Vespertine Review

*Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with an ARC for review!*

Artemisia is training to be a Gray Sister, a nun who cleanses the bodies of the deceased so that their souls can pass on; otherwise, they will rise as spirits with a ravenous hunger for the living. She would rather deal with the dead than the living, who trade whispers about her scarred hands and troubled past. When her convent is attacked by possessed soldiers, Artemisia defends it by awakening an ancient spirit bound to a saint’s relic.

I feel like I didn’t get to connect enough with Artemisia before all the action happened. We get a brief example of the ostracisation that she felt living with the Gray Sisters and how much more comfortable she was with the dead than the other nuns. But then all the action starts and we are swept away into the story before I could form that bond with her. Throughout the plot we are given insight into what she had to endure growing up and why she acts the way she does which I appreciated.

I liked how Marguerite came back into the story. I didn’t think any of the nuns were going to be super relevant to the story since Artemisia leaves them so quickly but it was nice to have her come back in and give us some understanding about how people perceived Artemisia and the misunderstanding that could occur when people don’t communicate properly with each other.

The terminology in the book was a little hard to understand and completely wrap my mind around. Keeping track of all the different orders of the souls and the clergisy was difficult and wasn’t explained as well as it could of been I feel. We’re thrown straight into the action and all of these names and titles keep flying around and I wasn’t as rooted into the story as what I could of been if it was all just drawn out a little longer.

The same thing can be said for the setting and the structure of the plot. I found it quite difficult to picture where we were and what was happening a lot (which I found to be similar to Magaret Rogerson’s two previous books). We are just moving through so quickly and I wasn’t given enough description and I was lost a couple times and had to go back and reread a few pages.

Overall I really liked the concept, I thought it was highly original and compelling. I just would of liked the pacing to slow down and we can get situated with what’s happening before jumping into all of the action. The were some twists and turns throughout the course of the storyline that ultimately kept me turning the pages but was a bit underwhelming in the end.

⭐️3/5 stars The potential was there just lacking that oomph for me…

✨Witchlands Series Reread Update✨

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I just finished Bloodwitch and I am all up in my feels again! The majority of the first half I had a vague idea of what was happening and the direction the book was going but I completely forgot the second half of this book as it’s been over 2 years now that I read it. I loved that we get so much more of Aeduan and his point of view and we learn more about his background. Him finding out who his father was and then the flashbacks to his childhood and how out of control of his powers he was and the subsequent ostracization. Seeing him slowly fall in love with Iseult is just so precious, trying to deny his feelings because he believes he actually can’t feel because he is this monster. Then coming to the realisation and accepting his feelings, telling Iseult and then being dragged apart again. One thing I have found about this book was that it was a little hard to visualise what was happening at the end. It was all a little frantic and rushed and I couldn’t picture the setting at all and how the doors in the mountain was set up. Where exactly the standoff with Merik and the Fury was taking place at and how they ended up there in the first place. I was taking my time and reading quite slowly to try and take everything in but I was still just that little bit confused. Other than that I love the progression of all of the character and where they have ended up and I am sooo excited to finally be able to dive into Witchshadow fresh and updated.

Malice Review

Thank you to Netgalley for providing me an ARC for review!

Princess Aurora. The last heir to Briar’s throne. Kind. Gracious. The future queen her realm needs. One who isn’t bothered that I am Alyce, the Dark Grace, abhorred and feared for the mysterious dark magic that runs in my veins. Humiliated and shamed by the same nobles who pay me to bottle hexes and then brand me a monster. Aurora says I should be proud of my gifts. That she . . . cares for me. Even though it was a power like mine that was responsible for her curse. But with less than a year until that curse will kill her, any future I might see with Aurora is swiftly disintegrating—and she can’t stand to kiss yet another insipid prince. I want to help her. If my power began her curse, perhaps it’s what can lift it. Perhaps, together, we could forge a new world.

