Welcome back guys! Hope you like the little logo up above. So I’ve not been having the best of reading the last month or so and that really ran into September I am sad to… More
*****Trigger warning for the following: Body horror, apocalypses, rape, pedophaelia, gore, blood, torture, death of a child and a parent*******
I always talk about my love for SFF and comics on this blog but horror sometimes falls by the wayside here. I’ve been reading horror since I was 13 (10 if you include Under the Hawthorne Tree. If you know, you know.). I am ashamed to say that despite my love of horror, I have never read a Jonathan Janz book. Until now!
Fearing that mankind is heading toward nuclear extinction, a group of geneticists unleash a plot to save the world. They’ve discovered that mythological creatures such as werewolves, vampires, witches, and satyrs were once real, and that these monstrous genetic strands are still present in human DNA. These radical scientists unleash the bestial side of human beings that had been dormant for eons, and within months, most people are dead, and bloodthirsty creatures rule the earth. Despite the fact that Dez McClane has no special powers, he is determined to atone for the lives he couldn’t save and to save the woman he loves. But how long can a man survive in a world full of monsters?
I haven’t read a book that felt this cinematic in a very long time. Everything literally felt like I was sat watching it on screen instead of a book. This is a grim, dark world that is both familiar yet totally alien. Not a single moment gives you relief from the constant threats this world throws at it’s characters and for a post apocalyptic novel that I read during a global pandemic, I had great fun.
One things that struck me was Janz’s wonderful ability for world building. This is a world that felt lived in and it certanily felt like he was questioning just what lengths he could really push the misery of the characters lives. And then how could he make it worse. He honestly has such a knack for writing a world like this, like trying to pitch a pandemic level apocalypse that turns people into vampires and werewolves as a novel is just so unique. I honestly am mostly obsessed with the concept and I really enjoyed it.
Now as we all know, horror is hinged on atmosphere. This book does it times ten. This world is bleak, it’s unforgiving and you will die in seconds if you don’t have your eye on the ball. Like honestly Janz does not care about the wellbeing of his characters. Dez, our protagonist, literally escapes a bunch of cannibals and watches 2 people being killed and consumed, he finds shelter (and popcorn!) only for his peace to be ruined and his life nearly stolen at by a grieving werewolf. Noone at all catches a break here.
Random thing I really liked about the myriad of monsters of this world is the werewolves. They aren’t transformed or alered by moonlight but ususally an emotional trigger. Dez does let us know that is seems to be mostly anger or rage of some kind that sets off the transformation of human to wolf. However w do meet one later that changes as a result of the crushing grief at the loss of his wife. I really liked that since it is an interesting modern take.
Janz is truly brutal to his characters though. Dez has been through almightly hell when we meet him. Mostly as a result of the post traumatic stress of the loss of his son, he lives in this constant state of guilt. One small complaint I really didn’t like was the brief hint that he had a form of possible OCD but he never bothered to get it checked. I know it’s the apocalypse but this is distinctly described as a moment of contemplation when he thinks of the past. Outside of that, all the characters need a cup of tea that isn’t secretly full of wasps.
The horror is really dialled up to ten, the characters are interesting but what took the last star was the plot and structure of the book. We had what promised to be every other chapter told in the first person by Dez. That only lasts for a few chapters and it is forgotten about. The framing device is the journal he keeps and those chapters are his entries, granted he can’t write them all the time but the lack of consistency with it was a bit jarring.
Thank you to both Flame Tree Press and NetGalley for an early copy of this book for review. This was highly enjoyable and I look forward to reading more of Janz work. Thanks for checking in everyone! happy reading! ‘The Raven’ is out now.
*******Disclaimer: I was sent a digital advanced copy of this book by the author in exchange for an honest review.******
Well summer is over, who can say they’re honestly sorry to see it go? Alright, maybe a few of you are. But spooky season is upon us! Finally, after this dreadful year, it’s nice to see some proof that time is passing. But no here we are, time for spooky stories and speaking of them, is there anything more unsettling than the idea that your perfect holiday home is haunted by vengeful witches? While you’re isolated by the sea?
