Review: The Witch of Willow Hall by Hester Fox

37007910[1]Two centuries after the Salem witch trials, there’s still one witch left in Massachusetts. But she doesn’t even know it.

Take this as a warning: if you are not able or willing to control yourself, it will not only be you who suffers the consequences, but those around you, as well.

New Oldbury, 1821

In the wake of a scandal, the Montrose family and their three daughters—Catherine, Lydia and Emeline—flee Boston for their new country home, Willow Hall.

The estate seems sleepy and idyllic. But a subtle menace creeps into the atmosphere, remnants of a dark history that call to Lydia, and to the youngest, Emeline.

All three daughters will be irrevocably changed by what follows, but none more than Lydia, who must draw on a power she never knew she possessed if she wants to protect those she loves. For Willow Hall’s secrets will rise, in the end…



Title: The Witch of Willow Hall
Author: Hester Fox
Genre: Historical Fiction/Paranormal/Romance
Publisher: Graydon House
Source: NetGalley
Release Date: October 2nd, 2018
Rating: ðŸŒŸðŸŒŸ

*ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

This book captured my interest from the beginning. A dark, historical novel about ghosts and witches in 19th century New England sounded right up my alley. Unfortunately, it didn’t deliver.

The main issue I had with this book was that I can’t identify the main conflict…I mean, there really wasn’t one. Sure, there were ghosts and witchcraft and an eerie house, but that was all in the background of family drama and romantic angst.

The main issue seemed to be that Lydia’s older sister Catherine is a complete nightmare who doesn’t even care how her actions affect her family and who constantly relies on others to clean up her messes. I don’t think I’ve ever hated a character more. She is petty, mean, and selfish to the extreme. She couldn’t stand to see Lydia happy and did whatever she could to ensure that she wasn’t. The sisterly hate was the biggest conflict in this story, and it is never properly resolved.

Another issue is the romance between John Barrett and Lydia. There are some insta-love vibes in this book, as I’m still not entirely sure why John even liked Lydia. She was rude to him on several occasions because she didn’t know how to express her feelings or communicate with other human beings. There were so many misunderstandings and so much miscommunication that I just ended up frustrated during most of their interactions.

Some aspects of this story had a lot of promise and could have been interesting, had they actually had anything to do with the story. Instead, they just fizzled out. Creepy dead ghost sister? Nothing. Creepy dead ghost boy who threatens the main characters? Nothing. Creepy house that puts everyone on edge and seems to attract disasters? Absolutely nothing. It’s like a bunch of stuff was thrown in to create suspense and atmosphere, but never actually has any purpose. Even the fact that Lydia is a witch never really matters that much. We only actually see her “power” a couple times, and her use of power in front of John at the end was insanely anticlimactic. The people who found out she was a witch were way too accepting of her. In fact, the two “love interests” seemed to think of her as a rare commodity once they found out she was a witch.

Also, are we really supposed to believe that this is how people talk and act in the early 1800s? I’m no historian, but this book almost seemed like it could have taken place in the 21st Century, other than the occasional mention of propriety and social rules.

It all just seemed way too easy. There was never any real tension, no overarching problem, no character development to speak of. The Witch of Willow Hall is just a creepy book about boy drama and some serious family issues.

Review: Circe by Madeline Miller

32454291In the house of Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, a daughter is born. But Circe is a strange child–not powerful, like her father, nor viciously alluring like her mother. Turning to the world of mortals for companionship, she discovers that she does possess power–the power of witchcraft, which can transform rivals into monsters and menace the gods themselves.

Threatened, Zeus banishes her to a deserted island, where she hones her occult craft, tames wild beasts and crosses paths with many of the most famous figures in all of mythology, including the Minotaur, Daedalus and his doomed son Icarus, the murderous Medea, and, of course, wily Odysseus.

But there is danger, too, for a woman who stands alone, and Circe unwittingly draws the wrath of both men and gods, ultimately finding herself pitted against one of the most terrifying and vengeful of the Olympians. To protect what she loves most, Circe must summon all her strength and choose, once and for all, whether she belongs with the gods she is born from, or the mortals she has come to love.


Title: Circe
Author: Madeline Miller
Genre: Fantasy/Mythology/Retelling
Publisher: Lee Boudreaux Books
Source: Hardcover
Release Date: April 10th, 2018
Rating: ★★★★

I was hesitant to review this book, only because I wasn’t sure if I had everything to add to what’s already been said. I also don’t feel like I could ever do Circe justice, but I’ll try.

