Everything feels off—especially me. I’ve returned to Katmere Academy, but I’m haunted by fragments of days I have no recollection of living and struggling to understand who, or what, I really am.
Just when I start to feel safe again, Hudson is back with a vengeance. He insists there are secrets I don’t know about, threatening to drive a wedge between Jaxon and me forever. But far worse enemies are at our doorstep.
The Circle is caught in a power play and the Vampire Court is trying to drag me out of my world and into theirs. The only thing Hudson and Jaxon agree on is that leaving Katmere would mean my certain death.
And not only am I fighting for my life, but now everyone else’s is at stake—unless we can defeat an unspeakable evil. All I know is that saving the people I love is going to require sacrifice.
Maybe more than I’m able to give.
Title : Crush Author : Tracy Wolff Series : Crave #2 Format : Hardback Page Count : 704 Genre : YA Fantasy Publisher : Entangled Teen/Hodder Books Release Date : September 29, 2020
Reviewer : Micky Rating : ★ ★ ★ .5
Micky’s 3.5 star review
I knew what I was getting into with this book, lots of drama, angst and quite a teen narrative. Nevertheless, I was glad to be reading the next installment what with that ending ofCrave.
What Tracy Wolff did with Crush was not new, of course it had some shades of Twilight, coupled with story arcs we’ve previously seen in Maas’ series. Even so, it had its own brand of uniqueness. I’ve enjoyed these characters across the two stories but I sometimes struggled with the writing style.
Let me tell you about how I felt about the characters firstly. Grace I’ve liked all along, but it was a surprise to me to find the twist in which male character I liked. I’m not going to name names because this twist is the basis for the story in book two, but suffice it to say, I was very satisfied with the final line in the book!
From a writing style perspective, it was very drama orientated and written with a fast pace. I found the endless snark in dialogue a little tiring over time and sometimes I wanted a more serious tone. I really got a little fed up of the long descriptions of the games. All that said, the last 150 pages of the book were absolutely great.
Tracy Wolff has a way of luring you in and then finishing the book on an absolute BAMMMMM. There’s no way I can resist picking up book three.
The ancient city of Kepos sits in an isolated valley, cut off from the outside world by a towering wall. Behind it, the souls of the dead clamour for release. Or so the priesthood says.
Kala has never had any reason to doubt their word – until her father dies in suspicious circumstances that implicate the city’s high priest. She’s determined to investigate, but she has a more immediate problem: the laws of the city require her mother to remarry straight away.
Kala’s new stepfather is a monster, but his son Leon is something altogether more dangerous: kind. With her family fractured and the investigation putting her life in danger, the last thing Kala needs is romance. She would rather ignore Leon entirely, however difficult he makes it. But when she learns the truth of what really clamours behind the wall at the end of the valley, she faces a choice: share what she knows and jeopardise her escape, or abandon him to his fate along with the rest of the city.
If she doesn’t move fast, then no one will make it out of the valley alive.
Title : The Wolf and the Water Author : Josie Jaffrey Series : The Deluge #1 Format : Paperback Page Count : 268 Genre : YA Historical Fantasy Publisher : Silver Sun Books Release Date : October 8, 2020
Reviewer : Micky Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★
Micky’s 3.5 – 4 star review
The Wolf and the Water was a complex and fresh historical fantasy told from a Greek mythological context. The characters were YA in age but the themes felt older and I appreciated the story not holding any barrs.
Kala, the protagonist was the newly bereaved and unwanted daughter with a physical disability. Kala was not unused to derision and rejection from her community but with the loss of a loved one, she’d lost protection. Kala was a strong young woman with courage and her tale was compelling.
This was an intricate story, some re-envisaging of elements of Greek mythology tales influenced by Atlantis. Misogyny, slavery and power was on the menu and in reference to my earlier comment about themes, some elements were brutally told. I did lose my stride with a bit of confusion at one point, but I was able to pick up the story again and what was happening.
