STRANGE THE DREAMER by Laini Taylor


The dream chooses the dreamer, not the other way around—and Lazlo Strange, war orphan and junior librarian, has always feared that his dream chose poorly. Since he was five years old he’s been obsessed with the mythic lost city of Weep, but it would take someone bolder than he to cross half the world in search of it. Then a stunning opportunity presents itself, in the person of a hero called the Godslayer and a band of legendary warriors, and he has to seize his chance or lose his dream forever.

What happened in Weep two hundred years ago to cut it off from the rest of the world? What exactly did the Godslayer slay that went by the name of god? And what is the mysterious problem he now seeks help in solving?

The answers await in Weep, but so do more mysteries—including the blue-skinned goddess who appears in Lazlo’s dreams. How did he dream her before he knew she existed? And if all the gods are dead, why does she seem so real?

Welcome to Weep. 


Title : Strange the Dreamer
Author : Laini Taylor
Series : Strange the Dreamer #1
Format : audio/ebook
Narrator : Steve West
Length : 18 hours 19 minutes
Genre : YA Fantasy
Publisher : Hodder Books
Release Date : March 28, 2017

Reviewer : Micky
Rating  : ★ ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 5 star review

Holy cow, Hollis…thank you for foisting Laini Taylor in front of my nose numerous times. This was a winner of winners in terms of reading, full absorption from start to finsh and a read that was mostly audio but sometimes ebook.

I fell into this book with a determination after loving Daughter of Smoke and Bone and I didn’t need to worry because I loved this world with an awe immediately, it didn’t ebb, not once. This book brought characters to live and long for and a world that was an exceptional creation. I am in awe.

I feel that there’s nothing I can say that hasn’t already been said coming late to a duology like this but it’s new to me and so I give you my fresh eyes. These fresh eyes were all on Lazlo. Unconventional hero, humble librarian, strength of character, kind and intelligent – 100% loveable. Lazlo started off in one land, travelled across a vast desolate plain and ended up in Weep.

“You know me, Strange the dreamer, head in the clouds.” He paused and added with a grin, “Miracles for breakfast.”

The world was on the one hand complex, but also not difficult to understand; that said, I couldn’t explain it that well. Sarai the other main character was a daughter of a godess but trapped and enslaved to a gift and future that was dismal. I felt for her, I liked her and seeing her come alive more as events unfolded was beautiful and enchanting.

As these two met, everything went still in my mind as I read, wanting every detail, every feel and boy, did I feel their connection. Sometimes I moan about not feeling connected to characters in books, this was such the opposite experience, it was a situation where I have rarely felt so much in a fantasy read, nor so tethered to two characters.

She wanted. She wanted. She wanted to wake up holding hands.

The story was exciting, tragic, haunting and vivid. The world was further enhanced by brilliant narration injecting further personality into the characters and so I can highly recommend this format for the duology. I will be listening to MUSE OF NIGHTMARES rather than reading. Pick this story up and you will be ensnared in its trap.

CLOCKWORK PRINCESS by Cassandra Clare

If the only way to save the world was to destroy what you loved most, would you do it?

The clock is ticking. Everyone must choose.

Passion. Power. Secrets. Enchantment.

Danger closes in around the Shadowhunters in the final installment of the bestselling Infernal Devices trilogy.


Title : Clockwork Princess
Author : Cassandra Clare
Series : The Infernal Devices #3
Format : ebook
Page Count : 557
Genre : YA Historical Fantasy
Publisher : Walker Books
Release Date : March 19, 2013

Reviewer : Micky
Rating  : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4 star review

The completion of this trilogy within the wider shadowhunters series was an emotive experience. Alongside the fast-pacing and action was a tragedy unfolding and though I had a vague sense of plot direction from CLOCKWORK PRINCE, I didn’t expect what I got. It was rich, it was well written and it was hard to swallow.

This has to be the weirdest and yet most gracious love triangle I have ever read, I found it palatable in the way that love triangles often aren’t. Will had such character growth over book two and then this book, he matured, he stepped up and he was proper hero-material. Jem remained sweet and good but he didn’t draw my focus as much. I continued to like all the other characters, especially Tessa, Charlotte, the Lightwoods, Sophie and Magnus.

