THE PRISON HEALER by Lynette Noni – double review!

Seventeen-year-old Kiva Meridan has spent the last ten years fighting for survival in the notorious death prison, Zalindov, working as the prison healer.

When the Rebel Queen is captured, Kiva is charged with keeping the terminally ill woman alive long enough for her to undergo the Trial by Ordeal: a series of elemental challenges against the torments of air, fire, water, and earth, assigned to only the most dangerous of criminals.

Then a coded message from Kiva’s family arrives, containing a single order: “Don’t let her die. We are coming.” Aware that the Trials will kill the sickly queen, Kiva risks her own life to volunteer in her place. If she succeeds, both she and the queen will be granted their freedom.

But no one has ever survived.

With an incurable plague sweeping Zalindov, a mysterious new inmate fighting for Kiva’s heart, and a prison rebellion brewing, Kiva can’t escape the terrible feeling that her trials have only just begun.

From bestselling author Lynette Noni comes a dark, thrilling YA fantasy perfect for fans of Sarah J. Maas, and Sabaa Tahir.


Title : The Prison Healer
Author : Lynette Noni
Series : The Prison Healer (book one)
Format : eARC
Page Count : 416
Genre : YA fantasy
Publisher : HMH Books for Young Readers/Hodder Books
Release Date : April 13, 2021

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


Hollis’ 2 star review

When you have to take a shower mid-read to wake up because the book is putting you to sleep : my experience with The Prison Healer.

Look, that snarky intro notwithstanding, there were things in this story that felt pretty compelling and or interesting but so much just.. didn’t make sense. At first I loved that our setting was limited to this prison, where our protagonist had been locked up for ten years, completely cut off from the world and politics around her, but then I got really.. anxious. The limited scope started to bother me. So did the weird extreme sweeps into d a r k n e s s and d e s p a i rand then, like, light hearted flirting with the new prisoner.

We also had this ACOTAR-esque challenge to undergo but the only people witnessing it were the prisoners? The royalty are banished from watching it and it seems to not actually matter to the world outside the prison? Like.. how is this a thing? Why is it even happening?

And the whole idea of this prison being unchallenged by royalty, not subject to rule by any authority by the Warden (I don’t know, I’m now questioning my understanding, so don’t quote me on that..), was initially interesting but also how the hell did that fly. Just kind of seemed like an excuse to let some awful shit happen.

And then there was this whole civil war thing.. man, like I said, some really cool elements that just felt a little untethered. Trying to sum up all the plot points is leaving me tired.

As for the characters, well. Suffice it to say we aren’t supposed to have many to root for, seeing as we are in a prison full to the brim of nasty characters, but Naari, one of the guards, was the only one I actually liked. I got a lot of whiplash from our lead, the love interest was nice but kind of predictable, there’s a younger pseudo-brother character who has an endearing stutter but I got pretty tired of reading about it, and there’s.. not much else. Bad guard one, bad guard two, evil guard one, evil guard two, unpleasant prisoners x y z, shifty Warden guy, lots of sick and or dead people.. you get the idea.

What saves this for me was the ending. Because.. okay, sure, yeah, that happened. I am both very excited by it and also now very frustrated by everything up until this point, but, sure, yes. I’m hooked and I will read book two (please say it’s only a duology..).

I realize most people would not continue on a series where the initial book only warranted a two but I am not most people.

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


Micky’s 4.5 star review

Headlines:
Captivity
Trials
Twists

This story was interesting from the start but it executed a sneak attack by building and building into something pretty fantastic. The Prison Healer was set completely inside a prison, one with few rules and a regime of brutality and fear. Kiva was the healer, a skill learnt and from her father but built on by necessity. She had few perks from her role even though she was vital to that society.

The characters inside the prison were rag-tag bunch of characters and I took the lead from Kiva who trusted virtually no-one but Tipp, her young helper in the prison infirmary. New arrivals sparked some interesting characters form the guard Naari to Jaren and Tilda. I’m laughing at my naive self now having finished the book…little did I know.

