(Review:) The Fate of the Tearling

<Standard, but genuine, apology for how long it has been since I posted here>

 

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I was one of those people who generally ignored the massive buzz around The Queen of the Tearling when it first came out. People were raving about it and the usual “the next blah blak” comparisons were all over the place. Emma Watson gave it some serious exposure and in general it just felt like a whole over the top hullabaloo. So it was some time after it was published that I got around to reading it. And I was so pleasantly surprised! I mean it definitely wasn’t the next best thing since sliced bread but it was energetic, compelling and interesting. I really enjoyed my first read, and then enjoyed my second read even more and by the third read I had decided that this was a book I could place fairly high in my ratings. The characters were interesting and fleshed-out and I cared about them. The world was a little bare-bones but with suggestions of more to come. So I went into the second book with enthusiasm. And I did enjoy it. There were some seriously confusing parts and at times I wasn’t sure if I was actually reading two separate plots but in the end I had managed to merge them in my mind. And I still loved the characters, old and new, and appreciated their growth and changes. And so I looked forward to the final instalment, excited to see how these people I had come to care for would fare.

Warning: There are serious spoilers in what follows and don’t read unless you’ve already read the trilogy.

I genuinely cannot recall the last time I felt so betrayed and let down by the final book in a series. Seriously, it feels like the author has jumped up and down on all the work that went on before and then set it on fire. I’m not complaining because there wasn’t a happy ending, I’m not complaining because what I wanted to happen didn’t happen. I’m complaining because I feel a serious injustice was done to these characters, characters I was led to care about in the previous two books.
The book starts out after Kelsea has handed herself over to the Red Queen and focuses on the Mace’s plan to get her back, her own interactions with the Red Queen and the machinations of the dark thing that Kelsea has just freed. At least one half of the book focuses on that. The other half deals with Kelsea’s flashbacks to the time just after the Crossing and William Tearling’s attempts to built his utopian society. And dear god was that half frustrating and boring. Seriously there was no point to it, all the information needed could have been gathered in one conversation with the Fetch and we wouldn’t have been subjected to a whole load of information that we never need again. The flashbacks in the second book worked much better and, after my initial hesitation, they genuinely felt like they were pushing the plot forward. The other side of the book has its own problems too with the random insertion of what appears to be vampire children (Twilight anyone?), the beyond pointless revelation about Queen Elyssa and some badly thought-out plot twists. For example Kelsea’s father is revealed and, while I actually appreciated who it turns out to be, it doesn’t fit with other points made about Kelsea’s bloodline. Or least it was neglected in such a way that the connection isn’t clear at all.

But all those other complaints fade away when faced with the conclusion to the series. At the end with the Tearling threatened on various sides and after a mad-dash race to make it back to the Keep in an attempt to save it there is one of the biggest cop-outs I’ve ever read. Kelsea reunites her sapphires with the Tearling Crown which magnifies their power and gives her the opportunity to go back in time and make a change, thus changing her present. AND SHE BLOODY DOES. Instead of deciding to try and save her kingdom, instead of trying to change it and improve it with education and judicial reforms she just takes the easy path out. And in this changed present, which is admittedly a much more adjusted society, Kelsea is the only person who remembers the past. Pen, the Mace, her mother, Carlin, they all exist but none of them know her as Queen Kelsea. Pen walks past her in the street to go home to his wife and children. NO-ONE REMEMBERS. And you hear nothing about the vast majority of these characters that you have cared about for three goddamn books. It’s like they didn’t matter, they were just ornaments to the plot. I was genuinely quivering with rage when I finished this book and I’m still angry. It just strikes me as such a lazy solution, like BAM: time-travel, change the past, everything is solved. I wanted to see Kelsea try and rebuilt her kingdom, I wanted to see the Queen’s guard and household develop, I wanted to see something that made it actually felt like the past two books had a purpose.

