THE BOOK OF LIFE by Deborah Harkness

Bringing the magic and suspense of the All Souls Trilogy to a deeply satisfying conclusion, this highly anticipated finale went straight to #1 on the New York Times bestseller list. In The Book of Life, Diana and Matthew time-travel back from Elizabethan London to make a dramatic return to the present—facing new crises and old enemies. At Matthew’s ancestral home, Sept-Tours, they reunite with the beloved cast of characters from A Discovery of Witches—with one significant exception. But the real threat to their future has yet to be revealed, and when it is, the search for Ashmole 782 and its missing pages takes on even more urgency. 


Title : The Book of Life
Author : Deborah Harkness
Series : All Souls (book three)
Format : physical
Page Count : 561
Genre : paranormal romance / historical
Publisher : Viking Adult
Release Date : June 15, 2014

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 3 star review

Well.. we didn’t end on a high (though to be honest I did not expect to) but this was better than book two. Which, admittedly, was a low bar so it wasn’t really that hard.

Strangely this book was the most unlike the adaptation’s version than any other season. And I don’t know why! The bulk of it didn’t differ but it had the most changes. Having said that, in hindsight I do like some the changes the show made but others.. others I preferred the way they had been done in the book. Vague vagueness ensues.

I don’t have a lot to say about this “finale” (I think Time’s Convert is considered book four but I wonder if it’s more of a companion? I’ll find out shortly!). Some parts felt rather anticlimactic. And, sure, maybe on a whole I’m just feeling a little out of step with the series as a whole but I feel it with this book in particular. After all that time plodding through (hah) time in book two, this instalment hopped and jumped and sped through so much, making the whole experience rather rushed and, ultimately, not as satisfying. 

That said, there was so much history, so much science, that it cannot be denied the series is well researched. It’s really just some particular characters and some of the execution where I don’t quite connect. So I’m very curious to see how I fare with another perspective (or two?) and with a different (I assume! now that the main conflict has wrapped) focus. 

SHADOW OF NIGHT by Deborah Harkness

Picking up from A Discovery of Witches’ cliffhanger ending, Shadow of Night takes Diana and Matthew on a trip through time to Elizabethan London, where they are plunged into a world of spies, magic, and a coterie of Matthew’s old friends, the School of Night. As the search for Ashmole 782 deepens and Diana seeks out a witch to tutor her in magic, the net of Matthew’s past tightens around them, and they embark on a very different—and vastly more dangerous—journey. 


Title : Shadow of Night
Author : Deborah Harkness
Series : All Souls (book two)
Format : physical
Page Count : 584
Genre : paranormal romance / historical
Publisher : Viking Adult
Release Date : June 10, 2012

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★


Hollis’ 2 star review

Oof, okay, yes. I remembered this as the turning point for why I threw in the towel — and having just recently struggled through the show’s second season for a very true-to-book recounting of plot meant it was also very fresh — and I completely get why this turned the tide for me. What a slog. I felt like I was reading this for eighty-four years.

But, having said that, there were some parts that did their best (though failed) to make the whole bearable. I’m thinking mostly of the Philippe plotline. And.. oh damn, maybe that’s it. Gallowglass! He was a nice distraction from things. Queen Elizabeth, too, was feisty and rather fun. Matthew’s buddies, the School of Night? Mostly ugh. Particularly Kit (though honestly I doubt anyone likes Kit). I’ll never get over how Matthew let that whole dynamic thrive despite every instinct that should’ve been screaming at him to do otherwise. Considering his behaviour in, oh, I don’t know, every other circumstance when there was even less provocation? Yeah, brutal. 

To keep the romance element interesting, the author decided to augment all of Matthew’s bad behaviours under the guise of having to be more of who he was once before in order to “blend in” but also for the purpose of building up to one particular milestone in their relationship. It definitely felt a bit manufactured but the further away from it I am the more I understand it was a natural growing pain to the development of their connection. They do move quickly, after all, and throwing in the whole vampire possessiveness and Matthew’s own persona.. yeah, I get it. But I didn’t have to like it. Particularly as, on brand for this book, it gets dragged wayyy out. At least it’s over with now though. I think. I hope. Please.