Jem’s story arc was unexpected in so many ways (no spoilers), the twists were multiple and clever. The silent brothers element to the story development brought all sorts of jaw drops to my face. Finally getting answers to who Tessa was, was satisfying and seeing the Clockwork Angel come to the fore again was exciting.

This book made me cry and I am a reluctant crier at books, but oh my, how could you not? The epilogue was everything unexpected, joy and pain combined. I am not convinced by the ending, the convenience of the final playing out of events; the now. I would love to hear your thoughts on that ending.

So, late to the party by a decade but here all the same to enjoy a series I thought I’d never read. I might even read the other series in this world that I said I wouldn’t.

THORN by Intisar Khanani

Princess Alyrra has never enjoyed the security or power of her rank. Between her family’s cruelty and the court’s contempt, she has spent her life in the shadows. Forced to marry a powerful foreign prince, Alyrra embarks on a journey to meet her betrothed with little hope for a better future. But powerful men have powerful enemies – and now, so does Alyrra.

Betrayed during a magical attack, her identity is switched with another woman’s, giving Alyrra the first choice she’s ever had: to start a new life for herself or fight for a prince she’s never met. But Alyrra soon finds that Prince Kestrin is not at all what she expected. While walking away will cost Kestrin his life, returning to the court may cost Alyrra her own. As Alyrra is coming to realise, sometime the hardest choice means learning to trust herself.

Inspired by The Goose Girl fairytale by the Brothers Grimm.


Title : Thorn
Author : Intisar Khanani
Format : Paperback ARC
Page Count :
Genre : YA Fantasy
Publisher : Hot Key Books
Release Date : March 24, 2020

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4-4.5 star review

THORN by Intisar Khanani has actually been on my radar for a number of years, previously released as an indie book but has now very rightfully found publishers in the UK and US. I’m really glad I waited as this is Thorn’s moment and just look at that gorgeous cover.

This is a loose retelling of the Brother Grimm’s goose girl, which I didn’t recall but being a lesser-known tale, the storyline was all good and unexpected things. It is a story construted around royalty and magic but it very much moves into the world of the ordinary and I loved that element of the context so much. Thorn had a number of identities but essentially who she was at the core was the kind of quiet heroine you could only feel connected to. Her integrity made me love her; she felt very real in her plain life and royal connections.

Thorn’s family were vile, no beating around the bush here. Thorn was scarred in a number of ways; this particular narrative was addressed sensitively. I liked how she worked through some issues as she adapted to life outside of her family. Thorn also acquired some unconventional friendships with a horse, the wind, thieves and street kids. This tale was just full of richness.

Kestrin, was a prince amongst other things and he grew on me. The story travelled from one world to another and magic forces were at work on the way. This wasn’t an all-consuming romance but a tentative friendship and the potential promise of something more with roots. I appreciated the subtlety of the relationship between these two and I would love to read more in what seems to be a series.

Intisar Khanani’s writing was inviting and her ability to tell a story was full of richness and depth. This is a great YA fantasy that could standalone as it is but it also looks like there is more to come and I am cheering for that.

Thank you to Hot Key books for the early review copy.

DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE TRILOGY WRAP UP by Laini Taylor

  1. DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE – 4.5 stars
  2. DAYS OF BLOOD AND STARLIGHT – 4 stars
  3. DREAMS OF GODS AND MONSTERS – 4.5 stars

    This is a Micky post but it is fuelled by Hollis suggesting that I read this story FOR YEARS. We nearly had a disrailment early on reading book one when I realised this was a book about angels and beasts, my blog review is here if you need a refresher on what nearly went wrong for me. However, I came out of book one realising there wasn’t really a Christian connection to this story and that this was a other-worldly yet this-worldly story. There was a lot of action in this book but once it got to the half-way mark, a love story started to build in the form of Akiva and Karou. I was disconcerted for a bit by what I thought was a love triangle but really it wasn’t. There was one of the best gal-pal storylines that began in this book and continues throughout the series. I adored Zuzana and Zuzana with Karou are friendship goals. I loved book one and gave it a 4.5 star review.

