Author: Rachel Gillig
Series:
Series #: 1
Genre: fantasy
Age Group: adult/YA crossover
ARC?: yes

Elspeth Spindle needs more than luck to stay safe in the eerie, mist-locked kingdom of Blunder—she needs a monster. She calls him the Nightmare, an ancient, mercurial spirit trapped in her head. He protects her. He keeps her secrets.

But nothing comes for free, especially magic.

When Elspeth meets a mysterious highwayman on the forest road, her life takes a drastic turn. Thrust into a world of shadow and deception, she joins a dangerous quest to cure Blunder from the dark magic infecting it. And the highwayman? He just so happens to be the King’s nephew, Captain of the most dangerous men in Blunder…and guilty of high treason.

Together they must gather twelve Providence Cards—the keys to the cure. But as the stakes heighten and their undeniable attraction intensifies, Elspeth is forced to face her darkest secret yet: the Nightmare is slowly taking over her mind. And she might not be able to stop him.


Review

Thank you to NetGalley for an e-arc in exchange for an honest review.

ALL I NEED TO SAY IS I NEED THE NEXT ONE ASAP. AAAA IT WAS GOOD

Like what do I even say about this book??? I don’t think I have any words for it. The beginning is a little slow at first and you’re kind of scratching your head going… Is there a point to this/where is this going? BUT THEN you get to the amazingness that is the rest of the book. I just fell in love with the characters in this book, especially Elspeth and Ravyn. They’re so… Ugh. Anyways this is somewhat of an enemies to lovers kind of book but not exactly. It’s got a very gothic kind of feel to it, but it’s a darker and more atmospheric fantasy. I found it very enjoyable. It has all the vibes that I could ever love in a book. I feel like this book was made for me.

I liked how the characters interacted, and I liked their character arcs. In tone I might relate this to Allison Saft books! It also gave me For the Wolf vibes. I can’t quite put my finger on what else it felt like… But it kept me engrossed the whole way through.

The concept with the cards? SO GOOD. I loved it — obsessed with it in fact. I love the idea of Tarot, but it isn’t something I know a whole lot about, but how it was weaved in through this book? Top notch.

I don’t know why I thought this was a standalone — it isn’t — but I am extremely excited for the next book in the series.

I felt the writing in this book was amazing and I couldn’t get enough of it – the pace worked well for me. There were some funny moments thrown in amongst the more tense moments which gave a nice balance.

I loved the romance in this book. It was dreamy and done well. I wanted to smoosh them together. Ravyn’s family was also amazing, and I appreciated how this felt like a darker fairytale, perhaps a bit of a reimagined Cinderella? I quite enjoyed that. I want Ravyn’s family in fact. I need more of his family. ALL OF THEM.

The world that Gillig has created fascinated me, and I want to know more about it!

If you like dark fantasy, atmospheric fantasy, a bit of gothic horror, tarot or anything similar then this book is absolutely going to be for you!

P.S. This is probably one of my favorite books of the year and I am begging you to read it.

.

Author: Adalyn Grace
Series: Belladonna
Series #: 1
Genre: fantasy, gothic
Age Group: YA
ARC?: yes

Orphaned as a baby, nineteen-year-old Signa has been raised by a string of guardians, each more interested in her wealth than her well-being—and each has met an untimely end. Her remaining relatives are the elusive Hawthornes, an eccentric family living at Thorn Grove, an estate both glittering and gloomy. Its patriarch mourns his late wife through wild parties, while his son grapples for control of the family’s waning reputation and his daughter suffers from a mysterious illness. But when their mother’s restless spirit appears claiming she was poisoned, Signa realizes that the family she depends on could be in grave danger and enlists the help of a surly stable boy to hunt down the killer.

However, Signa’s best chance of uncovering the murderer is an alliance with Death himself, a fascinating, dangerous shadow who has never been far from her side. Though he’s made her life a living hell, Death shows Signa that their growing connection may be more powerful—and more irresistible—than she ever dared imagine.


Review

Thank you to the publisher for an e-arc in exchange for an honest review!

