, killed their queen Hannah, and enslaved everyone but a small group of refugees.
Meira is among these refugees, and so is Mather, the rightful heir to the throne. Their small group has been trying to get their conduit back for over 15 years without success, until Meira takes things into her own hands. From the start, Meira is a character we can easily admire and cheer on. She is capable and more than ready to defy authority when needed, and she doesn’t hesitate to put herself in danger if it can somehow help her kingdom. She is one of those heroines that think for themselves at all times, and she doesn’t allow anyone to influence her or tell her what to do. Even when cornered, she finds a way to take control of her own life as much as possible, and this balance she always tries to achieve is what made me like her instantly.
Meira, of course, has been half in love with Mather her whole life, and not only because he’s the only boy her age around. I saw this infatuation as something childish, caused more by circumstances than everything else, and was thrilled when she seemed to outgrow it and let go. There is another boy, of course, a much better boy for our Meira and it is my hope that the story will further take her in his direction and away from childish fantasies.
The pacing of this story is absolutely brilliant. Raasch’s writes like a seasoned author and rarely gives us time to breathe. I can’t even imagine what comes next for Meira, Theron, Mather and the rest, but whatever it is, I’m confident it will be written flawlessly.
Not much is known about the British Iron Age – a terrible thing for historians, but a very promising fact for historical fantasy authors like Angus WaNot much is known about the British Iron Age – a terrible thing for historians, but a very promising fact for historical fantasy authors like Angus Watson. It gives them centuries of nothing more than vague information to build upon and in Age of Iron, the first book in a major new epic fantasy series, Watson does this (and more) quite impressively.
The story takes place in Britain during the first several years of Roman invasion – around 40 AD. Our three protagonists come from three different sides: Dug is a mercenary who (more or less accidentally) fought for the losing side, Lowa is a celebrated archer in King Zadar’s winning army, and Spring is just a little girl on the run from the Romans.
A lot had to come together in order for this story to function, which made the beginning a bit slow and demanding, but when things started picking up, they were quite spectacular. The story is told from multiple perspectives, but Dug, Lowa and Spring are at its very center. It must be said that Dug Sealskinner is a very unlikely hero. He is unusually old for a mercenary, a fact that speaks for itself. He didn’t make it to his forties by being kind, generous and self-sacrificing. His most important rule is ‘every man for himself’, and that includes the women and children as well.
He is, however, a fully fleshed and fascinating character. Although he’s a fairly successful warrior, he is in fact deeply insecure, and he doesn’t think much of himself. He is not a leader by nature, far from it, he is a weapon to be aimed by those who pay the most. Lowa, on the other hand, is a force of nature. She is much younger than Dug and far more successful in everything she does.
Age of Iron is extremely dark at times, but that was to be expected considering the time period. There were scenes that made me cringe in disgust and horror, but I didn’t mind them at all, they gave the story more weight and authenticity. On the other hand, when an author has hundreds of years of historical tabula rasa to build upon, he can do whatever he likes with things like social structure and gender equality, and Watson chose to portray women as equal, just as strong and fierce as any man, which I greatly appreciated.
Angus Watson’s fantasy debut is multi-layered and quite brilliant at times. There were a few things I wish were done differently, but overall, this was a splendid beginning to what promises to be a brilliant new epic fantasy series.
Although it has a firm connection to our world, Trial by Fire could very well be considered a fantasy novel. The worldbuilding isn’t particularly elabAlthough it has a firm connection to our world, Trial by Fire could very well be considered a fantasy novel. The worldbuilding isn’t particularly elaborate, but it serves the story very well, and it will probably expand in the next two installments, although I don’t really feel that there’s too much to add. While simple, Lillian’s world (as opposed to Lily’s world, which is also ours) is perfectly functional and developed just enough to carry the story easily.
Lily is exactly the type of heroine that’s easy to admire and even love. Her own world was never kind to her, not only because of her allergies to just about everything, but because of the difficulties she had to endure socially. Her friendship with Tristan was often the only thing holding her together, so when even that was taken from her rather cruelly, the episode was almost too difficult to bear.
