EVERY MOVE by Ellie Marney

Rachel Watts is suffering from recurring nightmares about her near-death experience in London. She just wants to forget the whole ordeal, but her boyfriend, James Mycroft, is obsessed with piecing the puzzle together and anticipating the next move of the mysterious Mr Wild – his own personal Moriarty.

So when Rachel’s brother, Mike, suggests a trip back to their old home in Five Mile, Rachel can’t wait to get away. Unfortunately it’s not the quiet weekend she was hoping for with the unexpected company of Mike’s old school buddy, the wildly unreliable Harris Derwent.

Things get worse for Rachel when Harris returns to Melbourne with them – but could Harris be the only person who can help her move forward? Then a series of murders suggests that Mr Wild is still hot on their tails and that Mycroft has something Wild wants – something Wild is prepared to kill for.

Can Watts and Mycroft stay one step ahead of the smartest of all criminal masterminds? The stage is set for a showdown of legendary proportions…


Title : Every Move
Author : Ellie Marney
Series : Every (book three)
Format : eBook
Page Count : 340
Genre : YA mystery / retellings
Publisher : Allen & Unwin
Release Date : March 1, 2015

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 4 star review

While I’m awarding this the same as the rest of the series, I’ll admit it’s not my favourite of the series. Maybe because it’s new content for me, maybe I need to stew on it a little longer, but.. I also think it’s kind of typical. The big finales, when they come with confrontations with the Big Bad, don’t always live up. And I think there’s a little bit of that here, too.

On the whole, though? Marney once again does not pull punches. There were some twisted bits that Watts and Mycroft had to endure. There were moments of utter heartbreak. Detailed spirals of trauma. And some romance angst. Just a little. But with a few exceptions — Mycroft’s breakdown scene, Watts’ nightmares — I did feel a little removed from it all.

Maybe I just didn’t feel the connection of the whole why behind everything. Maybe I read this too fast. Maybe I need to reread it to appreciate all the pieces of the puzzle. I just don’t know.

But the characters themselves, even the secondary ones — and a new one, or two — were so great. For me, they’ve carried this series all along and they’ve never disappointed.

So, yeah, I realize this is probably coming across as a bit of a downer review, especially for a four star, but I did really enjoy it. And now I see where the fourth book comes into play, and why, and I’m curious to see where that goes. Onwards!

EVERY WORD by Ellie Marney

Sparks fly when Watts follows Mycroft to London in this second steamy thriller about the teen crime-fighting duo.

James Mycroft has just left for London to investigate a car accident similar to the one that killed his parents without saying good-bye to his partner in crime, Rachel Watts.

Rachel is furious and worried about his strange behavior—not that Mycroft’s ever exactly normal, but London is the scene of so many of his nightmares. Unable to resist, Rachel jumps on a plane to follow him and lands straight in a whole storm of trouble.

The theft of a copy of Shakespeare’s First Folio, the possible murder of a rare books conservator and the deaths of Mycroft’s parents…Can Watts help Mycroft make sense of the three events—or will she lose him forever?


Title : Every Word
Author : Ellie Marney
Series : Every (book two)
Format : eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 340
Genre : YA mystery / contemporary / retellings
Publisher : Allen & Unwin
Release Date : June 1, 2014

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 4 star review

As much as I had loved these characters in book one, book two is where Wattscroft took it upon themselves to m u r d e r me. Also, yes, I’m going to thief from my original review a bit, which I didn’t do for the first instalment, because it pretty much sums up my feels to this day.

Every Word is everything that Every Breath was but turned up to eleven. The stakes, the action, the mystery, the scorching heat, the violence, the heartbreak.. everything.

