In a world where the flightless are ruled by those who can fly…
When her father dies just before her birthday, seventeen-year-old Aderyn inherits the role of Protector of Atratys, a dominion in a kingdom where nobles are able to transform at will into the bird that represents their family bloodline. Aderyn’s ancestral bird is a swan. But she has not transformed for years, not since witnessing the death of her mother – ripped apart by hawks that have supposedly been extinct since the long-ago War of the Raptors.
With the benevolent shelter of her mother and her father now lost, Aderyn is at the mercy of her brutal uncle, the King, and his royal court. Driven by revenge and love, she must venture into the malevolent heart of the Citadel in order to seek the truth about the attack that so nearly destroyed her, to fight for the only home she has ever known and for the land she has vowed to protect.
Written in rich detail and evocative language, this is the start of an irresistible, soaring duology about courage, broken loyalties and fighting for your place in the world.
Title : A Throne of Swans Author : Katharine & Elizabeth Corr Series : A Throne of Swans #1 Format : Paperback Page Count : 352 Genre : YA Fantasy Publisher : Hot Key Books Release Date : January 9, 2020
Reviewer : Micky Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★ .5
Micky’s 4.5 star review
I think this will be the final completed read of 2019 for me and the year couldn’t have finished in a better way. What more can a bookworm ask for than a book that you cannot put down and that you think of when you aren’t reading it? A THRONE OF SWANS was all of this and with the most delicious cover too.
This book had the sense of a traditional fairytale but with more identifiable traits in the characters. So, while it had a historical feel, the behaviours and actions had more of a fantastical-contemporary feel, if this doesn’t make sense, just give it a go. The world was unusual and brought a freshness with it, this was a world built on humans that shift into different birds. Aderyn, the protagonist and Protector of her lands, was of swan heritage but she was unable to shift, putting her life at risk.
This world had defined classes, those who could fly and the flightless; the nobles and servants. Some areas in the kingdom were more cruel to the flightless than others. Aderyn was new to her position as Protector and so she had her advisor Lucien and others who tried to influence her, Aron, Seigfried the King. I had no more idea than Aderyn whom she should trust. The world was interesting, the world-building was easy to grasp as it unfurled and the whole context conjured an enticing atmosphere.
There were elements that were unpredictable and some that were predictable but none of that interfered with the enjoyment of the narrative. There was a gentle complexity to the budding relationships in this book with interweaving of characters and crossing-over of affections. All this was secondary to the strong leading story direction which I loved.
The writing was easy to fall into and as I said, the book itself demanded to be read at all times. I cannot believe that I will have to wait a year for the next book to come out, there isn’t a desperate cliff just a desire on my behalf to read on with these characters. This was my first book by Katharine & Elizabeth Corr and I really enjoyed their style and creativity.
Thank you to Hot Key Books and Darkroom Tours for the early finished copy.
New York Times bestselling author Renée Ahdieh returns with a sumptuous, sultry and romantic new series set in 19th century New Orleans where vampires hide in plain sight.
In 1872, New Orleans is a city ruled by the dead. But to seventeen-year-old Celine Rousseau, New Orleans provides her a refuge after she’s forced to flee her life as a dressmaker in Paris. Taken in by the sisters of the Ursuline convent along with six other girls, Celine quickly becomes enamored with the vibrant city from the music to the food to the soirées and—especially—to the danger. She soon becomes embroiled in the city’s glitzy underworld, known as La Cour des Lions, after catching the eye of the group’s leader, the enigmatic Sébastien Saint Germain. When the body of one of the girls from the convent is found in the lair of La Cour des Lions, Celine battles her attraction to him and suspicions about Sébastien’s guilt along with the shame of her own horrible secret.
When more bodies are discovered, each crime more gruesome than the last, Celine and New Orleans become gripped by the terror of a serial killer on the loose—one Celine is sure has set her in his sights . . . and who may even be the young man who has stolen her heart. As the murders continue to go unsolved, Celine takes matters into her own hands and soon uncovers something even more shocking: an age-old feud from the darkest creatures of the underworld reveals a truth about Celine she always suspected simmered just beneath the surface.
At once a sultry romance and a thrilling murder mystery, master storyteller Renée Ahdieh embarks on her most potent fantasy series yet: The Beautiful.
