HALF A SOUL by Olivia Atwater

It’s difficult to find a husband in Regency England when you’re a young lady with only half a soul.

Ever since she was cursed by a faerie, Theodora Ettings has had no sense of fear or embarrassment – a condition which makes her prone to accidental scandal. Dora hopes to be a quiet, sensible wallflower during the London Season – but when the strange, handsome and utterly uncouth Lord Sorcier discovers her condition, she is instead drawn into dangerous and peculiar faerie affairs.

If Dora’s reputation can survive both her curse and her sudden connection with the least-liked man in all of high society, then she may yet reclaim her normal place in the world. . . but the longer Dora spends with Elias Wilder, the more she begins to suspect that one may indeed fall in love, even with only half a soul.

Bridgerton meets Howl’s Moving Castle in this enchanting historical fantasy, where the only thing more meddlesome than faeries is a marriage-minded mother.


Title : Half A Soul
Author : Olivia Atwater
Series : Regency Faerie Tales #1
Format : eARC
Page Count : 304
Genre : Historical Fantasy
Publisher : Orbit Books
Release Date : June 30, 2022

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4 star review

Headlines:
If historical romance met The Cruel Prince…
Light and fun

I knew almost immediately on starting this book that I was going to thoroughly enjoy it. It was engaging, light and fun but with depth to the characterisation and story. The characters felt fresh and three dimensional and I loved the MCs.

Dora had half a soul and as such, I saw parallels between how her character was written and some people’s experience of neurodiversity. She was was loveable just as she was and although some of the people around didn’t appreciate her lack of emotionality, she leapt off the page to me. The Lord Sorcier was such a grump sliced with oddity and integrity…I loved him too.

This story had every regency London feel even though there was an alter-location in Faerie. The ton, the sensibilities and proprieties brought that essential vibe of those times. It was interesting for sure to see this intersect with an acceptance of magic and fae existence.

The plot was totally engaging and the development of Elias and Dora’s friendship was just lovely. I was here for every moment. I’m so glad this is a series and I can’t wait to read more.

Thank you Orbit Books for the early review copy.

THE RIGHTEOUS by Renee Ahdieh

The third book in the instant New York Times bestselling series that began with The Beautiful.

Pippa Montrose is tired of losing everything she loves. When her best friend Celine disappears under mysterious circumstances, Pippa resolves to find her, even if the journey takes her into the dangerous world of the fae, where she might find more than she bargained for in the charismatic Arjun Desai.

Renée is back with her rich, atmospheric fantasy world that will continue to enthrall readers, new romance and mystery, and lush, pacey writing.


Title : The Righteous
Author : Renee Ahdieh
Series : The Beautiful #3
Format : eARC
Page Count : 432
Genre : Historical Fantasy
Publisher : Hodder Books
Release Date : December 7, 2021

Reviewer :  Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★ 


Micky’s 4 star review

Headlines:
Different couple
Trust no one
The vale and the wyld

I thought I didn’t want to leave Bastian and Celine behind at the end of The Damned but Renee Ahdieh wrote Anjan and Pippa so well that I changed my focus incredibly quickly and got involved in their story. These two had a subtle but palpable connection that grew.

This story took readers away from familiar territories and into the vale and the wyld. The fey were a nasty bunch and not one of them felt trustworthy. I’ve come out of this book wondering about some of the characters, who is genuine (or not) and how things will resolve. Errr, yes there is a book four coming.

Good news for all fans of this series is that we got a fair chunk of Bastian and Celine and a little of Michael too. I enjoyed the tentative stepping needed in the vale and wyld, I loved the different fey creatures, especially the mischievious small fey. So right now, I need all my questions answering and the next book, pretty please!

Thank you to Hodder Books for the early review copy.

A MARVELLOUS LIGHT by Freya Marske – double review!

Red White & Royal Blue meets Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell in debut author Freya Marske’s A Marvellous Light, featuring an Edwardian England full of magic, contracts, and conspiracies.

Robin Blyth has more than enough bother in his life. He’s struggling to be a good older brother, a responsible employer, and the harried baronet of a seat gutted by his late parents’ excesses. When an administrative mistake sees him named the civil service liaison to a hidden magical society, he discovers what’s been operating beneath the unextraordinary reality he’s always known.

