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 Ninth Rain (The Winnowing Flame Trilogy #1) by Jen Williams

The Eborans always kept the humans safe from Jure’lia, a mysterious group of creatures, for thousands of years, until the tree that gives them life dies. Now, Eborans are dying out and threats arise from remaining Jure’lia artifacts. Vintage, an explorer, hires Tormalin, one of the last Eborans, to be her bodyguard on her quest to understand their foe.

Fantasy, 544 pages, published in 2017

The Eborans always kept the humans safe from Jure’lia, a mysterious group of creatures, for thousands of years, until the tree that gives them life dies. Now, Eborans are dying out and threats arise from remaining Jure’lia artifacts. Vintage, an explorer, hires Tormalin, one of the last Eborans, to be her bodyguard on her quest to understand their foe.

Spoiler Free Review:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Content Warnings: imprisonment, violence, blood

I overuse the word ‘interesting’ in reviews, but this one was the epitome of interesting! Elements of this book felt familiar, but overall it felt nothing like anything I have ever read before.

I definitely thought the beginning was a tad bit slow. It starts in the past and takes multiple chapters to work up to the present day, which I think contributed to that. The characters don’t know much about the world, so it definitely took a little while to get oriented.

There are a ton of different magic elements at play in this world. There are the Eborans, who are almost elf-like, but previously got their power from the sap of their tree god. Once the tree died, they turned to drinking human blood, even though it has very bad side effects for them. There are also witches with an interesting power source, as well as rogue parasite spirits that threaten remote communities.

The way all of these elements worked together to create the world was so good! It didn’t feel like one any of these different magical elements were underdone or overdone.

The characters of this book are where my heart lies. There is a solid main trio in this book: Vintage, Tormalin, and Noon. All three of them come from such different backgrounds have such different goals and personalities, but it worked so well.

I don’t want to say that this book has no plot because that isn’t necessarily true, but it kind of changes as certain events in the book take place. There’s no hard end point that these characters are trying to get to.

I am so excited to see where this series goes! There are some side characters introduced later on in this book that I’m very excited to get to know and I’m am dying to get to know more of how this world work. Things went down in the ending, so I’m very curious to see what the impact is.

This book is so hard to talk about! There are so many layers to the world that I don’t want to spoil and so many reasons why I enjoyed it. It felt so different, the characters are great, and the relationships between them are interesting. If you can get your hands on this book (it is a little difficult to find), I highly recommend it!

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Iron Heart (Crier’s War #2) by Nina Varela

After fleeing the palace, Ayla aligns herself with the queen trying to destroy the Automae, while Crier’s is desperate to find Ayla and protect her.

Fantasy, 400 pages, published in 2020

After fleeing the palace, Ayla aligns herself with the queen trying to destroy the Automae, while Crier’s is desperate to find Ayla and protect her.

Spoiler Free Review:

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Content Warning: imprisonment, body horror, torture, use of a drug-like substance

I was really anticipating this book because I loved Crier’s War so much when I read it back in 2019, but it ended up falling just a little flat for me.

The main characters are split up for the first portion of this book, which I didn’t love. Their interactions was one of the things I really loved about the first book, but thankfully this separation didn’t last too long in this book.

I think the magic and science of this world is so cool! It is basically alchemy, so there is are scientific and magical elements necessary for anything created this way to work. I feel like we don’t see alchemy too much in fantasy, so I thought this was a really fun take on it.

The plot of this book felt a little weak for me. It took me awhile to recall what the characters’ motivations were, so I didn’t really have a grasp on what they were working towards for awhile. The resolution at the end also felt a little too easy. The characters definitely struggled along the way, but the final conflict definitely went a little too smoothly for my taste.

I don’t have any particular emotions toward Ayla or Crier, but I did really like their relationship and I was happy to see it progress more in this book.

There was a kind of scary element that I was not expecting, so I was definitely creeped out while listening to it in the dark of my bedroom at night. I did really like this twist and it was one of the parts of this book that I actually felt something during, but it did get kind of forgotten about by the end of the book.

I definitely think this is a solid duology to read back without much space in between. There isn’t any intense magic system or worldbuilding, but I think I lost the emotional connection I had to the characters by having such a large gap.

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