This book drew my eye very early on. I love Greek mythology and retellings, and Circe is such a fascinating character to me. I’ll admit, this book took me a long time to read. Three months, to be exact. I kept finding myself putting it down and moving on to other books, then coming back to it. It wasn’t because it didn’t interest me, but rather that it is a very character-driven, inner-monologue focused, slow-burn story. I couldn’t skim or speed-read; I needed to absorb every single word on the pages.

“But in a solitary life, there are rare moments when another soul dips near yours, as stars once a year brush the earth. Such a constellation was he to me.”

A majority of this book is spent on the island of Aiaia where the goddess Circe is exiled. If you are unfamiliar with Greek mythology and the Odyssey, like I was, much of the content in this book will be new for you. Centuries and generations of Greek myths are folded into this book, but they are told in stories by visiting characters. We don’t actually see any of the action, but action and adventure is not what this story is about.

“My divinity shines in me like the last rays of the sun before they drown in the sea. I thought once that gods are the opposite of death, but I see now that they are more dead than anything, for they are unchanging, and can hold nothing in their hands.”

This is the origin story of Circe and her development over centuries of love and loss. She is a goddess with the voice of a mortal, who empathizes with mortals and loathes the ways of all other self-serving gods and goddesses. This is not a happy story. She suffers greatly, but everything that happens to her helps shape her into the strong, powerful, and somewhat jaded witch that she is. She isn’t perfect; at times she is a villain, at times she is a heroine, but it’s interesting to see how she grows from these experiences.

“Her eyes held mine, gray and steady. It is a common saying that women are delicate creatures, flowers, eggs, anything that may be crushed in a moment’s carelessness. If I had ever believed it, I no longer did.”

The underlying theme in Circe is how the stories of men are often glorified, while the heroines are undermined no matter how prominent their own role was. This is a very women-empowering, sex-positive book about finding yourself in a world where men are given agency, and women are reduced to being in the background.

“The thought was this: that all my life had been murk and depths, but I was not a part of that dark water. I was a creature within it.”

Review: Legendary by Stephanie Garber

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A heart to protect. A debt to repay. A game to win.

After being swept up in the magical world of Caraval, Donatella Dragna has finally escaped her father and saved her sister Scarlett from a disastrous arranged marriage. The girls should be celebrating, but Tella isn’t yet free. She made a desperate bargain with a mysterious criminal, and what Tella owes him no one has ever been able to deliver: Caraval Master Legend’s true name.

The only chance of uncovering Legend’s identity is to win Caraval, so Tella throws herself into the legendary competition once more—and into the path of the murderous heir to the throne, a doomed love story, and a web of secrets…including her sister’s. Caraval has always demanded bravery, cunning, and sacrifice. But now the game is asking for more. If Tella can’t fulfill her bargain and deliver Legend’s name, she’ll lose everything she cares about—maybe even her life. But if she wins, Legend and Caraval will be destroyed forever.

Welcome, welcome to Caraval…the games have only just begun.


Title: Legendary
Author: Stephanie Garber
Genre: Young Adult/Fantasy
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Source: eBook
Release Date: May 29th, 2018
Rating: ★★★★

This book was so, so fun!

I adored the first book, Caraval, and this book definitely exceeded my expectations as a sequel. It was such a magical, whimsical ride, and I couldn’t put it down. I loved returning to this world.

The writing is poetic and sucks you right in:

“The air tasted like wonder. Like candied butterfly wings caught in sugared spiderwebs, and drunken peaches coated in luck.”

Donatella Dragna is everything I want in a main character. She is strong, brave, and levelheaded. She likes attention, flirting with men, and knows that she’s pretty, but above all else, she isn’t ashamed to admit it.

“One look at her honey-blond curls, her girlish smile, and her pretty dresses, coupled with the fact that she liked to enjoy herself, and people dismissed her as a silly girl. Tella might have been many things, but she was far from silly or worthless or whatever labels people liked to affix because a person was young and female. Tella liked to think that was where much of her strength came from. She was bold. She was brave. She was cunning. And she was going to come out of this triumphant – no matter the cost.

I enjoyed being in her head more than her sister Scarlett’s, who was the main character and point of view of Caraval. I also enjoyed the romantic aspects a little more than Caraval. This book certainly had enough steamy scenes to satisfy my immoral soul.

