CRY WOLF by Charlie Adhara

Agent Cooper Dayton never thought anything could be harder than solving murders. Until he had to plan a wedding.

After taking down an old adversary, Agent Cooper Dayton of the Bureau of Special Investigations has earned a break. Not that planning a wedding to his sexy shifter partner, Oliver Park, is necessarily stress free, but it’s better than worrying about the ominous warning, delivered months ago, that Cooper’s life is in danger.

When he’s dragged to an event by his family, Cooper braces for an awkward evening, but instead finds himself in the middle of an ugly feud between Park’s ex and a rebel pack leader. What was supposed to be a quick outing turns into a full-blown murder investigation after the pack leader ends up dead, Park’s ex goes missing, and Cooper and Park are sent a series of disturbing wedding gifts that are somehow connected to it all.

The list of potential suspects is long, and with the bodies piling up, Cooper must turn to the one person he trusts the least: the villain he’s already put behind bars once and who has nothing to lose by lying and everything to gain if Cooper is out of the picture—for good. 


Title : Cry Wolf
Author : Charlie Adhara
Series : Big Bad Wolf (book five)
Format : eARC
Page Count :
Genre : LGBTQIAP+ urban fantasy/romance
Publisher : CarinaPress
Release Date : January 18, 2021

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 4 star review

So, wait, is this not the finale of the series? Because that did not feel like one. And if it is.. how rUDE. I have so many questions. So, yeah, no, it’s not over. Nope.

Is everyone you’ve ever dated an asshole?
Maybe I have a type.

Coming back to the Big Bad Wolf world was such a delight. I was entertained pretty much from page one and this particular mystery was a strange doozy. I had no idea where anything was going until we were all finally looped in. But that was fine because all along the way we had plenty of Cooper and Park banter, hijinks, and steeeeam. Hoo boy, hi. I’ve definitely been away from romance for a while and now read two steamers back to back. Delicious.

You know, it’s never too late to call off this engagement. You’re a catch, you’ll find someone.
I was cursed by an old witch to find him charming.”
That’s some dark magic.”

What I constantly enjoy, and seem to mention in all my reviews, is how every book evolves this world. Not in that “oh look suddenly this is happening” feeling where something comes out of left field for a purely convenient reason but in this organic unspooling of a culture, a world, a people. And it actually gets called out in this installment in the best of ways, as if to acknowledge it for the readers, but in a perfectly fitting way for the characters, too. It keeps you wanting to read more, not just for more of the characters, but in order to discover more and what might be awaiting both readers and characters alike.

Yes, we’ve met.
A technically true statement, if characteristically lacking in flair. Antony and Cleopatra met. Romeo and Juliet met. It’s what happened after that’s become the stuff of legends.
This day is certainly shaping up to be a tragedy, so maybe you’re on to someting.”

There’s really not much to say about a book this far into a series, even if it isn’t the finale, so suffice it to say if you’re needing paranormal romance/urban fantasy in your life and particularly a queer series? You absolutely need to give this one a go. It’s funny, it’s fresh, and the characters are complex and yet self-aware, or self-improving, and these two leads are made of wonky edges that fit together so beautifully.

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

THIS IS NOT THE END by Sidney Bell

A Polyamorous Love Story 

Zacary Trevor is the love of Anya Alexander’s life. Their sometimes tumultuous marriage has survived ups, downs, and all the in-betweens. With successful careers, a lovely home, and a beautiful child, domestic bliss is a hard-earned reality for two people whose hedonistic days are in the not-so-distant past. They’re happy. Enter Zac’s best friend, the deeply reserved Cal Keller. 

Zac’s friendship with Cal is the foundation of his career and—until Anya and their son came along—the most important relationship of his life. Cal’s a cipher, someone Anya can’t help but gravitate to, even if they don’t always get along. Even more, she’s drawn to the Zac she sees when he’s with Cal—a careful, cautious version of her husband, someone with hidden thoughts and desires kept secret even from her. Inviting Cal into their home, deeper into their life, is a risk. 

Zac should say no. He knows he should. But he doesn’t. From the first, the hint at the life the three of them could have together is exhilarating. And finding a new definition for family just might be worth the risk to every bond that exists between them.



Title : This Is Not The End
Author : Sidney Bell
Format : eARC
Page Count : 216
Genre : LGBTQIAP+ romance
Publisher : CarinaPress
Release Date : January 11, 2021

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★



Hollis’ 4 star review

I’m not sure I’ve ever read a polyamorous romance. But if there any others out there like this one? I will absolutely be adding them to my TBR.

