These Violent Delights (These Violent Delights #1) by Chloe Gong

The year is 1926, and Shanghai hums to the tune of debauchery.
A blood feud between two gangs runs the streets red, leaving the city helpless in the grip of chaos. At the heart of it all is eighteen-year-old Juliette Cai, a former flapper who has returned to assume her role as the proud heir of the Scarlet Gang—a network of criminals far above the law. Their only rivals in power are the White Flowers, who have fought the Scarlets for generations. And behind every move is their heir, Roma Montagov, Juliette’s first love…and first betrayal.
But when gangsters on both sides show signs of instability culminating in clawing their own throats out, the people start to whisper. Of a contagion, a madness. Of a monster in the shadows. As the deaths stack up, Juliette and Roma must set their guns—and grudges—aside and work together, for if they can’t stop this mayhem, then there will be no city left for either to rule.

Fantasy, 449 pages, published in 2020

The year is 1926, and Shanghai hums to the tune of debauchery.
A blood feud between two gangs runs the streets red, leaving the city helpless in the grip of chaos. At the heart of it all is eighteen-year-old Juliette Cai, a former flapper who has returned to assume her role as the proud heir of the Scarlet Gang—a network of criminals far above the law. Their only rivals in power are the White Flowers, who have fought the Scarlets for generations. And behind every move is their heir, Roma Montagov, Juliette’s first love…and first betrayal.
But when gangsters on both sides show signs of instability culminating in clawing their own throats out, the people start to whisper. Of a contagion, a madness. Of a monster in the shadows. As the deaths stack up, Juliette and Roma must set their guns—and grudges—aside and work together, for if they can’t stop this mayhem, then there will be no city left for either to rule.
[Goodreads]

Spoiler Free Review:

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Content Warnings: disease (pandemic), violence, self-harm

This had been one of my most anticipated releases for a long time, but it didn’t quite live up to what I was expecting.

I wouldn’t say anything about this book was bad, but nothing about was all that great to me either. I had been prepared for a slow-burn hate-to-love romance, but it felt like all the romance happened in the past.

The plot of this book revolves around a “disease” and there were a lot of parts that hit way too close to home considering the past year and a half.

The retelling aspect of this book didn’t really have me feeling either way. There were some plot points that I could predict because I knew of the original story.

The ending of this book felt very intriguing, but I don’t think it was enough for me to want to read the sequel. I didn’t feel connected to the characters and I didn’t particularly care about the gang rivalry.

I RECOMMEND THIS FOR…

I do think fans of YA fantasy would enjoy this, especially if a historical setting would be interesting to you. I think I am a little burned out from YA fantasy, so I didn’t enjoy as much as I could have.

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Air Awakens (Air Awakens #1) by Elise Kova

The Solaris Empire is one conquest away from uniting the continent, and the rare elemental magic sleeping in seventeen-year-old library apprentice Vhalla Yarl could shift the tides of war.
Vhalla has always been taught to fear the Tower of Sorcerers, a mysterious magic society, and has been happy in her quiet world of books. But after she unknowingly saves the life of one of the most powerful sorcerers of them all—the Crown Prince Aldrik—she finds herself enticed into his world.
Now she must decide her future: Embrace her sorcery and leave the life she’s known, or eradicate her magic and remain as she’s always been. And with powerful forces lurking in the shadows, Vhalla’s indecision could cost her more than she ever imagined.

Fantasy, 342 pages, published in 2015

The Solaris Empire is one conquest away from uniting the continent, and the rare elemental magic sleeping in seventeen-year-old library apprentice Vhalla Yarl could shift the tides of war.
Vhalla has always been taught to fear the Tower of Sorcerers, a mysterious magic society, and has been happy in her quiet world of books. But after she unknowingly saves the life of one of the most powerful sorcerers of them all—the Crown Prince Aldrik—she finds herself enticed into his world.
Now she must decide her future: Embrace her sorcery and leave the life she’s known, or eradicate her magic and remain as she’s always been. And with powerful forces lurking in the shadows, Vhalla’s indecision could cost her more than she ever imagined.
[Goodreads]

Spoiler Free Review:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Content Warnings: torture

I read Elise Kova’s new standalone recently and I enjoyed it, but I definitely thought her writing was better suited to a series and I think I was right!

