Book Review: The Thief on the Winged Horse – Kate Mascarenhas

Book Review: The Thief on the Winged Horse – Kate Mascarenhas


Release Date: November 12th 2020
Publisher: Head of Zeus
Pages: 400
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent a copy of this book to review
Rating: 4.25/5 stars

Synopsis

The Kendrick family have been making world-famous dolls since the early 1800s. But their dolls aren’t coveted for the craftmanship alone. Each one has a specific emotion laid on it by its creator. A magic that can make you feel bucolic bliss or consuming paranoia at a single touch. Though founded by sisters, now only men may know the secrets of the workshop.

Persephone Kendrick longs to break tradition and learn the family craft, and when a handsome stranger arrives claiming doll-making talent and a blood tie to the Kendricks, she sees a chance to grasp all she desires.

But then, one night, the family’s most valuable doll is stolen. Only someone with knowledge of magic could have taken her. Only a Kendrick could have committed this crime…

Review

The Thief on the Winged Horse is the beautifully told story of the Kendrick Family and their infamous doll shop. The dolls are magic, evoking a feeling or emotion with a single touch. Though the craft was founded by sisters, the secrets of the magic are now known only to the men of the family. Persephone Kendrick is desperate to be a sorcerer, but her family refuses to allow her to learn the craft. When a stranger arrives at the shop claiming to be a long lost relative, Persephone knows this could be her chance to get what she’s always wanted. When one of the most famous Kendrick dolls is stolen, the family are pushed to the limit as they attempt to discover who could have stolen such a precious item.

This is my first time reading a book from Kate Mascarenhas and I completely fell in love. This is such a gorgeous story, full to the brim with lyrical writing and a gripping plot. I absolutely adore magical realism stories but this has got to be one of my favourites. I thought the concept was fascinating and I ended up reading this one almost in one sitting I just didn’t want it to end. I almost wish there was another book because I would love to know more about the Kendrick family and their incredible dolls.

The plot was well executed and it was quite a quick paced story. I was really intrigued by the mystery of the missing doll and attempting to discover who had taken it. I did guess quite early on but that absolutely didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the story. It was a brilliant story and it was so interesting watching the family dynamics change as the story progressed and Persephone learned the skills she’s always wanted to learn.

While this is my first Kate Mascarenhas book it definitely will not be the last. Her characters were superb and I loved how complex and fascinating they are. Persephone in particular was my favourite. She’s stubborn and determined to learn the skills for crafting the enchantments, even if that means having to stay with her drunken father. Larkin was also a really interesting character and I was constantly questioning his motivations and how truthful he was really being. I similarly really liked Hedwig, who on the surface seems so sweet but had so much more going on. The characters were probably my favourite part about this book, they were vividly described and so gripping to read about.

The Thief on the Winged Horse is one of those books you find yourself thinking about long after you’ve finished read. A beautiful and compelling tale and one fantasy fans will absolutely adore.

Book Review: The Canary Keeper – Clare Carson

Book Review: The Canary Keeper – Clare Carson


Release Date:
February 6th 2020
Publisher: Head of Zeus
Pages: 384
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy to review
Rating: 3/5 stars

Synopsis

“In the grey mist of the early morning a body is dumped on the shore of the Thames by a boatman in a metal canoe. The city is soon alive with talk of the savage Esquimaux stalking Victorian London and an eye witness who claims the killer had an accomplice: a tall woman dressed in widow’s weeds, with the telltale look of the degenerate Irish.

Branna ‘Birdie’ Quinn had no good reason to be by the river that morning, but she did not kill the man. She’d seen him first the day before, desperate to give her a message she refused to hear. And now the Filth will see her hang for his murder, just like her father.

