Book Review: Kingdom of the Wicked – Kerri Maniscalco

Book Review: Kingdom of the Wicked – Kerri Maniscalco


Series:
Kingdom of the Wicked #1
Release Date: October 27th 2020
Publisher: Hodder Books
Pages: 448
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review
Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Synopsis

Two sisters.

One brutal murder.

A quest for vengeance that will unleash Hell itself…

And an intoxicating romance.

Emilia and her twin sister Vittoria are streghe – witches who live secretly among humans, avoiding notice and persecution. One night, Vittoria misses dinner service at the family’s renowned Sicilian restaurant. Emilia soon finds the body of her beloved twin…desecrated beyond belief. Devastated, Emilia sets out to find her sister’s killer and to seek vengeance at any cost-even if it means using dark magic that’s been long forbidden.

Then Emilia meets Wrath, one of the Wicked-princes of Hell she has been warned against in tales since she was a child. Wrath claims to be on Emilia’s side, tasked by his master with solving the series of women’s murders on the island. But when it comes to the Wicked, nothing is as it seems…

Review

Kingdom of the Wicked is the first in an all new series from Kerri Maniscalco. This is my first time reading a book by this author – I’ve long been intrigued by her Stalking Jack the Ripper series but I’ve never gotten around to reading it. When I heard she was releasing a new book featuring princes from Hell and a quest for vengeance, I was immediately sold. This is a dark and compelling tale – it’s beautifully told and definitely one of my favourite reads of 2020.

The story follows twin sisters Emilia and Vittoria. The sisters come from a long line of witches who live secretly among humans. When Vittoria is brutally murdered Emilia swears she will find out who the killer was and have her vengeance. She will stop at nothing to find out who is behind it – even using the dark magic her Nonna has forbidden her to use.

I absolutely loved this book. I loved the vivid Italian setting, the fascinating magic system and the idea of the seven princes of hell. Emilia’s family run a restaurant and there’s quite a lot of descriptions of food that sounded so incredible it made me want to get on a plane to Italy right now. The story is really fast paced and there’s plenty of action as Emilia tries to solve the murderers, out-manoeuvre the princes of hell and battle some demons in between.

The characters are also incredibly well depicted in this story. Emilia is a clever and headstrong protagonist. She does what she has to do to protect her family and find out the truth of Vittoria’s murder. I also thought Wrath was a brilliant character – he’s so sarcastic and aloof, I absolutely loved seeing the banter and relationship evolve between the two.

Kingdom of the Wicked was a book I didn’t want to end and as soon as I turned that last page I was desperate for more. If you’ve been curious about this one I’d definitely recommend picking it up and I will be eagerly awaiting the second instalment in the series.

Blog Tour: Ashes of the Sun – Django Wexler

Blog Tour: Ashes of the Sun – Django Wexler


Series:
Burningblade & Silvereye #1
Release Date: October 1st 2020
Publisher: Head of Zeus
Pages: 464
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review
Rating: 4/5 stars

Synopsis

Long ago, a magical war destroyed an empire, and a new one was built in its ashes. But still the old grudges simmer, and two siblings will fight on opposite sides to save their world in the start of Django Wexler’s new epic fantasy trilogy.

Gyre hasn’t seen his beloved sister since their parents sold her to the mysterious Twilight Order. Now, twelve years after her disappearance, Gyre’s sole focus is revenge, and he’s willing to risk anything and anyone to claim enough power to destroy the Order.

Chasing rumors of a fabled city protecting a powerful artifact, Gyre comes face-to-face with his lost sister. But she isn’t who she once was. Trained to be a warrior, Maya wields magic for the Twilight Order’s cause. Standing on opposite sides of a looming civil war, the two siblings will learn that not even the ties of blood will keep them from splitting the world in two.

Review

Ashes of the Sun is the first in an all new epic fantasy series from Django Wexler. This is my first time reading a book by this author and I had so much fun! The story follows Gyre, who hasn’t seen his sister since his parents sold her off to the Twilight Order. Hellbent on seeking revenge for his sister, Gyre goes in search of an artifact that will give him enough power to destroy the Order, but in doing so finds his long lost sister. She is much changed, a hardened warrior for the Order. As civil war looms, the two find themselves on opposite sides of what is sure to be a devastating fight.

