Review: The Tombs of Atuan (The Earthsea Quartet) by Ursula K.Le Guin

They do not die. They are dark and undying, and they hate the light: the brief, bright light of our mortality. They are immortal, but they are not gods. They never were.

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 beief that her Nameless Ones she serves so well didn’t step in to stop this evil mage. She geuinely struggles and battles against it shoing 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!

★★★★/5

Review: Abhorsen by Garth Nix

So I’ll do that, and I’ll do my best and if my best isn’t good enough, at least I will have done everything I could, everything that is in me. I don’t have to try to be someone else, someone I could never be.

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!

★★★★★/5

Review: The Order of the Pure Moon Reflected in Water by Zen Cho

“These days, it is hard to know how to be a person,” she said. “To avoid doing wrong is not easy, never mind doing good. I have been praying for guidance- a light in this darkness. Now the deity has sent you to me. It’s a sign.”

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!

★★★/5

Blog Tour: The Ship of Shadows by Maria Kuzniar

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

‘When something is immortalised in stories, it gives it an air of enchantment, I 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!

★★★★/5

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.

Review: Reaper Man by Terry Pratchett

No one is actually dead until the ripples they cause in the world die away.

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!

★★★★/5

Review: Squire by Tamora Pierce

‘So long as there nobles and commoners, the wealthy and the poor, those with power will be heard, and those without ignored. That’s the world’

I’m not crying. You’re crying. I think this entire series is just punching me right in the feelings. I love Kel. I love Tortall. Oh I told you this was a review? Ah okay, I’d better crack on so.

Keladry of Mindelan dreams of becoming squire to the legendary female knight Alanna the Lioness, a hero straight out of story. But Kel is chosen instead by Lord Raoul, a leader of men and a strategist – an unexpected honor that shocks her enemies.

Kel must hone her skills and discover what it takes to be part of the royal guard. Part of a team.
With this change comes another: a new romance, bringing with it the rush of first love and the unexpected challenges of balancing duty and love. All the while, Kel prepares for her biggest challenge: the infamous and terrifying Ordeal – the last challenge standing between her and knighthood.

A powerful classic that is more timely than ever, the Protector of the Small series is about smashing the ceilings others place above you.

In a landmark quartet published years before it’s time, Kel must prove herself twice as good as her male peers just to be thought equal. A series that touches on questions of courage, friendship, a humane perspective – told against a backdrop of a magical, action-packed fantasy adventure

I don’t know what it is but dammit Pierce’s writing just gets better with every single book I read by her and just when I think she has done something I have never seen before I get proven totally wrong in my thoughts. I see now why I chose to review the Immortals Quartet as one work. It’s so hard to not give all these books five stars when they all are so strong together. But I have chosen to review each one so, lets go ahead and get into why you need to read this.

This is the first book in the series that begins to deal with the more political side of court life as Kel is exposed more to these things due to her duties as a Squire. She at one point attends a court trial from events in the last book. Kel at one point gains an audience with King Jonathan and challenges him on the outdated rules and laws that still exist in Tortall. I personally think that this is a welcome element to the story. Not only to show how Kel is growing up and how she is going to have to see these things all the time as a Knight but also since it does show that tortall is not run by noone and not without struggle.

Another element that really helps the world building in a very unexpected way is the discussion of sexuality and contraception. I have always wondered from my own reading and my own experiences of using different contraceptive methods over the years is why can’t you prevent pregnancy using magic? Surely someone has managed it? And they have ladies and gentlemen! Kel gets a boyfriend and her mother advises her of how as someone who has chosen a path outside of the standard being a Lady then she can kinda do what she wants but to be careful . She advises her to get a charm to prevent pregnancy until she is ready. Like, how easy is that to add into the story as a small little world building element and just use it as a means to normalise sex and sexuality? Simples.

Kel is finally seeing her hard work pay off after years of hard work, bullying and mockery. She is finally Squire to a Knight master. That Knight is not however Alanna the Lioness as she hoped. One of the best damn things in this book was Kel’s relationship with Raoul. There is a wonderful moment where Kel has to mend her sheets and while chatting to him he just starts sewing them up with her. I honestly am thrilled to just read a man that is comfortable in his masculinity and sexuality that he just gets on with things.

There are literally no complaints here from me about this book. I think this stands a chance of replacing the Immortals quartet as my favourite. There is literally a minor pacing issue with how th story ends but that is really me nitpicking and looking for things that might be worth giving out about.

I should read Lady Knight which is book four soon. I’m honestly thinking of doing an overall series discussion anyway so I can go into spoilers and gush a little bit more. Do let me know if you have read this and if you love Jump the little doggo as much as me. Thanks for checking in and happy reading!