Now Robin must contend with the beauty and danger of magic, an excruciating deadly curse, and the alarming visions of the future that come with it—not to mention Edwin Courcey, his cold and prickly counterpart in the magical bureaucracy, who clearly wishes Robin were anyone and anywhere else.

Robin’s predecessor has disappeared, and the mystery of what happened to him reveals unsettling truths about the very oldest stories they’ve been told about the land they live on and what binds it. Thrown together and facing unexpected dangers, Robin and Edwin discover a plot that threatens every magician in the British Isles—and a secret that more than one person has already died to keep.


Title : A Marvellous Light
Author : Freya Marske
Series : The Last Binding #1
Format : Physical ARC / eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 384
Genre : Historical Fantasy/LGBTQIAP+
Publisher : Tor Books
Release Date : December 9, 2021

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


Micky’s 3.5 -4 star review

A Marvellous Light really was a great debut novel, bringing that genre I love of historical fantasy and spotlighting a gay relationship in that era. This was the kind of read that I liked as soon as I dipped my toe into but it still took me a little while to truly get into it. When I did, I appreciated the unfolding magical world in historical England and most of all, I adored the connection that began to evolve between Edwin and Robin.

Looking back over the story as a whole, the plot really was rather clever. If I had moments of fogginess over what was happening, clarity did come without me feeling overly confused. The rules of the magical world and what was happening with Robin had a pressing sense of urgency, I was willing things to resolve. There was intelligence and wit throughout.

I can’t believe we were almost killed by a hedge.”

These two really were chalk and cheese, both in magical power and lack of but also in personality, physicality and communication. I particularly loved Robin, his openness, generosity of feeling and willingness to go with the flow. The chemistry between these two rose off the page…

“You are the most fascinating thing in this beautiful house. I’d like to introduce my fists to whoever taught you to stop talking about the things that interest you.”

There were a few periods in the book that felt a bit pacey, but if you feel that too, it’s worth pushing through. I didn’t like Edwin’s family at all and some of that focus was longer reading for me.

I would definitely recommend this read to you. It read authentically in terms of context and culture to my knowledge (and limitations) and I’m really pleased this is a series. I’ll be turning up for the next book!

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


Hollis’ 3 star review

Just need to get this out of the way : I don’t think this ever should’ve been compared to Red, White & Royal Blue. It shouldn’t have been in the pitch. Prior to reading the book it made me hesitant to pick this up and post-reading the book I’m just perplexed.

That caveat aside, I did struggle with this book which made the times when I was really enjoying it a bit of a bummer because it would inevitably take a dip into a less enjoyable section or get a bit bogged down. But considering it’s a series and it sounds like there’s a lot of moving parts and things to reveal and overcome, a battle even maybe, I understand there’s a lot to set up. Having said that, I might’ve liked less emphasis on the romance knowing we had more books to come and therefore more time to let the romance breathe. I did enjoy it but also.. I wouldn’t have been bothered by some added yearning as opposed to resolving most (I assume..) relationship issues within the opening instalment.

What I didn’t have a problem with, however, was how the plot conflict was handled near the end. I disliked a huge portion of the characters in the story, as we’re meant to, and dragged my feet through a lot of the middle because of those scenes, but there was a fist pump moment with how deftly and cleverly one of the villains of the piece got their ass handed to them. It showed a lot of foresight for what these protagonists know they are to face and it was a “lose the battle to win the war” bit of craftiness that I adored and is so rarely seen in fantasy.

Another thing I adored? A certain house/cottage. While the magic system and a lot of the worldbuilding was somewhat interesting, though also at times kind of vague (maybe that’s just me?), I am hoping this house and the magic around it is a clue that things aren’t quite how they appear at first glance. Because I am so here for that.

I am looking forward to reading on in this series but, between the hype and the interesting choice in comp, just be wary going into this one that it doesn’t oversell itself before you cash out.

NO PLACE FOR PEACE by Tom Dumbrell

As Cyrus rides away from the safety of his family in Highcastle to face his destiny in cunning King Simeon’s kingdom, Augustus braces himself for the arrival of a new threat: an invading army is coming for the capital.

Easthaven’s young king will need the support of those closest to him if there is any hope of saving not just the city but their kingdom. Will Thaddeus and Adaline be able to guide Augustus toward victory, or will a magnetic new influence cloud his judgement?