Book two, DAYS OF BLOOD AND STARLIGHT was a great action-packed read but it was steeped in sadness, disconnection between the two MCs and that was hard to swallow. I wanted them together but I understood the rift. This was a story to learn more about the world of Eretz but also of the different species that inhabited it. Into this story entered a younger Kiran man called Ziri who pretty much stole my heart. Zuzana and her guy, Mik were very much crucial in this story. I rated this book 4 stars and my review is here.

Book three, DREAMS OF GODS AND MONSTERS was about journeys, battle and strategy. It was about foes becoming friends and reconnections but oh my word, the tension, the mind-blowing tension between Akiva and Karou. I was glued to the page and wishing for them to kiss. I said numerous times ‘just kiss already’ to myself and them.

There was a superb main plot in this book and so many great sub plots apart from one that I disliked (that’s what has taken the rating down from heart eyes to love). Fake grandma was a highlight, Zuz and Mik shenanigans of course and all things Thiago, Ziri and Liraz. The bad guys were epically gross but I loved to read about them.

This is the book of final fulfilment and three books in, binged from start to finish, I needed the sweetness of completion. The culmination did not let me down. These characters became fast book friends and beloved favourites; I think I’ll remember this series for a long time. DREAMS OF GODS AND MONSTERS got a whopping 4.5 stars.

Shout out to Hollis for nagging/pushing me to read this for a few years and for listening to my many ravings along the way. Second shoutout to bookstagram friend Steph for her devoted cooing over my reading of one of her favourite series.

The morals of this reading wrap are as follows:

  1. Do not prejudge tropes, sometimes open your mind and start to read a trope that isn’t your jam, you might have a refreshing surprise like I did.
  2. Series from 5/6 years ago or more should not get brushed under the carpet, keep those recs and positions on your tbr and work your way around to them. I’ve acquired a favourite series from this one.

DAYS OF BLOOD AND STARLIGHT by Laini Taylor 🎧

Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love and dared to imagine a new way of living – one without massacres and torn throats and bonfires of the fallen, without revenants or bastard armies or children ripped from their mothers’ arms to take their turn in the killing and dying.

Once, the lovers lay entwined in the moon’s secret temple and dreamed of a world that was a like a jewel-box without a jewel – a paradise waiting for them to find it and fill it with their happiness.

This was not that world.


Title : Days of Blood and Starlight
Author : Laini Taylor
Narrator : Khristine Hvam
Series : Daughter of Smoke and Bone #2
Format : Audio
Length : 16 hours
Genre : YA Fantasy
Publisher : Hodder Books
Release Date : November 8, 2012

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4 star review

This is going to be a shorter review than normal because I’ve been ill and I’m writing this much later than I normally would. However, it means I’ve had time to reflect and really think about this instalment.

This was a book steeped in sadness and regret. The way that DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE ended was a blow and so I picked up the next book desperate to know things but also feeling Karou’s sadness as my own. I felt her grief both from the loss of loved ones but also the betrayal and rift between her and Akiva.

Most of this book was told from the separate sides of Karou and Akiva, I missed them together BUT there were bright spots. Karou got to know and live in her heritage and I loved finding out about all of that. Zuzana and Mik were the brightest spots and their place in this story was everything to me. Ziri was a newer character and he really grew on me.

There are a few bad guys in this series but the one that had my focus was Thiago, I hated him. He was vile and never had me fooled but equally he was a great character to hate and fear. Ten, his sidekick was something of a tool too. What a pair.

There was a fair bit of world building in this book as new layers were added mostly in form of life in Eretz. It wasn’t too complicated and brought a richness to the story. The narration continued in excellence from Khristine Hvam.

I can feel it in my bones that this series is going to be beloved by me and I’m straight into book three.

A THRONE OF SWANS by Katharine & Elizabeth Corr

In a world where the flightless are ruled by those who can fly…

When her father dies just before her birthday, seventeen-year-old Aderyn inherits the role of Protector of Atratys, a dominion in a kingdom where nobles are able to transform at will into the bird that represents their family bloodline. Aderyn’s ancestral bird is a swan. But she has not transformed for years, not since witnessing the death of her mother – ripped apart by hawks that have supposedly been extinct since the long-ago War of the Raptors. 