“Naught remained of their bodies to be buried, for the crows took back what was theirs.”
An idyllic coastal cottage near a sleepy village. What could be more perfect? For Robyn Crowe, borrowing her sister’s recently renovated holiday home for the summer seems just what she needs to deal with the grief of losing her beloved husband.
But behind those pretty walls lie many secrets, and legends of a malevolent sisterhood—two witches burned for their evil centuries earlier. Once, both their vile spirits were trapped there. Now, one has been released. One who is determined to find her sister. Only Robyn stands in her way.
And the crow has returned.
I spent most of my childhood summers by the sea up the West Cosat of Ireland. I think anyone who knows this and knows Ireland at all will know that it certainly wasn’t sunny, sandy beaches with everyone smiling. It is a lot of unsettled weather, seaweed and spending time in the local bars hiding from said weather. So right away from the get go, this book appealed to me being set in such a similar place. Trust me I know my description makes it sound like it wasn’t a great place but going to the most remote parts of the coast did allow us always a chance to cut off from the city for a while.
This is why it makes sense to me that our protagonist Robyn would retreat there to recover from grief. The world building is superb, there is such an atmosphere here I could literally feel the winds blowing in on Robyn’s walks. The local scrutiny and the endless nepotism of the local village had me smiling from sheer nostalgia.
This is obviously a double edged sword since what is a wonderful, remoste place for recovery from very devastating loss is also an isolated cottage with very little contact with the world outside rural ‘Malan’. What I really enjoyed about the writing here was how the two of these moods are so well balanced. There is a moment here Robyn is reflecting quite cosily over a piece of cake, watching the world go by in the local cafe. Within moments, the stoy is suddenly overshadowed by the strange and tragic history of Malan and how Robyn might not be truly alone.
Something I really enjoy in books is sister dynamics. Robyn and her sister Holly are a very close set of sisters, onee being in Malan cottage at the others recommendation. What really worked was their relationship in comparison to Jowanet and Zenobie, the witches themselves. Granted the sisters were clearly working some evil dark magic and were cursing the entire land but one of them is haunting the place still searching for her sister. I have to admire that.
All that asie this is still a horror story at the end of the day and it delivers on that even better than I expected and I knew thatI would enjoy this. Catherine Cavendish really has a gift for the uncanny that manages to unsettle you even in very small ways. Smell is something I really react to personally and the smaller details of the near rotten smell in the cottage was such a small thing that added to the overall experience. To me personlly it’s always the smaller things that lead to me feeing on edge. The attention to detail here is honestly fantastic and I can’t fault the creepy feel of the Malan Witch lurking around every corner.
The only thing I wish there had been more of was Robyn and her late husband, Simon. this is a very small thing in the overall story but it becomes clear from the moments she does think of him that Robyn and Simon were very happy in their marriage. It definitely would have added extra emotional weight to the story, that we do get from the moments that Holly and her children are brought into context of the witch but I personally would have loved to have seen it.
Thank you so much to the author for sending me a copy of this to review! This was the exact book I needed to pull me out of a mini slump that I was having and I would recommend to get them spooky feels started for the Autumn. Thanks for checking in everyone! Happy reading!
I don’t generally fare well with first contact stories. I saw E.T for the first time 2 Christmases ago and was left in the depths of melancholy. I literally can’t go back to it. Aliens generally to me are usually of the Xenomorph/Thing type than the needing a hug from my mother because one went home. Lindsay Ellis however managed to change that for me.
Truth is a human right.
It’s fall 2007. A well-timed leak has revealed that the US government might have engaged in first contact. Cora Sabino is doing everything she can to avoid the whole mess, since the force driving the controversy is her whistleblower father. Even though Cora hasn’t spoken to him in years, his celebrity has caught the attention of the press, the Internet, the paparazzi, and the government—and with him in hiding, that attention is on her. She neither knows nor cares whether her father’s leaks are a hoax, and wants nothing to do with him—until she learns just how deeply entrenched her family is in the cover-up, and that an extraterrestrial presence has been on Earth for decades.