Ashes of the Sun is a really gripping read and a fantastic opening book to the series. The world building is superb and I was fascinating by this world that is still attempting to rebuild after a magic war. I really enjoyed Wexler’s writing style and it was easy to become completely absorbed in the story. The story was well paced, giving the reader time to understand the world without being info-dumpy. There was plenty of action to keep the reader hooked and I found it particularly hard to put the book down during the fighting scenes.

Wexler has created some truly brilliant characters in this book. We are treated to the POVs of Maya and Gyre and I really liked both characters. I loved seeing the relationship dynamics change as the story progressed. Gyre in particular I found fascinating, he’s so determined to get revenge he will stop at nothing. While it is quite a serious story there are plenty light-hearten moments in the story too, particularly in the witty banter between the characters.

All in all Wexler has created a really fascinating and compelling story and I can’t wait to find out what happens in the next instalment. If you’re looking for an excellently plotted epic fantasy to keep you hooked over the winter months this should absolutely be your next read.

Blog Tour: The Once and Future Witches – Alix E. Harrow

Blog Tour: The Once and Future Witches – Alix E. Harrow


Release Date:
October 13th 2020
Publisher: Orbit Books
Pages: 528
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review
Rating: 5/5 stars

Synopsis

In 1893, there’s no such thing as witches. There used to be, in the wild, dark days before the burnings began, but now witching is nothing but tidy charms and nursery rhymes. If the modern woman wants any measure of power, she must find it at the ballot box.

But when the Eastwood sisters–James Juniper, Agnes Amaranth, and Beatrice Belladonna–join the suffragists of New Salem, they begin to pursue the forgotten words and ways that might turn the women’s movement into the witch’s movement. Stalked by shadows and sickness, hunted by forces who will not suffer a witch to vote-and perhaps not even to live-the sisters will need to delve into the oldest magics, draw new alliances, and heal the bond between them if they want to survive.

There’s no such thing as witches. But there will be.

Review

The Once and Future Witches is the new book from acclaimed author Alix E. Harrow. The Ten Thousand Doors of January is a book I’ve been really excited to read, I just haven’t gotten around to it yet. When I heard she was coming out with a new book about witches and the suffragettes movement it immediately went straight to the top of my anticipated releases list.

Set in a time where witches are a thing of the past, the story follows three sisters – James, Beatrice and Agnes as they join the suffragettes movement in New Salem. As support for the movement begins to increase the sisters delve deeper into the magic of their ancestors in an attempt to escape the forces that wish to harm them.

While I haven’t read Harrow’s debut novel I know many people loved it for the beautiful writing style. That absolutely shines through in The Once and Future Witches, I adored the lyrical way that she wrote and I was completely captivated by this gorgeous story. It is a story of sisters and family, of standing against oppression and I loved every single second of it.

Harrow has created such a fascinating and unique tale in this book. I found the combination of suffragettes and witches such a brilliant and fresh take. The story is well paced and I thought this was such an engrossing read. While I was really fascinated by the plot the thing that kept me hooked most was the characters. Harrow has created three distinct and complex protagonist, each dealing with their own hardships and difficulties. It was fascinating seeing them attempt to reconcile after so many years and see how their sibling relationship changed as the stakes became higher.

The Once and Future Witches is a spellbinding and beautifully written book. It’s the perfect autumn read with brilliant characters that you become quite attached to. It’s full to the brim with magic and I can already see myself rereading this one for Halloween next year. It touches on a lot of important subjects such as equality and racism and there are many parallels with the world today. If you’ve been intrigued by this one I’d absolutely say give it a go – you won’t be disappointed.

Blog Tour: A Golden Fury – Samantha Cohoe

Blog Tour: A Golden Fury – Samantha Cohoe


Release Date:
13th October 2020
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Pages: 352
Find it on: Goodreads. Amazon.
Source: I received an E-ARC of this via Netgalley
Rating: 3.75/5 stars

Synopsis

Thea Hope longs to be an alchemist out of the shadow of her famous mother. The two of them are close to creating the legendary Philosopher’s Stone—whose properties include immortality and can turn any metal into gold—but just when the promise of the Stone’s riches is in their grasp, Thea’s mother destroys the Stone in a sudden fit of violent madness.

