Posted in book review

Caraval: Reviewed

Caraval (Caraval, #1)

Caraval (Caraval, book 1) by Stephanie Garber

Genres/Descriptors: fantasy; YA

Publication: 2017

Pages: 407 (hardcover)

Trigger/Content Warnings: child abuse, physical and psychological abuse, attempted/threatened sexual assault/rape, sexual harassment, kidnapping, blood, murder, suicide

Check it out on Goodreads


What’s it about?

Scarlett and her younger sister Tella live on the island of Trisda with their abusive father. They grew up hearing stories of the magical Caraval, but now that Scarlett is engaged to be married to a man she’s never met, she thinks she’ll never be able to experience Caraval. But, at least she’ll be able to get herself and her sister away from their father.

Days before her wedding, an invitation to Caraval arrives, finally. Tella gets some help from a mysterious sailor to take her and Scarlett away, to Caraval. Once they arrive, Tella is taken by the creator of Caraval–Legend–and whoever finds her, will win the game, and one wish.

It’s only a game, but Scarlett can’t help feeling that it’s not. Something about this year’s game feels too personal, too dangerous. With five nights to find her sister, time is short and Scarlett can’t help but get swept up in the game, unsure of what’s real and what’s just a performance.


Review:

Okay… *takes a deep, calming breath* This is going to get long. I mean really, really long.

I went into this knowing that it was not going to be like The Night Circus. I remember it being marketed as something for fans of TNC, but I knew from reviews that it was nothing like that book. Still, I gave myself another couple of years to let the hype die down a bit, as well as time to let reviews fade from my memory a bit so they wouldn’t influence my opinion of it as I read it. I wish I’d listened to the negative reviews and passed on this one :/

I’ll try to keep this spoiler free until the end, where there will be a spoiler warning.

First of all, the characters. Oh my gods, Scarlett was definitely too stupid to live. She never learned, and I didn’t care about her at all. All of the characters felt a bit flat to me, and I think I only kind of liked one character (who was only in like 2-3 scenes I think, and I’m blanking on her name). We’re supposed to believe that Scarlett loves Tella more than anything in the world, but I never got that impression. We were told (over and over again) that all Scarlett wanted was to find her sister, to save her sister, but her actions didn’t really support that most of the time. And she was so freaking boring.

And oh my gods, Tella. *takes a calming breath* I have never hated a character that quickly before (less than 50 pages in), and I hated her throughout the entire book. Tella was a horrible person, and an even worse sister. She was manipulative and selfish and I hated everything about her. Not that we really got to know her, but what little we saw of her was not good.

The entire story is supposed to be about Scarlett and Tella and their sisterly bond, but neither of them honestly seemed to care about the other their wants/needs. Instead, each tried to force their own desires onto the other. And where is the trust? They each seem much happier taking the word of strangers. More on all of this in the spoilery bits at the end, ugh.

The other characters were no better. Their father was literally just child-abuse personified, that’s it. I’m not saying you can’t hate a character for being an abuser, but that was all there was to him and his personality. He was an abuser, full-stop. There was no depth at all to him, despite the attempts to shove some in by the memories of how he hadn’t always been that way. (I also really didn’t like the way it was implied that it was Scarlett and Tella’s mother’s fault for his behavior, because she left them.) Oh, and let’s not forget that he gave his daughter to a man and basically told the man to go ahead and have his way with her. Against her will. Yeah.

Then there was Julian, who was just awful. His behavior toward Scarlett was gross, especially early on, and honestly made me think of Edward Cullen in a better light when I mentally compared the two. The only thing I know about Julian, besides his name and role in Caraval, is that he’s apparently hot and muscular? So hot that an engaged character falls in love with him in less than a week, despite knowing nothing about him. That’s it.