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(Review:) Nevernight

Nevernight

I attended the Young Adult Literature Convention (YALC) in London over the weekend which was fantastic. There were some wonderful panels discussing a wide variety of topics and being surrounded by fellow book lovers meant there was a great feeling of inclusion and unity! My bank account hates me a little afterwards though because there were so many fantastic books available to buy and my self-control slipped a little. Oops.

One of the books I bought was the upcoming release from Jay Kristoff, Nevernight. I adored Kristoff’s The Lotus War series, whilst simultaneously cursing him for causing me so much pain. Seriously though, that series was a combination of badassery, exquisite world-building and utter heartbreak and I highly recommend you read it. So as you can I guess I’ve been really looking forward to a new book from him especially when I saw the breathtakingly gorgeous cover. And the tagline ‘Never Flinch. Never Fear. Never Forget’ is pretty awesome too! However I’m sure you’ve sensed the ‘but’ floating around behind my words and here it is; but, having finally read the book I find myself a little disappointed. The premise of the book is fantastic but gets bogged down in overly convoluted explanations and writing. The book also contains a serious pet peeve of mine, footnotes. Baring a very few exceptions, footnotes do absolutely nothing for the text of a book other than break the flow of the reader and encourage the author to included extraneous detail and Nevernight is not one of the exceptions.

The plot follows Mia Corvere, who sees her whole family destroyed in one day as a young child and escapes, vowing to gain revenge on those responsible. She is raised, and trained for her vengeance by a man she meets on the cold, unforgiving streets of Godsgrave. When she reaches sixteen her mentor sends her to find the Red Church, a legendary school of assassins in order to gain all the skills needed to avenge her family. Mia is accompanied, as she has been since the terrible day her world was turned upside down, by Mister Kindly a creature made from the shadows Mia has control over. With Mister Kindly at her side Mia has to navigate deadly lessons, equally deadly fellow students and figure out exactly how to control her power. But she never forgets her vengence. Which sounds like an awesome plot right? And the potential was there for this to be a epically fast-paced adventure, but instead the reader is bogged down in unnecessary detail! The political landscape of Godsgrave is that of a Roman-style senate and Kristoff cannot resist giving the reader too much irrelevant history of this government and city in the footnotes. It removes the dark, forbidding atmosphere that the blurb, cover and tagline give to the book and makes you feel like you’re reading an academic history book. There was also a tendency to use overly complicated language and metaphors, in an attempt to make the atmosphere grave and epic, but unfortunately had the same effect as the footnotes; forced the reader to slow or stop in order to untangle the meaning in their mind. There was also a discord in the behaviour of the characters. Kristoff obviously meant his school to be deadly and without remorse – students are regularly set potentially fatal tests and the teachers don’t seem to care if they fail. Yet there was still too much kindness and camaraderie for a reader to truly believe these children will be deadly killers. I mean the book tells you they are, and shows you they are, but it doesn’t really ring true.

I don’t think this is a terrible book, in fact there were parts that I really enjoyed such as the Mister Kindly character. He definitely seems like a multi-faceted invention and I definitely think there is much more beneath the surface than Mia, or the reader, realises. I also enjoyed the flashback scenes and Kristoff did succeed in making me hate those who have wronged Mia and want her to gain her revenge. I just think if a lot of elements had been stripped back (ESPECIALLY THE FOOTNOTES) everything would have been better – it’s a very strong plot and could have held the reader’s attention on its own.

(Review:) Daughter of Blood

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Where to start? No seriously where on earth do I start when it comes to reviewing a book so filled with complex twists and elements, most of which have yet to be made clear, that I realise something new every time I read it? I have a short description of the series in my Top Five Fantasy Series so if you’re not familiar with it at all go read that, then read the first two books, then read the third, THEN come back here!