Swoony hearts in eyes expression aside, this book definitely went a bit dark and my stomach fell to my feet multiple times. Not just because of Rachel and Mycroft but because Marney does not pull any punches. The vividness of the autopsy scene, the startling savagery of torture, the isolation; it was just as awful and as real as when our two heroes are stumbling along to understand each other, navigating both their relationship and the horror of Mycroft’s past. And how Marney handled this was just.. fantastic. There were so many things I think I appreciated more this second time around with how she unravelled Mycroft and his processing — or lack thereof. That turning point, once we finally get it, was just (chefs kiss). And the strangeness of how Rachel feels, knowing he has something new, and scarier, to fixate is just.. yeah, really well done.

Knowing what extremes and dangers these two faced, and that not having been the ultimate confrontation, I can only imagine what’s to come next.

EVERY BREATH by Ellie Marney

Rachel Watts has just moved to Melbourne from the country, but the city is the last place she wants to be.

James Mycroft is her neighbour, an intriguingly troubled seventeen-year-old who’s also a genius with a passion for forensics.

Despite her misgivings, Rachel finds herself unable to resist Mycroft when he wants her help investigating a murder. He’s even harder to resist when he’s up close and personal – and on the hunt for a cold-blooded killer.

When Rachel and Mycroft follows the murderer’s trail, they find themselves in the lion’s den – literally. A trip to the zoo will never have quite the same meaning again…


Title : Every Breath
Author : Ellie Marney
Series : Every (book one)
Format : eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 341
Genre : YA mystery / retellings
Publisher : Allen & Unwin
Release Date : September 5, 2013

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 4 star review

Here it is, the second-to-last series on my Series to Finish list for 2022. I’ve been knocking these out pretty quick this year.. and, as typical, saving the biggest challenge for last. Welp. That’s future!Hollis’ problem.

But anyway, was this as good as the first time? No, but that’s only in comparing a five star to a four star. Also, having reread my first review, I was coming off a bit of a disappointment from another Sherlock YA retelling series so I think I was just extra excited about this being a win. But it’s still so good.

Unlike other retellings, this one focuses on Watts (Rachel) and Mycroft (James). Conan Doyle’s legacy exists in this world and there are a few cheeky throwaway references to it but on the whole this is more an homage than a recreation. This pairing meet as a result of Rachel moving to town and discovering a boy her age a few houses down. Their friendship, at the onset, seems more in line with Rachel taking care of James as he’s more of less left on his own, only an oft-absent aunt in the way of guardianship, and he happens to find himself in the occasional scrape. One night, they stumble upon the body of a transient, who happened to be a friend of theirs, and it’s off to the races — they start to investigate.

The mystery is fine, good even, but what carries this is the dynamic. It’s a little fraught, it’s a little angsty — they each have their backstories — but it’s so good. Marney writes them so well and they are absolutely electric together. And indeed, maybe, sparks even fly? I’ll neither confirm nor deny (for now).

I’m excited to dive right into book two (which, if I recall correctly, gets much darker) and then after that it’s all new territory for me.

WICKED BEAUTY by Katee Robert

She was the face that launched a thousand ships,
The fierce beauty at the heart of Olympus,
And she was never ours to claim.

*A scorchingly hot modern retelling of Helen of Troy, Achilles, and Patroclus that’s as sinful as it is sweet.*

In Olympus, you either have the power to rule…or you are ruled. Achilles Kallis may have been born with nothing, but as a child he vowed he would claw his way into the poisonous city’s inner circle. Now that a coveted role has opened to anyone with the strength to claim it, he and his partner, Patroclus Fotos, plan to compete and double their odds of winning.

Neither expect infamous beauty Helen Kasios to be part of the prize…or for the complicated fire that burns the moment she looks their way.

Zeus may have decided Helen is his to give to away, but she has her own plans. She enters into the competition as a middle finger to the meddling Thirteen rulers, effectively vying for her own hand in marriage. Unfortunately, there are those who would rather see her dead than lead the city. The only people she can trust are the ones she can’t keep her hands off—Achilles and Patroclus. But can she really believe they have her best interests at heart when every stolen kiss is a battlefield?


