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.

BLOG TOUR FOR PENNYBLADE by J.L. Worrad

Today, Micky is on the blog tour for Pennyblade by J.L. Worrad for Titan Books and we’re sharing the synopsis and an extract, to give you a flavour of this colourful book!

Synopsis

A sharp-tongued disgraced-noble-turned-mercenary has to stop the world collapsing into chaos in this gripping, savagely funny epic fantasy packed with unforgettable characters, for fans of Joe Abercrombie.

Exile. Mercenary. Lover. Monster. Pennyblade.

Kyra Cal’Adra has spent the last four years on the Main, living in exile from her home, her people, her lover and her past. A highblood commrach—the ancient race of the Isle, dedicated to tradition and the perfection of the blood—she’s welcome among the humans of the Main only for the skill of her rapier, her preternatural bladework. They don’t care which of the gleaming towers she came from, nor that her grandmother is matriarch of one of Corso’s most powerful families.

But on the main, women loving women is a sin punishable by death. Kyra is haunted by the ghost of Shen, the love of her life, a lowblood servant woman whom Kyra left behind as she fled the Isle.

When a simple contract goes awry, and her fellow pennyblades betray her, Kyra is set onto a collision course with her old life, and the age-old conflict between the Main and the Isle threatens to erupt once more.


Title : Pennyblade
Author : J.L. Worrad
Format : Physical
Page Count : 384
Genre : Fantasy
Publisher : Titan Books
Release Date : March 29, 2022


Extract from Pennyblade

I woke up in my bunk, pleased not to have been shivved or beaten. I could hear thunderous snoring down the tunnel to my left, likely that humungous bitch Lizbet. The dormitories lay under St Waleran’s. They had once been sewer pipes when humans had managed to get something like a half-respectable civilisation together before, predictably, allowing it to collapse. Hoxham was laced with these subterranean nooks, sewers and catacombs and such, the infrastructure of a lost and much more populous city. I’d once visited a gambling den with skulls for walls and a water channel you had to step over in order to get to the bar. I never went back there but, in fairness, that wasn’t the décor’s fault. 

The bunks were carved into the cracked brickwork. Poppi, and now I, had a bunk in a bend in the tunnel, rather separate from everyone else, partly because there’d been only enough room to carve two bunks in the walls there, partly because it stunk of damp. The outsiders’ corner.

Limes. I could smell limes. I lifted my forearm to my nose and sniffed. That familiar citrus of the season musk. I put my hand under the blanket and checked. My grove’s lips had hardened. I’d be in full equinox tomorrow, crazed, mounting St Walerans’ altars and making awow-woo sounds. The residents of St Walerans didn’t need that, poor darlings. 

Escape, Kyra. I had to escape tonight. Earlier if opportunity became my friend.

I’d let my finger slip onto my grove’s stud. A tension went from my limbs, my toes curling. My body’s changes had awoken me early. Why, I told myself, it would be the decent, the civilised, thing to placate myself before the others woke. 

I found Kyran’s old shirt beside my pillow. I tried not to think about the ink scribble upon it. Who had done it? The journeymen who had found me? Or… earlier, in those delirious nights I stumbled through mire and forest? I shivered. Too unnerving to give credence, that. 

I shoved the rag in my mouth. A key skill in the travelling adventurer game is stealthy alleviation while companions snooze. The epics never seem to mention that.

You, Shen. I pictured you that time in the midnight forest, the Milky Way above, caught in your eyes, as you, as—

A thud upon the tiles. ‘’Ello, Shenny.’

Fuck. 

HOUSE OF SKY AND BREATH by Sarah J. Maas

Bryce Quinlan and Hunt Athalar are trying to get back to normal―they may have saved Crescent City, but with so much upheaval in their lives lately, they mostly want a chance to relax. Slow down. Figure out what the future holds.

The Asteri have kept their word so far, leaving Bryce and Hunt alone. But with the rebels chipping away at the Asteri’s power, the threat the rulers pose is growing. As Bryce, Hunt, and their friends get pulled into the rebels’ plans, the choice becomes clear: stay silent while others are oppressed, or fight for what’s right. And they’ve never been very good at staying silent.

In this sexy, action-packed sequel to the #1 bestseller House of Earth and Blood, Sarah J. Maas weaves a captivating story of a world about to explode―and the people who will do anything to save it. 