Alyce’s character and background is just so intriguing. How she was found on the streets and handed in to the crown, who is her family and why is she different than the other graces. We really got quite an in depth history of the lands of Briar and Etheria and also Malterre. I really enjoy that we get the backstory and understand the prejudices that Alyce has had to deal with her whole life. I honestly think she was justified in how her arc progressed, finally finding happiness with Aurora and then having it snatched away by the Briar King.

The Graces were an interesting addition to the plotline. I liked that this was something completely new that was added into this fairy-tale that was unique and compelling. The contrast between the graces and Alyce really drove home how ostracised and looked down upon she was even though she was stronger than them. Just seeing how controlled they were from the crown and the length that these graces would go to secretly to ensure that they don’t fade.

Aurora’s character I didn’t feel as much a connection to as I would of hoped. I think she’s a product of her environment and means well but doesn’t understand the depth of hatred the realm has for Alyce. I think she really should of known that her father would blackmail Alyce into working for him especially after she seen what she could do with her powers. Kal on the other hand I felt like was almost too good to be true. He just seems to have all the answers for Alyce which immediately made me not trust him. I knew there was more to his story than what we were being told but the way his storyline played out seems a little rushed.

Overall I was highly invested in this storyline. The magic system and the world building was descriptive and pretty easy to understand. I would definitely appreciate a more in depth look at Vila magic and what the limitations are like we’ve gotten about the Graces. The pacing was a slower at the start and then felt rushed right at the end. But I was highly entertained, I was invested in Alyce and there were some twists and turns along the way that kept me turning the pages!

⭐️4/5 stars Can’t wait to finish off this duology and see what will happen next!

✨Witchlands Series Reread Update✨

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Look what I finally received in the mail!!! I am soooo beyond excited to finally have Witchshadow in my possession and I am going to be able to continue this series in the very near future. I still have to reread Bloodwitch which will happen hopefully this week or even next week and then I can finally move on and see where the series will go next! I’m not quite sure how many books are going to be in this series, but I’m pretty sure there is going to be another one after Witchshadow. There are so many storylines still up in the air and so much is happening at the moment that I’m sure Susan Dennard could potentially stretch this out to even  8-10 books which I am definitely here for and will continue to read I’m sure! 

A Song Below Water Review

Tavia is already at odds with the world, forced to keep her siren identity under wraps in a society that wants to keep her kind under lock and key. Nevermind she’s also stuck in Portland, Oregon, a city with only a handful of black folk and even fewer of those with magical powers. At least she has her bestie Effie by her side as they tackle high school drama, family secrets, and unrequited crushes.

I liked Tavia’s character. Having to constantly be on guard and quelling her powers so often would definitely have an effect on anyone and I thought she did a pretty good job of it for the majority of the storyline. I think having to overcome her father’s fears and constraints was her main obstacle throughout the course of the book. She is wanting to know more about her siren power’s and to connect with her grandmother but he is so against anything happening to her that she has to resort to sneaking and lying.

Effie’s storyline was definitely more intriguing. Originally thinking she wasn’t anything special and then to find out what happened in the park with the other kids and then eventually seeing her morph into who she truly is was quite a remarkable storyline. It’s frustrating knowing that the adults know what Effie is and just won’t tell her. Just locking her away without an explanation and being outed at the prom after being pushed to her limits.

However, I just feel like their whole magic system and the different beings in this world just wasn’t fleshed out enough for me. There was a lot of talk about myths and ethos but we really don’t get to dive right in and get a thorough explanation. I was left with more questions than answers and would of appreciated the book more had I maybe had more of a history of the siren’s and the network and how that was established.

This just isn’t my kind of fantasy I guess. I’m not even sure if this is labelled as a fantasy or whether it’s just a contemporary with some magical realism thrown in. I was just not all that invested and felt like the book dragged. The pacing might have been a little off for me and made the book seem longer than what it actually was.

⭐️2/5 stars Just wasn’t for me!