“Good was the word people used to describe how they slept at night and bread fresh out of the fire. But Dante was more like the fire. No one called a fire good. Fires were hot, burning things children were warned not play with.”

I absolutely adored Dante.

(Side note and potential spoiler: I see hints at a future love triangle which is usually a huge nope from me, but in this case I’m actually okay with it slash completely living for it).

Legendary messed with my head. I was second-guessing and third-guessing until my head was spinning in circles and I couldn’t even read the words anymore. There were so many possibilities and so many potential outcomes, that I can’t even say if any of my predictions came true. Legendary will do it’s best to mislead you, so I eventually gave up guessing and just went along for the ride.

I loved the morally grey, semi-villainous actions of each of the main characters. No one is really the hero and no one is really the villain; everyone has their own agenda. Even Tella admits that she might be the villain in her own story.

Scarlett was kind of a mess. I liked her perspective in Caraval, but there wasn’t much of her in this book and what I did see was just confusing and kind of obnoxious. There wasn’t as much as a sibling emphasis in Legendary as there was in Caraval, and I hope that changes in the next book. Scarlett’s actions in this one just really bothered me, so I think I would be completely okay if the third book is once more from Tella’s perspective, or even a dual POV.

All of the characters we know are still around, as well as some new ones. Scarlett and Julian’s story continues in the background from where the first book left off, and I’m interested to see how it continues for these two in the third one.

I gave this book four stars out of five, because I thought the ending was a little predictable. Still, Legendary was the most enjoyable read for me so far this year, and I can’t wait to see what Stephanie Garber has in store for us with Finale!

Review: Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young

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Raised to be a warrior, seventeen-year-old Eelyn fights alongside her Aska clansmen in an ancient rivalry against the Riki clan. Her life is brutal but simple: fight and survive. Until the day she sees the impossible on the battlefield — her brother, fighting with the enemy — the brother she watched die five years ago.

Faced with her brother’s betrayal, she must survive the winter in the mountains with the Riki, in a village where every neighbor is an enemy, every battle scar possibly one she delivered. But when the Riki village is raided by a ruthless clan thought to be a legend, Eelyn is even more desperate to get back to her beloved family.

She is given no choice but to trust Fiske, her brother’s friend, who sees her as a threat. They must do the impossible: unite the clans to fight together, or risk being slaughtered one by one. Driven by a love for her clan and her growing love for Fiske, Eelyn must confront her own definition of loyalty and family while daring to put her faith in the people she’s spent her life hating.


Title: Sky in the Deep
Author: Adrienne Young
Genre: Young Adult
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Source: Hardcover
Release Date: April 24th, 2018
Rating: ★★

I’ve seen this book described as being action-packed, with three-dimensional characters and a strong protagonist. I feel like I must have read a completely different book.

The beginning sucked me right in with the opening fight scene, but this book didn’t hold my interest much after that. A large portion of it is spent on pastoral activities like peeling garlic and cleaning armor. I didn’t think it was action-packed at all, but rather just some action scenes mixed in with the day-to-day life of Eelyn as the enemy’s prisoner.

The romance is so incredibly bland. Fiske is uninteresting as a character, and him and Eelyn had absolutely no chemistry. One minute he’s shooting her with an arrow, while the next minute she’s blushing and trying to ignore whatever “connection” they have. The enemies-to-lovers thing didn’t make any sense. I also thought that Eelyn’s acceptance of the Riki happened far too quickly. She is captured by the enemy clan that has fought and killed members of her own clan for years, becoming their slave to be bought and sold. She is given a metal collar and is brutally mistreated by the Riki, but somehow grows to love the family that owns her. For a character who is supposedly a vicious warrior, her subservience doesn’t make a lot of sense.

In general, the characters are bland and lacking any depth or complexity. Familial conflicts were mentioned but then never properly resolved. The writing style is awkward and clunky, which kept pulling me out of the story. There’s a lot of telling-not-showing and a lot of passive voice used: two of my writing pet-peeves.

Overall, I thought Sky in the Deep was shallow and unimaginative. This book would have been great had there been a little more world-building, better character development, and maybe a few more rounds of edits. After all, a Viking-inspired world with a warrior main character would usually be right up my alley. The execution just wasn’t up to par with my expectations.

I always feel bad giving one or two star reviews to books that other reviewers raved about. My opinion should be taken with a grain of salt, as I’m clearly in the minority.