THE GOOD

Vhalla is such an interesting character to follow! She is definitely pretty naïve to start with, but she is very spunky, feisty, and tough. She goes through a lot throughout the course of this book, so you definitely get to see her grow.

One thing I did appreciate was that finally, someone in a series with elemental magic, thinks about how to do their hair with said magic. I think about this all the time!

I was very pleasantly surprised with the direction of this book! It definitely gets a little darker than I was expecting, but it was good because the beginning of the book felt a little bit typical.

I am very excited to see where this series goes! The romance, plot, and worldbuilding of this book definitely leave things open for the rest of the series.

THE BAD

Like I mentioned above, the beginning of the book felt a little typical. A young girl who works in a library discovers she has magical powers and gets involved with a mysterious prince. It felt like the beginning to a ton of other books I’ve read, but it definitely evolved past that.

I RECOMMEND THIS FOR…

I think any fan of YA fantasy would love this series! It has the plot twist, the romance, the action that a lot of YA fantasies have. The series has five books and there are two more spin off series, so anyone looking for a lot of books in a world should check this out! I haven’t read anything from the spin offs though, so I can’t speak for those books.

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The Crown of Gilded Bones (Blood and Ash #3) by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Poppy never dreamed she would find the love she’s found with Prince Casteel. She wants to revel in her happiness but first they must free his brother and find hers. It’s a dangerous mission and one with far-reaching consequences neither dreamed of. Because Poppy is the Chosen, the Blessed. The true ruler of Atlantia. She carries the blood of the King of Gods within her. By right the crown and the kingdom are hers.
Poppy has only ever wanted to control her own life, not the lives of others, but now she must choose to either forsake her birthright or seize the gilded crown and become the Queen of Flesh and Fire. But as the kingdoms’ dark sins and blood-drenched secrets finally unravel, a long-forgotten power rises to pose a genuine threat. And they will stop at nothing to ensure that the crown never sits upon Poppy’s head.
But the greatest threat to them and to Atlantia is what awaits in the far west, where the Queen of Blood and Ash has her own plans, ones she has waited hundreds of years to carry out. Poppy and Casteel must consider the impossible—travel to the Lands of the Gods and wake the King himself. And as shocking secrets and the harshest betrayals come to light, and enemies emerge to threaten everything Poppy and Casteel have fought for, they will discover just how far they are willing to go for their people—and each other.

Fantasy, 645 pages, published in 2021

Poppy never dreamed she would find the love she’s found with Prince Casteel. She wants to revel in her happiness but first they must free his brother and find hers. It’s a dangerous mission and one with far-reaching consequences neither dreamed of. Because Poppy is the Chosen, the Blessed. The true ruler of Atlantia. She carries the blood of the King of Gods within her. By right the crown and the kingdom are hers.
Poppy has only ever wanted to control her own life, not the lives of others, but now she must choose to either forsake her birthright or seize the gilded crown and become the Queen of Flesh and Fire. But as the kingdoms’ dark sins and blood-drenched secrets finally unravel, a long-forgotten power rises to pose a genuine threat. And they will stop at nothing to ensure that the crown never sits upon Poppy’s head.
But the greatest threat to them and to Atlantia is what awaits in the far west, where the Queen of Blood and Ash has her own plans, ones she has waited hundreds of years to carry out. Poppy and Casteel must consider the impossible—travel to the Lands of the Gods and wake the King himself. And as shocking secrets and the harshest betrayals come to light, and enemies emerge to threaten everything Poppy and Casteel have fought for, they will discover just how far they are willing to go for their people—and each other.
[Goodreads]

Spoiler Free Review:

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Oh man, where do I even start with this book…I enjoyed the first book, had mixed feelings about the second, but this one took it to a whole other level.

THE GOOD

There was one specific scene where Casteel told Poppy that she can be who she is and feel everything she’s feeling around him. She didn’t need permission, but after guarding herself for so long, she had forgotten.

