Book Review: Little Creeping Things – Chelsea Ichaso

Book Review: Little Creeping Things – Chelsea Ichaso

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Release Date:
June 2nd 2020
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Pages: 336
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review
Rating: 3.75/5 stars

Synopsis

When she was a child, Cassidy Pratt accidentally started a fire that killed her neighbor. At least, that’s what she’s been told. She can’t remember anything from that day, and her town’s bullies, particularly the cruel and beautiful Melody Davenport, have never let her live it down.

But then Melody goes missing, and Cassidy thinks she may have information. She knows she should go to the cops, but she recently joked about how much she’d like to get rid of Melody. She even planned out the perfect way to do it. And then she gets a chilling text from an unknown number: I’m so glad we’re in this together.

Now it’s up to Cassidy to figure out what really happened before the truth behind Melody’s disappearance sets the whole town ablaze.

Review

Copy of book cover - 2020-04-20T140551.502Little Creeping Things is a dark and compulsively readable thriller from Chelsea Ichaso. The story follows Cassidy, a teenage girl struggling with the guilt of starting a fire that killed her neighbour when she was a child. On top of the guilt she is frequently bullied by Melody Davenport, one of the most popular girls in town. At party Cassidy jokes about murdering Melody and days later Melody goes missing in the exact way Cassidy suggests. As Cassidy begins to panic she receives a text – I’m so glad we’re in this together. Cassidy must race to discover who murdered Melody and prove she had nothing to do with it.

Little Creeping Things is a fun and really solid YA thriller. Cassidy is a fascinating unreliable narrator, constantly questioning if what she’s seen is real. She is plagued by her guilt over the fire and it’s interesting to watch her tangle herself deeper and deeper in this mystery. The story also has plenty of typical high school drama with crushes and mean girls in this small town. There is also a romance plot which I found a little on the irritating side, being much more interested in the murder and the mysteries surrounding the fire.

Little Creeping Things is an addictive read. It’s one of those books you sit down to read a chapter or two and you look up and you’ve been reading for hours. I read this nearly in one sitting, it’s such an easy story to get lost in. There are a few twists and turns and although I guessed who did it pretty early on, that didn’t lessen my enjoyment of the story. If you love fast paced YA thrillers (with delightfully creepy covers), this is a perfect summer read.
4 Stars

Book Review: Wonderland – Juno Dawson

Book Review: Wonderland – Juno Dawson

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Series:
London Trilogy #3
Release Date: May 28th 2020
Publisher: Quercus
Pages: 304
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: I received a copy of this book from the publisher through The Tandem Collective
Rating: 4/5 stars

Synopsis

What happens when you fall down the rabbit hole? The compulsive must-have follow-up to CLEAN and MEAT MARKET from bestselling author Juno Dawson

Alice lives in a world of stifling privilege and luxury – but none of it means anything when your own head plays tricks on your reality. When her troubled friend Bunny goes missing, Alice becomes obsessed with finding her. On the trail of her last movements, Alice discovers a mysterious invitation to ‘Wonderland’: the party to end all parties – three days of hedonistic excess to which only the elite are welcome.

Will she find Bunny there? Or is this really a case of finding herself? Because Alice has secrets of her own, and ruthless socialite queen Paisley Hart is determined to uncover them, whatever it takes.

Alice is all alone, miles from home and without her essential medication. She can trust no-one, least of all herself, and now she has a new enemy who wants her head…

A searing exploration of mental health, gender and privilege, from the most addictive YA novelist in the UK today.

Review

Copy of book cover (2)Juno Dawson is one of those authors that I’ve always wanted to try but never got around to. When I heard about Wonderland, a story inspired by Alice in Wonderland I knew I had to give it a go. The story follows Alice, a young girl living the life of luxury thanks to her mother’s successful career as a crime writer. When her friend Bunny mysteriously vanishes, Alice will do anything to find her. While searching she discovers an invitation to Wonderland, the most elite party of the year. Determined to find Bunny, Alice pushes herself from her comfort zone and goes in search of her friend, but what will she find down the rabbit hole?