Much like in The Gathering of the Lost, Daughter of Blood follows three main paths that ultimately all converge at the end of the book…..only to diverge again! There are other, splinter paths that join at various times but ultimately the focus is on Malian travelling with Raven towards reclaiming her place in the Derai Alliance, Kalan getting to, and surviving, in the Red Keep and Myr, the Daughter of Blood who has more strength than she, or her family, realises. Her family are a fascinating look at the personalities that make up the whole Derai Alliance and I loved the intricate relationships Lowe displayed between the siblings. I also wanted to kill most of them, but I’m pretty sure that’s how I’m meant to feel! This book was full of the sense that not only is the web tightening, its a much bigger web than we could have ever anticipated.The Darksworn are clearly much more complicated than might have been previously thought, which was hinted at in The Gathering of the Lost but truly highlighted here. Not only that, it is becoming clear that Lowe doesn’t want readers to view the Derai Alliance as the ‘Good’ to their ‘Evil’. There is a long and complex history behind this struggle that exists in the grey of morality. Malian may find that rebuilding the Derai Alliance is not only harder than she could have ever anticipated, it might also reveal dark truths that are hard to face.
Kalan has had a challenging time of it lately and this book was no different. I wonder how hard it was for him to return to the Red Keep disguised as a warrior and wonder if his family hadn’t sent him away, if his powers hadn’t manifested, would this have been truly his life? The suggestions that there is more to his lineage than we might have realised are tantalizing and I was honestly shouting at him to say something to Taly when he realised their connection (if you’re a GOT fan, imagine if in the recent episode where Jon and Sansa reunited, Jon saw her walk in….and then left before she saw him).
Myr frustrates me slightly. Admittedly, because she was only introduced in this book, I don’t have the same strong connection to her that I’ve developed with other characters but there is more to it than just that. At my own admission I find the journey passive characters take to become more assertive, slightly irritating. I say this having struggled with anxiety and self-esteem my whole life and I wonder if the problem is that I actually identify too much with Myr and so find reading her hesitations hard, and her growth as unattainable. But my own niggly emotions towards the character aside, she is a welcome addition to the tale because she further diversifies the story and adds a different personality to the mix of warriors and power-users.
There were so many parts of this book that I loved. The glimpses we got into other Derai Houses were fascinating, especially Sea House and I squealed, yes actually squealed, when Stars appeared. And the fact that at least one of their Blood seems to be a reasonable person makes me so hopeful for Malian’s attempt to reunite the Derai. I also think the priestly houses that have been so dismissed by the Derai warriors will have a pretty big impact in the future despite their weak appearance. Faro’s story has barely been scratched and I feel like, despite the events at the end, he will be an essential part of the story going forward.

Speaking of going forward, there is so much I can’t wait for! I sorely missed Tarathan and Jehane Mor in this book and I hope there’s copious amounts of them in the next to make up for their absence! I also really really hope that we see the Emer characters again and Girvase, Audin, Ali, Ghis and Jarna get to see Kalan in his true aspect, and reassure him that he’s still their friend. I want to know just what IS Asantir’s back story, she has to have one right?? I want the Earl of Night to acknowledge that he does love Malian and support her in her attempts at reunification. I want Stars and Night to heal their ancient rift. I want Raven NOT to die ( I have a very bad feeling about this though). I want Kalan and Malian to stand together with all the friends they have made, including some unexpected ones, and face the Swarm together. I want, I want, I want, I WANT THE NEXT BOOK ALREADY.

An Oops and Some Thoughts.

Well oops. Just like I warned might happen in my first post I slipped down the vortex of reading new books (or re-reading!) and not stopping long enough to write down my thoughts on each book before I moved on. I also hit a little bit of a reading-block if that makes sense to you, if it doesn’t don’t worry because I’m about to explain.

