The Year of the Witching Review

This was completely different to what I was expecting.

The daughter of a union with an outsider that cast her once-proud family into disgrace, Immanuelle does her best to worship the Father, follow Holy Protocol and lead a life of submission, devotion and absolute conformity, like all the women in the settlement. But a chance mishap lures her into the forbidden Darkwood that surrounds Bethel – a place where the first prophet once pursued and killed four powerful witches. Their spirits are still walking there, and they bestow a gift on Immanuelle: the diary of her dead mother, who Immanuelle is shocked to learn once sought sanctuary in the wood.

I really liked Immanuelle’s character right from the start. She was that little bit sarcastic and resistant to all the rules and regulations she has to live by. Even though she complies most of the time she still questions the decisions and isn’t afraid to break the rules and dig a little deeper into the history of Bethel. We see her evolve over the course of the storyline and come to terms with who she really is and how she can change the way things are run in this town.

I would of really been more invested if this story was a dual perspective and we got to see more from Ezra’s point of view. Having him deep within the institution as the Prophet’s son and seeing what he has had to endure over the course of the years to make him rebel would of given me a lot more context I think. I appreciated how committed he was too helping Immanuelle but I think their relationship could of been drawn out a little longer. I just wish they would of had a few more scenes together in more of a group setting where we could see the tension and attraction between them.

This was a lot more religious and pious than what I was expecting. It took me out of the story a little, granted this is my own fault for going in blind. I was expecting witchiness and spells and magic and this very different to that. I’ve seen this pitched as The Handmaid’s Tale for a new generation and I completely agree with that statement. It’s definitely thought provoking and starts a conversation but I was thinking it would be a more fantastical tale.

⭐️3/5 highly engaging and original, just not what I was expecting!

The Girl and the Stars Review

On Abeth the vastness of the ice holds no room for individuals. Survival together is barely possible. No one survives alone. To resist the cold, to endure the months of night when even the air itself begins to freeze, requires a special breed. Variation is dangerous, difference is fatal. And Yaz is not the same. Yaz is torn from the only life she’s ever known, away from her family, from the boy she thought she would spend her days with, and has to carve out a new path for herself in a world whose existence she never suspected. A world full of difference and mystery and danger.

This was a little unexpected. I didn’t read the blurb and didn’t know anything about the plot going into this story simply because I wanted to be surprised and Mark Lawrence hasn’t done me wrong yet. However, this fell a little flat for me. I was immediately enraptured by the Book of the Ancester’s series and how raw and merciless it was. This was like a watered down version of that in a way. It still had all the elements there and could of been great for me but it just was lacking the oomph!

Yaz’s character definitely goes on a journey throughout the course of this book. She stars off quite young and naïve and then her eyes are opened to the harshness of life below the ice and becomes a lot more hardened and willing to make more difficult choices. I think her decision to find Zeen blinded her from realising how much she was willing to sacrifice and the guilt that she would inevitably feel having put people in danger.

I just don’t feel like the whole love rectangle was really necessary. Sure she is coming into adulthood and the relationship with Quell was already established, but gaining those feelings for Thurin and Erris so quckly kind of pulled me out of the story. In terms of the plot I didn’t think it added anything to the storyline except for confusion.

The concept of the stars and how Yas somehow has power over them and the path was interesting and was a nice nod to the previous series. There was just a lot of info bombing happening and it was a difficult to keep track of everything, especially when Yas fell in the city. The way it was told it was difficult for me to picture everything and see how it was all unfolding. I am still somewhat invested though and definitely want to find out what is going to happen next so I am excited for the next book in the series to be released!

⭐️ 2/5 stars Underwhelming unfortunately…

5 Fav Fantasy Stand Alones

For the last couple of years I’ve been listing 5 of my favourite stand-alone books that I read in the year previous. So I figured why not continue on with that tradition!

Another 5 of my Favourite Fantasy Stand Alones are:

The Shadows Between Us by Tricia Levenseller

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab

The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

Winterwood by Shea Ernshaw

Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust

Catherine House Review

*A few spoilers below*

Catherine House is a school of higher learning like no other. Hidden deep in the woods of rural Pennsylvania, this crucible of reformist liberal arts study with its experimental curriculum, wildly selective admissions policy, and formidable endowment, has produced some of the world’s best minds: prize-winning authors, artists, inventors, Supreme Court justices, presidents. For those lucky few selected, tuition, room, and board are free. But acceptance comes with a price. Students are required to give the House three years—summers included—completely removed from the outside world. Family, friends, television, music, even their clothing must be left behind. In return, the school promises its graduates a future of sublime power and prestige, and that they can become anything or anyone they desire.

I liked seeing Ines’s growth over the three years at the Catherine House. I was invested in her right from the star, She was quite a refreshing character and seemed really unpredictable and effervescent. I love that she didn’t just blindly accept what was going on at Catherine House and over the years her queries still persisted.

I really loved that we got to learn a lot about some of the other students at the school as well. After Baby I didn’t think that Ines would be able to connect with anyone but I really appreciated her friend group and how they all looked out for each other. Sure the environment wasn’t particularly healthy but I thought they all coped pretty well under the circumstances.

I feel like there was a steady build up of tension and anticipation throughout the course of the storyline. Even though this was a relatively short book there were many different twists and turns that kept me guessing and wanting to read more. The twist with Theo was a nice surprise, I didn’t see that coming at all. I thought it was a little problematic that Ines was willing to go into this whole relationship with him just to break into the lab but in the end it seems like their goals were quite similar in a way. I had him pegged as a nice guy and to have that thrown in my face was fun!

I honestly didn’t know what was happening for the majority of the book in terms of what was actually happening at the school, I was kind of just along for the ride. The whole concept of the plasma and all the scientific explanations behind it went right over my head. That was the one thing I felt pulled me out of the story a little. I guess I just wasn’t interested in any explanations I as just here for the journey of this cultish school.

⭐️3/5 stars This was strange…

✨Witchlands Series Reread✨

I have to admit I am only about 10% of the way into Truthwitch at the moment. I am currently in a little bit of a reading slump but I am going to persist and hopefully have this book complete by the end of this week! I am soooooo happy to be back in this world and reacquainting myself with all the characters. I absolutely love Safi and Iseult and their loyalty and companionship they have found with each other. Once again I found there was a little bit of an info dump right at the start and it was a little jarring to get into but I am excited to see this tale unfold once again!