THE BAD

This book just felt like one long, repetitive, boring conversation. It just felt like the characters had a problem, would discuss it, get absolutely nowhere, then discuss it again. There was some action at the beginning and end, but other than that, it was just a long conversation.

There were some references to modern day things (like showers and casseroles, of all things) that immediately took me out of the story. It takes some effort to take this book seriously for me, but those things made it impossible.

Everything with the worldbuilding and family trees is so confusing to me and I’m not sure it will ever make sense.

I RECOMMEND THIS FOR…

If you enjoyed the first and second books, you’ll probably like this one? I’m not even sure. My opinions about this series go downhill with each installment, especially when I realized that there will be at least two more books in the series after this one.

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Royal Assassin (Farseer Trilogy #2) by Robin Hobb

Fitz has survived his first hazardous mission as king’s assassin, but is left little more than a cripple. Battered and bitter, he vows to abandon his oath to King Shrewd, remaining in the distant mountains. But love and events of terrible urgency draw him back to the court at Buckkeep, and into the deadly intrigues of the royal family.
Renewing their vicious attacks on the coast, the Red-Ship Raiders leave burned-out villages and demented victims in their wake. The kingdom is also under assault from within, as treachery threatens the throne of the ailing king. In this time of great danger, the fate of the kingdom may rest in Fitz’s hands—and his role in its salvation may require the ultimate sacrifice.

Fantasy, 675 pages, published in 1996

Fitz has survived his first hazardous mission as king’s assassin, but is left little more than a cripple. Battered and bitter, he vows to abandon his oath to King Shrewd, remaining in the distant mountains. But love and events of terrible urgency draw him back to the court at Buckkeep, and into the deadly intrigues of the royal family.
Renewing their vicious attacks on the coast, the Red-Ship Raiders leave burned-out villages and demented victims in their wake. The kingdom is also under assault from within, as treachery threatens the throne of the ailing king. In this time of great danger, the fate of the kingdom may rest in Fitz’s hands—and his role in its salvation may require the ultimate sacrifice.
[Goodreads]

Spoiler Free Review:

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Content Warnings: torture

I was very excited to read this book because I was surprised by how much I liked the first one, but man, this one was honestly a let down.

THE GOOD

I feel like Fitz finally got to show his personality a little bit in this book!

I really enjoyed Kettriken as a character and getting to see her in action was cool.

There was some cool magic happening at the ending of this book, but it did feel a little rushed to me.

THE BAD

I was very much looking forward to learning more about the Red Ship raiders, especially since it is on the cover of the book (at least the illustrated edition), but I don’t feel like we really got a ton more information about them.

The entire ‘romance’ element of this book….absolutely brought this entire thing down for me. I’ve seen reviews were people say that it is such a good romance and I honestly, truly don’t get it. The relationship was built on what felt like almost nothing and Fitz was ready to give up absolutely everything for this girl. It didn’t help that I was picturing Fitz as a gangly 12 year old (he was definitely older than that in this book). Every scene with the two of them, or even when Fitz was just thinking about, made me want to immediately drop this book.

The end of the book felt…very convenient. After all the boredom beforehand, this was something I actually wanted more detail about, but it was rushed by.

I RECOMMEND THIS FOR…

I’m not sure who would enjoy this book. It is the highest rated of the trilogy, so there are obviously people who enjoy it. I’d heard that it that it is even better than the third book, which scares me because I was very bored throughout. There is obviously something that some people enjoy about this book, but I don’t know what it is.