Much like a writer’s block can be an immovable barrier to a writer’s creativity and imagination, a reading block leaves you incapable of focusing on a book or even lacking any desire to read. Different things can lead to a reading block for me; sometimes a period of constant reading can just leave me feeling empty and shrivelled. I can read about 3-4 books a day at the height of my focus and sometimes I just burn out from the intense energy I put into absorbing that many books in quick succession. Things also begin to blur into each other when I’m reading that much and I get more despairing of the common themes and devices that are repeated across the genres I read the most of. Usually I deal pretty well with motifs across literature – just because the story is the same it doesn’t make the writing any less engaging or entertaining and I don’t believe original is a byword for excellence. But when you read the same character for the umpteenth time or begin to foretell the plot for the fourth book in a row things can get frustrating. Genre trends can also create a little bit of a reading block. Usually after the publication of a major hit in a genre you see a spate of books with similar themes and preoccupations. I don’t mean people start copying the winning formula (although that definitely happens too). Publishers see the success this particular theme has and suddenly books that might not have seemed as appealing beforehand could be the next big thing. Often this could mean a book written years before the ‘Big Hit’ will now see the light of day, propelled along publishing line by the appeal of their second cousin twice removed (in book terms of course!) This isn’t necessarily a negative, if it hadn’t been for the success of The Hunger Games would we have seen some of the excellent dystopian novels that emerged? But like the two-faced god Janus so beloved of the fantasy genre there is a downside. The market becomes over-saturated with almost identikit books and any true gems can be buried under the avalanche of mediocre and downright awful novels that appear. When the majority of books being published in a genre at a particular time are all very similar, it can be very hard to motivate yourself to read much, because they all blur together. At the moment I believe fairy-tale retellings are experiencing a surge in YA fantasy, and I’ve read some brilliant books arising from this (The Wrath and the Dawn, Crimson Bound, Sisters Red) but I’m wary of the tide rising.

Another common cause of a reading block for me is when I read a book so devastatingly amazing that it rips a hole in my soul and any book I try to read afterwards is like eating vanilla ice-cream after you’ve had a deep rich berry sorbet. Nothing wrong with vanilla ice-cream, and sometimes that’s exactly what you want, but it can’t reach the depth of flavour the sorbet provided. I didn’t read the Lord of the Rings until I was 12 and it shifted my entire reading compass. North was now the heartache I experienced when I looked up from the last page and realised I didn’t live in Middle-Earth and would never meet these characters, or experience their world other than through the medium of reading. I’ve experienced a similar feeling upon finishing series such as The Wind of Fire by William Nicholson and The Abhorsen trilogy by Garth Nix (OF WHICH A NEW ONE COMES IN OCTOBER AND I AM INCAPABLE OF HIDING MY EXCITEMENT). Most recently, and probably the closest I’ve ever felt to how I did when I finished Lord of the Rings, The Wall of Night series has gripped me tightly in its claws and dug in deep. In fact it is the recent release of the third book of the series that is largely to blame for my blogging absence. I read it. Then I took a week and read it again. Then I took a few more weeks, and read it a third time. I’ve spent the time since trying to figure out how to review a book that makes me cry every time I read it and leaves me so desperately desperate for the next one that I’m considering moving to New Zealand and camping outside Helen Lowe’s house until it is ready. I read it for the fourth time yesterday and I think I finally have enough distance to be able to review it coherently…..for the most part.

So that’s whats coming next! This was just meant as an apology post (but I got a little deeper than planned!) and the next time you hear from me will be with my thoughts on Daughter of Blood by Helen Lowe. Hopefully before the end of this week!

Girls, Girls, Girls.

So today is International Women’s Day and in honour of that I’ve decided to do a post of some of my favourite female characters in literature. Sometimes I get so frustrated by representation of women in books, especially fantasy and YA literature. There are so many one-dimensional characters out there, and even when that dimension is of a ‘strong’ woman it annoys me because it is still creating an unrealistic image. I wrote one of my MA dissertations on the representation of mythical women in poetry and some of the things I found whilst researching apply to modern fiction just as much. To quote myself (which is really weird) ,’It matters not if the voice given to woman is strong and judicial, as in the case with Athena, or intelligent and loyal such as Penelope as these are still not representative of the diverse personality an individual woman is capable of. They are no less restrictive and distorted than the negative voices of the mad and vengeful Medea or the shameful adulteress Helen.’ Lately there have been various discussions on the existence of the ‘strong female character’ in films and TV and a challenge to the notion that for a female character to be ‘strong’ she must follow traditionally masculine definitions of strength. There is a brilliant article in relation to this that explores the point way better than I could HERE. But the long and short of it is that yea some of my favourite female characters are badass warriors … and some of them are anxiety-ridden nerds. And they’re amazing in so many ways and yet annoying in others and all because they are human! 