The plot: Where is it? This story is so convoluted, and nothing is real (but some things are!), and it just keeps switching from “This is the truth!” to “No, actually, THIS is the truth!” and back and forth throughout the entire book. I just don’t care. I wanted to care, but I just couldn’t. I think an effort was made to keep the reader guessing, but it failed.

The writing was not the worst, but I feel like there was an attempt made to make it beautiful, and it just turned out to be kind of a mess. You can’t fake beautiful writing, and I might have actually enjoyed this (slightly) more if not for the forced flowery-ness. It was just way over the top, and seemed pretty pointless. I kept thinking that it felt more like middle grade trying to be YA. Not that middle grade is bad, because it’s not. But this just felt like it was written for a younger audience, either middle grade or maaaybe the bottom end of YA. Does that make sense?

But how about the world? I feel like this is a world that could have been so interesting, but we actually don’t get to experience much of it. While we are wandering through Caraval, we’re stuck in Scarlett’s head, which didn’t help. We see almost nothing that really gets across how magical Caraval is supposed to be. Sure, I wasn’t expecting The Night Circus, but damn it, I was expecting something. I wanted to see some magic, see the game, see some kind of performance or something. But no. The only time we actually got a glimpse into anything like that was when Scarlett went into a fortune teller’s tent, and that was probably the absolute best part of the entire book. I wanted more like that.

We never even got an idea of how the magic worked, or what was actually magic instead of a clever illusion or reality. There’s something about blood, and wishes, and time, but no actual explanation. Lack of explanation for magic systems is one of my biggest pet peeves. I wanted to know more about it, and instead we get crumbs that are almost nothing.

Even though I went into this knowing there was a good chance I wouldn’t love it, and I had my expectations really low, it still disappointed me. It’s been a long time since I’ve finished a book and immediately said, “Yep, I’m unhauling you ASAP,” but that’s what happened with this one. I want back the hours I spent reading this book, please.

I gave it 2 out of 5 stars on Goodreads, but I think it’s more like 1.5 for me, and I might lower it to 1 star.

★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

**SPOILERS AHEAD**

This is probably just going to be word-vomit because my brain is a jumbled mess right now.

Scarlett was infuriatingly stupid, as I said. I still don’t understand how someone could have survived her abusive father that way, and remained so naive and idiotic. She had no common sense at all, and oh my gods the insta love! Okay, let me get this straight: your sister conspires with this guy to drug and kidnap you, you wake up on a boat a couple days later with the guy who kidnapped you, and you’re already like, “Ooh he’s hot! I like him!” WHAT?! This isn’t even Stockholm syndrome. She literally wakes up, talks to this super-hottie (WHO KIDNAPPED HER!) for like five seconds, and she’s already starting to fall for him.

And Tella, her sister, was the mastermind behind the kidnapping, yet Scarlett doesn’t even really seem annoyed by that. I don’t know about you, but if my younger sibling did that, I would be so pissed off. Yeah, I would definitely want to find them, but not just because of some protective instinct. I would be gearing up to rip them a new one because that is so freaking wrong in every way. I don’t care that Tella had good intentions, and ulterior motives, and had arranged all of this with Legend (which we don’t officially discover until the end, but I suspected it early on). Tella was a selfish asshole, and I never saw any real evidence to support the idea that these two sisters were so devoted to each other.

This has to be one of the absolute worst depictions of sisters I’ve ever seen. Scarlett is supposedly willing to do anything to save Tella, and it’s her deepest desire, but let Julian and his golden abs walk by, and suddenly all Scarlett wants to do is chase after him. And Tella! Oh my gods I wanted to throw her off the balcony myself at the end, when she was basically gaslighting Scarlett and taking the word of a guy she’s known for less than a week over that of her sister. I mean, yeah, she was kind of telling the truth, but yikes. And then she throws herself off the balcony thing,killing herself in front of her sister, to break their father’s hold on them? But wait, there’s more! Surprise! She’s not totally dead because ~magic~ and all that! Scarlett ~wished~ her back to life, hurrah!