The story felt unpredictable, the friendships, relationships and allegiences were interesting and the eventual story direction left me wanting to know more. This was the first time I’ve read Josie Jaffrey but I’ll definitely read her work again and follow this series further.
SHE SURVIVED THE CURSE. NOW SHE MUST SURVIVE THE THRONE.
All Ekata wants is to stay alive—and the chance to prove herself as a scholar. Once Ekata’s brother is finally named heir to the dukedom of Kylma Above, there will be nothing to keep her at home with her murderous family. Not her books or her experiments, not her family’s icy castle atop a frozen lake, not even the tantalizingly close Kylma Below, a mesmerizing underwater kingdom that provides her family with magic. But just as escape is within reach, her parents and twelve siblings fall under a strange sleeping sickness, and no one can find a cure.
In the space of a single night, Ekata inherits the title of duke, her brother’s captivating warrior bride, and ever-encroaching challengers from without—and within—her ministry. Nothing has prepared Ekata for diplomacy, for war, for love. . .or for a crown she has never wanted. If Kylma Above is to survive, Ekata must seize her family’s magic and power. And if Ekata is to survive, she must quickly decide how she will wield them both.
Title : The Winter Duke Author : Claire Eliza Bartlett Format : Hardback Page Count : 400 Genre : YA Fantasy/LGBTQIA Publisher : Titan Books Release Date : October 13, 2020
Reviewer : Micky Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★
Micky’s 3.5-4 star review
I’m rounding this one up to 4 stars.
This was a YA fantasy with a historical feel. It had some foundations in Russian royal history and I enjoyed that element and this was some brutal family right here. The dukedom were out to kill one another for power, and the protagonist Ekata, felt justifiably out of the running as an insignificant daughter about to travel away to university. A curse hit and she found herself in a new position.
“Long live Her Grace.” Impossible, impossible. I was a middle child of thirteen.
This read had some great strong points, it was definitely a feminist tale. The title of Duke was genderless, power could be held equally between men and women but there’s a but. In reality, Ekata was surrounded by men who made her feel like a fool, wielded their power over her and used their gender to quash her thoughts, words and ideas.
All my life, these men had ignored me. It had never bothered me until now.
Those contrasts of what seemed to be equality and in acutality wasn’t, were frustrating for Ekata and the reader but this was the story, how Ekata navigated this. All this happened in the middle of a bride parade and Ekata chose her consort, a young woman. The romance and LGBTQ+ elements were a little weak but the protagonist was only 16 and so that did feel in the background somewhat. I would have liked this to have felt more developed, however.
I enjoyed the worlds of above and below and honestly, I read this over two days whenever I could; it had an unputdownable feel. There were elements to this story that felt unique, the magic was vague, unfathomable and mysterious, which I liked. Overall this was a good read and bonus, it was a standalone.
Thank you to Titan Books for the very pretty hardback review copy.
The Last Prophet has been found, yet he sees destruction ahead.
In this sequel to the critically-acclaimed There Will Come a Darkness, kingdoms have begun to fall to a doomsday cult, the magical Graced are being persecuted, and an ancient power threatens to break free. But with the world hurtling toward its prophesized end, Anton’s haunting vision reveals the dangerous beginnings of a plan to stop the Age of Darkness.
As Jude, Keeper of the Order of the Last Light, returns home in disgrace, his quest to aid the Prophet is complicated by his growing feelings for Anton. Meanwhile, the assassin known as the Pale Hand will stop at nothing to find her undead sister before she dies for good, even if it means letting the world burn. And in Nazirah, Hassan, the kingdom-less Prince, forms a risky pact to try to regain his throne. When the forces of light and darkness collide in the City of Mercy, old wounds are reopened, new alliances are tested, and the end of the world begins.