A part of the storyline were trials that one of the characters had to go through and that was a fascinating steer throughout the chapters, I really enjoyed those elements. Most of all I enjoyed the mystery of the characters and some of the twists. There was one almighty twist that had me putting on the brakes, going back half a page because I wasn’t sure I’d read that right.

I really enjoyed how platonic and ‘something more’ relationships developed through the story. Moreso, I liked to see Kiva learn to trust a bit more and open up ever so slightly. Again, I’m laughing at my face-value reading of some of the characters knowing what I know now.

The Prison Healer was a gripping fantasy read, full and detailed, interesting and fresh. I’ve not read Lynette Noni before but she’s secured my interest and I have no idea how I’m going to wait until The Gilded Cage comes out. I have all the need for it.

Thank you to Hodder books for the early review copy.

THE INFINITY COURTS by Akemi Dawn Bowman

Eighteen-year-old Nami Miyamoto is certain her life is just beginning. She has a great family, just graduated high school, and is on her way to a party where her entire class is waiting for her—including, most importantly, the boy she’s been in love with for years.

The only problem? She’s murdered before she gets there.

When Nami wakes up, she learns she’s in a place called Infinity, where human consciousness goes when physical bodies die. She quickly discovers that Ophelia, a virtual assistant widely used by humans on Earth, has taken over the afterlife and is now posing as a queen, forcing humans into servitude the way she’d been forced to serve in the real world. Even worse, Ophelia is inching closer and closer to accomplishing her grand plans of eradicating human existence once and for all.

As Nami works with a team of rebels to bring down Ophelia and save the humans under her imprisonment, she is forced to reckon with her past, her future, and what it is that truly makes us human.
From award-winning author Akemi Dawn Bowman comes an incisive, action-packed tale that explores big questions about technology, grief, love, and humanity.


Title : The Infinity Courts
Author : Akemi Dawn Bowman
Series : The Infinity Courts (book one)
Format : eARC
Page Count : 480
Genre : YA sci-fi
Publisher : Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers 
Release Date : April 6, 2021

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★.5 


Hollis’ 1.5 star review

First of all, you’re going to want to scroll right by this review because it probably won’t be the best one to read if you want an objective take on the story. Why? Because this book put me into a week long slump (which doesn’t sound like a lot but it felt like three years). So this story is on my shitlist.

This was my first read by Bowman and despite my strugglebus experience with reading it, I would try her again. I think this was definitely a story-specific problem, not necessarily a writing problem, which is a bummer as while the cover definitely hooked me (so pretty!) it was the plot that made me take a second look.

I will contradict myself here by saying that one of the main issues was writing-specific because this is.. lengthy and repetitive and basically takes two issues and not only beats you over the head with them but also to death. Which is hilarious as this story follows a bunch of dead people (not a spoiler). But basically we ruminate (ad nauseaum) over the concept of what it means to be human, what it means to award second chances, and living (being dead?) with hope. Lots of talk of war, too. But while all that might sound interesting, it grew stale really quick because it seemed to be literal copy paste arguments over and over again, with nothing new to be said.

Unfortunately what seemed like a cool concept just felt flimsy and also confusing and I quickly lost any sense of what, well.. made sense. And with that ending.. I mean, I know it isn’t a standalone (kinda wish it was, though) but still. What.

Will I read on? Right now it’s a no for me, dawg, but honestly by the time the sequel releases I’ll probably be back on my completionist kick and want to just wrap it up. Particularly as, at least right now, it seems to only be a duology.

I can’t recommend this, at all, but that doesn’t mean you won’t like it. Again, maybe the slump made this all worse than it could’ve been, or it was just the wrong time for me, so if it strikes your interest, give it a try! Sample it. Borrow it. I hope your experience is better than mine.

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

KING OF SCARS by Leigh Bardugo

Face your demons… or feed them.