You guys, I beat my head on my desk so many times while reading this book. I could rant about this book for days, but I’m going to try to wrap it up soon, I promise. (If you’re still reading, wow, thank you. Or, I’m sorry? I’m not sure which is more appropriate 😛 )

Julian was such a terrible love interest. He started stripping in front of Scarlett even though he knows it makes her very uncomfortable, he won’t allow her the privacy to change, he kidnapped her, he lies to her, and I was really uncomfortable all around with their relationship. It reminded me a lot of older YAs that had the bad boy love interest who was all possessive and creepy. But apparently all that (and more) is fine with her, because it was all a game! So she just forgives him, and I guess they’re going to be a couple now? Oh, did I forget to mention that he doesn’t really age, so he’s probably actually around the same age as Scarlett’s grandmother? That’s fine, too, because he still looks like he’s around her age! Ugh.

What even was the deal with Scarlett’s color thing? I kept waiting and hoping for that to become an actually important part of the story, but it was apparently just shoved in there to make her seem more interesting and to add more flowery stuff to the writing?

Where was the magic? Where were the performers? Oh, right, they were everywhere, playing the game. Which we see almost nothing of. I thought the carousel was interesting, kind of, but the only thing I actually really loved about this book was the tattooed guy who told Scarlett bits of her future. That part was great, and I wanted more stuff like that.

But the magic? Tell me more! How does it work? What can it do? What are the limitations? Apparently raising the dead is part of it, because any performers who die will come back at the end, but HOW? They mention time and blood powering magic, and how wishes are magic, but not how or why. It was so frustrating. And Tella, who killed herself, came back because of a wish? Because Scarlett loved her so much? Sorry, but please actually show me that Scarlett and Tella had that close of a bond, because I never saw it. And where is the explanation for how the performers (or at least Legend and Julian) stay young? That was just casually thrown in, without any explanation at all. I want to know at least a little about how the magic works, what it’s limitations are, what the cost is, etc., but we get nothing.

**End of Spoilers**


Okay. I think I’m done. I’m exhausted, and just want to scrub this out of my brain, but oh no. I’m apparently a masochist, because I plan to at least attempt to read Legendary because I got the Kindle edition on sale a while back. Save me.

Posted in book review

Wicked Saints: Reviewed

Wicked Saints (Something Dark and Holy, #1)

Wicked Saints (Something Dark and Holy, book 1) by Emily A. Duncan

Genres/Descriptors: fantasy>dark/Gothic; YA

Publication: April 2nd, 2019

Pages: 400

Check it out on Goodreads

Pre-order it: Barnes & Noble | Indiebound | Amazon | Book Depository


What’s it about?

A girl who can speak to gods must save her people without destroying herself.

A prince in danger must decide who to trust.

A boy with a monstrous secret waits in the wings. 

Together, they must assassinate the king and stop the war.

In a centuries-long war where beauty and brutality meet, their three paths entwine in a shadowy world of spilled blood and mysterious saints, where a forbidden romance threatens to tip the scales between dark and light. Wicked Saints is the thrilling start to Emily A. Duncan’s devastatingly Gothic Something Dark and Holy trilogy.


Review:

I’m going to start off with trigger warnings, because it’s not really a spoiler. Emily A. Duncan has been pretty forthright about them, also. Trigger/content warnings for: blood and self-harm; parental abuse; torture (I can only remember one scene that wasn’t super graphic or long, but I might have forgotten others). Also, several characters drink heavily a few times.

This book was one of my most-anticipated 2019 releases, and I have mixed feelings about it. On the one hand, I absolutely loved the aesthetic (look at that cover ❤ it screamed “Read Me!”), I was very intrigued by what little I knew of the plot, and I’m trash for anything involving death and blood magic. Then, I saw something about this being perfect for people who shipped Alina with the Darkling, and I was sold. (I only shipped them if she decided she wanted to be villainous. Otherwise, I shipped her with Nikolai, at least briefly.) Anyway… Yes, yes you should probably read this book if the dynamics with Alina and the Darkling were your thing, even if you didn’t actually want them together.

