A girl who was to murder as maestros are to music.
The first book in The Nevernight Chronicle, Nevernight is the kind of book you line up for. It's a s
A girl who was to murder as maestros are to music.
The first book in The Nevernight Chronicle, Nevernight is the kind of book you line up for. It's a superbly crafted story that had me hooked from the very first chapter.
Here's the thing - Nevernight is a book that you will either love, or will be disappointed in. There will be very few people with opinions in the middle. I LOVED IT, and I'll rave about it and push it into people's hands and it will dominate all the Best Of ... lists I will make from now. But the things that I love about it are also things that some readers will find problematic.
For example, the book is conveyed through a snarky historian who is recounting events after the fact. He routinely interrupts the story to share his opinions, fills the manuscript with footnotes that flesh out the world-building, and has a distinct manner of speaking. I think it's a brilliant technique, one that Kristoff pulled off admirably, but there will be readers who will tire of the narration style.
The girl felt the words in her chest. In the deepest, darkest place, where the hope children breathe and adults mourn withered and fell away, floating like ashes on the wind.
The writing is beautiful; lush and richly descriptive. I enjoyed it immensely, but again, some readers may find it dense or overwritten. This book is not for the faint-hearted, however. It doesn't pull punches when describing sex or violence. The deaths are gory. The scenes are gritty. The sex is explicit. It's definitely one for older readers - it's being marketed by HarperVoyager, and not HarperTeen, for a reason.
I loved Mia. Also known as Pale Daughter, Kingmaker, and Crow, she's smart and witty, with a healthy dash of irreverence. Mia wants revenge for her father's death. She's a darkin - marked by the Night God and protected by shadows - who has lost the ability to feel fear. It renders her eerily inhuman - she lacks a certain warmth that would endear her to readers (think Arya Stark), so some may find it difficult to cheer for her. She can be selfish and mean and strays dangerously close to anti-hero territory at times.
The other characters are also delightful. I couldn't help but love Tric, and even grew to like Bastard the insufferable horse. And then there are the Masters - Spiderkiller and Alaea were instant favourites!
The world-building is one of my favourite things about Nevernight. It's set on a planet that orbits three suns, and Truedark occurs once every 3 or so years. The magic system, history and mythology are all intertwined, with the Sun God and Night God battling it out in the background. This is an exciting world with lots of secrets to uncover!
Nevernight is the best book I've read so far this year. It's everything amazing and wonderful, and I cannot wait for the next instalment!
Cruel Crown is a bind of two novellas set in the world of Red Queen. These novellas open up the world and allow us a glimpse into two fascinating charCruel Crown is a bind of two novellas set in the world of Red Queen. These novellas open up the world and allow us a glimpse into two fascinating characters - Queen Coriane (Cal's mother) and Farley.
I loved the writing in Queen Song. It was evocative and beautiful and I felt Coriane's pain keenly. It's been a while since I read Red Queen and Glass Sword, but I don't recall being this impressed with the way they were presented!
This novella reveals that Cal's grandfather was married to a woman but had a man, Prince Robert, as his Consort. I thought this was an interesting way of dealing with the two (seemingly) contradictory goals of the King - to be happy and to produce an heir. But by all accounts, and certainly in Corian's eyes, Tiberius, Robert and Queen Anabel were content with their arrangement.
Red Queen showed us a side of Cal's father that made me dislike him, but having read Queen Song I feel as though I've seen first hand how the death of his Queen broke him. Seeing Elara as a teenager was also really interesting - Aveyard has subtly planted all sorts of doubt in my mind about someone who I saw as selfish and horrifying earlier. I suspect that I can guess how she became the bitter, twisted person we dealt with in Red Queen and Glass Sword.
And finally, Corianne. Beautiful, broken, fragile Coriane, who didn't deserve the fate she endured. I think Aveyard approached her depression and anxiety with care. And although I might be able to understand why Elara did what she did, I won't ever be able to forgive her, because if there was anyone truly innocent in this world, it was Coriane.
Farley's story takes place just before and during the beginning of Red Queen. Through her, we find out a little more about the structure of the Scarlet Guard and their mission in the Lakelands, Norta, and the other countries on the continent. I've always found Farley interesting so I was looking forward to reading from her point of view.