While combing through her mother’s notes, Thea learns that there’s a curse on the Stone that causes anyone who tries to make it to lose their sanity. With the threat of the French Revolution looming, Thea is sent to Oxford for her safety, to live with the father who doesn’t know she exists.

But in Oxford, there are alchemists after the Stone who don’t believe Thea’s warning about the curse—instead, they’ll stop at nothing to steal Thea’s knowledge of how to create the Stone. But Thea can only run for so long, and soon she will have to choose: create the Stone and sacrifice her sanity, or let the people she loves die.

Review

A Golden Fury originally caught my eye because of that beautiful cover but after reading the synopsis for this one I was immediately intrigued to know more. The story follows Thea Hope, a young girl longing to be an alchemist like her mother. However her mother controls all the aspects of her life and Thea wants nothing more than to help her uncover the secrets of the philosopher’s stone. Whilst looking at her mother’s stones Thea discovers that there is a curse placed on the stone that drives anyone who uses it to insanity. Forced to flee France and live in Oxford, Thea soon becomes entangled with a group of alchemists desperate to steal her knowledge and create the stone themselves.

A Golden Fury is a really enjoyable read, full of mystery and atmosphere. I loved the setting of the story and Cohoe did a great job with the world building. The story is an engrossing one and I was completely fascinated by the idea of alchemy and the possibility of creating the Philosopher’s Stone. It definitely felt like Cohoe brought a fresh perspective to a well known story and I loved learning about the alchemy and the work Thea and her mother did.

A Golden Fury drops the reader right into the middle of the story and there’s plenty to keep the reader hooked. I did feel the pacing was a little off, with it being a bit on the slower side to start. Despite this I really enjoyed this one overall and I really liked Thea as a main protagonist. It was interesting seeing her relationships with her parents and how they changed over time. Thea is quite a likeable character – she’s strong and smart and she stands up for what she believes in.

Overall I thought A Golden Fury was an impressive debut and I would be interested to read more from Samantha Cohoe. Her beautiful writing style and fascinating world had me hooked from the very beginning. If you’re looking for an addictive new historical fantasy to escape in this autumn, A Golden Fury has got you covered.

Book Review: The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue – V. E. Schwab

Book Review: The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue – V. E. Schwab


Release Date:
6th October 2020
Publisher: Titan Books
Pages: 560
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly approved me for an E-ARC on Netgalley
Rating: 5/5 stars

Synopsis

France, 1714: in a moment of desperation, a young woman makes a Faustian bargain to live forever-and is cursed to be forgotten by everyone she meets.

Thus begins the extraordinary life of Addie LaRue, and a dazzling adventure that will play out across centuries and continents, across history and art, as a young woman learns how far she will go to leave her mark on the world.

But everything changes when, after nearly 300 years, Addie stumbles across a young man in a hidden bookstore, and he remembers her name.

In the vein of The Time Traveler’s Wife and Life After LifeThe Invisible Life of Addie LaRue is New York Times bestselling author V. E. Schwab’s #1 New York Times Bestselling Author genre-defying tour de force.

Review

V. E. Schwab is one of my favourite authors and while I haven’t read all of her back catalogue yet, I’ve loved every single one that I’ve read. Going into Addie LaRue I had the highest expectations and I already thought this was going to be a five star read. The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue isn’t just a five star read though, it’s without a doubt my favourite book of 2020 and possibly my favourite book of all time. If you take one book recommendation from me it would be to pick this one up.

The story follows Adeline LaRue a young woman desperate to escape life planned out for her – a small village, marriage and children. In a desperate attempt to gain her freedom she sells her soul to be made immortal, however there’s a catch – Addie will live forever but she will be forgotten by everyone she meets. We follow Addie through her lifetime until almost three hundred years later when she meets a boy named Henry in a used bookshop, who remembers her name.