I knew the bare bones of this story before requesting as I follow Bell pretty closely and remember when she first announced this (using a memorable gif from Tangled involving kissing unicorns) however to be honest I would’ve requested this even had I known nothing at all because Bell is an auto-read author for me. The fact that she took me to a new place was just a bonus.

This is a very character-driven story without very much outside noise beyond the immediate world of these three characters. It gave it a really intimate feel without feeling totally out of touch or insular. It is chockfull of feelings, steam, and quite a few laughs, too.

How are you better in bed than me? I’ve had so much more sex than you.”
Quantity and quality are two different things.

Each character was so beautifully drawn, so vivid, so distinctly themselves, and how they fit together was just.. well, it was just perfect, even when it wasn’t, and I truly loved watching it all unfold.

In a year where I’ve struggled so much with reading, with focus, and particularly in this last month, I picked this up and didn’t put it down until I was done. I was totally sucked in. Which probably explains why I have only one highlight for this read when there were so many lovely passages or moments I would have otherwise wanted to preserve. I was too enthralled to pause even for that.

I’m so happy the release drought from this author is over and can say without a doubt that she has not lost her touch. I can’t wait to see where she goes next. If this isn’t already on your radar, it should be. Not only this one but the author’s entire backlist. Dive in and enjoy, you can thank me later.

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

HEARTSTOPPER VOLUME 3 by Alice Oseman

In this volume we’ll see the Heartstopper gang go on a school trip to Paris! Not only are Nick and Charlie navigating a new city, but also telling more people about their relationship AND learning more about the challenges each other are facing in private…

Meanwhile Tao and Elle will face their feelings for each other, Tara and Darcy share more about their relationship origin story, and the teachers supervising the trip seem… rather close…?


Title : Heartstopper Volume 3
Author : Alice Oseman
Series : Heartstopper
Format : online via webtoon
Page Count : 320
Genre : YA LGBTQIAP+
Publisher : Hodder Children’s Books
Release Date : February 6, 2020

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★ ★



Hollis’ 4.5 star review

Sooo because of a case of epic frantic “more more” clicky finger I skipped right past the end of this volume and found myself in what is clearly (after reading the synopsis) volume four. Oops. Spoiler alert : it’s good.

But as for what amounts to this installment, I really did like it. Obviously. That said, I did like a tiny bit less than volume two, hence the slight downgrade, but what I did love is that we spent more time branching out into the friend group — and in a fun little direction I didn’t think Oseman would lean into, loved that element — which makes sense as the boys break out of their insular little twosome bubble.

I’m hesitant to say more as I truly don’t know where volume three should’ve ended if not for being click happy so.. I’ll just button it for now. And maybe come back to this review for some added thoughts once I’ve read the overdrive version.

HEARTSTOPPER VOLUME 2 by Alice Oseman

Boy meets boy. Boys become friends. Boys fall in love. An LGBTQ+ graphic novel about life, love, and everything that happens in between: this is the second volume of HEARTSTOPPER, for fans of The Art of Being Normal, Holly Bourne and Love, Simon. 

Nick and Charlie are best friends. Nick knows Charlie’s gay, and Charlie is sure that Nick isn’t. 

But love works in surprising ways, and Nick is discovering all kinds of things about his friends, his family … and himself. 

Heartstopper is about friendship, loyalty and mental illness. It encompasses all the small stories of Nick and Charlie’s lives that together make up something larger, which speaks to all of us. 


Title : Heartstopper Volume 2
Author : Alice Oseman
Series : Heartstopper
Format : online via webtoon / eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 320
Genre : YA LGBTQIAP+
Publisher : Hodder Children’s Books
Release Date : July 11, 2019

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★ .5



Hollis’ 4.5 star review

This was rude. I teared up like three times.

This was everything pure and lovely and cute from book one but more, better, fabulous. This is one of the softest things I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing whilst still, again, tackling issues like homophobia and bullying. Nonetheless the enduring sweetness and joy, and delight, is just so powerful.

If I thought I had steamrolled through volume one it was nothing compared to how I clicked through this one. Compulsive. Addictive. Yes, more. Also, shoutout to my buddy who hooked me up with the webtoon version so I wouldn’t have to wait on my library. Though I haven’t given up my hold as I will absolutely want to reread this when it pops up and experience it all over again.

