MONTHLY WRAP UP – OCTOBER 2021

To close out each month, we’ll be posting a break down of everything we reviewed, beginning with the reads we loved.. and ending with the reads we didn’t. Not only does this compile all our reviews in one handy summary for you to peruse, or catch up on, it also gives us an interesting birds eye view of the month and our reads. And maybe, even, our moods.


☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ star reads

Medusa by Jessie Burton — see Micky’s review here

☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ star reads

The Gilded Cage by Lynette Noni — see Micky’s review here
Far From The Light Of Heaven by Tade Thompson — see Micky’s review here
The Darkness Outside Us by Eliot Schrefer — see Micky’s review here
Heir to Sevenwaters by Juliet Marillier — see Micky’s and Hollis’ review here
Lakesedge by Lyndall Clipstone — see Micky’s review here
Within These Wicked Walls by Lauren Blackwood — see Hollis’ review here
All The Feels by Olivia Dade — see Micky’s review here
Act Cool by Tobly McSmith — see Micky’s review here (!)
No Place For Peace by Tom Dumbrell — see Micky’s review here

☆ ☆ ☆ star reads

Once More Upon a Time by Roshani Chokshi — see Hollis’ review here
Subtle Blood by KJ Charles — see Hollis’ review here
Vespertine by Margaret Rogerson — see Hollis’ review here
The Diviners by Libba Bray — see Hollis’ review here
Before The Devil Breaks You by Libba Bray — see Hollis’ review here
The Keeper of Night by Kylie Lee Baker — see Hollis’ review here
The Atlas Six by Olivie Blake — see Hollis’ review here

☆ ☆ star reads

When Night Breaks by Janella Angeles — see Hollis’ review here
That Dark Infinity by Kate Pentecoste — see Hollis’ review here
When Sorrows Come by Seanan McGuire — see Hollis’ review here
Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray — see Hollis’ review here
The King of Crows by Libba Bray — see Hollis’ review here
The Holiday Swap by Maggie Knox — see Hollis’ review here
The Sweetest Remedy by Jane Igharo — see Hollis’ review here
Act Cool by Tobly McSmith — see Hollis’ review here (!)
The Deathless Girls by Kiran Millwood Hargrave — see Micky’s review here

star reads

u n r a t e d

DNF

Little Thieves by Margaret Owen — see Micky’s GR review here



total reads by Micky : eleven for the blog and seven reviewed on GR
favourite read of the month : Medusa by Jessie Burton
least favourite read of the month : Little Thieves by Margaret Owen
most read genre : Sci-Fi

total reviews by Hollis : seventeen
favourite read of the month : Heir to Sevenwaters by Juliet Marillier
least favourite read of the month : That Dark Infinity by Kate Pentecoste
most read genre : fantasy

KING OF CROWS by Libba Bray


After the horrifying explosion that claimed one of their own, the Diviners find themselves wanted by the US government, and on the brink of war with the King of Crows.

While Memphis and Isaiah run for their lives from the mysterious Shadow Men, Isaiah receives a startling vision of a girl, Sarah Beth Olson, who could shift the balance in their struggle for peace. Sarah Beth says she knows how to stop the King of Crows-but, she will need the Diviners’ help to do it.

Elsewhere, Jericho has returned after his escape from Jake Marlowe’s estate, where he has learned the shocking truth behind the King of Crow’s plans. Now, the Diviners must travel to Bountiful, Nebraska, in hopes of joining forces with Sarah Beth and to stop the King of Crows and his army of the dead forever.

But as rumors of towns becoming ghost towns and the dead developing unprecedented powers begin to surface, all hope seems to be lost.

In this sweeping finale, The Diviners will be forced to confront their greatest fears and learn to rely on one another if they hope to save the nation, and world from catastrophe..