Tristan’s unforgivable actions at the beginning of this story caused me to fear that Lily would somehow end up back in their unequal, dysfunctional dynamic, but she was spared from it both by her crossing into Lillian’s world, and by her own strength which wouldn’t allow her to be anyone’s inferior for long. On the other side, she met Lillian’s Tristan which was once again cause for some concern, but while he shared many similarities with Lily’s, his existence was heavily marked by Rowan’s, who was inexplicably absent from Lily’s world. Tristan’s affection for Lillian/Lily was quite evident, but so was his peace with the fact that he’d always come second to Rowan. The romantic feelings that threatened to develop between them never even so much as sparked as Rowan’s strong presence overtook both the story and the possibility of gaining Lily’s affection.
I must confess that Lily and Rowan’s relationship of trust and attraction made me a bit uneasy at times. On the surface, it was pure perfection, slowly built from dislike and mistrust to strong friendship and perhaps even something more. But I couldn’t force myself to forget the fact that Rowan was once intimate with a different version of Lily, and that he loved Lillian strongly, even though she wronged him, and every time I thought about it, I found it infinitely creepy.
Despite my focus on the romance in this review, I should mention that the book’s focus is primarily on Lily herself and her long journey. The path from childish infatuation with Tristan to mature, genuine feelings she developed for Rowan is just one of the things that show her tremendous growth in this book. Wherever she goes and whatever she does next, I’ll be her ally until the very end.
4.5 stars There is a ghost in the slaughterhouse. I kid you not. After our time in Suicide City with Lela Santos, this is where Sarah Fine chose to sen4.5 stars There is a ghost in the slaughterhouse. I kid you not. After our time in Suicide City with Lela Santos, this is where Sarah Fine chose to send us. A slaughterhouse. With a ghost inside. Can someone please give me a hug?
Of Metal and Wishes promised to be a terrifying and strangely beautiful story and it certainly delivered. It is practically unputdownable; once the atmosphere envelops you, the only way out is through the last page, and you have no choice but to go there. Fine’s writing is beautiful and lyrical and her prose flows effortlessly. It is both different from her previous works and similar in that it clearly shows the enormity of her talent and the richness of her imagination.
While Fine’s world has a distinctly Asian flavor, it’s best to keep in mind that it has no direct links to our world. I like my fantasies elaborate and far removed from anything familiar, but getting inspiration from Asian culture worked very well for Sarah Fine. Her world may not be the most detailed or clearly presented, but she gave us all the information we needed, and set an excellent foundation for the fabulously creepy atmosphere.
And it’s precisely this atmosphere that will leave readers enchanted. The slaughterhouse, where every nook and cranny is not only unexplored, but also extremely dangerous, provided an excellent setting for this story. We as readers are quickly transported to this place of dirt and blood, filled with loud noises and awful smells, that is somehow strangely beautiful as well.
Of course, even the worst of places (and the haunted slaughterhouse certainly qualifies) can be made beautiful simply by the pleasure of Wen’s company. Fine excels in creating fabulously well-rounded characters and Wen is perhaps my favorite so far. We see some growth in this book as she makes peace with her new reality, one where a young girl has few uses and none of them good.
I started Of Metal and Wishes last night and finished it a few hours later, trembling, teary-eyed and shaken to the core. The open, somewhat ambiguous ending was easier to bear once I learned that there is a sequel planned, scheduled for release in August 2015.
As someone who enjoyed The Queen of the Tearling more than I could possibly put into words, I waited with bated breath for the continuation of Kelsea’As someone who enjoyed The Queen of the Tearling more than I could possibly put into words, I waited with bated breath for the continuation of Kelsea’s story. There was so much left to resolve and so many obvious dangers ahead of this simple yet sharply intelligent heroine. To say that I jumped at the chance to read The Invasion of the Tearling early is somewhat of an understatement. I begged for it and was more than ready to sell some small portion of my soul for it. Unfortunately, I would have paid much more than the book actually deserves.
Most of the criticism for the first book was aimed at its weak worldbuilding. The world we were given was well-built, but the details on how it all came to be were flimsy at best. Tearling may be a fantasy world, but it’s firmly rooted in our own; however, the connection between the two was never properly explained. In The Invasion, Erika Johansen overcompensates by giving us two stories, one in Tearling, and one in a futuristic dystopian version of our own world. The entire novel jumps back and forth between the two, usually at the most inconvenient of times, successfully distancing the readers from both main characters and making the narrative seem choppy and disconnected.