Also, once again this review is not quite the greatest thing ever but you know what is? Micky’s. You can find her thoughts here for volumes one AND two.

Editing to add, after having read the official eBook version via my library, I maybe loved it a tiny bit less (I’m dropping down a tiny .5), but there were a few flourishes I don’t remember from the online version and I thought they were lovely. This is still the cutest thing ever.

HEARTSTOPPER VOLUME 1 by Alice Oseman

Charlie, a highly-strung, openly gay over-thinker, and Nick, a cheerful, soft-hearted rugby player, meet at a British all-boys grammar school. Friendship blooms quickly, but could there be something more…? 

Charlie Spring is in Year 10 at Truham Grammar School for Boys. The past year hasn’t been too great, but at least he’s not being bullied anymore, and he’s sort of got a boyfriend, even if he’s kind of mean and only wants to meet up in secret.

Nick Nelson is in Year 11 and on the school rugby team. He’s heard a little about Charlie – the kid who was outed last year and bullied for a few months – but he’s never had the opportunity to talk to him. That is, until the start of January, in which Nick and Charlie are placed in the same form group and made to sit together.

They quickly become friends, and soon Charlie is falling hard for Nick, even though he doesn’t think he has a chance. But love works in surprising ways, and sometimes good things are waiting just around the corner…




Title : Heartstopper Volume 1
Author : Alice Oseman
Series : Heartstopper
Format : graphic novel eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 288
Genre : YA LGBTQIAP+
Publisher : Hodder Children’s Books
Release Date : February 7, 2019

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★



Hollis’ 4 star review

This has been a long overdue read for me, mostly because I put it off thinking I would not enjoy (I don’t know where I got this idea..), and also because of sudden demand through my library, and luckily this popped up on my holds just when I needed a distraction.

This glosses over a host of topics in a fairly easy flip, but when I say gloss I don’t mean to imply anything is taken or handled lightly, and I think that’s because you get a double impact via the dialogue and the expressions and actions of the illustrations. It packs a punch whilst still distracting you with sweetness or pretty things and works to balance it all really well.

I flew through this so quickly as is fairly typical for a graphic novel. This might have been a series that would be better to binge, and I definitely wish I had the rest on hand, too, but alas.. we must continue to wait.

If you’re looking for a sweet YA graphic novel to lift your spirits, or if you need something to bump that GR reading goal up, you can’t go wrong with this.

Also, this review is not quite the greatest thing ever but you know what is? Micky’s. You can find her thoughts here but just be mindful she’s also reviewed volume two on the same post. Watch out for any potential spoilers incase you’re averse.

CEMETERY BOYS by Aiden Thomas

A trans boy determined to prove his gender to his traditional Latinx family summons a ghost who refuses to leave in Aiden Thomas’s paranormal YA debut Cemetery Boys, described by Entertainment Weekly as “groundbreaking.”

Yadriel has summoned a ghost, and now he can’t get rid of him.

When his traditional Latinx family has problems accepting his true gender, Yadriel becomes determined to prove himself a real brujo. With the help of his cousin and best friend Maritza, he performs the ritual himself, and then sets out to find the ghost of his murdered cousin and set it free.

However, the ghost he summons is actually Julian Diaz, the school’s resident bad boy, and Julian is not about to go quietly into death. He’s determined to find out what happened and tie off some loose ends before he leaves. Left with no choice, Yadriel agrees to help Julian, so that they can both get what they want. But the longer Yadriel spends with Julian, the less he wants to let him leave.



Title : Cemetery Boys
Author : Aiden Thomas
Format : eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 350
Genre : YA LGBTQIAP+ fantasy
Publisher : Swoon Reads
Release Date : September 1, 2020

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ 



Hollis’ 3 star review

Man, I am so bummed right now. I really thought this was going to be a read that lived up to all the extraordinary hype and became a new favourite. But..

Okay, good stuff out of the way? The first half was pretty excellent (more reason for being bummed). The descriptions of both family and culture? So vivid. I could see the colours, I could smell the food, I could hear the overlapping chatter of families. Everything was written with such ease, such flow, that I couldn’t believe this was a debut. There were a few instances of repetition but it seemed to happen as new chapters started, almost like a reset, so.. I kinda forgave it. Also, I was a pretty big fan of Yadriel, our main protagonist, and thought his struggle to make a place for himself in the Brujx culture to be heartwrenching; he refused to give in, to compromise who he was even as every rejection, every time he was misgendered, or dead named, was a stab to his heart. That said, I didn’t love the love interest all the time. He had some extremes I wasn’t down with and while the protagonist didn’t always let him get away with it, it wasn’t fun to live through the tantrums. And some of the exchanges were just.. chaotic.

