A TORCH AGAINST THE NIGHT by Sabaa Tahir

After the events of the Fourth Trial, Martial soldiers hunt the two fugitives as they flee the city of Serra and undertake a perilous journey through the heart of the Empire.

Laia is determined to break into Kauf—the Empire’s most secure and dangerous prison—to save her brother, who is the key to the Scholars’ survival. And Elias is determined to help Laia succeed, even if it means giving up his last chance at freedom.

But dark forces, human and otherworldly, work against Laia and Elias. The pair must fight every step of the way to outsmart their enemies: the bloodthirsty Emperor Marcus, the merciless Commandant, the sadistic Warden of Kauf, and, most heartbreaking of all, Helene—Elias’s former friend and the Empire’s newest Blood Shrike.

Bound to Marcus’s will, Helene faces a torturous mission of her own—one that might destroy her: find the traitor Elias Veturius and the Scholar slave who helped him escape…and kill them both. 


Title : A Torch Against the Night
Author : Sabaa Tahir
Series : Ember Quartet (book two)
Format : hardback
Page Count : 452
Genre : YA fantasy
Publisher : Razorbill
Release Date : August 30, 2016

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ 


Hollis’ 2 star review

Wow so this took a turn.

As I read this installment I kept questioning if I had been too kind to book one; was it just my ever revolving slump mode that make me think more kindly of it? Was it really that good? I almost went to change my rating, that’s how a) convinced I was that I must’ve been too generous and b) how annoyed I was about this one. But ultimately I think it stands; book one was good. I had a good time, slump or no, and it really just is that this book just.. doesn’t remotely measure up.

Between some bizarre sideplots and elements introduced out of nowhere, with very little sense of cohesion, this was just also.. not well written? And also had poor characterizations? There were moments, of course, but ultimately this felt like it had maybe a handful of a well executed and polished chapters that were tossed into a rough draft.

And if I ever see the word “skies” again I might lose it. I hate repetition, yes, and I understand that words get overused as a touchstone but I swear I came across a single page (as in, one!) with three repeats of that word. And not just one time, but multiple times. Some chapters? At least six utterances. I would see other words, too, reused when it would’ve been more appropriate for a synonym — yes, this is picky bitch shit but it stands out. And it does not make a meh reading experience any easier. Editors : you are valuable and desperately needed. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Also, please up your prices, you’re worth it.

Getting through this was a chore and I was bored and frustrated pretty much the whole time. My enthusiasm for the rest of the series is incredibly diminished but we’re in it now. I just hope I can get through book three a lot faster than this one.

THE WOLF AND THE WOODSMAN by Ava Reid

In the vein of Naomi Novik’s New York Times bestseller Spinning Silver and Katherine Arden’s national bestseller The Bear and the Nightingale, this unforgettable debut— inspired by Hungarian history and Jewish mythology—follows a young pagan woman with hidden powers and a one-eyed captain of the Woodsmen as they form an unlikely alliance to thwart a tyrant.

In her forest-veiled pagan village, Évike is the only woman without power, making her an outcast clearly abandoned by the gods. The villagers blame her corrupted bloodline—her father was a Yehuli man, one of the much-loathed servants of the fanatical king. When soldiers arrive from the Holy Order of Woodsmen to claim a pagan girl for the king’s blood sacrifice, Évike is betrayed by her fellow villagers and surrendered.

But when monsters attack the Woodsmen and their captive en route, slaughtering everyone but Évike and the cold, one-eyed captain, they have no choice but to rely on each other. Except he’s no ordinary Woodsman—he’s the disgraced prince, Gáspár Bárány, whose father needs pagan magic to consolidate his power. Gáspár fears that his cruelly zealous brother plans to seize the throne and instigate a violent reign that would damn the pagans and the Yehuli alike. As the son of a reviled foreign queen, Gáspár understands what it’s like to be an outcast, and he and Évike make a tenuous pact to stop his brother.

As their mission takes them from the bitter northern tundra to the smog-choked capital, their mutual loathing slowly turns to affection, bound by a shared history of alienation and oppression. However, trust can easily turn to betrayal, and as Évike reconnects with her estranged father and discovers her own hidden magic, she and Gáspár need to decide whose side they’re on, and what they’re willing to give up for a nation that never cared for them at all.