Realizing the extent to which both she and the public have been lied to, she sets out to gather as much information as she can, and finds that the best way for her to uncover the truth is not as a whistleblower, but as an intermediary. The alien presence has been completely uncommunicative until she convinces one of them that she can act as their interpreter, becoming the first and only human vessel of communication. Their otherworldly connection will change everything she thought she knew about being human—and could unleash a force more sinister than she ever imagined.
I generally watch Lindsay Ellis’s videos at least daily if not then every few days. Even ones that I have seen multiple times, have pestered my boyfriend with and just generally know the academic flow they will follow. So you can understand my caution for someone who writes non fiction video essays emerging with a science fiction story. I was very wrong. What Ellis manages to capture is the nostalgia and dread I feel when I think about 2007 while still writing a compelling story.
The world building here is very well done with just the right levels of throwback to the early 2000’s and the strangeness of that time. I was a teenager in 2007 when Bush was president so I was in my own little bubble of angst back then. But I was very aware of the political environment at the time, both in Ireland and the U.S with Barack Obama in the run for president especially. This book is written so well I was dragged back to those years. From the mention of the final Harry Potter book being published and the very mention of My Chemical Romance set the right mood of that year. it wasn’t all nostalgia though, Ellis really captures the unease of living during the economic crash by adding little details here and there. One of them I really found interesting was the details of the Dow Jones Industrial Average at the beginning of each part of the book. Kinda really sets up the constant awareness of the economy we all lived with back then.
Look. It’s me, Hedwig/Kayleigh, still following a TBR I set myself. How you may I ask? I would like to say I have grown more consistent and better at time management but you all know it’s a lie. It’s because I started with possibly one of my new favourite series of all time and this one in particular made me cry. Read on to know why a 27 year old cried over an old wizard.
Darkness threatens to overtake Earthsea: the world and its wizards are losing their magic. Despite being wearied with age, Ged Sparrowhawk – Archmage, wizard, and dragonlord — embarks on a daring, treacherous journey, accompanied by Enlad’s young Prince Arren, to discover the reasons behind this devastating pattern of loss. Together they will sail to the farthest reaches of their world — even beyond the realm of death – as they seek to restore magic to a land desperately thirsty for it.
So this for some people is the end of the Earthsea original series since the next book, ‘Tehanu’ wasn’t published for another 18 years after this book and it follows Tenar as the protagonist. But this review isn’t about that. The Farthest Shore is one of the most wonderful, heartwarming books I’ve read this year. If you only read as far as it, I wager you would be satisfied with this wonderful series.
Similar to the previous story, we aren’t following Ged’s perspective but another younger character who’s story is directly tied to him. We meet Arren, the prince and heir to Enlad, on his way to Ged, now the Archmage on the island of Roke the home of the wizards of Earthsea. Once again we see Ged decades after the end of the previous story and further into his maturity. This time, Ged is a weary old man, unwilling to give into impulse and leave the magically secured island. As the conclusion to his story, this book truly delivers for a narrative and emotional standpoint.
I listened to this on audio book for the sake of convenience and I truly enjoyed it far more for it. The narrator, Kobna Holdbrook-Smith, managed both the young lilt of Arren and the gravelly tone Ged now speaks with after many years of travel. His narration adds fantastically to the world building as Arren and Ged travel around the smaller islands of the archipelago where they meet those further and further away from the main civilisation. What I was really impressed with and that made me really feel the magical awe for Earthsea is how he narrates the dragons. That alone was some of my favourite parts of the audio book.
What really touched me however and is still living in my feelings at this moment in time is the relationship between Arren and Ged. We watch Ged again through the eyes of a young characters on the edge of their life and see just how much the wizard changes their life for the better, despite his world weary of himself. One moment that really tuck with me was at the start of the story was after Arren meets Ged for the first time he declares that he loves the wizard in that very meeting. Le guin being the great challenger of norms had me considering this as a more romantic love than a platonic one and I find it hard not to think that still.