To save her life, Birdie must trace the dead man’s footsteps. Back onto the ship that carried him to his death, back to cold isles of Orkney that sheltered him, and up to the far north, a harsh and lawless land which holds more answers than she looks to find…

Review

The Canary Keeper is the dark and compelling story of set in Victorian London. When a body is discovered on the banks of the the Thames an eye witness claims that the killer’s accomplice is a young Irish woman living London. Her father was hanged for murder and soon she becomes caught up in the murder, with the police accusing her of being the killer’s accomplice. In order to clear her name Birdie has to flee for her life and to trace the footsteps of the man she is accused of killing. Her search takes her to the remote town of Orkney where she begins to find that there is more to this murder than she could possibly have realised.

The Canary Keeper was a really interesting story, with plenty of twists I didn’t guess. It kept me guessing right till the very end – I didn’t figure out who was behind the mysteries until they were revealed. Carson creates a really strong sense of atmosphere and I really loved the two contrasting settings – the murky, dark banks of the Thames and the wild harsh landscape of Orkney.

While I enjoyed the mystery I did find the book quite slow paced and particularly around the middle I found the story dragging a little. I wanted to know who was behind the mystery and unravelled a bit slowly for my liking. Despite this I still found the book a really fascinating one and really liked the strong female characters that Carson brought to life in this story.

The Canary Keeper is an atmospheric and enjoyable read, particularly for a dark winter evening. If you’re a fan of historical mystery/thrillers this would definitely be one to pick up.

Blog Tour: Unconquerable Sun – Kate Elliot

Blog Tour: Unconquerable Sun – Kate Elliot


Series:
The Sun Chronicles #1
Release Date: October 1st 2020
Publisher: Head of Zeus
Pages: 528
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

It has been eight centuries since the beacon system failed, sundering the heavens. Rising from the ashes of the collapse, cultures have fought, system-by-system, for control of the few remaining beacons. The Republic of Chaonia is one such polity. Surrounded by the Yele League and the vast Phene Empire, they have had to fight for their existence. After decades of conflict, Queen-Marshal Eirene has brought the Yele to heel.

Now it is time to deal with the Empire. Princess Sun, daughter and heir, has come of age.

In her first command, she drove a Phene garrison from the beacons of Na Iri – an impressive feat. But growing up in the shadow of her mother – a ruler both revered and feared – has been no easy task. While Sun may imagine that her victorious command will bring further opportunity to prove herself, it will in fact place her on the wrong side of court politics. There are those who would like to see Sun removed as heir, or better yet, dead. To survive, the princess must rely on her wits and companions: her biggest rival, her secret lover, and a dangerous prisoner of war.

Review

This is my first time reading a Kate Elliot book but when I heard this book described as ‘gender swapped Alexander the Great in space’ I knew I had to read it. The story follows Princess Sun, heir to the throne of The Republic of Chaonia. Fresh from her first victory in battle, she believes this victory will prove her strength as heir to the throne, but there are those who do not wish to see Sun succeed her mother and would like to see her disappear altogether. Sun is going to have to use all of her wits and strength to survive this dangerous world.

Unconquerable Sun is an epic tale and one that really gripped me from the get go. It’s a fascinating story that’s quick paced and full to the brim with action and political intrigue. The world building is excellent – although it took me a few chapters to understand how the world worked and what the terms meant. I soon became completely engrossed in the story and didn’t want to put it down. I must admit I don’t really know much about Alexander the Great but I don’t think that lessened my enjoyment of the story. The story is full to the brim with epic battle scenes and I loved the vivid descriptions of the galactic fighting. I really liked Elliot’s writing style, and she easily brought each battle to life.

Unconquerable Sun has some really interesting characters. We are treated to multiple POVs in this one, but our main protagonist is Princess Sun herself. I found her really fascinating, particularly as she attempted to move out from under her mothers shadow and prove herself as a leader. Although I really liked Sun I think Persephone’s POV ended up being the one I enjoyed the most.

Unconquerable Sun is an incredible start to an all new space opera series, it’s an action packed addictive read and one I’m sure fans of Kate Elliot will love. If you’re looking for a read with vivid world building and tons of action, this should definitely be your next read.