Title : The Wolf & The Woodsman
Author : Ava Reid
Format : Paperback ARC/Audio
Page Count/Running Time : 448/13 hours, 9 minutes
Genre : Fantasy
Publisher : DelRey UK
Release Date : June 8, 2021

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4 star review

Headlines:
Unique fantasy standalone
Dark and sinister moments
Get lost in the visual imagery

This felt like such a fresh story to me with three different belief systems intersecting through the characters. It was a story told in the forest, plains and sometimes cities and villages. I was happiest reading when the story was in the forest even though that where the monsters were.

Evike was a character to get behind, she was complex, morally grey on occasion and resillient. She was ever at the mercy of whatever people she was with. Her self discovery of her lineage, the faith of her father and the Yehuli people were fascinating and the chinks of light in this tale. Gaspar, woodsman and a man with many facets, was equally complex and how their grudging collaboration evolved was great reading. The friendship was a slow burn for sure.

There were monsters, witches, creatures with powers, kings with powers, megalomaniac princes and the kind of tales told to really give you the chills. This easily scared reader coped with it all and it conveyed a murky atmosphere of not knowing what was around the corner. There were some dark and gory moments but they truly added to the story.

I was fortunate to read the hard copy and audio for this and the narration was superb. The characterisation and dialogue fitted that dark atmosphere I described so well.

I thought this was a great debut, a standalone to recommend and I can’t wait to read more by Ava Reid.

Thank you to DelRey UK for the early review copies.

A MINI PRIDE BLOG FESTIVAL

Hi friends! We wanted to celebrate this special month and value, respect, recommend, and celebrate our LGBTQIAP+ friends, readers, and authors. Both of us read a diet of LGBTQIAP+ reads year round but it’s a nice time to celebrate! We wanted to tell you about some of our favourite reads (some of which need more love!) in a variety of genres and then tell you about some of the reads on our TBR. We have linked the books suggested to the relevant GoodReads page.


YA Contemporary


Heartstopper series by Alice Oseman
Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender
Miss Meteor by Tehlor Kay Mejia & Anna-Marie McLemore
Perfect On Paper by Sophie Gonzales


Contemporary Romance


Something to Talk About by Meryl Wilsner
Boyfriend Material by Alexis Hall
Bad Judgment by Sidney Bell
An Exaltation of Larks (and book two!) by Suanne Laqueur


Historical


The Turners series by Cat Sebastian
Band Sinister by KJ Charles
The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid


Fantasy (YA & Adult)


The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black
The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon
Big Bad Wolf series by Charlie Adhara
The Midnight Lie by Marie Rutkoski


Sci-Fi


The First Sister by Linden A. Lewis
To Be Taught If Fortunate by Becky Chambers
The Locked Tomb series by Tamsyn Muir
The Space Between Worlds by Micaiah Johnson


And now for the TBR portion..

The top five LGBTQIAP+ books on Micky’s TBR are:


Winter’s Orbit by Everina Maxwell
The Second Rebel by Linden A Lewis
All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M Johnson
The Split by Laura Kay
Afterlove by Tanya Byrne


The top five LGBTQIAP+ books on Hollis’ TBR are :


Pumpkin by Julie Murphy
The First Sister by Linden A. Lewis
Seven Devils by Laura Lam & Elizabth May
Lore & Lust by Karla Nikole
The Space Between Worlds by Micaiah Johnson


What are some of the top LGBTQIAP+ books on your TBR? Any of our recommendations new to you? Let us know!

HANA KHAN CARRIES ON by Uzma Jalaluddin

From the author of Ayesha at Last comes a sparkling new rom-com for fans of “You’ve Got Mail,” set in two competing halal restaurants

Sales are slow at Three Sisters Biryani Poutine, the only halal restaurant in the close-knit Golden Crescent neighbourhood. Hana waitresses there part time, but what she really wants is to tell stories on the radio. If she can just outshine her fellow intern at the city radio station, she may have a chance at landing a job. In the meantime, Hana pours her thoughts and dreams into a podcast, where she forms a lively relationship with one of her listeners. But soon she’ll need all the support she can get: a new competing restaurant, a more upscale halal place, is about to open in the Golden Crescent, threatening Three Sisters.

When her mysterious aunt and her teenage cousin arrive from India for a surprise visit, they draw Hana into a long-buried family secret. A hate-motivated attack on their neighbourhood complicates the situation further, as does Hana’s growing attraction for Aydin, the young owner of the rival restaurant—who might not be a complete stranger after all.

As life on the Golden Crescent unravels, Hana must learn to use her voice, draw on the strength of her community and decide what her future should be. 