(there’s no order to this list btw)

Sabriel from the Abhorsen series by Garth Nix.
‘Though I am afraid.’ ‘So am I,”whispered Sabriel’
On a first glance Sabriel might seem to be to be cast in the mould of a ‘strong female character’.She has been just about trained by her father to fill his shoes and yet she manages to fight the scary people and win the day. But that is a beyond simplistic reading of Sabriel that physically hurts me. Sabriel is so much more than just a vessel for her power and her skills. We see her exhausted, grief-stricken, unsure, pragmatic, emotional, kind, stubborn and yes, strong. I love Sabriel not only because despite her insecurity, fear and grief she manages to come through, but because we see all those things that could have paralysed her. Nix doesn’t write Sabriel like she has all the answers, he writes her like she’s moving from one idea to the next in search of anything that will work. He writes her human. On a related note Lirael, one of the main characters (and title character of the second book) in the series is another multi-faceted female character that I enjoy. She’s actually probably more diverse in character than Sabriel but Sabriel will always retain a special place for me because she was one of the first characters I read that made me realise that sometimes you don’t need to have all the answers to have courage.

Cath from Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell.
‘And she thought about winning. About how she was letting this win, whatever this was – the crazy inside of her. Cath, zero. Crazy, one million.’
My first time reading Fangirl there were times I felt like I was looking in the mirror. I have social anxiety myself, worse in some ways than Cath’s and better than her in others and I got pretty emotional reading this book. I think it takes a special special kind of bravery to push through a fear you know is irrational but doesn’t feel any less real. There’s an amazing spoken word piece from Catalina Ferro (HERE) and one of the most breath-taking lines from it is “these people who fight through every day like fucking gladiators … just because they want so badly to live, to hold on.” Cath has no trust in people because of her mother’s abandonment; every day events and ‘normal’ activities stump her and even the smallest slight can feel like a slap in the face. Yet she pushes on. She moves to university, essentially on her own, she goes to class, she resists the urge to stick her head in the sand and let the world happen around, and without, her. The moment when she explains why she hasn’t being going to the dining hall made me lose my breath because its such a familiar feeling – sheer panic not just at the thought of the action, but because you know, you know that the other person won’t understand your fear. Cath has steel in her spirit, whether she knows it or not and I think she’s one of the most relatable characters I’ve ever read.

Luna Lovegood from the Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling
‘Don’t worry, you’re just as sane as I am’
The Harry Potter series has a number of great female characters from the brilliant Hermione to the passionate Molly Weasley but Luna has always held my attention more than the others. For starters she really couldn’t care less about other people’s opinions – if she believes in something then she backs herself 100%. That is something I, anxiety-ridden as I can be, admire greatly. Her fierce loyalty to her friends is another aspect of her personality that makes her so awesome. I often think the line from the book ‘then you should have died, died rather than betray your friends! As we would have done for you!’ is something Luna would have unquestionably believed in.