So, I was excited going into this book because it said gothic on it, and I’m into pretty much anything gothic. And boy, did I get gothic! I also got a mix of fantasy elements that I love so much. And Death. Death was great as well. In some ways the atmosphere — something — about the book reminded me of Sorcery of Thorns, one of my all time favorite books. As well as Down Comes the Night. The combination in this book was just so well done. I was living for it. It is going to be a must re-read this fall when it’s spooky season. (I promise, you won’t be disappointed!)

Grace’s writing has only improved since her debut series, and I was gripped by it in this book. It was great before, and it is even better now. While the themes are different and styles are different, she does both very well! I found it easy to read and very addicting. I kept wanting to hug Signa. I loved her so much in this book. I adored her story — I felt connected with her even though she experienced things I hadn’t. And that is Grace’s talent, she can make you connect with a character even if it isn’t something you have experience. You feel empathy with them.

Also, the prologue was amazing . One of the best prologues that I have ever read to be honest. And I mean…the prologue was something else. What a way to get you into a book and keep you reading! Hook, line and sinker! This book was a slow burn in many ways; the romance, the plot, the world building, but it was beautifully done. I was obsessed with the idea of this glittering world, of “witches” of the personification of Death.

The romance in this book was much like Grace’s previous, it was slow and twisting; I rather enjoyed those aspects of it. Then you had the complicated factor of the mystery. Honestly, the mystery and ghosts were some of the best parts of this book. It incorporated well into the book, and it gave the book more body. And I love a gothic mystery that incorporates paranormal elements. I’m a sucker for it, and Grace had all of that.

And I loved the plot. I kept flipping pages because I wanted to know what was going to happen next! Suffice to say, I LOVED this book. What was also nice was the MC was 19! An older YA character! Hurray! This book literally checked all the boxes I could ask for. And I am addicted. ADDICTED I TELL YOU.

I need to get my hands on the sequel because HOLY HECK I can’t wait to see what happens next! This is definitely going to be one of my favorite books of the year. I already have THREE editions ordered.

.

Author: Sarah Henning
Series: Kingdoms of Sand and Sky
Series #: 3
Genre: fantasy
Age Group: young adult
ARC?: yes

The epic tale concludes with The King Will Kill You, as the newly-crowned Queen Amarande and Luca, her one true love, seek peace among the Kingdoms of Sand and Sky. Wartorn and regicidal, all five kingdoms must confront the power-mad king determined to seize control of the continent–and kill Amarande and Luca in the process.


Review

What did I think of this final book in the series? I was underwhelmed. The first book was so good, and I had high hopes for the rest of the series. My one major problem with this book was it was pretty much the same plotline from the first two books recycled. I felt that it didn’t add anything new, or any more depth to the story.

Much like that, I felt the characters themselves were rather static. I quite liked Ferdinand and I used to love Luca and Ama. They weren’t bad characters by any stretch of the imagination, I just didn’t feel that they were the best. Ama was still a fierce warrior and still determined, but it was like all the other books. Nothing new was added that made me want to root for her.

Sure, this book had politics, but I felt that the politics were the most interesting of the parts of the book, and even then it was slightly boring. I had really wanted this book to end on a high note, but it just didn’t hit right to me. There was something I felt missing from the book.

All in all, I feel like this trilogy could have been a duology. There was so much repetitive parts.

What I did continue to like in this book was the world building. I think Henning is a talented world builder, and that continued in this book from the previous two. She is also an excellent writer.

For me, I wanted more. One of the good aspects of this book is we do finally get to see Ama and Luca interacting more. The previous two books it was like they weren’t together for the majority of the book. In this one, we finally get to see how they love each other and respect each other. I enjoyed those parts as well, since it was a long time coming and very drawn out!

In the end, I liked the book’s ending. I felt it was appropriate for the story, and while I would have liked to see more expanded upon, I am pretty happy with how the book ended. I just wish the villains had been more in this book — or not included.

A solid three star book for me.

.

Author: Foz Meadows
Series:
Series #:
Genre: fantasy, romance, queer
Age Group: adult
ARC?: yes

Velasin vin Aaro never planned to marry at all, let alone a girl from neighboring Tithena. When an ugly confrontation reveals his preference for men, Vel fears he’s ruined the diplomatic union before it can even begin. But while his family is ready to disown him, the Tithenai envoy has a different solution: for Vel to marry his former intended’s brother instead.