I really enjoyed the setting, but I kind of wish we’d gotten more detailed descriptions, or time spent exploring the world. I didn’t have much trouble visualizing anything, I just wanted more because what we did get had me hooked. It was cold and bleak, fitting perfectly with the story, but I kept craving more details. I’m not complaining too much, though, because instead of focusing a ton on the world, more time was spent on the characters. I really need to see if there’s fan art or something of any of the places our characters visited…

Nadya was a character I wanted so much to love, but I only kind of liked her. In the beginning, I was totally rooting for her and I was super invested in her story, her journey, her saint/gods-given-magic, etc. But, as things progressed, she started to get on my nerves a little. However, it wasn’t because she was doing things suddenly that were out of character for her or anything like that, and the reasons that were probably to blame for my issues were things that made sense. Wow is that vague. Let me just say that some of my issues probably had to do with how she was brought up, and what she was indoctrinated to believe and do. Because of some things that happened closer to the end, I’m very interested to see how her character develops through the rest of the series.

Malachiasz was a very mysterious character, from the beginning, and it isn’t until the last chapters that we really learn most of his story. I suspected things earlier, but I knew his story could go other ways, so I wasn’t certain until the reveal. I loved Malachiasz, and oh my gosh, even if I didn’t like any of the other characters, I would pick up the next book just to find out what happens next with him. That! Ending! I literally screeched and scared my cats, and was *thisclose* to flinging my Kindle in my excitement (I was kind of dancing around…it was very dignified). I am so excited to find out where this series is going.

Serefin was the guy I wanted to hate, but just couldn’t. Even when he first showed up, cast as the bad-guy blood-mage, I wanted to know more about him before deciding if he was a bad guy or not. He reminds me the tiniest bit of Cal from the Red Queen series, but it’s hard to explain why, without going into a ton of spoilers. Okay, I’ll say that there’s a thing he’s good at and that he wants to do, but he can’t really because of royal obligations. While I didn’t love Serefin as a character, I thought he was interesting enough, especially close to the end, and I’m really curious about what will happen next with his story.

I enjoyed the side characters, especially Parijahan, Rashid, and Ostyia. I would love more backstory for them (and Kacper, but for some reason, I cared less about him). My favorite character from this book was Pelageya, even though she was only in like two scenes. I really hope she has a bigger part in the next book, because I have so many questions, and I want to know more about her. (Plus, she was entertaining.) There were a few other, but I think we got the most time with these, except Pelageya.

Where this book fell short for me was in certain aspects of the plot. There were times when I was just so confused, or wanted more information (like, a lot more) to better explain what was going on. It almost felt like there were parts missing or something. However, I really like the magic systems in this universe, and I can’t wait to find out more (hopefully) in the next book. What was shown in this book was great, but I wanted more. More explanation about how things worked, the history, etc., and more on-the-page use of the magic. There wasn’t really a shortage of it, it just seemed like most of the scenes were brief and kind of sparse on the details, so I wasn’t totally satisfied.

The theological questions raised for some of our characters was really interesting for me, and I can’t wait to see those themes explored more in future books. In this blood magic vs holy magic (granted by gods/saints) war, I felt like it was really hard to say if either side was “right.” I loved that. I loved that there were no clear “good guys” or “bad guys” in this story. I want to talk more about that, but spoilers 😦

There were things that we were basically beaten over the head with, to really make sure the point was driven home. That was frustrating, and I hope the next book isn’t like that.

Something about the pacing was weird at times, too, especially with relationships. I felt like trust happened a little too easily, especially given the circumstances all the characters were in. And there was the romance. That did not come out of the blue or anything (I was expecting it from the moment our characters met), but it felt like it happened very quickly. I don’t think it actually did, but I’m not totally sure of the timeline and how much time had elapsed between them meeting and falling for each other.