Title : Wicked Beauty
Author : Katee Robert
Series : Dark Olympus (book three)
Format : eARC
Page Count : 368
Genre : romance / retelling
Publisher : Sourcebooks Casablanca
Release Date : June 7, 2022

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 3 star review

This is easily my favourite of the series so far. I know that maybe isn’t the big statement it might seem considering this is only a three star but this series has been a strange ride because I continually want to enjoy what Robert has created, and occasionally do like elements of things, but I ultimately feel like it’s overruled and spoiled by other things. And that’s not all gone. I still really struggle with comprehending how this world works but for once I was completely distracted by the plot. Because for once we h a d plot.

I had such a good time with the Ares trials and really enjoyed how they were set up. It certainly wasn’t as well thought out or complex as a fantasy might have made them out to be but lest we forget (we cannot) this is a romance first. And we had a good mix of action to move the players forward, romance and sexy times and emotions, and also a subtle little side plot to add some conflict to the world itself and set up something (hopefully) interesting for book four.

Now, as for that romance. I definitely wavered in my liking and disliking of the men; initially I was put-off by Achilles — but we’re supposed to be, there’s good reason for it. And then later.. he wins you over and it’s Patroclus who was maybe a little too hesitant, a little too overthink-y. Helen ended up being the perfect solution. Watching these three bounce off each other, resist each other, give in, bend.. it was fun. Sexy, yes, but mostly fun.

I also realllyyyy loved how the main plot point resolved. I had hoped but I wasn’t sure it would go that way. I was pleased.

So, yeah, colour me really surprised with how this one shook out. I am still very shaky on this world and how it all works but clearly I’m just going to have to learn to stow that and turn my brain off and focus on the immediacy of it all.

As for who and what’s next couple-wise, I had no idea until I went to investigate because nothing is set up in this instalment and I already know the Zeus and Callisto match-up is likely to be the last one. So I’m not going to spoil anything but if you’re curious, you can definitely hunt it down!

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

KAIKEYI by Vaishnavi Patel

In the vein of Madeline Miller’s Circe comes a bold and sweeping debut that reimagines the life of Kaikeyi, the vilified queen of the Indian epic the Ramayana.

“I was born on the full moon under an auspicious constellation, the holiest of positions—much good it did me.”

So begins Kaikeyi’s story, that of a young woman determined to create her own destiny in a world where gods and men dictate the shape of things to come. But as she transforms herself from an overlooked princess into a warrior, diplomat, and most-favored queen, Kaikeyi’s will clashes with the path that has been chosen for her family. And she must decide if her resistance is worth the destruction it will wreak.


Title : Kaikeyi
Author : Vaishnavi Patel
Format : eARC
Page Count : 432
Genre : historical retelling
Publisher : Redhook
Release Date : April 26, 2022

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 4 star review

So, I am prefacing this review by saying I know nothing of the epic that inspired this book. I didn’t even know the name Kaikeyi. Had I heard it, I wouldn’t even know to guess what it would be about. But seeing it compared to Circe, or at least likened to this style of female-focused retelling, I had to snatch it up.

Curiously, I read the wikipedia summary after finishing this book and wow. I mean, I don’t know if it’s accurate (again, prefacing, I am Jon Snow and know nothing), but what a different spin on things. And actually it made me appreciate this story even more.

It occurred to me [..] that maybe the gods had marked me for my mother’s sins. Sons could not be held responsible for maternal sins, but daughter’s? [..] Nothing protected me.

I truly don’t even know where to begin, really. This isn’t a short book and nor is it one that you can blast through; this took me hours to read. Maybe I savoured it, maybe I just didn’t rush, but either way, it took time.