Caethari Aeduria always knew he might end up in a political marriage, but his sudden betrothal to a man from Ralia, where such relationships are forbidden, comes as a shock.

With an unknown faction willing to kill to end their new alliance, Vel and Cae have no choice but to trust each other. Survival is one thing, but love—as both will learn—is quite another.

Byzantine politics, lush sexual energy, and a queer love story that is by turns sweet and sultry. A Strange and Stubborn Endurance is an exploration of gender, identity, and self-worth. It is a book that will live in your heart long after you turn the last page.


Review

WOW. What do I even say about this book? I don’t think it is at all possible to encompass how much I loved this book. I could not put it down. I may or may not have spilled enchiladas on my arc as I was reading it…

This is my first book by Meadow’s but I’m going to have to go back and find more of their work. Because it was stupendous. I mean, it was two things I love:

a) queer and

b) fantasy!

I mean…what could be better?

Enemies-friends-romance trope? Check.

Super inclusive? Check.

Witty banter? Check.

Great dialogue? Check.

Interesting supporting characters? Check.

Interesting plot? Check.

This book checks off all my wants and needs in a book. A Strange and Stubborn Endurance will not leave my brain. I can’t do anything but think about it. It is my new obsession. I just LOVED the characters in this book. I mean ughhhh. I cannot even think because this book just was amazing.

You know how hard it is to write a review and list everything a book has done that you loved? Yeah, that’s me right now. I need like thirty special editions of this book. SERIOUSLY.

Vel was the best.** I loved reading his POV. Cae was amazing too. Just, Vel I felt for him. I wanted to keep him safe. Hug him. Vel and Cae’s relationship? It was one of the best developed romances that I have ever had the pleasure of reading. Meadows did a great job on that, and the balance she maintained between the romance and the plot? Excellent.

The plot was much more political intrigue and action than I expected. But it worked so well.

As mentioned this book is inclusive, and while one country feels very much like ours, the other is very open and accepting and normalizes being queer. We have relationships of all types, of all genders and it is incorporated seamlessly. There is also disability representation – one of the characters is mute! And the others learn sign language to communicate with him.

If you are looking for a queer fantasy? This is it. A huge round of applause for Foz Meadows because this book is going to be in the top of my top books of the year. I kinda want a sequel? Can I get a sequel? I mean I feel that the world building in this was such that there is so much to explore.

I will say that there are some content warnings to be aware of:

These include: rape, attempted rape, violence, gore, punishment, homophobia, suicide, suicidal ideation

.

Author: A.C. Wise
Series: n/a
Series #: n/a
Genre: retelling, fairytale, fantasy
Age Group: adult
ARC?: yes

Once invited, always welcome.
Once invited, never free.


Captain James Hook, the immortal pirate of Neverland, has died a thousand times. Drowned, stabbed by Peter Pan’s sword, eaten by the beast swimming below the depths, yet James was resurrected every time by one boy’s dark imagination. Until he found a door in the sky, an escape. And he took the chance no matter the cost.

Now in London twenty-two years later, Peter Pan’s monster has found Captain Hook again, intent on revenge. But a chance encounter leads James to another survivor of Neverland. Wendy Darling, now a grown woman, is the only one who knows how dark a shadow Neverland casts, no matter how far you run. To vanquish Pan’s monster once and for all, Hook must play the villain one last time… 


Review

Thank you to Edelweiss and the publisher for an e-ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

When I saw this book I got excited. I hadn’t read the book Wendy, Darling, but when I started this book I felt like it was a sequel to the other book and that I was missing something. I pretty quickly got into the book. 

Wise’s writing is great – there is very much a VE Schwab vibe to the writing and I very much enjoyed this writing style. There was something about it that made it feel that it was from 1939 when the book took place, or a more fantastical feel to when we got flashbacks to Neverland. 

The combination of that worked for me. The concept of the book worked for me. The overall plot of the book worked for me. However…I was a little stymied by the pacing of this book. There was nothing outrageously wrong with it. There was something about it though that didn’t sit perfectly with me. There were some moments I was like, “this is dragging on…when is this going to pickup?”