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The Mask Falling (The Bone Season #4) by Samantha Shannon

Dreamwalker Paige Mahoney has eluded death again. Snatched from the jaws of captivity and consigned to a safe house in the Scion Citadel of Paris, she finds herself caught between those factions that seek Scion’s downfall and those who would kill to protect the Rephaim’s puppet empire.
The mysterious Domino Program has plans for Paige, but she has ambitions of her own in this new citadel. With Arcturus Mesarthim-her former enemy-at her side, she embarks on an adventure that will lead her from the catacombs of Paris to the glittering hallways of Versailles. Her risks promise high reward: the Parisian underworld could yield the means to escalate her rebellion to outright war.
As Scion widens its bounds and the free world trembles in its shadow, Paige must fight her own memories after her ordeal at the hands of Scion. Meanwhile, she strives to understand her bond with Arcturus, which grows stronger by the day. But there are those who know the revolution began with them-and could end with them…

Fantasy, 528 pages, published in 2021

Dreamwalker Paige Mahoney has eluded death again. Snatched from the jaws of captivity and consigned to a safe house in the Scion Citadel of Paris, she finds herself caught between those factions that seek Scion’s downfall and those who would kill to protect the Rephaim’s puppet empire.
The mysterious Domino Program has plans for Paige, but she has ambitions of her own in this new citadel. With Arcturus Mesarthim-her former enemy-at her side, she embarks on an adventure that will lead her from the catacombs of Paris to the glittering hallways of Versailles. Her risks promise high reward: the Parisian underworld could yield the means to escalate her rebellion to outright war.
As Scion widens its bounds and the free world trembles in its shadow, Paige must fight her own memories after her ordeal at the hands of Scion. Meanwhile, she strives to understand her bond with Arcturus, which grows stronger by the day. But there are those who know the revolution began with them-and could end with them…
[Goodreads]

Spoiler Free Review:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Content Warnings: PTSD, possession/loss of autonomy

For some reason, I can’t quite give any of the books in this series a full 5 stars, despite absolutely loving them so far! I think this one is my favorite so far because it had some of my favorite scenes.

THE GOOD

The beginning of this book was one of my favorite parts of the series so far. Since the beginning, Arcturus and Paige have not really had a chance to just…be who they are with each other for any amount of time, so it was nice to see their non-emergency personalities come out.

Paige really went through it in the end of the last book, and she definitely deals with it in this one. I hate when characters go through something traumatic, then suddenly don’t seem to remember it happened.

There some tense scenes in the rest of the book! This is the middle book of the series, so this definitely felt like it was ramping up to the second half of the series.

The end of this book definitely gave me the biggest range of emotions so far in the series.

THE BAD

Each book has a new setting, though this one was the most different. The main characters are in a new country, interacting with a (mostly) new set of characters. It takes place in Paris, so learning all the new characters with French names was a little hard on my brain. The amount of relevant side characters in this series is hard for me in general.

I RECOMMEND THIS FOR…

I love this series, but I’m not sure who the target audience is. It definitely feels like fans of YA would enjoy this if they are looking for something darker (and it does get dark). It doesn’t seem like something fans of typical adult fantasy typically enjoy. This series a mix of urban fantasy and sci-fi, so it’ll be a shift for fans of the classic medieval fantasy.

If you’re interested in following one central character throughout a series, find futuristic technology combined with magic and government secrets interesting, or are just looking for something unique, I’d recommend this!

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The Poison Song (The Winnowing Flame #3) by Jen Williams

From Jen Williams, three-time British Fantasy Award finalist, comes the electrifying conclusion to the Winnowing Flame trilogy. Exhilarating epic fantasy for fans of Robin Hobb.
Jump on board a war beast or two with Vintage, Noon and Tor and return to Sarn for the last installment of this epic series where the trio must gather their forces and make a final stand against the invading Jure’lia.

Fantasy, 576 pages, published in 2019

From Jen Williams, three-time British Fantasy Award finalist, comes the electrifying conclusion to the Winnowing Flame trilogy. Exhilarating epic fantasy for fans of Robin Hobb.
Jump on board a war beast or two with Vintage, Noon and Tor and return to Sarn for the last installment of this epic series where the trio must gather their forces and make a final stand against the invading Jure’lia. [Goodreads]

Spoiler Free Review:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Content Warnings: general darkness

I had high hopes for this finale and it did not disappoint one bit!

I absolutely adore these characters, so it was a joy to follow them for another book, even though they were really going through it.

This has got to be one of the most tense books I have read because I truly wasn’t sure what the characters’ fates would be. It didn’t feel like anything was off the table, so the stakes felt very high the entire time.