In addition to the extra storyline, Kelsea herself undergoes some serious changes. In The Invasion, she turns into a despicable person, giving us only brief glimpses of that sharp intelligence I admired so much. She becomes a rash, vain girl with only one goal in mind – proving to herself and to others that she’s all grown up. To say that I dislike seeing my heroines so thoroughly and senselessly ruined simply isn’t enough. Everything else that was wrong with this book was forgivable, but the utter ruin of this character was not.
However, at the end of the day, this is a simple truth we need to face: power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. We followed a simple forest girl as she turned into a sharp and honest queen, and then into a vain and powerful creature. We haven’t actually seen her redeemed, only partly, but even when she does find her path, I fear that she’s already done some unforgivable mistakes.
Finally, The Invasion of the Tearling wasn’t what I’d hoped it would be, but it deserves some credit for its originality and creativity in worldbuilding. Johansen’s writing is fairly simplistic, but impressively clever as well. Not all is lost, the third book might bring us a once again changed Kelsea and a differently constructed narrative. Let’s hope that it does.
Three five-star ratings for three books in this series, that’s pretty much all you need to know before running to the bookstore to get your own copies Three five-star ratings for three books in this series, that’s pretty much all you need to know before running to the bookstore to get your own copies of all three available books. But if you need more convincing (as I usually do), I’m more than happy to sing praise until I go hoarse. Or lose a finger typing. You get my point.
Here it is in no uncertain terms: The Others, Anne Bishop’s fantasy series, is brilliant, no two ways about it. Her worldbuilding is extraordinary, her characters fascinating, and even the tiniest details of her plots are thought through. So many things happen at once, but nothing is random and nothing is without significance for our Meg and the terra indigene. Bishop has many successful novels behind her and her experience is evident on every page, her control over her story absolute.
Vision in Silver brings us back to the wonderful (albeit violent) world of Thaisia. Meg faces new challenges while adapting to her life in the Courtyard, and she needs to be strong enough to help not only herself, but the other blood prophets as well. Luckily for her and the rest of the cassandra sangue she has both determination and Simon’s unwavering support.
The human police are working more closely with the Others despite facing repercussions from the Humans First and Last movement. The HFL is becoming stronger by the day, constantly working to turn the public against the Others (not that they have to work very hard), spreading lies and bold misinterpretations of events, blaming the terra indigene for everything from hunger to bad weather. Being a so-called Wolf lover is becoming more and more difficult in Thaisia, and the humans working in the Courtyard are going through a very tough time.
Simon, being the progressive leader he is, certainly won’t allow the Courtyard humans to suffer for their allegiances. After all, his Meg needs her human pack, and everything Meg needs, Simon doesn’t hesitate to provide.
With her childlike view of the world, Meg is a very interesting character, but I found Simon even more fascinating this time around. He has the instincts of an animal and the astuteness of the most successful businessman, but he often fails to understand the human way of things. He tries, though, mostly because understanding humans means understanding and helping his Meg, but the process is slow and often hilarious. These two are slowly finding their way to each other. They are, for all intents and purposes, in a relationship, even if they don’t seem to realize it. They practically live together and mostly act like an old married couple, but the way they show their affection is somewhat different from what we’d expect.
And that is precisely what I adore about the series. Bishop never lets us forget that Simon Wolfgard is wolf and only wolf. His kind has learned to live in human skin, at least temporarily, but they find it extremely uncomfortable and tend to avoid it if at all possible. Simon thinks like a wolf and acts like a wolf, and his understanding of humans is minimal. He sees the monkeys, as he calls us, mostly as prey, with only a few exceptions in the Courtyard itself. This series is basically about the clash of two cultures. Two species that have a history of horrible violence to each other are trying to find a way to live together in peace. Their differences are huge, but if there’s enough common ground, thanks to Simon Wolfgard and Meg Corbyn, they might just succeed.
4.5 stars As voracious readers, we’ve learned to fear debut authors combined with gorgeous covers. It’s a Pavlovian reflex of sorts: see a pretty dress4.5 stars As voracious readers, we’ve learned to fear debut authors combined with gorgeous covers. It’s a Pavlovian reflex of sorts: see a pretty dress, get a panic attack and run. But the very conditioned response that keeps us away from sad excuses for literature could do some serious damage in this case. Why? Because The Gates of Thread and Stone is more than just a pretty cover. It’s perhaps one of the best books I’ve had the pleasure of reading this year.