I wanted to get more out of this book, and I’m not sure what it was exactly that I was looking for that this book didn’t deliver. I think it was because I got 176 pages in and felt like nothing had happened. All the main characters had met, we’d gotten a brief history of what happened to various characters, but that’s it. So…I was asking myself where is the plot going to come in? What is going to happen? 

I will certainly give it to this book, there is a whole section of Wendy reflecting on what Peter did to her, and I LOVED that bit. It felt so real and wonderful, and I loved how Wise turned something that seemed okay into the reality that what he was doing wasn’t necessarily good. Wendy got more agency in this book. It was a nice change from her character who is always a “follower”. She got to be a bit of a leader in this book instead. 

As I mentioned I enjoyed the overall concept/plot of the book, I felt it lacked a bit in execution. 

The action came in the last 50 or so pages of the book. It felt a bit underwhelming I suppose, since the lead up I felt didn’t do it justice. 

Overall, I think the book was good, but it isn’t something I’d be keen to read again. This book wasn’t the perfect fit for me, but I definitely think it is one that a lot of people will really enjoy! Especially if they like fairytales or feminist retellings of classics. 

TW: emotional abuse, death, war, kidnapping

.

Author: Tiffany Meuret
Series: n/a
Series #: n/a
Genre: dark fantasy, gothic, horror
Age Group: adult
ARC?: Yes

The skeletons in the closet have nothing on the one in your backyard.
Freshly divorced and grieving the death of her father, Josie Lauer has caged herself inside her home. To cope with her losses, Josie follows a strict daily routine of work, playing with her dog, Po, and trying to remember to eat a decent meal—and ending each night by drinking copious amounts of vodka. In other words, she is not coping at all.
Everything changes when Josie wakes to find a small shrub has sprouted in her otherwise dirt backyard the morning after yet another bender. Within hours, the vine-like plant is running amok—and it’s brought company. The appearance of the unwieldly growth has also heralded the arrival of a busybody new neighbor who insists on thrusting herself into Josie’s life. The neighbor Josie can deal with. The talking skeleton called Skelly that has perched itself in Josie’s backyard on a throne made of vines, however, is an entirely different matter.
As the strangely sentient plant continues to grow and twist its tendrils inside Josie’s suddenly complicated life, Josie begins to realize her new neighbor knows a lot more about the vines and her bizarre new visitor than she initially lets on. There’s a reason Skelly has chosen to appear in Josie’s suddenly-blooming backyard and insists on pulling her out of her carefully kept self-isolation. All Josie has to do is figure out what that reason is—and she has only a few days to do it, or else she might find herself on the wrong side of catastrophe.
LITTLE BIRD is a story about found family, no matter how bizarre. 


Review

Thank you to Edelweiss and the publisher for an e-arc of this book in exchange for an honest review. 

First off, this book drew me in from the start. Meuret’s writing was excellent, and I loved how she framed Josie as a character. She felt so real – and so human. I liked that you could see the facets of her from the start, could actually believe she was sitting next to you. The way this was written felt like you were with a friend, or someone telling you a story. It was intimate in ways, close. 

This book was also atmospheric. I loved reading it because you could get lost in the book. There were some parts in this book that were darkly funny. And I loved that aspect of the book. Dark humor done right can be excellent, and I felt that it was done right here. I mean, if I saw/heard a talking skeleton I would be WAY freaked out about that. More So than Josie was. She relates herself to a sponge at one point. I liked that part immensely do to how it was written. 

“Only then did she lock eyesockets with the skeleton”. What a QUOTE. 

And the attitude. THE ATTITUDE. This had me chuckling to myself and grinning. Skelly made me laugh, I loved her. Josie also made me laugh, I loved her as a character and I was invested in her story. 

This book was weird, and it’s not an action packed book, but it is a good book. Its tone is very much the gothic horror of the modern persuasion. 

It was a weird and wonderful little book. It was short and not terribly long, but the paranormal was woven in with the mundane and that juxtaposition was done well. Overall this book is going to appeal to people who like a darker type of fantasy, gothic horror or creepy books. 