Title : Hana Khan Carries On
Author : Uzma Jalaluddin
Format : Paperback
Page Count :
Genre : Contemporary YA
Publisher : Corvus, Atlantic books
Release Date : June 3, 2021

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4 star review

Headlines:
Small town feel
Racial tensions personalised
Strong female characters

Hana Khan Carries On was a grower of a read, you got to know Hana and the characters better and better and for me, that equaled getting sucked in more. This was a story that started off on the surface but delved deep into family issues and racial tensions of the city (read any city here).

This book had a very small town feel to it, which is weird to say when it was set in the bustling city of Toronto. Jalaluddin brought that small town feel by inviting you into the Khan family both nuclear and wider. This story centred on restaurant rivalry, podcasts, online friendships and in real life rivalries. There were some predictable moments but there was also one heck of a twist.

I really came to like Hana, she was a strong female from a line of strong females. She knew her mind, her plan until the plan went pear-shaped. There were side characters to really get your teeth into, one fav being cousin Rashid and of course, Aydin.

There was some compelling plot around islamaphobia, racial tensions and what that meant personally and to a community as a whole. I think this was really good representation but I do encourage you to look for #ownvoices reviewers, but do note the author is own voices from that city.

Hana Khan Carries On makes this two for two from Uzma Jalaluddin, so I will be looking out for her third book with anticipation.

Thank you to Corvus for the early review copy.

NEW RELEASE TUESDAY – JUNE 8, 2021

Happy “where’d all my money go?” new release Tuesday, everyone!

As you know, the most exciting day of the week in this community is the day that follows the one we all dread (Mondays for the nope) and today we’re going to highlight some of the new books chipping away at our bank accounts — but each one is so worth it.


The Queer Principles of Kit Webb by Cat Sebastian is a “historical romance about a reluctantly reformed highwayman and the aristocrat who threatens to steal his heart.” Also we hear it’s a grumpy/bratty mix.. if you’re into that sort of thing (we are).

The Wolf and the Woodsman by Ava Reid is a dark tale with woods, woodsman, monsters, cities and families. Go read this clever story.

Seven Days in June by Tia Williams is described as seven days to fall in love, fifteen years to forget and seven days to get it back again. I’m here for this angsty ride!


Are there any titles out today you’re excited for? Let us know in the comments below! 

THE JASMINE THRONE by Tasha Suri

A new trilogy set in a world inspired by the history and epics of India, in which a captive princess and a maidservant in possession of forbidden magic become unlikely allies on a dark journey to save their empire from the princess’s traitor brother.

Imprisoned by her dictator brother, Malini spends her days in isolation in the Hirana: an ancient temple that was once the source of the powerful, magical deathless waters — but is now little more than a decaying ruin.

Priya is a maidservant, one among several who make the treacherous journey to the top of the Hirana every night to clean Malini’s chambers. She is happy to be an anonymous drudge, so long as it keeps anyone from guessing the dangerous secret she hides.

But when Malini accidentally bears witness to Priya’s true nature, their destinies become irrevocably tangled. One is a vengeful princess seeking to depose her brother from his throne. The other is a priestess seeking to find her family. Together, they will change the fate of an empire.


Title : The Jasmine Throne
Author : Tasha Suri
Series : Burning Kingdoms
Format : eARC
Page Count : 480
Genre : fantasy
Publisher : Orbit
Release Date : June 8, 2021

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ .5


Hollis’ 3.5 star review

I’m pretty tempted to round up on this one but, despite how much I enjoyed the second half, this definitely starts off.. slow, maybe even a little strange. But it’s some of that same strangeness that kept me from putting it down and wanting to know more.

What I think Suri does so well, beyond some incredibly lush and descriptive but not overly purple writing, is how they offers up very complex and fascinating, multilayered, female characters. They aren’t a stagnant kind of grey or fit easily and snugly into one archetype or mold, either. These women are ever evolving based on their surroundings, twisting themselves into new shapes to suit, while glimmers of their true selves are revealed only to a precious few. We see them battle with themselves, with others, and it’s not always nice. But it felt so real and, as mentioned, it was fascinating.