Title : King of Crows
Author : Libba Bray
Series : The Diviners (book four)
Format : eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 561
Genre : YA fantasy / historical fiction / paranormal
Publisher : Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Release Date : February 4, 2020

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating :  ★ ★ 


Hollis’ 2 star review

If not for my respect for the author’s research and unflinching honesty about the history (and horrors) that exist in America (and so many other countries), this would be a one star. She called this a ghost story, and it’s true, because so much of what made up this series was a haunting; a haunting of the forgotten, of what it took to “make” the country; those who were erased in the process, those who continue to be deemed less worthy or overlooked.. there are so many ghosts in that. Many sad, lots of them mad. And Bray never let us forget it.

It was exhausting, sure, but what made it worse were these characters. I’m sorry, I could never find the love, I only ever had brief glimmers of like. What kept me going was the plot. And bizarrely, in this big epic finale, there was almost.. no plot? You would think there would be a big rush to band together, figure out strategy, and confront the Big Bad but.. no. This was some side quest/travel/journey novel from one end of the country to another. With a lot of time just.. passin’ on by. But before we even got to that? We had to survive some stupidity.

“[character x] is killing people for power and has been for years! they are the reason for everything that’s happened! we have to stop them to defeat [big bad villain]!”
“I know! we, a bunch of seventeen year olds, should TALK to this grown adult! I’m sure they don’t know what they are doing!”

[insert “sure Jan” gif here]

This is just one example of the stupid in the early very stages of this book. And maybe it’s naive but after all the stupid in the three books previous (sometimes just the characters being dumb, other times the author making them be stupid for plot reasons) I just.. hoped we wouldn’t still be doing something like this. After everything they’ve been through, everything they now know, and how much character x has done to them personally and others, their first instinct is to drop all other avenues of investigation or planning.. and confront someone for a conversation.

I’m so irritated. Infact that whole scene, and at least one after it, bothered me to no end. And knowing I was only at 14% did not inspire me to continue. But I did. Obviously.

What came after was much slogging, our heroes separated, trying to survive and reunite, only to then just.. hang around on a farm. For some semi-valid reasons, sure, but mostly not. And throughout that time, they were often just so clueless.

So much of the added word count, dare I say filler, never actually feels satisfactorily resolved, either. I’m not even going to touch on how easy the climax/confrontation was to be resolved, after everything, but so many characters who we had been forced to endure, or who had been part of things along the way, are ultimately just.. brushed aside?

Everything about this experience was so strange. So unsatisfying. Which is a strange mix when butted up against my respect for all the elements Bray included and made a point to beat us over the head with.

I cannot recommend the series, part of me even wishes I had my time back (especially for books two and four), but it’s done. And I’ll hopefully never see or hear the words Baby Vamp, Lamb Chop, copacetic, or pos-i-tutely ever again.

This was a pretty disappointing note to end on as I wrap my Five Series to Finish in 2021 goal but. But! I did it. I already have a whole new selection for 2022 (blog post to come!) and I can’t wait to continue to close out more started-but-yet-to-finish-reading series in the new year.

NO PLACE FOR PEACE by Tom Dumbrell

As Cyrus rides away from the safety of his family in Highcastle to face his destiny in cunning King Simeon’s kingdom, Augustus braces himself for the arrival of a new threat: an invading army is coming for the capital.

Easthaven’s young king will need the support of those closest to him if there is any hope of saving not just the city but their kingdom. Will Thaddeus and Adaline be able to guide Augustus toward victory, or will a magnetic new influence cloud his judgement?

What fate awaits Cyrus in Auldhaven, and is there more to Simeon than meets the eye? As Cyrus’s journey takes him farther from home than ever before, his future will become more unpredictable. The outcome seems destined to be explosive.

War is coming, but the fiercest battles are often fought within.


Title : No Place For Peace
Author : Tom Dumbrell
Series : The Look of a King #2
Format : Paperback
Page Count : 336
Genre : Historical Fantasy
Publisher : Self Published
Release Date : October 18, 2021

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4 star review

Headlines:
Fast-paced ease
Twisty plot
Cyrus is so darn likeable

No Place for Peace kept that light historical fantasy world feel that drew me into book one. It’s not easy to bring lightness to a world beset by war, strategy and nefarious characters but I think the age and perspective of the main character Cyrus keeps hope woven throughout the story.