.

Author: Lana Harper
Series: The Witches of Thistle Grove
Series #: 2
Genre: Fantasy, Romance
Age Group: Adult
ARC?: Yes

Wild child Isidora Avramov is a thrill chaser, adept demon summoner, and—despite the whole sexy-evil-sorceress vibe—also a cuddly animal lover. When she’s not designing costumes and new storylines for the Arcane Emporium’s haunted house, Issa’s nursing a secret, conflicted dream of ditching her family’s witchy business to become an indie fashion designer in her own right.

But when someone starts sabotaging the celebrations leading up to this year’s Beltane festival with dark, dangerous magic, a member of the rival Thorn family gets badly hurt—throwing immediate suspicion on the Avramovs. To clear the Avramov name and step up for her family when they need her the most, Issa agrees to serve as a co-investigator, helping none other than Rowan Thorn get to the bottom of things.

Rowan is the very definition of lawful good, so tragically noble and by-the-book he makes Issa’s teeth hurt. In accordance with their families’ complicated history, he and Issa have been archenemies for years and have grown to heartily loathe each other. But as the unlikely duo follow a perplexing trail of clues to a stunning conclusion, Issa and Rowan discover how little they really know each other… and stumble upon a maddening attraction that becomes harder to ignore by the day.


Review

It was a huge surprise for me! I enjoyed this book so much. There was just something about it that worked for me; but hadn’t quite worked for me in the first book. Maybe this is a sign I need to go back and try the first book again! 

Issa was a brilliant character and I LOVED everything about her. She was such a nuanced character, and one that I think people will relate to. (Even if we don’t have any witchy powers, sadly). Issa and her relationship with her family was lovely. The way Harper played out her sisters and her relationship, as well as the relationship with her mother was so well done. I loved that side plot and how it contributed to the book. 

And Rowan was SO SO adorable. I loved when he was being so gentle and caring. It made me melt. We didn’t get as much relationship with Rowan and his family, but I like how Harper showed that Issa and Rowan had good, but different, relationships with their parents. 

Oh, did I mention that this was an enemies to lovers romance? No? It is. And it is well done. One thing I really appreciated about this book is that miscommunication isn’t a huge trope, but done here, it was  done right. I was very impressed with Harper for that. 

This isn’t what I would call a super spicy book, it has a few spicy scenes, but by and large the book is focused on the mystery and the relationships between the characters. There are a few plot points that made me laugh, and I just loved how it was opposites attract romance too. Rival families…it pretty much hit on all the things I love. 

Harper is also a great writer. It’s bliss to read this book, because the cadence and the pace of the book. Also, there is an atmosphere to this book. It reminds me of a cozy mystery, but with witches. And diversity. 

There were a few important conversations had in this book regarding racism and prejudice (Rowan is a Black man). 

Talia and Emmy were back (briefly) in this one, so we heard how much they were into each other. It was adorable! (I really do plan to go back and read the first book…) 

I will say, Issa felt like such a strong character, but she hits a point in this book where she becomes overwhelmed. I loved the representation of anxiety and trying to deal with it on your own because you’re supposed to be “strong”. 

Overall, this was a fantastic read and I highly recommend that you add it to your shelves! I know I want to! 

P.S. the title is so cute too. I totally forgot I had DNF’d Paybacks a Witch until I requested this ARC, got approved and went to look. This is what happens when pretty covers and cool descriptions are briefly looked at, and not read all the way through. I guess I didn’t realize this was a sequel. 🙈

.

Author: Jessica S. Olson
Series: n/a
Series #: n/a
Genre: fantasy
Age Group: young adult
ARC?: no

Myra Whitlock has a gift. One many would kill for.

She’s an artist whose portraits alter people’s real-life bodies, a talent she must hide from those who would kidnap, blackmail, and worse in order to control it. Guarding that secret is the only way to keep her younger sister safe now that their parents are gone.

But one frigid night, the governor’s wife discovers the truth and threatens to expose Myra if she does not complete a special portrait that would resurrect the governor’s dead son. Desperate, Myra ventures to his legendary stone mansion.