Unsurprisingly, Steel Scars is dry. It lacks the poetic language of Queen Song and is instead relayed in a precise, clipped tone. Much of the story is told through military reports, which was a cool addition but I've seen readers complaining that they found the reports difficult to follow. I had no such issue, but if you're planning to read this novella then I'd say keep that in mind.
I think my favourite part was seeing Shade Barrow from Farley's point of view. He's interesting, even in Farley's biased and world-weary eyes, which is a feat.
While Steel Scars isn't as beautifully tragic as Queen Song, it gives us a view into the Scarlet Guard that isn't Mare's. I think this is important because Mare is a biased and often unreliable narrator. Taken together, the novellas showcase the versatility of Aveyard's writing - her full length works leave something to be desired when it comes to planning and execution but the potential is obviously there.
It's not absolutely necessary to read Cruel Crown to understand Red Queen and Glass Sword, but I believe fans of the world will benefit by reading the stories of these two incredible ladies.
I enjoyed Broken Sky, the first book in The Broken Trilogy from the very first page. Something about it just grabbed me. The setting and the conceptsI enjoyed Broken Sky, the first book in The Broken Trilogy from the very first page. Something about it just grabbed me. The setting and the concepts it explored were interesting, and the protagonist was awesome.
Set in the far future after a horrendous apocalypse that nearly killed off all humans, Broken Sky is set in an echo of the 1940s. Humanity has rediscovered some technologies and is on the verge of unearthing some more. I liked the touches Weatherly used to bring this reality to life - the slang, the technology, the clothes. This world differs from ours in one crucial way - conflicts between nations are fought in one-on-one battles overseen by a neutral authority called World for Peace.
Amity Vancour is a Peacefighter - a pilot who flies for the Western States (of what is now America). She's a legacy pilot - her father was one too - and she loves her job even though it's hard and harrowing at times. She believes in her mission statement and she believes in World for Peace, but she's an intelligent girl, and when she notices that certain things just don't add up, she investigates. I liked getting to know Amity slowly. She wears a mask in her daily life, and it's only through the reappearance of a childhood friend and a number of flashbacks that we get to see beneath it. Amity felt real. Her struggles to reconcile the image she had of her father, her superiors, her entire world, with the new truths that confront her. She's never naive, but there are certain things she shuts out even though they're painfully obvious.
Broken Sky is mainly told from Amity's point of view, but every now and then we get to check in on Kay Pierce, who lives in the Central States. The Central States seceded from the Western States in the past, and are now controlled by John Gunnerson, a man who controls his populous with astrology. So we get something new. We get to see this crazy dystopian state from the eyes of Amity, an outsider, and Kay, someone who doesn't believe in astrology but ends up having to pretend every single day that she does. I really liked the way Kay and Amity's stories intertwined - Kay had so much influence over the lives of Amity and her friends without knowing who she even was.
The secondary characters are well rounded and have the potential to become very cool in the next few books. Amity's mother and brother, her best friend Collie, and her pilot friend from a rival nation, Ingo. They each seem simple on the surface, but I'm willing to bet they're all complex and it's just Amity who doesn't see it (she tends to pigeonhole people into nice categories).
Broken Sky is such a cool concept, such an interesting mix of different elements that I was always engaged. It's well plotted and well written, with great world building. The prologue tells us what's going to happen, so we spend much of the book finding out how Amity came to be in the position we met her in. This means that we know some of the secrets already and watch her discover them, but it was never boring or frustrating. She really is intelligent, and she caught on admirably.
I really enjoyed this book. I've been a fan of Weatherly's writing since I read the Angel series, and think her next venture lives up to my expectations. Broken Sky ends with a pretty big revelation - not really a cliffhanger,but something that makes me anxious for the next book, Darkness Falls. Luckily, I only have to wait until Autumn.
I really enjoyed Avery, so I was eager to dive into Thorne and continue the adventure with a new cast of characters. It's taken me months to read thisI really enjoyed Avery, so I was eager to dive into Thorne and continue the adventure with a new cast of characters. It's taken me months to read this book, but that's not because it wasn't engaging or boring -- lots of personal issues factored into the time it took me to start and finish Thorne.