Title : The Beautiful Author : Renee Ahdieh Series : The Beautiful #1 Format : ARC Page Count : 448 Genre : Fantasy Publisher : Hodderscape / G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers Release Date : October 8, 2019
Reviewer : Micky / Hollis Rating : ★ ★ ★ / ★ ★ ★
Micky’s 3 star review
Such a highly anticipated title for me from an author I’ve enjoyed in the past. Although my rating isn’t a wow rating, it delivered on some aspects of enjoyment and not on others. I’ll definitely be continuing with the series however as there’s much still to discover (I’ll return to this point).
I immeditely fell into like with the tenor of the book, in pace, mystery and ambience. New Orleans in this book’s era had such a temperature of the magical that was enticing but it also sparked trepidation. The heroine Celine was running from her life in Paris, straight into the burning flames of a furnace. She courted danger in a way that didn’t seem befitting of a woman of that time but that was the kind of character she was. I was intrigued by her and the character of Bastien, as I was supposed to be.
What started out as mystery in terms of who or what kinds of beings prowled New Orleans, became a bit of a frustration as world building didn’t come but in a fog towards the end. I feel like I was possibly promised vampires but didn’t really get this. I got the measure of Celine and Michael, but Bastien, his uncle and many others were clouded and this became increasingly difficult as a reader.
The violent happenings in the story were the good part of the mystery. The unknown povs added to this. The descriptions of sights and smells, heat and darkness were vivid and alluring. There was very little romance in literal terms but the suggestion of it was threaded through the story.
I enjoyed the idea of this story but I wanted a bit more from the execution of it. I enjoy Renee Ahdieh’s narrative voice very much, she’s easy to read and her work pulls you into the story. However, I wanted more from the story in terms of the final reveal and last chapter. I will be back for more.
Thank you to Hodderscape for this early copy to review.
Hollis’ 3 star review
So this one is an interesting mix for me. Because on the one hand, I was pretty damn entertained while reading this. I read it mostly in one sitting, with only brief pauses, and had a pretty romping good time while I was in it.
It was during those breaks, though, and post-epilogue where I really paused and went, huh. So, we do have some problems.
First of all, let me say, I loved Ahdieh’s first series. And she brings that same magical weaving of atmosphere and setting, of flowy but not too purpley, prose, to THE BEAUTIFUL. Between the vibrancy of a carnival in the dark of the night, the decadence of the food, the colours of a masquerade, it’s a treat to read. I love the French woven through the story, along with a few other languages!, and how sometimes it isn’t even translated. That worked for me, though I imagine it won’t work for all, but. I liked it because it felt true and authentic to the scenery. I’m not entirely sure about the choice of the time period, other than wanting some old world charm, complaints about corsets, and an impetus to send a bunch of girls, mainly our main character, across the sea to the New World to escape their pasts, though. Because there was so much of this that felt very present-day, had very modern commentary, and overall just felt a bit uneven.
“If you think I used my wiles to catch your notice like a girl trying to fill her dance card at a ball, then–“ “Whatever I think has nothing to do with you. My behaviour is not your responsibility.”
Also in relation to the setting, beautiful (hah) as it may be, I have some world building/mythology confusion regarding The Fallen and The Brotherhood — though honestly I think we’re meant to want to know more, wanting to have it all explained, as that will drive us to pick up book two. Additionally because we obviously want a resolution to the events of said epilogue. Which is probably the biggest thing that made me go, huh.
I don’t quite remember seeing it but apparently with the announcement of this book, they came right out of the gate trying to throw shade on a certain other vampire series. Which, hey, whatever. We probably all throw some shade at it. That’s not my issue here. My issue here is that.. why are we throwing shade when some of this book is so damn similar to said other book? I’m not spoiling specifics. But I can’t be the only reader who is seeing it?
“I’ve heard many people say tragedy shapes us. But I am not the worst thing that’s ever happened to me, nor am I the worst thing I’ve ever done. Nothing in life is that simple.”
Anyway. A lot of this, like I said, was really good. I was hooked in. I like Celine for the most part, I liked Bastien for the most part, and I definitely loved Odette, the glue that kind of holds them together when initially they are keeping to the hate part of their hate-attraction-situation. But honestly these two were best when they were snarking at each other or when.. ahem, well, there was that one time.. because otherwise? I don’t know. They’re both too much and not enough.