Alice in Wonderland was one of my favourite books growing up and I was so intrigued to see how Juno Dawson worked the original into this modern tale. I completely loved this book, it was addictive, intriguing and  full of subtle and clever hints towards the book I’ve loved for so many years. The story explores a world of excess, tackling a whole host of difficult topics like mental health, finding yourself, relationships, family and wealth. Dawson has weaved a clever tale and one that will stick with readers after they’ve finished reading.

The characters in this book are truly fascinating. Our main protagonist Alice is brilliant – she’s sarcastic, clever and incredibly stubborn. I loved watching her go on this journey, and discover so much about herself. Likewise I thought Cat, Bunny and Paisley were really interesting characters, each well developed and fully fleshed out. Alice meets some strange people during her journey, all of whom seem to be dealing with difficulties in their past.

Wonderland is a dark tale, full of alcohol, drugs and sex. It’s definitely not for younger readers but it’s a perfect gripping thriller for older YA fans. It completes the London Trilogy, featuring a few nods towards Lexi Volkov from Clean. Each of the three stories can be read as stand alones but if you’re looking for an addictive contemporary series to binge read, this could be just what you’re looking for.
4 Stars

Blog Tour: Midnight’s Twins – Holly Race

Blog Tour: Midnight’s Twins – Holly Race

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Release Date: June 11th 2020
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Pages: 352
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review
Rating: 4/5 stars

Synopsis

The first novel in a lyrical, endlessly inventive urban fantasy trilogy from debut author Holly Race.

Fifteen-year-old Londoner Fern is about to uncover a place that she could not have imagined in all her wildest dreams. Annwn is the dream mirror of our world, a place where Dreamers walk in their slumber, their dreams playing out all around them. An enchanted, mysterious place that feeds our own world – as without dreams, without a place where our imaginations and minds can be nourished, what kind of humans would we be?

But Annwn is a place as full of dangers as it is wonders: it is a place where dreams can kill you. Annwn and its Dreamers are protected by an ancient order known as the Knights – and when Fern’s hated twin Ollie is chosen to join their ranks, Fern will have to do whatever she can to prove she is one of them too.

But the world Fern discovers in Annwn, in this dream mirror of her London, is a fragile one, threatened by vicious nightmares. Nightmares that are harder and harder for the Knights to defeat. Something dark is jeopardising the peace and stability of Annwn, something that must be rooted out at all costs. And gradually, Fern realises that the danger lurking inside our sleep is more insidious and terrifying than any nightmare. Because if you can influence someone’s dreams, you can control their thoughts …

Review

Copy of book cover (3)Midnight’s Twins is the first in an all new fantasy trilogy from Holly Race. The story follows fifteen year old Fern, who has always felt like an outsider in her family. When she uncovers secrets surrounding her mother’s past, Fern discovers the magical dream world of Annwn. Annwn is protected by Knights and when Fern’s twin brother Ollie is chosen to join them, Fern must do everything she can to prove she is one of them too.

Midnight’s Twins is one of those books that you just sink into and completely lose yourself in the world. The story is beautifully told and I absolutely loved Race’s lyrical dream like writing. The world building in this story is superb and Annwn is a fascinating place. I loved the slightly eerie atmosphere and the strange creatures that come alive in the world of dreams. The story has a really unique and engaging plot full of mystery. The plot is quite fast paced, giving you plenty of action as you learn about Annwn and the Knights.

The characters in Midnight’s Twins are really fascinating, and I loved watching them transform as they spent more time in Annwn. Fern has always been treated like the outsider, judged by her peers and people she meets in the street. Ollie is the popular and can do no wrong. I really enjoyed seeing their relationship change as well as the characters themselves grow. Midnight’s Twins is an addictive read and one that tackles a lot of topics – not just sibling relationships but also politics, family, grief and judging others.

Midnight’s Twins is a magic read that’s difficult to put down. If you’re looking for a vivid fantasy world to escape into, Midnight’s Twins is exactly what you’re looking for. I really enjoyed this one and I absolutely cannot wait to see what’s in store in book two.
4 Stars

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Book Review: Magic For Liars – Sarah Gailey

Book Review: Magic For Liars – Sarah Gailey

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Release Date:
June 4th 2019
Publisher: Tor Books
Pages: 336
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review
Rating: 3/5 stars

Synopsis

Ivy Gamble has never wanted to be magic. She is perfectly happy with her life. She has an almost-sustainable career as a private investigator, and an empty apartment, and a slight drinking problem. It’s a great life and she doesn’t wish she was like her estranged sister, the magically gifted professor Tabitha.