The dashing young king, Nikolai Lantsov, has always had a gift for the impossible. No one knows what he endured in his country’s bloody civil war–and he intends to keep it that way. Now, as enemies gather at his weakened borders, Nikolai must find a way to refill Ravka’s coffers, forge new alliances, and stop a rising threat to the once-great Grisha Army.

Yet with every day a dark magic within him grows stronger, threatening to destroy all he has built. With the help of a young monk and a legendary Grisha general, Nikolai will journey to the places in Ravka where the deepest magic survives to vanquish the terrible legacy inside him. He will risk everything to save his country and himself. But some secrets aren’t meant to stay buried–and some wounds aren’t meant to heal.


Title : King of Scars
Author : Leigh Bardugo
Series : King of Scars (book one)
Format : physical
Page Count : 527
Genre : YA fantasy
Publisher : Imprint
Release Date : January 29, 2019

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ .5


Hollis’ 3.5 star review

It’s finally happened! All these years later, despite all my anticipation — like so many things — I have finally read this book. And.. it didn’t quite do All The Things I expected it to do; but that might be due to a few factors. Like, my slump. Like, my soul-deep exhaustion when I started reading this. Or maybe the beginning just was kinda slow. Even all of the above. But right around the 60%ish mark.. I was hooked. I was in it. And that ending was evil.

Zoya, say something spiteful.”
Why?
Because I’m fairly certain I’m hallucinating, and in my dreams you’re much nicer.
You’re an idiot, Nikolai.
Not your best work.”

We have a few rotating POVs featuring almost all familiar faces but for the majority of this book I was only keen on Zoya’s. Yes, even though Nikolai was one of said POVs, he just wasn’t the draw for me. Zoya was. More Zoya. Zoya all the time, please. Nina’s POV had me a bit emotional during a certain moment, I’m sure you’ll guess the one if you’ve already read this, and while I liked what she was doing and where her adventures had taken her, I wouldn’t say I was always mad to be pulled away from it. Again, I’ll draw your attention to Zoya. Her POV was the only one I was ever sad to leave. Though, the one unknown POV? Pure sweetness. Also other emotions I won’t hint at.

Do something!
Like what?
You have guns!
I’m not going to shoot at bees.”

This is definitely not a series I think you can start without previously reading — at the very least — the main Grishaverse trilogy. But also there’s so much Six of Crows content in here, alluded or referenced to, that like.. you really shouldn’t be reading this at all if you haven’t read those series. Not just that but it spoils so much. Don’t put yourself through that. Obviously I’m late to the game with this warning but still. I’m putting it out there.

Most of us can hide our greatest hurts and longings. It’s how we survive each day. We pretend the pain isn’t there, that we are made of scars instead of wounds.”

I’m definitely glad circumstances made it so I waited until almost the eve of the release of book two to read this because, again, that ending was rude. I’m happy to know I’ll have resolution soon. Imminently. And I hope the overall experience of book two kicks all sorts of ass. Can’t wait.

BENEATH THE KEEP by Erika Johansen

The Tearling has reverted to feudalism, a far cry from the utopia it was founded to be. As the gap between rich and poor widens and famine threatens the land, sparking unrest, rumors of a prophecy begin to spread: a great hope, a True Queen who will rise up and save the kingdom.

But rumors will not help Lazarus, a man raised to kill in the brutal clandestine underworld of the Creche, nor Aislinn, a farm girl who must reckon with her own role in the growing rebellion. In the Keep, the crown princess, Elyssa, finds herself torn between duty to the throne and the lure of the Blue Horizon, a group of fierce idealists who promise radical change . . . but Elyssa must choose quickly, before a nefarious witch and her shadowy master use dark magic to decide for her. It is only a matter of time before all three will be called into the service of something bigger than they have ever imagined: a fight for a better world. 


Title : Beneath the Keep
Author : Erika Johansen
Series : The Queen of the Tearling (book zero/prequel)
Format : eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 448
Genre : fantasy/dystopian
Publisher : Dutton
Release Date : February 2, 2021

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 4 star review

Anyone who has read The Queen of the Tearling series probably knew what to expect for this unexpected prequel release. After all, we had mostly learned of all the pre-Kelsea events along the way of the main trilogy. And yet somehow the author still managed to drop a few surprises along the way. And still make this incredibly compelling.

