TURNING DARKNESS INTO LIGHT by Marie Brennan

As the renowned granddaughter of Isabella Camherst (Lady Trent, of the riveting and daring Draconic adventure memoirs) Audrey Camherst has always known she, too, would want to make her scholarly mark upon a chosen field of study.

When Lord Gleinheigh recruits Audrey to decipher a series of ancient tablets holding the secrets of the ancient Draconean civilization, she has no idea that her research will plunge her into an intricate conspiracy, one meant to incite rebellion and invoke war. Alongside dearest childhood friend and fellow archeologist Kudshayn, must find proof of the conspiracy before it’s too late.

TURNING DARKNESS INTO LIGHT is a delightful fantasy of manners, the heir to the award-winning Natural History of Dragons series, a perfect stepping stone into an alternate Victorian-esque fantasy landscape.


Title : Turning Darkness Into Light
Author : Marie Brennan
Format : Paperback (Finished Copy)
Page Count : 400
Genre : Fantasy
Publisher : Titan Books
Release Date : August 20, 2019

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 2.5 -3 star review

Do you like dragons, mystery and ancient antiquities with a bit of an Indiana Jones feeling? If the answer is yes then TURNING DARKNESS INTO LIGHT might be the book for you. It is marketed as a standalone fantasy and it can standalone, however I do believe that readers of Marie Brennan’s Lady Trent series will have a great advantage when reading this.

This book has a feminist tone all the way through and the main protagonist, Audrey is commissioned to study and translate some rare tablets recently found. Audrey is a young but accomplished academic type, from a family of similar types. Audrey was likeable, she took risks and she knew that she needed help. That help came in the shape of Kudshayn, another archeologist.

With Kudshayn, my confusion about the world only grew and I have to say I struggled with being in the dark through most of the book. There is little world building and assumptions are made that the reader can just go with what’s happening and accept the odd, vague reveal about the world and species existing. The Draconean species and culture was not explained adequately and I do believe that to standalone, more world building was needed.

The book is told in a variety of styles, the contemporary, many letters and some newspaper articles. I enjoyed the variety of storytelling styles. Audrey’s POV is occasionally interspersed by Kudshayn and another POV. The story builds and builds around this translation of tablets to a great crescendo, involving a variety of characters and criminal activity.

This was an interesting but sometimes frustrating read for me. I loved the cover, the idea of the story and Marie Brennan’s writing was enjoyable in the main. I would consider going back and reading the Lady Trent series.

Thank you to Titan Books for the review copy.

GODSGRAVE by Jay Kristoff – double review!

**Reviews edited April 2021. Micky & Hollis have left their original ratings and reviews but we would like to state that we hadn’t realised the harmful elements of the books in this series until now. For that, we are really sorry – we are referring to Asian stereotyping, antisemitic and albinism elements that have hurt readers. If our original reviews were conveyed as an endorsement of these issues, we want to apologise for that. We are learning and will continue to do so.**

Assassin Mia Corvere has found her place among the Blades of Our Lady of Blessed Murder, but many in the Red Church ministry think she’s far from earned it. Plying her bloody trade in a backwater of the Republic, she’s no closer to ending Consul Scaeva and Cardinal Duomo, or avenging her familia. And after a deadly confrontation with an old enemy, Mia begins to suspect the motives of the Red Church itself.

When it’s announced that Scaeva and Duomo will be making a rare public appearance at the conclusion of the grand games in Godsgrave, Mia defies the Church and sells herself to a gladiatorial collegium for a chance to finally end them. Upon the sands of the arena, Mia finds new allies, bitter rivals, and more questions about her strange affinity for the shadows. But as conspiracies unfold within the collegium walls, and the body count rises, Mia will be forced to choose between loyalty and revenge, and uncover a secret that could change the very face of her world.


Title : Godsgrave
Author : Jay Kristoff
Series : The Nevernight Chronicle
Format : eBook/audio
Page Count : 448
Genre : NA fantasy
Publisher : St Martin’s Press
Release Date : September 5, 2017

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


Hollis’ 4 star review

Hahahahaha.. hahahha.. hahaha.. haha.. hah.. a..