With the benevolent shelter of her mother and her father now lost, Aderyn is at the mercy of her brutal uncle, the King, and his royal court. Driven by revenge and love, she must venture into the malevolent heart of the Citadel in order to seek the truth about the attack that so nearly destroyed her, to fight for the only home she has ever known and for the land she has vowed to protect.

Written in rich detail and evocative language, this is the start of an irresistible, soaring duology about courage, broken loyalties and fighting for your place in the world.


Title : A Throne of Swans
Author : Katharine & Elizabeth Corr
Series : A Throne of Swans #1
Format : Paperback
Page Count : 352
Genre : YA Fantasy
Publisher : Hot Key Books
Release Date : January 9, 2020

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★ .5


Micky’s 4.5 star review

I think this will be the final completed read of 2019 for me and the year couldn’t have finished in a better way. What more can a bookworm ask for than a book that you cannot put down and that you think of when you aren’t reading it? A THRONE OF SWANS was all of this and with the most delicious cover too.

This book had the sense of a traditional fairytale but with more identifiable traits in the characters. So, while it had a historical feel, the behaviours and actions had more of a fantastical-contemporary feel, if this doesn’t make sense, just give it a go. The world was unusual and brought a freshness with it, this was a world built on humans that shift into different birds. Aderyn, the protagonist and Protector of her lands, was of swan heritage but she was unable to shift, putting her life at risk.

This world had defined classes, those who could fly and the flightless; the nobles and servants. Some areas in the kingdom were more cruel to the flightless than others. Aderyn was new to her position as Protector and so she had her advisor Lucien and others who tried to influence her, Aron, Seigfried the King. I had no more idea than Aderyn whom she should trust. The world was interesting, the world-building was easy to grasp as it unfurled and the whole context conjured an enticing atmosphere.

There were elements that were unpredictable and some that were predictable but none of that interfered with the enjoyment of the narrative. There was a gentle complexity to the budding relationships in this book with interweaving of characters and crossing-over of affections. All this was secondary to the strong leading story direction which I loved.

The writing was easy to fall into and as I said, the book itself demanded to be read at all times. I cannot believe that I will have to wait a year for the next book to come out, there isn’t a desperate cliff just a desire on my behalf to read on with these characters. This was my first book by Katharine & Elizabeth Corr and I really enjoyed their style and creativity.

Thank you to Hot Key Books and Darkroom Tours for the early finished copy.

THE QUEEN OF NOTHING by Holly Black – double review!

He will be destruction of the crown and the ruination of the throne.

Power is much easier to acquire than it is to hold onto. Jude learned this lesson when she released her control over the wicked king, Cardan, in exchange for immeasurable power.

Now as the exiled mortal Queen of Faerie, Jude is powerless and left reeling from Cardan’s betrayal. She bides her time determined to reclaim everything he took from her. Opportunity arrives in the form of her deceptive twin sister, Taryn, whose mortal life is in peril.

Jude must risk venturing back into the treacherous Faerie Court, and confront her lingering feelings for Cardan, if she wishes to save her sister. But Elfhame is not as she left it. War is brewing. As Jude slips deep within enemy lines she becomes ensnared in the conflict’s bloody politics.

And, when a dormant yet powerful curse is unleashed, panic spreads throughout the land, forcing her to choose between her ambition and her humanity…

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author Holly Black, comes the highly anticipated and jaw-dropping finale to The Folk of the Air trilogy.


Title : The Queen of Nothing
Author : Holly Black
Series : Folk of the Air #3
Format : library ebook (overdrive)
Page Count : 300
Genre : YA fantasy
Publisher : Hot Key Books
Release Date : November 19, 2019

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


Micky’s 3.5 confused star review

First I’m going to give you my emotions – woop, oh, what, how, squeee, ffs, oh man, sigh, heart eyes, snake eyes, squirm, wtf. So yes, this is going to be a bit of a cluster of a review but it’s going to be spoiler-free and consequently, maybe vague.

THE QUEEN OF NOTHING started off really well for me, I felt back with the crew I loved rather quickly and into the current events. The pace of this final instalment moved fast and I liked it. Jude in the human world, life continuing in the faerie world but predictably, those worlds crossed. From there, I had some pacing issues, I would love a number of chapters, then feel a bit bored for a few.