Overall, I enjoyed this book, but I didn’t love it. I would still recommend it, and I will be continuing the series, because I’m pretty invested in finding out more about these characters and this world.

I still can’t decide between 3 and 4 stars (it’s somewhere in between for me), so I’m just going to say it’s 3.5-ish stars.

★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

Thanks to NetGalley for letting me read an advanced copy. I can’t wait to get my hands on a finished copy, because this book is stunning ❤

Posted in book review

Sawkill Girls: Reviewed

Sawkill Girls

Sawkill Girls by Claire Legrand

Genres/Descriptors: YA; horror; fantasy; LGBTQ+

Publication: October 2018

Pages: 450

Check it out on Goodreads


What’s it about?

I tried to write something, but honestly? The Goodreads description is perfect, and I don’t want to give away anything.

Beware of the woods and the dark, dank deep.

He’ll follow you home, and he won’t let you sleep.

Who are the Sawkill Girls?

Marion: the new girl. Awkward and plain, steady and dependable. Weighed down by tragedy and hungry for love she’s sure she’ll never find.

Zoey: the pariah. Luckless and lonely, hurting but hiding it. Aching with grief and dreaming of vanished girls. Maybe she’s broken—or maybe everyone else is.

Val: the queen bee. Gorgeous and privileged, ruthless and regal. Words like silk and eyes like knives, a heart made of secrets and a mouth full of lies.

Their stories come together on the island of Sawkill Rock, where gleaming horses graze in rolling pastures and cold waves crash against black cliffs. Where kids whisper the legend of an insidious monster at parties and around campfires.

Where girls have been disappearing for decades, stolen away by a ravenous evil no one has dared to fight… until now.


Review:

This is either going to be very short, or very long, because I have a lot of feelings about this book, but I also don’t want to give anything away that might spoil it for someone. This book is so hard to talk about without spoilers, but I really think going into it without knowing much about the story is for the best.

I started this one night, barely managed to put it down after devouring about 60% of it, then immediately started reading again while eating breakfast. After that, I only put it down for a bathroom break. (The phrase “compulsively readable” comes to mind, and that’s exactly how I would describe this, if phrases like that didn’t make me roll my eyes.)

This book was so perfect for me: creepy and atmospheric setting, queer girls (there’s an asexual character, and the word “asexual” is on the page! plus a f/f relationship), great character dynamics, and it was angry in ways that are so relatable and had me cheering on the characters.

From the first page, I was totally sucked in. Sawkill Rock, and our three protagonists, owned my heart. By the halfway point, I’m pretty sure Claire Legrand owned part of my soul.

The writing is right up my alley, at least for books like this. Some people will probably hate it because it’s the kind of poetic kind of writing you find in some magical realism books, and I know that’s hit or miss for some people. It is for me, too, but in this book? It. Works. The writing added an extra layer to the atmosphere of the story, and I drank it in like I needed it to survive.

Non-spoilery example, from the prologue:

Old money: the taste of it sits on every tongue like a film of stale sugar.

The setting itself was fantastic. I love stories set on small islands, oh my gosh. Give me more! Something about those just instantly make a story feel a bit more magical, like anything could happen, like magic could be lurking just through the trees. I love it. If you enjoyed the setting of The Wicked Deep, you’ll probably like this one. Oh, and also Cabeswater, from The Raven Cycle (not an island, but kind of similar vibe). Sawkill Rock was very much a character in this story, and that’s another thing I want to read more of. I love when the actual land a story takes place on is a character (or like a character, whatever).

The characters. Where do I start? Background characters. So, even the characters who didn’t get a ton of page time were so freaking good. They were all distinct, and I could not only imagine how they looked, but I got a good sense of what they would sound like. That almost never happens for me, except when I’ve seen an adaptation before reading the book. Special shout out specifically for Grayson because he was a precious cinnamon roll and I love him ❤ He’s my newest book child, and I would protect him (possibly) with my life.