In fact, McConaghy should be praised for writing a story that I could instantly fall back into, even after weeks of absence. I only had to open the book to remember which POV I was reading, what was happening, and why it was interesting.
The idea of bonds and bond-mates gripped me in the first book, and so I was a little wary about Thorne because it dealt with destroying it. However McConaghy does a wonderful job of setting out the arguments for and against the bond and letting the reader decide where they stand. I sill love the idea of it, but I can see how destructive it can be as well.
While Ava and Ambrose make an appearance in this book, along with Rose and a few other old favourites, the story is predominantly about Thorne, the heir to the throne, and Finn, a young Kayan girl with many secrets and a heart of gold. Thorne is as different from his father as it's possible to get - a gentle soul born into a beserker's body who has to constantly fight for the right to live. When he's sent to Kaya as a good-will gesture to celebrate the peace between the two nations, he falls in with a rag-tag bunch of kids. Finn, who has a taste for danger; her twin brother Jonah, a warder in training; their adoptive brother Penn, who has secrets of his own; and Isadora, who harbours the most dangerous secret of all.
There are many points of view in this book - not only Finn and Thorne but also Falco and Quillane, Emperor and Empress of Kaya, and (briefly) a few others. Some readers may find this confusing, but I kept track of everyone despite my long absences from the book, so it's definitely an issue of personal preference.
This story spans almost the length and breadth of Kaya and Pirenti, taking us from the cliffs of Limontae to the warder forests, from the royal palace of Pirenti to the northern mountains. There's a map in Thorne, but I didn't flip to it once - I found it easy enough to track the journeys the characters took. The plot takes us deeper into the mysteries set out in Avery; not only secrets concerning warders and berserkers as well as some historical background that I found interesting. It's obvious that this world exists fully-formed (or near to it!) in McConaghy's mind and we're being allowed glimpses into it as the story unfolds.
I had a few issues with the writing style when I read Avery, but I found I was looking forward to the richness of McConaghy's prose in Thorne. There are some absolutely beautiful phrases and passages in the book, and I've decided that I really like McConaghy's style!
I loved Thorne. Slightly more than Avery because I didn't have to endure the physical and emotional abuse of Thorn-Rose. This story world has grown on me and I've come to respect McConaghy's storytelling. I love her characters and her prose, and am looking forward to reading Isadora in August.
I feel oddly duped by Marked. I was expecting a paranormal-urban fantasy with some detective/crime vibes, and what I got was a paranormal romance thatI feel oddly duped by Marked. I was expecting a paranormal-urban fantasy with some detective/crime vibes, and what I got was a paranormal romance that reminded me of the Merry Gentry books by Laurell K. Hamilton.
When we meet Lucinda "Lucky" de Salle, she's an awesome paranormal investigator who is called to her old highschool to deal with two troublesome spirits. She seems great - independent, thoughtful, intelligent. That lasts all of ONE chapter, and then she meets a demon, then a man, and then another man and before long, Lucky has transformed into the kind of protagonist I despise.
Lucky, tricked by the very hot Jamie into leaving her life as a paranormal investigator, winds up at the centre of the daemonic courts with five guards. But none of them feel that she needs to know anything, so she just bumbled around making a fool of herself for the entire book. She's Marked by two of them, and spends too long trying to figure out what it means (the phrase sex-toy gets thrown around a lot). Her chambers consist of a huge wardrobe of lovely evening gowns, a bed that can accommodate her and her five guards at once, and a bathroom that can hold all six of them as well. And still she doesn't GET it - poor little virgin girl (Marked has an unhealthy obsession with virginity) - and is shocked when she realises that her best friend Kayla's guards get undressed when they go to sleep.
(Honey, they aren't just getting undressed. Can you say menage-a-cinq?)
