“Evangeline’s Heaven” is a unique reimagining of the fall of Lucifer, and what that fall looked like from the eyes of his daughter. Raised almost comp“Evangeline’s Heaven” is a unique reimagining of the fall of Lucifer, and what that fall looked like from the eyes of his daughter. Raised almost completely by her Lucifer, Evangeline is completely devoted to her father and is his loyal little soldier. When a decree comes that states that all Commoner angels—like Lucifer and Evangeline—are being banished to Earth to tend to God’s new fledgling creation, the humans, Lucifer and the other Commoner’s push back against the regal class of angels, the Dominion. The Dominion have always treated Evangeline’s people with extreme prejudice, especially Evangeline, who is half of both thanks to her mother. But while Evangeline’s cause may be good, her father’s true intentions are clouded in secrecy—a shroud that Evangeline does not want lifted until she has no choice but to see Lucifer for who he truly is, and then she will have to deal with the consequences.
This reimagining is definitely on the younger side of YA, despite the character’s ages. The writing style is a close present tense 3rd POV which, admittedly, is not my favorite, but I think suits the subject matter of this novel. And, speaking of the subject matter: if you are not a fan or just simply not interested in stories centered on Christian creation myths, this may not be to your liking or understanding, but that being said, I thought the creativity the author approached the source material with was very well thought out. The hierarchy of angels, the different classes within those angels, and how the various Heavens—or realms really—are laid out was all very well done and, even though there are a lot of names, I never once felt lost or confused about who was who or what was going on. Even if I did wonder how the Dominion angels could tell the difference between themselves, the Archangels, and the Commoners, because no real physical difference or anything like that is ever brought up by the MC.
I think that was my only real issue with this story. You don’t get a ton of description about the characters or the differences between Commoners and the more “elite” angels, you only see the abuse through what happens to Evangeline at their hands during her school days, and never anything more wide spread that would help solidify Lucifer’s justification for the initial rebellion. The first half of the book can be a bit slow at times as well, full of a lot of flashbacks in between character dialogue instead of actual movement or dialogue from the characters themselves, which definitely would have helped with pacing, and maybe given the light romance elements more legs to stand on. Most the flashbacks center on the bullying Evangeline faces, but it would have been nice to see it unfold in real time rather than breaking up the flow of present dialogue and situations. I do understand this is a very short read, but I think a little more of those touches could have really helped the characters.
The second half of the book is where the story really finds its stride, with Evangeline firmly on the path to self-discovery and actively moving toward a goal of her own choosing, rather than one plotted out for her by her manipulative father. Her adventure with her crush in order to keep the various heavens from all being destroyed is full of great action scenes, and I love it when an author isn’t afraid to put her main characters in physical and emotional peril. And while I think the story ended a little abruptly, I did really enjoy the twist toward the end. I just wish the first half was as exciting, which is why this gets a very solid 3.5 stars from me. All in all, this was a very creative debut novel, and bonus points for it being a standalone, too! And thanks to the author and Literary Bound Tours for a copy of the book for an honest review....more
I have never read a YA fantasy novelette quite like “Spellraiser” and I mean that in the best way possible. It’s a familiar storyline: a rich prep schI have never read a YA fantasy novelette quite like “Spellraiser” and I mean that in the best way possible. It’s a familiar storyline: a rich prep school where those of lesser means are constantly bullied and looked down upon, except that there is a magical mystery underfoot. In the world of “Spellraiser” magic is an accepted thing, so there’s no real need for the characters to explain what’s happening to one another, which helps given the novelette’s unique styling—100 chapters of only one hundred words. In this world, spells are basically spirits that give the wielder—or the person being possessed—a wish-like attribute, be it beauty, strength, invincibility, or even the ability to read minds. The catch is, you have to release the spell every day or risk being completely consumed, and you can’t have more than 5 in you at a time or you will literally burn up. That’s not our main characters problem though. Her problem is that students keep dying mysteriously and she, as an outcast, keeps getting blamed for their deaths.
It's no surprise that this was a super interesting and quick read; the chapter structure at times gave this book a lyrical style that I really enjoyed. The illustrations are stunning and fit the tone of the story perfectly, I just wish there were more of them throughout the book! I think my only qualm is that, while I think the structure and format is really interesting and pays off very well at times, it did mean that certain aspects of the story and its characters could not be explored to their fullest, which is seen most toward the end, but maybe the author will write a sequel? The story is complete on its own, don’t get me wrong, but there is plenty left that the author could explore without being redundant to this book either, just saying. But that’s why I’m giving it 4 stars, I think I’ll remember this book more for its clever, experimental formatting than for its characters. Still, if you like quick and dark YA fantasy, I highly recommend “Spellraiser!” And thanks to the author for providing me with a copy for an honest review....more
I’ve never read a purely cozy fantasy before. I didn’t know that such a genre existed, but it was a nice departure from the high stakes “the hero has I’ve never read a purely cozy fantasy before. I didn’t know that such a genre existed, but it was a nice departure from the high stakes “the hero has to save the world from destruction” narrative that most high fantasy stories adopt. “Legends & Lattes” follows Viv, an orc who has retired from the adventuring life in order to open a coffee shop in an area where coffee and lattes are foreign words and abstract concepts. Can she do it? Will her little café survive? Those are the stakes. They are low and endearing and, even though a good portion of the book is just Viv and her friends literally building and setting up her shop, it was never boring and surprisingly sweet and engaging.
The author did a great job narrating his own book, giving each character a distinctive voice, and of course the emphasis was perfect because the author intimately knew when and where to go all out with his voice work. But that aside, I loved Viv as a character and how she desperately wanted a new, fresh start where blood and bounties weren’t the sum of her being. I loved the dynamic between her and the friends she meets while setting up her shop, and the slow burn that comes along with it as well. The friendships were powerful, the romance tender without being the sole focus, and the little twists this short book takes helped make the story exciting even with such relatively low stakes in a high fantasy setting. Even though this book was a standalone, I eagerly await more cozy fantasy set in this world, which is why this cute little book gets 5 stars from me. It was such a genuinely comforting read, one I didn’t know how badly I needed while being up late at night with a newborn until now, either....more
I devoured this book on the beach. Which may seem a bit odd considering that the story takes place in the gloomy, often wet, underbelly of Victorian LI devoured this book on the beach. Which may seem a bit odd considering that the story takes place in the gloomy, often wet, underbelly of Victorian London, but go with me on this one. I loved Ingrid and Byrnes as a leading couple. You get the cool, collected blue-blood (not a vampire), who is desperate to get “revenge” on the hot-blooded, strong willed, and flirtatious verwulfen (think werewolf but without the actual shift) because she’s the only one to truly best him. Then throw in a really well-crafted paranormal murder mystery plot on top of that. I thought the romance itself was steamy when needed, and sweet and tender as the couple grew, making it both a slow burn romance, and just the right level of animalistic passion at the same time. Personally, I like my romance books with a heavy dose of plot that isn’t centered on the couple hooking up, and “Mission: Improper” delivered on all fronts!
I haven’t read any of the other books in McMaster’s London Steampunk series, so I had no attachment to any of the side characters in this book that, supposedly, have more of a focus in other stories. Which is probably why the few chapters that were in Ava or Gemma’s point of view were the least interesting to me, though they do serve as good introductions to the central couple characters in the next books in the Blue Blood Conspiracy series. I really enjoyed the world building in this series though, the steampunk elements were well done, and I absolutely loved the twist the author takes toward the traditional vampire/werewolf romances, and just those paranormal creatures in general.
But my favorite thing about this book in particular was just how evenly matched Byrnes and Ingrid are. There is no odd power dynamic which is typical when you have romances with paranormal people. In many ways, Ingrid is more than just Byrne’s match when it comes to strength and fighting abilities, she has just as much experience as him, and there’s no questionable age gap between an immortal being and a young person. Both are cunning and smart, and believably damaged to where the answer to “fixing” them doesn’t necessarily lie just in sex, which made them incredibly well-rounded characters. But, given each of the books' in this series focuses on new characters and different types of mysteries each time, I was left wanting a bit more closure to the actual case Ingrid and Byrnes were working together before it switches to the new couple in the next book, which is why I’m giving it 4.5 stars. But, either way, it was highly enjoyable and I’ll definitely be adding more books from this series to my TBR!...more
I was able to read “A Bad Breed” in just two days’ time; it’s a super easy read that’s brimming with a delightful gothic atmosphere. This book takes aI was able to read “A Bad Breed” in just two days’ time; it’s a super easy read that’s brimming with a delightful gothic atmosphere. This book takes an interesting twist to the Beauty and the Beast stories, and while the author says this can be read as a standalone, I’d almost recommend against that. I’ve read one of Ross’ books so I had a brief idea of what Anne was and how her powers functioned, but without that… I think you’d be pretty lost, or feel like the book was lacking in some way. But, ultimately, the book is more than just a Beauty and Beast story, but also part mystery over what happened to Anne, and who is behind the attacks in a remote village. In fact, you don’t even really meet Anne until almost 40% of the book, which I have mixed feelings about…
I really wanted more of Anne. I wanted to see more of her and the “beast” and get a better understanding of him and the society he’s a part of. His reasons for taking Anne were so flimsy that I really felt like there needed to be more of his tortured backstory, or what have you, in order to really sell him as someone Anne would fall for, because by the end, I can’t say I cared much for his character. I really liked Anne and Vivienne though, and I greatly enjoyed Alec, too! For such a short book, there were a lot of characters that I wanted more of, whose plot lines in the story could have used a little more page time, as well. So, while I generally like Ross’ writing style, this is one of those instances where the story itself needed to be a bit longer in order for the plot and characters to get the weight and justice I felt they all deserved.