This installment got going quickly with Cyrus on a quest of honour arising out of book one. Farley was a hilariously dark character and that whole early plotline really grabbed and surprised me. Cyrus is like the cat with nine lives, he has a tendency to get into pretty serious scrapes but also the uncanny ability to talk or plot his way out of them. You can’t help but be endeared to him.

We got family and found family in this book, a little romance, plenty of power-hungry characters and twists a-plenty. I was here for Cyrus, Francine, Adaline but I was also here to side-eye Wendell, Augustus and the other double-crossers. There was a lot going on plot-wise from one end of the land and back to Highcastle but I kept up.

I enjoyed this second serving of these characters and world and I look forward to reading the closing culmination. This series is ideal for when you are in the fantasy mood but you don’t want a really heavy read. Tom Dumbrell has created a world that captures the imagination easily.

MEDUSA by Jessie Burton

A dazzling, feminist retelling of Greek myth from the internationally bestselling author of The Miniaturist, stunningly illustrated by Olivia Lomenech Gill.

Exiled to a far-flung island by the whims of the gods, Medusa has little company except the snakes that adorn her head instead of hair. But when a charmed, beautiful boy called Perseus arrives on the island, her lonely existence is disrupted with the force of a supernova, unleashing desire, love and betrayal…

Filled with glorious full-colour illustrations by award-winning Olivia Lomenech Gill, this astonishing retelling of Greek myth is perfect for readers of Circe and The Silence of the Girls. Illuminating the girl behind the legend, it brings alive Medusa for a new generation.


Title : Medusa
Author : Jessie Burton
Illustrator : Olivia Lomenech Gill
Format : eARC
Page Count : 224
Genre : YA Fantasy
Publisher : Bloomsbury YA
Release Date : October 28, 2021

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 5 star review

Headlines:
Feminist retelling
Underlying relevance for today
Illustrations that will blow your mind with their beauty

My first thought on finishing is that I need this in a hard copy, so I would say that if possible, savour this in the flesh rather than ebook. The illustrations are utterly eye-catching, inspired and beautiful.

This retelling was YA but it’s not without dark and difficult themes. I have placed some trigger warnings at the bottom of this review. While this was a Medusa tale with some familiarity, it really portrayed her perspective, what life was like for her. I particularly thought for the first time what life would be like with snakes on your head, the loss of her hair and how that affected her with the same hopes and desires as any young woman. Her narrative alongside Perseus’ was bittersweet and yet still something to delight in.

There were so many moments in this historical retelling that will resonate with women in the now, be they young and older. Here’s a flavour of what hit me: power and powerlessness, victim shaming, body image, empowerment and finding your identity. Medusa sure had a lot to tell us.

People think your beauty is their possession. As if it’s there for their pleasure, as if they’ve got something invested in it. They think you owe them for their admiration.

I think it’s obvious I adored this book and that it would be a lovely gift for yourself or others.

Thank you to Bloomsbury for the early review copy.

TW: rape, sexual assault, victim shaming, stalking, body image

FAR FROM THE LIGHT OF HEAVEN by Tade Thompson

A tense and thrilling vision of humanity’s future in the chilling emptiness of space from rising giant in science fiction, Arthur C. Clarke Award winner Tade Thompson

The colony ship Ragtime docks in the Lagos system, having traveled light-years to bring one thousand sleeping souls to a new home among the stars. But when first mate Michelle Campion rouses, she discovers some of the sleepers will never wake.

Answering Campion’s distress call, investigator Rasheed Fin is tasked with finding out who is responsible for these deaths. Soon a sinister mystery unfolds aboard the gigantic vessel, one that will have repercussions for the entire system—from the scheming politicians of Lagos station, to the colony planet Bloodroot, to other far-flung systems, and indeed to Earth itself.


