Review: Not That I Could Tell by Jessica Strawser

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When a group of neighborhood women gathers, wine in hand, around a fire pit where their backyards meet one Saturday night, most of them are just ecstatic to have discovered that their baby monitors reach that far. It’s a rare kid-free night, and they’re giddy with it. They drink too much, and the conversation turns personal.

By Monday morning, one of them is gone.

Everyone knows something about everyone else in the quirky small Ohio town of Yellow Springs, but no one can make sense of the disappearance. Kristin was a sociable twin mom, college administrator, and doctor’s wife who didn’t seem all that bothered by her impending divorce—and the investigation turns up more questions than answers, with her husband, Paul, at the center. For her closest neighbor, Clara, the incident triggers memories she thought she’d put behind her—and when she’s unable to extract herself from the widening circle of scrutiny, her own suspicions quickly grow. But the neighborhood’s newest addition, Izzy, is determined not to jump to any conclusions—especially since she’s dealing with a crisis of her own.

As the police investigation goes from a media circus to a cold case, the neighbors are forced to reexamine what’s going on behind their own closed doors—and to ask how well anyone really knows anyone else.


Title: Not That I Could Tell
Author: Jessica Strawser
Genre: Mystery/Suspense
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Source: Hardcover
Release Date: March 27th, 2018
Rating: ★★

I hate giving this book two stars, but it took me ten days to read it. I kept waiting to get sucked in, and it just didn’t happen.

It started off interesting enough, with the mysterious disappearance of Kristin and her two children. The night prior to the disappearance, Kristen and several other women from the neighborhood are drinking wine around a campfire. The next morning, Kristin is gone, and the neighborhood is left to speculate the cause. Was it about money? Was there something sinister involving her ex-husband, Paul?

The story is told through the two main perspectives of Clara and Izzy, two neighboring women. Interspersed between each chapter, there are very brief (one to two page) introspective chapters from Kristin’s perspective, describing what was going through her head and why she needed to disappear. These pages alone provide a mysterious and foreboding atmosphere, but I didn’t get that from the rest of the novel.

To be honest, I was just bored. The book wasn’t bad by any means and some parts were interesting, but nothing ever really hooked me. I was skimming so much toward the end that I almost missed the twist, which was surprising but didn’t affect the story all that much. There was never any real threat of danger, and the person I was lead to think was the bad guy was *shocker* the bad guy. Throughout the entire middle portion, I kept wondering if anything I was reading was actually relevant. It just… didn’t work for me.

Maybe this just wasn’t the book for me. I almost feel like I would have enjoyed it more if I was a mother, with the constant references to family life and the pains of raising children/being a stay-at-home mom. I think a lot of people will find these women relatable, but that wasn’t the case for me.

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: It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover

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Sometimes it is the one who loves you who hurts you the most.

Lily hasn’t always had it easy, but that’s never stopped her from working hard for the life she wants. She’s come a long way from the small town in Maine where she grew up
— she graduated from college, moved to Boston, and started her own business. So when she feels a spark with a gorgeous neurosurgeon named Ryle Kincaid, everything in Lily’s life suddenly seems almost too good to be true.

Ryle is assertive, stubborn, maybe even a little arrogant. He’s also sensitive, brilliant, and has a total soft spot for Lily. And the way he looks in scrubs certainly doesn’t hurt. Lily can’t get him out of her head. But Ryle’s complete aversion to relationships is disturbing. Even as Lily finds herself becoming the exception to his “no dating” rule, she can’t help but wonder what made him that way in the first place.

As questions about her new relationship overwhelm her, so do thoughts of Atlas Corrigan — her first love and a link to the past she left behind. He was her kindred spirit, her protector. When Atlas suddenly reappears, everything Lily has built with Ryle is threatened.


Title: It Ends With Us
Author: Colleen Hoover
Genre: Romance/New Adult/Contemporary
Publisher: Atria Books
Source: Paperback
Release Date: August 2nd, 2016
Rating: ★★★★

Disclaimer: This review will contain some minor spoilers.

This book, like many books by Colleen Hoover, will completely shatter you.

If you’re looking for a light, fluffy romance read, this isn’t it. That’s not to say that it doesn’t have its funny, romantic, light-hearted moments, but it does deal with some dark subject matter (trigger warning: physical violence and attempted rape).

I went into this book blind. Literally, I had no clue what I was getting myself into. I thought that this was about a girl from Maine who moves to Boston and starts dating a hot neurosurgeon (my life, minus the hot neurosurgeon). When the tone of the book shifted about a quarter of the way through, I was completely blindsided. I actually enjoyed the unexpected twist, but I do think that people need to be warned about the content of this book. It confronts the subject of domestic violence and the many reasons that people don’t leave abusive relationships.