Title : House of Sky and Breath
Author : Sarah J. Maas
Series : Cresent City #2
Format : Physical
Page Count : 804
Genre : Urban Fantasy-ish
Publisher : Bloomsbury
Release Date : February 15, 2022

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4 star review

Headlines:
Well Hel
Maas with those final signature chapters
Secrets revealed (just not in my review)

I’m going to say nothing about the plot in this book and a little about the characters and feels. This was a solid sequel in the Cresent City series, a little long for me with some lulls in the middle but as Maas always does, she foreshadows you in the penultimate chapters and then sets off a plot-bomb. I am happy with any plot-bomb, it makes for gripping reading.

It was satisfying for any Hunt-Bryce fans to see life post-book one. Their dynamic remained engaging, chemistry-laden and endearing in lots of ways. The characters around them were strong and some like Ruhn, I’d like a book on, please. I enjoyed Ithan, Hypaxia, Celestina but I cared less for Cormac, Juniper and Therion. The baddies were a-plenty and well written.

The plot and the knots that eventually tie everything together were very Maas-typical in some ways but equally rather unpredictable at times. I puzzled over some aspects until the penny dropped. The reveals were pretty great towards the end. Talking of ends…that has to be the best of hers yet that I’ve read.

Sign me up for book three with hype glitter on.

THE LAST LEGACY by Adrienne Young

New York Times bestselling author Adrienne Young returns with The Last Legacy, a captivating standalone about family and blood ties, reinventing yourself, and controlling your own destiny.

When a letter from her uncle Henrick arrives on Bryn Roth’s eighteenth birthday, summoning her back to Bastian, Bryn is eager to prove herself and finally take her place in her long-lost family.

Henrik has plans for Bryn, but she must win everyone’s trust if she wants to hold any power in the delicate architecture of the family. It doesn’t take long for her to see that the Roths are entangled in shadows. Despite their growing influence in upscale Bastian, their hands are still in the kind of dirty business that got Bryn’s parents killed years ago. With a forbidden romance to contend with and dangerous work ahead, the cost of being accepted into the Roths may be more than Bryn can pay.


Title : The Last Legacy
Author : Adrienne Young
Format : Physical
Page Count : 352
Genre : YA Fantasy
Publisher : Titan Books
Release Date : January 18, 2022

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★.5


Micky’s 3.5 star review

Headlines:
Ruthless families
Double-crossing
Deals

The Last Legacy, an off-shoot of the Fable world felt more like a YA historical tale than the fantasy elements in the Fable series. That said, the town and world that Bryn occupied reminded me me of the barrel from the Six of Crows. A family (not found in this case) that was all about the swindling and trust was not in the vocabularly. I did find it easy to get into and occupy.

Bryn was a savvy character, wise from the start but she still had some villainous street-smarts to learn. Bryn’s arrival with her Roth side of the family was something of a baptism of fire. The characters around the dinner table were the kind of ‘friends’ that might put a knife in your back easily. Some of them grew on me and Ezra certainly did. Hendrick was an evil fella and I do love how Adrienne Young can write these kind of characters.

I missed some of the subtle magic that existed in Fable and I would have welcomed a little in this book. The plot was interesting and I particularly appreciated the themes of being enslaved and unable to control your own future. The story wrapped up a little quickly, but it was a good, encapsulated read and I appreciated this standalone addition to the world.

Thank you to Titan Books for the review copy.

BLOOD SCION by Deborah Falaye

This is what they deserve. They wanted me to be a monster. 
I will be the worst monster they ever created.

Fifteen-year-old Sloane can incinerate an enemy at will—she is a Scion, a descendant of the ancient Orisha gods.

Under the Lucis’ brutal rule, her identity means her death if her powers are discovered. But when she is forcibly conscripted into the Lucis army on her fifteenth birthday, Sloane sees a new opportunity: to overcome the bloody challenges of Lucis training, and destroy them from within.

Sloane rises through the ranks and gains strength but, in doing so, risks something greater: losing herself entirely, and becoming the very monster that she ahbors.


Title : Blood Scion
Author : Deborah Falaye
Series : Blood Scion (book one)
Format : eARC
Page Count : 432
Genre : YA fantasy
Publisher : HarperTeen
Release Date : March 8, 2022

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 3 star review

I’m going to ask you to slide on right by this review because I definitely think I’m going to be an outlier on this one.

Truthfully, the only reason I picked this up was because I attended an event and saw the author pitch it. The pitch immediately hooked me and it was one of the books I was most interested in once the event had wrapped, which was pretty impressive considering I hadn’t even heard of it until that moment. So, naturally, I was excited to receive a copy. I did enter with a bit of trepidation as I think I’ve got one foot out the door when it comes to YA but every now and then they still surprise me and blow me away. I hoped this would be one of those.