The problem with being a librarian is there’s some lessons you just can’t learn from a book. And the problem with being an assassin is there’s some mysteries you just can’t solve by stabbing fuck out of them.”

If you, too, have read GODSGRAVE, I have no doubt this is one of probably only two reactions you had to that ending. Because hahahahah.. etc.

You’re not helping.”
“.. I am offering moral support..
You’re being an annoying little shit.”
“.. that too..”

But the sound of my mania aside, this was heads and bloody tails above book one. I had seen potential in NEVERNIGHT but there was just something missing, some depth, or some.. thing. I don’t even know. But GODSGRAVE? It had all the blood, violence, and sex of book one but somehow didn’t feel like a YA book trying not to be a YA book. This one seemed to find its own niche, revel in its unique existence, and just thrive in its adultness; instead of trying to find the balance between the YA and the dark.

He was a hero.”
We all think that of our parents. They give us life, after all. It’s easy to mistake them for gods.

The whole setting for book two is so different, and I loved it, even if the drive is still the same. The goal, the end game, nothing has changed. Mia is out for revenge and she has to get very creative in how she goes about that. And oh are the twists glorious. O glory!

How do you endure the unendurable?
We have a saying in Vaan : in every breath, hope abides. Just keeping breathing, little Crow.

And then there’s that ending. Big reveals, big surprises, big climax. If I didn’t have an ARC of book three at my fingertips I would be s h r i e k i n g right now. Or just laugh myself silly. As above. 

You don’t find any irony in earning your place in a cult of assassins by saving half a dozen lives?
I killed almost a hundred men in the process.”

If you gave NEVERNIGHT a chance and just didn’t love it, for whatever reason, I would highly recommend pushing on. This was a rewarding, riveting, raucous experience, even if it took me forever to read, and I don’t regret a single moment spent with this thicc monster.


Micky’s 3.5-4 star review

3.5 – 4 stars

GODSGRAVE didn’t blow me away in the same way that NEVERNIGHT did. I missed T, I don’t like Ashlin so that was a struggle throughout and most of all I missed the Red Church. In NEVERNIGHT, the book really took off for me when Mia got to the Red Church, so that was a hole in my story heart.

The first third of the book had me confused, there seemed to be three different timelines and situations at play and I just couldn’t put them together, even though each was engaging on its own. I think some of this was to do with the disconnect audio sometimes brings where you can’t go back over a passage easily, or flick through previous pages. When those storylines finally wove together, I felt more involved in the story.

Mia remains one of the most fascinating characters I’ve ever read, getting into her head (it’s damn sketchy in there) is like running the gauntlet but still I continue. Mia and Ash, I mean some of that was a little hot blushy, but I overall don’t buy into their relationship. And again, I miss T.

Jay Kristoff knows how to leave you with boom, boom and boom at the end. The reveals just came like a run of bullets and I sat there with my jaw open. He has guarenteed my continuing investment in this series and I look forward to DARKDAWN even while I shield my heart a little.

Holter Graham’s narration remained spectacular.

NEVERNIGHT by Jay Kristoff – double review!

**Reviews edited April 2021. Micky & Hollis have left their original ratings and reviews but we would like to state that we hadn’t realised the harmful elements of the books in this series until now. For that, we are really sorry – we are referring to Asian stereotyping, antisemitic and albinism elements that have hurt readers. If our original reviews were conveyed as an endorsement of these issues, we want to apologise for that. We are learning and will continue to do so.**

In a land where three suns almost never set, a fledgling killer joins a school of assassins, seeking vengeance against the powers who destroyed her family.

Daughter of an executed traitor, Mia Corvere is barely able to escape her father’s failed rebellion with her life. Alone and friendless, she hides in a city built from the bones of a dead god, hunted by the Senate and her father’s former comrades. But her gift for speaking with the shadows leads her to the door of a retired killer, and a future she never imagined.

Now, Mia is apprenticed to the deadliest flock of assassins in the entire Republic—the Red Church. If she bests her fellow students in contests of steel, poison and the subtle arts, she’ll be inducted among the Blades of the Lady of Blessed Murder, and one step closer to the vengeance she desires. But a killer is loose within the Church’s halls, the bloody secrets of Mia’s past return to haunt her, and a plot to bring down the entire congregation is unfolding in the shadows she so loves.