Title : Far From The Light Of Heaven
Author : Tade Thompson
Format : Paperback ARC
Page Count : 384
Genre : Sci-Fi
Publisher : Orbit Books
Release Date : October 26, 2021

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4 star review

Headlines:
Murder on board
AI…
Clever, intricate plot

Far From The Light of Heaven was a superb sci-fi thriller. It had early sinister feels and that sense pervaded the whole book. I was on tenterhooks throughout and I was so glad this was encapsuated in a standalone.

The story revolves around a locked room murder and takes some inspiration from Poe (read the very informative afterword when you’re done). Shell Campion, the captain in name only, had to really step up to the plate in this story. She was a formidable character, one I respected and admired. This becomes a small cast of characters over time and I particularly loved Francis, Salvo and Larry. Dare I say, I spent a lot of time pinning hopes on Ragtime.

The plot was complex but not too complex, with clever intricacies that I really appreciated. My friend and I buddy read this and we agreed that if there were moments of confusion, it did get ironed out. This perspective of a further earth and future human race alongside other species and synthetic beings was engaging, belieavable and entertaining. I appreciated Thompson’s ability to represent an Afro-culture space-side; it was tangible.

How the plot culminated, the person behind the events was mind-blowing, unexpected and excellent. Again, I’m going to say that I loved Francis, the cover and that element however side plot it was. Here, I also want to mention a little TW for bugs, if like me you are particularly grossed out by bugs (it was one section and not prolonged).

I need to now retreat and try Tade Thompson’s other series as I’m fascinated by his writing and any world he can create.

Do not come to heaven, mortals, says God, and trieds without success to kick them back to the surface of the planet.

Thank you to Orbit Books for the early review copy.

NEW RELEASE TUESDAY – OCTOBER 26, 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.


All The Feels by Olivia Dade is another in the author’s series featuring fanfic, body-positivity, and, well, feels. We’ve got a review for you here.

Under the Whispering Door by TJ Klune is (finally!) out in the UK on October 28, 2021. Come join the cry club, UK, this one has feels too.



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

ALL THE FEELS by Olivia Dade – double review!

Following Spoiler Alert, Olivia Dade returns with another utterly charming romantic comedy about a devil-may-care actor—who actually cares more than anyone knows—and the no-nonsense woman hired to keep him in line.

Alexander Woodroe has it all. Charm. Sex appeal. Wealth. Fame. A starring role as Cupid on TV’s biggest show, God of the Gates. But the showrunners have wrecked his character, he’s dogged by old demons, and his post-show future remains uncertain. When all that reckless emotion explodes into a bar fight, the tabloids and public agree: his star is falling.

Enter Lauren Clegg, the former ER therapist hired to keep him in line. Compared to her previous work, watching over handsome but impulsive Alex shouldn’t be especially difficult. But the more time they spend together, the harder it gets to keep her professional remove and her heart intact, especially when she discovers the reasons behind his recklessness…not to mention his Cupid fanfiction habit.

When another scandal lands Alex in major hot water and costs Lauren her job, she’ll have to choose between protecting him and offering him what he really wants—her. But he’s determined to keep his improbably short, impossibly stubborn, and extremely endearing minder in his life any way he can. And on a road trip up the California coast together, he intends to show her exactly what a falling star will do to catch the woman he loves: anything at all.


Title : All The Feels
Author : Olivia Dade
Series : Spoiler Alert #2
Format : eARC / eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 416
Genre : Contemporary Romance
Publisher : Piatkus
Release Date : October 26, 2021

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


Micky’s 4 star review

Headlines:
Body-positivity
Judgement
Friends to witty more

The start and ongoing premise to All The Feels starts with a judging a person by their appearance, judging Lauren the plus-sized heroine. This story is the journey back from that initial judgement and this man really was good guy, not one to go solely by supposed ideal appearances at all. I appreciated so much how this story navigated these issues while packing a great plot around it.