This series is not super detail-oriented, where everything that is mentioned is somehow important later on or everything is foreshadowed, like in a Sanderson book. There were definitely some things I still had questions about from earlier in the series the didn’t get answered, but I was overall satisfied with the answers we got.

I think the world of this series felt so fresh and new. There were some concepts that I had seen before, but they were done in a way that was really cool.

The ending was my favorite kind (which I can’t say, because that would be a spoiler), so I was definitely happy with it and also sad that the series was over.

Between the amazing characters, interesting plot and world, and the overall uniqueness of the story, it’s a shame that this series does not have more fans! If you can get your hands on a copy, I would highly recommend it!

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The House in the Cerulean Sea by T. J. Klune

Linus Baker leads a quiet, solitary life. At forty, he lives in a tiny house with a devious cat and his old records. As a Case Worker at the Department in Charge Of Magical Youth, he spends his days overseeing the well-being of children in government-sanctioned orphanages.
When Linus is unexpectedly summoned by Extremely Upper Management he’s given a curious and highly classified
assignment: travel to Marsyas Island Orphanage, where six dangerous children reside: a gnome, a sprite, a wyvern, an unidentifiable green blob, a were-Pomeranian, and the Antichrist. Linus must set aside his fears and determine whether or not they’re likely to bring about the end of days.
But the children aren’t the only secret the island keeps. Their caretaker is the charming and enigmatic Arthur Parnassus, who will do anything to keep his wards safe. As Arthur and Linus grow closer, long-held secrets are exposed, and Linus must make a choice: destroy a home or watch the world burn.
An enchanting story, masterfully told, The House in the Cerulean Sea is about the profound experience of discovering an unlikely family in an unexpected place—and realizing that family is yours.

Fantasy, 394 pages, published in 2020

Linus Baker leads a quiet, solitary life. At forty, he lives in a tiny house with a devious cat and his old records. As a Case Worker at the Department in Charge Of Magical Youth, he spends his days overseeing the well-being of children in government-sanctioned orphanages.
When Linus is unexpectedly summoned by Extremely Upper Management he’s given a curious and highly classified
assignment: travel to Marsyas Island Orphanage, where six dangerous children reside: a gnome, a sprite, a wyvern, an unidentifiable green blob, a were-Pomeranian, and the Antichrist. Linus must set aside his fears and determine whether or not they’re likely to bring about the end of days.
But the children aren’t the only secret the island keeps. Their caretaker is the charming and enigmatic Arthur Parnassus, who will do anything to keep his wards safe. As Arthur and Linus grow closer, long-held secrets are exposed, and Linus must make a choice: destroy a home or watch the world burn.
An enchanting story, masterfully told, The House in the Cerulean Sea is about the profound experience of discovering an unlikely family in an unexpected place—and realizing that family is yours.
[Goodreads]

Spoiler Free Review:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Content Warnings: child abuse (mentioned)

I feel like everyone and their mother has read and loved this book and I’m glad I finally got to it because I LOVED it as well!

This book keeps getting labelled as YA for some reason, but the main character is in his 40’s, which is not something I typically go for. It does have a pretty light feeling overall, even though it does deal with some hard topics, such as child abuse and neglect and discrimination.

The world this story is set in felt a lot like the world in A Series of Unfortunate Events. It could be our world, but some things are just a little different. I think it was the perfect choice for a story about a house for magical children.

The found family in the book was absolutely the best. All of the children have their own clear personalities and relationships with each other and all of the adults were just so wholesome and caring.

I also see a lot of people call this a romance, and while there is a romantic element to it, I don’t think that’s necessarily true. It doesn’t feel like the sole focus of the story.

The overall vibe was very hopeful, yet realistic. I think this will be a book that I come back to many times in the future and I will definitely be checking out more books by this author.

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The Camelot Betrayal (Camelot Rising #2) by Kiersten White

EVERYTHING IS AS IT SHOULD BE IN CAMELOT: King Arthur is expanding his kingdom’s influence with Queen Guinevere at his side. Yet every night, dreams of darkness and unknowable power plague her.