I loved elements of this book but then I struggled with some plot developments. The bridle was a great plot device that…came to little. The snake was a great plot device that…I don’t know what that was. I loved the crown, I loved the throne and I loved Jude’s connection to the earth. So many exciting things but when that excitement didn’t come to fruition, I felt a bit disappointed.

Jude and Carden had a different dynamic in this book and I am going to leave it there even though I want to say so much more. There was a hole missing and I am grateful I got to see the letters from the Barnes & Noble edition because that filled the hole up. That leaves me thinking why wasn’t that part of the main body of the story; I just don’t get it.

I hope all that doesn’t sound too negative because overall this was read brought enjoyment and excitement with the frustration. I am happy with where the story ended up despite the fast wrap-up. I will look back at this series as a great one and a memorable one. I just wanted a bit more from this book.

How do people like us take off our armor?
One piece at a time.


Hollis’ unrated review

This is a book. And I read it.

Okay, but seriously, I don’t know how I feel about this one. THE QUEEN OF NOTHING frustrated me a hell of a lot less than THE WICKED KING but I mean.. at least the latter made me feel something? Because, to be honest, I felt pretty muted about this whole installment. There was a sense of unreality about it all because I was unsure why some things were happening, some things weren’t figured out, and also why there were literally no fireworks, no suspense, no sense of dread or urgency, or like, any kind of chemistry and intensity. N a d a. From anyone.

Also ARE YOU SERIOUSLY TELLING ME WE JUST FUCKING FORGIVE TARYN? WHAT THE HELL.

Ahem, okay, so I have like. One strong feeling about this story.

Anyway, we had some sweet moments, which I liked, but also.. I could’ve done with a lot less sweet moments because that would’ve felt truer to the characters. Again, I just missed the fire. For someone who didn’t even really like this series, that probably says a lot.

But ultimately I don’t even know how to feel about this story or this book. I don’t know what to rate. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t great, and often it wasn’t even interesting. I was just passing the time. Not quite bored but far from immersed.

As a result, rating (likely never) to be determined.

CLOCKWORK ANGEL by Cassandra Clare

Magic is dangerous—but love is more dangerous still.

When sixteen-year-old Tessa Gray crosses the ocean to find her brother, her destination is England, the time is the reign of Queen Victoria, and something terrifying is waiting for her in London’s Downworld, where vampires, warlocks and other supernatural folk stalk the gaslit streets. Only the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the world of demons, keep order amidst the chaos.

Kidnapped by the mysterious Dark Sisters, members of a secret organization called The Pandemonium Club, Tessa soon learns that she herself is a Downworlder with a rare ability: the power to transform, at will, into another person. What’s more, the Magister, the shadowy figure who runs the Club, will stop at nothing to claim Tessa’s power for his own.

Friendless and hunted, Tessa takes refuge with the Shadowhunters of the London Institute, who swear to find her brother if she will use her power to help them. She soon finds herself fascinated by—and torn between—two best friends: James, whose fragile beauty hides a deadly secret, and blue-eyed Will, whose caustic wit and volatile moods keep everyone in his life at arm’s length…everyone, that is, but Tessa. As their search draws them deep into the heart of an arcane plot that threatens to destroy the Shadowhunters, Tessa realizes that she may need to choose between saving her brother and helping her new friends save the world…and that love may be the most dangerous magic of all. 


Title : Clockwork Angel
Author : Cassandra Clare
Series : The Infernal Devices #1
Format : Hardback
Page Count : 528
Genre : YA Fantasy
Publisher : Walker YA
Release Date : November 7, 2019

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4.5 – 5 star review

I’ve got to tell you that I entered this read as a newbie with trepidation, I had tried City of Bones earlier in the year and found it a little too teeny for me. I wasn’t sure that I would gel with the world but oh my word, I was off the mark with that. I was gifted a copy of the special edition, joined a readalong and the whole experience was absolutely fantastic.

Firstly, I can say that no knowledge of the The Mortal Instruments series did not hold me back at all. I learnt about the world all from this book and enjoyed the revealing of the rules, creatures, magic and beings existing in Victorian London. All this was improved by that historical fantasy setting, knowing London well, I enjoyed a geographical insight into places and the visual that created.