All The Feels picked up the batton where Spoiler Alert left off, with Alex an actor from the same series as the previous book and there was a fan fic element too. Alex for me, was such an adorable character, he had ADHD and he was a walking, self-depricating, guilt-ball. Lauren with her therapist background and babysitter role was able to inject some positivity to his sense of self over time.

This story was something of a slow burn. I appreciated the time passing, the friendship evolving and the chemistry building. Then everything was pretty much unleashed and much fun to read.

I didn’t always find the fan fic excerpts (which were few and far between) easy to read, they jarred me a bit with the flow. In this story, I didn’t feel like it added much but then when I remember the soulmate one, that was pretty special.

This series is shaping up so well and I’m excited to own some special editions of these two books when book two releases.

Thank you to Piatkus Books for the early review copy.


Hollis’ 2.5 (maybe rounded up?) review

Let’s just get the joke out of the way now. All the Feels only gave me some feels.

Okay, moving on.

But seriously. I don’t know if maybe Spoiler Alert just caught me at the right time or what but this one only had a few moments that actually worked for me. Mostly the discussion around Alex and his mum. I got a little misty about all that so, yes, those scenes had all the feels but the rest? Eh.

While I absolutely appreciated the role and presence of all the body positivity overall I just didn’t love this one or the characters. Both had their lovely moments but in general I didn’t like either one and so together it was hard to root for them.

Also don’t play a drinking game with the words “rubbed her forehead” or “rubbed her temples” or “Nanny Clegg”. You will regret it.

Oddly enough, where I found the fanfiction elements in book one to be fun (at least from what I remember) I found them very out of place with this storyline. I didn’t mind the jokes and delight about tropes but the actual writing of fic? It just seemed out of character.

I will definitely read on in this world but maybe I’ll scale down my expectations for book three. I’m definitely here for all the positive rep and love that Dade will likely give us more of that. Also, I just love the snarky commentary around this not-GoT but definitely GoT show at the centre of the plot. It’s incredibly satisfying.

BEFORE THE DEVIL BREAKS YOU by Libba Bray

New York City.
1927.
Lights are bright.
Jazz is king.
Parties are wild.
And the dead are coming…


After battling a supernatural sleeping sickness that claimed two of their own, the Diviners have had enough lies. They’re more determined than ever to uncover the mystery behind their extraordinary powers, even as they face off against an all-new terror. Out on Ward’s Island, far from the city’s bustle, sits a mental hospital haunted by the lost souls of people long forgotten–ghosts who have unusual and dangerous ties to the man in the stovepipe hat, also known as the King of Crows.

With terrible accounts of murder and possession flooding in from all over and New York City on the verge of panic, the Diviners must band together and brave the sinister ghosts invading the asylum, a fight that will bring them face-to-face with the King of Crows. But as the explosive secrets of the past come to light, loyalties and friendships will be tested, love will hang in the balance, and the Diviners will question all that they’ve ever known. All the while, malevolent forces gather from every corner in a battle for the very soul of a nation–a fight that could claim the Diviners themselves. 


Title : Before the Devil Breaks You
Author : Libba Bray
Series : The Diviners (book three)
Format : eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 561
Genre : YA fantasy / historical fiction / paranormal
Publisher : Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Release Date : October 3, 2017

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating :  ★ ★ ★ 


Hollis’ 3 star review

You know those books that have very clear peaks and valleys in enjoyment where you can point out “see that? that’s where I started to hate this” or “this, this was where I felt the story redeemed itself”. Well.. yeah, this is one of those.

What started off slow, quickly (well.. not quickly, this is almost six hundred pages after all) started to prove itself better than its predecessor; and I don’t just mean plot-wise. Because for some of this I was having fun with the characters, too. But of course we can’t have nice things so that took a serious dive (or two!), and we ended things back where we started with me being checked out on character and only here for over arcing plot.