The story spans decades, from Kaikeyi’s birth until well into middle age (ish), when her son is almost full grown. We see her grow up amongst many brothers, lose her mother, and try to find a place where she belongs. Then, once married off, she is even more at loose ends having lost the connections and stability she had at home. She struggles for a time to be a wife — one of three — but is lucky enough to be married to a good man who finds more value in her than just someone to give him sons; though she eventually does. And it’s after the birth of her child, and others, that things begin to change again.

Kaikeyi, remember that you did the right thing. You are not wicked.
Then why do I feel wicked?
Because those who are good question themselves. Because those who are good alway wonder if there was a better way, a way that could have helped more and hurt less. That feeling is why you are good.”

Please note, I made a very oversimplified summary of things and omitted a lot because spoilers. There is so much more to this than the above. There are gods, and demons, magical connections, unexpected friendships, the fight to empower other women in a society that only values them to a certain extent, and more.

I was sad this ended, I could have definitely read more, and I do wish some plot points had been made clearer. But maybe that’s just because I’m unfamiliar with the source material. I don’t know. Overall, I thought this was very strong, very interesting, and would absolutely recommend. I will be very interested in Patel’s next release (can you believe this is a debut!?), whether related or not, and will definitely be picking it up.

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

ELECTRIC IDOL by Katee Robert

He was the most beautiful man alive.
And if I wasn’t careful, he was going to be my death.

*A scorchingly hot modern retelling of Psyche and Eros that’s as sinful as it is sweet.*

In the ultra-modern city of Olympus, there’s always a price to pay. Psyche knew she’d have to face Aphrodite’s ire eventually, but she never expected her literal heart to be at stake…or for Aphrodite’s gorgeous son to be the one ordered to strike the killing blow.

Eros has no problem shedding blood. But when it comes time to take out his latest target, he can’t do it. Confused by his reaction to Psyche, he does the only thing he can think of to keep her safe: he marries her. Psyche vows to make Eros’s life a living hell until they find a way out of this mess. But as lines blur and loyalties shift, she realizes he might take her heart after all…and she’s not sure she can survive the loss. 


Title : Electric Idol
Author : Katee Robert
Series : Dark Olympus (book two)
Format : eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 375
Genre : myth retelling / romance
Publisher : Sourcebooks Casablanca
Release Date : January 18, 2022

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ .5


Hollis’ 2.5 star review

Even though I’m rating this the same as book one, the bits I liked and disliked are very different. Which is why it shakes out the same.

I had such a hard time understanding the worldbuilding when this series started. And I wonder if maybe I wasn’t alone in that and it somehow got back to the author. Because things finally solidified for me with how things were presented and expanded on in this sequel. Which meant I spent a lot less time confused and perplexed and instead I was able to just enjoy (ish) the ride.

Once again, though, if I didn’t stare too hard at the way time passed (or didn’t) and how in little to no time the romance escalated to stratospheric levels.. I was onboard. I enjoyed the chemistry between these two a lot more than the preceding book. Who doesn’t love a marriage of convenience trope when paired up with forced proximity — lots of people, I’m sure, but I do. However.. it was too fast. But I think the pressure was put on that element to distract you from how there was really only one minor plot point to the whole story and even that is basically shelved, or at least unrealized, until the last 30% or so. Also the whole catalyst for the romance.. again, don’t look too hard at it or it’ll all tumble down like a house of cards.

I did, however, enjoy spending time with some of the secondary characters and really like what has been set up for.. book four? Five? Who knows. I won’t spoil it but if you’ve read this you likely know what set up I mean. But I’m equally as keen for the next book based on the synopsis. Robert keeps hooking me with her pairings.

But as for this one? I did like this couple. Psyche felt more authentic and I really enjoyed how Eros was able to become a person again. Because of that I think they’ll stand out more than Hades and Persephone as time goes on, too. Maybe I should even actually award this one three stars. I probably won’t but they might deserve it.

I do have one more complaint though : what the hell is the title referencing? I’m so lost. I’m clearly missing something or it was just plucked out of a title generator. Someone throw me a hint.