I’m not sure I have the words to convey how much I loved this book. V. E. Schwab has such a beautiful lyrical writing style and it shines in this story. I loved the two timelines of Addie in the present and Addie in the past. It’s quite a slow paced story, but it absolutely fits the tone and the atmosphere.

This truly is a brilliant story and part of the reason I think I loved it so much is because of the terrific protagonist Schwab has created. As you follow Addie you become so attached to her, it was fascinating seeing her grow as a character and adapt to her life as an immortal. She’s a clever and determined character and even when she thinks of giving up she still picks herself up and continues.

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue is a compelling tale, full of love and heartbreak. It’s the perfect story to get lost in. There’s already been quite a lot of hype about this one but it is absolutely deserved. A magical tale from start to finish, I did not want this one to end and I cannot wait to see what V. E. Schwab does next.

Blog Tour: The Bone Shard Daughter – Andrea Stewart

Blog Tour: The Bone Shard Daughter – Andrea Stewart


Series:
The Drowning Empire #1
Release Date: September 8th
Publisher: Orbit Books
Pages: 448
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review
Rating: 5/5 stars

Synopsis

In an empire controlled by bone shard magic, Lin, the former heir to the emperor will fight to reclaim her magic and her place on the throne. The Bone Shard Daughter marks the debut of a major new voice in epic fantasy.

The emperor’s reign has lasted for decades, his mastery of bone shard magic powering the animal-like constructs that maintain law and order. But now his rule is failing, and revolution is sweeping across the Empire’s many islands.

Lin is the emperor’s daughter and spends her days trapped in a palace of locked doors and dark secrets. When her father refuses to recognise her as heir to the throne, she vows to prove her worth by mastering the forbidden art of bone shard magic.

Yet such power carries a great cost, and when the revolution reaches the gates of the palace, Lin must decide how far she is willing to go to claim her birthright – and save her people.

Review

As soon as I read the synopsis for The Bone Shard Daughter I knew it was going to be a book I would love. The premise sounds fascinating and coupled with that absolutely stunning cover, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on a copy. The Bone Shard Daughter is an absolutely incredible debut, and without a doubt one of my favourite books of the year.

The story is set in a world where the emperor uses bone magic to ensure his continued rule. He refuses to acknowledge his daughter Lin as heir to his throne and she will do anything she can to learn the forbidden bone shard magic and prove she is worthy. But rebellion is stirring in the kingdom and when it arrives at the palace Lin has to give everything to save her people.

I absolutely adored this book. It’s a fast paced tale that’s brilliantly executed and incredibly clever. There’s absolutely tons of action and I honestly never wanted this book to end. The world building is truly superb and I was completely fascinating by the magic system in this story. The idea of bone shard magic felt so unique and it was such a dark bloody magic to witness. The story is full to the brim with magic and revolution with a touch of romance.

The story features a number of different POV characters and I felt that they were all well created and developed. I really liked Lin and Jovis and I thought Stewart did an excellent job of giving each POV character a unqiue and compelling voice. Some of the characters are told in first person perspective and some in third – I thought this might have been a little jarring but actually worked incredibly well in the story.

The Bone Shard Daughter is an absolutely magnificent read and I’m so glad there’s more to come in The Drowning Empire series because I cannot wait to dive back into this incredible world. If you’ve been intrigued by this one I definitely recommend picking it up – you won’t be disappointed.

Blog Tour: Orfeia – Joanne M. Harris

Blog Tour: Orfeia – Joanne M. Harris


Release Date:
September 3rd 2020
Publisher: Gollancz
Pages: 240
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review
Rating: 4.25/5 stars

Synopsis

When you can find me an acre of land,
Every sage grows merry in time,
Between the ocean and the sand
Then will you be united again.
(Inspired by The Child Ballads 2 & 19)

So begins a beautiful and tragic quest as a heartbroken mother sets out to save her lost daughter, through the realms of the real, of dream, and even into the underworld itself.

But determination alone is not enough. For to save something precious, she must give up something precious, be it a song, a memory, or her freedom itself . . .

Beautifully illustrated by Bonnie Helen Hawkins, this is a stunning and original modern fairytale.