“I can stand there forever in irritated silence. It it no bother to me. You can perish wondering what I’m thinking, for I’ll never tell.” “Likewise.”
I do think this book suffers a bit from lack of polish. There’s so much going on, so much unknown, and it’s definitely going for a bigger scope that I imagine will get explained now that we’re on the other side of things going into book two. Or maybe not, who is to say. But I have lots of questions, lots of things that in hindsight, I say again, make me go, hm. But again. I had a good time with it. Though I’m going to hope for more vampires in the sequel. Because, minor spoiler? They were hard to spot. Like I said.. there’s a lot going on and this is more than what you might think it to be.
THE BEAUTIFUL is a slowburn plot build that develops into a murder mystery revenge story with more secrets than vampires and more modern day commentary and inclusion than a historical fiction novel actually deserves. But I’ll definitely be picking up book two.
** I received an ARC from the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **
The world is mostly water when Pearl is born. The floods have left America a cluster of small islands with roving trade ships and raiders.
Pearl knows little of her father Jacob and elder sister Row, who left her mother Myra when she was pregnant with her. Between them they make do, with Myra fishing and trading to make ends meet, travelling from island to island on Bird, the boat Myra’s grandfather made before he died.
Whilst their life is a tranquil one, Myra still aches for the daughter she once lost. When a chance encounter reveals that Row might still be alive, Myra packs up six-year-old Pearl and together they begin a dangerous voyage to The Valley, where rumours of violence and breeding ships run rampant.
Along the way they encounter death and strangers, finally finding solace on board Sedna – full to the brim with supplies and an able crew – where Myra feels like she might be closer to finding Row than she has ever been. But to get to Row she will have to deceive everyone around her, betraying the trust of those she’s come to love, and ask herself if she’s willing to sacrifice everything and everyone for what might be nothing at all.
Title : After the Flood Author : Kassandra Montag Format : Paperback ARC Page Count : 432 Genre : YA dystopian Publisher : Borough Press Release Date : September 19, 2019
Reviewer : Micky Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★.5
Micky’s 4.5 star review
There couldn’t be a more relevant reflection into the environmental future than AFTER THE FLOOD. It’s written in a time and place where the world is flooded. The worst had happened and this was about life through the lens of a mother and daughter.
Myra was the main character, a mother of two, a reluctant spouse and a survivor. Myra was one of the most quietly strong women I have ever read about. She was single-minded in her need to survive, protect and search, so much so that she often feared she had lost her humanity.
I feared that my heart had shrunk as the water rose around me – panic filling me as water covered the earth – panic pushing out anything else, whittling my heart to a hard, small shape I couldn’t recognise.
The story has a grand picture, of humanity drowning and then surviving but more importantly it is about Myra and Pearl and it is about trust and suspicion, loyalty and betrayal. The story followed these two on their own and then as they came together with others. There was a truly coherent storyline despite the consistently fast-pace of the narrative. I loved the pacing of the book, never knowing what was around the corner, guessing what was foreshadowing and what was just detail. There were some almighty twists that were just excellent.
As a reader, I wanted Myra to have some kind of good outcome but in a dystopian read, is this a realistic goal? Whatever my thoughts on that, Myra also needed to hope and though she rarely did, an odd chink did shine through.
I hadn’t allowed myself to have a dream in so long it felt foreign, uncomfortable, like a muscle gone weak. I pressed deeper into it, saw us on a bed reading a book, a quilt heavy and warm over our legs.
I’ve come away from this book still feeling unsettled, how could I read about this kind of story where earth is mainly water not seeing the relevance? However, Kassandra Montag told this tale impressively through her characters and I am impressed by her debut. AFTER THE FLOOD isn’t a preachy read, it has heart, soul and a challenging story to tell. You will feel discomforted, a little anxious possibly but on the edge of your seat. This is a good dystopian standalone that I would recommend to all.
Thank you Harper Insider and Borough Press for this early copy.
For as long as she can remember, Tova has lived among the Svell, the people who found her washed ashore as a child and use her for her gift as a Truthtongue. Her own home and clan are long-faded memories, but the sacred symbols and staves inked over every inch of her skin mark her as one who can cast the rune stones and see into the future. She has found a fragile place among those who fear her, but when two clans to the east bury their age-old blood feud and join together as one, her world is dangerously close to collapse.