As usual, even though this isn’t a sequel, not a prequel, I can’t say much plot-wise. But if you are new to, or unfamiliar with, this world, you should know it has layers, depths, of darkness. It’s cruel and unjust but glimmers of hope streak through the mire. This was the turning point for these characters, for the world, but there is still much to happen, to endure, before the end.

And some of that might even be an unknown. I don’t know what more is to come, or what time it will fill (likely upto book one? we have quite a few years yet to live through..), but I am keen for it. Completing this series was one of my 2020 successes and I am still riding high on that experience; adding to that delight was, upon finishing, realizing more books were coming (serendipitity!), so I’ll take anything the author is willing to dole out.

A TOUCH OF STONE AND SNOW by Milla Vane

Danger lurks in the western realms. The Destroyer’s imminent return has sent the realms into turmoil as desperate citizens seek refuge—but there’s no safety to be found when demons and wraiths crawl out from the shadows. Even Koth, a northern island kingdom left untouched by the Destroyer a generation past, is besieged by terrors spawned from corrupt magics.

When Lizzan leads the Kothan army against these terrors, only to see her soldiers massacred and to emerge as the only survivor, she is called a coward and a deserter. Shunned from her home, Lizzan now wanders in solitude as a mercenary for hire, until she encounters a group of warriors seeking new alliances with the northern kingdoms—a group that includes Aerax, the bastard prince of Koth, and the man who sent her into exile. 

Though they were childhood friends, Aerax cannot allow himself to be close to the only woman who might thwart his treacherous plan to save their island realm. But when a goddess’s demand binds them together, Lizzan and Aerax must find a way to overcome their painful pasts. Or there will be no future for the western realms…


Title : A Touch of Stone and Snow
Author : Milla Vane
Series : A Gathering of Dragons (book two)
Format : eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 398
Genre : fantasy romance
Publisher : Berkley
Release Date : July 21, 2020

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ 


Hollis’ 3 star review

I definitely liked this more than book one but not more than the prequel (which you should read after book one, by the way). But there are definitely still parts I had to slog through. Thankfully this installment is significantly shorter than book one (almost six hundred pages vs just shy of four) but.. it still felt very long, particularly in the beginning.

I’m not sure I really liked either of the main characters, which is sad as I really liked book one’s heroine, but unlike the hero in book one, at least no one annoyed me in this one. I think I struggled, mostly in the beginning, because there was just so much time bouncing between past events and current that it was hard to hold onto who they were now. And also likely not helped by just feeling a little lost and without any certain footing in said beginning. The middle to almost climax was definitely the highlight for me, both fast paced and interesting, but the actual big conflict seemed.. well, dumb. And over before I even realized. It resolved so quickly it actually took me a few pages to realize it was over and they hadn’t just paused for an interlude.

That said, what helped me feel better about this one was, while I acknowledged and appreciated the worldbuilding Vane put in, from day on, this was the first time I felt proper understanding of some of the mythology. I don’t know if it was poorly explained or we just weren’t meant to know the whole picture up until now (or I’m dumb) but.. I’m diggin’ it. I’m on board. And I like what has been set up for book three, too. Of course, now that I’m caught up I have to wait like everyone else but.. oh well.

Not quite sure this is going to be a series I would go out of my way to recommend but I definitely wouldn’t talk you out of it if you’re already interested in diving in.

POISONED by Jennifer Donnelly

Isabelle should be blissfully happy – she’s about to win the handsome prince. Except Isabelle isn’t the beautiful girl who lost the glass slipper and captured the prince’s heart. She’s the ugly stepsister who’s cut off her toes to fit into Cinderella’s shoe … which is now filling with blood.

When the prince discovers Isabelle’s deception, she is turned away in shame. It’s no more than she deserves: she is a plain girl in a world that values beauty; a feisty girl in a world that wants her to be pliant.