All the unexpected developments lying in wait are just one of the things to admire about The Gates of Thread and Stone. Its most admirable quality might just be the intricacy and richness of Kai’s world. Or it could be our Kai herself, stubborn and brave, timid but fierce, smart but not overconfident.
I’ve been completely surprised by the fierce love and protectiveness I felt for Kai from the start. She has a story that’s certainly difficult to forget: she was abandoned when she was eight years old, floating in the river with no memories, only to be rescued by an older boy who then took care of her like she was his own sister. But her tragic past and her upbringing in poverty didn’t make her stand out for me. It was her spirit, her fierce loyalty and unconditional love and her unfailing sense of right and wrong.
The mythology in this book is as original as it is surprising. It wasn’t until the end, when I had a full picture in front of me, that I really started to appreciate what Lori M. Lee has done. There are a few things that are familiar, yes, but even they often go in unexpected directions. As for the very nature of Kai’s journey and her fight, I should say that it wasn’t easy to guess at all. I knew exactly what Lee wanted me to know at any given moment and not a thing more.
The only thing that could have been done differently is the romance. Kai and Avan have a fabulous bond and an undeniable chemistry. But they are both prone to dancing around their issues, never speaking things out loud and making all the wrong assumptions. Her feelings for Avan are the only thing Kai is truly afraid of, the only challenge she constantly avoids and even hides from. A part of it can be written off as inexperience, but there were moments that smelled of pure cowardice.
In everything else, though, they were both admirably strong. I enjoyed their journey, colored by their past and years of friendship and admiration from afar. I felt that Kai learned something from every experience, and while she had a hard time admitting her mistakes out loud, she was unfailingly honest to herself.
Shut down the warning signals in your heads that tell you to run away from pretty dresses on book covers. This is one pretty dress you’ll be very proud to own.
Stop by The Nocturnal Library on August 12th for a Q&A with Lori M. Lee.
4.5 stars By once again using her trademark sense of humor combined with superior writing, Kiersten White added another work to her list of literary su4.5 stars By once again using her trademark sense of humor combined with superior writing, Kiersten White added another work to her list of literary successes. Illusions of Fate has just about everything I’ve learned to expect from this excellent author: interesting characters, beautiful writing, dry wit and an unforgettable ending.
White penned Illusions of Fate with her usual elegance. Her writing flows fluidly and effortlessly, which makes our journey through this story a light and pleasant experience. Her chapters blend smoothly together into an enchanting tale, filled with danger, romance and unusual magic.
While the magic part of this story could have been better developed, it was interesting enough to support the romance, which was definitely at the forefront. Illusions of Fate takes place in a fantasy setting, and as such, it left a lot to be desired, but considering that it’s a rather short standalone, we were given details aplenty for our needs. And the romance itself was very successful; there was undeniable strong chemistry between Jessamine and Finn which made their love seem very sincere, but also inevitable.
Although I liked her from the very first sentence, Jessamine’s path from cautious admiration to outright love made me appreciate her so much more. She didn’t fawn over Finn or indulge him in any way. If anything, she questioned his every action, determined to keep her integrity and independence, even when his involvement would have made her life so much easier.
For his part, Finn quickly learned to abandon his high-handed ways and allow Jessamine to make her own decisions. His youth was long lost due to the tragedy that struck his family so I never blamed him for his attempts of control and overprotectiveness, and neither did Jessamine. But not blaming him and allowing him to have his way are two different things entirely, and Jessamine fought all her battles, including those with Finn, admirably.
The villain was a bit too villainous and too vaguely motivated for my taste, but the rest of the secondary characters were simply fabulous, especially Jessa’s new best friend Eleanor. The little society girl had me laughing myself into stitches, but underneath the amusement was a deep and honest admiration for the clever and underappreciated girl.
All in all, Illusions of Fate was a splendid and highly entertaining read, which is exactly what I expected from Kiersten White.
There’s something to be said about books that take you completely by surprise, grab you with their first few words sometime late in the evening and reThere’s something to be said about books that take you completely by surprise, grab you with their first few words sometime late in the evening and refuse to let go until the very last page, when you, bleary-eyed but elated, finally go to sleep already thinking about the next installment. Queen of the Tearling came to me in a month when I had little time and even less patience for fiction, and yet it held my attention from start to finish, leaving me thrilled and completely breathless in the end.