I don’t know if it’s really just me (likely, based on ratings) that can’t connect to these characters or what but like.. it’s not even that they just aren’t likeable. They just have do some questionable, sometimes outright stupid, things. Some can be blamed on the author who has thrown at least one under the bus for the sake of resolving a romance (which.. I’ll get to this in a mo) but the rest just seem to be their personality and, welp, I’m not here for it.

Much like how I wasn’t getting on with the characters, I also wasn’t getting on with the majority of the romances. In fact.. the only ones I liked where the queer pairings? And they didn’t even get much page time. Maybe that’s what saved them. As for what wasn’t saved, aforementioned character and the bus, like.. wow. Harsh. I guess that’s one way to solve a love triangle? Just kidding, no it is not. Curious to see that fall to shit in book four.

And having that said, I don’t understand how in a book with so much happening, much action, much filler, many characters, there were so many scenes that were just.. rushed over? Seemed to have been skimmed? It made the pacing so strange and it made the whole experience frustrating as, again, I was actually liking this more than I wasn’t. Until the last 20%.

Very glad there’s only one more book to go because even though this series hasn’t been a total fail (though it obviously hasn’t been a total win, either) it’s rather exhausting to be trapped in this dreary racist past (as opposed to our dreary racist present) and I find my skin crawls more from the terrible non-magical human characters than it does from the spooky ghosts or horror elements. Imma need something fluffy after this for sure.

THE KEEPER OF NIGHT by Kylie Lee Baker

Death is her destiny.

Half British Reaper, half Japanese Shinigami, Ren Scarborough has been collecting souls in the London streets for centuries. Expected to obey the harsh hierarchy of the Reapers who despise her, Ren conceals her emotions and avoids her tormentors as best she can.

When her failure to control her Shinigami abilities drives Ren out of London, she flees to Japan to seek the acceptance she’s never gotten from her fellow Reapers. Accompanied by her younger brother, the only being on earth to care for her, Ren enters the Japanese underworld to serve the Goddess of Death… only to learn that here, too, she must prove herself worthy. Determined to earn respect, Ren accepts an impossible task—find and eliminate three dangerous Yokai demons—and learns how far she’ll go to claim her place at Death’s side. 


Title : The Keeper of Night
Author : Kylie Lee Baker
Series : The Keeper of Night (book one)
Format : ARC
Page Count : 401
Genre : YA historical fiction fantasy
Publisher : Inkyard Press
Release Date : October 12, 2021

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ .5


Hollis’ 3.5 star review

I don’t know about you but I hadn’t heard much about The Keeper of Night. So if, like me, you were oblivious to its existence.. you may want to pay attention.

Ren’s entire existence is defined by being on the outside. The daughter of an English Reaper and a Japanese Shinigami, she resides in London and is bullied, disrespected, and ignored for her heritage — something that, I’ll admit, was really getting my back up because I thought her father, the obvious culprit for her dual heritage, had been let off the hook and all the hate and distrust was focused solely on his daughter. And well.. he is demoted for his transgressions but Ren still bears the brunt of it as he gets to, mostly, wash his hands of it all. I got to say, I’m hella tired of that particular narrative. Next time I want the kid to be welcomed and the parents to be ostracized please and thank you. Also, I hope more of this backstory is explained in book two as, currently, I’m not quite satisfied by how things stand.

But anyway, stuff happens and Ren is forced on the run and her brother, who has always loved her despite having been also tarred with some of the same brush as his sister, even though he is not biracial, flees to Japan with her. And basically this whole relationship, this whole bond? The best. They didn’t always get on, they could never full understand each other, but they were still there for each other.. though this bond definitely does get tested along the way. Especially when Neven admits to feeling like a fish out of water in Japan and expresses those feelings to Ren, even though it was only a glimpse of what Ren had endured in London for centuries — and I really loved that Baker explored this.