Review

Joanne Harris is one of those auto-buy authors for me so when I heard she was releasing another novella inspired by the Child Ballads I was incredibly excited to read it. I absolutely devoured A Pocketful of Crows and The Blue Salt Road so I couldn’t wait to see what she would write next. Orfeia is the beautiful and moving tale of Fay, a mother who has lost her daughter. Whilst out for a run she slips into another London where she learns that her daughter lingers in the halls of the Hallowe’en king. Fay must navigate this dangerous dream realm to enter the halls and rescue her daughter.

Like the previous two stories, Orfeia is an incredibly lyrical story, full of beautiful prose. Harris creates a fascinating world in Orfeia and the reader quickly becomes enveloped in the story. It’s quite a quick read but it packs a punch, it’s definitely the kind of story that will having you thinking about it long after you’ve finished reading. This story is such a mesmerising one and I enjoyed every minute of it. Our main character Fay is an excellent protagonist, she’s strong willed and determined to reach her daughter – no matter the cost.

This beautiful retelling is a must read if you love whimsical fantasy stories and it has some absolutely stunning illustrations. If you’ve read the other books in this collection then you absolutely have to pick this one up. If you’ve not yet had the chance to read them they’re absolutely perfect for reading in the autumn and you can binge all three. I loved every second of this book and I can’t wait to see what Harris writes next.

Book Review: The Falconer – Elizabeth May

Book Review: The Falconer – Elizabeth May


Series:
The Falconer #1
Release Date: September 19th 2013
Publisher: Gollancz
Pages: 368
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: I bought a copy of this at a Waterstones event with Elizabeth May & Victoria Aveyard
Rating: 4.25/5 stars

Synopsis

One girl’s nightmare is this girl’s faery tale

She’s a stunner.
Edinburgh, 1844. Eighteen-year-old Lady Aileana Kameron, the only daughter of the Marquess of Douglas, has everything a girl could dream of: brains, charm, wealth, a title—and drop-dead beauty.

She’s a liar.
But Aileana only looks the part of an aristocratic young lady. she’s leading a double life: She has a rare ability to sense the sìthíchean—the faery race obsessed with slaughtering humans—and, with the aid of a mysterious mentor, has spent the year since her mother died learning how to kill them.

She’s a murderer.
Now Aileana is dedicated to slaying the fae before they take innocent lives. With her knack for inventing ingenious tools and weapons—from flying machines to detonators to lightning pistols—ruthless Aileana has one goal: Destroy the faery who destroyed her mother.

She’s a Falconer.
The last in a line of female warriors born with a gift for hunting and killing the fae, Aileana is the sole hope of preventing a powerful faery population from massacring all of humanity. Suddenly, her quest is a lot more complicated. She still longs to avenge her mother’s murder—but she’ll have to save the world first.

The first volume of a trilogy from an exciting new voice in young adult fantasy, this electrifying thriller combines romance and action, steampunk technology and Scottish lore in a deliciously addictive read.

Review

The Falconer is a book I’ve had on my TBR for a while but just not had the opportunity to pick it up. I ended up reading it to fulfil a readathon prompt for a steampunk read and I’m absolutely kicking myself for not picking this one up earlier. I completely fell in love with the world that May has created and I’ve already ordered books two and three in the trilogy.

The Falconer follows Aileana – she’s a young aristocratic lady but she’s also a Falconer, one of the few people who can detect sìthíchean – the faeries who hunt and murder humans. Aileana must juggle two lives and in the process avenge her mother who was murdered by one. When tracking her mother’s murderer Aileana uncovers a darker plot to destroy humanity and must do everything she can to save the ones she loves.

The Falconer is such a compelling and engrossing read. It’s set in a steampunk Edinburgh which is something I’ve never encountered before and loved. I went to University in Edinburgh and loved the twists May put on the city. May has a really gorgeous writing style and I became completely caught up in the fascinating world and beautiful writing of The Falconer. If you’re looking for a new fae read, this is definitely one to pick up.