Marion, Zoey, and Valerie were amazing. Even when I didn’t really like them, I still liked reading about them.

Marion was strong and grounded, acting as the rock for her mother and sister to lean on. I was rooting for her from the beginning, and my heart just kept hurting for her. She went through so much, took on so much responsibility (I related a lot to that), and I just kept wishing she’d find some peace and happiness.

Zoey was probably the character I related to the most, at least with her personality. I can relate a lot to hiding feelings, laughing at possibly inappropriate times, and being an outcast. There were a few times I just wanted to hug her so bad.

And then there’s Valerie. I don’t know what to say about Val, because most of my opinions are wrapped so tightly with spoilers. I really enjoyed getting to know her, and her family history, and I was definitely satisfied with how things wrapped up. (For her, and for everyone else.)

The plot is tricky to talk about, but I will say that it kept me guessing. Until revelations were being made, I had no clue where this story was going, and I loved that. I usually have at least a couple of guesses, and one is usually right. But not with this book. I didn’t have a guess that turned out to be accurate until pretty late in the story, and it didn’t even involve any of our main characters. (It was about Zoey’s dad, for those of you who’ve read it.) The direction this took, with the reason girls kept disappearing from Sawkill, didn’t really surprise me, but I also wasn’t expecting it before it took that turn. The specifics of it all were different from anything else I’ve read, though, I’m pretty sure.

**If you think trigger/content warnings are spoilers, skip to the next paragraph!** This one definitely needs warnings for: blood and gore; violence; parental abuse; suicidal thoughts; loss of loved ones; drinking/alcohol; talk about miscarriage; animal death (not tortured, more like that scene from the ferry in The Ring); a challenged and apologized for acephobic comment plus mention of other comments that were not apologized for. There’s probably more, so I would suggest looking for others, if you feel you need to.

I want to gush and scream about this book, because that’s what I’m doing on the inside, but I’m trying so hard to keep this spoiler free. I’m wrapping this up now, before I can’t stop myself and do spoil it. So, in short, I absolutely loved this book, and I’m probably going to be screaming about it for a very long time. I highly recommend it.

I gave this one all the stars, 5 out of 5, and I wish I could give more, oh my gosh. This is a new favorite, and I can not wait to read more from Claire Legrand.

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Posted in book review

The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein: Reviewed

The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein

The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein by Kiersten White

Genres/Descriptors: YA; retellings; historical fiction; horror; gothic; sci-fi (less so than the original, I think)

Pages: 304

Check it out on Goodreads


What’s it about?

Okay, I couldn’t do this justice, so here’s the description from Goodreads…

Elizabeth Lavenza hasn’t had a proper meal in weeks. Her thin arms are covered with bruises from her “caregiver,” and she is on the verge of being thrown into the streets . . . until she is brought to the home of Victor Frankenstein, an unsmiling, solitary boy who has everything–except a friend.

Victor is her escape from misery. Elizabeth does everything she can to make herself indispensable–and it works. She is taken in by the Frankenstein family and rewarded with a warm bed, delicious food, and dresses of the finest silk. Soon she and Victor are inseparable.

But her new life comes at a price. As the years pass, Elizabeth’s survival depends on managing Victor’s dangerous temper and entertaining his every whim, no matter how depraved. Behind her blue eyes and sweet smile lies the calculating heart of a girl determined to stay alive no matter the cost . . . as the world she knows is consumed by darkness.


Review:

I didn’t love Frankenstein, but I did enjoy it a lot. I picked this up on a whim, after finding the audiobook on OverDrive, and I could barely stop listening to it to go to bed. I still finished it within a 24-hour period, and I haven’t stopped thinking about it since.

