The Children of the Gate wait for the call to Rise.
Azzy Brimvine knows her brother is in the vast city of Avergard. She must find him, but time is not on their side.
In the House of Seven Smiles, Azzy struggles to understand the constraints and limits of her power. She finds the whispering voices that guided her for so long, suddenly silent. The enigmatic Lord Wallach is both a frustrating ally and a dangerous mystery, and a strange entity lurks among the household servants. The haven Azzy sought may not be as safe as she thought... but is anywhere truly safe in the Above?
The city of Avergard is full of monsters and secrets, and a dark history festers at its root. A yawning pit nestles in the house of a scheming lord, who will use Armin's dangerous gifts to raise history, and raze the city to the ground. As Azzy finds herself and her brother pulled into these machinations, she must navigate the politics and society of Avergard's brutal ruling class to save her family and friends before the Gate consumes them all.
Mother of two, caffeine addict, sleep deprived book eater. Kristin Jacques writes primarily speculative fiction, dabbling with dark adventures, monsters, mayhem, and the occasional sarcastic zombie. When not at her computer spinning tales she is generally herding cats or snuggling with her gremlins.
A Multi Award Winning Author of Fantastical YA & Adult Fiction.
If you haven’t jumped into Azzy’s sinister world of hybrid beings, two-forms, magic and sadistic lords you’re really missing out on an excellent dark fantasy.
Book two picks up close to where the last one left off. I debated rereading Marrow Charm just in case I forgot something, but Jacques does such a good job of bringing in the previous book and tying it into this new gripping plot that I didn’t need to. I did not expect any of what occurred to be in this novel and I freaking loved it.
From the first book I was connected with Azzy, Armin and the eclectic side characters along the way. Each one is unique in personality and gifts and you can’t help but to adore each one. Skin Curse brings in a few new identities that easily fit the plot and become just as fleshed out as our main characters.
The world building is still as captivating as the first book. Set in Avergard where magic has misshapen its inhabitants and blood thirsty, vicious monsters lurk in every corner. Azzy must find her way here while trusting her new master and comrades all while learning her own magic and finding her lost friends.
This is not a flowery book of magic and mutations. This is a vicious world of gore, torture, abuse and carnality. A quick and fast paced read that keeps you hooked and leaves you with a massive book hangover.
Thank you to Parliament Press for the advanced digital copy for an honest and unbiased review. I cannot wait to add the paperback to my shelves alongside its brethren. The next book cannot come quick enough for me. Jacques you have a way with worlds and characters.
This was a gripping and engaging story, blending everything from fantasy and horror to sci-fi and dystopian themes. While I am new to this series, I found the author did a great job of implementing enough of the first book’s story into this novel to make it feel both fresh and well-understood.
The pacing and haunting atmosphere played a big role in establishing this fantasy world. The blend of chilling imagery that really brought Avergard to life in the reader’s mind and the narrator (Amie Lyn Hornick) really did a great job of voicing this story, establishing the mix of wonder and terror the protagonist endures throughout the novel while capturing the raw emotions and action that Azzy must overcome to save those closest to her.
A brilliant, entertaining, and mesmerizing fusion of gothic horror and sci-fi dystopian elements, author Kristen Jacques’s “Skin Curse” is the perfect fantasy read for both new and established fans alike of this series. As a fan of history, I loved the backstory the author established of using one of history’s greatest villains, the Third Reich, and showed their involvement in opening the fabled Gate that let the magic and monsters into this dystopian world, as I know it is well established that one of Hitler’s mad machinations was to harness the power of the occult into his hatred and war machines. Add to this a great story with both haunting and engaging characters and a heart-pounding narrative that readers won’t be able to get enough of, this is a brilliant audiobook that can’t be missed. Be sure to grab your copy today!
After reading Marrow Charm and loving some time ago I decided to reread that to refresh my memory before starting Skin Curse. I loved being back in this world. This is not a typical fantasy book. This is dark and grizzly and I was all for it. Kristin does such a good job of her world building and character portrayal you can't help but be absorbed in the story. Skin curse follows on from Azzys adventures in the above trying to find her Brother. She is now part of The Lord of Seven Smiles house and although this should offer her some respite she is faced with a whole new set of dangers that she must overcome. Honestly if you love fantasy books you need to read this series and if you like audios check out the audio version which was what I did with this one. The narrator does a brilliant job with the story telling and I loved how she played the characters it defiantly helped build up the suspense of the story. I can't wait for the next one to see whats going to happen next 😍
Overall 4 out of 5 stars Performance 4 out of 5 stars Story 4 out of 5 stars
intricate tale with friends, family and foes
In my personal observations during this listen, I would have needed to have either read or listened to the first installment of this series. I found a few places that I got lost or maybe a bit confused. I did enjoy the intricacies of the gate. Azzy, her brother, and their friends were all at an disadvantage with an overlord that was strange, confusing, secretive, and a bit omnus.