Complaints aside, I do have to say how well the show has adapted these books. There are, of course, changes. Not only are these books just too long to be 100% faithful but where possible the show also combined some elements or cut out those that were similar enough to be represented by only one character instead of two. It also fleshed out scenes that we don’t see happen on page (maybe I said that in my review for book one? but it bears repeating as it’s relevant in this instalment, too). 

I’m definitely looking forward to a) finishing this series but b) finally seeing if this final book deserves all the hype. Knowing how things ends, too, takes some of the pressure off. At this point though I’ll be happy to just end on a higher note than this one. The bar is low!

A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES by Deborah Harkness

A richly inventive novel about a centuries-old vampire, a spellbound witch, and the mysterious manuscript that draws them together. 

Deep in the stacks of Oxford’s Bodleian Library, young scholar Diana Bishop unwittingly calls up a bewitched alchemical manuscript in the course of her research. Descended from an old and distinguished line of witches, Diana wants nothing to do with sorcery; so after a furtive glance and a few notes, she banishes the book to the stacks. But her discovery sets a fantastical underworld stirring, and a horde of daemons, witches, and vampires soon descends upon the library. Diana has stumbled upon a coveted treasure lost for centuries-and she is the only creature who can break its spell. 

Debut novelist Deborah Harkness has crafted a mesmerizing and addictive read, equal parts history and magic, romance and suspense. Diana is a bold heroine who meets her equal in vampire geneticist Matthew Clairmont, and gradually warms up to him as their alliance deepens into an intimacy that violates age-old taboos. This smart, sophisticated story harks back to the novels of Anne Rice, but it is as contemporary and sensual as the Twilight series-with an extra serving of historical realism.


Title : A Discovery of Witches
Author : Deborah Harkness
Series : All Souls (book one)
Format : physical
Page Count : 579
Genre : paranormal romance / historical
Publisher : Viking Penguin
Release Date : February 8, 2011

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 3 star review

We’re back and it’s time to tackle yet another unfinished series! Yes, once again, as is generally the case, books one and two in the All Souls trilogy (series, whatever) are familiar to me (from many moons ago) but book three (and in this case the companion/book four) are not. Having said that, because I had long ago decided I had given up on this series, I did start watching the show. And, even after deciding on this series completion journey, I continued to watch the show. So everything is jumbled now and there’s likely nothing at all that will be new or a spoiler; except book four. 

Having said all that, this book exists with a five star rating on GR from back when I logged it after creating my account. And it’s definitely not keeping that rating. As you can see. But what’s interesting is while I was constantly forever frustrated by Matthew in the adaptation, and I was sure the book would make me feel better about him.. he might actually be worse in the source material. Hard to believe. They did keep the characters pretty true to form but I’m struggling to remember if they had gentled some of Matthew’s extra aggressive/overprotective tendencies because while book-Diana pushes back a lot, I feel like show-Diana had to push back less. So I suppose there’s a positive to be seen in some upgrades.

Overall though the first season was so true to this instalment. The only changes were actually fleshing out backstories/parallel plots for a few characters we meet along the way; again, an upgrade, in my mind. 

I can definitely see why I did love this in the moment. It was an adult — and far more complex — paranormal offering in the era of Twilight and felt like a logical stepping stone in the vampire resurgence. In hindsight, all these years later, it’s.. fine. Maybe even good.

I do question my sanity in picking up a chonky series when in the midst of a slump but I must’ve been on to something because even though this took a few days to get through I did keep coming back to it. Even as a reread. Even with the show so fresh in my mind. I’ll take that as a win! I’m somewhat dreading book two because this is where it all went wrong for me, and why I chose to throw in the towel. Again, with having seen season two, I think I know why it went wrong but I guess we’ll see if season two was equally faithful to the book. And how it lands on this second go-round.