Title : As The Shadow Rises Author : Katy Rose Pool Series : Age of Darkness (book two) Format : eARC Page Count : 496 Genre : YA fantasy Publisher : Henry Holt and Co. (BYR) Release Date : September 1, 2020
Reviewer : Hollis Rating : ★ ★ ★
Hollis’ 3 star review
I’m not going to say this was a disappointing sequel, because it wasn’t, but I’ll admit that the excitement I felt in book one was mostly missing here. Whereas in THERE WILL COME A DARKNESS I think I was pretty interested in all of the POVs, this time I definitely had favourites and sorta slogged along in some of the paralell plotlines as they eventually converged into one. That said, this is definitely a twisty installment and of a few of the reveals, I think I only managed to predict one of them. I really liked that.
I mentioned in my review for book one, this is definitely a darker, grittier, version of the Falling Kingdoms series. And I totally stand by that assesment; in fact, this book only solidified my opinion on that comparison. We didn’t gain any new POVs, though we did gain quite a few new faces along the way, but what did change were many of the dynamics we had been given in book one. I enjoyed seeing these characters overlap, pass amongst each other, and then come together.
I did like this installment, it pretty much absorbed me all afternoon, but I hope book three pushes this out of like-zone and back to really like (if not love!)-zone to round out the series.
** I received an ARC from NetGalley and the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **
In the start of an all-new series, the bestselling author of Uprooted and Spinning Silver introduces you to a dangerous school for the magically gifted where failure means certain death – until one girl begins to rewrite its rules. _______________________________________
Enter a school of magic unlike any you have ever encountered.
There are no teachers, no holidays, friendships are purely strategic, and the odds of survival are never equal.
Once you’re inside, there are only two ways out: you graduate or you die.
El Higgins is uniquely prepared for the school’s many dangers. She may be without allies, but she possesses a dark power strong enough to level mountains and wipe out untold millions – never mind easily destroy the countless monsters that prowl the school.
Except, she might accidentally kill all the other students, too. So El is trying her hardest not to use it… that is, unless she has no other choice. _______________________________________
Wry, witty, endlessly inventive, and mordantly funny – yet with a true depth and fierce justice at its heart – this enchanting novel reminds us that there are far more important things than mere survival.
Title : A Deadly Education Author : Naomi Novik Series : Scholomance #1 Format : eARC Page Count : 336 Genre : YA Fantasy Publisher : Random House UK/Cornerstone / Del Rey Release Date : September 29, 2020
I’m a bit dithery over that rating, take it as 4.25 if that helps! I just about devoured this book whenever I could and it made for tasty reading. The Scholomance was a school like you’ve never imagined, a school trying to kill its pupils with brimming magic, a void and tonnes of deadly creatures.
This was a witty read and that really surprised me. We’ve definitely seen shades of Novik’s sarcastic humour through Uprooted but this story had a lighter, laugh-out-loudness to it. I thought the whole concept of The Scholomance (the boarding school for wizards) was unique. Add to that the snarkiest heroine I’ve read in a while in Galadriel (El) and it was hard for this book to put a foot wrong.
When I want to straighten my room, I get instructions on how to kill it with fire.
Odd right? Spells didn’t flow in the expected way for her, but Galadriel was not a conventional wizard by Scholomance pupil standards, she was quietly and covertly exceptional. I loved reading about her systems, her talents and the languages she was studying. Most of all, I enjoyed reading her growth in friendships. El was almost made perfect with her use of British swears. I can say that Novik wrote a Brit (she was actually Welsh) particularly well.
The begrudging friendship/white knight (not needed) in Orion made for hilarity and chuckling. It was hard not to like Orion despite his saviour complex but there’s definitely more to unpack with him and I’m so glad we hopefully get to do that in the next book.
“You know, it’s almost impressive,”he said after a moment, sounding less wobbly. “You’re nearly dead and you’re still the rudest person I’ve ever met.”
The heirarchies in the school were something else and the void was just nausea-inducing to me. This truly was the school of nightmares and I wouldn’t last more than a minute in there! I simply cannot wait for the next instalment. And so I leave you with my favourite line (kudos to Jane Eyre here).
Reader, I ran the fuck away.
Thank you to Cornerstone/Random House for the early review copy.