PANDORA by Susan Stokes-Chapman

London, 1799. Dora Blake is an aspiring jewellery artist who lives with her uncle in what used to be her parents’ famed shop of antiquities. When a mysterious Greek vase is delivered, Dora is intrigued by her uncle’s suspicious behaviour and enlists the help of Edward Lawrence, a young antiquarian scholar. Edward sees the ancient vase as key to unlocking his academic future. Dora sees it as a chance to restore the shop to its former glory, and to escape her nefarious uncle.

But what Edward discovers about the vase has Dora questioning everything she has believed about her life, her family, and the world as she knows it. As Dora uncovers the truth she starts to realise that some mysteries are buried, and some doors are locked, for a reason.

Gorgeously atmospheric and deliciously page-turning, Pandora is a story of secrets and deception, love and fulfilment, fate and hope.


Title : Pandora
Author : Susan Stokes-Chapman
Format : Physical
Page Count : 432
Genre : Historical Fiction/Retelling
Publisher : Random House UK/Vintage
Release Date : January 27, 2022

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4 star review

Headlines:
Creepy atmosphere
Plundering of other countries
You can literally smell the evil

Pandora was such an all consuming read. I loved how it brought Georgian England together with Greek mythology. The result was a stunning story, with clever characters, ones to really invest in and some to revile.

Pandora ‘Dora’ was the orphaned daughter of two archeologists-excavators-plunderers but they were respected experts and sellers of antiquities prior to their deaths. Dora relied on her uncle Hesakiah who quite frankly was one of the most revolting characters ever, but I loved how well he was written. He was a dodgy dealer in all the ways.

The arrival of the jar brought a creepy atmosphere to the page and the house Dora lived in. She had assistance from Edward with regards to the jar and there were some interesting side characters in Cornelius and Lottie. The Coombes brothers situation made me shudder and I could literally smell some of the things going on, kudos to the description. I have to mention Hermes, Dora’s animal companion in the shape of a magpie. He was fierce, wiley and protective; I enjoyed him on the page.

There’s a small part of me that was uncomfortable reading about the colonial aspects of plundering and acquisition even though that was historically correct. I hate element of British history, our museums are still full of antiquities that are not ‘ours’.

This was a superb debut, easy to read and not overtly historical-heavy. Dora the explorer (look someone had to say it) made for great reading and I’d jump on another release from this author.

Thank you to Vintage Books for the eARC copy.

A RUSH OF WINGS by Laura E. Weymouth

Rowenna Winthrop has always known there’s magic within her. But though she hears voices on the wind and possesses unusual talents, her mother Mairead believes Rowenna lacks discipline, and refuses to teach her the craft that keeps their Scottish village safe. When Mairead dies a sinister death, it seems Rowenna’s one chance to grow into her power has passed. Then, on a fateful, storm-tossed night, Rowenna rescues a handsome stranger named Gawen from a shipwreck, and her mother miraculously returns from the dead. Or so it appears.

This resurrected Mairead is nothing like the old one: to hide her new and monstrous nature, she turns Rowenna’s brothers and Gawen into swans and robs Rowenna of her voice. Forced to flee, Rowenna travels to the city of Inverness to find a way to break the curse. But monsters take many forms, and in Inverness Rowenna is soon caught in a web of strangers who want to use her raw magic for their own gain. If she wishes to save herself and the people she loves most, Rowenna will have to take her fate into her own hands, and unlock the power that has evaded her for so long.


Title : A Rush of Wings
Author : Laura E. Weymouth
Format : eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 320
Genre : YA historical fantasy / fairytale retelling
Publisher : Margaret K. McElderry Books
Release Date : November 2, 2021

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ .5


Hollis’ 2.5 star review

So there were three big, huge, reasons why I almost never read this book. One being that the fairytale this is inspired by also inspired my actual favourite book of all time (ten points if you’ve been here long enough to know which one) and so naturally nothing could ever measure up; two, I had already read another Six Swans inspired YA retelling this year (two back to back after all this time? it was weird!), and three, this is my third attempt reading this author after two massive fails and the only reason I broke my promise to never read her again was because of the premise. Spoiler alert, I probably am issuing that promise again because, as you can tell from the rating, this wasn’t a win. But.. it also wasn’t a fail.