Review: The Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw

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Welcome to the cursed town of Sparrow…

Where, two centuries ago, three sisters were sentenced to death for witchery. Stones were tied to their ankles and they were drowned in the deep waters surrounding the town.

Now, for a brief time each summer, the sisters return, stealing the bodies of three weak-hearted girls so that they may seek their revenge, luring boys into the harbor and pulling them under.

Like many locals, seventeen-year-old Penny Talbot has accepted the fate of the town. But this year, on the eve of the sisters’ return, a boy named Bo Carter arrives; unaware of the danger he has just stumbled into.

Mistrust and lies spread quickly through the salty, rain-soaked streets. The townspeople turn against one another. Penny and Bo suspect each other of hiding secrets. And death comes swiftly to those who cannot resist the call of the sisters.

But only Penny sees what others cannot. And she will be forced to choose: save Bo, or save herself.


Title: The Wicked Deep
Author: Shea Ernshaw
Genre: Fantasy/Young Adult
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Source: Hardcover
Release Date: March 6th, 2018
Rating: ★★★

“From the black waters of the harbor, their song sinks into dreams, permeates the brittle grass that grows along steep cliffs and rotting homes. It settles into the stones that hold up the lighthouse; it floats and swirls in the air until it’s all you can taste and breathe.”

The Wicked Deep is a dark, magical, atmospheric read. I enjoyed it, but there were a few things that bugged me.

This book is about a small coastal town in Oregon called Sparrow. This town is cursed by three witchy sisters who were drowned by the town’s residents two hundred years ago. Every year, the Swan sisters return to inhabit the bodies of girls and lure boys out to the ocean where they drown to death.

“It’s as predictable as the tide and the moon. It ebbs and flows. Death comes and it goes.”

I guessed the twists pretty early on, but the writing was compelling enough to keep me interested until the end. I really liked that each chapter was separated by short chapters (usually only a page or two long) of flashbacks from when the Swan sisters were still alive. These mini-chapters added to the dark, mysterious atmosphere of the book.

One thing that really bothered me was the fact that there were basically no adults in this book. Throughout the whole thing I just kept thinking, where tf are your parents? All the teenagers aside from Bo and Penny were insufferable and shallow. Despite the death that occurs every year, none of the townsfolk seemed to have any real sense of danger. In fact, they throw parties and celebrate the “Swan season” like its all just a big spectacle, or just a quirky facet of their town. With a population of 2000 people and multiple boys dying every summer, you would think that people would be a little more devastated. After all, in a town that small, everyone knows everyone. Instead, they throw parties, get drunk, and dare each other to go into the water for fun, even though most people believe in the sisters and are aware of the danger.

“For in a place like Sparrow, rumors spread quickly, like small pox or cholera, confusing the mind, rooting itself into the fabric of a town until there’s no telling truth from speculation.”

I never became invested in the insta-love romance, which was a pretty big part of this book, but it didn’t really bother me. I actually like the way the romantic aspects were handled (SPOILER SPOILER highlight at your own risk: Although Bo and Penny have sex, which is all fine and good except for the fact that Penny is actually Hazel? So she’s having sex with someone else’s body? A little icky and a lot wrong.) So yeah.

There were some things that weren’t really answered, but maybe its better off that way. There were also some weird punctuation mishaps, which most people probably won’t care about or even notice, but its something I’m a huge stickler for.

With all that being said, The Wicked Deep was an enjoyable read. The writing was good and the concept was unique. I would recommend this to anyone in the mood for a mysterious, romantic, atmospheric book about witches and revenge.

Review: To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo

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Princess Lira is siren royalty and the most lethal of them all. With the hearts of seventeen princes in her collection, she is revered across the sea. Until a twist of fate forces her to kill one of her own. To punish her daughter, the Sea Queen transforms Lira into the one thing they loathe most—a human. Robbed of her song, Lira has until the winter solstice to deliver Prince Elian’s heart to the Sea Queen or remain a human forever.

The ocean is the only place Prince Elian calls home, even though he is heir to the most powerful kingdom in the world. Hunting sirens is more than an unsavory hobby—it’s his calling. When he rescues a drowning woman in the ocean, she’s more than what she appears. She promises to help him find the key to destroying all of sirenkind for good—But can he trust her? And just how many deals will Elian have to barter to eliminate mankind’s greatest enemy?