Will she even survive to initiation, let alone have her revenge?


Title : Nevernight
Author : Jay Kristoff
Series : The Nevernight Chronicle
Format : eBook/Audiobook
Page Count : 448
Genre : Fantasy
Publisher : Thomas Dunne Books/Hodderscape
Release Date : August 9, 2016

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


Hollis’ 3 star review

There was a lot of build-up, hype, expectation — pick a word any word — for me before starting NEVERNIGHT. I knew that it was dark and violent with a wicked assassin and a cat that wasn’t a cat but I didn’t know much more than that. And it did live up to the pitch.

Nothing is where you start. Own nothing, Know nothing. Be nothing.”
Why would I want to do that?
Because then you can do anything.”

This is a revenge story, a coming of age in a time of blood story, a violent one, a twisty one, and a funny one. Yes, it was actually quite funny. What I didn’t expect, I guess, was it to read so.. I hesitate to say YA, because it’s not, but it was smart and clever and brutal and I don’t want to say YA books aren’t all those things. Because we know they are. But I guess I thought this was going to be more adult-sounding or adult-feeling than it was, than it’s supposed to be? It’s really hard to describe my disconnect over this. But that didn’t really take away any enjoyment.

Are you honestly telling me you’ve come to train among the most feared assassins in the Republic and you’re afraid of the bloody dark?

Did I love it? No. But I did like it. And there were characters that I did love (Mercurio! Mr Kindly!). I enjoyed the time with the school of assassins because I liked the competition and training aspect of it. I enjoyed the flashbacks and learning what drove Mia to this particular path. I enjoyed the banter, though felt a bit lukewarm about the relationship, and the hilarity in the back and forth riffing Mia does with Mr Kindly. I am definitely here for more twists and more reveals for book two because we’re definitely owed at least one big one and I can’t wait.

You’ll be a rumour. A whisper. The thought that wakes the bastards of this world sweating in the never night. The last thing you will ever be in this world, girl, is someone’s hero. But you will be a girl heroes fear.”

So, if you are one of the last people to get around to reading this book, like me, would I recommend? I think I would. By now you should know what you’re getting into. Yes, it’s long af. But it’s also easily and compulsively readable. NEVERNIGHT is a mix of blood, sweat, sex, violence, and magic. All I want from the sequel is more of the same. 


Micky’s 4.5 star review

4.5 stars of crazy town

This was a reading experience I’m not sure I’ve had before. It’s a book where you are lulled into a familiarity with death, hideous creatures, beings and situations and you get to like them. Who am I and what did Jay Kristoff do to me? Anyone who knows me, knows I’m a sensitive reader when it comes to scary stuff, I stay away from it, I recoil from it, but I didn’t with Nevernight.

Mia Corvere takes the whole book to work out and then on the end pages it says something like, ‘don’t think you know the pale daughter, because you don’t’. I really liked Mia, I came to appreciate why she was the way she was and that she repeatedly showed humanity where other acolytes didn’t.

The twists in this book were always unexpected as I didn’t see a lot of foreshadowing…shadowing, see what I did there (if you’ve read it). I did have a gut feeling about one of the main characters that came to fruition but not in the way I expected. I still don’t know how I feel about some of the happenings, they were right for the story, but I was sad about it all the same. The school of the Red Church was everything fascinating and once Mia was there, this was my favourite portion of the book. I loved everything about it, the good, the bad, the freaking ugly.

The writing was superb. I am a footnote appreciater and I can say this this worked supremely well on the ebook. However, whilst I did swap between formats, this was mostly an audiobook listen for me. The narrator, Holter Graham carried this cast of characters with an epic collection of accents. Mia was initally a little unexpectedly peppy but I adjusted and reminded myself how old she actually was. I loved the audio so much, that I intend to listen to books 2&3 rather than read.

I cannot wait to get stuck into the rest. All hail the twisted mind of the Kristoff.