Isabelle has tried to fit in. To live up to her mother’s expectations. To be like her stepsister. To be sweet. To be pretty. One by one, she has cut away pieces of herself in order to survive a world that doesn’t appreciate a girl like her. And that has made her mean, jealous, and hollow.

Until she gets a chance to alter her destiny and prove what ugly stepsisters have always known: it takes more than heartache to break a girl.


Title : Poisoned
Author : Jennifer Donnelly
Format : eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 331
Genre : YA fantasy retelling
Publisher : Scholastic Press
Release Date : October 20, 2020

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ 


Hollis’ 2 star review

I was keen for this retelling because of how much I had loved Stepsister, the author’s previous fantasy reimagining, and yet almost from the get-go I knew this wouldn’t have the same kind of magic as the Cinderella-inspired story did.

While there was a lot of creative elements at work within Donnelly’s version of Snow White, I was, sadly, bored and uninspired by much of it. I missed the hard feminist edge that we’ve had in the author’s aforementioned work. It wasn’t totally missed here, there were some interesting points about the stepmother and her role, and I loved how that was spun, but.. that was really the only highlight.

If you have yet to read this author, I would definitely start with this one if you want a dark fairytale reimagining, but I think starting with Stepsister will leave you as disappointed by this one as I was. That same spark just isn’t here.

If the author has more dark reworkings in her future I will still pick them up. But my expectations will be quite a bit lower.

A WISH UPON THE STARS by TJ Klune

Nearly a year ago, blinded by grief and betrayal, Sam of Wilds made a desperate decision to follow the Great White into the Dark Woods. Now, he emerges to a world changed.

The City of Lockes is a prison. The King has been locked away in the dungeons. The Kingdom of Verania has fallen, and the Dark wizard Myrin sits on the throne. 

But soon after his return, Sam learns of a resistance fighting in his name led by a courageous knight, a defiant prince, a pissed-off unicorn, and a half-giant who wants to smash everything in sight. If he has any hope of defeating the villains who have taken their home, Sam must face the consequences of his choices—and the friends he left behind.


Title : A Wish Upon the Stars
Author : TJ Klune
Series : Tales from Verania (book four)
Format : eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 450
Genre : LGBTQIAP+ fantasy romance
Publisher : BOATK Books
Release Date : November 12, 2019

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : unrated


Hollis’ unrated review

Welp, it’s done. We made it.

Sorta. Almost. <– because the short story/fairytale collection is out in April and also the series will continue with a different MC in 2022, I think. But for n o w. It’s done.

I’m not really going to have anything new to say about this series, not even for the finale. I joked with my buddies that if the author had cut out all the repetition and rehashing we’d only have had two books to read through instead of four. I stand by that statement. Pretty much nothing happened until 60% (and these are not short books so that was a long 60%), or at least not much we hadn’t already gone over or lived through or had some variation of before, so.. yeah. Says a lot, I think.

There were moments that made me snort. Maybe one particular scene almost had me welling up. But overall? These books are just A Lot. The characters are Too Much. And everything that happens is What The Fuck. So if that sounds like your jam, read on! Dive in! Enjoy!

I definitely did not get out of this what I thought I would, back when I first started, but that’s okay. I am happy to have completed a series (for now) and for the buddy read adventure with said buddies.

THE CONSUMPTION OF MAGIC by TJ Klune

Sam of Wilds faced the Dark wizard Myrin and lived to tell the tale. Granted, the battle left him scarred, but things could be a hell of a lot worse.

It’s not until he reunites with Morgan of Shadows and Randall that he realizes just how much worse things could be.

Because the scars have meaning and hint at Myrin’s true plans for Sam and the Kingdom of Verania.

With time running out, Sam and his band of merry misfits—the unicorn Gary, the half-giant Tiggy, Knight Commander Ryan Foxheart, and the dragon known as Kevin—must travel to the snowy mountains in the North and the heart of the Dark Woods to convince the remaining dragons to stand against Myrin. Along the way, Sam learns secrets of the past that will forever change the course of the future.