Amie lent her voice to make things feel more real and visual flowing. I found section of the story that I could not be torn away from. Then others that I had to go back a few paces to work things out in my head. This was a fantasy world filled, but would I really want to live there.
We continue with Azzy on her journey to find her brother. But she’s at The House of Seven Smiles while she works out a plan. There she learns that the people surrounding her want the best for her. Azzy has untold abilities that she needs to learn to access. With proper training, she could go far in life. We also get the point of view of Eleanor, who has been forced to work in a pleasure house. She somehow has her memory intact, and that will help her for the road ahead.
This one came to me 4 days before release day, so I was a bit stressed that I wouldn’t get it read in time. It turned out that I didn’t need to worry because I raced through it. I loved how Jacques told the story in pieces, allowing the reader to put it together throughout the book. Azzy is incredibly talented and it will be interesting to see where she goes from here. Overall, a super fun read. I cannot wait to see what comes next.
Where the first book brought you into the nightmare that is Azzy’s world, and this book revealed the full extent of horror. Very often the second book in a series is the slowest read but I felt just as engrossed as the first book. Looking forward to reading the next book.
Amazing continuance from the first book loved the journey azzy took. A little disappointed by her reunion with Kai but glad it happened all the same, the gates connection to azzy is still a little confusing but I can’t wait to see what happens next.
Now that is how to do a mid-series book. No, really. It takes everything from the first book, tosses in a pinch of new POV, a dash of familiarity, and a whole cupful of new setting and shakes it up before letting it all sink in, coming together to make a book 2 cocktail any writerly bartender would be proud of. It's not perfect - a few niggles especially towards the end in relation to confusing scenes and surprisingly unreliable editing bothered me - but it was just so good I was utterly hooked on it; more so than Marrow Charm because everything flowed and made sense.
I just can't even with how much I enjoyed learning about this horrible, terrible magical world.
We pick up a few hours after the ending of book one. Azzy's in the House of Seven Smiles, meeting the strange servants Lord Wallach has assembled. They seem more like compatriots than servile, but maybe the monstrous city of Avengard has room for kindness too? Not for everyone though; Kai, Safiya, or Armin, nor the newly turned scorpid women Eleanor who finds herself bought by a brothel after being taken by Snatchers. No longer just on a search for her missing brother, Azzy realizes she's caught up in far bigger things than she could possibly have imagined. Lord Wallach will teach her to control her strange magic, but as the earth itself shakes and her dreams grow darker, Azzy knows she has to do something more.
Urgh, where do I start? The writing (for the most part - I'll come to the "issue" I personally had later) is so much improved on book one, and still so eerily atmospheric. Descriptions may be sparse, but the feelings evoked by the characters and the situations they find themselves in leak through the fog of dread that constantly keeps your eyes glued to the words. There was no point at which I wanted to stop reading (except when my eyes hurt, but technically I didn't want to stop, just had to).
Azzy isn't so confusing this time, and her relationships with characters are all show, no tell, which is a thing of subtle beauty (especially when it came to Kai *swoon*). I can't say I understood Lord Wallach's fearsome reputation given he seems so emotionally vulnerable all the time, but the kindness of characters inside his household of outcasts made sense. There was a League of Extraordinary Gentlemen vibe about it, something a bit gaslamp gothic despite the post apocalypse setting, and I loved their strange camaraderie. Add in the new sympathetic POV of Eleanor, and side characters with real character like Rose and Howl, and you've got yourself a fascinating cast.
The story again is strange, slow and ever-tinged with darkness, yet still safe for a YA reader who can take a little moderate horror. What you think is a simple enough story has some delicious little twists that shouldn't be spoiled. It's both predictable and... Not. There's something about how it builds the anticipation of what you know must be coming when every story thread finally connects that was so satisfying to read. While some of it is set in a brothel, we never see anything that'd raise the age rating. While there's violence and gore it's limited to hints and suggestions for the vast majority of the time. It's more about how characters react to those things than the things themselves.
Now my "issues": towards the end there are more action-oriented scenes that I could find confusingly described. One moment someone's standing in one place, the next they're holding a sword to someone's chest, or else something magical is being torn apart or... something... I found them a little hard to follow. Again towards the end some of the basic editorial things seemed a little off: typos, misused words/punctuation, words repeated many times close together enough to be distracting, redundant sentences that repeated ideas etc. Considering how strong the writing had been, I was a bit thrown by those cropping up so late in the book. It also had some oddities brought over from book one: repeated phrases (so many skirts billowing in unnatural ways/places!)