★★★★★/5

Review: The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow

‘Words and their meanings have weight in the world of matter, shaping and reshaping realities through a most ancient alchemy.’

I feel very late to the SFF party with this one. I started this originally back in January (not intentional, it was a long bus journey) and it stuck with me since as a book that has beautiful writing but needs to be savored. How right I was.

In a sprawling mansion filled with peculiar treasures, January Scaller is a curiosity herself. As the ward of the wealthy Mr. Locke, she feels little different from the artifacts that decorate the halls: carefully maintained, largely ignored and utterly out of place.

But her quiet existence is shattered when she stumbles across a strange book. A book that carries the scent of other worlds and tells a tale of secret doors, of love, adventure and danger. Each page reveals more impossible truths about the world, and January discovers a story increasingly entwined with her own.covers a story that might just be the key to unlocking the secrets of her past.

There is very little that I can say about this book that hasn’t been said already. It takes a portal fantasy that is also in itself a discussion about the global effects of colonialism and the true power of words. I’m going to try my damn best here but this may ramble a wee bit. Consider yourself warned.

Portal fantasy has had the best resurgence in recent years. Between the wonderful story of the Wayward Children by Seanan McGuire to the very interesting discussions in Lev Grossman’s Magicians series, I have been rejoicing the new approaches. This one is a little bit more focused on how a families story can stretch across many worlds and how messy and wonderful that can be. We are limited in the worlds that we actually see but we hear of many more that would be nice to visit as readers but it also great to feel the vast amount of doors that are out there.

The setting of the story in the 19th century allows some interrogation of some of the more toxic attitudes of our world. From Mr. Locke’s various comments on January’s hair or how he explains to party goers on her ethnicity to just how we treat each other in general as a whole world is really well done. I also enjoyed the fact this is in a historic setting without being in an actual historic event, which can be a bit wonky at times. The writing is superb and there is no arguing that.

I really loved January. I did. I loved how she is so tenacious and how she never quite stops being curious for the other ways around a situation even when the odds are stacked against her. She is also incredibly realistic in how she grows as she tells her story. There are so many feelings in her and even when Mr. Locke truly tries to bleach the very colour from her soul and in a way that we do get to look back on later on in the book, he can’t quite capture the last spark of her. I loved her little support crew of Jane and Bad (her wonderful dog, short for Sinbad) and how together they make the biggest, strongest group of outcasts you could ask for. Both can possibly bite you too.

This is a book for readers and a story about stories. How stories can keep us alive, how writing a single line can save a life and how without them we aren’t really human. So I think with that, it’s worth pointing out how Alix. E Harrow writes a very perfect story here. The pacing, the plot and the fact that this is a fantasy that manages to standalone in such an exquisite way is a refreshing experience. Any kind of standalone SFF book has a lot that can go wrong or a lot that can drop but this is the book that is both an example of why we need more of them but is also a perfect book for anyone who needs an escape. A door if you will.

Thanks for reading guys, hope you are all safe and well. Do let me know if you have read this so we can discuss. Happy reading!

★★★★★/5

Review: The Walking Dead: Compendium One

You think that we hide behind walls to protect us from the walking dead? Don’t you get it? We are the walking dead!

I think it was 2014 or 2015 when I caught up with The Walking Dead TV show. I was obsessed and I’m not even joking when I say that. I was sharing Daryl Dixon pictures on my Facebook page, I bought the Telltale game (which I have yet to play fully) and you can guess the rest. Then the show tanked, it got so bad and the only good things left were Michonne and Negan. It’s taken me until now to read the comics. Surprise surprise, they are far better.

In a world ruled by the dead, we are forced to finally start living. With The Walking Dead #1-48, this compendium features more than one thousand pages chronicling the start of Robert Kirkman’s Eisner Award-winning story of zombie horror, from Rick Grimes waking up alone in a hospital, his band of survivors seeking refuge on an isolated farm and the controversial introduction of Woodbury despot, The Governor.

*****Trigger Warnings for body horror, gore, mutilation, death of a parent, rape, physical and sexual assault, suicide, self-harm and domestic abuse******

So lets get this out of the way first, this is a complete tome that is over 1000 pages and I was reading this for a while. However, something I really enjoyed was once I sat down and opened this sheer brick of a collection, it was very easy to be sucked in to the story. So if the sheer length of it scared you, it is very easy to sail through it.

This is a sad and bitter world with people reduced to relying on survival instincts. Trusting your fellow man isn’t an option and there are no laws or government. Nothing of our old world remains and there is this constant unknowing if there is a government still there and if society will return if at all. I really liked the bleak reality of it and it was done far better in the comics. I think this has a lot to do with the pacing (more on that shortly) but there is less exposition on when things will be fixed which I do prefer and more ‘we need to survive this, let’s get moving.’ to the world as a whole.