But when Ivy is hired to investigate the gruesome murder of a faculty member at Tabitha’s private academy, the stalwart detective starts to lose herself in the case, the life she could have had, and the answer to the mystery that seems just out of her reach.

Review

Copy of book cover - 2020-03-30T175422.944Magic For Liars first caught my eye when I saw it described as ‘Veronica Mars at Hogwarts’ and while this is a murder mystery set at a magic school, the story was very different from what I expected. Dark and twisty, the story follows Private Investigator Ivy Gamble as she is asked to investigate the death of a teach at a secret magic school. A school where it just so happens her estranged twin sister Tabitha works. Struggling to uncover the truth when everyone around her has magic and she doesn’t, Ivy must face the truths of who she is, and use everything she’s got to uncover who carried out such a gruesome murder.

This book has pretty much everything I love in books, but for some reason I just felt like it fell a bit flat. The story was interesting and I enjoyed seeing Ivy work to uncover the murder but I struggled to connect with the characters. I liked Ivy well enough, but the story was quite slow so by the time things were happening I just wasn’t invested in the characters. The story focuses heavily on Ivy’s relationship with her sister, as well as a budding romance that I didn’t really care for either.

I enjoyed the magic school setting, and the murder mystery aspect did have me guessing until quite near the end. I liked the atmosphere that Gailey created – a rippling sense of unease surrounding this prestigious school and an incredibly horrible murder. I think this book might polarise people, with some people absolutely adoring it and others like myself finding it a bit unmemorable. This one might not be for everyone but I’m sure plenty of people will love it. If you enjoy twisty murder mysteries, magic school settings and sibling relationships, this is definitely one to try out.
3 Stars (1)

Book Review: Prosper’s Demon – K J Parker

Book Review: Prosper’s Demon – K J Parker

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Release Date:
January 28th 2020
Publisher: Tor Books
Pages: 63
Find it on: Goodreads. Amazon.
Source: I bought an e-copy of this online
Rating: 3.5/5 stars

Synopsis

In the pitch dark, witty fantasy novella Prosper’s Demon, K. J. Parker deftly creates a world with vivid, unbending rules, seething with demons, broken faith, and worse men.

In a botched demonic extraction, they say the demon feels it ten times worse than the man. But they don’t die, and we do. Equilibrium.

The unnamed and morally questionable narrator is an exorcist with great follow-through and few doubts. His methods aren’t delicate but they’re undeniably effective: he’ll get the demon out—he just doesn’t particularly care what happens to the person.

Prosper of Schanz is a man of science, determined to raise the world’s first philosopher-king, reared according to the purest principles. Too bad he’s demonically possessed.

Review

Copy of book cover (6)I must admit that part of the reason I decided to pick this up is because I was sucked in by that gorgeous cover. After reading the synopsis I thought this would be a perfect quick horror read, something spooky that I could read in one sitting. What I got wasn’t really what I had expected. It’s a unique and engaging story, following our unnamed narrator as he carries out exorcisms across the country. When he comes across the Prosper of Schanz, a man revered throughout the country as a genius and man of science, he discovers the Prosper is possessed, but what will the cost be if he exorcises him?

This is a pretty short novella, it’s a little over 60 pages so Parker packs quite a lot into the small page count. It’s definitely a more character focused tale, as our unnamed narrator discusses philosophy and art. The story definitely leans more towards humour than horror, the narrator is not afraid to voice his opinions, even if that makes him less than likeable.