Ultimately, “A Bad Breed” reads more like a prequel to what’s to come in the fourth book in this series. The steam and sex scenes were done well in this book, even if they were very brief, but because of how the characters behaved and what they did at the end, I can’t really say I have much of an interest in continuing if they are the central couple again, however, I am really motivated to go back and finish Ross’ “Fourth Element Series”! Which is why this gets a solid 3 stars from me, it was fine, but there needed to be a bit more in order to give this story the substance I felt it needed, and I didn't like the "beast" at the end at all, either....more
East of the Sun, West of the Moon is one of those fairytales that feels like it gets done all the time, because of how closely Beauty and the Beast reEast of the Sun, West of the Moon is one of those fairytales that feels like it gets done all the time, because of how closely Beauty and the Beast resembles this original tale. But “Daylight’s Curse” was a fresh take on an old classic with all the hallmarks of big, epic fantasies that Hackett is so masterful at crafting. We follow Sebrena, an elf woman who struggles with belonging in her tight knit community as the only one without magic. Through a deal to help her family and her people, despite their ridicule, Sabrena agrees to marry the broody fae prince, who is cursed to be a dragon during the day, returning to his true form at night. Like Sabrena, Kiran also makes a deal that puts him at a disadvantage in order to protect the continent. Which makes for such a strong basis for these two characters, forced into a marriage neither truly wants, to build a genuine, and beautiful relationship from. As long as they don’t accidentally trigger the curse that could see their world destroyed by the evil troll sorceress in the meantime, of course.
Ok, let’s get the disclaimers out of the way: I was a critique partner for the author on this novel. I got to see the very first draft of this story, and trust me when I say, the updates and refinement that Hackett put into this novel were phenomenal. Rereading this story in its final form was an utter delight, and I am forever grateful to the author for trusting me enough to read her work of art in such a raw form. That being said, that’s why I waited until I could read the final version of this book before rating or reviewing the story, because a lot can change on the editing floor. But I was not disappointed in the slightest.
If you are unfamiliar with the original East of the Sun, West of the Moon story, I am happy to say you don’t have to know that tale in order to enjoy Daylight’s Curse. It can help with really understanding major plot points, but not having that knowledge base doesn’t detract from the magic within this story. If you’re a fan of classic fantasy elements like glittering magic, elves, fae, dragons, trolls, sirens, and a score of magical creatures, then you’ll love this story. Hackett not only incorporates all those elements flawlessly into this standalone romance, she does so with a healthy dose of heart and pure emotion. Because outside of all those fantastic elements, Sabrena is learning to love herself, to take up her space, to thrive, and that she is more than enough just as she is. It’s a beautiful message that I fully support! But, if that wasn’t enough, you have incredible family and found family bonds on top of a very tender and emotional love story. Oh, and did I mention all the action this book has? For such a lovely tale, there are plenty of action scenes to keep the pacing of this novel strong throughout.
Sabrena and Kiran are an amazing couple, but this book is full of well-developed side characters, too. I’m partial to Nakia, myself. But Hackett is a master of subtly, too, so I highly recommend you pay attention to her words, and not just because her use of prose is lovely, either (even though it is). Part III of this book flew by, so be prepared to not get any sleep when you hit that section! Plus, there are some absolutely gorgeous illustrations strewn throughout the novel which I love to stare at even after the book’s completion. If you are looking for a NA, standalone fantasy with some sweet romance and beautiful, emotional themes throughout, you’ll want to read Daylight’s Curse ASAP!...more
I loved the first book in the Skysail Saga, “The Apotheosis Break”. But I read the first book in 2017, not terribly long after it first came out, and I loved the first book in the Skysail Saga, “The Apotheosis Break”. But I read the first book in 2017, not terribly long after it first came out, and the sequel, “The Gestalt Job” was published at the end of 2019. So, to say there has been a lapse where I had a hard time remembering important details would be an understatement. Which wasn’t helped by the fact that this book starts with our main character, Vasili, having forgotten big chunks of what occurred in the previous adventure as well. It’s part of the mystery woven throughout the whole story, so it is by design, but even so. Vasili remembers bits and pieces of his past adventure, the theft of the shard at a nobles party, the betrayal, a lost friend, and his own harrowing escape, but what he doesn’t remember is how he got from that escape to being back on the airship with the same crew who might have been the cause of that betrayal. The same crew who still don’t seem to want to, or are able to, tell Vasili about the one thing he craves above all else: stories of the father he never knew. A lot of the themes in this book are the same as its predecessor: innocent, naïve little Vasili fumbling in a world he doesn’t understand but is determined to be Vasili the Brave all the same. So, what I wanted were the answers Vasili has been on a quest for over the course of this series. Instead, the mystery only got deeper.
The steampunk vibes are all still there, the way the airships operate and the quest to get these shards in order to power incredible machines that border on magic are in full swing, but I definitely needed some sort of recap, as the book can feel a bit like diving into the deep end both with terminology of the airships and with what’s happening to Vasili and why. But where this book shines is its distinctive dialogue. All the characters have such unique voices and personalities that really shine through their banter. So while there is a lot of dialogue (and some really long chapters) I didn’t mind because I enjoyed reading the character interactions. The characters all tease these really in-depth backstories and traumas through a war-torn country that I wish we got more of, but Vasili is such an ignorant kid that there’s just too much to unpack. I do like that Vasili isn’t the typical YA hero where he is suddenly better and more adept than the adults at everything, it was a refreshing change, but it did get a bit tiresome at times. Vasili acts much younger than his years and he seems to know literally nothing thanks to the mystery around his spotty memory. It was a charming plot device for a while, but toward the end I became desperate for the authors to provide me and Vasili with some kind of closure or an epiphany, or something!
Even though it has been a while since I read the first book, I do remember the first installment of the story being a lot more exciting. More close calls, and more the adventure that Vasili so loves to read about in his fiction novels. This book was markedly slower, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it did mean that I felt like I was waiting a very long time for the plot to pick up and get going. Our crew has been commandeered by a Judge to hunt down a ruthless shard thief, and somehow Vasili is the key to catching this person. But so much time is spent with our characters just trying to catch up and teach Vasili how to be a deckhand, that often I felt like I forgot what we were supposed to be doing up in the skies. Especially as no one seems to either know, or care to explain to Vasili why people care so much about him—all he knows is it has to do with his father but no one will tell him why. We get snippets here and there as Vasili eavesdrops on the crew, but it never really felt like enough.
This is still an excellent steampunk series, one where the steampunk elements are ingrained in the world as a whole, into the culture of every nation the reader is taken to. It’s not just a cool vibe the authors added, and I love that! When the action is there, it’s exciting and explosive and will have you racing through the chapter to find out what happens next, but I just felt like there wasn’t enough of it to truly balance the book out. Plus, the book ends in a very similar place to where it started and that was the most disappointing thing to me of all, and why this book is getting 4 stars from me. The characters are fantastic, the world is full and expertly crafted, but Vasili can be frustrating at times and too many of the promises and mysteries that we started with still remain by the books end, which makes me worried that the third book will see just more of what we already got with “The Gestalt Job”. Only time will tell, but thanks to the authors for providing me a copy for an honest review!...more
“Sacred Mounds” is a historical fantasy and magical realism tale full of prose and a dual timeline with its main characters living 400 years apart. Wh“Sacred Mounds” is a historical fantasy and magical realism tale full of prose and a dual timeline with its main characters living 400 years apart. What connects Lewis and Skyfisher? Not much, and that’s the point. Skyfisher is on a quest to save his people, and the world, through strengthening the connection his people have to these sacred mounds. In order to do that, he must inhabit the body of someone in the future in order to bring those memories, appreciation, and understanding of these mounds and Natchez people to a place where they are otherwise almost forgotten. But while Skyfisher is in the future, inhabiting Lewis’ body, Lewis’ consciousness is placed into Skyfisher. Now Lewis is in the body of a blind man, with a wife he can’t communicate to, on a mission he knows nothing about, but he has to complete it if he ever wants to return to his rightful time and body.
The prose used in this book is lovely and gives it a literary feel that you don’t often see with historical fantasies, especially ones where a type of time travel is used. Sometimes that prose did get in the way of the story, in that it can take awhile to understand why Skyfisher, and the Shining Ones like him, are on this quest, or why they need to swap with people in the future to begin with. This book is full of different mysteries, and that’s just one of them! But there are machinations moving within Skyfisher’s tribe that Lewis has to navigate, as well as dealings with a crime family that wants Skyfisher for their own reasons as he inhabits Lewis’ body. There’s a lot going on in both timelines that can get confusing at times, but the clues are all there if you look for them. Which I applaud the author for being able to do in such a beautifully written way! But, personally, I would have liked some of those questions to have firmer answers.
I am not an own voices reviewer, but I believe the author did do a lot of research, and did their due diligence in speaking with the Natchez leaders so that their people and traditions were accurately portrayed in this work of fiction. I really appreciated the lengths the author went to in order to include that level of accuracy in his novel. However, because of the lyrical nature of this book (which is quite lovely, honestly) I am unsure if Skyfisher and Lewis actually succeeded come the end of the book. Which isn’t a bad thing necessarily, that’s not this kind of book, but it was hard to tell what actually had changed come the end of the story, at least for me personally. But that’s why I’m giving it 4 stars, the magical realism was amazing, there was plenty of action and intrigue, but I was still left a bit unsure come the end of Lewis and Skyfisher’s story. Maybe that means there will be a sequel? But thank you to the author for sending me an ARC for an honest review!...more
I’m going to keep this review as brief as humanly possible, not because I don’t have thoughts on the final book in the Looking Glass Wars, but becauseI’m going to keep this review as brief as humanly possible, not because I don’t have thoughts on the final book in the Looking Glass Wars, but because this book is impossible to talk about if you haven’t read the first two books (and really, why are you reading reviews for this if you haven’t read the other two books?). But in “ArchEnemy” Alyss finds herself ruling over a queendom still suffering from a lack of imagination as the effects of book two are still being felt. There are factions of dissent Alyss never knew existed in Wonderland, and her enemies are still out there, waiting, and closing in… This book is almost non-stop action, which is what I expected given how things ended in the last book and what needed to happen this time around. But I also thought, given this was the final book in the series, that a lot of character work would be done as well and, unfortunately, there wasn’t.