Aileana is a fascinating protagonist too and I loved seeing her juggle being a lady in society as well as a hunter. She’s tough and clever and such a kick ass main character. Likewise Kiaran and Gavin were really interesting characters and I also enjoyed the romance in the story. The book ends on a bit of a cliffhanger so if you’re planning to read this one you might want to pick up the next book two because if you’re anything like me you’ll be dying to find out what happens next.

Waiting on Wednesday: The Stone Knife – Anna Stephens

Waiting on Wednesday: The Stone Knife – Anna Stephens

Synopsis

A fantasy epic of freedom and empire, gods and monsters, love, loyalty, honour, and betrayal, from the acclaimed author of GODBLIND.

For generations, the forests of Ixachipan have echoed with the clash of weapons, as nation after nation has fallen to the Empire of Songs – and to the unending, magical music that binds its people together. Now, only two free tribes remain.

The Empire is not their only enemy. Monstrous, scaled predators lurk in rivers and streams, with a deadly music of their own.

As battle looms, fighters on both sides must decide how far they will go for their beliefs and for the ones they love – a veteran general seeks peace through war, a warrior and a shaman set out to understand their enemies, and an ambitious noble tries to bend ancient magic to her will.

Thoughts

The Stone Knife is one of those books that I didn’t realise was coming out until fairly recently, and now I’m so excited for it to be released. Anna Stephens is the author of the Godblind trilogy, a grimdark fantasy series that I completely adored and also broke my heart in the best way. It’s probably one of my all time favourite series so when I heard she was releasing something new I was immediately intrigued. I really enjoyed her writing style and I’m so looking forward to seeing what she does with a new series. The synopsis doesn’t give much away but it does sound like an epic story. Stephens writes really incredible battle scenes so I’m looking forward to more of them. I haven’t seen any early reviews for this one yet but I’ll definitely be keeping my eyes peeled for some. The Stone Knife is publishing November 26th 2020 from Harper Voyager.

Book Review: Cinderella is Dead – Kalynn Baron

Book Review: Cinderella is Dead – Kalynn Baron


Release Date:
August 6th 2020
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Pages: 400
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to participate in the Tandem Collective readalong.
Rating: 4.25/5 stars

Synopsis

It’s 200 years since Cinderella found her prince, but the fairytale is over.

Sophia knows the story though, off by heart. Because every girl has to recite it daily, from when she’s tiny until the night she’s sent to the royal ball for choosing. And every girl knows that she has only one chance. For the lives of those not chosen by a man at the ball . are forfeit.

But Sophia doesn’t want to be chosen – she’s in love with her best friend, Erin, and hates the idea of being traded like cattle. And when Sophia’s night at the ball goes horribly wrong, she must run for her life. Alone and terrified, she finds herself hiding in Cinderella’s tomb. And there she meets someone who will show her that she has the power to remake her world.

Review

I absolutely love stories inspired by fairy tales so when I read the synopsis for Cinderella is Dead I was so intrigued to read it. The story follows Sophia who lives in a kingdom ruled by men. She knows the tale of Cinderella – all the women in the kingdom do. When she comes of age she’s sent to the palace to participate in the choosing – to be chosen by a man or become forfeit. Being chosen is the last thing Sophia wants, she’s in love with her best friend Erin and after a disastrous turn of events, must flee for her life. While on the run she finds out that the true nature of the Cinderella story might not be everything she thought it was.

As soon as I picked up this book I became completely sucked into the story. Kalynn Baron has taken a well known tale and completely turned it on its head. The story is a pretty fast paced one and I found myself completely racing though it, desperate to know what was going to happen next. Baron has created a fascinating world where Cinderella might be dead, but her story has lived on and shaped the lives of every woman in the kingdom. The story does have a few plot twists, a few of which I guessed quite early on. This didn’t lessen my enjoyment of the story because it was such an addictive and entertaining read.

Sophia is a brilliant main character. She’s so determined and she stands up for her beliefs. I also really enjoyed the romance in the story although it did happen a little bit quickly for me. Baron has an absolutely gorgeous writing style and this ended up being one of my favourite reads of August. If you’ve been intrigued by this one I’d definitely recommend picking it up and I cannot wait to see what Baron writes next!