Hollis’ 4 star review
A DEADLY EDUCATION is like a dark mashup of Harry Potter — if the only class was Defense Against the Dark Arts — complete with the magical puberty problems and monster-attraction issues ala Percy Jackson, but if instead of Buffy we had Faith saving the world all the time.. though hella reluctantly. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
This book is nothing like what I expected a book by Novik would be. This, for all the darkness and the fact that it’s set inside a castle that seems to be actively working to kill it’s residents — or at last lead it’s inhabitants into a position to die and casually look away — is funny, quippy, and strange.
Unlike Harry Potter or Percy Jackson or even Faith, we are tossed into the depths of things via Galadriel’s (El’s) point of view. She isn’t a noob blinking big innocent eyes as she wanders into this new world, no. She’s in her second to last year, having survived many years, many near deaths, with a prophecy already hanging over her head; she’s full of the bitterness and disdain from years of rejections, years of loneliness, and completely unimpressed when the school’s hero not only suddenly takes a shine to her but also saves her life.. a lot.
I liked our MC so much. I thought El’s snarky voice, her rudeness, was great. She has cultivated her niche deliberately because of circumstances completely out of her control but as delightful as she is at the onset, I loved her journey and evolution even more. Equally fun was Orion, the hero, the saviour, was equally not as one-note as he could’ve been. There are layers to both these characters and their interactions were a lot of fun as this definitely leaned into the enemies-turned-reluctant-allies-turned-friends trope. Infact, I don’t think I disliked a single character? Yes, I, too, am shook.
Though we never leave this young-person death trap of a school, Novik still manages to make her world feel big. This is helped not only because of the diversity of the students we are exposed to but, more importantly, all the Enclaves all over the world (think of them as Shadowhunter Institutes) they might be invited to after graduation if they are smart, skilled, or sought after enough. The rules are strange. I won’t explain further but.. don’t expect House points!
I had such a good time reading this, despite how different it was from my expectations, and I devoured it in less than a day. I enjoyed this so much and am very intrigued and very keen for more.
** I received an ARC from the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **
We have such a great video for you today from Tracy Deonn, author of Legendborn. Today she’s talking exclusively to our blog about her 5 top YA fantasy books and Hollis and I are super-excited to find we have some in common with Tracy.
You must have seen this book by now, it’s all over Instagram, Goodreads and book groups, with good reason. The cover is a visual feast of colour, magic and the main character.
First of all, here’s the synopsis:
Filled with mystery and an intriguingly rich magic system, Tracy Deonn’s YA contemporary fantasy Legendborn offers the dark allure of City of Bones with a modern-day twist on a classic legend and a lot of Southern Black Girl Magic.
After her mother dies in an accident, sixteen-year-old Bree Matthews wants nothing to do with her family memories or childhood home. A residential program for bright high schoolers at UNC–Chapel Hill seems like the perfect escape—until Bree witnesses a magical attack her very first night on campus.
A flying demon feeding on human energies.
A secret society of so called “Legendborn” students that hunt the creatures down.
And a mysterious teenage mage who calls himself a “Merlin” and who attempts—and fails—to wipe Bree’s memory of everything she saw.
The mage’s failure unlocks Bree’s own unique magic and a buried memory with a hidden connection: the night her mother died, another Merlin was at the hospital. Now that Bree knows there’s more to her mother’s death than what’s on the police report, she’ll do whatever it takes to find out the truth, even if that means infiltrating the Legendborn as one of their initiates.
She recruits Nick, a self-exiled Legendborn with his own grudge against the group, and their reluctant partnership pulls them deeper into the society’s secrets—and closer to each other. But when the Legendborn reveal themselves as the descendants of King Arthur’s knights and explain that a magical war is coming, Bree has to decide how far she’ll go for the truth and whether she should use her magic to take the society down—or join the fight.
We both love Uprooted and Shadow & Bone, so we are checking out these other titles and adding to our tbr!
Micky’s review will be coming to the blog soon and in the meantime here are the buy links for Legendborn. Please do check out the other tour hosts too. They’re going to have a range of different features for each post.