Therefore, with those prefaces out of the way, let’s dive in.

The bare bones of this story, and many of the details that echo the real world, including the rich history based on the author’s own Yoruba culture, was both lovely and rich and completely unfiltered in an unflinching way. This book handles, and describes, dark themes and darker events; from the eradication of the people of this world and the accompanying revisionist history in the victor’s favour, to abuse and assault, to the drafting of child soldiers to fight and kill their own, and so much more. I thought it was all so well done (brutal, but well done). I also liked the magic system based around the Orisha gods even though we only got a little taste of this (hoping for more in book two!).

Where, for me, this failed was in the details, the pacing, and unfortunately the romance.

I was constantly losing track of the time that was passing (or, rather, not passing, as this takes place over the course of a month and yet felt like it should’ve maybe been six). I felt sometimes the details just weren’t enough on some parts, too much on others, and while I am not advocating for more horrors, I do feel like certain things just got glossed over and we didn’t sit with them to truly feel the impact. Which I think also applies to the romance. In some ways it came out of nowhere (though in others it was hard not to spot coming down the pipeline) but while there was some build, I don’t think there was enough. The foundation for it was made of clay. And, again, the timing of it all. I was also frustrated by Sloane’s behaviour towards this particular character (basically from the word go) when she should’ve been acting very differently. This just didn’t align. And maybe it’s just one of those things we’re supposed to accept but.. yeah, I never did.

My one other little gripe was that while I have no issue with Sloane, and her friends, being fifteen, I do have issue with how she felt (ie, read) so much older. I absolutely respect her circumstances, and life in this world in general, would age people differently but it just felt a little discordant.

And as for the big climatic events near the end.. I’m just perplexed. I just don’t feel it worked very well after everything that came before it. Having said all that, I almost forgot to mention that I did really like one of the reveals near the end — but did not appreciate the other one. If you know you know.

Overall, I found the first half of the book to be much stronger than the latter half, but in general I found the writing to be good; especially for a debut. I will absolutely be reading the sequel (yay for duologies!). Also, as always, and while it should go without saying by now, please check out reviews from other readers and take this particular one with a grain of salt.

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

DARKFEVER by Karen Marie Moning

“My name is MacKayla, Mac for short. I’m a sidhe-seer, one who sees the Fae, a fact I accepted only recently and very reluctantly.

My philosophy is pretty simple – any day nobody’s trying to kill me is a good day in my book. I haven’t had many good days lately. Not since the walls between Man and Fae came down. But then, there’s not a sidhe-seer alive who’s had a good day since then.”


When MacKayla’s sister was murdered, she left a single clue to her death, a cryptic message on Mac’s cell phone. Journeying to Ireland in search of answers, Mac is soon faced with an even greater challenge: staying alive long enough to master a power she had no idea she possessed – a gift that allows her to see beyond the world of man, into the dangerous realm of the Fae.

As Mac delves deeper into the mystery of her sister’s death, her every move is shadowed by the dark, mysterious Jericho…while at the same time, the ruthless V’lane – an alpha Fae who makes sex an addiction for human women – closes in on her. As the boundary between worlds begins to crumble, Mac’s true mission becomes clear: to find the elusive Sinsar Dubh before someone else claims the all-powerful Dark Book – because whoever gets to it first holds nothing less than complete control both worlds in their hands. 


Title : Darkfever
Author : Karen Marie Moning
Series : Fever (book one)
Format : paperback
Page Count : 342
Genre : urban fantasy
Publisher : Delacorte Press
Release Date : October 31, 2006

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ 


Hollis’ 2 star review

So, this is a two star I’m not really mad (or surprised!) about. Even when I first read this series, back in (checks notes) 2015, it was only about a three for me. It hadn’t really aged all that well back then and it certainly hasn’t improved in the intervening years. But I think once you move past that (the dated references, the preoccupation with outfits, the occasional dodgy bit, the stereotypes, some of the general cringe.. you know, the usual early aughts PNR/UF issues), it’s still possible to see what Moning was building towards.

This series quickly escalated into a crack-like obsession for me and I remember devouring the first seven (the only ones out at the time) of these books in like five days or something insane. I know there’s a lot of problematic stuff to come but, upon chatting with a buddy, I was (we were) still really keen to see if I (we) would love these books — flaws and all — the same way on a reread; well, it’ll be mostly a reread, I haven’t read the two final books. So that’s what we’re doing! One a month for the rest of the year. So, yes, expect these reviews to keep popping up in your feed, sorry not sorry?