Stepping through the Institute’s iron gate, Tessa felt a bit like Sleeping Beauty leaving her castle behind its wall of thorns.

What was special to me about this book was the amount of characters at the fore. Whilst Tessa, Will and Jem seemed the lead protagonists, there were so many other characters to get your teeth into properly, more than your average side characters. I liked and want(ed) more from Sophie, Charlotte, Henry and Thomas. I loved to hate Nate, the Magister, the Dark Sisters and those damn clockwork creatures (shudders).

The plot was complex and interesting. Everything about this book was enhanced by the visuals, visuals of the main characters which were absolutely superb. The pictures of the MCs were perfect for my imagination, they all fitted for me. The sketches at chapter beginnings were subtle and beautifully done, it created a whole atmosphere within the book that might not have been quite as strong without the visual. There were twists and turns, turns and twists galore but so that I could follow the plot well.

The book finished well and on something of a cliff, but I know a lot of answers now. I do have about 40 more questions as a result however. I strongly feel that Will is on self-sabotage mode, that this triangle-ish thing will end badly and that Jem is just an all round good guy. But then, who likes the good guy after all (me, actually). What a great experience this was, I am excited for more.

Thank you to Walker Books and Tandem Collective for the gifted special edition and for creating the readalong.

SEA WITCH & SEA WITCH RISING by Sarah Henning – series review

#1 Sea Witch

Everyone knows what happens in the end. A mermaid, a prince, a true love’s kiss. But before that young siren’s tale, there were three friends. One feared, one royal, and one already dead.

Ever since her best friend, Anna, drowned, Evie has been an outcast in her small fishing town. A freak. A curse. A witch. 

A girl with an uncanny resemblance to Anna appears offshore and, though the girl denies it, Evie is convinced that her best friend actually survived. That her own magic wasn’t so powerless after all. And, as the two girls catch the eyes—and hearts—of two charming princes, Evie believes that she might finally have a chance at her own happily ever after.

But her new friend has secrets of her own. She can’t stay in Havnestad, or on two legs, unless Evie finds a way to help her. Now Evie will do anything to save her friend’s humanity, along with her prince’s heart—harnessing the power of her magic, her ocean, and her love until she discovers, too late, the truth of her bargain.


#2 Sea Witch Rising

“The Little Mermaid” takes a twisted turn in this thrilling sequel to villainess origin story Sea Witch, as the forces of land and sea clash in an epic battle for freedom, redemption, and true love. 

Runa will not let her twin sister die. Alia traded her voice to the Sea Witch for a shot at happiness with a prince who doesn’t love her. And his rejection will literally kill her—unless Runa intervenes.

Under the sea, Evie craves her own freedom—but liberation from her role as Sea Witch will require an exchange she may not be willing to make. With their hearts’ desires at odds, what will Runa and Evie be willing to sacrifice to save their worlds? 

Told from alternating perspectives, this epic fairy tale retelling is a romantic and heart-wrenching story about the complications of sisterhood, the uncompromising nature of magic, and the cost of redemption.


Title : Sea Witch/Sea Witch Rising
Author : Sarah Henning
Series : Sea Witch
Format : library/finished review copy
Page Count : 368/416
Genre : YA Fantasy
Publisher : Harper Collins
Release Date : August 8, 2019

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


4 star review of Sea Witch

Okay, so that was so much more in every way, more than I anticipated and I thoroughly enjoyed the ride of this clever retelling. I really couldn’t anticipate the direction of the characters or the story based on my knowledge of the original tale, the movie or my expectations.

There’s a foursome of friends in this book, some childhood friends and there was a coming of age and changing of affection vibe to the foundation of the storytelling. At the fore was Evie, the lead protagonist, her best friend Anna, her other best friend Nik and also Ikir (two princes). It’s a tale with undertones of different sides of the track. The Scandinavian feel to the story was rich and welcome as was the magic.

The narrative unfurled mainly in the present but with the gradual revealing of a tragedy told in the past. Annemette’s appearance had me on my guard but her tale was tragic and full of neediness. Evie was a loyal but confused friend. Magic was taboo in this world and Evie’s natural aptitude to the craft caused such a risk.