The best part about this version of the story was the writing. Weymouth did a great job bringing me onto the rocky misty shores of this random village (or whatever) while bringing into focus the historical setting and tumultuous past of Culloden and an occupied Inverness. It made for a very real but mundane kind of danger while abutting all the fey dangerous magic, and also creatures, that was also present in this world. It certainly wasn’t perfect (I am still side eyeing the fact that the guards never saw the four boys going back and forth from within the castle or grounds or whatever while Rowenna was captured but, you know, we trudge on) but I could get swept up in it.

Where things didn’t work was.. well, almost everything else. This version definitely mixes things up; Rowenna is no Sorcha and I’m glad of that. I actually appreciated that she wasn’t the darling, wasn’t sweet, wasn’t easy, and was battling not just the curse but also herself. The lack of six brothers also speeds things up a bit for her as she has less curse breaking to do. But at the same time another hundred pages would’ve done a lot for this, I think. Mostly in giving us more familial dynamic because honestly beyond the general hope for her brothers to be returned to her, we didn’t know them well enough, or get enough foundation of their relationships and dynamics to root for them beyond principle — once they stopped treating Rowenna badly, at least. Which also applies to the love interest.

Strangely the strongest relationship or bond was between Rowenna and a sea creature. Now that could’ve been a story..

In all honesty, though, the absolute weakest part might have been the magical villain (as opposed to the human one) because I don’t quite think I ever understood their actual goal. Even in the end, when we see the devastation wrought, I’m still like.. (insert Ryan Reynolds, “but why?” gif here).

As for the aforementioned human villain, well.. the scene that almost made me chuck the iPad across the room is when Rowenna has an opportunity to triumph and does not. Like, yeah, I get it, but wow. Considering all the devastation he was responsible for, wow. But sure, get on that high horse. However what’s worse is how she initially ends up in his hands, and forced to do his bidding, and that whole little plot and.. I don’t know. I’m mixed about it all.

So, yes, incase you were wondering, this wasn’t a win and I don’t think it’s all to do with my bias though I’m sure that plays a part. If you’re a fan of this retelling, or just think it sounds up your alley, I would cautiously recommend, especially with the Scotland setting and uprising in the mix. H o w e v e r, while I’m normally not one to spell things out, I do want to caution you that if animal death or violence done to animals is a big trigger for you? Even when it’s somewhat spelled out without being graphic (if that makes sense)? Stay away.

YEAR OF THE REAPER by Makiia Lucier

From the writer whose stories have been called “brilliant” (Booklist), “masterful” (Horn Book), and “breathtaking” (School Library Journal), comes a romantic new standalone fantasy.

The past never forgets . . .

Before an ambush by enemy soldiers, Lord Cassia was an engineer’s apprenticeon a mission entrusted by the king. But when plague sweeps over theland, leaving countless dead and devastating the kingdom, even Cas’title cannot save him from a rotting prison cell and a mercilesssickness.

Three years later, Cas wants only to return to his home in the mountains and forget past horrors. But home is not what heremembers. His castle has become a refuge for the royal court. And theyhave brought their enemies with them.

When an assassin targetsthose closest to the queen, Cas is drawn into a search for akiller…one that leads him to form an unexpected bond with a brilliantyoung historian named Lena. Cas and Lena soon realize that who is behind the attacks is far less important than why. They must look to the past, following the trail of a terriblesecret–one that could threaten the kingdom’s newfound peace and plungeit back into war.