Title: To Kill a Kingdom
Author: Alexandra Christo
Genre: Fantasy/Young Adult
Publisher: Feiwel Friends
Source: Hardcover
Release Date: March 6th, 2018
Rating: ★★★★★

This book is The Little Mermaid, if The Little Mermaid was darker, grittier, nastier, and spent more time aboard a pirate ship than on land. In short, it’s actually nothing like The Little Mermaid. The basic premise is the same, but Alexandra Christo has taken a fluffy fairy tale and made it so much more. As much as I love the original story, I love this twisted version even more.

I adore Lira and Elian. The characters are all so well-developed, even the secondary characters. The witty banter between everyone is just so fun, and I couldn’t help but find all their little quirks endearing, from the arrogant Kye to the strong-minded Madrid to the quiet but fierce Torik. To Kill a Kingdom is split between the perspectives of Elian and Lira, and they both have their own distinct voices and unique personalities. They’re both arrogant, sharp-tongued, and ruthless, but underneath it all, they are caring and good-hearted. Lira especially goes through a huge transformation, from a murderous and cold-hearted siren princess to someone who cares and empathizes with humans.

“His face is roguish when I sneer up at him, nothing like the sweet and gentle princes I’ve taken before. The ones whose hearts are buried beneath my bed.”

The word-building in this book is very well done. You have the cruel and nasty world under the sea where kindness is seen as weakness and savagery is strength. Sirens steal the hearts of their victims and keep them as trophies, while mermaids and mermen are more fish than human and are just as cruel. Above ground, we see many different kingdoms and languages. There’s political intrigue, as everyone seems to scheme for their own benefit and use each other as means to an end.

I loved To Kill a Kingdom. It’s dark, twisted, and witty. There was romance, but it was secondary to the main story, and seeing the build-up and the character development was way more fun, anyway. As much as I would love to see more from these characters, I appreciate the fact that it’s a standalone because I thought the story wrapped up perfectly. I can’t wait to read more from this author!

“We continue on that way, swords arcing through the air, our breath ragged. Soon there’s sun in the distance, or perhaps even moonlight. Everything is muted and as Lira swoops her blade down on mine once more, I let it all fall away. My mission, my kingdom. The world. They exist somewhere other than in this moment, and now there is only this. Me, my ship, and a girl with oceans in her eyes.”

Review: Everless by Sara Holland

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In the kingdom of Sempera, time is currency—extracted from blood, bound to iron, and consumed to add time to one’s own lifespan. The rich aristocracy, like the Gerlings, tax the poor to the hilt, extending their own lives by centuries.

No one resents the Gerlings more than Jules Ember. A decade ago, she and her father were servants at Everless, the Gerlings’ palatial estate, until a fateful accident forced them to flee in the dead of night. When Jules discovers that her father is dying, she knows that she must return to Everless to earn more time for him before she loses him forever.

But going back to Everless brings more danger—and temptation—than Jules could have ever imagined. Soon she’s caught in a tangle of violent secrets and finds her heart torn between two people she thought she’d never see again. Her decisions have the power to change her fate—and the fate of time itself.


Title: Everless
Author: Sara Holland
Genre: Fantasy/Young Adult
Publisher: HarperTeen
Source: eBook (Kindle)
Release Date: January 2nd, 2018
Rating: ★★★

I really wanted to love this book, really. The premise sounded so interesting! Everless takes place in a world where time is currency and people bleed years of their lives to pay for basic necessities, like food and rent. Unfortunately, it just didn’t do it for me. I couldn’t bring myself to care about any of it… not the characters, the plot, and especially the cardboard romance. Seriously, I was about as invested in the romance as I was in the pizza box that I threw in the trash bin this morning.

That isn’t to say that this book is poorly written, or even that it isn’t good. This rating is entirely subjective, and I know that there are a lot of people out there who loved this book. Personally, I found the plot to be formulaic and the romance to be very predictable and unnecessary. You really mean for me to believe that Jules held onto a childhood crush for a decade? That’s not a thing. I’m sorry. I also feel like there are a lot of conflicts that could have been easily solved (spoiler: when Jules’ dad came to warn her and she was concerned about how much time he had left, why couldn’t she have just given him some of those time coins that she carried around with her literally everywhere and had absolutely no use for??)

Some positives to note: The writing was good, the world-building was well done, and there were some moments that had me genuinely intrigued. Still, I found myself speed-reading toward the end just to get through the book since it wasn’t holding my interest.

Take this review with a grain of salt, because I know that there were a lot of reviewers whose opinions I admire that adored this book. This is a book with a very interesting premise and characters that some may find endearing, but it adds nothing new to the fantasy genre.