What fate awaits Cyrus in Auldhaven, and is there more to Simeon than meets the eye? As Cyrus’s journey takes him farther from home than ever before, his future will become more unpredictable. The outcome seems destined to be explosive.

War is coming, but the fiercest battles are often fought within.


Title : No Place For Peace
Author : Tom Dumbrell
Series : The Look of a King #2
Format : Paperback
Page Count : 336
Genre : Historical Fantasy
Publisher : Self Published
Release Date : October 18, 2021

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4 star review

Headlines:
Fast-paced ease
Twisty plot
Cyrus is so darn likeable

No Place for Peace kept that light historical fantasy world feel that drew me into book one. It’s not easy to bring lightness to a world beset by war, strategy and nefarious characters but I think the age and perspective of the main character Cyrus keeps hope woven throughout the story.

This installment got going quickly with Cyrus on a quest of honour arising out of book one. Farley was a hilariously dark character and that whole early plotline really grabbed and surprised me. Cyrus is like the cat with nine lives, he has a tendency to get into pretty serious scrapes but also the uncanny ability to talk or plot his way out of them. You can’t help but be endeared to him.

We got family and found family in this book, a little romance, plenty of power-hungry characters and twists a-plenty. I was here for Cyrus, Francine, Adaline but I was also here to side-eye Wendell, Augustus and the other double-crossers. There was a lot going on plot-wise from one end of the land and back to Highcastle but I kept up.

I enjoyed this second serving of these characters and world and I look forward to reading the closing culmination. This series is ideal for when you are in the fantasy mood but you don’t want a really heavy read. Tom Dumbrell has created a world that captures the imagination easily.

GAWAIN by J.P. Harker

Gawain is the first book of the new series by JP Harker, author of Caledon Saga. Gawain follows the early lives of Arthur’s knights and the eventual formation of Camelot. Fast-paced, historically grounded re-imagining of Arthurian myth, it is focusing on a flawed hero and a sympathetic antagonist. It takes place in a semi-fantasized Dark Age Britain. Here, Romanized nations clash with each other, with the remnants of the Celtic peoples, and with the slowly encroaching Saxons.

In this book a young Gawain is embarking on his first test as a future warrior of Camelot. After accepting his challenge at the Beltane feast, Gawain defies his father to travel north and face this new enemy, unaware that the Picts are massing for an attack on his father’s kingdom. Leading them is Mhari, a tribal chief with her own goals and dreams for the north. The courage and morality of both characters is challenged, culminating in a final conflict where Gawain inadvertently proves his worth to a disguised Merlin. Themes include religion (the mixed Christian and Pagan world), temptation versus nobility, and sexual morality.


Title : Gawain
Author : J.P. Harker
Format : Paperback
Page Count : 344
Genre : Historical Fantasy
Publisher : Adelaide Books
Release Date : May 28, 2021

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4-4.5 star review

Headlines:
Arthurian historical fantasy
Such easy writing to slip into
Feminist stance

Gawain pulled me into the story so quickly because it was interesting immediately and the writing was so easy to engage with. Gawain himself was a 17 year old brash, son of a Lord in the Lothians. He was desperate to battle and prove the skills he’d been training for. Fast forward to Beltaine, a visit from the Green Man and he found himself on an epic journey.

The cast of characrers in this book were funny and they seemed authentic. Gawain’s comrades were equally lacking in sense when it came to decisions. I enjoyed seeing the home context of King Lot’s kingdom but it really seemed to take a sharper focus when Gawain went on his quest. There was a smattering of romance in this book, which was pitched well. There were some great late twists too.

One of the things I really appreciated about this book was the alternate POV of Mhari, the pictish warlord. I loved reading her character, how she was viewed as a female warrior and how she commanded her small army of men and women. There was a definite feminist tone that felt authentic. The Lothian females weren’t afforded battle training but those characters were conveyed with some power balance in their interactions.

I don’t know what I expected from this book but I didn’t expect to get as swept up as I was and now I find myself completely invested in where this series is going, especially after those final lines of the book.

Thank you to JP Harker for the review copy, this hasn’t affected this unbiased review.

Create your website with WordPress.com
Get started