This story started out very politics heavy and then shifted gears into very magical and weird and then ended with lots more politics spliced through with magic. I wish this had been balanced a little differently but I think I understand why it went the way it did. I just hope it weaves in and out a little better in book two, more in line with how it ended, instead of cut into sections. That said, the nameless and the destinies and that whole concept? Wow. I loved it. I was getting a tiny bit annoyed with the big build up near the end and how we kept getting bashed over the head with the tease but when it finally happened it? I won’t say it was worth it, because you kind of see it coming — not the exact thing, but the shape of it — but I still loved it. And, again, the concept is just fabulous.

There is so much great in here (again why I consider rounding up!) and it’s made up of magic, destinies, betrayal, yearning, and love. And some of that just within the dynamics of one pair of siblings. Suri doesn’t shy away from some uncomfortable dialogue about the pain endured by those who are supposed to love us, while at the same time tackling religious fanaticism, as well as the inherent poison of a nation conquered, oppressed, by others. There’s a lot to unpack.

Where I struggled was the pacing, a lot of extra POVs (sometimes only one offs, which always kind of bugs me), a bit of back and forth repetition with a certain build up, and with one particular character and their motivations and how that spilled over onto others and tugged the plot around, only to.. I don’t know. I can’t say for spoilers but I was left feeling something about it. And how some of that conflict ultimately just felt like filler and a time waster in the end.

But. I still definitely recommend this. Not just for the diversity in this India-inspired fantasy, not just for the romance (sapphic, by the way!), or the creeping eerieness of a conflict we’ve only just barely glimpsed and that is still to reveal itself, or for the political manouevering and cleverness heralded by a fierce, uncompromising, woman. But all that and more.

I am really excited for book two.

** I received an ARC from the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **

WE ARE INEVITABLE by Gayle Forman

A heartbreaking story about finding yourself and your people, from the bestselling author of If I Stay, a major film starring Chloë Grace Moretz. For fans of The Perks of Being a Wallflower, John Green and Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist.

‘I got this whole-body feeling . . . it was like a message from future me to present me, telling me that in some way we weren’t just bound to happen, that we had, in some sense, already happened. It felt . . . inevitable.’

So far, the inevitable hasn’t worked out so well for Aaron Stein.

While his friends have gone to college and moved on with their lives, Aaron’s been left behind in the Cascade Mountains of Washington State, running a failing bookshop with his dad, Ira. What he needs is a lucky break, the good kind of inevitable.

And then he meets Hannah. Incredible Hannah – magical, musical, brave and clever. Could she be the answer? And could they – their relationship, their meeting – possibly be the inevitable Aaron’s been waiting for?


Title : We Are Inevitable
Author : Gayle Forman
Format : Paperback
Page Count :288
Genre : Contemporary YA
Publisher : Simon & Schuster UK
Release Date : June 1, 2021

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 3 star review

Headlines:
Melancholy bordering on sad
Injections of hope
Families grieving

I found We Are Inevitable to be an incredabily melancholy read. The main character Aaron was burdened with so many stresses and emotions that a 19 year old shouldn’t have that I got why he was the way he was. Still, I needed those bits of hope that were occasionally pieced into the story.

This was a story for booklovers, about a booklover who owned a bookstore. However, even the bookstore had tragedy in its shelves. Aaron’s father, Ira was difficult to fathom, his mother a puzzle and his brother created an unresolved bundle of emotion. There were key themes of grief in this book and you need to be ready for that.

There were a number of clever uses of other books, book quotes and how books can soothe and solve within the story and I really appreciated those nuggets. I didn’t buy into the romance and the story let me know why that was.

One of our largest shelves has split down the middle, like the chesnut tree in Jane Eyre. And anyone who’s read Jane Eyre knows what that portends.

I found this book a bit of a pacing roller coaster but it still kept my attention. I did feel the emotion of the culmination and that was satisfying. Overall this was a book I liked but didn’t love.

There are other triggers in this book that I haven’t mentioned, so please look for those on other reviews or DM me for details.

Thank you to Simon & Schuster UK for the review copy.

AN EMBER IN THE ASHES by Sabaa Tahir

Laia is a slave.
Elias is a soldier.
Neither is free.


Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. Those who do not vow their blood and bodies to the Emperor risk the execution of their loved ones and the destruction of all they hold dear.

It is in this brutal world, inspired by ancient Rome, that Laia lives with her grandparents and older brother. The family ekes out an existence in the Empire’s impoverished backstreets. They do not challenge the Empire. They’ve seen what happens to those who do.

But when Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, Laia is forced to make a decision. In exchange for help from rebels who promise to rescue her brother, she will risk her life to spy for them from within the Empire’s greatest military academy.