Once she arrives, however, it becomes clear the boy’s death was no accident. Someone dangerous lurks within these glittering halls. Someone harboring a disturbing obsession with portrait magic.

Myra cannot do the painting until she knows what really happened, so she turns to the governor’s older son, a captivating redheaded poet. Together, they delve into the family’s most shadowed affairs, racing to uncover the truth before the secret Myra spent her life concealing makes her the killer’s next victim.


Review

When I guessed what Owlcrate’s March pick would be, I was excited. I was very much looking forward to this book. Let me preface this by saying I think the book was good, but it wasn’t blow me away good. This is a book that was a solid three stars; neither bad nor super good. If I’d read this before buying it, it wouldn’t have been a book I bought. Checked out from the library, for sure! So…where did this book go wrong? 

The inspiration for this book was clearly Dorian Gray. I mean magic portraits that fix people? But I did love the interpretation of that into magic for this book. What I would have liked more of is worldbuilding. My mind bounced between this being a real world with magic, or a fantasy world. I would have liked a better setting to set the tone and to understand the world a bit better. 

I liked Lucy and Myra’s relationship throughout the book, I thought it was one of the more powerful components of the book. I also felt August’s anxiety intensely, and when they were talking about Lucy’s chronic illness, I understood that too. So there was some excellent representation in this book. (I really kind of want to know what Lucy’s illness actually was – it sounds a lot like my Crohn’s Disease). 

What I didn’t love was the romance in this book. It felt underdeveloped to me compared to the sisterly and family relationships. I could have lived without it, as I didn’t feel that August and Myra had any chemistry whatsoever. And that weird love triangle? Messy! And definitely did not enjoy that part of the book. 

Maybe it’s because I’m an adult, I had pretty much figured out what was going on from the start. Which isn’t always a bad thing; however in this case there wasn’t enough depth to the other parts of the book to make me think that it was a great book. 

Finally, I found the writing clunky. It did not flow smoothly to me, and I felt that we were ricocheted around. The writing was stilted to me. Overall, I just felt that the writing didn’t work. 

This book was not a bad book, but it also isn’t one I’d be desperate to read again. This book will be enjoyed by people who are fond of gothic mysteries, as well as fantasy.  

.

Author: Jennifer Saint
Series: n/a
Series #: n/a
Genre: fantasy, mythology
Age Group: adult
ARC?: yes

The House of Atreus is cursed. A bloodline tainted by a generational cycle of violence and vengeance. This is the story of three women, their fates inextricably tied to this curse, and the fickle nature of men and gods.

Clytemnestra
The sister of Helen, wife of Agamemnon – her hopes of averting the curse are dashed when her sister is taken to Troy by the feckless Paris. Her husband raises a great army against them, and determines to win, whatever the cost.

Cassandra
Princess of Troy, and cursed by Apollo to see the future but never to be believed when she speaks of it. She is powerless in her knowledge that the city will fall.

Elektra
The youngest daughter of Clytemnestra and Agamemnon, Elektra is horrified by the bloodletting of her kin. But, can she escape the curse, or is her own destiny also bound by violence?


BLOG TOUR!

I’m so delighted to bring you my review of Elektra by Jennifer Saint! Thank you so much to Flatiron Books for inviting me on the tour! Ariadne was one of my favorite retellings — so I was beyond delighted to be offered this chance. As some of you may know I got my undergrad degree in Classics and History. I focused a lot on women in history as well as queerness. This book was such a perfect rendition of taking a new perspective on the classic myths that we all know (and may or may not love). Without further ado, I bring to you my review of Elektra.


Review

Elektra is the stunning story of three women – Clytemnestra, Elektra and Cassandra. Saint takes the stories and myths about these women and brings them to life. She gives them agency in a way that the myths never did. They become real to the imagination, and you can feel for them. It is an intense book in many ways. 

If you’re familiar with Greek mythology you know about the Trojan War, and you know about Agamemnon. You know what happens to all the characters in the book. Still, reading it from a different perspective, of what was happening while the men were away was amazing. 

Saint infused her characters with so much life and personality they come off the page. In the Greek stories they often depict the women as one of two ways: traitorous or the perfect woman. There is no inbetween. And more often than not, even if the woman is perfect there is still some issue; that she is betrayed by the men. 