Granted, if this was true this could very easily fall prey to the harmful trope of a younger queer man being groomed by a much older one. That to me is truly where the genius of Le Guin and her writing lies. She handles this in a way that it becomes clear as the novel goes on that the love Arren feels for Ged is more platonic and bordering on familial but as he matures, it could possibly be a teen falling “in love” with a role model. I could be grabbing at straws slightly here since Le Guin did tend to not queer bait or code her characters but I still thought it an interesting potential of their relationships.
The stakes are definitely higher in this book than any of the others in the series. Magic is literally dying. There are hundreds of people losing their gifts across this world and dying in many more as a result. Ged at one stage meeting a desperate wizard who has lost a limb and his life as a result of this happening being the true sign to him that this isn’t some silly task to please a prince. Magic is going missing and noone, even the dragons, know how. The eventual climax, meeting of the adversary of Ged causing this, not only brings the book to a very cathartic end but mirrors Ged’s mission of the first book beautifully. Sometimes callbacks can be a little cheap in endings so it can be hard to do but you really feel a strong sense that Ged has always been prepared for this.
I honestly can’t find a single complaint for the book or how it closes off Ged’s story. Where the usual things that would disengage me from a story (plots being fairly nonexistent for a chunk of the book, characters having very out of place emotional turns, convenient plot devices) but everything in this story served a purpose, no matter how small.
It’s taken me days to review this coherently so I hope it all makes sense. My TBR project has been going a little slower than I thought with being busy in work and generally being in a near slump. I am half dreading to finally finish with the last book but I know the satisfaction of finishing the series will be fabulous. Thanks for checking in, happy reading everyone!
I have returned folks! I was lucky enough to have a mini Staycation in Galway with the boyf this week and I never got time to prep posts before leaving so this review is well overdue. As a lifelong Sandman fan (yes, there is a review coming for the Audible drama too) I have been more than happy to continue reading the Sandman Universe titles from the DC Black Label/Vertigo formerly. However The Dreaming, I have been struggling with.
Simon Spurrier and Bilquis Evely continue the stories of the characters from the award-winning The Sandman series by Neil Gaiman as Lord Daniel is introduced to the cold taste of heartbreak. And as expected, it’s not pretty.
Even the Lord of Dreams is powerless against the storm of lost love. As with his predecessor Morpheus, Lord Daniel will find love in the last place anyone could have hoped for…the realm of the mortals. And as with all romantic entanglements between mortals and the Endless, things are destined to be doomed. Meanwhile, a newly awakened mind in the Dreaming brings with it radical changes that may undo reality itself!
Collects The Dreaming #7-12
This was so hard to rate and even think of words for a review. I loved so much of the story, the art and the way this series is linking back to the original run but ultimately it was messy and disappointing with lots of the potential that was built on between issues 7-9 being left with so many plot threads untouched.
Think it’s best to start by explaining that issues 7&8 were the best so far in this series, both art and story wise. I love Abigail Larson’s art and often just stare at her instagram crying in Art Graduate. But the art works so well with this two part story. We see Lucien in recovery from his last encounter in the Dreaming in a hospital in the mortal realm while having Rose Walker tell her story to him.
I was more than happy to see Rose again, The Dolls House is one of my favourites of the Sandman stories and I often wondered how her direct heritage tied to the Endless might play out. She is not only confirmed as queer by flashbacks but she is a mother. Her daughter, Ivy, now the lover of Dream/Daniel. These both function as a wonderful standalone story with an ending that we do tie back to later and after this we return to where we left off at the end of Issue 6.
This for me is where the entire story fell apart for me and similarly ended poorly. Dora and Matthew take a trip through worlds using Dora’s powers to try and find the mising Daniel. The best part of this being the visits to old locations of the comics and meeting characters again. Other than that, the story is still not doing much in the way of exposing what is happening and relying on hints to keep the reader engaged.
Like I mentioned earlier the art remains to be utterly and totally perfect. Larson and Evely continue to keep the art to the standard this series has always had with breathtaking art to match the vast worlds and realms explored in the story. Evely and her spreads across pages to display the constantly expanding parameters of the realm of dreams works so well with Larson and how she uses smoke, vapour and cloth to frame panels makes me want to weep.