This is mostly told from Rick Grime’s perspective and the creators have advised before that this is his story. Rick is the main focus of the plot driving the whole story as he begins in this compendium as the small town cop who is looking for his family and how he becomes the ruthless leader of a group of survivors. Rick has always interested me since he can be very realistic, and he is by no means an always good man. He has genuinely frightening moments that make him just as much of a problematic character as the people he is trying to defend himself from. Kirkman made a really good point about Rick in an interview where he described him as much more of an every-man who is very gentle, making him the perfect one to challenge in this world where the zombies don’t disappear after the credits roll. This series is what happens after that.

Obviously the “zombies” aren’t the main threat, more of an annoyance and a challenge for these people. If you like genuinely scary villains with messed up agendas and stories that really go there, you will probably love this. In terms of story arc, this book covers Rick and his awakening from his coma to the end of The Governor story line. The Governor wasn’t as compelling to me in the show the further it went on but the comics go there. He is frightening right from the start , he does everything the vilest human being you can think of could do and he takes it that step further. There is also the best damn revenge plot for him I will add. If it spoils sorry, but you might need to know.

Some smaller things stopped me from giving this a full 5 stars. One of them being that there are a few characters that are a bit too weird for me, not helping that I am comparing them to their TV counterparts. The other small thing I did have an issue with was the lack of emotional connection I had with any of the characters with how fast the plot moved. But that is to be expected so that’s just me.

The art is standout in this book. It’s black and white, totally scaled back and it really works to keep you consistently engaged in the story. This was a choice on behalf of the creators for both budget and the level of gore they wanted to go for. But even besides the fact it hides the very large amounts of blood, it really fits the mood of the story. You’re not going to care if this was done in any colour scheme once you get sucked into this story. Tony Moore and Charlie Adlard after him really managed a feat here with defining characters with limited options which does not take away from defining each character from each other. Yuo can easilt tell who is who and their feelings, it’s literally perfect.

This is the first 48 issues of the series and the culmination of the story cut through me. I honestly can’t wait to start the next compendium (thank you to my friend who lended these to me and who is super patient with me reading these slowly) Again, the size of these shouldn’t put you off. These are perfect for starting off while also being easy to get into. Do let me know if you are a fan! Happy reading all!

★★★★/5

Blog Tour: The Angel of Evil (The Great Devil War IV)by Kenneth B. Andersen

Good evening everyone. Welcome to my stop today on The Write Reads blg tour for The Angel of Evil by Kenneth B. Andersen!

Nothing will ever be the same. Satina is gone, kidnapped by the enemy. Disobeying Lucifer, Philip heads out to find her, journeying into the deep darkness of Outer Reach. But nothing can prepare Philip for the horror that awaits—or the demons he will face.

Meanwhile, Lucifer’s kingdom is threatened as the Great Devil War draws closer. All Hell is about to break loose.

The Angel of Evil is volume 4 of The Great Devil War series

‘But he had. And did he regret it?
No. He was no longer an angel and he’d sworn never to be weak again.’

Anyone who follows my posts on a regular basis will know how I’ve been following along with this series. Especially how the last book tore out my heart and totally blew up my expectations. Needless to say, the mood for this was set before reading the first page and things are getting real.

Things kick off directly from the get go. It picks up directly after the explosive ending of the previous story and how the characters are dealing with that. The world building isn’t something I’ll be discussing much here since we are now four books in and the world is very well developed, especially after the third book expanding to other hellscapes and other parts of these planes of existence. This book kind of links them all together in anticipation of this unavoidable war. Either way, it’s good to be back.

The main focus of this book is a mix of conflict and the trauma it leaves in it’s wake. As well as the consequences of our own conflict and how we deal with that. But this is Philip’s story so we are watching him deal with these struggles. Philip has a very different character arc in this book compared to the others. His inner struggles are more present than ever since at this stage, he does want to stay in Hell and it’s clear how he feels for Satina by now. But this war he has internally between his potential devil self and his “human” self is really put on display here and I really liked that. The humor of the first two books is definitely toned down to make room for this and I appreciated that.

Philip at the end of the day is a human and no amount of dies, summoning pills and accidental deaths are going to make him the devil he wants to be. He has to be Philip and that’s how he will triumph in the end. There are some very emotional moments between him and the other characters. Mostly Lucifer and Ravine but I do feel that he and Satina are more central to the plot with him having these decisions to make.

