The year is 1926, and Shanghai hums to the tune of debauchery. A blood feud between two gangs runs the streets red, leaving the city helpless in the grip of chaos. At the heart of it all is eighteen-year-old Juliette Cai, a former flapper who has returned to assume her role as the proud heir of the Scarlet Gang—a network of criminals far above the law. Their only rivals in power are the White Flowers, who have fought the Scarlets for generations. And behind every move is their heir, Roma Montagov, Juliette’s first love…and first betrayal.
Juliette is definitely a breathe of fresh air in terms of female main protagonists. I think it was the fact that she wasn’t afraid to be the bad person in the situation. When she came back from America she was fully committed to being the heir to the Scarlet Gang and would bully and intimidate her way through the ranks and gain the respect of the others members even though she is a woman.
Roma I felt like we didn’t get to know him enough for me to be invested to him as a character. The book was kind of more focused on Juliette even though it was dual perspective and I don’t feel like I was able to make much of a connection with Roma as I was with her. He is intriguing and the predicament that he finds himself in being in love with Juliette and having his father find out and use that information against him was gripping. But I want to say the whole situation was a little too predictable but then again this is a retelling so I can only expect so much.
The mystery aspect with the monster and finding out who was behind the vaccine and finding the lakspur was tedious. There really wasn’t any urgency until Roma’s little sister was infected and then I feel like everything came together too easily. Like all the factors were there and they just couldn’t see it until it really started to matter.
I liked the fact that we are given insight into the other characters and it just isn’t all about Juliette and Roma. I was also highly invested in the two gangs and the way they differentiated from each other. Learning about the blood feud and why the two gangs are so willing to kill each other when they breach each other’s territories gave much needed depth and excitement.
⭐️ 3/5 stars Just ok, will definitely be continuing on!
This was my favourite of the series so far!
Regan loves, and is loved, though her school-friend situation has become complicated, of late. When she suddenly finds herself thrust through a doorway that asks her to “Be Sure” before swallowing her whole, Regan must learn to live in a world filled with centaurs, kelpies, and other magical equines―a world that expects its human visitors to step up and be heroes.
Regan was an interesting character for sure! Wanting to fit in was at the forefront of her mind throughout her childhood, which is why is continues to put up with Laurel even though she knows she’s a questionable friend, just to fit in and not be ostracised. I would of appreciated her more if she would of stood up more for Heather but this was incredible realistic the way their friendships played out. She continues to grow and mature in the Hooflands and realises over time who she really should of chose.
I like that Seanan McGuire includes diverse characters with different sexualities and backgrounds. I can’t really comment on the accuracy of Regan as an intersex character but I am pretty sure she is the first intersex character I have come across in my reading history so I had to mention it!
I loved learning about this new world! Throughout Regan’s time there we learn so much about the dichotomy of the centaurs and how their civilisation works within this world. How the stallions are separated from the females and they essentially have to pay to sire a foal. This was really interesting to me and I almost wish we got to discover more about them. We are briefly given a run down of the different creatures that live in Hoofland besides the centaurs and how they view each other. Again I just want to know so much more about the world and how these legends started with the humans but again these books are so short I have become accustomed to the amount of world building we are going to be given.
The plot was pretty fast paced and I was engaged pretty much throughout the course of the storyline. I feel like this book goes into more detail about the world and establishes Regan’s character pretty quickly. I am excited to see where her story goes next and how she ends up at Eleanor’s and whether or not she acclimates back to the real world.
⭐️4/5 stars I really enjoyed this!!!
This was definitely my favourite of the series so far!
When Jack left Eleanor West’s School for Wayward Children she was carrying the body of her deliciously deranged sister–whom she had recently murdered in a fit of righteous justice–back to their home on the Moors. But death in their adopted world isn’t always as permanent as it is here, and when Jack is herself carried back into the school, it becomes clear that something has happened to her. Something terrible. Something of which only the maddest of scientists could conceive. Something only her friends are equipped to help her overcome.
I think what I liked about this book above the rest was we have a bit more context in regards to these characters and the setting of the Moors that I was able to be more invested and connected to the narrative. Which is essentially what I missing from the rest of the series. They are all so short and don’t go into the minute details that I am so used to that I am just left feeling like something was missing but that wasn’t there this time. I already know most of these characters and we got to learn more about them and their motives behind some of their actions.