I will say that this book is incredibly easy to read. The chapters are short, often ending on cliffhangers that make you keep going. The equivalent of shoveling popcorn in your face during an action movie. Which is really what this reads like, and if this series was made into a movie or show, I’d absolutely watch it! The author has such a clear vision for what this version of Wonderland looks like, the clothes, the weapons, the choreography of the action scenes, that it really does come through on the page (unless you don’t like that, then you’ll be confused or just skimming a lot). But the author put so much energy into that, into bouncing between characters as things get more and more dire, that the actual character development was incredibly stilted, or not there at all. This felt the most glaring, to me, for Alyss and Dodge who, arguably, I should have cared for the most and should have had the most growth given their relationship.
Too much page time was spent with the villains, and not enough on the people fighting to put Wonderland back together again. When the attention is split that much, and so little is spent on character description of any kind in favor of weapon and action descriptions, it felt, at times, like big things were happening “off screen”. Plans were developed the reader doesn’t see, except when the characters are about to execute the plan, or after it’s been enacted. The plot felt light, relying too heavily on oracles making things happen “because” and the rest of the characters flailing about, rather than being active participants in the fate of the queendom. That being said, I did really like how no imagination in Wonderland made Earth suffer. It was an interesting way to raise the stakes for Alyss, though it amounted to little. Same goes with how those with Imagination initially liked that it went away, how not having that burden to constantly create was creating its own burnout for them, but at the end of the day, they still couldn’t function without it. I loved those touches and wish more had been done with them!
All in all, I didn’t mind this book. Like I said, it’s easy to read, a very popcorn action adventure that took very little of my brain power to follow, which is kind of what I like in the summer months. But for how strong this series started this final book just wasn’t the climax I was hoping for. It’s not bad, it just needed more when it came to character building and resolutions in my opinion. The author had an amazing idea for this series, I just think the plot and subplots got away from him in favor of the visuals. I still think this series will be a lot of fun for younger readers after they read Through the Looking Glass. So, just like it’s predecessor, this final book in the Looking Glass Wars gets 3 stars from me because I think it’s going to be one of those stories and series I forget about, and don’t think about ever again....more
“Terminal Static” is the second book in the Echo Trail series, so if you haven’t read “Resurrection Road” yet, do that before reading this review. I’l“Terminal Static” is the second book in the Echo Trail series, so if you haven’t read “Resurrection Road” yet, do that before reading this review. I’ll do my best to avoid all spoilers, but you never know what may slip through the veil. In this second book, Laz, Zeke, and Eden are looking to relax after surviving their encounter with the blood mage, each has changed to varying degrees, but none more so than Zeke. This second book focuses more on his emotional journey and I loved seeing him struggle with wanting to remain who he was in the face of all the new changes he’s undergoing, and what that may mean for his family—considering his father got out of the hunting life a long time ago. But of course, the consequences of their showdown with the blood mage continue to follow them in surprising, and really creepy ways!
I had the honor of beta reading an early copy of “Terminal Static” but I didn’t want to rate or review this story until after the final book hit the wider world. A lot can change between those early versions, but the bones of this Supernatural inspired series are all strong, so of course the final iteration of this book turned out even better than I could have imagined! While I generally knew where this story was going, rereading it still felt like a new experience as there was a new layer of subtly over the story that kept me fully invested in these characters and their adventures all over again.
The second book has a creepy factor to it that is much more intense than its predecessor. It’s a slow burn build of unsettling events mingled with the feeling of constantly being watched… This book would be perfect to read on chilly nights if you’re looking to up that spooky factor! It’s not so much that I’d call it horror, but just like the show Supernatural, you get moments of really fantastic body shivers. I won’t say more than that because I don’t want to spoil the big reveal, but let’s just say that when things escalate in this book, they escalate FAST. It was a treat to watch each of the characters deal with their fears as well, as it really allows Marae to showcase just how well-crafted and different each character is. Everyone felt so distinct and unique from one another! While Eden and Laz are adorable together, I have to say that Zeke and his sunshine demeanor and Mab’s pure bad babe sass make them my favorites hands down.
True to Supernatural form, each of the Echo Trail books focus on one “case”, as it were, with an overarching mystery/monster that the characters are heading toward. In “Terminal Static” who and what they are heading toward becomes a little clearer, and has me so excited for the third book, which is why I am giving this book 5 stars. The slow burn romance is really starting to heat up, and the ghosts and monsters are getting more intense, which has me both excited and worried for the characters! I can’t wait to see how our main group grows and evolves next!...more
Hello, and welcome back to another “Chelscey was real late to the party on this one” review. Yes, I am finally diving into the Witchlands with “TruthwHello, and welcome back to another “Chelscey was real late to the party on this one” review. Yes, I am finally diving into the Witchlands with “Truthwitch” and yes, it’s my first book by Susan Dennard though I have followed her and her writing advice for years now. And coming out of this book, I can finally appreciate the “it’s me” and not the book feelings. Because “Truthwitch” is such a firm YA novel with its chosen one tropes and bonded pairs, and that’s great, but not for me as an actual adult anymore. It’s kind of nice knowing that that’s just a problem with me and not Safi and her witchery, so I can remove that element and really decipher what did and didn’t work for me.
This first book in the series sets up an immense world. One where there seems to be a new, and only slightly nuanced version, of a witch almost every other page. Honestly though, for a world where it seems like the magic users were on the losing end of a war that led to a 20-year truce, there’s a lot of witches, and some are unique one-of-a-kind witches, but there’s a lot of those one-off witches too, so it’s like… magic is just all over the place. And when you have Bloodwitches like Aeudan (who is my favorite already, no shame) it’s hard to see what all the fuss is about concerning Safiya and her truthwitch powers. They just doesn’t seem all that powerful compared to others, and certainly not a big deal politically for all these nations to suddenly be clamoring for her and having her in the middle of all these political games she and her Threadsister are amazingly oblivious to. Which means, yes, the plot mainly happens TO these girls, Safi and Iseult, for the vast majority of the book rather than them being active participants. The powers that be have placed these girls in the middle of plots and political intrigue, so when the action starts happening, they have no idea why. So, for most of the book, it’s just them running away rather than actively affecting the plot itself. That changes a bit toward the end, but honestly, for the first half (well, over half) I was a bit frustrated that these girls weren’t more active in their own future and plans.
It did take a hot minute to get into the book, too. The world building is massive, and Dennard plops you into it in such a way where I genuinely thought I skipped a book that would have explained this world and its powers and connections. Which may be a problem for real young adult readers. It’s not a matter of the book being slow or hard to get into, but the story starts with a lot of terminology and political structure that is meant to be explained through the context of the situation and story, but that takes a bit to really get, too because of, again, all the different types of witches you get introduced to almost every other chapter. It sets the foundation for the larger series, and I get that, but I also don’t like feeling confused about a character’s world for half of the book, either.
All that being said, Dennard can write (even if this book over used italics)! All the characters (and there are a lot) felt distinct from one another and I loved the diversity of her cast. I especially loved the strong friendships in this book, especially the one between Safiya and Iseult. It was so refreshing to read about these two girls so furiously devoted to each other in a platonic way, it was genuinely beautiful. I am most curious about Aeudan and his story though, which maybe I shouldn’t be? But here we are. So even with my issues of the fragmented magic system, and me finally realizing I may not enjoy YA as much as I once did, I’m intrigued enough to keep going with the series, which I have been assured gets better. But that’s why I am giving “Truthwitch” a pretty solid 3 stars, some of it was a me issue, but not everything. Too bad it took me so long to read this that now my paperback won’t match the rest of the books… Oh well!...more
I am so happy to announce that the special edition hardcover of Deadlock is here! This full color hardcover includes new chapter headings, plus all thI am so happy to announce that the special edition hardcover of Deadlock is here! This full color hardcover includes new chapter headings, plus all the incredible character art that was commissioned for the second book in Ellinor's series. It truly is a work of art, in my humble opinion....more
I am a huge Locked Tomb fan, just ask the tattoo of Gideon the Ninth I got on my shoulder. So to say my expectations for Nona the Ninth were high woulI am a huge Locked Tomb fan, just ask the tattoo of Gideon the Ninth I got on my shoulder. So to say my expectations for Nona the Ninth were high would be putting it mildly. I love the voices and characters and the gothic sci-fi fantasy that Muir has created. Her ability to create such distinct voices for each and everyone of her main cast, even outside of Harrow and Gideon is, to me, masterful. But I was worried when this planned trilogy suddenly became a quadruple series. I was curious why Nona was so interesting or unique that she required, suddenly, her own book. Unfortunately, this story was the weakest to me in the series, especially when put up against Gideon and Harrow’s title books.
Here's the thing: Nona reads completely like a middle book, pure setup for what’s to come in Alecto. I kind of expected that given how this story came to be, but I didn’t expect it to be so obvious with it feeling like a middle story. While Nona is incredibly sweet and loveable, and such a stark bundle of sunshine in an otherwise very dark and brutal world, it was hard to be in such a juvenile head in a very adult story and conflict against the necromancer empire. I’ve read Gideon and Harrow multiple times, and if I hadn’t (especially Gideon the Ninth) this book would have been unnecessarily complicated, and not because the story is complex with an intricate use of POV the way Harrow’s story was, but because Nona knows literally nothing of what’s happening to or around her. Plus Blood of Eden loves their silly code names and that added another layer of “oh wait, so that’s who that is” that didn’t add much to the story, especially when the reader is already dealing with a lot of soul and body swapping. After reading Nona and getting to know her, I don’t think she was the right voice for this book. She couldn’t carry the weight of her story the way the other two POV characters could.