A reckoning is coming for Sam of Wilds, and there is nothing he can do to stop it.


Title : The Consumption of Magic
Author : TJ Klune
Series : Tales from Verania (book three)
Format : eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 397
Genre : LGBTQIAP+ fantasy romance
Publisher : BOATK Books
Release Date : November 12, 2019

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : unrated


Hollis’ unrated review

I realize I have been far from effusive over my feelings about this series but this might’ve been the first one in the series I actively disliked. I can’t even blame it on the “too much, too soon” binge situation because this is not a series we’re bingeing. It’s been a few weeks since I read book two. And yet..

As mentioned in one of my previous reviews, though it bears repeating, everything from the first two books is back again, from the oversharing and crude ridiculousness, to the almost parody-like fantasy plot, and if things were thought to be dramatic before? It gets better/worse/more (pick your preference).

There might’ve been a moment or two that seemed sweet or funny or even sad and heartbreaking. But overwhelmingly I just.. can’t. I’m frustrated or annoyed or bored by so much of this; but only to a mild extent. I don’t really feel any kind of extreme about this world. I might’ve considered actually ditching this one if not for my buddies; I was definitely kind of wishing I wouldn’t need to continue after this installment. But the ending did things and I admit my perverse curiosity wouldn’t let me stop either way, buddies or no.

Weirdly I think the only character I actually got on with this time was Justin. Because he is just so over everything and everyone; he is all of us (me). I seriously appreciated him in this book. More page time in the next books, please! Also, do we know how much further there is to go in this world? Just.. curious. No reason why.

Despite the fact that I already reused part of a review for this one, I am going to reiterate the following : I am definitely not recommending these books. They just exist; and I’m spending time with them. Nothing more. But if it sounds like your thing, I hope you have the best time. I can definitely see the appeal but it’s just not my jam.

BLOOD HEIR by Ilona Andrews – double review!

Atlanta was always a dangerous city. Now, as waves of magic and technology compete for supremacy, it’s a place caught in a slow apocalypse, where monsters spawn among the crumbling skyscrapers and supernatural factions struggle for power and survival.

Eight years ago, Julie Lennart left Atlanta to find out who she was. Now she’s back with a new face, a new magic, and a new name—Aurelia Ryder—drawn by the urgent need to protect the family she left behind. An ancient power is stalking her adopted mother, Kate Daniels, an enemy unlike any other, and a string of horrifying murders is its opening gambit.

If Aurelia’s true identity is discovered, those closest to her will die. So her plan is simple: get in, solve the murders, prevent the prophecy from being fulfilled, and get out without being recognized. She expected danger, but she never anticipated that the only man she’d ever loved could threaten everything.

One small misstep could lead to disaster. But for Aurelia, facing disaster is easy; it’s relationships that are hard.


Title : Blood Heir
Author : Ilona Andrews
Series : Aurelia Ryder (book one)
Format : eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 359
Genre : urban fantasy / paranormal romance
Publisher : NYLA
Release Date : January 12, 2021

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


Hollis’ 4 star review

It happened. It really happened. We are back in the Kate Daniels universe. What a time to be alive.

However, so saying, I don’t even know where to begin writing this review. Everything kind of feels like a spoiler? Even though the synopsis reveals the score it still feels like it could be a surprise to those who are even more blurb and spoiler averse than myself. So suffice it to say.. you are in for so much fun.

My patience is an infinite lake. Feel free to drown yourself.

I feel like that quote, however, is a direct callout to the readers. Because these authors now know (always knew..) we are going to be clamouring for more and thankfully have quickly set expectations for their schedule. This series is not being traditionally published so it comes last in current commitments but from what I recall they said they would be starting to draft this year (incase you didn’t know they did confirm two more for this series) and maybe spending next year dealing with a bunch more self-published works? I think that even (finally) might mean more Hugh.. dreams do come true! But the fact that this even became a book at all is just.. I’m so happy.