As annoying as it was that no one told her anything, ever, I think Lucky behaved irrationally. She responds to "be quiet, it's for your own good" by engaging in a shouting match. She responds to "don't draw attention to yourself" by attracting the attention of the entire daemonic court. She only needs five minutes in the Underworlds to decide that their entire way of life is wrong, and then happily calls them out on it, endangering both herself and those around her. Perhaps the author was trying to explore morality and ethical behaviour as human constructs, but all it did was make Lucky look silly. You do not go into the daemonic court and tell them that everything they're doing is wrong. You just don't. She's a dangerous combination of mind-numbingly naïve and annoyingly self-righteous. She trusts the wrong people, again and again, and then is surprised when they trick or betray her. She makes very few decisions, and many of them are quickly overridden by her companions.
I suspect that Lucky is brave and perhaps even intelligent, but the plot and the way the author chose to tell this story destroys her. It's incomprehensible that Lucky could be so clueless about everything and that she wouldn't ask demand more answers from her companions. She's also willfully ignorant (repeatedly ignoring Jamie's warnings that he's a daemon despite his gorgeous white wings) and doesn't use any logic towards understanding her situation.
To top it off, the writing was clumsy, the plot elements were transparent, and everything was predictable. Marked is a mess, a poorly executed amalgamation of different ideas that doesn't achieve coherence. I lost patience with the book about halfway through and the only thing that kept me going was that I - much like Lucky - kept hoping that everything would make sense on the next chapter, or the next, or the next.
I did enjoy the court-intrigue aspect of Marked and was disappointed that it was shoved into the background so the novel could focus on Jamie-Lucky-Jinx and their upcoming threesome.
If you like the Merry Gentry series, and other paranormal romances like it, you might find Marked interesting. I wish the blurb had been a bit clearer - I don't usually read this sub-genre of novels and typically don't like them.
Waer by Meg Caddy is an accomplished début that takes readers into a fantasy land where legends roam alongside humans and werewolves. A rarity of itsWaer by Meg Caddy is an accomplished début that takes readers into a fantasy land where legends roam alongside humans and werewolves. A rarity of its kind - a standalone - Waer is an great example of a well-crafted YA fantasy.
All of Caddy's characters, even the most minor ones, have a lot of depth to them. One gets the sense that they all have fully fleshed out histories and stories in the author's mind - we just haven't been given the opportunity to see them. They feel real, especially Lowell and Lycaea. Waer begins with Lowell, who finds a girl washed upon the riverbank near his idyllic home in the Gwydhan Valley. Like him, she's a waer, but unlike him, she was forcibly turned during at the hands of Daeman Leldh.
The book is told with alternate points of view, switching between protagonists as necessary. Admittedly, there's very little to distinguish Lowell's chapters from Lycaea's except for the text at the beginning. For the first three pages, I didn't even realise that Lowell is a boy (but that tells you more about me than the author or the story). They're great characters and I enjoyed their journey from broken and hurt individuals to a force to be reckoned with. One of the things I loved is that this isn't a story about werewolves. Ultimately, it's a story about people who happen to be werewolves. I also liked that both Lowell and Lycaea were waers, making them more equal than most couples in YA fantasy or paranormal stories.
The world-building in Waer is great. Gwydhan Valley, Caerwyn and Luthan brought to life vividly, and Oster obviously has a rich and complex history. Reading this book feels like stepping into a fully formed world. Although Lowell and Lycaea's story seems to have ended, I would love to read more stories set in Oster!
Having been shortlisted for the Text Prize, Waer leans a bit more towards literary fiction than the YA I usually read. The descriptions are lush and the prose is gorgeous! It'd be worth a read just for that alone, but the plot is amazing as well. There are lots of twists and turns to keep you guessing and Caddy pulls no punches in this story. However, I found the absolute lack of contractions, even in speech, jarring. It took me a while to get used to it. The only thing that stops Waer from being a five-star read is that I felt I was always kept at a distance from story. There was something about it - perhaps the writing style - that prevented me from fully immersing myself in the world or its characters. That's not to say that it wasn't interesting. It was! I think this is a very personal reaction and I don't expect that it will be true for every reader.
If it isn't already, I strongly urge you to stick Waer on your TBR. I think it will be a hit with readers who are looking for a YA fantasy with a twist. Waer does for werewolves what The Rephaim did for angels. And there's no higher praise I can give.