Thank you to Simon & Schuster UK for the #gifted copy and this epic tour they’ve organised. We couldn’t be more excited to get reading.
This is a double review of book one and two, which I read pretty much back to back. First up, SERPENT & DOVE.
Bound as one to love, honor, or burn.
Two years ago, Louise le Blanc fled her coven and took shelter in the city of Cesarine, forsaking all magic and living off whatever she could steal. There, witches like Lou are hunted. They are feared. And they are burned.
Sworn to the Church as a Chasseur, Reid Diggory has lived his life by one principle: thou shalt not suffer a witch to live. His path was never meant to cross with Lou’s, but a wicked stunt forces them into an impossible union—holy matrimony.
The war between witches and Church is an ancient one, and Lou’s most dangerous enemies bring a fate worse than fire. Unable to ignore her growing feelings, yet powerless to change what she is, a choice must be made.
And love makes fools of us all.
Title : Serpent & Dove Author : Shelby Mahurin Series : Serpent & Dove #1 Format : Ebook Page Count : 518 Genre : YA Fantasy Publisher : Harper Teen Release Date : September 3, 2019
Reviewer : Micky Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★
Micky’s 3.5 – 4 star review
Serpent & Dove has been topping the backlog pile for a while and with a lot of booksta friends being huge fans, I had to see what the fuss was about. This was another book that started slow for me but by half way I got what the fuss was about, so I’d call this one a ‘builder’.
I love a ‘marriage of convenience’ trope and the union between Lou and Reid (Lou Reid?!) was from such polar opposites – a witch and a witch hunter. Lou was such a snarky free spirit that she was easy to like. She had little cares to give, no filter and so her dialogue was fun. Reid was definitely more buttoned up and hard to like initally.
My husband was still the most pompous ass in an entire tower of pompous asses.
Lou and Reid together however, were a couple to cheer for and it transformed how I felt about Reid and in fact, this was what made the book for me. So at times, when I wasn’t sure about the flow of the story, I was sure about my affection for this couple. All that said, I think I needed a little more time to see the love grow between the MCs than we got, there was enough but I wanted a bit more credibility.
It was a layered story, complex at times. There were some great ‘baddies’, some twists and reveals that made you stop for a minute. My favourite character outside of the MCs was Ansel. I adored him as a character, his loyalty and more.
I’m just going to add here that I am surprised this is categorised as YA/teen because of the sexual content and detail.
So, this was a good fantasy read, a little fresh on story and lot to offer in terms of romance. I am looking forward to the next book which I have primed and ready!
Now for the highly anticipated BLOOD & HONEY…
After narrowly escaping death at the hands of the Dames Blanches, Lou, Reid, Coco, and Ansel are on the run from coven, kingdom, and church—fugitives with nowhere to hide.
To elude the scores of witches and throngs of chasseurs at their heels, Lou and Reid need allies. Strong ones. But protection comes at a price, and the group is forced to embark on separate quests to build their forces. As Lou and Reid try to close the widening rift between them, the dastardly Morgane baits them in a lethal game of cat and mouse that threatens to destroy something worth more than any coven.
Title : Blood & Honey Author : Shelby Mahurin Series : Serpent & Dove #2 Format : eARC Page Count : 528 Genre : YA Fantasy Publisher : Harper Teen/Harper 360 Release Date : September 17, 2020
Reviewer : Micky Rating : ★ ★.5
Micky’s 2.5 star review
I’m gutted to find myself at this rating but here we are. I’m new to this series and had the advantage of reading book one and two back to back, so I had all the detail of book one fresh in my mind. I’ve seen a few reviews recommending a re-read of SERPENT & DOVE first, so I’m glad the intracacies of the plot were fresh.
What went wrong with BLOOD AND HONEY was the lack of story and the demise of coupledom. The whole plot was the crew of friends wandering the countryside looking for allies until a handful of pages until the end. I can’t describe my disappointment at this. I wanted more action, more coherence, all the things I found were present in book one.