The story brings some complications to friendships and growing attractions. Betrayal was on the menu as were twists in the storyline. I didn’t see some of the turns in this story and I loved where it went. The epilogue left me shocked. Roll on book two, I can’t wait to read you!


3.5-4 star review of Sea Witch Rising

That epilogue at the end of SEA WITCH was a killer and so SEA WITCH RISING picks up at that point in time where on land in Denmark, Europe is poised for World War II. Evie returns in her end role from the previous book and my favourite part of this book was Evie.

The Sea Witch was more of an endearing character, with more humanity than Disney portrayed and this led to a richer story for me. The connections to Niklas’ family made for a story that spun generations. There were a new set of Mer-characters, Alia and Runa and the Sea King came more to the fore. On land, there was some history repeating and new characters in the form of Will and Sofie mainly. Runa was a strong protagonist alongside Evie and I really liked her character.

I found the first part of this story very strong but the was some waning in the plot in the second half, all this was mitigated by a strong culmination in the story overall, which ultimately left me satisfied.

As a duet, these books were a solid YA fantasy read with a great take on Hans Christian Andersons’ original tales and they swept into my imagination making a colourful picture. I liked how the Sea Witch was ‘born’ and humanised and this aspect will remain my favourite element of these tales. The covers are particularly beautiful and I must say they look eye-catching on my shelf. I’ll be looking out for Sarah Henning’s upcoming contemporary books as I did enjoy her writing.

Thank you to the publisher and the amazon vine programme for this review copy.

WE HUNT THE FLAME by Hafsah Faisal

People lived because she killed. People died because he lived.

Nobody knows that Zafira is the Hunter. Forced to disguise herself as a man, she braves the cursed forest to feed her people. If she is exposed as a girl, all of her achievements will be rejected.

Nasir is the infamous Prince of Death, assassinating those foolish enough to defy his autocratic father, the sultan. If he refuses he will be punished in the most brutal of ways.

Both are legends in the kingdom of Arawiya – but neither wants to be. And when Zafira embarks on a quest to restore magic to her suffering world, Nasir is sent by the sultan on a similar mission: retrieve magic and kill the hunter. But an ancient evil stirs as their journey unfolds, and the prize they seek may pose a threat greater than either can imagine . . .

Set in a richly detailed world inspired by ancient Arabia, Hafsah Faizal’s We Hunt the Flame – first in the Sands of Arawiya duology – is a gripping debut of discovery, conquering fear, and taking identity into your own hands.


Title : We Hunt The Flame
Author : Hafsah Faisal
Series : Sands of Arawiya #1
Format : eARC
Page Count : 480
Genre : YA Fantasy
Publisher : Macmillan Children’s Books
Release Date : August 8, 2019

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


“We hunt the flame, the light in the darkness, the good this world deserves.”

This debut was crafted with skill, complexity and a writing maturity that speaks of more experience than a first book. I bought into this story from the first few pages and it was the kind of tale that built and pulled you in more as you read.

WE HUNT THE FLAME is a fantasy needing quite a bit of world building but this was cleverly accomplished in the background and not with lengthy explanation or description. As the story played out, I understood and grasped increasing details about Arawiya, Sharr and the cultures of the different races within this land.

“We are all flesh and blood, soul and heart. Capable of malevolence, just as much as benevolence. One wrong does not make evil.”

There are two protagonists in this tale, Zafira, the huntress masquerading as a hunter and Nasir, the Prince of Darkness, an assassin. Both these characters were deep, complex and Nasir in particular, was not particularly likeable until you began to know more about him. The whole story was leading to their journey together as a reluctant gang on a mission. There were great characters in this gang and Altair was a particular favourite. This is a story of good and evil on a grand scale but also the inner battle for good and evil on a personal level.

The story was steadily paced at first, but from about a quarter of the way in, the tempo increased and it was fast-paced all the way to the end. There was the feeling of quest and adventure, sliced with danger and a sinister power. All was not what it seemed and there were two fantastic plot twists towards the end, followed by an explosive ending.

I simply cannot wait to read more from this world. I feel attached to the characters, I truly enjoyed the creation of Arawiya and Hafsah Faisal’s writing was a joy. This author has such potential and I hope to read much more from her in the future.

Thank you to Macmillan for the early review copy.