But as for Darkfever itself.. what’s there to say? You’ve either read these books or avoided them. The series kicks off with Mac, a simple southern belle from Georgia, relocating to Ireland upon learning of the murder of her older sister and, eventually, uncovering that there’s a lot more to her world than she ever knew; and also more to herself. In following some of the clues Alina has left her, she stumbles into danger, denial, and darkness. She meets Barrons, who might be a friend but also just as likely to be a foe, who begins to guide her through the world of the Fae, and yet also needs her help to track down the very thing her sister warned her must be found.

Again, as mentioned, this is a very 2006 kind of read. You’ll trip over all the references, you’ll glaze over when Mac once more describes her outfits in detail, you’ll sympathize with Barrons over her preoccupation with pink, you’ll quickly end up drunk playing the “take a shot every time she says ‘bosom’ game”, and don’t even get me started on her southern alternatives for swearwords, but.. at the same time, Mac is uniquely herself. And she is forced to undertake many changes, both to fit in to her new world and survive, and yet she still remains unapologetically herself. She’s a mix of a very simple almost-shallow (but never quite fully crossing that line, I don’t think) person and yet not without some layers and strength. It’s possible Moning leaned into the former to make that transition from Before and After more stark but, I mean, yeah it’s a little annoying and she is a little all over the place. The same could be said for Barrons, though. No one is quite all-around likeable in this series opener because there are too many unknowns, too many actual secrets, and everyone is just settling into themselves.

It’s definitely a book that will either send you in the opposite direction or hook you juuust enough to push on. This two star doesn’t scare me off at all, really. I think, for anyone who loves this world, any reread would inspire a whole lot of “yeah, not great. B U T”, and I have that same vibe. I think this series could still work for me the same way it once did. And I’m excited to find out if that holds true.

THE ATLAS SIX by Olivie Blake – double review!

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

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

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

Most of them.


Title : The Atlas Six
Author : Olivie Blake
Series : The Atlas #1
Format : Physical ARC / eARC
Page Count : 336
Genre : Adult Fantasy
Publisher : Tor Books
Release Date : March 3, 2022 (UK) / March 1, 2022

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


Micky’s 4 star review

Headlines:
Full concentration needed ahead
Clever and complex plot
Multiple MCs in a good way
A marathon but worth it

The Atlas Six felt like a read of epic proportions. This was a story with a grandious and complex plot, weaving and winding but by the end, you’re impressed by its stature. It constantly left me with the feeling that I wasn’t quite grasping things as I went along, but honestly, I think that’s part of the appeal as you reach the culmination of book one.

The book centred around six main characters and three or four substantial side characters. The main characters were truly fascinating, one was completely awful and one I grew to understand but didn’t like. They were all very different and that was what made them part of the chosen Atlas Six; their differences and their talents.

The world building was again…complex and as long as you concentrate, you’ll keep up as a reader. Learning the characters, the talents, the magical world, the organisations and the plot as it twisted and turned was challenging sometimes but ultimately rewarding. I enjoyed some of the unexpected rise to prominence from side characters and the things that weren’t what they seemed.

I would say this read was pacey. It felt long, sometimes trudging but always engaging. I appreciated this as a buddy read and being able to chat the plot and characters through. I’m definitely pumped to read more from this crew, I want to see my favs come through.

Thank you to Black Crow PR and Tor for the advanced copy.


Hollis’ 3.5 star review

No, it isn’t deja vu you’re feeling, I did already read and review this one. However, I also thought I had read that the re-release via trad publisher was going to have some edits or minor changes and.. I don’t think it did. So it could be that I misremembered a thing or two, the changes were subtle, or I was wrong in thinking that changes were to come. Pick your poison.

Either way, alas, my thoughts have not really changed from the first go round. I do think I enjoyed my time with the book a little more (which is why I bumped it a bit, even though it’s just semantics) but fundamentally my thoughts are the same.

This book somehow manages to be big and small in scope and the ensemble is a merry go round of shifting dynamics, in a mostly good way, but I think this’ll be a series that shines more in hindsight than it does in the infancy of it all. But, I mean, it could also all go to pot along the way depending on what awaits us. But. I choose to hope.

If you love an ensemble, if you are into academia-settings, fantasy and magic, and a whole lot of wtaf and mystery, you should definitely give this one a go.

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

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