That’s not to say I hated this book, far from it! Being able to get a more domestic look at Cam and Palamedes relationship was the star of this story to me. Their yearning to speak face to face with one another was heartbreaking and really reminded me of the place Harrow and Gideon got to in Canaan House. But this story just didn’t add much to the world, or even the place we left off in Harrow’s story. I got very little new information that Harrow’s book didn’t already provide. Yes, the transition from Gideon to Harrow was rough, so I was prepared for Nona to be similar, but this wasn’t rough, it was, sadly, dull. I kept hoping things would turn around at the end because that’s what Muir does; she crafts these slow burn stories that get absolutely wild at the end. That happened, partially, but in such a weird POV because of what was happening to Nona that I didn’t get the same level of satisfaction I did from the crazy twists in Harrow the Ninth.
Nona the Ninth is, to put it simply, padding for Alecto the Ninth, it’s not even fluff. There are a few great lines of banter, but not to the extent we got before. This book was merely fine when I was expecting and pining for greatness, which frankly, this deep into the series, I don’t think is unreasonable to want. I’ll probably read this again in audiobook before Alecto’s book comes out, mostly because I want to see just how necessary this story was to what we’ll eventually get in Alecto. Suffice it to say, if I get to Alecto and it turns out I could have skipped Nona altogether I’ll be 1. Annoyed that Muir wasted my time with Nona and 2. Glad to get back to the real stars of this series, finally. But that’s ultimately why this book gets 3 stars from me. Here’s hoping Alecto actually gives us what we’ve been teased with for so long now, though my fear is that Muir will be sidelining both Harrow and Gideon in favor of John and Alecto… Lets hope I’m wrong about that....more
I LOVED Spin the Dawn, it was one of my favorite books when I first read it, which set up exceedingly high expectations for the sequel, I will admit. I LOVED Spin the Dawn, it was one of my favorite books when I first read it, which set up exceedingly high expectations for the sequel, I will admit. Unravel the Dusk starts off almost immediately from where its predecessor leaves off, with Maia trying to save her kingdom by ensuring the emperor marries Lady Sarnai, but of course Sarnai has other plans. When she runs off, Maia has to step into her shoes and hope no one notices, which isn’t even a good plan on paper given how widely different in temperament both these women are. When the emperor’s foes wage war in force again, it’s left to Maia to find a way to save her country, which becomes harder and harder as she loses her internal battle against the demon inside of her. Gone is the fun plot line from the first book where Maia learns to wield her magic scissors to weave garments worthy of the gods, and instead is replaced by demon magic that, I felt, got overly repetitive.
So much of what I loved in Spin the Dawn just doesn’t make much of an appearance in this book, which includes Edan who doesn’t show up for quite awhile and whose role has been pushed to even more of a side character. Maia’s power to create beauty that brings peace is gone, the banter that I loved in the first book doesn’t make an appearance at all, and instead of fighting for her family or to prove that being a woman doesn’t make her any lesser than anyone else in her profession, she’s constantly cleaning up Lady Sarnai’s mess, convinced that she, and she alone, is capable of solving everything. While Lady Sarnai was always abrasive, in this book it felt… overly much so. Mainly because she does things that feel so out of character to her—like running away. So instead of Maia proving herself, she has to give into dark powers in order to keep her country from falling, a darkness she fights against the whole time which made a fair amount of the narration rather repetitive in my opinion. It also made this book rather bleak for a YA story. It seems like every character (save Edan) tells Maia that she’s doomed, saving A’landi is hopeless, don’t fight, you’ll die, surrender, give up. So few characters ever stop to try and help Maia figure anything out that I got incredibly frustrated with nearly every single one of the side characters (save Ammi), whereas in Spin the Dawn, that was never the case.
Unravel the Dusk read like a completely different series with how little any of the magic or strength of the characters showed up in this book. Plus, reading it, I just felt so hopeless half the time, which does mirror what Maia was going through, but there was just so much of those themes with no break with anything light hearted. I think, maybe, if Maia was actually using more of her weaver skills and powers and that had more of a focal point besides just her demon side and pushing back against it, that the balancing between the first book and what comes next would have been better.
That being said, I still love Lim’s writing style, and I deeply appreciate the reoccurring theme of women taking charge and choosing to follow their dreams. The Asian inspired mythology that Lim uses is wonderful and I love the world that her stories take place in. But I was expecting more from this book, and whether that’s fair or not, I don’t know, but at the end of the day, I just didn’t enjoy it as much as Spin the Dawn which makes me more sad than anything else. That’s why I’m giving this book 3 stars, but definitely do still recommend this duology as whole (plus, the covers just look amazing next to each other). Hopefully, with this in mind, you won’t be as disappointed as I was and so can enjoy the book more!...more
“The Nature of Witches” is a true, and beautiful, YA story featuring a heroine born with a wonderful and strong power that she does not want because o“The Nature of Witches” is a true, and beautiful, YA story featuring a heroine born with a wonderful and strong power that she does not want because of the devastating effects it can have on those closest to her. Clara, as the only Ever in over a century, is desperately needed to hold the world’s atmosphere together while witches and non-witches alike figure out how to reverse the effects of climate change. But Clara feels too out of control, too scared of her own magic to want the responsibility. If she can’t keep her magic from hurting those she loves, she’d rather not have it at all. See what I mean about this being a true-blue YA novel? This book is very much a coming of age, self-discovery novel with the overall message being: love heals, but you have to be willing to let it. It’s a beautiful message, and there were some equally beautiful scenes in this book, too. So why was I kind of “meh” about it?
Ultimately it came down to the main character, I just did not like her. I can appreciate that the MC wasn’t written for me, an actual adult, but even so. When there is a character in the story calling out Clara for being purposefully defeatist and weak, you have to kind of assume that the author knew Clara was being a pill, right? Clara is very wrapped up in her own personal fears about her magic, and while valid, it’s hard to sympathize when she also sees how not using her magic hurts the world at large. A lot of Clara’s seclusion and loneliness is self-imposed, so it got a bit hard to feel bad for her at times. Having a lot of inner turmoil as the driving factor for a book is fine! But only if you like the character, and I had a hard time with Clara for a majority of the novel, but I am trying really hard not to hold that against the book as a whole…
I really loved Sang though, and I loved the magic system that was used in this book. Using flowers to speak through emotions? Yes please! For a book about how the changing climate is only being held together—and barely—by witches tied to the four different seasons, I never once felt preached to. So if you’re looking for a good YA book that discusses the importance of healing the planet without feeling like you’re being yelled at the whole time, this is it! The magic system, while simple, was also really lovely. I thought the idea of a witch only being powerful in their season was clever and I loved how Clara felt all the seasons and their magic, and how the magic responded to her in turn. It made me realize I am very much a late spring/early summer witch, and I am here for that.
But even with how much I enjoyed Sang and the magic, I still felt lackluster to the book as a whole. It could be because the hype train for this novel meant that I would, inevitably, be let down, or it could be that there was no true villain the way you expect in most fantasy books. Most of the conflict came from Clara not wanting to do something, or unable to do something. Sure, there are some bad characters in the book that do very questionable things, but there’s nothing for Clara to defeat, so to speak, except her own fears. I think it also would have been nice to see more of the non-witches in the story. You see a few, but ultimately the whole book takes place at the witch school and the shaders (non-witches) and their involvement with climate change are discussed, but you never really see any of them. Which is why I am giving this 3 stars. For a debut novel, it’s really impressive! I know this author is going to be amazing! But this book just didn’t sweep me away as I thought it would, which is more on me than the book, methinks, but here we are… I’ll definitely be saving this for my niece to read in the future though!...more
Imagine, if you will, a world where multiple gods roam the land, benevolent and dark alike, and all these gods can entomb themselves in those they finImagine, if you will, a world where multiple gods roam the land, benevolent and dark alike, and all these gods can entomb themselves in those they find to be worthy—whether for good or ill. Now, imagine that some of those evil gods blessed a knight with power hungry intentions, who then killed the ruling family and took over the world, essentially, plunging the kingdom into a reign of tyranny and terror, where his most loyal knights also took in gods of similar temperament to help keep “order” in the land. Of course, in a situation like that you’re going to get a band of determined rebels set on freeing the land of the demon king. Which sets them on a quest to acquire their own friendly gods and their powers in order to stand a chance against this evil king—for a price, of course. But, now, imagine that the way this group of rebels gets around and fights back is via the help of sky pirates. Are you sold yet? You should be! This was such a unique take on magic and godly power, good versus evil, and who can say no to ships that fly and the sassy pirates who command them? But, the one thing this book doesn’t fully deliver on, is the promise of romance that I was given when the author sent me her book.
The story has a very, very slow burn romance. So slow to the point of where I’d barely call it "romance" in this book as the characters are still learning to get to know and trust each other. It would give it an “enemies to lovers” vibe, except the characters aren’t really even rivals, just distrustful and a bit annoyed by each other. However, I did really like that so many characters were LGBTQ—specifically lesbian—and how the story was never about their sexuality. It didn’t define them and it was just never a thing. It was just a small part of who they were and that was really refreshing in this type of fantasy adventure. Be forewarned though, that much like many other fantasy adventures, this story also has moments of extreme graphic violence. It always makes sense with the plot and goes to show the kind of forces our heroes are up against, but just be aware in case that’s something you are sensitive to.