What anchored me to SERPENT & DOVE when I was wavering were Lou and Reid. They were mere shadows of themselves both individually but also as a couple. Their faith in one another was constantly wavering and there was little chemistry or connection. Reid’s attitude to magic really annoyed me as the book progressed. The best things about this book were Coco and Ansel who kept me going when I wanted to put the book down.
I’m not going to labour this with a long review and I hope others enjoy this highly anticipated sequel. I’m sad to say I’m unsure if I’ll bother with book three.
Thank you to Harper 360 for the early review copy.
As the daughter of the most powerful trader in the Narrows, the sea is the only home seventeen-year-old Fable has ever known. It’s been four years since the night she watched her mother drown during an unforgiving storm. The next day her father abandoned her on a legendary island filled with thieves and little food. To survive she must keep to herself, learn to trust no one and rely on the unique skills her mother taught her. The only thing that keeps her going is the goal of getting off the island, finding her father and demanding her rightful place beside him and his crew. To do so Fable enlists the help of a young trader named West to get her off the island and across the Narrows to her father.
But her father’s rivalries and the dangers of his trading enterprise have only multiplied since she last saw him and Fable soon finds that West isn’t who he seems. Together, they will have to survive more than the treacherous storms that haunt the Narrows if they’re going to stay alive.
Welcome to a world made dangerous by the sea and by those who wish to profit from it. Where a young girl must find her place and her family while trying to survive in a world built for men.
Title : Fable Author : Adrienne Young Series : Fable #1 Format : eARC Page Count : 368 Genre : YA Fantasy Publisher : Wednesday Books Release Date : September 1, 2020
Reviewer : Micky Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★.5
Micky’s 4.5 star review
I crushed this in a day, simply because I could not put it down. FABLE was the start of a strong duology, all at sea. It was a tale of survival, family and bonds stronger than family. Fable was a deep sea diver and everything about that was fascinating.
I’d dove almost every day since I was a child. The water was more of a home than Jeval ever was.
Fable herself was a strong young woman, almost feral but human under the shell. She had been abandoned in a place where food and resources were sparce. I was completely puzzled by her situation but quickly admiring of the adversity she had overcome and continued to overcome. I loved the subtle unveiling of her skills.
As a character Fable was rich in personality even though she revealed little of herself to those around her. I was intruiged by the Marigold and the crew, especially the helmsman, West. How the story interwove the characters and plot points was so clever. The relationship with her father was truly captivating, frustrating and and heart-breaking.
The writing in FABLE just made me disappear into the world and the worlds; I highlighted a lot. The story and the characters really hit the spot with me but I am partial to an adventure set on the seas. This is my favourite of Adrienne Young’s books so far. I cannot wait to read the second part, I need it now.
The silence of the sea found us, my heartbeat quieting, and I painted each moment into my mind.
Thank you to Wednesday Books for the early review copy.
As princess of the island kingdom Visidia, Amora Montara has spent her entire life training to be High Animancer – the master of souls. The rest of the realm can choose their magic, but for Amora, it’s never been a choice. To secure her place as heir to the throne, she must prove her mastery of the monarchy’s dangerous soul magic.
When her demonstration goes awry, Amora is forced to flee. She strikes a deal with Bastian, a mysterious pirate: he’ll help her prove she’s fit to rule, if she’ll help him reclaim his stolen magic.
But sailing the kingdom holds more wonder – and more peril – than Amora anticipated. A destructive new magic is on the rise, and if Amora is to conquer it, she’ll need to face legendary monsters, cross paths with vengeful mermaids, and deal with a stow-away she never expected… or risk the fate of Visidia and lose the crown forever.
Title : All the Stars and Teeth Author : Adalyn Grace Series : All the Stars and Teeth #1 Format : Paperback Page Count : 416 Genre : YA Fantasy Publisher : Titan Books Release Date : August 4, 2020
Reviewer : Micky Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★ .5
Micky’s 4.5 star review
This book wowed me on a number of fronts, I found it a totally unexpected YA fantasy with very little resting on predictable tropes or plot directions. I thought Adalyn Grace was a fresh voice and I didn’t realise how much I was ready for that kind of palate cleansing until I read this.
