Feared and despised for the sinister power in her veins, Alyce wreaks her revenge on the kingdom that made her an outcast. Once a realm of decadence and beauty, Briar is now wholly Alyce’s wicked domain. And no one will escape the consequences of her wrath. Not even the one person who holds her heart. Princess Aurora saw through Alyce’s thorny façade, earning a love that promised the dawn of a new age. But it is a love that came with a heavy price: Aurora now sleeps under a curse that even Alyce’s vast power cannot seem to break. And the dream of the world they would have built together is nothing but ash. Alyce vows to do anything to wake the woman she loves, even if it means turning into the monster Briar believes her to be. But could Aurora love the villain Alyce has become?
Alyce kinda got on my nerves throughout this sequel. She just placed Aurora on this pedestal the last 100 years that she’s been asleep and when she was awoken just disregarded everyone else who had build up the Dark Court, especially Regan. Like it was pointed out to her numerous times that she had only known Aurora for a year and even though she may have been her true love can that really conquer all? Aurora was horrified when she woke up and then chose to isolate and disrespect everyone and lash out repeatedly and conspire against her.
I wasn’t very connected with Aurora in the first book and in this continuation of the storyline she didn’t do anything special for me. I can appreciate the fact that she would mourn for her previous life but the pretentiousness and entitlement is still there. She still doesn’t recognize how much Malyce was reviled and why she chose to raze Briar to the ground.
I just loved the setting of the Dark Court and seeing how it had changed so much and integrated all of these other creatures that were otherwise shunned and mistreated by the humans and the fae. I also liked the fact that even though Alyce was the most powerful of the Vila’s wasn’t appointed queen, there was a counsel of representatives that made unanimous decisions.
Like the first book however the pacing was just off. The first half of the book dragged and there wasn’t really any kind of build up of anticipation. Sure there were a couple of twists and turns that kept me engaged but all of the action scenes just felt really rushed and confusing to envision. The ending was quite satisfying in my opinion. I liked the fact that Malyce chose to leave and honor Regan and work harder to learn more about her kind.
⭐️3/5 stars some parts I loved, other parts I hated.
When a reaper comes to collect Wallace from his own funeral, Wallace begins to suspect he might be dead. And when Hugo, the owner of a peculiar tea shop, promises to help him cross over, Wallace decides he’s definitely dead. But even in death he’s not ready to abandon the life he barely lived, so when Wallace is given one week to cross over, he sets about living a lifetime in seven days.
Wallace from the start is not the most likeable character which is to be expected. I think it was very relatable the way he acts and lashes out on everyone at the tea shop when he first gets there. I appreciate the transformation he undertakes after he dies and the emotional toll it takes on him having to reflect upon his life. I think it was admirable that he chose to resolve some loose ends with his ex wife and chooses to help Nancy and Cameron as one of his last acts before he moves on.
Hugo was lovely though I didn’t feel as much of a connection to him. We learn so much about his history of how he came to be a ferryman and why he chose to give up his life to help those that have died to cross over. But I feel like we don’t feel like we see enough of him just being Hugo. Mei and Nelson on the other hand were delightful characters. They brought some much needed lightness and banter to the story and definitely lifted up everyone’s spirits.
It was frustrating at times when Wallace would ask questions after just getting there and would just keep getting non-answers from both Hugo and Mei. They would just keep saying the answers would come with time and would ask another question to distract Wallace and it was repetitive and boring at times. The never ending existential talks that kept going round and round really slowed down the pace and made the book drag at times. It this condensed into a short story of like 150 pages I think I would of loved this soo much more!
⭐️3/5 stars A bit predictable but heart-warming!
Luli Wei is beautiful, talented, and desperate to be a star. Coming of age in pre-Code Hollywood, she knows how dangerous the movie business is and how limited the roles are for a Chinese American girl from Hungarian Hill—but she doesn’t care. She’d rather play a monster than a maid. But in Luli’s world, the worst monsters in Hollywood are not the ones on screen. The studios want to own everything from her face to her name to the women she loves, and they run on a system of bargains made in blood and ancient magic, powered by the endless sacrifice of unlucky starlets like her. For those who do survive to earn their fame, success comes with a steep price. Luli is willing to do whatever it takes—even if that means becoming the monster herself.
Luli was an interesting character for sure. I enjoyed that she maintained her values as much as she could whilst on the rise to fame. She could of easily accepted her place at the studio and became one of the changelings but she stood her ground and never fully gave in or gave too much of herself. You have to be a bit selfish to abandon your family and steal your sisters name in the hopes of becoming a star which made her more realistic and relatable.
The writing was simply beautiful. Lyrical, descriptive and so atmospheric I could picture every single scene with clarity. It was a little difficult to imagine the studio space especially the first time Luli and Greta head to the fires, but you definitely get accustomed to the style and whimsy of this reality. I think not fully being aware of what’s happening and being a disoriented pulls us into the story and we get more a feel of what Luli is dealing with.
This book really teeters on the edge of fantasy without being outright fantastical. It was in your face but it would be brief and unassuming and no one would react to any of it. The Hollywood setting is just so interesting and I would of loved if we could of explored a little more of the filmmaking process than what we got. Being a part of the interviews and the red carpets instead of just being told about them.
There just wasn’t really any kind of built up of anticipation or stakes that kept me invested. In the end I was just reading to pretty much finish the book as opposed to having an interest in how these events were going to unfold.
⭐️3/5 stars A solid story just a touch too long.
The Blood Moon rises. The Blood Veil falls. The Tournament begins. Every generation, at the coming of the Blood Moon, seven families in the remote city of Ilvernath each name a champion to compete in a tournament to the death. The prize? Exclusive control over a secret wellspring of high magick, the most powerful resource in the world–one thought long depleted.
At first it was a little bit confusing trying to differentiate between all of the different characters, however as the plot continued and we got to learn more about each of them it did get easier. I love the fact that this was a multiple perspective book, I wasn’t expecting that and it definitely gave us a lot more context and history about Ilvernath and each family!
Alistair even though he has very villainous traits I kind of wanted him to be a bit more ruthless and less relatable. I understand his grief after losing his brother (that was a great twist) but I wanted that to kind of turn him murderous and up the stakes more. He is given kind of a redemption too soon and his relationship with Isobel humanised him more than what I thought he should.
Isobel wasn’t a favourite of mine. She resented the fact that she had to be a champion for over a year and isolated herself from her friends over something that was going to be publicised anyway. I thought she treated her mother terribly and let her father manipulate and coerce her into joining and then won’t jump at the chance to try and break the curse and believe Briony.
Briony I thought was a little delusional. The way she handled the whole situation with her sister was unnerving and I am dying to find out what Ines has to say to her. She was very much on board with the tournament right up until was wasn’t chosen and then it was all about saving her sister and brining everything down, the change just comes about a little to fast.
Overall the premise felt unique, the world building was quite contained just to Ilvernath but the history of the tournament gave the book a lot of depth and intrigue. I loved the fact that this book didn’t shy away from any gory details between the different family and the lengths they will go to control the high magick. There were some shocking and very juicy twists that just kept me wanting to read more!
⭐️4/5 stars I was here for the ruthlessness!
If you are unaware what the Buzzword Readathon/Challenge is see my prior post HERE. Last month the buzzword prompt was to pick a book with direction related words in the title and I ended up completing Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough which I really enjoyed! For June the buzzword is the word all and for that my options are options:
All of Us Villains by Amanda Foody & Christine Lynn Herman
All Systems Read by Martha Wells