The pacing was a bit slower than expected, but I for one thoroughly enjoy a worldbuilding well thought-out, even when there were things I wished were done differently. Queen of the Tearling is high fantasy with roots in modern society, which makes it unique but also a bit confusing. It’s an interesting blend of old customs and new technology that sometimes worked and sometimes bothered me greatly. I would have preferred a simple historical fantasy, or even some straightforward futuristic world, but this blend of the two didn’t always sit well with me.
Johansen took her time with Kelsea and her closest companions, giving them layer upon layer of complex personality, but at the same time she completely neglected her villain, Kelsea’s uncle, who was almost cartoonish in his heartless stupidity. Truth be told, a villain can make or break a book, but in this case, with everything I admired about Queen of the Tearling, I found that I didn’t mind this fault too much.
I did feel that Kelsea’s physical appearance was somewhat exaggerated in the attempt to give more weight to her inner strength. Something similar was initially done to Elisa in The Girl of Fire and Thorns but to an even larger extent. Kelsea constantly struggles with her looks and her weight, which I suppose adds a layer to her character and makes her seem more human, but it’s something I could have certainly done without. A girl can be smart and brave and resourceful and be quite ordinary on the outside, not too pretty and certainly not quite so unattractive. And it wasn’t just Kelsea’s distorted self-image we were dealing with; other people never hesitated to tell her that she looks nothing like a queen.
Queen of the Tearling has no more than a hint of romance, a stray thought here and there, an occasional yearning for someone completely out of reach. As a romance girl through and through, I would normally be very bothered by this, but this fabulous story, well plotted and nearly flawlessly executed, left no room for wishes and regrets.
This is a story I’m quite eager to continue. Even with a few faults that I’m sure will be fixed later on, it’s the best fantasy I’ve read in a good long while. The second book hasn’t even been properly announced and I’m already impatient to get my greedy little hands on it.
Rosamund Hodge’s debut novel, Cruel Beauty, is a bold and imaginative retelling of Beauty and the Beast. With this highly ambitious book, Hodge attempRosamund Hodge’s debut novel, Cruel Beauty, is a bold and imaginative retelling of Beauty and the Beast. With this highly ambitious book, Hodge attempted to take the wildly popular retellings one step further, mostly by making the connections between Cruel Beauty and the original story very loose, and wrapping what was left into much violence and darkness in her richly imaginative world. Consequently, we’re left with no more than a few vague similarities between Beauty and the Beast and Cruel Beauty, just enough to justify calling this a retelling at all.
Nyx, for one, is nothing at all like Belle. She is hateful and stubborn, quick to lash out at those she should aim to protect. I suspect some readers might find her less than endearing, and that’s putting it mildly, but I wasn’t troubled by her anger or her actions. In fact, her rage was the only thing about her I was able to fully understand, the injustice of her life from the moment she was born a constant burning sensation in my throat. It was obvious that Hodge strived to make her characters endlessly complex, but Nyx is the only one with whom she actually succeeded. The secondary characters, Nyx’s father and aunt in particular, were two-dimensional, archetypal and utterly predictable.
There’s no denying the lushness and elegance of Rosamund Hodge’s prose. Her writing is a thing of beauty, atmospheric, gorgeous and alluring. Yet oftentimes, the tenor of the prose prevented me from immersing in the story or caring about the characters. While I enjoyed her words, put together so prettily, I also found them to be emotionally sterile. Nothing about them felt real or emotional or visceral or true. Dark, twisted and beautiful Cruel Beauty may be, but emotionally, it leaves a lot to be desired.
The romance was certainly the part I liked best, Nyx’s moral dilemma making it more interesting and real. My failure to connect with Nyx took away some of my reading enjoyment, but seeing as I liked the Gentle Lord immensely, I found him and their relationship to be the saving grace of this book.
I still haven’t managed to find a retelling I actually liked, so do take my opinion with a grain of salt. I went into this because I was promised lush, atmospheric prose, and that’s what I got, so I shouldn’t complain too hard.
Chantress Alchemy, the sequel to Amy Butler Greenfield’s YA historical fantasy debut, is one of my hotly anticipated releases in 2014. Everything I loChantress Alchemy, the sequel to Amy Butler Greenfield’s YA historical fantasy debut, is one of my hotly anticipated releases in 2014. Everything I loved about Chantress - the gorgeous setting, fabulous characters and Butler Greenfield’s elegant writing – is present in this sequel as well. Not only is Chantress Alchemy as good as its predecessor, I dare say it’s a much better book in some regards.