Wynter Moorehawke from the Moorehawke trilogy by Celine Kiernan.
“A YA heroine does not have to pick up a weapon nor wear men’s clothing to be equal to her male counterparts.”
This quote from Wynter’s creator Celine Kiernan (aside from being completely true and applicable to ALL literature) so perfectly encapsulates why I love Wynter. Wynter’s weapon is her mind. She knows how her world works and she manipulates and manoeuvres behind her court mask to devastating effect. Even when the best option available to her is the most unpalatable she is logical enough to swallow her pain and follow it. YET she does not ignore her emotions. Kiernan has done such an amazing job of showcasing that logic and emotion can co-exist IN A FEMALE CHARACTER. Wynter loves and trusts fiercely; her capability to identify the most pragmatic option in a situation doesn’t diminish that fact. She’s almost an ideal politician – she genuinely cares about the issue, but she understands how to play the corrupt world around her in order to achieve her aims. I also love how Wynter reacts to some aspects of her world that she has been taught to shun/despise. There’s a saying that our first reaction to something is what we have been socially  conditioned to think, and it is our second thought that truly shows our feelings. So when Wynter recoils from her love after a revelation that initially disgusts her, and then mentally checks herself and reaches out to him it feels so real. Wynter is a multi-layered and complex female character that breathes life in front of the reader and I would seriously recommend people read this series, even if just for her (although there are plenty of other great reasons!)

A few honourable mentions:

  • All the main female characters in Kristin Cashore’s books Graceling, Fire and Bitterblue. All three of them have diverse personalities, make bad decisions/good decisions and just generally draw the reader into their individual lives and problems. Katsa (Graceling) challenges traditional images of the role of women, Fire (Fire) shows that beauty brings its own problems and Bitterblue (Bitterblue) deals with such a range of disturbing and deep issues that I wouldn’t even know where to begin! Read these books; seriously.
  • Pretty much all of Tamora Pierce’s books, but especially Trickster’s Choice and Trickster Queen and the characters of Aly and Dove. God I love this pairing. The smoothly intelligent young royal and the impudent, viciously clever spy just form a partnership that I think could solve half the current problems the world has. Again for both these women, it is their ability to use the knowledge available to them that is the strongest weapon they wield (although Aly could also probably physically kick most people’s ass as well).
  • ALL of the women in The City of Silk and Steel by Mike, Linda and Louise Carey. Seriously, if a book about how a bunch of women work together to escape certain death, starvation and using skills deemed useless or frivolous, or forbidden to them, and build their own city doesn’t appeal to you then I’m not sure why you were reading this post at all.
  • Eona from Eon and Eona. Terrified, broken and being dragged in about fifty different directions Eona spends the majority of these two books fighting herself and unable to admit to her own worth. Until she does so in spectacular fashion. READ THESE.

Two for the price of One!

So the sequel to A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab, A Gathering of Shadows, came out this week and I devoured it in a couple of hours so I’ve decided to combine my reviews of both books together (and express my OUTRAGE at the cliffhanger we’ve been left).

So first off I have to say I love this world (worlds?). The atmosphere Schwab creates is a combination of feckless wonder and dark claustrophobia. Magic is seen as a living, moving, thinking thing that doesn’t differentiate between good and bad, just sees power; which personally I find terrifying. Its like trying to reason with a robot that just sees a logical solution but misses the human cost. A Darker Shade of Magic is set hundreds of years after magic over-ran and consumed one of four connected worlds forcing the others to seal themselves from each other. Travel is now only possible if you are an Antari, a magician with mastery over all the elements, including the most important of all: blood. Kell is one of only two Antari left in all the worlds and serves his king and queen by connecting them with their counterparts. I love Kell. This is Kell in my mind:

paul bettany
Kell is a young, mildly tortured, brilliant magician who has no memory of his childhood until he came under the care of the crown. A crown that sees him as a valuable possession, but treats him as a son leading to some serious mind-fuckery. Kell has been committing mild treason during his visits to the other Londons by bringing objects from them into his own world, and on one of these trips he brings back something he definitely shouldn’t have – cue mayhem. There are various other characters in the book including the other remaining Antari, Holland who is a dark, EXTREMELY tortured, individual that perfectly encapsulates the claustrophobic feeling I was talking about earlier. Rhy is the charming, adventurous, flirtatious prince Kell has grown up alongside and views as a brother, Rhy seems at first to be a typical spoiled royal but he definitely has some hidden depth and he’s grown on me across both books. BUT the main character alongside Kell is Lila, and Lila completely rocks. Here is (a little older) Lila:

gina torres
Simply put Lila has never been given a thing in her life – she has survived in her harsh, magic-less world because of a combination of badassery, intelligence and ruthlessness. You can’t help but admire Lila even when her actions exasperate you and she is the perfect counterpart to Kell’s uptight restrictive thinking. For Lila freedom is the most important thing in the world and she’ll do anything to get hers. I love watching as Lila struggles with a sense of debt and then loyalty towards Kell; until the events of the book she only looked out for herself and Schwab manages to realistically develop their relationship from animosity to a debt repaid to friendship.

Without giving too much away, the events of A Darker Shade of Magic seem self-contained with only the hint of a future storyline…a storyline that explodes in A Gathering of Shadows which I absolutely loved. It has so many elements  – swashbuckling piracy, magic battles, an exploration of the price of magic and the toll a life-debt can take on a relationship, a bit of romance that enhances the plot without overwhelming it and so much more. One of my favourite parts of this sequel is how Schwab developed Kell’s character. She delves deeper into the parts of his life that have gnawed at him for years and now threaten to consume him. His frustration at being trapped by duty and love as well as a rising sense of uselessness have been heightened by the events of A Darker Shade of Magic and now come to the fore in A Gathering of Shadows. There are some excellent characters added to the bill in this book and Lila has begun to explore the suddenly expanded options available to her as well as battling with her inbuilt need to flee from anything settled.
masquerade ball
The masquerade scene from the film Van Helsing encapsulates much of the atmosphere in A Gathering of Shadows  – gorgeous, decadent and deadly. And despite my RAGE at the cliff Schwab has left us on, I think this is a sequel that does exactly what a good sequel should – moves the story along, develops characters realistically, elaborates on the world-building already established in the first book and leaves you panting for more.

Looking Forward

There are some sequels and next installments in fantasy series I enjoy that I’m really looking forward to reading in the early months of 2016 and will hopefully be reviewing once I’ve got my hands on them so I just wanted to lay three of them out! There will probably be more posts like this because 2016 is looking like a great year for fantasy!

1.) Daughter of Blood – Helen Lowe

The third book in the Wall Of Night series is due out January 28th (TOMORROW) and I almost cannot contain my excitement. This series is one of my all-time favourites with fantastic world-building and multi-faceted characters. I have a synopsis of the series as a whole in my Top Ten so head over there for a more general view but this installment follows Malian and Kalan as they turn for home, racing the rising tide of Swarm influence in a desperate bid to save a people that despise what they are.

2.) A Gathering of Shadows – V. E. Schwab

The second book from Victoria Schwab about her fascinating    world of four Londons. The first book,  A Darker Shade of Magic  introduced Kell and Lila and a world divided in four including a  city where magic is revered and celebrated, a  despairing city that  has forgotten the magic it once held, a vicious city where magic is  murdered for and a forgotten city that proves an example of the  potential danger magic can bring. This book will be published Feb  23rd and explores the aftermath of the events of the first book as  the dangerous Black London wakes from its enforced slumber and  the effects are felt across all it’s sister cities.

3.) The Rose and the Dagger – Renee Ahdieh

Another sequel, this time to the 1001 Arabian nights retelling, The Wrath and the Dawn. The first book was vibrant and fast-paced and definitely left me wanting more! Following the guidelines of the classic tale, Ahdieh tells the story of a cursed Caliph who must kill each wife he marries on their wedding night, until he weds Shahrzad and all hell breaks lose. There were some cliches in the first book but the passion and adrenaline carries the reader through those and I’m excited for the last book in this duology. I’m also very excited that it IS a duology and breaks the endless cycle of triologies that has dominated fantasy. ALSO also, look at the beautiful cover! This book is due May 3rd and I can’t wait.