First of all, the narrator (Katharine McEwan) was great. I can be a little picky about narrators, but I thought she was a nice choice for this one. Her voice was just perfect, I feel, for the atmosphere.

I think you could read this without having read Frankenstein, but it will probably be a better experience if you have. *Also, this one needs some trigger warnings, so skip to the next paragraph if you think TWs are spoilers.* TW for: child abuse, animal cruelty, emotional and physical abuse, mutilation, murder.

I hate Victor Frankenstein. I’ve always hated him, and thought he was the true monster, no matter how brilliant his mind might have been. That’s one thing I think Penny Dreadful did really well, but he still ended up kind of redeemed by the end. I don’t want redemption for Victor Frankenstein, I want his monstrous inclinations exposed, without justification or letting him play at being a victim. This book delivered, by giving us the story from Elizabeth’s perspective.

Elizabeth has a home and relative safety in the Frankenstein household, but that stability depends on Victor and his desire to keep her around. She’s spent her life shaping herself into what Victor wants and needs, making herself indispensable to him, so she’s no longer quite certain how much of her is really her and how much is what she’s forced herself to be for him.

When she stops hearing from Victor, after he’s away at school, she gets worried and hatches a plan to track him down and bring him home. Along the way, she gets glimpses into what he’s been up to, and that really started to fill in some gaps and flesh out some bits from the original story. It was interesting, and deeply disturbing, following Elizabeth around as she begins to piece things together.

The first half or so of this one is a bit slow, but not boring. Getting to know Elizabeth, and how her mind worked, was slow in a good way, at least for me. She was a strong young woman, and a fantastic, sympathetic, morally grey character, capable of much more than her sweetly angelic visage might lead people to believe. Behind the curls and charming smiles was a sharp mind and a fierce determination to survive.

Her relationship with Victor was so… I can’t think of a word that works. It was disturbing and kind of terrifying. He was possessive and cruel, but had also convinced himself that he was acting out of something that at least resembled love in his twisted mind. It was realistic, and that was one of the scariest things about this story.

I loved the atmosphere of this book, and the writing. The entire thing had an unsettling vibe, the sense of danger just around the corner and fresh horrors to discover. (A+ for keeping the gothic vibe intact, and staying true enough to the original story, while still creating something new.) Even though this is a retelling, and I’ve read the source material, I honestly had no clue how this was going to wrap up. There was a constant sense of dread as I neared the end, fearing for Elizabeth, and anyone else unfortunate enough to cross Victor’s path.

I hope this doesn’t get spoilery, but I have to also take a moment to discuss the Creature. My heart has always hurt for him, and I think that’s why I loved him in Penny Dreadful. He was capable of such terrible things, but at his core, he was gentle and sweet. His character in this story almost made me tear up once or twice, for reasons I won’t go into because that would definitely have spoilers. Let me just say that I am so pleased with the way Kiersten White portrayed him.

This book is so hard to talk about without spoilers, because all I want to do is gush about the things I loved. I’m almost tempted to write a second post with spoilers, but I might be too lazy for that 😛

If you can handle this type of story, I highly recommend it. I’m strongly considering buying a copy, because this feels like a book I might re-read. This one is definitely going on my favorites shelf on goodreads.

I was torn between 4.5 and 5 stars, so I’m settling on 4.75 and rounding up to 5 stars.

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Posted in book review

Glass Sword: Reviewed

Glass Sword (Red Queen, #2)

Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard (book two in the Red Queen quartet)

Genres/Descriptors: YA; fantasy; SFF>dystopian

Pages: 444

Check it out on Goodreads


What’s it about?

Since this is the second in a series, I won’t spend much time on the descriptive bits.

This one picks up right where Red Queen ended, with Mare and Cal having just narrowly escaped Maven and the other Silvers (thanks to the intervention of the Scarlet Guard).

Mare is on a mission, out to find other sympathizers (Reds and Silvers), as well as other Reds with abilities (New Bloods), like herself. It’s not going to be easy, especially with Maven hunting them and continuing to spread the lies about them.