Title : Year of the Reaper
Author : Makiia Lucier
Format : Hardback
Page Count : 336
Genre : YA Fantasy
Publisher : Hodderscape
Release Date : November 9, 2021

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4 star review

Headlines:
Standalone goodness
A gripper
Twists

I got on board with Year of the Reaper in a handful of pages. This story in the context of a waning plague didn’t jar me at all from a COVID perspective. So, I want to say that if you have that worry, this isn’t pandemic-y. This was a historical fantasy with great depth, all encapsulated in a standalone. I romped through the pages, not wanting to put it down.

Cas was a young man battling with the psychological scars of captivity and returning home after a long absence. He returned to a home and city recovering from the plague, there were new incomers to his home, old allegiances and plenty of secrets to unravel. Those secrets, the shocking events that occured and the twists in the plot were fantastic.

Buddy reading this was a great idea (thanks for your company, Steph) because we could chat through the things that happened. The pacing was fast but also very well metered out. There was a smattering of romantic connection but it was in the background and I was satisfied with how that was pitched. I would have liked just a little more about Cas’ special ability.

This book has everthing you want, a standalone, twists, great characters that have depth and a story you don’t want to put down. I’m excited to read more by Makiia Lucier.

Thank you to Hodderscape for the review copy.

GILDED by Marissa Meyer

All magic comes at a price, but love was never part of the bargain . . .

The look he was giving her. Serilda had never been looked at like that before . . . The intensity.
The heat. The raw astonishment. He was going to kiss her.

Cursed by the god of lies, a miller’s daughter has developed a talent for storytelling – but are all of her tales as false as they appear?

When one of Serilda’s stories draws the attention of the devastating Erlking, she finds herself swept away into a world of enchantment, where ghouls prowl the earth, and ravens track her every move. The king locks Serilda in a castle dungeon and orders her to spin straw into gold, or be killed for lying. In despair, Serilda unwittingly summons a mysterious young man to her aid. And he agrees to help her, for a price. But love wasn’t meant to be part of the bargain.

A compulsive read, and as bewitchingly good as you’d expect from a YA bestselling author. You will stay up all night reading this.


Title : Gilded
Author : Marissa Meyer
Format : eARC
Page Count : 435
Genre : YA Fantasy
Publisher : Faber & Faber
Release Date : November 2, 2021

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ .5


Micky’s 3.5 star review

Headlines:
This is a series…
Plot is golden
Story is long

I have mixed feelings coming out of Gilded and some of it is applause-worthy but other bits pulled this rating down. Firstly, the over-arching story and plot in this book are excellent. This was a Rumplestiltskin/Goblin King hybrid retelling with lots of woodland fable and magic thrown in. It was also incredibly raw narrative with gore and moments that seem to edge onto horror but retreat back quickly. I’d say this was older YA read because of some brief themes/triggers that emerge.

The characterisation in Gilded was also brilliant. Serilda was a morally grey heroine, prone to fabrication, occasional theft and somewhat unreliable as a friend and family member but in reality, she was just living out her legacy and god-given talents. She was incredibly likeable and moreso as the plot evolved. Erlking was not a nice character but he was so captivating to read about. He was evil to the core, lacking in any empathy and cruel. His court was also fascinating.

The other main character, I’m not going give a thing away about. Suffice it to say, I really liked this character, I like the connections made and I wanted more of this character. It ends in such a way that I’m dying to know what happens.

Now to my rating…why 3.5 stars? This book was incredibly long, it felt long, I had to push at times through long, descriptive narrative to get to the next plot theme. The pacing felt off and while I loved the story, the dragging of the narrative kept pulling me out of it. I wanted to be spun away like the gold bobbins on the tails of escapism but I wasn’t.

I will definitely be reading on, in fact, I am quite a bundle of anticipation for what comes next in this complex, twisty plot. I do hope it’s paced a little better.

If you want info on triggers, I’m happy to supply on DM.

Thank you to Faber & Faber for the review copy.

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