As much as I enjoyed Chantress last year, I thought its plot wasn’t complex enough. It was fairly straightforward when I wanted something elaborate. In that, Chantress Alchemy shows a significant improvement. Due to King’s gratitude, Lucy has a voice in the council and is much more involved, which means that the plot is richer and far more dynamic. Lucy’s voice is now heard when she talks, and not just when she sings, and her opinions are taken into consideration by the King. I loved seeing her play a more important role, but what’s more, I loved that she wasn’t always up to task. She is young, after all, and she was constantly being attacked by much older shrewd politicians.
The romance was just as lovely, if not more. Both of these characters are strong and interesting in their own right. The final installment promises to be very hard for them both, but I have no doubt that they’ll come out as winners in the end.
Chantress is an unusually well written trilogy worthy of your time and attention. I listened to a part of it and the audio is excellent as well. If you decide to go with that format, you won’t be disappointed.
Sixteen hours of audio – sixteen long, agonizing hours filled with tension and often even fear – and still it wasn’t enough to satisfy my need for thiSixteen hours of audio – sixteen long, agonizing hours filled with tension and often even fear – and still it wasn’t enough to satisfy my need for this series. Samantha Shannon may be young, but her talent is astonishing.
The Mime Order picks up where The Bone Season left off, with Paige Mahoney once again in London with Jaxon Hall and the Seven Seals. But while everything seems to be exactly as she’d left it, Paige herself is irrevocably changed. Not only is she aware of the Rephaim’s existence, but she is, for the first time, strong enough to stand for what she believes in, even if it means going against the man who gave her life as she knows it.
The majority of this book deals with the damage to Paige and Jaxon’s relationship. Jaxon, being his usual self-absorbed, power-hungry self, is unwilling to back Paige up in front of The Unnatural Assembly. Unlike her, he thinks that clairvoyants should remain blissfully unaware of the danger that successfully hides behind their government.
The pacing is once again extremely slow, but I find that I have the patience needed to fully enjoy it. The allure of Paige’s world is in its intricacy, and as Shannon took the time to slowly reveal the chilling details, I was able to take my time and fully enjoy them. I had my doubts about the return from Sheol I to London, but the transition was done beautifully and seamlessly so that I never felt the loss – if anything, Paige’s world was expanded and built upon skillfully and with infinite care, giving us so much to learn, and even more to look forward to.
Ah, but the slow dance between Paige and Warden is the highlight of this book. Their subtle moves towards each other are both terrifying and thrilling. There is so much mistrust to overcome, so much prejudice and fear, and yet the two are drawn to each other like magnets, until nothing matters but the pull between them. This is an agonizingly slow romance that will surely develop into something unforgettable in the five upcoming books. There is very little hope for them and they both know it, but we readers simply have to put our faith in Samantha Shannon and hope for the best.
At this point, Alana Kerr with her soft Irish lilt seems like the only choice for narrating these books. There aren’t many audiobook narrators who could make 16 hours seem like no time at all. I would never even consider a different format for these books. Why would I, when Kerr has become Paige in my head, and hearing this gorgeous story directly from her seems like the only way to go. ...more
Teenage fighter pilots. Did you read what I just wrote? Because I’m not kidding here: Teenage. Fighter. Pilots.
Can I end my review here?
Because realTeenage fighter pilots. Did you read what I just wrote? Because I’m not kidding here: Teenage. Fighter. Pilots.
Can I end my review here?
Because really, those three words should be enough to make any living soul desperate to read Night witches. Teenagers are flying planes and fighting wars people, facing enemies both human and supernatural. For those of you who don’t know, night witches were Soviet female military aviators in World War II. L.J. Adlington, inspired by their story, created a whole new world in which teenage girls fly military airplanes against a dangerous enemy.
Rodina is a nation willingly lead by an artificial intelligence, Aura. It is the source of all knowledge and the only real decision maker in the country. Not connected, the citizens are lost since they rely on Aura for everything. They are proud of themselves for shedding the confines of religious beliefs and turning entirely to technology. But at night, when no one is listening, there are whispers of witches just beyond Rodina’s borders. There, the Crux reside, a far more primitive, superstitious nation, and the war between the two is brewing.
