Tag Archives: Fantasy

Between the Blade and the Heart by Amanda Hocking

Between the Blade and the Heart by Amanda Hocking

 Between the Blade and the Heart
by Amanda Hocking

Valkyries have one great responsibility: to return immortals to the afterlife by slaying them. As a Valkyrie, Malin has always known that the balance of the world rests on her ability to carry out orders. But when Malin discovers that her mother spared the life of an immortal who was destined to die, her world is thrown into chaos.

Malin not only wrestles with the knowledge that her mother might not be who she thought—she’s also thrust into the path of a gorgeous blue eyed guy named Asher who needs her help slaying the rogue immortal who destroyed his family. The balance of the world is at stake. And, as Asher competes with Malin’s ex for her love and loyalty, so is her heart.

Valkyrie #1

Rated: ★★★
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Publication: January 2, 2018
Genre: Fantasy, YA
I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this title.

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Between the Blade and the Heart by Amanda Hocking

The synopsis had me hesitant on picking up Between the Blade and the Heart by Amanda Hocking, worried that it would be just another love triangle ya cookie cutter novel. But! It was so much better than that! The world created by Hocking was interesting and unique, though I’m not entirely sure how accurate some of the mythological aspects were. Even still, it was a good story and I really loved the characters and world!

I was immediately skeptical of the book as soon as I opened up when I saw that Odin and the valkyries in this world were listed as Vanir, when they are actually part of the Aesir (well Valkyries were 50/50 but we’re not here to get that deep into it). I don’t understand why the change, since it seems so superficial, which then gets me wondering if it just wasn’t researched well enough? Or maybe the author thought Vanir, Aesir, all the same, eh? Which, it isn’t considering there was a war between the two. I am someone that has studied world mythologies, so it definitely got me started on the wrong foot. That said, I doubt other readers will notice the difference or care. But, I will say it did leave me wary for the rest of the beings mentioned and just how on point Hocking may have been with describing them/their purpose/origin.

Now that my one pet peeve is out of the way, the world was so interesting! I loved how there were mortals, immortals, hybrids, etc. just all mixed in together in this modern world. There was such a great combination of yeah, this world has all this magic and swords and fates in it, but there’s also bars and magical equivalent of hookah and school and vehicles. That your friendly, and handsome, mechanic could be mortal, but also have horns, was just such a super cool concept to me (please, can we see him again in the sequel??)

The story quest itself, and the theme of Free Will vs Fate was interesting, and I might have to re-read it to think it through a bit more because honestly, what really sold me on this book was the one thing I was worried would ruin it. The romance! What the synopsis failed to mention was that Malin’s ex was a lady and I died! I am SO IN LOVE with Quinn, I could not put the book down once I saw her. I just want all the things for her and just want Malin to talk with Quinn and sort herself out so they can be together. Like yeah, Asher’s great and all, but QUINN! My wlw heart was just so excited! It was also especially great to see that even with mentions of angels and demons, sexuality wasn’t taboo and to be LGBTIQA+ wasn’t a shock to the characters or presented as such to the reader.

I am so grateful to end my year on such a high note with Between the Blade and the Heart by Amanda Hocking. A YA book with a unique world build, fantastic characters (with great use of romance), and just fun, this is something I definitely can recommend to readers who enjoy kick-ass female protagonists who can kick butt and fall in love and not have it be detrimental to either.

Frostblood by Elly Blake

Frostblood by Elly Blake

 

Frostblood
by Elly Blake

Seventeen-year-old Ruby is a Fireblood who has concealed her powers of heat and flame from the cruel Frostblood ruling class her entire life. But when her mother is killed trying to protect her, and rebel Frostbloods demand her help to overthrow their bloodthirsty king, she agrees to come out of hiding, desperate to have her revenge.
Despite her unpredictable abilities, Ruby trains with the rebels and the infuriating–yet irresistible–Arcus, who seems to think of her as nothing more than a weapon. But before they can take action, Ruby is captured and forced to compete in the king’s tournaments that pit Fireblood prisoners against Frostblood champions. Now she has only one chance to destroy the maniacal ruler who has taken everything from her–and from the icy young man she has come to love.
Frostblood Saga #1

Rated: ★★★
Publisher:  Little, Brown Books
Publication: January 10, 2017
Genre: YA, Fantasy
Borrowed from the Queens Public Library

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Frostblood by Elly Blake

I remember there being hype over Frostblood by Elly Blake, and the summary peaked my interest, so I picked up the ebook from my library and thought I’d give it a go. It surpassed my expectations and I’m actually really interested in continuing the series!

Blake’s world is really interesting, The concept is deceptively simple. A world divided seemingly between those with Frostblood powers and those with Fireblood powers, where the Firebloods have been hunted almost to extinction by the Frostbloods in power. It’s only logical that fire and frost be enemies, it needs to explaining, but Blake actually gives it to us! There’s a solid mythology behind the world, reasons given for why the Frostbloods and Firebloods are at odds, and I’d love to get deeper into hopefully with the second book in the series. There are gods and beings and they directly influence what is happening and it’s just so great to see a YA story where the author knows what the basis of their world is.

Though it clocks in at 376 pages, it felt surprisingly short for me, which is a good mark of how well the pacing worked for Blake. The book was broken up into various little mini arcs, each with their own tension that subtly built up to the finale. We go from death of Ruby’s mother, to training with the monks, to meeting the King so quickly and fluidly, there simply isn’t time to get bored and lose interest. The downside to this, however, is that we don’t get the time to build the romance between Arcus and Ruby.