Honestly there is still a lot I love about this series. As well the most recent addition to the series, The Waking Hours, looks insanely promising. But all in all, this was a let down. Any other Sandman readers have a take on the story? Feel like this one is a great one for a discussion! Thanks for checking in everyone, happy reading.
If you follow me on any of my social medias or even have seen my most recent posts here on the blog, then you may know that I am holding myself accountable for finishing some series I started. This review is my first finished book of that I will be doing as part of that. I read A Wizard of Earthsea earlier this year and absolutely loved it. But what about the follow up book?
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
This is certainly a change in direction from the first novel in the series. For a start we have a new protagonist and we are on a totally different part of the archipelago of Earthsea. We have moved to the culture of the Kargish people, those who keep the Tombs Atuan. Our protagonist, Tenar, is taken to the tombs at age 5 and is made High Priestess to the Nameless Ones, being renamed ‘Arha’ (meaning ‘eaten one’) as part of the duty.
I thouroughly enjoyed seeing this side of the islands. Considering the Kargish people are a race of people with white skin and are seen as ‘savages’ by the Hardic folk for their religious theocracy and their distaste of reading and writing, it made for interesting worldbuilding. The atmosphere as always is perfect in Le Guin’s worlds. You really feel the isolation that Tenar faces here and the struggle of maintaining the duty that you were given while being expected to just know how to do the job.
While A Wizard of Earthsea functioned as a coming of age story for Ged, and we watched him grow from the impulsive spirited apprentice he was, to the powerful mage Sparrowhawk, we get a similar situation here with Tenar. Tenar is renamed Arha at the age of 5 when she taken away from her parents. The Kargish believing that the same High Priestess lives, dies and born again to serve the Nameless Ones. Tenar as a result is constantly struggling between her belief in the Nameless Ones and how she is proud to serve them to the endless questioning of what lies out there.
Her eventual meeting with Ged is genuinely some of the best moments in the book. You see Tenar confronted with everything she has been conditioned to believe is barbaric and wrong. She has to fight against this belief that her Nameless Ones she serves so well didn’t step in to stop this evil mage. She genuinely struggles and battles against it showing the clear signs of trauma someone indoctrinated might go through. Ged is wonderfully patient and helpful with her, guiding her to eventually use the power she has wielded all these years to learn what she truly wants.
The plot was a little tricky here since I never realised although Ged is a character in all the Earthsea books, each one takes place years apart from the last and he isn’t the main character in any of the other books. Tenar did grow on me and I did love her story as it went on but to start with it was a little jarring and had me a little lost to begin with so maybe take that on board if you are going to read these.
I am quite happy I chose to start my TBR projct with this series first. Ursula K Le Guin is honestly one of my favourite writers and I wish I had read Earthsea sooner. I have found it vastly comforting since my break up with JKR and trying to distance myself from Harry Potter for a while. Thanks for checking in folks! happy reading!
I met Garth Nix at Octocon, the Irish scifi convention, in 2018. Coincidentally I met one of my good friends in the queue for he and Sean Williams’ (their books will come) signing. At that particular event I also got to drink champagne with him while talking about dogs. The relevance this has to my review is the fact I had just read Sabriel and I can still remember it so vividly and that doesn’t really happn for me with fantasy books after a year or so anymore. This year, I finally brough myself to ransom an finished the series.
The Ninth was strong and fought with might
But lone Orannis was put out of the light
Broken in two and buried under hill
Forever to lie there, wishing us ill.
So says the song. But Orannis, the Destroyer, is no longer buried under hill. It has been freed from its subterranean prison and now seeks to escape the silver hemispheres, the final barrier to the unleashing of its terrible powers.
Only Lirael, newly come into her inheritance as the Abhorsen-in-Waiting, has any chance of stopping the Destroyer. She and her companions — Sam, the Disreputable Dog, and Mogget — have to take that chance. For the Destroyer is the enemy of all Life, and it must be stopped, though Lirael does not know how.
To make matters worse, Sam’s best friend, Nick, is helping the Destroyer, as are the necromancer Hedge and the Greater Dead Chlorr, and there has been no word from the Abhorsen Sabriel or King Touchstone.