ALL THE STARS AND TEETH was unapologetically gory and blood-thirsty in parts, there was no smoothing of the gritty and I embraced this world masked by secrets. The protagonist, Amora was the most un-princessy princess I’ve come across in a while. She was fiesty, uninterested in appearances, she wanted to be a fighter and a sailor. She also had serious wanderlust.
The start of the story had her world come crashing down and everything unleased from there, dark magic, sea monsters, a pirate, a mermaid and some very shady characters. The characters that became the crew of Keel Haul found their way into my heart, so that by the end I was so fond of them. Alongside Amora, Bastian was a great character, his secrets and magic were fascinating. The low-level romance was pitched just right.
One of the best things about this book was the feminist tone throughout. I’m about to drop a mild SPOILER in here, so skim on if you don’t want to read that. In the story, Amora had a very obvious period accident on her clothing…we do not read these things enough in books and I commend Adalyn Grace for including this and also for how she wrote the guys’ reactions to it. Everything about Amora was generally feminist and the male characters in the Keel Haul crew had feminist undertones too.
This gorgeous cover contained a great debut and series starter all rolled into one. I simply cannot wait to be back with these characters and read on with the series. This is definitely a 2020 read I’m going to remember.
A captivating and utterly original fairy tale about a girl cursed to be poisonous to the touch, and who discovers what power might lie in such a curse…
There was and there was not, as all stories begin, a princess cursed to be poisonous to the touch. But for Soraya, who has lived her life hidden away, apart from her family, safe only in her gardens, it’s not just a story.
As the day of her twin brother’s wedding approaches, Soraya must decide if she’s willing to step outside of the shadows for the first time. Below in the dungeon is a demon who holds knowledge that she craves, the answer to her freedom. And above is a young man who isn’t afraid of her, whose eyes linger not with fear, but with an understanding of who she is beneath the poison.
Soraya thought she knew her place in the world, but when her choices lead to consequences she never imagined, she begins to question who she is and who she is becoming…human or demon. Princess or monster.
Title : Girl, Serpent, Thorn Author : Melissa Bashardoust Format : Paperback ARC Page Count : 336 Genre : YA Fantasy Publisher : Hodder Books Release Date : July 7, 2020
Reviewer : Micky Rating : ★ ★ ★ .5
Micky’s 3.5 star review
What a cover and what a world Melissa Bashardoust created. Based in Persian mythology, tales and beliefs this was an exciting fantasy with some fresh concepts to get your teeth into and a main character who I really liked. This story took me back and forth on whether Soraya was a victim or a villain. I wasn’t 100% sure by the close, but I was grabbed by the journey.
GIRL, SERPENT, THORN tracked royal family dysfunction at its best and I actually enjoyed reading about Soraya’s captivity life, her boundaries, weaknesses and strengths. I utterly disliked every person in her family, including her so called childhood friend. The appearance of a new friend Azad, had me suspicious, but he won me around.
The world had a later complexity but an earlier ease in terms of building the context, belief systems, divs and other beings. I did like the world but found events from half way a little chaotic as the plot moved and waned a little. There was a lot of double crossing and it was like a tennis match at one point, a good way to keep the reader guessing but I could have managed with a little less back and forth.
Soraya’s sexuality deserved more exploration of her feelings and identity on the page. She was a bisexual character but everything about that was vague, she did not once go through any introspection as she kissed a male and then a female in short break between. The development of the f/f relationship was weak and I didn’t feel invested in their connection or anything deeper, again some more page-time would have enhanced my reading experience here.
So overall, this was a strong 4 star read for the first half, then the plot got a little fadey. The setting, the fantasy world, rules and main character were such strengths in this book. The final quarter did pull things back together again for me but just not enough to warrant a 4 star.
Thank you to Hodder Books for the early review copy.