There, Laia meets Elias, the school’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he’s being trained to enforce. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined—and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself. 


Title : An Ember in the Ashes
Author : Sabaa Tahir
Series : Ember Quartet (book one)
Format : hardback
Page Count : 446
Genre : YA fantasy
Publisher : Razorbill
Release Date : April 28, 2015

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 4 star review

While it might seen like I am hella late to this series.. I am but I’m also not. I read this book a hundred years ago, when life was simpler and less strange, but it’s a series I never continued; thankfully, unlike other series I’ve been trying to tackle this year, I didn’t keep buying these ones only to let them gather dust on my shelves. Because that might mean a few less books to unhaul post-pandemic season. Yes, that’s getting a bit ahead of ourselves, isn’t it.. (also I might love them and wish I had bought them; who can say).

Regardless, this was a reread for me, but the rest of the series will be new-to-me. Now that the series is over it’s safe to dive in because it’s binge time, baby. Because ya gurl’s memory can’t handle long drawn series that span years of release dates. We are getting old.

Case in point? I remembered almost nothing about this. For every new chapter it was like a whole new experience. I remembered maybe two aspects of this whole installment and they were the most basic concepts, nothing major, and considering all the directions this went, I’m surprised I didn’t remember more. I also didn’t remember it being so violent and brutal (not adult fantasy levels of brutal but still.. it’s close, and still worth mentioning). And the ending? Complete surprise. Suffice it to say it was like I hadn’t read this at all but only briefly glimpsed the synopsis.

And ultimately? I really enjoyed it. I feel like it stood the test of time and still holds up all these years later. Nostalgia is obviously not a factor as my memory didn’t play into this, elle oh elle. Also, of note, I haven’t picked anything up in over a week and this was basically a one-sitting read, so. It gets extra points for that.

Time to see what book two holds!

(Yes, I realize I spoke nothing of plot or concept or themes or.. anything, really, about this book. There are like three people in the world who have yet to at least read book one in this series so I’m even less inclined than usual to summarize the plot itself or bother with much detail. I’ll try and do better for the next books but no promises.)

MALIBU RISING by Taylor Jenkins Reid

From the New York Times bestselling author of Daisy Jones & The Six . . . Four famous siblings throw an epic party to celebrate the end of the summer. But over the course of twenty-four hours, their lives will change forever.

Malibu: August 1983. It’s the day of Nina Riva’s annual end-of-summer party, and anticipation is at a fever pitch. Everyone wants to be around the famous Rivas: Nina, the talented surfer and supermodel; brothers Jay and Hud, one a championship surfer, the other a renowned photographer; and their adored baby sister, Kit. Together the siblings are a source of fascination in Malibu and the world over–especially as the offspring of the legendary singer Mick Riva.

The only person not looking forward to the party of the year is Nina herself, who never wanted to be the center of attention, and who has also just been very publicly abandoned by her pro tennis player husband. Oh, and maybe Hud–because it is long past time for him to confess something to the brother from whom he’s been inseparable since birth.

Jay, on the other hand, is counting the minutes until nightfall, when the girl he can’t stop thinking about promised she’ll be there.

And Kit has a couple secrets of her own–including a guest she invited without consulting anyone.

By midnight the party will be completely out of control. By morning, the Riva mansion will have gone up in flames. But before that first spark in the early hours before dawn, the alcohol will flow, the music will play, and the loves and secrets that shaped this family’s generations will all come bubbling to the surface.

Malibu Rising is a story about one unforgettable night in the life of a family: the night they each have to choose what they will keep from the people who made them . . . and what they will leave behind.


Title : Malibu Rising
Author : Taylor Jenkins Reid
Format : eARC
Page Count : 384
Genre : Contemporary Fiction
Publisher : Cornerstone Books
Release Date : May 27, 2021

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ .5


Micky’s 2.5 star review

Headlines:
Family dysfunction
Sibling strength
Predictable storyline

I anticipate anything written by TJR, I’ve read all her books except one and enjoyed them, so I guess it was inevitable that one day, one would not hit the mark for me. I’m super sad I didn’t enjoy this and my experience is definitely an unpopular opinion but valid all the same.

This was a story told between two past eras, one was 1960s and the other was 1980s. At first, I didn’t like the 1960s but I did slip into it eventually. The story focused on the Riva family, a famous father, a damaged mother and siblings that stuck together.