Everything depends upon Lirael. A heavy, perhaps even impossible burden for a young woman who just days ago was merely a Second Assistant Librarian. With only a vision from the Clayr to guide her, and the rather mixed help of her companions, Lirael must search in both Life and Death for some means to defeat the Destroyer
****Potential spoilers for the ret of the series ahead. This is the third in the original trilogy, now a series so spoilers may lie ahead. Be warned*******
Okay let’s get this out of the way, Garth Nix can end a series like no one else. I find it very hard these days to be both interested in YA SFF while if I am reading it, to find any ending satisfying enough. Granted this is kind of the end to the main story started in Sabriel and I did treat this a a trilogy but this really ends on a high one regardless of the books that came after.
There is a huge change to the overall world building and set up here. It harkens right back to the atmosphere of urgency of Sabriel where there is a truly devastating threat around the corner that threatens not only the Old Kingdom but the entire world. We also have this sense of the unkown again where Lirael is right back where Sabriel was in the first book, she knows she is the next Abhorsen but has kind of arrived to the role by extreme circumstances. The stakes are high and they only get higher as the book goes on.
Lirael sees fantastic growth in this book. she’s definitely a character I would feel closer to than say Sabriel, since we did watch her grow over two books. She really proves herself here, come the end of the book, just how powerful she is. I still really love the fact her relationship wth Sameth turned out to be familial and not a romantic one. I feel Nix made the better choice here in doing that. That being said my favourtes are still Mogget and the Disreputable Dog. There is a moment where they are alone where it becomes clear just how old they both are and how far back their animosity goes too. It was a nice additon. I hope there is a short story along the way about them both.
I have no faults with this story. Honestly. The entire series to date has been betwen 4-5 stars so I’m not really surprised. The whole story wraps up wonderfully with sacrifices made (and in my case, tears cried) and it ends in such a way that the reader can make the decision to continue with the other books or not. Garth Nix ends his books in a way that it’s like there is blade dropped right after the climax and that’s all you get. And I really like that since I find a lot of books rable a bit after the end has come and gone.
I also listened to this on audio book, its narrated by the God himself Tim Curry. He is the perfect choice for both the accents, the various voices of creatures including Mogget (especially Mogget) and he really does the touch of spooy these have well. Why would you not want to read a bok narrated by Long John Silver? (If you get that, please humor me and my elderly self)
I do intend to read Clariel, which I had spoiled for me a few years ago but I do want to sit in my feelings for the end of this for a bit. Now I can finally read Agel Mage too without the sheer GUILT of seeing Abhorsen on the shelf. Where my Old Kingdom fans at? Thanks for checking in guys! Happy reading!
I do love a good found family story and a nice novella to cleanse the reading palette from time to time. I mean when it has a great cover as well, it’s hard not to want to read. Even when it’s pitched to you as; ‘A bandit walks into a coffee shop and meets a nun. Mayhem ensues.’, why would you not want to read it?
Zen Cho returns with a found family wuxia fantasy that combines the vibrancy of old school martial arts movies with characters drawn from the margins of history.
A bandit walks into a coffeehouse, and it all goes downhill from there. Guet Imm, a young votary of the Order of the Pure Moon, joins up with an eclectic group of thieves (whether they like it or not) in order to protect a sacred object, and finds herself in a far more complicated situation than she could have ever imagined.
Regardless of any critical rating or review, this was fun. I did enjoy the story and the character banter. I personally have no connection or awareness of wuxia culture, movies especially, which is absolutely shameful. There is a sense of the melodramatic here all the way through the book and it’s used in a way that is meant to entertain the reader. Cho knows how to keep someone engaged with a shorter work like a novella.
The world building failed a little on me and I think, along with my other critiques this is down to the length working against the book. There is hints of an entire Peninsula and a “secret war” at play behind the scenes. While we get a few more details of the Order of the Pure Moon as the story carries on, I feel like all these religious orders that are mentioned in passing would benefit from a bit more detail. The world in general felt very limited to our band of characters but it has so much potential if Cho ever came back to it.