While so much of this story ends up being about Japanese mythology and legends, the author leans close to, if not outright, grimdarkness with some of the violence and demons they encounter. Maybe it’s not quite grim but it is dark. Being that the whole premise is set around death and soul collecting, I like that this wasn’t glossed over considering the target audience.

Also not glossed over is Ren’s anger, which we see explode out of her a few times once she’s away from London and is able to both articulate and let herself rage, about all the years of being told who she is, what she isn’t, and how she’s not accepted. Because unlike what she thought.. she is not immediately welcomed in Japan. She’s seen, once again, as a foreigner. This disappointment felt so raw and real and I honestly have no words to describe it.

Where things sorta fell apart for me was near the end. I knew this wasn’t a standalone (yay it’s only a duology!) so maybe that explains why the big climax came upon us in a bit of a quick and dramatic fashion — well, there’s two, really. I loved the first, which I sorta saw coming (but one reveal was still a surprise) but it was what followed that.. I don’t know. I really enjoyed where things ended, though, and I’m so keen to see how it all resolves — or if it even does — in book two.

If you’re looking for a dark YA fantasy, set in the past, with a compelling setting, rich in atmosphere and setting, with a main character who isn’t remotely the hero, though not quite a villain, but definitely grey in hue.. you should give this a go.

** I received an unsolicited ARC from the publisher (thank you!) and this in no way influenced my review. **

THE ATLAS SIX by Olivie Blake

The Alexandrian Society, caretakers of lost knowledge from the greatest civilizations of antiquity, are the foremost secret society of magical academicians in the world. Those who earn a place among the Alexandrians will secure a life of wealth, power, and prestige beyond their wildest dreams, and each decade, only the six most uniquely talented magicians are selected to be considered for initiation. 

Enter the latest round of six: Libby Rhodes and Nico de Varona, unwilling halves of an unfathomable whole, who exert uncanny control over every element of physicality. Reina Mori, a naturalist, who can intuit the language of life itself. Parisa Kamali, a telepath who can traverse the depths of the subconscious, navigating worlds inside the human mind. Callum Nova, an empath easily mistaken for a manipulative illusionist, who can influence the intimate workings of a person’s inner self. Finally, there is Tristan Caine, who can see through illusions to a new structure of reality—an ability so rare that neither he nor his peers can fully grasp its implications. 

When the candidates are recruited by the mysterious Atlas Blakely, they are told they will have one year to qualify for initiation, during which time they will be permitted preliminary access to the Society’s archives and judged based on their contributions to various subjects of impossibility: time and space, luck and thought, life and death. Five, they are told, will be initiated. One will be eliminated. The six potential initiates will fight to survive the next year of their lives, and if they can prove themselves to be the best among their rivals, most of them will. 

Most of them.


Title : The Atlas Six
Author : Olivie Blake
Series : The Atlas (book one)
Format : eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 336
Genre : fantasy
Publisher : TorBooks
Release Date : September 28, 2021

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★


Hollis’ 3 star review

I don’t think it’s hype that shot me in the foot for this one, necessarily, but I definitely think my expectations, or preconceived notions, about what this was were.. not on the mark. Even if I had some of the elements right.

If you’re anticipating this to be a little bit dark, a lot magical, academic for sure, and featuring an ensemble of personas that run the gamut of archetypes, well. You’ll find all of it. This book is also very smart? Or at least too smart for me. Blake did a good job of presenting theories and discussion with words I could follow, and mostly with concepts I could parse, but occasionally I would just find myself going along with it.

I think for all the hugeness of the scope there is also a very small window into said world. Both in setting and in some of the potential for the characters that sometimes we glimpsed — whereas other times they just spun their wheels or went through the usual motions — but there’s lots of room here for more, I think. And with some very key, and some unexpected, reveals and directions this has shifted into near the end.. maybe we’ll get that in book two. There may also be more value in these beginnings in hindsight, who knows.

So while I was far from blown away, I’m definitely interested in more. If you’re looking for a helpful review, this will not be it! Sorry.

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