FAEFEVER by Karen Marie Moning

He calls me his Queen of the Night. I’d die for him. I’d kill for him, too. 

When MacKayla Lane receives a torn page from her dead sister’s journal, she is stunned by Alina’s desperate words. And now MacKayla knows that her sister’s killer is close. But evil is closer. And suddenly the sidhe-seer is on the hunt: For answers. For revenge. And for an ancient book of dark magic so evil, it corrupts anyone who touches it.

Mac’s quest for the Sinsar Dubh takes her into the mean, shape-shifting streets of Dublin, with a suspicious cop on her tail. Forced into a dangerous triangle of alliance with V’lane, an insatiable Fae prince of lethally erotic tastes, and Jericho Barrons, a man of primal desires and untold secrets, Mac is soon locked in a battle for her body, mind, and soul. 

As All Hallows’ Eve approaches and the city descends into chaos, as a shocking truth about the Dark Book is uncovered, not even Mac can prevent a deadly race of immortals from shattering the walls between worlds—with devastating consequences.…


Title : Faefever
Author : Karen Marie Moning
Series : Fever (book three)
Format : paperback
Page Count : 393
Genre : urban fantasy
Publisher : Delacorte Press
Release Date : September 16, 2008

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ 


Hollis’ 3 star review

I can’t tell if this actually deserves to be rounded up or if, after a bit of a reading dry spell, I’m just excited to have finished something — and in one sitting no less. <– oh hey, deja vue, this was the same situation I was in for book two! Though I think I’m in (or was in..) an actual slump this time. It’s rough out here.

It bears repeating that : I think we all know the deal with this series. It is definitely a product of it’s time. But we are already seeings signs of where Moning pushed her characters, and the series, away from their awkward beginnings.

Having said (again) that, this particular instalment slows things all way down. While book two was nonstop action, we had very little action in the third. It really decided to embody the term “slow burn”. And then of course leaves us on that cliffhanger (if you are familiar with the series but, like me, struggle to piece together which came when, here’s a hint : the cover). Once again, I found myself unprepared for how early this particular event happened. It really just was a blur that first time around, huh?

But. This particular event is (if my memory is to be trusted which, spoiler, it is not) does kick off a certain relationship in a certain direction. Otherwise though yeah that final chapter changes everything for everyone in this series. Though it doesn’t change the fact though that this was one big (slow) build to that finale; so it does feel a bit like a transitional/lead-up instalment. Which isn’t a bad thing because I feel like the next one does not pull punches so maybe we needed this calm before the storm.

Either way, I’m excited to dissect this one with my buddy reader (we already cackled about the MacHalo and I mean.. if you know you know) and, more broadly, I’m hoping this read can wiggle me out of the slump.

BOOK OF NIGHT by Holly Black – double review!

In Charlie Hall’s world, shadows can be altered, for entertainment and cosmetic preferences—but also to increase power and influence. You can alter someone’s feelings—and memories—but manipulating shadows has a cost, with the potential to take hours or days from your life. Your shadow holds all the parts of you that you want to keep hidden—a second self, standing just to your left, walking behind you into lit rooms. And sometimes, it has a life of its own.

Charlie is a low-level con artist, working as a bartender while trying to distance herself from the powerful and dangerous underground world of shadow trading. She gets by doing odd jobs for her patrons and the naive new money in her town at the edge of the Berkshires. But when a terrible figure from her past returns, Charlie’s present life is thrown into chaos, and her future seems at best, unclear—and at worst, non-existent. Determined to survive, Charlie throws herself into a maelstrom of secrets and murder, setting her against a cast of doppelgangers, mercurial billionaires, shadow thieves, and her own sister—all desperate to control the magic of the shadows.

With sharp angles and prose, and a sinister bent, Holly Black is a master of shadow and story stitching. Remember while you read, light isn’t playing tricks in Book of Night, the people are.