The characters really stood out to me in the story with one small let down that I’ll get to. The opening of the story with a brawl in a coffee house between a bandit and a petulant customer and a nun getting stuck in the middle is great fun. Guet Imm, the titular nun, was a surprise favourite. She has this uncanny ability to confuse both me and the characters in the story with just how resourceful she could really be. Nun or no, she has secrets The second in command to the gang of bandits, Tet Sang, is our main point of view here and he carries his own secrets relating to the Order of the Pure Moon.
Now where these characters fall down for me is the found family aspect of the story. I love this trope a lot. I don’t know a lot of people who don’t to be honest. It’s a very reassuring thing to see becoming more common in fiction since this is the reality for many people. However, to have this work in a book I find there needs to be very well planned writing and a hell of a lot of development of characters that this book just didn’t allow a lot of room for. There is some excellent dialogue, incredible charm but that just wasn’t enough to have me root for this family of misfits.
The plot was the real fall down for me . The pacing is fairly spotty with some great action scenes and a genuinely tender reveal that did bring this story to a higher rating for me in the ned. What the story ends with though is so left of centre I had to put the Kindle down and pause before I read it again to finish. The writing itself is wonderful with moving moments of are for these characters interwoven with some great action but ultimately how it was plotted out killed the potential for me.
Honestly l would still recommend this since Cho has amazing skill with words. I know I tried Sorcerer to the Crown back about 4 years ago and never finished it so I think I’ll reread that. Have you read this? Are you a Zen Cho fan? Tell me all below. Thanks for checking in folks, happy reading!
Good day to you all fellow readers and welcome to another fabulous blog tour by The Write Reads. Today on the blog is my stop on the blog tour for The Ship of Shadows by Maria Kuzniar!
Aleja whiles away her days in her family’s dusty tavern in Seville, dreaming of distant lands and believing in the kind of magic that she’s only ever read about in books. After all, she’s always being told that girls can’t be explorers.
But her life is changed forever when adventure comes for her in the form of a fabled vessel called the Ship of Shadows. Crewed by a band of ruthless women, with cabin walls dripping with secrets, the ship has sailed right out of a legend. And it wants Aleja.
Once on board its shadowy deck, she begins to realize that the sea holds more secrets than she ever could have imagined. The crew are desperately seeking something, and their path will take them through treacherous waters and force them to confront nightmare creatures and pitch-dark magic. It will take all of Aleja’s strength and courage to gain the trust of her fellow pirates – and discover what they are risking everything to find
Well this was fun! I really enjoyed this wonderful little adventure fantasy. It is an enchanting beginning to a series with a quick story with an even sharper main character surrounded by fierce lady Pirates. Hard not to have me on board. I don’t review middle grade books much on the blog, if ever and I really want to change that. Reviewing this for this blog tour was not only the perfect opportunity to change that while also being blessed to read Kuzniar’s spellbinding debut.
Let’s kick off with the world building. This book is utterly enchanting and I couldn’t get enough of the sheer experience of reading it. The atmosphere is there from the get go from the short lived moments we spend in Sevilla with Aleja running along the rooftops to the storms that wrack the ship while she is at sea with the whole crew on board. This is perfect for younger and older readers alike for that reason alone. I read this on a rainy day and it was such a feel good experience.
Aleja is everything I wish I could have had in books when I was younger. I often say this about Tamora Pierce and Diana Wynne Jones but these are the stories that help you feel good if you are the odd one out. These are the stories young girls need. Aleja doesn’t sacrifice anything of herself for the sake of fitting in, pleasing her family or even in Captain Quint’s presence when she is aboard the Ship of Shadows. She knows her value and at such a young age, will fight for both what’s right as well as what she needs.
The entire cast of characters really pleased me. I mean I was onboard the second I heard it was a band of girl Pirates running the ship. Some of my favourites being Frances and Malika. Frances and Aleja have the most wonderful, heart melting friendship. I love this kind of friendly support and how they really look out for each other. There is something clever done with Frances that I won’t spoil but if it’s true, I would like it to be hopefully more explicitly explored in the coming books. She also always has cake so, best friend material there. Malika being a scary weapon lady with one hand, scars and a blood-thirst to make the man who did those things to her pay while having a soft girlfriend back in Morocco is everything I love. Gay scary ladies with knives. Love it.