I really liked the contrast between the two female lead characters too! You have mysterious, beautiful, righteous Ferrah who doesn’t let anyone get too close, never reveals anything personal, but has such a strong conviction on what is right and wrong and how to make things better, that she is a perfect moral compass. Her strong will makes her a natural leader, but also makes her cold and oblivious to personal matters to the point that it’s almost laughable. But that’s where Feras comes in, with her humor, her love of a good time and loyalty to her crew. She sees the world for how it is, realistic, but never fatalistic. She’s pure fun and danger with a soft core, so whenever she and Ferrah interact, they butt heads because each has different methods and ideas about how to go about doing something. I will say that Feras was my favorite character through, I loved how she would tell it like it is without the idealist views a lot of the rebels had about getting this revolution going.
The creativity of the different gods and their powers was really interesting to see, and while it felt like getting to these deities was a bit too easy at times, figuring out how to use their godly powers never was. For a debut novel and series, “A Flight in the Heavens” does a fabulous job setting up the long-term plot for the series. Enough gets accomplished in this first book that I never felt like the book ended before it truly started, but there are enough mysteries and teases—plus a sort of cliffhanger ending—to where I am intrigued and eager to find out what happens next! I just wish the romance aspects had entered the story perhaps a little sooner, and that there was more of a challenge when acquiring the theurgy of the gods on occasion, which is why I am giving this book 4 stars, but all my issues are personal preferences rather than anything wrong with the book itself. This was a really fun fantasy adventure with steampunk flavors, and I can’t wait to see what happens next for the characters! And thanks to the author for sending me a copy for an honest review....more
*sings* “Carry on my wayward son, there’ll be peace when you are done…” Good, now that I have summoned Supernatural fans worldwide, come, sit right he*sings* “Carry on my wayward son, there’ll be peace when you are done…” Good, now that I have summoned Supernatural fans worldwide, come, sit right here and let me tell you about this fabulous debut novel, “Resurrection Road.” We follow a mage with no memories from beyond 5 years ago, and two cousin hunters doing their thing, when one broken down car brings this trio, and their literal best dog in the world, together to find a missing friend. And, because we’ve got two hunters leading the search and rescue party, there’s many a detour along the way to put down ghosts, releasing them back into the Good Night where they can complete their journey. But not all the spirits and monsters this group encounter are what they seem, while others are exactly what they seem to be. All the while, through the hunting and searching, these three characters grow in incredible ways, from not being trusting of mages—and people in general—to trying to prove their worth not just as a hunter, but person, to deciding not to run from some mysterious past, but toward a grounded future. Honestly, there is a reason why I summoned you SPN fans here, and that’s because this book is for you!
Marae really captures the essence of what made Supernatural one of my favorite shows, she understands that while ghost and monster hunting is important, and it does make up the core of who Lazarus and Zeke are, it’s not the heart of the story. Marae’s ghost and monster hunting scenes are insanely entertaining, don’t get me wrong (plus, I enjoyed the breadth of ghosts and monsters she had, where some were exciting because they were what I expected and wanted, and others completely blew me away with their creativity). The pacing with these little side missions is spaced out perfectly along the path of helping Eden find her friend, and while the characters make these detours, the plot never does. You never lose sight of what the ultimate goal is, of where these characters need to go, and what they have to accomplish, you never once feel lost or confused, or forget what’s happening. But it is the characters that make the book so unique and special.
Each character is so distinct from one another, and each has their own path of self-discovery and growth… They are all so well rounded and deep with their own goals and dreams, which don’t always line up with the other characters goals, making for some wonderful tension. Plus, some have tragic backstories which you can’t help but eat up. The relationships in this book were wonderful too, and who doesn’t like a found family trope? But, you know me, I am a sucker for the slow burn romances, and this book has that in spades!
Marae does a fabulous job weaving her mysteries, too. So, rest assured, while this book is its own complete story, there are so many things teased, hints sprinkled throughout, that are so intriguing! This first book sets such a strong foundation for later books in the series without ending before I felt like things properly started, which has to be applauded in Urban Fantasy series since most seem to love ending on these crazy huge cliffhangers. Which is honestly why I am giving this book 5 stars: the pacing was spot on, the tension delicious, the banter laugh out loud worthy at times, and the story is a complete arc from start to finish. It really has it all for such a quick read!
I do need to mention, on a personal note, that I was an early beta reader for Resurrection Road, however that does not impact this review whatsoever. How/why? Because I base my reviews on the finished novel, not what I’ve read in early iterations. I have since bought my own copy of this book because I truly love the content so much. The genuine progress this story has made since I first looked at it is commendable; this author is going to have such an amazing career. So, get in on this before she blows up so you can be a hipster with me and say “I liked it first.” ...more
“The Vassal of Falhara” is a whimsical “chosen one” story featuring a cast of characters all derived from different animals. You have the Purebreeds—h“The Vassal of Falhara” is a whimsical “chosen one” story featuring a cast of characters all derived from different animals. You have the Purebreeds—humanoid animals that are just one type (racoon, bear etc.) and then you have the Chimera—humanoid animals that combine different breeds. To say the two races don’t like each other is a bit of an understatement, as the Purebreeds often raid the villages of the Chimera and turn them into slaves. That’s where this story starts: our MC, Morgan, has her village raided, her father killed, her mother taken as a slave, and she left to die. Determined to fulfill her father’s dying wish and save her mother, Morgan sets out to find where they have taken her, only to discover along the way that the dying goddess, Falhara, has made Morgan her Vassal. Thankfully saving her mother and bringing Falhara back are closely tied together. But despite the dire circumstances of Morgan’s quest and the danger she finds herself in as she crosses Purebreed territory, I never once really worried for her or questioned that she would succeed. So, if you are looking for low stakes, whimsical, very YA fantasy book, you may enjoy this one.
Sometimes low stakes reads are fine, they can be pretty relaxing and you can just enjoy the world building and the unique magic system the author has set up. But almost too much comes too easily for Morgan for my tastes. Fate takes too big a role in making sure the people she needs to find come to her and help her on to the very path she needs to be on. She learns how to use magic very easily and becomes very powerful very fast. This is mostly evident when she has to navigate pretending to be a slave, and how easily she is able to go through that ordeal despite the danger.
I would have also liked for the animal races to play more of a factor; outside of telling the reading that this character is, for example, a Canine and that one is a Squirrel-mongoose, they all act very human and their animal attributes rarely come into play or seem to matter beyond distinguishing the two groups from one another. And while the pacing is good at times, I thought that the competitive race Morgan finds herself in to go one a bit too long. All in all though, I think YA readers will have more fun with the unique characters of this book, and with the low tension it would be a very safe read for young readers as well. But, for me, it was too easy to put this book down and not feel drawn to really dive in for long stretches of time, hence the 3.5 stars, but that’s just my personal preference when it comes to non-cozy fantasy. But thanks to the author for sending me a copy for an honest review!...more
“A Darker Shade of Magic” was one of my favorite books that I’ve read so far this year, so I was so excited to read the sequel with my friends again a“A Darker Shade of Magic” was one of my favorite books that I’ve read so far this year, so I was so excited to read the sequel with my friends again and dive back into these magical London’s, and snuggle up next to my favorite sad boi—Kell—and most deadly and clever of thieves—Lila. “A Gathering of Shadows” takes place 4 months after the end of the first book, and all our favorites are dealing with the repercussions of that epic battle. Well, except Lila, she does what she wants, consequences be damned, but more on that later. Kell remains in the palace with Rhy, who he sacrificed everything for. But instead of being thanked for this sacrifice, his adopted family drops all pretenses of Kell being their son. And while Rhy and Kell struggle to find a new balance, to move on, to come to terms with what their lives are now, Lila lives her dreams by being part of a pirate crew, finally “getting” her own ship. Which also introduces us to a new main character—Alucard. Who is really everything you want in a pirate so I loved his introduction to the story. I loved the all too real pain of what Kell goes through now, ostracized and trapped in his gilded cage of guilt and power, but, where I ADORED Lila in the first book, in the sequel, I found myself wanting to shake her.
Here’s the thing with Lila, in the first book, her confidence and thievery is clever. She’s in a new and exciting world and is determined to see it all, to never be doubted again. I was here for that, and still am. And this book does start with Lila being her most wonderful, clever, and deadly self! But then things shift and Lila turns from clever to reckless and selfish, and she knows it. She never stops to consider anything, including the fact that she is still new to this world, the magic, and even the language. She does attempt to learn, but ultimately, she staunchly refuses to listen to those who have been dealing with magic all their lives, who know this world in and out. Each one warns her, begs her not to do things, tells her what she’s doing is dangerous and that there are laws to magic, but Lila—and Schwab really—have decided that rules do not apply to Lila and I… don’t like that. Lila is just doing what she wants, costs be damned, and she gets rewarded for that, while everyone else—including poor Kell—are the only ones suffering for the consequences of their actions, constantly trying to atone.
This second book was a lot slower than its predecessor as well, the main focus being on the magical competition that Alucard is returning to London for. Think the Goblet of Fire on steroids in terms of magical spectacle. There are no real stakes to the games, it’s just a bit of political posturing for the other nations around Red London, so while the competition is fun, and I enjoyed watching these magicians flex their power, there was no sense of danger the way there was in the first book. “A Gathering of Shadows” is purely a character study, which I like, but ultimately this storyline felt more like a companion book rather than something meant to push the plot forward. At least until the very end where things get very exciting, very real, and Kell’s angst finally gets the better of his judgement. Which I don’t blame him for, and am frankly surprised he didn’t give everyone the proverbial finger much sooner. But, ultimately, I found myself far more frustrated and low-key furious at certain characters (not just Lila, either) that this book was hard to enjoy in parts, and that kills me.