I would like to note that this isn’t a story with a big shocking mystery. You know who the villain is almost from the beginning. Or at least I did. But it’s fine. Just don’t be surprised if you are expecting a spooky dark mystery. This is actually fairly lighthearteded in the overall vibe.

Remember why we’re doing this.”
So they’ll see that I’m a brujo.”
Well, yeah, but other than that.
Spite?
Spite!

Where this went hella sideways was the big confrontation. I said things were chaotic at times? Wow, it got worse. Things happened at break-kneck speed and then my eyeballs were being assaulted by capslock and !? exclamations over and over again.. at which point events happen in such a way that a certain character is, like, doing something that amounts to crouching over another and snapping like a dog because they are worried or being protective, or both, and it was just. I had to put the book down because suddenly I didn’t know what I was reading or what was happening. Things just really went off the rails. It was all those moments I disliked about the character from before but magnified to a hellish extreme. Even the bestie of our main protagonist, who up until this point was a solid favourite, was just so.. over dramatic for literally no reason. It went full on soap opera/CW moment and I was just left baffled.

In conclusion. The first half? Very good. The second half? Actually, it’s not even a full half, it’s like.. maybe three chapters? It doesn’t drag out but it really slaps you in the face. Or at least it did for me. So that bit? A lot less good. But we had a sweet ending and there was something that did happen that I didn’t expect, possibly because I’m dumb, and said thing is a good thing. So while this wasn’t an overall win for me there is lots of enjoyment to be had, along with knowing you’re reading an #OwnVoices story with solid representation, and I will absolutely read this author again.

THE SUGARED GAME by KJ Charles

It’s been two months since Will Darling saw Kim Secretan, and he doesn’t expect to see him again. What do a rough and ready soldier-turned-bookseller and a disgraced shady aristocrat have to do with each other anyway?

But when Will encounters a face from the past in a disreputable nightclub, Kim turns up, as shifty, unreliable, and irresistible as ever. And before Will knows it, he’s been dragged back into Kim’s shadowy world of secrets, criminal conspiracies, and underhand dealings.

This time, though, things are underhanded even by Kim standards. This time, the danger is too close to home. And if Will and Kim can’t find common ground against unseen enemies, they risk losing everything.



Title : The Sugared Game
Author : KJ Charles
Series : The Will Darling Adventures (book two)
Format : eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 288
Genre : LGBTQIA+ romance/historical fiction
Publisher : KJC Books
Release Date : August 26, 2020

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ 


Hollis’ 3 star review

I’m not sure my feelings about this book are entirely fair as I’ve come out of quite a bit of a lull/slump and I knew the first book I picked up might suffer for it. But I thought a KJC might help battle that prediction and also I mean she’s kind of a guaranteed pick me up. And yet..

I don’t know about you, but the position of hand puppet to [spoiler] does not appeal to me.”
Nor me. If I want someone sticking their hand up my arse–
Oh, do go on.”
I’m not going to be [spoiler]’s hand puppet either, was what I meant.

Certainly not a bad book, not that I think she even has one, and a three star is far from a dislike but I didn’t quite enjoy this installment as much as book one. We did have some good reveals and how this plays out into book three will be interesting but to be honest I found myself less enamoured by the MC and the love interest and instead was just rooting for the ladies of the story. They had felt like full and realized characters in book one and yet they definitely stole the show for me in this one. And I love that it went that way because they are certainly deserving of a spotlight.

That said, if you are not yet on the KJC train you absolutely have to. If not this series, another, find a standalone, whatever. If you’re into queer fiction or historical fiction or where the two meet and you aren’t reading this author? What even are you doing!

Hoping that book three goes out with a bang but also hoping to not be battling anymore slumps between now and then. Fingers crossed!

ROCK by Anya Sunday

Igneous.

When Cooper’s parents divorce, he finds himself landed in Week About—one week with his mum and one week with his dad.
Only, it’s not just his dad he has to live with. There’s Lila, too: The other woman, the one who stole the rock-solid foundation of his life. 
And then . . . 
There’s Jace. Lila’s son. Lila’s smug, regurgitated-fish-scale-blue eyed son. 
All Cooper wants is to have his family back the way it once was, but there’s something about this boy that promises things will never be the same again. 