Did I love the book regardless? Resoundingly yes. Sure, nitpicky me wishes there could be a bit more editorial polish (because O-M-G this fangirling-worthy book deserves it) but it's a good bit of indie reading that'll leave you hungering for more.
Hello, cliffhanger? You cruel beauty. I'll be clinging on for book 3!
Series Info/Source: This is the second book in the Gate Cycle. I bought a copy of this book for my Kindle.
Story (5/5): This was such a dark and beautifully written fantasy. The story was incredibly engaging and it was hard to put this book down. I loved watching Azzy navigate this dark city of people who have been turned into monsters because of the magic that assaults them. It’s gritty and gory but somehow still beautiful in a dark way.
Characters (5/5): The characters are a big part of what makes this story amazing. They are unique and interesting and even the side characters are intriguing and engaging to read about. I loved all of the characters in here, even the cruel characters were incredibly well done.
Setting (5/5): This is an amazing dark and complex world, I really love it. The tone shifts in this book from Azzy surviving a dark monster filled adventure to her journey through the beautiful and deadly city of Avergard and her time in the House of Seven Smiles. In Avergard the monsters lurking are a more polished sort and the setting here was just as fascinating as in the previous book.
Writing Style (5/5): I love Jacques' writing style so much. I can’t even really pinpoint what I love...her writing just flows so beautifully, has perfect pacing and is a complete joy to read. I loved everything about this book and the writing was just a dream to read. After reading a few lackluster books prior to this one it was such a relief and pleasure to fall back into this fantasy world. Jacques also does just enough recapping that I didn’t feel like I needed to reread the first book to understand what was happening in this one.
My Summary (5/5): Overall I adored this book. I love the world, the characters, the story, and the dark tone to it. It is beautifully written, effortless to read and impossible to put down. I would highly recommend it to those who enjoy dark fantasy.
I absolutely love this series. There is constant action, nothing drags. The characters are fully fleshed out and fantastic in their beautiful horror. There are many new characters introduced in this book, but it doesn’t weigh down the story at all like sometimes happens in other series. Someone asked me what the series was about and I realized I had a hard time describing it, so I told them to just read it. Of course, they’re now as hooked as I am. I actually found that as I was working throughout the day, my mind kept wandering and before I knew it, I was thinking about Azzy and Kai and Safiya, and wondering what would happen to them. Do yourself a favor and read this series. I’m telling you, you won’t regret it. I’m VERY picky about what I read and I thought this was such a fascinating story. I can’t wait until the third one comes out in 2022!
I read the first book of this series on wattpad way back when and I couldn't believe it hadn't been published - I'm glad it has been. It is a stellar story with wonderful, weird characters and a rich story. I love Azzy - she makes an excellent protagonist. I however disliked having Eleanor's POV - I don't understand the importance of this character? I also feel like Kai could be fleshed out a little more. I want to read the third installment but I cannot find it anywhere?!?
Really enjoyed this! The story began right where Marrow Charm left off. I enjoyed the melancholy atmosphere of Avergard, everyone lives on edge and feels slightly unhinged. Azzy's POV was very illuminating because we learn what her ability means, more about Lord Wallach, the gates and the "new" world overall. At first, I was uncertain about Eleanor's POV, but it was absolutely amazing and I love how the 2 halves of the story came together and collided at the end. The end was very good, but absolutely broke my heart. I can't wait for the novella coming out in 2021 and the 3rd book (not sure if this will be 2021 or 2022).
Opinions: Skin Curse is the exact reason why I love sequels. Anticipation builds for weeks before publication and when the special day comes, you're on the edge of your seat for hours, scanning each page and devouring every sentence. Jacques provided this excitement and celebration for many readers, including myself. Even with my TBR stacking higher than my shoulders, I couldn't resist prioritizing Skin Curse, and boy was it worth it. While reading, I was overwhelmed by Jacque's use of imagery in creating a dark, unsettling atmosphere - something I noticed and appreciate is that even though Skin Curse is set in the same realm and timeline of Marrow Charm, the books are very unique logistically and allow readers to form different attachments to each installment. Complimenting this, Jacques went above and beyond with the character and plot development - if you had any doubts about the first book, they will be washed away by the climactic battles, sensational supernatural elements, and inspirational protagonists.
My Favourite Thing: Similar to when I read Marrow Charm, I was in awe over the world building. Set in what I interpret as a parallel universe, Jacques created a complex government and magic system that ruled the plot and atmosphere. Every page was consistently eerie and unsettling, making engagement with the text easy. I credit all of the stars to the world building of both Marrow Charm and Skin Curse!
My Least Favourite Thing: I awarded 4/5 stars to Marrow Charm, but with no hesitation I am giving Skin Curse the final star. With all intentions of being frank, I did not dislike a single thing in this book!