Don’t get me wrong, I DID like this book. I thought Alucard was fun and he gives me serious Stormhund vibes in terms of sassy-pirate-noble. I liked watching Kell and Rhy struggle, and loved getting Rhy’s perspective this time. But the actual plot-line dragged, parts of the story got redundant with constantly reminding us that only Kell gets to shoulder the blame from what occurred in the previous book, and with Lila becoming so self-centered and determined to tell the experts on magic that “she’s not like most girls”, that the end of the book left a bitter taste in my mouth. And that’s not to mention the fact that I knew the big “twists” well before they happened. Now whether that means they were too obvious or I’m just getting better at seeing that sort of thing, I don’t know. I still love Kell and Rhy though, and I want to see what happens next, but I didn’t have as much fun with this book as the previous, and because I am still, days later, so frustrated by Lila, I’m giving this book 3 stars. Please don’t hate me…...more
I had to take my time with this review so it wouldn’t devolve into a jumble of screeching and excited gurgles. But trust me when I say that this book I had to take my time with this review so it wouldn’t devolve into a jumble of screeching and excited gurgles. But trust me when I say that this book is like riding a roller coaster while tripping. But, you know, in the most masterful way possible. Muir is easily, and quickly, becoming one of my favorite authors; not only can she craft such a gothic and macabre, gory and intensely beautiful world, but she successfully uses ALL THREE types of POV’s in this book in order to build the most amazing mystery and the best pay out for said mystery that I’ve read in a long, long time. Which makes writing a review for this book so, so hard… I don’t want to say anything for fear it mat spoil something, which would ruin everything. But let’s give it a try, shall we?
Harrow the Ninth follows Harrowhark almost immediately following the events of Gideon the Ninth. There is no real recap for you, so it can be a little difficult at first to center yourself in what’s going on with Harrow and where she finds herself, and what she’s supposed to be doing. But from that first page, which starts with “The night before the emperor’s murder” you're tense with anticipation. You’re immediately plunged into a mystery where you know some event is going to happen, but you don’t know why, you kind of know when, but you’re not even really sure who the emperor is at this point beyond the person who called Harrowhark to become a Lyctor in the first place. The book jumps in timeline so one chapter could be a day before this supposed murder, the next set of chapters is six months before, then we’re back to three weeks… It can get a little jumbled, which when coupled with the fact that so much of the book is written in 2nd person, can make things really disorienting, which is by design and so expertly done. There are so many mysteries going on in this story between who is after the emperor, who is after Harrow (and why), and even who the narrator of this story is, that it really does demand your full attention. And you should absolutely give it that, plus some.
I know speed reading is the "in" thing, and having a massive reading goal for the month, or even the week, to sprint through but this book is written to be savored. It is written in a way where you have to pay attention and you have to take your time, and trust me, you’ll want to. Not just for the mystery aspects or the fact that the writing can be dense at times (Muir loves using obscure vocabulary, lemme tell you), but Muir’s sentences are just beautiful. Hilarious at times, and packed with a gothic, visceral beauty that you miss if you try to go too fast, to speed to the end to find out wtf is going on. I felt that way about this book early on; the start was slow and I wasn’t used to the 2nd person narrative, the writing and imagery can be hard to understand at times, but then something happens and you’re just IN the story and come the final section of the book… I could not put it down! The payoff on all the mysteries made my heart so, so happy that it hurt. So never fear, even though there will now be 4 books in this series, Harrow’s book delivers on all the promises it makes and answers pretty much every question it presents. I say almost because obviously some are still a bit mysterious, but that’s what the next book is for and I cannot wait!
I really need more people to read this book, nay, this series! But I know a lot of people will want to put Harrow aside because 2nd person POV’s feel so unnatural sometimes. I get that, I felt the same. But the reward this book gives you for paying attention, for sticking around, for being swept up in the chaos in Harrow’s mind… Let’s just say this book now lives rent free in my head for the rest of my days. So, yeah, it gets all the stars from me! I already can’t wait to do my reread (via audiobook this time) just so I can see all the hints and breadcrumb trails better, because the small stuff I glossed over turned out to be a big plot point later on. Who knows, maybe I’ll be better prepared to not like a certain character that I feel very conflicted about still kinda enjoying come the end of the book…...more
Here we are, back again in the Grishaverse where our Grisha favorites and their demon King are on the verge of all out war. “Rule of Wolves” picks up Here we are, back again in the Grishaverse where our Grisha favorites and their demon King are on the verge of all out war. “Rule of Wolves” picks up pretty much right where we left off in “King of Scars”, but Bardugo really understands that there are readers (like me) who take obscenely long to finish a series so she sprinkles subtle reminders of the big events throughout the first 30% of the book, so even though it’s been a while, very quickly I was immersed in the world again and head down in the story. Seriously, for this book being so intimidatingly long, it was a smooth and easy read; Bardugo is master of knowing when to switch POV’s so that I constantly want to keep reading to progress each individual character’s story lines! Plus, the way she handles the conflict between Ravka and Frejda and the horrors of escalating war with bigger and bigger weapons was perfectly done, and that’s on top of the smooth way the author is able to include a diverse cast and the prejudices those characters deal with. I was thoroughly impressed with both the story and the characters in this second book to say the least! In fact, there were only a few things that bothered me, which were made all the more frustrating because they were things I used to love in this universe.
Nikolai is still as charming as ever; he is a spark of levity (usually) in an otherwise very bleak story of a battle torn country on the brink of losing the war. I will forever wish to have more chapters solely with Nikolai, but I do feel that the transitions and the other characters chapters (Zoya and Nina mainly) were more exciting this time around. This, however, cannot be said for the Monk. Those were some of the most disappointing chapters, and if they hadn’t been included I don’t honestly think it’d make a difference to the story, except that the reader needs to know where the Monk is since none of the other main characters seem to and thus can’t report on him. But reading his chapters… It just wasn’t the same character that I had once known even though I can’t quite put my finger on why. There were a few other characters that felt like this to me too, but they played more of a cameo role so I didn’t mind it as much as the Monk. Then there were some emotionally charged moments (like a death) that didn’t feel as impactful to me as they perhaps could have been. Their deaths were more for drama and did not otherwise having much of an effect on the story. Which, in my opinion, kind of diminishes their death and therefore I wasn’t as gutted as I should have or would have liked to have been.
Regardless, those things are so small compared to how much I loved the commentary Bardugo was able to slip so seamlessly into her book about war and WMD’s. It was never preachy and it fit so perfectly with the world that Bardugo has been building over the course of her books that it was incredibly impressive to read, and very timely. That’s on top of how Bardugo was able to include so many different kinds of representation (including a trans character) without the story reading like she were merely checking off boxes on a rep sheet. This book was such a pleasure to read, and I loved the little crumbs of what may come next sprinkled into the ending! Was this book perfect? No, of course not. Did some things feel like they got wrapped up a bit too neatly and nicely? Yes, absolutely. But did I enjoy reading “Rule of Wolves” even more than “King of Scars”? You bet I did! So, this gets 5 stars from me and I’ll be side eyeing the Grishaverse to see if the hints at the end of this big boy come true!...more
“Anti-Hero” picks up shortly after where “Alter Ego” leaves off, with Mary’s secret identity in shambles and on the run, hunting down those responsibl“Anti-Hero” picks up shortly after where “Alter Ego” leaves off, with Mary’s secret identity in shambles and on the run, hunting down those responsible for taking her parents away, and dismantling the lies she held as truth for most of her life. So, don’t read this review if you haven’t read Alter Ego yet (and you should read that, by the way) because there will be mild spoilers for the first book in the series in this review. But in this middle book of the trilogy, Swed does a wonderful job of both answering lingering questions, giving more background on the vigilantes now that the world building is done, while still surprising the reader with new characters, new revelations, and one hell of a twist at the end.
The thing I always love about Swed’s writing is how crisp it is. Even when things are going crazy, the author is able to write in such a way as to clearly lay out all the action, where characters are, or what they are doing without unnecessary fluff. This comes particularly handy with the multiple POV’s this book has, including a new character we meet and get the POV of occasionally. That style of writing really helped the book’s flow and kept the plot moving, even though I had a bit of a hard time getting into the story at the start. It could have been because there is no recap and so I had to pause and try to remember things from the previous book, or the fact that this new character felt too far removed from the main cast and story for much of the book for me to care much for the POV, but I wasn’t as immediately swept away by “Anti-Hero” as I was with “Alter Ego.” But all that changed come about the half way mark of this beauty.
Swed teases how unhinged Mary has become, how out of character this unfamiliar feeling of utter betrayal forces Mary to act and how desperate that makes her. The author also does more justice to Eloise’s character, her own struggles, and giving us more about the incredible Pearl Knife that Eloise wields. We also get more of Nathan and his complex relationship with his family (even if I felt like Chloe could have used a bit more building to her to make her feel fully fleshed out). But the thing that really blew me away and had me binge reading late into the night was seeing the old guard of LIO come back into play. Those characters further muddy the waters around “good and evil” “black and white” and highlight the true message of Swed’s series: there is only grey. I loved getting more explanation about some of the enhanced characters’ abilities and watching an unenhanced person still go toe to toe against incredible odds. And while Mary does a fair amount of growing in this story, Eloise’s character arc was by far my favorite and my heart just broke along side of hers with that cliff hanger of an ending!