 

Review: Shadowsong by S. Jae-Jones

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Six months after the end of Wintersong, Liesl is working toward furthering both her brother’s and her own musical careers. Although she is determined to look forward and not behind, life in the world above is not as easy as Liesl had hoped. Her younger brother Josef is cold, distant, and withdrawn, while Liesl can’t forget the austere young man she left beneath the earth, and the music he inspired in her.

When troubling signs arise that the barrier between worlds is crumbling, Liesl must return to the Underground to unravel the mystery of life, death, and the Goblin King—who he was, who he is, and who he will be. What will it take to break the old laws once and for all? What is the true meaning of sacrifice when the fate of the world—or the ones Liesl loves—is in her hands?


Title: Shadowsong
Author: S. Jae-Jones
Genre: Young Adult/Fantasy
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Source: NetGalley
Release Date: February 6, 2018
Rating: ★★★

*ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

“Once there was a little girl, who played her music for a little boy in the wood. She was an innkeeper’s daughter and he was the Lord of Mischief, but neither were wholly what they seemed, for nothing is as simple as a fairy tale.”

There’s a certain kind of person that would love Shadowsong. This kind of person would love beautiful prose, thoughtful and emotional introspection, and star-crossed lovers. This kind of person would adore musical analogies and find resonance with characters that struggled with mental health issues.

Unfortunately, I’m not that kind of person.

Wintersong and Shadowsong were not the right books for me for multiple reasons. I can see why some people love these books, and I’m really disappointed that I wasn’t able to enjoy them the same way that others did. I had a lot of issues with Wintersong, which I started off loving, but then almost didn’t even finish. The first half had the same dark, mysterious, and mind-bending feel of the Labyrinth, which Wintersong was roughly based off of. In the first 50%, I really thought that it would be a four or even five star read for me. Unfortunately, the second half was like an entirely different book. It turned into an angsty, confusing, contradictory romance in which the two leads barely even seemed to like each other, let alone love each other. Then it just kind of… ended.

I wanted to read Shadowsong anyway, hoping that it would have more of the qualities that I loved from the first book. It was actually quite different, and this worked well for me in some ways and not so well for me in other ways.

There was very little action and a great deal of introspection and emotion. The main character was less irritating to me than she was in the first book, as the majority of her thoughts didn’t revolve around her ugliness and desire for sex, like they did in Wintersong. There was also much less focus on the relationship between Liesl and the Goblin King, and more focus on the relationship between Liesl and her brother.

This book wasn’t for me, but S. Jae-Jones is an incredible writer, and I look forward to reading more of her books in the future.

(Side note: I hear she’s coming out with an East Asian-inspired fantasy series based on Sailor Moon, so um, count me in).

Review: The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black

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Children can have a cruel, absolute sense of justice. Children can kill a monster and feel quite proud of themselves. A girl can look at her brother and believe they’re destined to be a knight and a bard who battle evil. She can believe she’s found the thing she’s been made for.

Hazel lives with her brother, Ben, in the strange town of Fairfold where humans and fae exist side by side. The faeries’ seemingly harmless magic attracts tourists, but Hazel knows how dangerous they can be, and she knows how to stop them. Or she did, once.

At the center of it all, there is a glass coffin in the woods. It rests right on the ground and in it sleeps a boy with horns on his head and ears as pointed as knives. Hazel and Ben were both in love with him as children. The boy has slept there for generations, never waking.

Until one day, he does…

As the world turns upside down, Hazel tries to remember her years pretending to be a knight. But swept up in new love, shifting loyalties, and the fresh sting of betrayal, will it be enough?


Title: The Darkest Part of the Forest
Author: Holly Black
Genre: Young Adult/Fantasy
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Source: Kindle
Release Date: January 13th, 2015
Rating: ★★★★

After reading and loving The Cruel Prince, I wanted to try out another Holly Black book. This one certainly didn’t disappoint. I can’t wait to read more books from her!

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In the town of Fairfold, there is a horned fey prince in the woods, asleep within a glass casket. For years, people have been visiting him, partying around him, and speaking to him. Then, one day, he wakes up. As faerie mischief becomes more egregious, siblings Hazel and Ben must team up with the mysterious horned boy to save their town.

The Darkest Part of the Forest takes place in the same world as The Cruel Prince, as well as some of her other books. Our own mortal world is mixed in with the magical realm of Faerie, which exists on a different plane. This makes for a unique combination of normal and magical.