Rain Aranoza is a girl who is constantly underestimated – by her parents, her cousin and everyone else who matters – until she is invited to take part in a new fighter pilot program. Suddenly, Rain is flying Crux airplanes and discovering new and shocking truths about herself. During this time, she meets Reef, a silent and competent Scrutiner (kind of a law enforcement) and even though he’s dangerous for her on many levels, she finds herself unable to stay away.
It’s easy enough to draw a parallel between Rodinians and their connection to Aura and our own dependence on the internet. The world Adlington created is a great analogy for our world, and the advantages and flaws she skillfully pointed out can easily be applied to us. The paranormal element, which I won’t go into for fear of spoiling things, is just as fascinating.
Night Witches is elegantly written and gorgeously atmospheric. Adlington’s descriptions are minimal, yet vivid and strong and beautiful. She is prone to stringing very short sentences that give her narrative a staccato rhythm, which, instead of making her prose seem choppy, makes it fluid, distinctive and unique.
I strongly recommend this for those of you who occasionally like to step away from tropes and expectations. Night Witches is a gorgeous story and one I’m sure you won’t regret reading. L.J. Adlington will stop by The Nocturnal Library in October to talk about the dark Russian mythology she researched for her novel.
A trilogy that started with superb worldbuilding and atypical characters in The Girl of Fire and Thorns and continued with court intrigue and an epicA trilogy that started with superb worldbuilding and atypical characters in The Girl of Fire and Thorns and continued with court intrigue and an epic love story in The Crown and Embers deserved no less than a stellar conclusion. It was with no small amount of trepidation that I picked up Bitter Kingdom into my shaking hands, afraid but eager to learn Elisa and Hector’s fate. In Crown of Embers, we left Elisa and Hector in a dreadful situation, apart and with far too many obstacles between them, with little hope for the future they both deserved. With that, The Bitter Kingdom promised to be a journey like no other, emotional, intense and entirely satisfying. I dare not imagine the pressure Carson was feeling while writing this finale, but I applaud her for handling it splendidly.
For the most part, Rae Carson gave her trilogy exactly the ending it deserved. We were allowed to witness our favorite characters grow, become even more independent, determined and fierce. We got to see them fight not only for the rights that were given to them by birth, but also for those they’ve acquired through bravery and intelligent handling of every situation. In the end, we were given plenty of time to say goodbye with bittersweet smiles on our faces. But was it all enough? Yes… and no.
There were, admittedly, times when I felt that pages/words could have been put to better use. Bitter Kingdom, while epic in so many ways, slowed down and almost dragged in places. The journey through the desert felt unnecessarily long and tedious, and the tunnels that came later gave me the exact same feeling. I wanted to be with these characters, but I wished they would take me somewhere else.
What The Bitter Kingdom offered that wasn’t there before were several chapters from Hector’s point of view. Usually, introducing another POV so late in a trilogy can be a double-edged sword, but for obvious reasons (i.e. our never-ending love for him) Hector’s was most welcome. I was afraid he’d lose that slightly enigmatic air about him, but even with these glimpses into his thoughts, he remained as fascinating and desirable as ever… if not more.
Along the way and perhaps despite the circumstances, Elisa became a force to be reckoned with. In The Bitter Kingdom, we find her ready to fulfill her role as the queen and bearer of the Godstone. That lost, silent girl we met in Girl of Fire and Thorns is long gone and in her place is a woman and a warrior, intelligent and fierce. Seeing her finally accept herself filled my heart with enormous pride and joy.
While this trilogy isn’t free of faults, it’s still a wonderfully imaginative YA fantasy I’ll never hesitate to recommend. I’m also quite sure we’ll see many more great books from Rae Carson and I’m anxious to learn what comes next.
A copy of this book was kindly provided by the publisher for review purposes. No considerations, monetary or otherwise, have influenced the opinions expressed in this review. ...more
Murder of Crows is a book that defies all expectations, much to my delight. Written in Red, the surprisingly extraordinary first installment, set the Murder of Crows is a book that defies all expectations, much to my delight. Written in Red, the surprisingly extraordinary first installment, set the bar pretty high for this sequel, and I’m pleased to say that Bishop did not disappoint. Everything I loved about the first book was repeated and, in some cases, improved.
Written in Red was often labeled as urban fantasy, but I doubt the same could happen to Murder of Crows. In this book, Bishop included a map and a short, well-written prologue that explains the history of Thaisia, a hidden continent where humans and Others co-exist. In Thaisia, the Others rule. They control the land and the elements, and by using both, they control the humans as well. The Others are humanlike in their appearance, but otherwise, they are wild, violent and mostly animalistic in nature.