Title : Book of Night
Author : Holly Black
Format : eARC
Page Count : 320
Genre : urban fantasy / paranormal
Publisher : Tor Books / DelReyUK
Release Date : May 3, 2022

Reviewer : Hollis / Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ / ★ ★ ★ ★ 


Hollis’ 3 star review

I think even the mightiest of Black stans might lose it over that ending, hoo boy. I loved it but I also kinda hated it.

So here’s the thing. If this is a standalone, I’m a lot less happy than a three star. Okay, fine, maybe it’s just docked half a point. But if this is a series opener.. yeah, maybe I could bump it a half point. As it is, there’s a lot of good in this adult debut from this beloved author but there’s also an equal amount of stuff I could’ve lived without.

I do think most people will come out of this book loving our MC, Charlie. She is unflinchingly herself and herself is messy. She’s a twenty-eight year old ex-con artist and thief who is painfully aware of her baggage cart full of faults, failed relationships, and rather questionable childhood. She’s trying to turn a new leaf, one that is away from the sketchier aspects of her skillset and focus on being somewhat of a law abiding citizen as well as guide her sister towards school and a future (a bit I never quite understood considering her sister’s age and lack of interest and also, side note, did anyone else assume her sister was like sixteen? she did not act her age). Having a boyfriend who, for once, is not a scumbag, though maybe a little weird, helps, too.

In this world, which I’ll admit I still find somewhat hard to grasp, there are people who can work magic through shadows. That’s basically the simplest way to describe it. And while that’s a main event in this world, the story itself focuses more on both mystery and heist and the overlords who rule the underworld. Does that sound dramatic? It kind of is.

While Charlie’s world was dark and violent and gritty, the details didn’t always interest me. Much like how I was invested in about half the characters and the rest could go hang. There was a sweet spot that kept me invested but on the whole there were parts that left much to be desired. Which, again, if this is a series.. I could see myself being swayed if we got more depth or detail. If not, well. It’ll be halfway memorable.

I would absolutely read on and I so hope we continue to get more adult releases from our favourites in the YA genre, particularly when they go dark side. This didn’t quite ease the sting of the long wait for the next Alex Stern novel but I’m not mad at it for distracting me for a few hours, either. You’ll either pick this one up or you won’t and I doubt this review will sway you otherwise. Having said that, I can’t wait to see more reviews and how this works (or doesn’t) for other readers.

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


Micky’s 4 star review

Headlines:
Morally dark-grey goodness
Darkness and shady shadows
Corruption

I loved so much about this fantasy offering from Holly Black. There was an absolutely fantastic female MC in Charlie Hall. She was shady, she didn’t give a s***, she took risks like it was a daily snack but she had a big heart for the few she loved. Her childhood was a complete mess of exploitation of her supposed magical abilities and she wasn’t protected as she should have been. Thus was the adult Charlie as a result.

The story brought a couple I really wanted to cheer for, or did it, maybe, I hope. Vince was difficult to fathom but I got a sense of true connection and love, even if it lacked verbal expression. The plot around Vince was deep and led into some places you wanted it not to but truly, it was incredibly clever and delicious to read.

The other characters of the piece outside the sister Posey, were honestly a nasty bunch. None more than Salt, he was heinous but I also loved to hate Adeline. You’ve got to pay attention to this plot, it definitely became exponentially more complex and the use of past/present was both helpful while being a little pacey at times. That ending 100% worked for me, knowing this is going to be a series; I love a messy ending on those terms.

Black has announced her entrance into adult fantasy with a slickness of characterisation and a wholly adult feel to the piece. I am a fan and ball of anticipation for the next book.

Thank you to Delrey UK for the gorgeous proof to review early.

WARRIOR WITCH by Danielle L. Jensen

Cécile and Tristan have accomplished the impossible, but their greatest challenge remains: defeating the evil they have unleashed upon the world.

As they scramble for a way to protect the people of the Isle and liberate the trolls from their tyrant king, Cécile and Tristan must battle those who’d see them dead. To win, they will risk everything. And everyone.

But it might not be enough. Both Cécile and Tristan have debts, and they will be forced to pay them at a cost far greater than they had ever imagined. 