Sedimentary.

Resisting the realities of his new life, Cooper and Jace get off to a rocky start. But rocky start or not, after hundreds of shared memories together, they forge something new. A close . . . friendship. 
Because friendship is all they can have. Although it’s not like they are real brothers. Technically, they’re not even stepbrothers . . . 

Metamorphic.

But how does that friendship evolve under the pressures of life? 
Under pressures of the heart?



Title : rock
Author : Anyta Sunday
Format : eBook
Page Count : 248
Genre : LGBTQIAP+ contemporary romance
Publisher : indie
Release Date : October 1, 2014

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ 


Hollis’ 2 star review

So this is a big yikes for me as this book is one of my buddies’ favourites and one I’ve been keen to read for a while (but likely avoided because of said aforementioned status as a buddy’s favourite — the pressure!). But I can’t say I went into this with any preconceived notions or trepidations because I had no idea what it was actually about and knew only that it was an m/m contemporary. And now, having read it, what people likely assume was my problem with this.. wasn’t. Or rather it wasn’t my main issue or why I disliked this.

Said main issue was this : I realize the family dynamic is purposefully a little messy and chaotic and that plays into complications between Cooper and Jace but.. like, wow, this family really did that and just went along as if it was okay? Like, I’m not going to spoil anything but what Cooper and his sister Annie are just forced to accept? Wow. Hard no. And to be honest I’m not sure how it was any better for the other side, either. I’m sure this kind of thing happens in reality (though I hate to think it), but I found the whole thing so strange. Particularly in the beginning when everyone just found themselves distracted by “family vacation fun-times” as, like, what a bribe? A manipulation into forcing camraderie and connection? I’m honestly pretty mad. Maybe I’m taking this a little too far but it left a bad taste in my mouth.

As for the angst itself, I mean, I don’t like how things were left when it came to a certain unveiling but I think what was more disappointing about it all was that I didn’t find either character very compelling. No one, in fact, in the entire story really interested me. This was likely exacerbated by time jumps, weird chapter ends, and strange transitions, which made it hard to really connect to anyone or feel grounded in events or emotions. Which didn’t help when we later had the whole cyclical back and forth of it all which just felt kind of tired and tedious — even though I didn’t know if this would even have an HEA and therefore couldn’t predict what awaited me. I was prepared for either result and not quite invested to care either way. Though maybe I would’ve liked it more had it gone in the opposite direction it did? Unsure.

So, yes, I feel bad (my shoulders have been up around my ears as if said buddy was lurking behind me as I write this) but this wasn’t remotely a win. However, in order to not end on a negative note, I will say the writing had moments of loveliness and the reason for the title, the way Cooper connected to rocks, was sweet. But sadly that’s all I’ve got.

YOU SHOULD SEE ME IN A CROWN by Leah Johnson

Liz Lighty has always believed she’s too black, too poor, too awkward to shine in her small, rich, prom-obsessed midwestern town. But it’s okay — Liz has a plan that will get her out of Campbell, Indiana, forever: attend the uber-elite Pennington College, play in their world-famous orchestra, and become a doctor.

But when the financial aid she was counting on unexpectedly falls through, Liz’s plans come crashing down . . . until she’s reminded of her school’s scholarship for prom king and queen. There’s nothing Liz wants to do less than endure a gauntlet of social media trolls, catty competitors, and humiliating public events, but despite her devastating fear of the spotlight she’s willing to do whatever it takes to get to Pennington.

The only thing that makes it halfway bearable is the new girl in school, Mack. She’s smart, funny, and just as much of an outsider as Liz. But Mack is also in the running for queen. Will falling for the competition keep Liz from her dreams . . . or make them come true? 



Title : You Should See Me In A Crown
Author : Leah Johnson
Format : eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 336
Genre : YA LGBTQIAP+ romance
Publisher : Scholastic Inc.
Release Date : June 2, 2020

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ .5



Hollis’ 3.5 star review

This isn’t quite the rating I had hoped to give this read but alas here we are. Don’t let the stars, or this lackluster intro sway you though; if you haven’t yet picked this one up, you totally should.

There’s a reason this book was all over the place a few months ago and that’s because this debut? Adorable. Truly. I honestly can’t say there was anything about the scope of this book that frustrated or upset me. It was just that I found little things within that chipped away at the overall enjoyment, or flow, and that’s why I can’t quite round up on this.