If you aren’t a fan of cliff hanger endings, don’t worry, the next book in this trilogy is out now so you can immediately move on to the next book, and, trust me, you’ll want to because I know I do! My minor qualms with the first book, with wanting more explanation of the abilities certain characters have, as well as the origins of the conflict between LIO and Wave, do get addressed in this book, and I appreciated that quite a bit. So, the only reason I’m giving this book 4 stars again is because it took me a bit to feel like I was IN the story. But this book in the series definitely leans more into the Marvel Civil War vibes, so if that’s your thing, you need to read this book and this series ASAP!...more
“Nevernight” seems to be a long study into “this is why we can’t have nice things.” First, there’s Mia, who loses her entire family due to her father’“Nevernight” seems to be a long study into “this is why we can’t have nice things.” First, there’s Mia, who loses her entire family due to her father’s failed rebellion at the age of 10. She vows revenge, and the only way to get that is to go to a school for assassins (obviously). So, at the ripe old age of 16, she gains admission to a school full of would-be killers, all children with the most horrific and tragic backstories imaginable, because that makes this book edgy and dark and definitely not for young adults despite the main characters ages—and yes, I knew this was no YA fantasy from the get go. I like dark fantasy, I’m usually ok with grimdark stuff, too, but there needs to be a reason other than shock for certain things to be the way they are, and honestly, I think the author just delights in his “edge lord” status a bit too obviously in this first book. Did I like this book? Yes, I did, quite a bit in fact. But mainly toward the end though.
I’ll be honest, until Mia actually arrives at the church where she’ll learn to be the perfect murderer, I didn’t much care for the story. The narrative felt experimental with styles that the author was trying out, that don’t continue throughout the book. They were interesting-ish, but it made for a slow read. And I didn’t like the footnotes. I read them all pretty religiously early on for fear of missing some vital piece of information but, ultimately, they only brought me out of the story and didn’t actually matter to the world and story as a whole. Some were really funny! But some (re: a lot) were almost a page long and it made me wonder who and why they let Kristoff do that… Eventually, I gave up on the footnotes and enjoyed the book more, so just know that going in, in case you have the same issues I do/did. But it also took me awhile to feel like I even cared about Mia. If it wasn’t for Mister Kindly, I don’t know if I’d have liked her half as much. I thought Tric was a far more interesting character, but you really only get Mia’s POV so you don’t get as much of Tric as I’d have liked, smut aside. Oh right, there are some detailed sex scenes in this book alongside some really graphic gore, so, again, be forewarned. Which, also makes it weird to read such graphic sex scenes between 16-year-olds, but here we are…
That being said, I flew through the last 30% of this book. The ending was so good and intense! I’m still not entirely convinced that certain events are true, but I won’t elaborate in order to avoid spoilers. But the action finally felt on par with all the bloody things Mia had to learn and Mia’s darkin powers, her command over the shadows, really shines. There are twists and turns, secrets revealed, and more discovered, that I was enthralled. It’s this last half of the book that has me so conflicted about how I felt over the story in general. The book hits its stride, Mia (who never felt like a 16-year-old, let’s be honest) began to step into her own as an actual, fleshed out person beyond just the “I must avenge my family” driving factor. She becomes a fully realized person, as do several other characters in the book, and I loved that. The dark tone of Kristoff’s writing shines, and everything just kind of falls into place. But I really did not like the first 40% of the book…
I know I’m in the minority on this and that’s totally fine. But when your entire plot is basically “horrible things happen to children, these children want to get revenge on those who did horrible things to them, they go to a school for killers to learn how to be badasses, where the adults there continue to do more horrible things to them” there is no reason for the book to drag as much as it did. The early writing styles felt repetitive and forced rather than a natural narrative, which is kind of evidenced by the fact that the first chapter doesn’t read like anything else you’ll encounter in the book. I’m just so bitter that I didn’t like the first half of this book when I enjoyed the ending so much. It makes my feelings complicated in a way that I don’t enjoy, which is why I am giving this book 3.5 stars and sticking with my unpopular opinion. Am I going to continue on with the series? Yes, I’ll definitely read at least the next book and see if I continue on from there…...more
Like most epic fantasies, “Bloodsworn” starts in a quiet little village that lies in between two feuding nations. While far from the war themselves, tLike most epic fantasies, “Bloodsworn” starts in a quiet little village that lies in between two feuding nations. While far from the war themselves, the town takes strides to ensure that, should conflict find them, they’re ready. They prepare for two of their youth to be selected every year to be trained in the capital Academy, and take great pride in those Chosen. The residents of Jalard themselves are fairly traditional in their beliefs though; girls should not be warriors, and relations between the same sex are forbidden. So when two people no one expected to be Chosen are selected, friction between the villagers mounts, and when those Chosen disappear suspicions continue to rise. When those not selected decide to figure out what’s going on—again, like most epic fantasies—they uncover a plot that has devastating consequences for Jalard and the people of Sharma as a whole. But the heart of this story isn’t in the conflict, it’s not even the bloodoath which makes someone Bloodsworn—it’s the characters, their growth, and experiences that set this book apart from other epic fantasies.
Let me get this out of the way first: the Bloodsworn aspect, the title of this book, plays a very, very small part. It most likely will have a bigger impact in the next book, but don’t go into “Bloodsworn” expecting this aspect to be the central focus the way the synopsis sets it up. Also, given the beliefs of the villagers in Jalard, there are some characters who are fairly homophobic. It fits with the story, but it’s definitely frustrating, especially given one of the main characters is gay and you end up just wanting this young man to be happy and not be bullied for who he is. I do think the author handles that topic well, but just a little forewarning in case fantasy slurs against queer people is upsetting.
There are a lot of POV characters in this book, and a lot of backstory when it comes to the history of these people’s gods and their magic, so it can be hard at times to figure out just who the story is supposed to be about. I never got lost or confused by who was who however, even if certain characters made me want to shake them at times. That’s the hallmark of good writing after all, if the characters draw you in enough to where you are yelling at them. The cast of characters does dwindle by the end too, and I always applaud authors who aren’t afraid to really put their characters through the grinder to show just how harsh their world is and appropriately convey the stakes of what the main characters need to stop. Each character has their own struggles and personal growth to undergo all while trying to stay one step ahead of an enemy that has unleashed a new type of monster into their world that can disguise itself as regular humans. Some characters grow more than others, some characters make it to the end that I really wish hadn’t, but this book does a good job of balancing the stakes and world with a lot of action. The book is long, and some chapters can feel a little slower with exposition at times, but they are soon broken up by wild chases and fights for survival that really draw the reader in.
It's been a bit since I’ve read a traditional epic, dark fantasy story and “Bloodsworn” definitely ticked off all the right boxes! I truly felt like each character had a distinct voice and each provided something unique to both the adventure they were on, as well as to the plot as a whole. I do think there were maybe a few too many POV characters however, and sometimes the backstories could go on a bit too long, which is why I’m giving this 4 stars, but overall, this was a very satisfying book for me. Here’s hoping the bloodoath aspect makes a difference in book 2, and thanks to the author for sending me a copy for an honest review!...more
I had to sit with this novella for a while after finishing; mainly to make sense of how I felt about it, or if I even understood it enough to form a vI had to sit with this novella for a while after finishing; mainly to make sense of how I felt about it, or if I even understood it enough to form a valid rating. But ultimately, that was the problem I had with this story. The premise sounded great, but ultimately the quest isn’t all that inspiring, and many times I had to re-read sentences to understand what was happening, just for the author to have moved on to another topic in the next sentence, making for jumbled paragraphs and a reading experience where I never once felt really enmeshed in the story. And while the book deservedly gets praise for how it blends traditional epic fantasy prose with modern day vernacular, I personally found the shifts to be rather jarring. It’s clear that the author set out to craft a really vivid and rich world for the reader to get swept up in, only to make it really uninviting by burying it in a murky and obscure narrative.
I really wanted to like this novella more than I did, so it’s possible that I just didn’t read this at the right time, or with the correct amount of focus, but I also don’t have much of a desire to reread it, either. I’ll still read the next novella in this series, but now my expectations won’t be as high, either, for better or worse. Which is why this first novella gets a confusing 2.5 stars from me. The writing is great, but I can’t say if I really understood why certain things happened, or why some characters behaved the way they did, or why it was written the way it was, either. It’s exceedingly hard to enjoy a book that leaves me so confused at the end, but it does happen sometimes! Unfortunately, this was not one of those instances....more
“A Dark Infection” is the sequel to “A Dark Inheritance” in which ten years have passed since Tina was taken by the vampire, Kalmar. Slowly, she is be“A Dark Infection” is the sequel to “A Dark Inheritance” in which ten years have passed since Tina was taken by the vampire, Kalmar. Slowly, she is being turned into a vampire herself, as the properties in her blood allow for her to accept the virus that is being introduced to her bloodstream through Kalmar. And, just like its predecessor, this book does not shy away from the fact that much of Tina’s current situation was, and is, not one of her choosing. So few with her blood type remain that she is coveted by vampires in order to ensure the survival of their species, but, and more importantly, she is vital to Kalmar. While Tina still struggles with the idea that perhaps her feelings for her vampire abductor, even ten years later, are not real and just a form of Stockholm Syndrome (which is valid), Kalmar has bonded to her, and wishes to remain that way. Despite stronger forces wishing to claim him as their own, and giving Tina away to another vampire in the process, Kalmar wants no other. While the vampire world of danger and intrigue continue to sweep Tina up in its wake, the world Tina was forced to leave behind also comes back to haunt her, weaving into a new mystery that threatens to destroy both of the worlds Tina inhabits. Except Tina, once again, doesn’t seem to be given a choice about which world she gets to save.
Lander has a way of sucking me in to every single one of their modern-day vampire novels, and “A Dark Infection” was no different. I flew through this book, even if, at times, some of the characters really bothered me. Like Jo. I never liked Jo as a character. I found her annoying and abrasive, which was odd given who she is and what happens to her. I just never felt much of a connection to her and therefore didn’t find myself as drawn to her plight or her part of the story as I was with Tina and Sasha. Tina also got a little more frustrating in this book. The cause of her problems, the source of the mystery that’s causing her and Kalmar such anguish was very obvious—at least to me—so whenever Tina got around to “investigating” it felt very unnecessary as the answer always seemed to be right in front of her. Plus, her and Kalmar tend to fall back on the miscommunication trope—as in them just not talking to each other—a few more times than I personally liked, but, even with all that, I was still binge reading this book late into the night.