Title : Warrior Witch
Author : Danielle L. Jensen
Series : Malediction Trilogy (book three)
Format : physical
Page Count : 400
Genre : YA fantasy
Publisher : Angry Robot
Release Date : May 3, 2016

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ .5


Hollis’ 3.5 star review

While this didn’t quite knock things out of the park like I hoped.. it did a lot of good. While, maybe, also having an equal part of things I was ambivalent about. But the ending? I can only imagine how many readers were split down the middle of loving or hating it but, surprisingly, I loved it. I even got a wee bit emosh about it. It was incredibly bittersweet.

We might not have as many big reveals in this instalment as we did in book two but we did have one and.. I don’t know. I feel after the way things went in book two it made this twist a little overdone. But it once again reinforces the concept of layers and how not everything in this world was as it seemed. Not to mention how clever the characters were and how long they had been playing the game, which did go some way in reinforcing how they’d been able to be so many steps ahead of everyone else.

I did, however, enjoy how the world was “saved” and the troll issue was solved; I thought everything about the learning of that fix was very clever. Jensen crafted this story in such a different way from the usual we’ve come to expect and I really appreciate that.

I do think, however, some characterizations were harmed in getting the plot moving and certain plot points were used and then apparently discarded, never to be spoken about again, so it was a little messy. It was a little pacey, too. So much happens and yet at times it feels like nothing is happening. But overall I’m really not mad about the whole of it.

I’m happy to have finally finished this series and while I will be unhauling (this was on my Series to Finish list because, yes, it needed to be finished but also because it’s one I owned and I need to split my focus between both of those goals) it’s not out of any kind of hate or disappointment; it’s merely because it’s not so loved that I want to keep it for future rereads. Plus, there’s always the library. That said, I definitely wouldn’t talk anyone out of reading this series and it’s actually given me some motivation to read more by this author. Maybe not anytime soon but I certainly won’t put off the urge if I ever feel so inclined.

HIDDEN HUNTRESS by Danielle L. Jensen

Beneath the mountain, the king’s reign of tyranny is absolute; the one troll with the capacity to challenge him is imprisoned for treason. Cécile has escaped the darkness of Trollus, but she learns all too quickly that she is not beyond the reach of the king’s power. Or his manipulation.

Recovered from her injuries, she now lives with her mother in Trianon and graces the opera stage every night. But by day she searches for the witch who has eluded the trolls for five hundred years. Whether she succeeds or fails, the costs to those she cares about will be high.

To find Anushka, she must delve into magic that is both dark and deadly. But the witch is a clever creature. And Cécile might not just be the hunter. She might also be the hunted…


Title : Hidden Huntress
Author : Danielle L. Jensen
Series : Malediction Trilogy (book two)
Format : physical
Page Count : 464
Genre : YA fantasy
Publisher : Strange Chemistry
Release Date : June 2, 2015

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 3 star review

I ended my review of book one by saying how GR told me I’d read book two, but after the ending of book one, I was hard pressed to believe it. Having now actually read the book.. what? None of this was remotely familiar. I can’t explain it at all but.. hey, it is what it is.

So while book one was a surprise for how much I still enjoyed it, this one was obviously knocked down a peg. I wasn’t mad at the plot, the separations, or the losses and conflicts. I was mostly surprised by how there was one major reveal that should not have been a reveal. Or, rather, as it seemed so obvious from the get-go, I was frustrated it took the entire book for it to be unveiled. It was just painful. Yes, the characters had a red herring or two along the way but the fact that it never even crossed their mind.. arg. I wanted to give them a good shake. Particularly because these are not dumb characters.

Having said that, I didn’t see other reveals (post-major reveal) coming but really appreciate Jensen’s little “hah! you thought you knew it all” move. I should’ve seen it coming, because this series has always had layers and she’s made a lot of smart and atypical choices, but based on how long the main event took.. I just didn’t think there’d be room for more. Really enjoyed that.