It’s an interesting tale, and one that I really enjoyed reading. As I pretty much always do, I wish it could have been a bit longer – I would have loved the opportunity to get to know the world a bit more and understand the history of the demons in this world and those that are tasked with exorcising them. If you’ve looking for something unique with plenty of dark humour, this could be the perfect little novella for you.
4 Stars

Book Review: Batman The Dark Knight Returns – Frank Miller

Book Review: Batman The Dark Knight Returns – Frank Miller

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Release Date:
May 28th 1997
Publisher: DC Comics
Pages: 224
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: I bought a copy of this for a University class
Rating: 3.5/5 stars

Synopsis

This masterpiece of modern comics storytelling brings to vivid life a dark world and an even darker man. Together with inker Klaus Janson and colorist Lynn Varley, writer/artist Frank Miller completely reinvents the legend of Batman in his saga of a near-future Gotham City gone to rot, ten years after the Dark Knight’s retirement.

Crime runs rampant in the streets, and the man who was Batman is still tortured by the memories of his parents’ murders. As civil society crumbles around him, Bruce Wayne’s long-suppressed vigilante side finally breaks free of its self-imposed shackles.

The Dark Knight returns in a blaze of fury, taking on a whole new generation of criminals and matching their level of violence. He is soon joined by this generation’s Robin—a girl named Carrie Kelley, who proves to be just as invaluable as her predecessors.

But can Batman and Robin deal with the threat posed by their deadliest enemies, after years of incarceration have made them into perfect psychopaths? And more important, can anyone survive the coming fallout of an undeclared war between the superpowers—or a clash of what were once the world’s greatest superheroes?

Over fifteen years after its debut, Batman: The Dark Knight Returns remains an undisputed classic and one of the most influential stories ever told in the comics medium.

Review

Copy of book coverWhen I was at University I took a literature class on popular culture and this was one of the required texts. I really enjoyed reading it at the time but haven’t picked it up for a number of years. I thought it would be a fun reread and I’m so glad I decided to give it another read, this classic Batman tale is dark and gritty and a must read for superhero fans.

This story is quite a slow burn, following Bruce Wayne as he returns to his life as Batman many years later. Gotham City has become plagued with crime and the criminal underworld is bigger than ever. Donning his Batman costume one more, Batman returns to Gotham. But Bruce Wayne is older, he’s not able to move as fast things aren’t as they were ten years ago. When Superman tries to put a stop to Batman’s vigilante behaviour, their frosty relationship gets a whole lot worse.

I really liked the art style in this. It was pretty different to the other Batman graphic novels I’ve read before and it was enjoyable to read this classic of the Batman universe. Having read it before I was surprised by how little I remembered of the story, but it was dark and intrigued and easily kept me engrossed in the story.

This was a fun and quick read, and if you’re looking to read more Batman graphic novels I’d recommend giving this one a go. It’s definitely made me want to pick up a few more Batman graphic novels over the next few months!
4 Stars

Blog Tour: The Curator – M W Craven

Blog Tour: The Curator – M W Craven

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Series:
Washington Poe #3 (See my review of book one here!)
Release Date: June 4th 2020
Publisher: Constable
Pages: 384
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this to review
Rating: 5/5 stars

Synopsis

It’s Christmas and a serial killer is leaving displayed body parts all over Cumbria. A strange message is left at each scene: #BSC6. Called in to investigate, the National Crime Agency’s Washington Poe and Tilly Bradshaw are faced with a case that makes no sense. Why were some victims anaesthetized, while others died in appalling agony? Why is their only suspect denying what they can irrefutably prove but admitting to things they weren’t even aware of? And why did the victims all take the same two weeks off work three years earlier?

And when a disgraced FBI agent gets in touch things take an even darker turn. Because she doesn’t think Poe is dealing with a serial killer at all; she thinks he’s dealing with someone far, far worse – a man who calls himself the Curator.

And nothing will ever be the same again…

Review

Copy of book coverThe Curator is the third instalment in the Washington Poe series, following Detective Sergeant Washington Poe and the team at the National Crime Agency as they attempt to uncover the truth behind murders happening in the Cumbria area. In this instalment Poe and Tilly are called in to investigate a seemingly random set of murders, with the mysterious message #BSC6 left at the scene. As Poe and Tilly attempt to uncover the truth things take a darker turn and Poe will need everything he’s got to stop the man known as The Curator.