This story is atmospheric, haunting, and dark. The fantasy is blended in well enough with the realistic aspects that the inclusion of magic isn’t at all jarring. The characters are all endearing in their own way. You have the strong and brave Hazel, her adorable and slightly insecure brother Ben, their changeling friend Jack, and the mysterious fey prince Severin.

The romantic inclusion in the story is cute, but a little rushed. I loved the connections with the two pairings, and wished that a little more time was spent building the relationships. I wouldn’t call it insta-love, but just a lot of stuff happening behind the scenes that I would have liked to read about.

I also felt like the action scenes were a little lacking in depth. There was a huge focus on backstory, to the point where I felt like it almost bogged the story down, and the climax and resolution all felt crammed into the ending. The characters would do something great, but then the story seemed to instantly move on without giving the reader time to absorb what happened.

Also, I just want to say, I hate Ben and Hazel’s parents. It was established that they were very neglectful of both of their children from the time they were very young, and even though Hazel claims her parents “grew up”, I don’t think that level of neglect is redeemable. Seriously, they let Ben and Hazel stay out all night in the cold as young children and eat out of dog bowls. Not okay.

All in all, I really enjoyed this story. I can’t wait to read more great books from Holly Black!

Review: The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

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Jude was seven years old when her parents were murdered and she and her two sisters were stolen away to live in the treacherous High Court of Faerie. Ten years later, Jude wants nothing more than to belong there, despite her mortality. But many of the fey despise humans. Especially Prince Cardan, the youngest and wickedest son of the High King.

To win a place at the Court, she must defy him–and face the consequences.

In doing so, she becomes embroiled in palace intrigues and deceptions, discovering her own capacity for bloodshed. But as civil war threatens to drown the Courts of Faerie in violence, Jude will need to risk her life in a dangerous alliance to save her sisters, and Faerie itself.


Title: The Cruel Prince
Author: Holly Black
Genre: Young Adult/Fantasy
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Source: Kindle
Release Date: January 2nd, 2018
Rating: ★★★★★

“What could I become if I stopped worrying about death, about pain, about anything? If I stopped trying to belong? Instead of being afraid, I could become something to fear.”  

I’m ashamed to admit that this is my first Holly Black book. Why didn’t anyone tell me how much I’ve been missing out? The way she writes is absolutely phenomenal. This book demanded to be read, and I couldn’t put it down!

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The story primarily takes place in Faerie, but the magical world exists within our own familiar one. Jude, her twin sister, and her part-faerie half-sister, are brought to Faerie as young children after their parents are brutally murdered in front of them. As a human living in a fey world, she is bullied and belittled, despite the high-standing of the father figure who brought them there. The majority of the bullying comes from Cardan, a nasty and self-important fey prince, along with his group of close friends. While Jude’s twin sister is timid, Jude tackles the bullying head-on.

“If I cannot be better than them, I will become so much worse.”

Soon, she becomes entwined in the politics of Faerie, and what ensues is political intrigue, scheming, and lots and lots of Red Wedding-esque murder.

I love Cardan. He wasn’t redeemed in this book, by any means, but there is some backstory given that makes you feel sorry for him. Also, I’m a huge sucker for the hate-to-love-you trope. His obsession with Jude makes the story so much more interesting.

“Most of all, I hate you because I think of you. Often. It’s disgusting, and I can’t stop.”  

And omggggg the feels. This book is dark, vicious, and delicious, and I’m about 99.9% sure that it was written for me. Jude, is everything you want from a main character. She’s smart and strong, but also entirely believable and relatable. She’s fierce, and her strength and determination only grow stronger with every horrible thing that’s done to her.

“I am going to keep on defying you. I am going to shame you with my defiance. You remind me that I am a mere mortal and you are a prince of Faerie. Well, let me remind you that means you have much to lose and I have nothing. You may win in the end, you may ensorcell me and hurt me and humiliate me, but I will make sure you lose everything I can take from you on the way down. I promise you this is the least of what I can do.”  

This world that Holly Black has created is magical, beautiful, and savage. No one is particularly good, but they all have unique voices, personalities, and motivations. It’s almost like a faerie version of Game of Thrones.

I could probably spend all day quoting this book, so let me leave you with this gem:

“Nice things don’t happen in storybooks. Or when they do happen, something bad happens next. Because otherwise the story would be boring, and no one would read it.”