Otherwise, if not for that complaint, I did enjoy this. Jensen didn’t pull punches in the sense that the stakes are high in this world and truly no one is safe. In both how that pertains to what these characters must endure and the friends they lose along the way. We also get further confirmation as to the world and how these trolls initially were part of it all and.. well, other spoilery things I’m not going to hint at. Naturally.

We’ve come full circle on one part of this conflict but there’s much more to come after the ending. And wow what an ending. I certainly didn’t expect the author to pull that particular rabbit out of the hat but she did. I’m really hoping we go out with a bang and yes, I’m diving right in to book three.

STOLEN SONGBIRD by Danielle L. Jensen

A girl destined for the stage. A prince cursed to darkness. A bond that will unleash magic caged for centuries.

Centuries ago, the Isle of Light was ruled by cruel creatures with dangerous magic until a witch bound them to their underground city. But a prophesy has spoken of a union with a human girl that has the power to set them free.

Cécile is a singer destined for the stage when she is kidnapped and bonded to the cursed prince of Trollus, with their minds linked in a way she never dreamed possible. Trollus is both magical and deadly, but as Cécile hunts for a way to escape, she discovers there is more to her mysterious husband than anyone realizes. 

As tension brews and political games escalate, Cécile finds herself at the center of a rebellion… and she is the one with the magic needed to overthrow the tyrant who rules.

Torn between returning to her human life and becoming the princess Trollus needs, Cécile must decide which world she belongs to… and how far she’s willing to go to save the prince who holds her heart. 


Title : Stolen Songbird
Author : Danielle L. Jensen
Series : Malediction Trilogy (book one)
Format : physical
Page Count : 469
Genre : YA fantasy
Publisher : Strange Chemistry
Release Date : April 1, 2014

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 4 star review

Yes, I am surprised about this rating myself. In no way did I expect this to live up to the four stars I gave it back in (check notes) 2015. I even rather jokingly said to a friend that I did not have high hopes for my return to “troll YA”. And here I’m eating them words. Yum.

In hindsight, while I thought I remembered this story, I only remember the first half (this seems to be a trend). Everything after that felt like reading something for the first time which was a nice bonus. I will admit I did like the first half more (maybe why it was more memorable) but the latter was still good. Just.. a little chaotic and fast moving.

But yes, if you didn’t already know about this one, it’s about a girl who has been kidnapped and brought to a kingdom of trolls, long since thought to be gone from the world, who have been trapped under a mountain by a long-ago witch’s curse. Thinking to break said curse, Cécile has the unfortunate luck to match the description of a prophecy and is quickly bonded (wed) to the prince. Their dynamic, of course, is reluctant and uninterested and fractious — at first — but time, and necessity, and then more, changes that. Also, as she realizes she cannot escape the mountain, she slowly starts to integrate into her surroundings and take note of the various politics occurring around her; the oppression and violence targeting the half-bloods or those too mortal to have any magic.

I was actually pretty surprised by how well Jensen handled numerous elements in this story, not just the romance. Though that was well done, too. This felt fresh and different in a variety of ways and I flew through it over the course of a few hours. I can only hope the trend continues for the rest of the series. GR tells me I read book two but after that ending.. I was actually doubting the accuracy of my shelving because I can’t picture any details that follow. Guess we’ll see!

BLOODFEVER by Karen Marie Moning

I used to be your average, everyday girl but all that changed one night in Dublin when I saw my first Fae, and got dragged into a world of deadly immortals and ancient secrets…

In her fight to stay alive, MacKayla must find the Sinsar Dubh—a million-year-old book of the blackest magic imaginable, which holds the key to power over the worlds of both the Fae and Man. Pursued by assassins, surrounded by mysterious figures she knows she can’t trust, Mac finds herself torn between two deadly and powerful men: V’lane, the immortal Fae Prince, and Jericho Barrons, a man as irresistible as he is dangerous.

For centuries the shadowy realm of the Fae has coexisted with that of humans. Now the walls between the two are coming down, and Mac is the only thing that stands between them.