The Washington Poe series is without a doubt one of my favourite crime series. Dark, engrossing and full of surprise twists – each new instalment is high on my anticipated releases list. I think I say this every time a new one is released but this one is even more incredible than the previous two. The story hooks you in right from the very first chapter and sets a quick pace the whole way through. It’s an addictive read and I ended up staying up way past my bedtime because I absolutely could not put this one down. Craven weaves a clever and complex tale, one that contains plenty of twisty turny moments I definitely didn’t see coming.

Part of the reason I love this series so much is the fantastic characters. Clever and stubborn Poe, combined with his best friend genius Tilly Bradshaw make for an incredible partnership and I love seeing their friendship continue to grow over this latest instalment. I love the dialogue between the two of them, there’s a fair few funny moments as well as them looking out for each other.

I don’t want to say too much about the plot as this is definitely the kind of book you go into knowing as little as possible. It’s eerie, full to the brim with mystery and intrigue. If you love crime series that will have you guessing right to the very end, the Washington Poe series is a must read. If you’ve read the first two I definitely recommend picking up The Curator – just make sure you give yourself lots of free time to read it, you won’t want to put it down.
5 Stars

Book Review: Hold Back the Tide – Melinda Salisbury

Book Review: Hold Back the Tide – Melinda Salisbury

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Release Date:
March 5th 2020
Publisher: Scholastic Books
Pages: 384
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: I bought a copy of this in my local Waterstones
Rating: 5/5 stars

Synopsis

Everyone knows what happened to Alva’s mother, all those years ago. But when dark forces begin to stir in Ormscaula, Alva has to face a very different future – and question everything she thought she knew about her past…

Review

Copy of book cover - 2020-04-20T140949.950Hold Back the Tide follows the story of Alva, a young girl living in the remote Scottish highlands with her father. Her mother mysteriously disappeared and Alva knows her father is responsible. Whilst living day in and day out with the person she believes murdered her mother, she dreams of escaping to a new life. When dark forces begin preying on Ormscaula Alva has to do everything she can to help the town survive, and uncover some difficult truths about her family.

Melinda Salisbury is one of my favourite writers, I’ve loved everything she’s written so far so I was extremely eager to read this one and I had really high expectations. From the get go this story hooked me in, I loved the dark and eerie atmosphere and the bleak remote setting Salisbury created. Salisbury created an incredibly vivid world and from the very first chapter I didn’t want to put this down. I absolutely adored The Sin Eater’s Daughter, but this might be my favourite book from her ever.

Alva is a brilliant protagonist, Salisbury manages to fit in tons of character development as she learns the dark truth of Ormscaula, what happened to her mother and fights for the survival of the town. She’s a strong protagonist and one I was absolutely rooting for from the get go. The secondary characters in the story are likewise well developed and fleshed out. There is a little bit of romance but it is very subtle and doesn’t take away from the main story.

Hold Back the Tide is one of those books that you don’t stop thinking about long after you’ve finished reading. It was creepy, genuinely made me uneasy at some moments and has an absolutely unbelievable ending. I can’t recommend this one highly enough and this book will be without a doubt on my favourite books of 2020 list.
5 Stars

Book Review: Girls of Paper and Fire – Natasha Ngan

Book Review: Girls of Paper and Fire – Natasha Ngan

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Series:
Girls of Paper and Fire #1
Release Date: November 6th 2018
Publisher: Hodder Books
Pages: 385
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: I bought a copy of this in my local bookshop
Rating: 3.75/5 stars

Synopsis

Each year, eight beautiful girls are chosen as Paper Girls to serve the king. It’s the highest honor they could hope for…and the most demeaning. This year, there’s a ninth. And instead of paper, she’s made of fire.

In this richly developed fantasy, Lei is a member of the Paper caste, the lowest and most persecuted class of people in Ikhara. She lives in a remote village with her father, where the decade-old trauma of watching her mother snatched by royal guards for an unknown fate still haunts her. Now, the guards are back and this time it’s Lei they’re after — the girl with the golden eyes whose rumored beauty has piqued the king’s interest.

Over weeks of training in the opulent but oppressive palace, Lei and eight other girls learns the skills and charm that befit a king’s consort. There, she does the unthinkable — she falls in love. Her forbidden romance becomes enmeshed with an explosive plot that threatens her world’s entire way of life. Lei, still the wide-eyed country girl at heart, must decide how far she’s willing to go for justice and revenge.