For the first time in generations, the leaders of the Svell are divided. Should they maintain peace or go to war with the allied clans to protect their newfound power? And when their chieftain looks to Tova to cast the stones, she sets into motion a series of events that will not only change the landscape of the mainland forever but will give her something she believed she could never have again—a home.
Title : The Girl The Sea Gave Back Author : Adrienne Young Series : Sky In The Deep (book two) Format : ARC/Finished Copy Page Count : 336 Genre : historical YA fantasy Publisher : Wednesday Books / Titan Books Release Date : September 3, 2019
I feel like everything that kept me from loving SKY IN THE DEEP, was missing in THE GIRL THE SEA GAVE BACK. This makes me very very happy.
I was sure this was going to be an easy three star read; lots to like but not quite getting me all the way there which, I mean, would’ve been a better result than book one. So colour me surprised by this rating.
This story takes place ten years after the events of SKY IN THE DEEP and, once again, we have warring clans. The characters we knew from book one have known peace and a time of rebuilding, rebirth, as a united people but now another group, the Svell, are stirring up trouble. Made worse by the fact that the Svell people are, themselves, divided. Additionally, they feel they are cursed by the existence of an outsider who lives among them, who washed up on their shores, and yet they also rely on her for her gifts at reading the runes, and predicting the future, as she is a Truthtongue.
It’s Tova’s prediction that sparks tragedy for Halvard’s people and we watch as they are on opposites sides of a war neither of them want. Halvard loses people he loves and Tova is blamed for things beyond her control as the fragile trust she has with the man who has raised her.. frays. Betrayal abounds with the Svell people and she’s tossed amongst them, lost, confused, and resigned.
Tova doesn’t know who she is, Halvard is bound so strongly with his family, both blood and found, and I actually really enjoyed bouncing back between their perspectives and the glimpses we got from their past. Their connection isn’t much, either, but yet feels.. present. There’s almost no romance here and yet we see possibility, potential, and that’s honestly where this book became more than I thought it would be.
I found the pacing to be pretty much perfect and I loved where the book, and our characters, ended up. This is a stronger book and the events, the loss and brutality, felt more real. The stakes somehow higher. The surprises (of which maybe there was only one but it was a good one) more surprising. I definitely have a question or two about how some things played out but those niggles are buried pretty far underneath my general contentment over the story.
If SKY IN THE DEEP wasn’t a book you were able to get on with, I would definitely recommend you pick up this sophomore offering. And if you loved SKY IN THE DEEP, I think you’ll be just as satisfied, if not more, by this follow-up in the author’s viking world.
** I received an ARC from the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **
Micky’s 3 star review
This was my first read by Adrienne Young and I was informed by a few that it stands alone as a book and reading book one wasn’t vital. I made the mistake of jumping straight into THE GIRL THE SEA GAVE BACK and I think that I missed out on some world building that would have helped me so much with this read. There wasn’t much space given to any world-building in this book and felt like I was playing catch up with the different tribes, their names, their belief systems and allegiences.
After about 20% of the book I felt that I had some context to understand the story that was playing out with two characters having alternate POVs – Tova and Halvard. These were two characters that were mystically connected but geographically separated. Halvard was a reluctant heir to leading his people and Tova was a virtual prisoner of her adopted people. This story is told over just a number of days with battle, strategy and mysticism at the core.
I enjoyed the mystical part of this story, the fate ruled by runes, spinners and the All Seer. I liked the concept of Tova and her race. There were however, a lot of characters to dislike in this book. So many prejudiced people with cruelty being part of life. The back and forth of past and present was written a little confusingly to me.
Ultimately, I felt unsatisfied with the story overall and this was just an okay read for me. I felt that the connection between Tova and Halvard was pointless in the end but I appreciated the how the different races were at war or peace at different times.
Thank you to Titan Books for the early finished copy for review.
This post doesn’t need much more introduction than the title, really. We’re here to showcase the pretties — fantastical ones. We’re not here to talk about the insides or how much we loved, or hated, the book itself. This is strictly about the packaging. The pretty pretty packaging. And we’re not even going to say anything. So, without further ado, here they are.
What fantasy title would you add to our cover-love list?