Title : Bloodfever
Author : Karen Marie Moning
Series : Fever (book two)
Format : paperback
Page Count : 349
Genre : urban fantasy
Publisher : Delacorte Press
Release Date : October 16, 2007

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ 


Hollis’ 3 star review

I can’t tell if this actually deserves to be rounded up or if, after a bit of a reading dry spell, I’m just excited to have finished something — and in one sitting no less.

Listen, I think we all know the deal with this series. It is definitely a product of it’s time. But we are already seeings signs of where Moning pushed her characters, and the series, away from their awkward beginnings.

While Mac is definitely a little too keen and bloodthirsty, not to mention fearlessly scrappy, for this stage of things, I’m willing to give her a bit of a pass. She’s already growing up a bit, dropping the eyerolling fake-swears, starting to find herself in amongst who she used to be and who Barrons was forcing her to act like in the beginning, and I respect that. I also really like how the momentum continued from where we left off with book one. Also, the cast is starting to grow (I forgot we met Dani this early, holy shit! not to mention MacKeltar.. even if I have only the vaguest recollection of the role he plays later on..) and we’re starting to get more on the ever mysterious Barrons and who (what?) he really is.

There was almost nonstop action but the pauses we did have were really.. good pauses. I especially loved the little illusionary experience Mac had in Faery because that was cathartic and also really lovely. In fact, amongst some of the ridiculous (like, seriously, some of the “I’m so pretty” behaviour and constant barrage of attractive people or Mac being recognized as attractive is a bit.. much, but we still haven’t fully left the Shallow Era of things, I guess) there were quite a few stunning lines. Whether it was Barrons dropping some wise truthbomb in the middle of a lecture or a temporary fugue of grief or reflection.. they kind of sneak up on you but they are very appreciated.

I’m sorta sad I can’t binge this (my buddy and I are doing one a month) but at the same time maybe I’ll enjoy the ride a little more by having to wait between each bit. Definitely keen to read on.

WILD AND WICKED THINGS by Francesca May

In the aftermath of World War I, a naive woman is swept into a glittering world filled with dark magic, romance, and murder in this lush and decadent debut.

On Crow Island, people whisper, real magic lurks just below the surface. 

Neither real magic nor faux magic interests Annie Mason. Not after it stole her future. She’s only on the island to settle her late father’s estate and, hopefully, reconnect with her long-absent best friend, Beatrice, who fled their dreary lives for a more glamorous one. 

Yet Crow Island is brimming with temptation, and the biggest one may be her enigmatic new neighbor. 

Mysterious and alluring, Emmeline Delacroix is a figure shadowed by rumors of witchcraft. And when Annie witnesses a confrontation between Bea and Emmeline at one of the island’s extravagant parties, she is drawn into a glittering, haunted world. A world where the boundaries of wickedness are tested, and the cost of illicit magic might be death.


Title : Wild and Wicked Things
Author : Francesca May
Format : Physical
Page Count : 432
Genre : Fantasy/LGBTQIAP+
Publisher : Orbit Books
Release Date : March 31, 2022

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4 star review

Headlines:
Blood, bodies and darkness
Friendships tested
Heritage

This book threw the reader into Annie’s world post WW1, a different version, one with magic but magic that was pretty much outlawed. An inheritance took Annie away from her frugal home on the coast to an island where her father’s property and belongings awaited her. This new place was full of decadence, forbidden things and danger.

Annie’s character had real growth, she moved from obedient young woman, in the shadow of others to an independant thinker and leader in some respects. That part of her she knew was there, the magic, was allowed time to grow. I liked Annie, Emmeline, Nathan and Isobel. I did not like Bea. The sapphic elements were subtle at times but present and important to the story.

To all intents and purposes, this was a historical fantasy thriller. There were many dark moments, some gore, and some real sinister feels at times. It was easy to get swept up then shrink in tension at the dark scenes.

The plot was really curious in terms of the magic, how it worked, how it controlled and I appreciated that the magic in this world was scary in nature. I think many will appreciate the freshness of this story.

Thank you to Orbit Books for the early review copy.

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