Review

Copy of book cover - 2020-04-28T161834.015Girls of Paper and Fire is a book that has been on my TBR for absolutely ages. I’ve heard incredible things about it so going in I had some pretty high expectations. The story follows Lei, a young girl forced to become a courtesan for the Demon King. Being a Paper Girl is the worst fate imaginable for Lei, who wants nothing more than to remain at home with her family. While forced to learn skills befitting a woman at court, Lei falls in love – a forbidden romance that if discovered, could be her death.

Girls of Paper and Fire has a really fascinating premise and while I really enjoyed it, I had expected to love it a lot more than I did. I really enjoyed Ngan’s writing style, but felt the world building could have been a little stronger in this book. There is quite a bit of info dump at the beginning and it took me a little while to wrap my head round the castes and rules of the world.

The story is well paced, and the last hundred pages are incredibly gripping as the action heats up. Girls of Paper and Fire ends with the promise of even higher stakes and more drama in book two, so I’m looking forward to seeing what Girls of Storm and Shadow will bring. The characters Ngan has created in this book are probably what I enjoyed most about this story. I really liked Lei and the other paper girls, it was fascinating seeing them come from different backgrounds and cope with the horrors of being a paper girl. The romance is well done too, it doesn’t overtake the main plot and Ngan gives it plenty of time to develop. I would have liked to learn a bit more about the Demon King. He felt like a bit cookie cutter for me.

Natasha Ngan has weaved a clever tale full of action, political intrigue and romance. A word of warning that the story is quite a dark one, and will have trigger warnings for rape and abuse. It’s an impressive start to this exciting YA fantasy series, and I’m looking forward to reading more from Natasha Ngan. Though it didn’t completely live up to my expectations I still really enjoyed this one, and if you’re curious about picking it up I’d recommend trying it out!
4 Stars

Book Review: Heart of Thorns – Bree Barton

Book Review: Heart of Thorns – Bree Barton

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Series:
Heart of Thorns #1
Release Date: July 31st 2018
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Pages: 480
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: I bought a copy of this at YALC
Rating: 2.5/5 stars

Synopsis

In the ancient river kingdom, touch is a battlefield, bodies the instruments of war. Seventeen-year-old Mia Rose has pledged her life to hunting Gwyrach: women who can manipulate flesh, bones, breath, and blood.

Not women. Demons. The same demons who killed her mother without a single scratch.

But when Mia’s father suddenly announces her marriage to the prince, she is forced to trade in her knives and trousers for a sumptuous silk gown. Only after the wedding goes disastrously wrong does she discover she has dark, forbidden magic—the very magic she has sworn to destroy.

Review

Copy of book cover - 2020-03-30T172615.434Heart of Thorns is the first in an all new fantasy series following a young girl named Mia who dreams of a life hunting the Gwyrach – demons who were responsible for the death of her mother. However when Mia’s father announces her betrothal to the prince, she has no choice but to lay that dream to rest. Her wedding day is ruined by an attack on the wedding party, starting Mia off on a dangerous path of mystery and magic.

Heart of Thorns is a fun and fast paced fantasy tale, full to the brim with magic and adventure. Despite it being nearly 500 pages it’s a pretty quick read and is one I’m sure YA fantasy fans will love but I felt it was just a little too predictable for me to really fall in love with the story.

I liked the world building in this book, and Barton has a really lovely writing style. The plot follows quite a number of typical YA tropes and I guessed the surprise twists pretty early on, however the plot is still an engaging one and easy to enjoy. The story is a bit on the darker than some YA stories, and I liked the strong sense of atmosphere in the book.  I did struggle a bit with the medical terminology in the story, I found this a bit on the jarring side and it often took me out of the story.

I liked our main protagonist Mia well enough, she was an interesting character and I was curious to see how her tale would progress. She was a little forgettable, and I felt similar about the romance in the story too. Heart of Thorns was a quick and interesting read, but fell short of my expectations a little. I’m curious to see where the story goes in book two, and am sure fans YA fantasy fans will absolutely love this one.
3 Stars (1)