This dead beat father was revolting in his apathy, he wasn’t a positive part of the story and his actions became unsurprising. I felt that eventually, this family were fighting against history repeating itself. The siblings themselves were resillient thanks to Nina who held centre stage.

This was a family saga, all told and unfortunately, it just didn’t appeal to me. The story direction became utterly predictable, so that I felt I just needed to see the story through. On ending, I didn’t feel much satisfaction, in fact, the ending felt a little to convenient for my taste.

There are triggers in this book galore and please look for the reviews that cite them or DM me for details.

Thank you to Cornerstone for the early review copy.

FOR THE WOLF by Hannah Whitten

The first daughter is for the Throne.
The second daughter is for the Wolf.

For fans of Uprooted and The Bear and the Nightingale comes a dark fantasy novel about a young woman who must be sacrificed to the legendary Wolf of the Wood to save her kingdom. But not all legends are true, and the Wolf isn’t the only danger lurking in the Wilderwood.

As the only Second Daughter born in centuries, Red has one purpose-to be sacrificed to the Wolf in the Wood in the hope he’ll return the world’s captured gods.

Red is almost relieved to go. Plagued by a dangerous power she can’t control, at least she knows that in the Wilderwood, she can’t hurt those she loves. Again.

But the legends lie. The Wolf is a man, not a monster. Her magic is a calling, not a curse. And if she doesn’t learn how to use it, the monsters the gods have become will swallow the Wilderwood-and her world-whole.


Title : For the Wolf
Author : Hannah Whitten
Series : Wilderwood (book one)
Format : eARC
Page Count : 448
Genre : fantasy
Publisher : Orbit
Release Date : June 1, 2021

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ .5 / ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 3.5 star review

This is not the first time I’ve had a reading experience with this, where I start strong, get waylaid in the middle, and then have no opportunity to pick it up and finish even though I’m so close to the end. This kind of pattern always screws me up (I’m a one or two session reader, often just one!) and leaves me uncertain how I feel about a story. Enter, For the Wolf.

I liked so much of this but was equally confused by just as much. This is a story that I definitely need to reread because I think it’s possible this would be an easy four star if I had read it normally.

People created stories to fill the gaps they didn’t understand, and religion grew up around it like rot on a fallen tree.

There are shades of familiar fairytales woven into the roots of this spooky forest magic story. But these parts are made equally their own thing. This is not YA but is written with similar YA beats, yet manages to be dark without crossing any ‘can’t turn back now’ lines.

All of them loved like burning, no thought for the ashes.

While this had some absolutely lovely turns of phrase, a slowburn romance, and tons of forest aesthetic, I definitely lost track of some scenes or events as they played out, and I did find myself losing the thread of the worldbuiling (probably explained in the beginning and then just forgotten, because I’m dumb and was too slow to read this; though I also think the mythology is supposed to be uncertain and skewed and that doesn’t help?), but I am definitely going to be keen for the follow up.

** I received an ARC from the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **


Micky’s 3.5 -4 star review

Headlines:
Retelling hybrid
Oh for the love of great MCs
Confused world building

I’ve had to really think about my rating on For The Wolf because I’ve come out of it in a good place but the journey was sometimes confused by difficult world building layered in a way that wasn’t intuitive. However, what this book brings in terms of characterisation is pretty great, with Eammon a large, gentle man battling to keep the wood in some kind of equilibrium and Redarys, an immediately likeable young woman who knew her own mind and her path.

This book felt like a fresh blend of traits from a number of well known fairytales in a hybrid that totally worked. It definitely felt like it’s own story but I enjoyed the elements of familiarity when they popped up. The wood itself was a wild, powerful ‘being’ and there were moments of body horror (fleeting but present) but I felt all that really added to the wilderwood presence. The description opened up such imagery when reading that I had a really clear picture of how I felt this wild place looked.

There were important side characters, a few I liked and some I couldn’t stand, nor was I meant to. I’ve come away from the story unsure how I feel about Neve but 100% invested in reading more in the next book.

I do just want to embelish a little on my world building problems and say that by the last quarter of the book, I was clear on what was what. I don’t mind having to work for answers with a fantasy book but I did feel a lack of clarity at times that was irritating. This was a case of having to just go with the flow of side confusion to keep traction with the story until things were clearer and they did become clearer.

Overall, this is a good debut. If you start this book and feel some confusion, keep going, the story and the characters are worth it.

Thank you to Orbit Books for the early review copy.