Bishop used these differences skillfully, constantly pointing out how insignificant human life is to Others, but also, how judgmental humans can be. In the middle of this chasm, she placed the tentative relationship of our cassandra sangue Meg Corbin and Simon Wolfguard, leader of the Others. Although Meg is not entirely human, she was taught human behaviors and values – about which Simon knows very little, and cares even less. Their misunderstandings and subsequent struggles to find common ground make my very favorite part of this book. I love things that are cleverly done, and if there’s one thing I can point about Bishop’s portrayal of Others, it’s how well thought-out they are.
I was, however, more than a little disturbed by the sexual violence the casandra sangue suffered at the hands of their captors. I haven’t read any of Bishop’s other works, but I’ve been informed by another reader, someone I trust implicitly, that she often approaches rape somewhat flippantly. The tone here is far from flippant, but it’s very matter of fact, and the sexual abuse of the blood prophets is accepted and mostly ignored.
One major fault aside, this series can only be described as extraordinary and exceptionally smart. If you have yet to jump into this world, don’t hesitate to do so, and prepare to be both fascinated and occasionally horrified.
Here’s what you need to know about Chantress by Amy Butler Greenfield: 1. It is part one of a trilogy. Although there's nothing on GoodReads to indicatHere’s what you need to know about Chantress by Amy Butler Greenfield: 1. It is part one of a trilogy. Although there's nothing on GoodReads to indicate that this is a series (oh, GoodReads, how you have failed me) and the story has a nice, clean ending, Chantress is the first book in a trilogy. And thank goodness for that. 2. It is more than just a pretty cover. It’s true. These days, a pretty cover usually hides all kinds of nasty surprises, but not in this case. Chantress is a wonderful historical fantasy that will keep you glued to the pages from start to finish. The gorgeous cover art is just a bonus. 3. It is utterly absorbing. Did I mention you’ll be glued to the pages? The setting alone is enough to keep you interested, not to mention the characters. I was completely invested in this story from the very beginning. 4. The romance takes time to develop. Oh, but what a treat this was. Chantress takes place between 1667 and 1669 and many months pass before Lucy and Nat start showing interest in each other. Theirs is a wonderful, sweet romance that starts with a lot of distrust and ends in deep admiration and understanding. Plus, Nat is a real bookworm and an inventor. Perfection. 5. It is well-researched. There is an author’s note in the end that explains the setting, geography, as well as the research and reasoning behind some of Nat’s inventions. Greenfield chose to replace King Charles I with Henry Seymour, a real person and a distant claimant to the throne, whom she turned into King Henry IX for the purposes of her story. Although I honestly didn’t notice any of it (I don’t exactly have all the kings memorized), I was happy to find it all explained in the end, as well as the absence of the Great Fire of London. 6. The monsters aren’t all that’s scary. Oh, yes, the Shadowgrims are horrible, far scarier to Lucy than anyone else. As a Chantress, she is more susceptible to their special brand of terror, but betrayal of people close to her is far scarier. 7. The plot needed more work When I set out to write this list, I was ready to point out the good and the bad, so here it is: considering how much thought was put into the worldbuilding and the main characters, the plot was somewhat of a disappointment. It was pretty straightforward when I was hoping for something more complex. Such amazing setting deserved far more twists and turns, but alas, clean and simple is what I got. 8. The villain just wasn’t frightening enough. It takes a lot of skill to write a good heroine, but sometimes, a good villain is even harder to write. With Scargrave, all the ingredients were there: immense power plus a healthy dose of cruelty and insanity usually equal a very good villain, but not this time. I never felt any real danger from him, and dealing with him was just too easy.
The moment the stone was off, the songs came to me – hundreds of them, humming like bees, flickering like firelight, crossing like shadows. And the strongest one was the wild tune I’d heard in the garden. This time, however, it went on and on. It spoke of the sea and of home and of times long past. It tugged at my heart and my throat and my lips. Sing me, it said. And I did.
Wow, this review is a bit different from what I usually write. Perhaps my friend Heidi possessed me for a day. In the end, all I can say is that Chantress turned out to be much better than I expected and I’ll be waiting eagerly to read the sequel. Oh, and I’d have that cover tattooed somewhere on my body, but I doubt it would go well with the rest of my tattoos.