Everything about this duology has been dark—both in atmosphere and topics and I always loved that. You have these vampire characters that are so ancient, that their humanity is just a shell of what it once was; they are so tainted by being alive for centuries that human lives and lifespans mean very little to them. And yet all the vampires feel intensely and are very close to their animalistic predator side. It’s what made the bonding (almost like “fated mates”) in this story so compelling, especially when it comes to which pair in the bond is made the dominate one and what that does to their partner. Despite my issues, I did genuinely enjoy watching Tina and Kalmar struggle with that aspect of their relationship. I also really liked getting a more intimate view of the vampire world and the politics within it. Plus, you add all the complications as the human world—through Tina’s family—starts butting up against the vampire world, and the devastating consequences of those encounters, and you have a really engaging paranormal novel.
While this duology is perfect for spooky season with it’s dark, and vicious vampires, its romance elements also make it a great read any time of season as well. Lander has a knack for character and world building, and “A Dark Infection” is no different; it was a lot of fun to watch Tina discover how to stand on her own, and become the person she wanted despite the forces pushing against her. Even though this book is on the longer side, I devoured it! And that’s in spite of Jo not being my favorite, and my wish that Tina was a bit more astute when it came to the source of her problems. The pacing in this second book I found to be better than its predecessor as well, which is why this gets 4.5 stars from me! So if you are a fan of tonally dark vampire romances, I highly recommend this series! And thanks to the author for sending me a copy for an honest review....more
“There was Music” is a literary fiction fantasy that follows Prisoner 43-1-12 along the path of her many names and the different lives she lives all i“There was Music” is a literary fiction fantasy that follows Prisoner 43-1-12 along the path of her many names and the different lives she lives all in one lifetime. Her life is far from easy, when raiders destroy her family’s horse ranch, it sets off a series of events that destroy the world 43-1-12 knew and plunges her into extreme survival mode for years without a break. This story is dark, full of heavy and traumatic themes from torture, sexual assault and rape, as well as suicidal ideations, but the story, at its core, is about healing, so it’s not all doom and gloom, I promise. That being said, I loved the tension of the first half of the book so much, and was sad to see that end.
There are fantasy elements in this book, mainly in the different groups of people that occupy this world, some being closer to human presenting while others are more like elves or even trees. But the fantasy is more of a pleasant backdrop to this war-torn landscape, and the development of our main character. The first half of the book is told in a dual-timeline from our MC’s point of view, changing from 1st to 3rd person when she is recounting the past versus what’s happening to her in the present. We know from the very start of the book that the main character is in prison but not why, or if she is even guilty. Moments from her prison life herald back to something that happened in her childhood which tease out what happened to her land, and what landed her in prison. These chapters were my favorites as I felt the author did an excellent job using the timeline jumps to maintain tension and interest in the story and world building early on. Eventually, that changes and we no longer get glimpses into the MC’s past, and everything remains in the present, where she is trying to time her escape. These parts were absolutely fine, don’t get me wrong, but they lacked that tension I had come to love so much in the earlier portions of the book. But that may just be a personal preference of mine.
Reading “There was Music” in today’s reproductive rights climate in the USA was… interesting to say the least. It was hard not to make parallels to what prisoner 43-1-12 faces as a woman, and the rhetoric of what’s currently happening around reproductive rights. It made the story even more unsettling in my opinion, but not in a bad way. I think the author did a great job of handling those delicate topics and showing how easy it is to use fanaticism as a way to justify absolutely horrible behavior and treatment of women. However, if you are hoping to find a resolution to the issues in our MC’s world in the wake of this bloody war, you won’t find it in this story. This book is laser focused on the main character’s journey of survival and not much else.
The last quarter of the book is where the fantasy of this novel, as well as the themes of the healing influence of hope and the power of music is most prevalent. This is also where I felt the story became much more of a literary fiction, as the main character’s journey becomes much more introspective and returns to a type of world building that wasn’t present earlier. It came off as a bit disconnected from the rest of the book, as it didn’t seem to have much bearing toward the overall plot and lead to a bit of an anti-climatic ending in my opinion. The prose and writing in this section is just as lovely as in the previous so it was still pleasant to read, but it did leave me feeling a bit confused and a tad let down at the stories conclusion, which is why I’m giving it 4 stars. However, the themes this book follows and the complexity of the main character are all important and unique, which made this, overall, a highly enjoyable read. If you are a fan of dark themed literary fiction with touches of fantasy, give this story a try! And thank you to the author for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review....more
Here we are, the fourth book into SJM’s epic YA fantasy, and this has consistently been one of those series that I’ve been… unsure about the whole timHere we are, the fourth book into SJM’s epic YA fantasy, and this has consistently been one of those series that I’ve been… unsure about the whole time. I’m definitely in the minority with not really falling in love with this series from book one, but I kept giving it chances because people so adore Aelin and her court. In “Queen of Shadows”, Aelin has returned to Adarlan to free her cousin and find out what happened to those left behind as the King devolves into more and more atrocities against his people, and more demons inhabit the bodies of the soldiers. Told in parts, we follow not just Aelin, but get the perspective of several familiar characters: Chaol, Manon, and Dorian (poor Dorian…) to name a few. But we also get the POV of several new characters as well such as Lysandra and Elide, which partially accounts for the sheer size of this book, but it does not account for the reason why it took me so long to finish it.
Again, I know I’m in the minority when I say that I think Chaol always gets a raw deal, especially starting book 3. Chaol and Dorian were the first characters that made me sort of like the series, so it constantly made me bristle when Chaol, whose struggles are so human and so relatable, and who often was a voice of reason when discussing plans with Aelin was constantly dismissed in such an aggressive you're-a-bad-dude sort of way. It was often passed off as Aelin being queenly and a Fae now and so beyond all these human concerns, as if that excuses it because her court is so on board with everything Aelin does, even though she barely shares anything with them, either. Chaol felt like he was hated by many of the characters simply for existing, and then that suddenly stopped, as if SJM just couldn’t muster up the angry vitriol she needed to maintain for all of Aelin and Choal’s interactions for the last half of the book. It honestly made me hate reading their chapters when they were together, because they are both so wrong, and sometimes right, about each other that it got frustrating, to say the least.
The other reason this book, for the first 75% of it anyway, was so easy for me to put down and walk away from for days at a time? Aelin herself. Aelin’s always been a bit arrogant, it was part of the package with her confidence as this unstoppable assassin, now queen with epic fire power. But in this book, the arrogance got dialed up to such a degree that I found her largely unlikable as the lead character for large chunks of the story. Aelin had the habit of just demanding that other characters trust her and not question her often steamrolling over anyone (usually Chaol) with even an ounce of criticism for what she’s doing, then she would sneak off and do something off page that would have a payoff. Every character in this book was such a fan girl of Aelin, and I could not, for the life of me, understand why. It’s hard to believe a character deserves the trust she demands when she does nothing to earn it, harder still when she had no intention of saving Dorian when she first returned, but by the end of the book she acts as if Dorian’s rescue was her goal all along. No, honey, it was not. Her schemes are meant to be mind blowing but you never actually see any of the planning she supposedly does. She just sneaks off and then poof! It all worked according to plan. This is perhaps why I still like Chaol, he often wanted her to prove trustworthy when it came to not destroying all the innocents still in Rifthold, and she’d belittle him for it. Thankfully, this kind of stops in that last 30% or so of the book, but man, this book took me forever to actually like just because I was so beyond frustrated with Aelin.
Now, that’s not to say I hated this book, I didn’t. I’d have DNF’d if I did. Manon is still the shining star for me and her growth in this book was perfection. I loved the contrast Elide served to Aelin in showing there’s all types and ways to be a strong female character. And the last third of this book I sped right through (even if the ending chapters after the dust settles went on a tad too long imo). I enjoyed the twist with the villain too going into the next books, so I’m interested to see how that plays out, as well as seeing how Rifthold and Adarlan, and Terrasen move forward from where things in this book left off. But I’m still waffling on if I like Aelin and Rowan enough to keep going. Will the supporting characters be enough to carry my enjoyment over the threshold? Days after finishing this book, and sitting with it and thinking over how I felt at the start of the book versus the end… and I still can’t tell you. This series has always been a confusing one for me in terms of my enjoyment, and “Queen of Shadows” was no different. Which is why I’m giving it 3 stars. I already have the next book, but if I didn’t, I’d be hard pressed to say whether or not I’d continue on…...more
This is my first book by Kova so I didn’t have any expectations going in, but she really does live up to the hype! I was expecting more Beauty and theThis is my first book by Kova so I didn’t have any expectations going in, but she really does live up to the hype! I was expecting more Beauty and the Beast vibes from this story, but after the first few chapters this leaned more into the Hades and Persephone reimagining instead. Which was fine! I loved watching Luella and Eldas struggle to find balance between themselves and their worlds. Their romance was emotional and tender, with just a little on page spice that kept this from going full NA. It did get a little slow for me in parts as I felt things were a bit redundant with how often Luella reminds the reader that she is a healer and has to get back to her small town. I kind of wish we also got some of Eldas’ POV in this book, but with it written in 1st person, I understand why we didn’t, I just thought he had such an interesting perspective that there was enough of a story there to give him more of a voice, too.
All in all, this story was sweet, emotional fluff, which is exactly what I was looking for. I think my biggest complaint comes down to some world building elements were made a big deal of at the start of the book, and then dropped part way through and were never resolved or brought up again which made me question why they were there to begin with. But, overall, Luella’s and Eldas’ love story helped make up for that. This is a very pleasant 4 stars from me, and I’d be curious to read more in the Married to Magic series for sure!...more