I realize this review is mostly a discussion about the authors and book release, so, ahem. Here you go. I loved being back in this world, I loved the new direction, and I loved how things have shifted (hah.. sorry, shifter joke) for some of the familiar faces. Snark, banter, kickass battle sequences, weird ass monsters, nostalgia (for me AND our lead), complex magic, prophecies and destinies and predictions of death, and aaaaaangst. It is all here. Good times.

Also don’t forget to check out the little extras at the end! Even more good times.


Micky’s 4 star review

Headlines:
Happy sighs, favourite world
Slow burn
Secrets
Potential couple goals

I am all smiles that I got to read another book in this world when I thought re-reads would be the only balm on Kate Daniels need. I loved that even though there was much familiarity, there was also freshness to revel in.

Aurelia was unexpected and fierce. I really enjoyed the details of her character, her powers, her missing history was slowly revealed and I was always guessing about her. I know for sure there is more revealing to come as this series plays out.

Aurelia wasn’t the only familiar face to spring through the pages and some I knew would be coming and others bowled me over with a bit of a shock wave. This one wasn’t to gory for my delicate nature (I often had to grit my teeth through Kate Daniels gore). I felt like there was some nuture coming into play with Aurelia and the street kids. That was something that really drew me to Aurelia.

There’s a slow burn of something in this first installment and it oh so reminded me of Kate and Curran but again with a fresh feel. No details here but I found it pretty thrilling. Also banter, this world brings all the banter and I lap it up

“Stabby.” She claimed it wasn’t a proper name for a weapon, so after the first Dakkan broke, I offered to name the new one Sharpy McStabbison, the Son of Stabby.

Ilona Andrews fans will not be disappointed.

THE COVEN by Lizzie Fry

“Let me repeat myself, so we can be very clear. Women are not the enemy. We must protect them from themselves, just as much as we must protect ourselves.”

Imagine a world in which witchcraft is real. In which mothers hand down power to their daughters, power that is used harmlessly and peacefully.

Then imagine that the US President is a populist demagogue who decides that all witches must be imprisoned for their own safety, as well as the safety of those around them – creating a world in which to be female is one step away from being criminal…

As witches across the world are rounded up, one young woman discovers a power she did not know she had. It’s a dangerous force and it puts her top of the list in a global witch hunt.

But she – and the women around her – won’t give in easily. Not while all of women’s power is under threat.

The Coven is a dazzling global thriller that pays homage to the power and potential of women everywhere.


Title : The Coven
Author : Lizzie Fry
Format : Paperback
Page Count : 448
Genre : Fantasy
Publisher : Sphere, Little Brown UK
Release Date : February 25, 2021

Reviewer : Micky
Rating  : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 3.5 – 4 star review

I’m here for dystopia and I’m here for fantasy, so bring me a pairing of the two and that’s pretty exciting. The Coven was a contemporary envisioning of a dystopian, patriachial future centred around the idea of erradication of witchcraft. In ways, this wasn’t a new topic, indeed the book leaned on the historical past we know of, to underpin the contemporary.

The book had an eclectic mix of characters and some shocking beginnings to grab you in to the story. There were character stories in parallel until they became one and I have to say, that aspect was very well written. I was doubly invested from the start. Chloe was such a hard character to like but her father was incredibly endearing. Adelita and Ethan were likeable from the start.

The story navigated oppression, misogyny, captivity, rebellion and some rather scary powers. After a strong first half, I did find elements of the storyline in the second half chaotic and I had to really concentrate to keep up with power plays and plots.

I have to mention that a racial slur was included in the book without being necessary. It didn’t add to the plot, it wasn’t corrected by another character and the narrative just breezed on by. I do think that this kind of inclusion potentially gives licence to that word’s use and I’m sad it was there. I can only hope it didn’t make it to the final edit.

Overall, The Coven was a clever and engaging concept all wrapped up in a dystopian feminist fantasy standalone.

Thank you to Sphere, Little Brown UK for the review copy.