Review:

This book was so polarizing, from what I remember (and what I’ve seen from friend’s reviews). People were either really into it, or seriously let down by it. I fell more into the former camp, thankfully. Something about this series just works for me, I guess. (Maybe it’s because I haven’t read as many of the books this series is compared to as other people.) This might get slightly spoilery, but I’m trying to keep them out.

Mare was kind of a mess in this book, and I liked that. She was under so much pressure, shouldering as much responsibility as she possibly could (especially for tracking down and saving other New Bloods), and I found it believable. She had gone through some shit, and she was not the young Red girl she had been at the beginning of Red Queen. There was a darkness in her, and a fierce determination that might have clouded her judgment at times. I enjoyed that her choices weren’t really clearly right/wrong, and there were consequences. She also might have finally started to understand that maybe she shouldn’t trust so easily.

I can’t seem to articulate some of the things I want to say about her, her actions, and how she was viewed by others. There was that whole martyr thing (which seems to be A Thing with YA dystopian heroines), which was annoying at times, but I also didn’t think she was a monster. I can’t remember for sure now if other characters compared her to a monster, of if she saw herself that way, or what. She knew that the path she was on was not going to be easy, blood would certainly be spilled on both sides, and horrible decisions and sacrifices would have to be made. But she tried, damn it. She tried to save who she could (Reds and Silvers), and she wasn’t as unbothered by the deaths as some of the other characters seemed to think she was.

Cal…Oh man, poor Cal. I just want to hug him. He was betrayed by his brother, forced to kill his father by his stepmother, sentenced to die for that, and then he was basically kidnapped by the Scarlet Guard to be used in whatever way they could find to use him. He could have destroyed them, when they were on the train, but he didn’t. Hell, he even ends up helping them as much as he can. Cal is just not bloodthirsty, and he wants to find a way to resolve everything without death (especially Silver deaths, but he wasn’t exactly thrilled about Reds dying, either). It’s admirable, but honestly kind of unrealistic. Cal: Looks like he could kill you, but is actually a cinnamon roll. (Okay, not exactly, because he is lethal. But he doesn’t want it to come to that, poor dude.)

Maven is vile, and there is no death horrible enough for him. Some of the things he does in this book shocked even me, and I’m not easily shocked. There is nothing redeeming about him, and I want him to suffer every moment of a long, imprisoned life. Then there’s Elara. It’s hard to know how much of what Maven is doing is actually his doing, or something his mother came up with. That doesn’t exactly work in Maven’s favor, because (even if everything is her idea) he still allows it to happen. He’s also super freaking creepy, but I won’t go into that because spoilers, I think.

Romance was not much of a thing in this one, and I appreciated that. While I actually did like the love triangle (square?) in the first book, I was glad to see that romance wasn’t so important in the second book that it overshadowed the seriousness of everything else that was going on. The world was falling apart, they were in the middle of a rebellion, and brooding about their love life was not exactly at the forefront of Mare’s and Cal’s minds. Feelings were not entirely ignored, but not a ton of time was spent brooding.

We got to see a lot more of the world in this one, as well as finding out more about the Scarlet Guard, and I loved that. This one was also action-packed, and the pace was never very slow. There was always something to worry about, and I think I actually held my breath a few times while reading particularly intense scenes.

The New Bloods are awesome. We meet several in this book, and I loved the abilities we learned about. I feel like Victoria Aveyward had to be influenced by X-Men (I made that comparison in my review of Red Queen, and I’m not the only one), and I’m not complaining about it. While the abilities of the Silvers are seriously cool, I’m way more excited by the New Bloods, I think.

The last few chapters of this one…ouch. Things happened, some of it good overall, but it was not painless.


I ended up rating this one the same as Red Queen, with 4 out of 5 stars.

★ ★ ★ ★ ☆