This book follows the story of Alice who has been moving around her whole life with her mum Ella trying to outrun the bad luck that plagues them constantly. That is until Alice’s grandmother a reclusive author of a cult-classic book of pitch-dark fairy tales, dies alone on her estate, the Hazel Wood and Ella proclaims that they are free. Or are they?
The first half of the book I really enjoyed. The build-up of anticipation and tension really set the scene for the book and kept me on the edge of my seat. But the second half was a little disjointed and was a bit of a letdown. It got a little too fantastical all at once and I was a little lost in the woods. Had there been a little more information given about the Hazelwood prior to them actually entering might of made me appreciate the setting a bit more. But how it was kind of told just made me a bit confused and not really connected to what was happening.
I did enjoy the kind of mystery aspect surrounding what Althea had written, that component really intrigued me and had me wondering about what she encountered when she went missing. I like that we only got inserts from the book by Finch and how elusive it was to actually hold and read it.
Alice isn’t a favourite female protagonist of mine but I did appreciate how protective of her mother she was. How she would truly do whatever was necessary to try and find her and get her back even putting herself in danger was really courageous. But I liked the fact that she still kept secrets from her mother and tried to find out about her grandmother and the Hinterland. She was just a bit too standoffish and cold (lol) for my liking for me to personally warm to her as a character, but in the end it did make sense so that made me appreciate her.
This book is actually quite dark and a little bit macabre, the pacing was pretty fast but there were a few lulls in the plot and at times I did find myself a little confused but I pushed through and did get it in the end. The premise was very different and unique but I thought the execution and the twist wasn’t explosive enough for me.
⭐️3/5 Intriguing, dark and a little strange…
I am underwhelmed.
This book follows the life of Circe, daughter to the Titan Helios. She is the least favoured among his children and when she is found to have fallen for a mortal man and used witchcraft against her own kind she is banished for eternity to a small island, to while away her existence alone.
I went into this book highly anticipating the read because of how hyped it was and I found myself bored.
At first I was very much invested in the storyline. I liked Circe and found her to be relatable for about the first quarter of the plot and then things spiralled a little bit for me. I appreciated her arc throughout the story but I think it was the way the plot unfolded that didn’t capture my attention as much as I thought it would.
It was a lot of Circe on the island by herself being told what was happening in the world around her and we didn’t really didn’t get to experience any of that excitement or adventure. Being exiled I should of figured that it would be a lot of Circe by herself but the way this book was hyped made me think it was going to be a whole lot more exciting and it just wasn’t for me.
I enjoyed the sort of historical aspect with all of the gods, titans, demigods and monsters and how they came to be in this book, but again it was fleeting and the story dragged a little.I found I didn’t really form a connection to any of the characters and by the end of it I really didn’t care. There wasn’t really any sort of build up of anticipation and the ending was a little too open ended for me.
I can see why so many people enjoyed this book and there wasn’t really anything outstandingly wrong with it, I just didn’t particularly enjoy it myself.
⭐️2/5 solid book, not one of my favourites…
I am pleasantly surprised.
In this sequel we actually follow the perspective of Donatella. Caraval has just ended and Scarlett is still figuring out everything she thought she knew was a lie. Tella has to worry about trying to keep her sister from finding out the real truth why they are at Caraval. An unknown ‘friend’ she has been corresponding with actually set up the whole thing and now wants payment for her actions. Legend has announced a new Caraval mere days after the last in honour of the Empress’s birthday and Tella has to win it in order to get what she needs.
I didn’t like Tella in the last book. I think because I didn’t have enough time to form a bond with her. We really only have a few scenes with her at the start and then at the end and I thought she was a bit spoilt and arrogant. However, in this instalment everything is explained and I finally think I understand her. Love for her family is what really propels her forward, that and I think a little bit of the second child syndrome where you want to prove everyone wrong. She is very single-minded and won’t stop until she achieves what she needs to.
I love that we get more of a backstory not only to Scarlett and Donatella’s lives but also Caraval and the Fates. I thought that was an interesting element and the way that it ties to all of them kept me intrigued throughout the book. There is definite growth in terms of the magical element and why Legend is so powerful and what kind of magic he has, which I appreciated! I thought they kind of skated over that part in the last book and I found it quite lacking.
I thought the setting was very whimsical. The castle really brought about a kind of fairy-tale vibe but was also quite ominous at the same time. I get the same dark and mysterious tones in this book and there was a sense of urgency weaved throughout the plotline as the book progressed! It was very fast paced which I enjoy. The countdown of the days and Tella’s heart really kept me invested in the book and required me to continue to read.