MAGIC BREAKS by Ilona Andrews

No matter how much the paranormal politics of Atlanta change, one thing always remains the same: if there’s trouble, Kate Daniels will be in the middle of it…

As the mate of the Beast Lord, Curran, former mercenary Kate Daniels has more responsibilities than it seems possible to juggle. Not only is she still struggling to keep her investigative business afloat, she must now deal with the affairs of the pack, including preparing her people for attack from Roland, a cruel ancient being with god-like powers. Since Kate’s connection to Roland has come out into the open, no one is safe—especially those closest to Kate.

As Roland’s long shadow looms ever nearer, Kate is called to attend the Conclave, a gathering of the leaders from the various supernatural factions in Atlanta. When one of the Masters of the Dead is found murdered there, apparently at the hands of a shapeshifter, Kate is given only twenty-four hours to hunt down the killer. And this time, if she fails, she’ll find herself embroiled in a war which could destroy everything she holds dear… 


Title : Magic Breaks
Author : Ilona Andrews
Series : Kate Daniels #7
Format : library ebook
Page Count : 402
Genre : paranormal fantasy
Publisher : Ace Publishing
Release Date : July 29, 2014

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Holy Curran, Hugh and Roland on a cracker. What an insane read that was considering I struggled with the pacing initially but I ended up loving it.

Ilona Andrews had a whole spiel at the beginning of this book that heralded the unexpectedness of where it ended but I didn’t expect THAT. What a story of trial and tribulation this was with Kate showing her vulnerability and strength synonymously. There were passages that made my heart ache and eyes leak because I’ve become so damn attached to the characters in this book; so attached (shakes head at myself, already mourning the end of this series). I also felt the loss of an inanimate (questionable) object very keenly in this book and the substitution didn’t wholly comfort.

There were newer characters at the fore in MAGIC BREAKS that has me questioning where they might fit in future books, particularly Robert, Dessandra and Cuddles. Someone hold my sides, because I have a snickering attachment to Cuddles. Old favs also were there, bringing the banter and I adore Andrea, Derek, Christopher, Doolittle and Barabas. Talking of Andrea, how her and Kate communicate just gets me.

“Of course they’ll be fine.”
We looked at each other and made a silent effort to believe our own bullshit.

So if you thought you knew who was the baddie and who are the goodies, get ready to challenge those ideas because MAGIC BREAKS will break your freaking mind over this. When can I read the next?

THE SHAMER’S DAUGHTER by Lena Kaaberbol

Up on the blog today is Micky’s review of The Shamer’s Daughter, a MG-YA fantasy

Dina has unwillingly inherited her mother’s gift: the ability to elicit shamed confessions simply by looking into someone’s eyes. To Dina, however, these powers are not a gift but a curse. Surrounded by fear and hostility, she longs for simple friendship.

But when her mother is called to Dunark Castle to uncover the truth about a bloody triple murder, Dina must come to terms with her power–or let her mother fall prey to the vicious and revolting dragons of Dunark. 


Title : The Shamer’s Daughter
Author :  Lena Kaaberbol
Series : The Shamer Chronicles
Format : Paperback
Page Count : 202
Genre : MG/YA
Publisher : Pushkin Press
Release Date : July 4, 2019

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ 


THE SHAMER’S DAUGHTER leans more towards middle grade reading than YA but it is an engaging story with an unusual special-power characteristic that I’ve not come across before in fantasy literature.

Dina was the daughter of a shamer and in this fantastical kingdom, shamers were used to get a confession for heinous crimes. So while people were frightened of shamers, they were also respected from a distance. Dina had inherited her mother’s gift.

What started off as 11 year old Dina making sense of her young life and altered friendships since her gift had manifested, quickly merged into an intruiging tale that put her family at risk. There were dragons, prisons, friendships and deceit. Dina’s gift was put to the test and she showed a tenacious ability to problem-solve and survive.

This is a fast-paced read, quite exciting and definitely appealing to a younger YA market and middle grade readers. This is a series starter that is likely to leave readers ready to jump into the next books. With books 2&3 being published imminently and book 4 on it’s way, there won’t be a long wait for the story to evolve. THE SHAMER’S DAUGHTER has a visually catching cover that has a theme caught by the following books.

Thank you Puskin Press for the finished copy to review.