It Ends With Us is in no way a love triangle. I don’t know why its marketed as such, but I find that very misleading. This isn’t a book about a girl choosing between two men, this is a book about a girl confronting her past so that she can escape her present situation and create a different future.

Colleen Hoover manages to make her books so much more than just contemporary romances. There’s always something deeper involved. It Ends With Us is especially powerful and gripping. There are strong, multilayered characters and heartwrenching backstories. The way everything ties up at the end is so perfect, and I just can’t wait to read more from this author!

 

Review: Anatomy of a Scandal by Sarah Vaughn

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Sophie’s husband James is a loving father, a handsome man, a charismatic and successful public figure. And yet he stands accused of a terrible crime. Sophie is convinced he is innocent and desperate to protect her precious family from the lies that threaten to rip them apart.

Kate is the lawyer hired to prosecute the case: an experienced professional who knows that the law is all about winning the argument. And yet Kate seeks the truth at all times. She is certain James is guilty and is determined he will pay for his crimes.

Who is right about James? Sophie or Kate? And is either of them informed by anything more than instinct and personal experience? Despite her privileged upbringing, Sophie is well aware that her beautiful life is not inviolable. She has known it since she and James were first lovers, at Oxford, and she witnessed how easily pleasure could tip into tragedy.

Most people would prefer not to try to understand what passes between a man and a woman when they are alone: alone in bed, alone in an embrace, alone in an elevator… Or alone in the moonlit courtyard of an Oxford college, where a girl once stood before a boy, heart pounding with excitement, then fear. Sophie never understood why her tutorial partner Holly left Oxford so abruptly. What would she think, if she knew the truth?


Title: Anatomy of a Scandal
Author: Sarah Vaughan
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Publisher: Atria Books
Source: NetGalley
Release Date: January 11, 2018
Rating: ★★★★

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

If you’re looking for a riveting courtroom drama, this is it.

Rather than a fast-paced, edge-of-your-seat thriller, this book is more of a slow burn, with a few reveals along the way. It’s tense and character driven, and I couldn’t stop turning the pages to find out what happens next.

Anatomy of a Scandal is a very well-written, well-researched book about sexual violence; the gray areas that surround it, the way it’s treated in a courtroom, and the social ramifications on everyone involved. There are multiple perspectives which make the book well-rounded and gives you a glimpse into many different facets of the crime. The primary perspectives are of Kate, the sexual offense prosecutor, James, the politician who is on trial for rape, and Sophie, his wife.

Kate and Sophie are incredibly fascinating characters. I liked that Sophie didn’t blindly stand by her husband. She listened to the facts and questioned him along the way. Ultimately, she made the best decision for herself.

I will say that this book takes place in England and is very British. The law and political system is a little different and I didn’t understand some of the terminology, but the book did a fairly good job of making it understandable.

There is a twist around the halfway mark that I suspected pretty early-on, but I don’t think the reader is supposed to be too surprised by this revelation, anyway. Still, I enjoyed the way it was revealed, and thought that it was essential for understanding the motivation behind a particular character’s actions.

I would recommend Anatomy of a Scandal to anyone looking for a fascinating and unique courtroom thriller.

Review: The Secret History by Donna Tartt

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Under the influence of their charismatic classics professor, a group of clever, eccentric misfits at an elite New England college discover a way of thinking and living that is a world away from the humdrum existence of their contemporaries. But when they go beyond the boundaries of normal morality their lives are changed profoundly and for ever.


Title: The Secret History
Author: Donna Tartt
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Publisher: Vintage Books
Source: Paperback
Release Date: September 11, 1992
Rating: ★★★★★

I’m a little late on this one.

And when I say late, I mean about 26 years late. This book came out before I was born. When it was released, it was critically acclaimed and widely considered one of the best books of the 90’s. I’ve been hearing of this book for quite some time, so I decided to jump on the bandwagon and give it a try.

Honestly, I don’t know how to review this book. It’s the kind of story that stays with you well after you’ve finished reading it. It tells the dark and haunting story of a close-knit group of college students that commit the murder of their best friend. The murder isn’t a secret; in fact, it’s revealed in the first chapter. This book focuses more on the buildup and subsequent aftermath of the event.

The Greek program at Hampden College is a very small handful of students that are exclusively selected by the program’s mysterious professor, Julian Morrow. Richard is an outsider who gradually becomes a member of this group. Because he is from a different world (he is a poor California boy with distant parents, while the rest are pampered and wealthy New England elitists), we are given an interesting perspective on the events that unfold. None of the characters are particularly likable, but the story is compelling and kept me turning the pages to find out what happens next.

The Secret History is a slow-burn psychological thriller about intellectual arrogance, obsession and insecurity, and the lengths that people will go to cover up a murder. This is the kind of book that I could reread again and again, and always find something that I missed the first time.

I’ve never read anything like it, and I’m not sure that I ever will again.

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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.”