Satina takes a bit of a step back in the story which I wasn’t thrilled about (sorry, I love a demon lady) but something that was touched upon a good but is her recovery after being abducted by Aziel. There is a very good discussion that not all damage is done physically even when you are a non human being but it was good to see that as a main point of discussion. Spells could do as much damage as whips. However, it didn’t get brought up again much and that would have been amazing but I still loved seeing this on the page.

The story never fails to deliver on anything. The tension, the big reveals and the way it all wraps up at the end is as great as the last few have been. I will not deny after the last one, I was dreading the last few pages and I will have trust issues with the next book as a result but this felt like a perfect delivery of everything we have been teased about in the series so far. I really enjoyed it and was totally satisfied with how this all wrapped up. However book five is out now, so noone is safe.

Thank you as always to Dave from The Write Reads for having me on the tour and to the author for a copy of the book in exchange for review. The Angel of Evil is out now!

★★★★.5/5

Blog Tour: Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Hello fellow readers! Today on the blog, is my review for the blog tour of Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia!

After receiving a frantic letter from her newly-wed cousin begging for someone to save her from a mysterious doom, Noemí Taboada heads to High Place, a distant house in the Mexican countryside. She’s not sure what she will find—her cousin’s husband, a handsome Englishman, is a stranger, and Noemí knows little about the region.

Noemí is also an unlikely rescuer: She’s a glamorous debutante, and her chic gowns and perfect red lipstick are more suited for cocktail parties than amateur sleuthing. But she’s also tough and smart, with an indomitable will, and she is not afraid: Not of her cousin’s new husband, who is both menacing and alluring; not of his father, the ancient patriarch who seems to be fascinated by Noemí; and not even of the house itself, which begins to invade Noemi’s dreams with visions of blood and doom.

Her only ally in this inhospitable abode is the family’s youngest son. Shy and gentle, he seems to want to help Noemí, but might also be hiding dark knowledge of his family’s past. For there are many secrets behind the walls of High Place. The family’s once colossal wealth and faded mining empire kept them from prying eyes, but as Noemí digs deeper she unearths stories of violence and madness.

And Noemí, mesmerized by the terrifying yet seductive world of High Place, may soon find it impossible to ever leave this enigmatic house behind.

I pray I’ll see you again. You must come for me, Noemí. You have to save me.

******Trigger warnings for the following: Racism, rape, body horror, cannibalism, incest, eugenics, white supremacy, death of a parent and siblings and miscarriage.

I have never read the author before and this was honestly such a good introduction to her work. This is an intense creepy story that never fails to make your skin crawl or wonder what is going in with this damn house. The constant claustrophobia and anger felt by both the protagonist and the reader certainly stay with you off the page.

Its hard not to feel that you are locked in the crumbling mansion that is High Place. Long gone is the grandeur of Manderley and all that is left is the rotting, moldy remnants of an English family home. I am a big fan of house as character tropes and while I never felt the house was it’s own character, I definitely felt the sense that it wouldn’t let me go. From the silver laden cabinets to the enforced silence of dinner times it’s clear this house is insanely corrupt. The author went straight to the point, not once taking the attention away from High House or it’s dreary residents. For what we see of even the local town, you never spend long enough there to escape the house and that made this all the more creepy.

While investigating this weird family and this even weirder house, it’s hard not to connect with the characters or even have an emotional reaction to them. I loved Noemí right from the start. She never backs down and refuses to settle for anything less. While she can be both capricious and shallow it only strives to enforce her wonderful character more. She is pure steel with a strong sense of family, she never fails to try and challenge anyone who either offends her or stands in her way. She is the first to call out the patriarch, Howard, on his clear racism and discussion of eugenics.

Upon meeting Virgil and his family, the whole story gets even creepier I think. Is there anything creepier than racism, old English attitudes and the ideas of a superior race? I truly didn’t think this would have such relevant themes to the current climate but Virgil and his Usher style folks are a bignred flag from the get go. Except Francis. He must be kept safe at all costs.

Now I will say this isn’t going to be a nail biting read with moment after moment of shocking horror. What this truly is a gothic tale taken right out of the classics and is set in 1950s Mexico with a very unsettling story. There are some genuinely disgusting moments in this story and it didn’t help that one of the more fungal aspects of the house, is something I have a bit of an aversion to already so my reaction was a lot more visceral. There are some moments of body horror too which I was not expecting when the plot took a certain turn but it definitely added to the building tension and worked in the authors favour.

If you are a fan of creepy stories or gothic narratives or even want a story that is a welcome and refreshing take on both of these, then this is definitely for you. I read this in a day which is testament to how hard it is to put down as well.

Thank you to both Netgalley and Jo Fletcher Books for providing me a copy of this book in exchange for a review. Thank you also for having me on this blog tour!

Mexican Gothic is published today the 30th of June!