Guinevere might have accepted her role, but she still cannot find a place for herself in all of it. The closer she gets to Brangien, pining for her lost love Isolde, Lancelot, fighting to prove her worth as Queen’s knight, and Arthur, everything to everyone and thus never quite enough for Guinevere–the more she realizes how empty she is. She has no sense of who she truly was before she was Guinevere. The more she tries to claim herself as queen, the more she wonders if Mordred was right: she doesn’t belong. She never will.

When a rescue goes awry and results in the death of something precious, a devastated Guinevere returns to Camelot to find the greatest threat yet has arrived. Not in the form of the Dark Queen or an invading army, but in the form of the real Guinevere’s younger sister. Is her deception at an end? And who is she really deceiving–Camelot, or herself?

Fantasy, 370 pages, published in 2020

EVERYTHING IS AS IT SHOULD BE IN CAMELOT: King Arthur is expanding his kingdom’s influence with Queen Guinevere at his side. Yet every night, dreams of darkness and unknowable power plague her.

Guinevere might have accepted her role, but she still cannot find a place for herself in all of it. The closer she gets to Brangien, pining for her lost love Isolde, Lancelot, fighting to prove her worth as Queen’s knight, and Arthur, everything to everyone and thus never quite enough for Guinevere–the more she realizes how empty she is. She has no sense of who she truly was before she was Guinevere. The more she tries to claim herself as queen, the more she wonders if Mordred was right: she doesn’t belong. She never will.

When a rescue goes awry and results in the death of something precious, a devastated Guinevere returns to Camelot to find the greatest threat yet has arrived. Not in the form of the Dark Queen or an invading army, but in the form of the real Guinevere’s younger sister. Is her deception at an end? And who is she really deceiving–Camelot, or herself?
[Goodreads]

Spoiler Free Review:

Rating: 3 out of 5.

I had wanted to reread the first book before jumping into this one, and although I didn’t have the chance to do that, I do think this book did a decent job at refreshing the reader.

This book felt a little unnecessary, like there didn’t need to be a bridge between the first and last books in this trilogy. Some of the conflict felt a little like fluff.

My main problem with this series is the romance. I consider there to be three main love interests and it keeps feeling like it is going in one direction, then it completely pivots. It felt like the book kept purposefully teasing me with my knowledge of the original story, getting me hopeful, then going in a totally different direction.

One thing I really enjoyed was that Guinevere gets the time to really explore who she is, especially compared to what other people expect of her. She has the duties of the queen on her shoulders, while also dealing with what is expected of her by her guardians. She also has powers that she doesn’t fully understand, so she struggles with the choice between what she can do, and what she should do.

I do think that I am still interested in the final book because I do like the world and the magic. Maybe the ending will tie everything together nicely, but I’m not going in with very high expectations.

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The Tombs of Atuan (Earthsea Cycle #2) by Ursula K. Le Guin

When young Tenar is chosen as high priestess to the ancient and nameless Powers of the Earth, everything is taken away – home, family, possessions, even her name. For she is now Arha, the Eaten One, guardian of the ominous Tombs of Atuan.

While she is learning her way through the dark labyrinth, a young wizard, Ged, comes to steal the Tombs’ greatest hidden treasure, the Ring of Erreth-Akbe. But Ged also brings with him the light of magic, and together, he and Tenar escape from the darkness that has become her domain.

Fantasy, 180 pages, published in 1970

When young Tenar is chosen as high priestess to the ancient and nameless Powers of the Earth, everything is taken away – home, family, possessions, even her name. For she is now Arha, the Eaten One, guardian of the ominous Tombs of Atuan.

While she is learning her way through the dark labyrinth, a young wizard, Ged, comes to steal the Tombs’ greatest hidden treasure, the Ring of Erreth-Akbe. But Ged also brings with him the light of magic, and together, he and Tenar escape from the darkness that has become her domain.
[Goodreads]

Spoiler Free Review:

Rating: 2 out of 5.