The story runs at a pace that you would expect for an epic sea journey on board a magical ship with kick ass pirates. And if you don’t get that, I mean it moves hella fast with no stopping for breath. It’s like working on the ship itself, there is always something to do and someone to help regardless of your role in the crew. I will say the last section of the book went a little bit faster and I do want to spend more time with that villain in the future. This is still the first book though and it is super impressive what is achieved here
A wonderful protagonist with adventure in her soul, a magical ship and a band of lady pirates who work together fabulously and danger is always near. What else could you want? Thank you to both Penguin Random House and The Write Reads for having me on this tour and sending me a digital copy of this book in exchange for review. The Ship of Shadows is out now!
Maria Kuzniar spent six years living in Spain, teaching English and travelling the world, which inspired her debut novel The Ship of Shadows. Now she lives in Nottingham with her husband, where she reads and writes as much as she can and bookstagrams at @cosyreads. She is always planning her next adventure.
Welcome back to the Discworld everyone and here we are again at Unseen University and the realm of Death. Wizards meet death personally when they die don’t they? Don’t they??
DEATH IS MISSING – PRESUMED . . . ER . . . GONE.
Which leads to the kind of chaos you always get when an important public service is withdrawn. Meanwhile, on a little farm far, far away, a tall, dark stranger is turning out to be really good with a scythe. There’s a harvest to be gathered in…
I think at this stage it would be easier to give me a non Death centric book from the Discworld series to see if I would like it. I really started out not enjoying this as much as I expected but I was very quickly reminded that this was a Death book and therefore my heart was about to be broken.
Starting with the world building, we are right back at the familiar haunts of Ankh Morpork, Unseen University and a mild stop in Death’s realm. As usual, the city is consistently chaotic and brutal. One thing that I was pushed to understand at first was what exactly the disaster was or might be that was coming to mess up the city this time and how exactly it tied in to what was happening between death and the Wizard story line (i’ll get t that in a sec).
I know that a mystery is obviously necessary for the plot and we aren’t supposed to know everything or that would kill the reveal. But I think anyone who has read this will know what I mean here. It was hard to tie how this thing represented itself and how it could possibly tie in with the other chaos where in the last few books it was becoming clear after a bit where these events are linked to each other.
That being said however, this is a character book more than anything. There are two main perspectives here, Death of course but also Windle Poons the old wizard that I have often pointed out has the perfect name for a cat. That was something that I wasn’t set up for so I felt very much like I was lacking on the Death content when I first started reading.
However old Poons does grow on you very quickly and by the end of the book I was VERY attached to him and his heroics and struggles. There is a definite question and reality of getting old and how that takes away from your own capabilities. Also how it really causes people to treat you and even Poons himself really sees how the other Wizards just considered him a chore or a object really. I can name on one hand the amount of SFF books that do things like this with aging and one is a short story, the other a book by Stephen King. This was a welcome plot and Poons really got his moment to shine.
Death of course. This isn’t a review of a Discworld novel without and the tears. This book really confronts Death with mortality and how he is changing as a result of humanity. There is a distinct feel of him becoming more in touch with humans and our needs and feelings when he is presented with his own possibility of living and dying after that life is gone. Pratchett really went to lengths here to make this story as powerful as it is heartbreaking. Death’s relationship with Miss Flitworth is definitely the best part and had me crying a lot. His relationship all be in brief on the page with Sal, the little girl who can see him, as well was wonderful.
This story is excellent with some very deep questions and characters that are hard not to become closer to.Again, I would only draw criticism to the confusing delivery of the entity that is causing chaos here and the fact this should be marketed as both Windle Poons’ story and Death’s so at least expectations don’t cause someone to give up on this very great story.
Thank you so much to anyone who is following along my Discwild jurney at this point. After a year I thought I would be way further into this series but then I realise there are 40 books and I had life, blog tours and other related phenomena along the way. I might do a wee check in post to track my current progress and see how I am doing. As usual from me, happy reading to you all!