The mystery aspect around Legend and who he could possibly be was also a plot point I really enjoyed. Even from the first book I like how they kept his identity a secret and absolutely no one would give a straight answer as to who he was. We definitely get more about him in this book and are able to really pin point a few characters that he could be. I had a feeling about who he might be but alas I was incorrect. I did like the fact that he is finally unmasked and we know for sure who he is, but also is it for real or is it just another act?
⭐️4.5/5 Finally a sequel I enjoyed more than the first book, hasn’t happened in a while!
This book was absolutely fantastic!
Truly Devious was a shining star last year for me, I really enjoyed the whole premise and plot of the story and The Vanishing Stair really lived up to the expectations that I had built up.
Stevie’s parents have pulled her out of Ellingham Academy after the tragic death of her classmate. She still longs to return and figure out the unsolved case of Truly Devious but her parents are resolute. That is until Edward King turns up at her house with a solution.
Every single line of this book was captivating to read. It was really fast paced and the stakes were incredibly high. The theme is very dark and mysterious and there are so many twists and turns that you can’t help but turn the pages.
Stevie was really relatable in this book. She is so driven and focused on her goal and she will really stop at nothing to find out the truth of what happened that night back in 1936 and also the present day conundrum of Ellie and Hayes. I like the fact that she didn’t immediately dismiss Ellie’s disappearance and looked further into it. It really showed how dedicated she is in becoming a detective. I also like that fact that she tried to include others into her discoveries. She asked for help when she thought she needed it and didn’t dismiss their input.
I’m not quite sure what to make of David yet. I kind of wrote him off as a typical rich kid character that is trying to get his absent fathers attention, but I can’t help feeling like there might be more to his story. I liked how we see him break down after they found Ellie, it was nice to see a teenage boy express his feelings and not be embarrassed by it. He acknowledged their friendship in his grief and I thought that showed how comfortable he is with Stevie.
Larry is another character that I kind of dismissed in the first book and didn’t think he would have a pivotal role in the storyline. I thought he was very honourable and decent and actually treated Stevie with respect and slight disgruntlement for being in the midst of all the scandals. Stevie kind of looked up to his as an authoritative figure that she could trust which is far and few between.
This book is so entertaining; it really has you on the edge of your seat as you read. I found myself really engrossed and engaged in the plot, as I didn’t want to miss anything. All the scenes in the book I thought were pivotal in the overall storyline and every single character that is introduced or carry on from the last book have a purpose. I love reading between the lines and figuring out all the clues and I can’t wait to get my hands on the final book and see once and for all what happened to Alice. I definitely have my theories and I’m excited to see if any are true!
⭐️5/5 I loved this! Mysterious, moody and manic, a wonderful read!
A step up for Lara Jean in this book!
The second instalment in this series picks up almost immediately after To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before ends off. It’s the start of the New Year and Lara Jean is feeling hopeful that she gets back together with Peter and they have a proper relationship. However, a video of their time in the hot tub makes the rounds on social media and Lara Jean is struggling to cope in the limelight.
I think this book has a pretty up to date social commentary on the world at present. I can definitely picture something like this happening in real life and I feel like Jenny Han captured the situation pretty well.
I feel like Lara Jean has evolved well in this book. It’s very subtle but I appreciate how much stronger and outspoken she has become. She really handed the situation of her ‘tape’ well and did not bow to the ridicule she was facing at school. I like how forthright she was in her relationship with Peter, even though he was keeping secrets I feel like she expressed herself well and tried to maintain communication.
Peter I am still a bit in two minds about. I like how well he treats Lara Jean and how special he makes her feel, however, I did kind of think he was a little naïve in terms of Genevieve and how much time he spent with her. He was a little too thoughtless and blasé about their friendship and he came off as a little tactless.
I liked the introduction of John Ambrose; I thought he added a much-needed spark to the storyline. I did think even though they had a history together his feelings for Lara Jean was a little insta-lovey for me. I found myself shrugging that off though because I thought he was a good rival for Peter and kept him on his toes. Especially since they used to be best friends.
This book was highly entertaining; it was a really fast paced, quick, easy read. Heartwarming is really the word that comes to mind. I enjoyed the storyline and I think it built up to what will hopefully be an eventful conclusion in the next book!
⭐️4/5 stars Cute, cringey and heartfelt!