Notably, both Helen (who is in this book) and Clytemnestra who are sisters are perceived as betrayers in Greek myth. Which is interesting when you compare it to what Agamemnon and Menelaus did. 

This book had so much heart in it. There is one part that absolutely shredded me; I had to go get a tissue and take a deep breath before I continued reading the book. It was impactful in a way I think it wasn’t in the original myth. 

Just for some background in this book Elektra is devoted to her father. Clytemnestra hates Agamemnon for what he did. Had started hating him even before. And Cassandra is just doing her own thing. The relationship between Clytemnestra and Elektra is fascinating. I felt that Elektra was supposed to stand for how people were supposed to perceive Agamemnon, and Clytemnestra was supposed to be how he really was. Cassandra is seeing the war firsthand, and we get her perspective, a woman’s perspective on the war. 

Saint’s writing is amazing. I was lulled into this story, and it reads with such a cadence. There is no wasted part of the story. I felt every piece included was intentional. Saint deftly weaves in the relationships and family relationships with the myths they come from. She manages to explain how Helen and Clytemnestra are related to Penelope, Odysseus’ wife. She does this with other characters throughout the book. 

Placed together, it is visually stunning to read. It is feminist, as it takes myths written and retold by men and gives women their agency and their strength back. It gives them their own stories beyond just being the “betrayer” or the “woman waiting”. This book was about family, about grief and about love. 

I absolutely loved this book, even if it tore my heart out. 

.

Author: Ava Reid
Genre: fantasy, dark fantasy
Age Group: adult
ARC?: Yes

A gruesome curse. A city in upheaval. A monster with unquenchable appetites.

Marlinchen and her two sisters live with their wizard father in a city shifting from magic to industry. As Oblya’s last true witches, she and her sisters are little more than a tourist trap as they treat their clients with archaic remedies and beguile them with nostalgic charm. Marlinchen spends her days divining secrets in exchange for rubles and trying to placate her tyrannical, xenophobic father, who keeps his daughters sequestered from the outside world. But at night, Marlinchen and her sisters sneak out to enjoy the city’s amenities and revel in its thrills, particularly the recently established ballet theater, where Marlinchen meets a dancer who quickly captures her heart.

As Marlinchen’s late-night trysts grow more fervent and frequent, so does the threat of her father’s rage and magic. And while Oblya flourishes with culture and bustles with enterprise, a monster lurks in its midst, borne of intolerance and resentment and suffused with old-world power. Caught between history and progress and blood and desire, Marlinchen must draw upon her own magic to keep her city safe and find her place within it.


Review

Thank you to NetGalley and Harper Voyager for an arc in exchange for an honest reivew!

I was super excited to get an ARC of this book, I gave her previous novel 4 stars. This one is somewhat interlinked with that one, and touches on similar subjects. This one is dark fantasy and horror combined. I had hoped that I was going to absolutely love this book, however, it fell short for me in many ways, which is a bit unfortunate. There were some good aspects to the book as well, and I will discuss those aspects first.

Reid is a talented writer. I love her prose. It is able to evoke feelings, emotions, moods and atmosphere. It is essentially, a lush book that could be easy to get lost in. The writing is one of the best parts of the entire book to be quite honest.

I love her world-building. It definitely captures the imagination, and you can even imagine it was real. This I think it partly because it is grounded in truth. It makes it easier to believe.

The incorporation of the fairy tales was excellent and remains one of my favorite parts of the book. I love how they just meld into the story seamlessly.

Even the premise of the book was good, so what was wrong with the book overall?

I struggled a bit with the characters. I feel that I didn’t ever really become convinced by them or their relationships. I wish I had because I think it would have been more successful for me.

Secondly, I was bored. This is definitely a me problem. I kept getting distracted and wanting to skim read through this book. I felt that there was no advancement in plot or character development, and that some of it was repetitive. I kept hoping that the end of the book would make it better. It sadly didn’t. It did get more intense towards the end of the book, but didn’t make up for the pacing.

I am however looking forward to seeing what the author produces next!

.