I was hesitant to read this book because I didn’t love the first one, but I was willing to keep going because I’d heard that this book was quite different. However, I didn’t find that this was the case for me.

This book follows a new character, from her childhood through her being a teenager. I didn’t like this about the first book, so seeing it done again was just tedious. I felt like it took forever to get to the actual plot that was described in the synopsis, despite this being a very short book.

I didn’t really find anything interesting about this book. There wasn’t much more of the world explored, which was a big thing I wanted to see by continuing this series, and I didn’t connect to the characters. By the time Ged, the main character from the first book, showed up, I was so tired of waiting for something to happen that I didn’t care when it did.

I know a lot of people have a nostalgic connection to this series, but unfortunately, I can’t read any more of it, no matter how much potential I feel like it has. The story-telling style, the writing itself, and the characters just don’t work for me.

Normally, I wouldn’t read the sequel to a book I didn’t enjoy, but since this one was so short, I figured I’d give it a shot. I know for sure now that I won’t be continuing the series.

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The Bone Shard Daughter (The Drowning Empire #1) by Andrea Stewart

The emperor’s reign has lasted for decades, his mastery of bone shard magic powering the animal-like constructs that maintain law and order. But now his rule is failing, and revolution is sweeping across the Empire’s many islands.
Lin is the emperor’s daughter and spends her days trapped in a palace of locked doors and dark secrets. When her father refuses to recognise her as heir to the throne, she vows to prove her worth by mastering the forbidden art of bone shard magic.
Yet such power carries a great cost, and when the revolution reaches the gates of the palace, Lin must decide how far she is willing to go to claim her birthright – and save her people.

Fantasy, 438 pages, published in 2020

The emperor’s reign has lasted for decades, his mastery of bone shard magic powering the animal-like constructs that maintain law and order. But now his rule is failing, and revolution is sweeping across the Empire’s many islands.
Lin is the emperor’s daughter and spends her days trapped in a palace of locked doors and dark secrets. When her father refuses to recognise her as heir to the throne, she vows to prove her worth by mastering the forbidden art of bone shard magic.
Yet such power carries a great cost, and when the revolution reaches the gates of the palace, Lin must decide how far she is willing to go to claim her birthright – and save her people.
[Goodreads]

Spoiler Free Review:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Content Warnings: general violence

This book totally took me by surprise! I was expecting to enjoy it, but it was totally not what I was expecting and I still really enjoyed it.

The books follows five different points of view. The main character is Lin, who has lost her memory and is trying to get it back in order to be her father, the Emperor’s, heir. Jovis is searching for his missing wife when he gets roped into saving children. Lin and Jovis seem pretty unrelated and in way different parts of the world for most of the book. I didn’t have an issue with this, because I thought both of their stories were interesting.

Phalue and Ranami are two side characters who have a more minor role in this book. Phalue is the governor’s daughter, so she believes in what the government tells her, while her girlfriend, Ranami, sees the reality of the world around them. I thought their points of view were interesting, but definitely painful at times when Phalue couldn’t budge on her opinions.

The final point of view was from a woman named Sand, who doesn’t remember anything and is out in the middle of nowhere.

Jovis and Lin were written in first person, while Phalue, Ranami, and Sand were written in third. I actually didn’t even notice this until I saw someone point it out! Obviously, it didn’t bother me, but I don’t normally get bothered by things like that.

The magic in this world uses shards of bones that are required to be taken from the citizens of the empire to create new creatures that will follow commands of varying degrees. I thought that the way the magic worked, what it could do, and what cost it had was so very cool and well-thought out! It’s definitely something I am going to be looking forward to seeing more of in the upcoming books.

There were definitely some heart-breaking moments in this story. Things could be pretty brutal and there are definitely scenes that I think about, even a few weeks after finishing this book.

In my content warning, I did say that there was general violence, but this book did get quite dark in a way that’s hard to describe. There were people doing things that were morally not good, so it definitely gave the book an overall dark and creepy atmosphere

I’m so excited for the next book! I can’t wait to see more of the magic, the world, and the characters! There was a ton of stuff that happened in this book that has very interesting implications for the next books.

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