Jack really leaned into the narrative that she was a monster and not a nice person. I didn’t really think that way about her before but it was really emphasised throughout the course of the plot. I think it was fairly obvious that her sister would have to die and even though she goes through with it she does end up feeling remorseful that it had to happen. There is definitely no love lost between the two and I didn’t really enjoy Jill at all but like Jack said they are a result of their choices they made when they were too young to think of the consequences.
I am glad that we got to explore more of the Moors and find out more about it’s history and the rules of the world. I liked the different setting of the seaside and learning about the drowned gods and the high priest and his history as well. I can see how some of the logical worlds have sort of similar rules in place yet still differ in a way that distinguishes them from each other.
Everything just kind of works out a little too conveniently for them when they go on these quests. Sure Seanan McGuire is not shy about killing off characters in this series but all of the conflict and obstacles are resolved kind of easily. There are definitely some high stakes but I am never really worried about any of the characters, because most of the time they end up coming back somehow.
⭐️3/5 stars the series is slowly getting better as I read through
This fourth entry and prequel tells the story of Lundy, a very serious young girl who would rather study and dream than become a respectable housewife and live up to the expectations of the world around her. As well she should. When she finds a doorway to a world founded on logic and reason, riddles and lies, she thinks she’s found her paradise. Alas, everything costs at the goblin market, and when her time there is drawing to a close, she makes the kind of bargain that never plays out well.
From what we learn about Katherine I can see why she would want to escape to the Goblin Market and how she would thrive in this world. She is very stubborn and I could see how her choices would affect her later on in the plot and they eventually did. She was both selfish running away from her family and coming back multiple times, she didn’t really understand how that could affect them, but also she would do just about anything to help Moon and stop her from becoming an owl, taking on her debt and paying it all off with no thought of the repercussions.
The world building wasn’t quite enough for me. There was definitely multiple discussions about the rules and debt and how giving fair value and not asking for too much was key in this world but the actual setting wasn’t explored enough for me. It lacked that depth I needed to become fully engaged and invested in the plot.
I felt like all of the action and adventure aspects in these books were just passed over. I wanted to know about all of the things Lundy got up to in the years she was in the Goblin Market instead of briefly being told them when she returns to her family. This is definitely more of a character driven series which explores the characters growth over their journey’s and their frame of minds throughout as opposed to what is actually happening within the worlds.
Overall I feel a bit ambivalent towards this book in particular. It was interesting sure, and seeing how Lundy interprets the rules and debts captured my attention but overall it just feels like something is missing in the story. And again like the rest of the series I think it was the fact that they are just so short and doesn’t give me enough substance.
⭐️3/5 stars Just an ok one for me…
Set in the world of the acclaimed Seven Realms series a generation later, this is a thrilling story of dark magic, chilling threats, and two unforgettable characters walking a knife-sharp line between life and death.
It has been a while since I read the Seven Realms and it took me a minute to become settled in Cinda Williams Chima’s writing style but once I was I was thriving! She set up so many storylines and questions that I need answering so it seems like I’m going to be bingeing this series.
I really liked Ash. He wasn’t perfect by any means and was a tad stubborn and unwilling to listen to advice from anyone but he is still so endearing. Watching you father being killed right in front of you (which I was a bit salty about tbh) would of damaged any child and I think wanting to enact revenge is a perfectly plausible plan and I would of probably wanted to do the same had I been in his position.
Lila I was unsure about for the majority of her storyline before we found out who she actually is. I didn’t understand her motives and why she was so hellbent on helping Ash yet also seemingly supplying the Kind of Arden with supplies that could help him win the war. She was cloaked in mystery throughout the book and her closeness to Destin was also a factor that made me not trust her.
Jenna I am the most curious about out of all the characters. Not knowing who her parents are and having this Empress searching for her is all very compelling! Who is she really, what powers does she actually have and how can she talk to dragons? That element really shocked me as I didn’t know that dragons were a part of this world but it was definitely a welcome addition to the plot.
I have to say it did get a little slow paced and kind of stagnant in the middle section of the book where we follow Ash as he infiltrates the castle at Arden. But there was so many different strands and arcs going on that kept me turning the pages for sure! I am very much engaged and I think this was the perfect set up for the series.
⭐️4/5 stars I think I’m going to love this series!!!