When you already feel like everything about you makes you stand out, it just makes more sense to find as many ways to blend in as you can.

Liz Lighty really goes through it. Over the past four years she’s taken on a certain role because of a fateful event in freshman year that lost her a friend. But, through her need for scholarship money which is the reason she tosses in her hat for prom queen, she ends up reuniting with said friend. At the same time her actual bestie is testing her by trying to over-control Liz’s campaigning. She’s also crushing on the new girl, but keeping it on the downlow because she’s not out, which is made even more complicated by the other girl also running for prom queen, and the rules being set out that the whole prom establishment allows for only male/female matchups. There’s also a sick brother, grief from losing a parent, and probably other things I’ve already forgotten. It’s a lot.

But, at the same time, it doesn’t feel like too much? It definitely has that Netflix/’90s teen movie treatment but there’s nothing really wrong with that. My minor frustrations mostly came about because I felt certain things got a lot of page time, others less than they should, and the pacing felt a little compromised in the lead up to the big climax when everything just gets a big convenient. But overall everything that Johnson put within the pages? Great. And actually, up until the inevitable break up (it’s not even a spoiler, people, we know this happens), the romance was probably my favourite part. The adorable sweetness was unreal. Even the villains of the piece and the ridiculous homophobic rhetoric within the school wasn’t too grating to be unpalatable. Everything really did work.

So basically what this means, or what I think it means, is that if Johnson can do this for a first book? Her sophomore release will likely be a smash.

Definitely recommend.

MASTER OF ONE by Jaida Jones & Danielle Bennett

Sinister sorcery. Gallows humor. A queer romance so glorious it could be right out of fae legend itself. Master of One is a fantasy unlike any other.

Rags is a thief—an excellent one. He’s stolen into noble’s coffers, picked soldier’s pockets, and even liberated a ring or two off the fingers of passersby. Until he’s caught by the Queensguard and forced to find an ancient fae relic for a sadistic royal sorcerer.

But Rags could never have guessed this “relic” would actually be a fae himself—a distractingly handsome, annoyingly perfect, ancient fae prince called Shining Talon. Good thing Rags can think on his toes, because things just get stranger from there…

With the heist and intrigue of Six of Crows and the dark fairy tale feel of The Cruel Prince, this young adult fantasy debut will have readers rooting for a pair of reluctant heroes as they take on a world-ending fae prophecy, a malicious royal plot, and, most dangerously of all, their feelings for each other.  


Title : Master of One
Author : Jaida Jones & Danielle Bennett
Format : eARC
Page Count : 544
Genre : YA fantasy / LGBTQIAP+
Publisher : HarperTeen
Release Date : November 10, 2020

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ .5


Hollis’ 2.5 star review

This might be a read I could actually round up on but for now I’m going to linger just under a three. I definitely didn’t hate this and, despite the length (so long!), it was a pretty easy read — I swear, my eyes only skimmed the tiniest bit. Also the concept is definitely different and I appreciate that. But I do rather feel the pitch of this book as being a big ol’ heist adventure is patently false.

Instead, this book is about the ever lasting reign of a queen who has committed, or at least contributed to, genocide against the fae that used to live alongside them. And a resistance that has spawned in the wake of not only her un-ending reign but also the secrets that lie beneath the surface.

Said resistance is led in part by unsuspecting characters who are pulled together by some kind of fae destiny as the discovery of one leads to another, who leads to the next, etc. This is not the standalone I thought it to be (again, see aforementioned length) so nothing is quite resolved and players are still to be discovered (hope you like multiple POVs!). Along with, you know, taking down the queen and her various sorcerers and unmasking her along the way.

What kept me from enjoying this to the extent I thought I could was how removed I felt from so much of it. I mostly felt this in the characters but I also kind of feel it of the world, too. Like, I can mostly visualize it but it’s very.. rough. Not fleshed out. The authors have set the stage but forgotten the props. You understand the motions that are playing out but there’s nothing to draw the eye. Anyway, enough of that.

I will pick up the next book because I’ll admit I’m curious at the motivations behind the big ruse. But that’s mostly it. Plus, I do have one character that kind of was a favourite, even though he’s the love interest for one of the more annoying main characters. Poor guy.

If you like fae, if you want a fantasy that has queer rep, and are keen to dive into a pretty substantial series (duology, trilogy, who can say!) opener, this might just be the book for you.

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