Speaking of which, Ruby’s character growth was fantastic and I cannot wait to see her face the consequences of her actions in the sequel. But, what I really want to see is what happens with Arcus. As I said, there wasn’t enough time to build a proper romance, but it was one that I wanted nonetheless. I was excited at the prospect and giddy when eventually a kiss was shared (giddier still when a secret revelation was made at the end, though I had hoped/guessed at it long before). Will Arcus actually be ‘the one’ for Ruby? Or was he simply the one that was there? I’m hoping if he’s ‘the one,’ that we can actually see his character grow, or even just have him better developed. And, well, if he isn’t, then we do get a love interest that can match Ruby.

Frostblood by Elly Blake was a solid start to a new YA fantasy series that combines solid world-building with great pacing and main character growth to create a lovely story I thoroughly enjoyed.

Enchanting Yuletide

Enchanting Yuletide

 

Enchanting Yuletide
by Jena Baxter, CK Brewer, Guy Donovan, Barbara Lieberman, Ellie Lieberman, Raven Williams

Six stories of the holiday season, guaranteed to put you in a festive mood. So, grab your hot chocolate and snuggle up to experience the season as you’ve never done before. After all, tis the Season for Magic!

Rated: ★★★★
Publisher:  Pipe & Thimble
Publication: November 15, 2017
Genre: Holiday, Christmas, Fantasy
I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this title.

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Enchanting Yuletide

This was SUCH a welcome holiday read! I was contacted out of the blue to review Enchanting Yuletide, and even though I was hesitant, a) because anthologies are usually hit-or-miss, but more importantly because of b) what we went through reading the Wolfsbane and Mistletoe holiday anthology. However, I was sad that I hadn’t read anything holiday-ish this month, so I said yes. I was SO HAPPY I gave it a chance! The stories were all fantastic in different ways, thought provoking, and actually left me feeling moved. I mean, I got weepy over one story in particular.

It’s a really short anthology of only six authors — six stories. So, I don’t want to give too much away. But I will talk a little about my two favorite — Hand-Me-Downs by Barbara Lieberman and The Memory Tree by Ellie Lieberman. Hand-Me-Downs was incredibly heart-warming with a touch of holiday magic that is incredibly relateable given the times we live in right now. A mother-daughter pair who find themselves struggling. No home of their own, constantly on the move, health issues. Yet, even with the struggles, they have love, family, friends. They are never thrown away or discarded. Their holiday becomes a magical affair that just makes you feel warm and reminds you of those old black-and-white movies you’d watch as a child the week between Christmas and New Years Eve.

Then, juxtaposed next to such an uplifting tale, we have The Memory Tree by Ellie Lieberman. Just as touching, but in such a different way. Where Hand-Me-Downs shows us the good cheer in holiday spirits, The Memory Tree reminds us that it is okay, and sometimes necessary, to remember the not so good during the holiday season. The things that hurt and are missing. The people that are no longer around the Christmas Tree or the dinner table. Just thinking about this short makes me emotional. It almost feels like we are given permission to feel bittersweet, which is something I personally find comforting the older I get.

The other four stories in Enchanting Yuletide are also just as fantastic, but in different ways. We have Seasons, a story of 3 brothers — one a neutral party, one a bitter betty, and the other forced into a villainous role. I mean, who, with siblings, can’t relate to that dynamic? Then there’s Tempus Fugit where we find upgrades aren’t always a great thing… Then, for those looking for a more straightforward fantasy take on Winter, we have Deep Winter Fire and Solstice Magic. Both constructing beautifully detailed worlds where humans emerge as the inheritors of magic.

After reading Enchanting Yuletide, I have to honestly say, I have six new authors to add to my watch list. Their ability to create such beautiful worlds in so small a space is a sign of true talent. Considering the kindle price is only $3.99 USD right now (December 15, 2017), do yourself a favor, get into the Christmas mood, and pick it up!

Stay tuned for some really cool, in-depth Q&As to find out more about the stories in Enchanting Yuletide, as well as about the authors themselves!

Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Cordova

Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Cordova

Labyrinth Lost
by Zoraida Cordova

Alex is a bruja, the most powerful witch in a generation…and she hates magic. At her Deathday celebration, Alex performs a spell to rid herself of her power. But it backfires. Her whole family vanishes into thin air, leaving her alone with Nova, a brujo she can’t trust, but who may be Alex’s only chance at saving her family.

Brooklyn Brujas #1

Rated: ★★★½
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Publication: September 6, 2016
Genre: Fantasy, YA
Personally purchased title.

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Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Cordova

Listen, a book that takes place in the outer NYC boroughs, features witchcraft, has a potential bi protagonist, AND oh yeah, she’s latinx as well? I WAS SOLD IN A HEARTBEAT! Maybe it was wish fulfillment, but Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Cordova was just everything I have wanted in a very long time. Because of this, it had the potential to let me down, and yet, it gave me life.

Centered around a family of brujas based in Brooklyn, Labyrinth Lost follows middle daughter Alex as she fights against who her family thinks she should be, struggles to find who she actually is, and oh yeah, travels through a magical land akin to the Underworld after a spell goes awry, risking her life in the process. What really makes this book so special isn’t the magic (though it’s pretty cool), but the emotion. The ties that bind Alex so tightly she feels like she can’t breathe, but when they’re gone, she feels lost. That everything is centered on her relationship with the family, and on the search for her place within it, while magical events are afoot, just makes this feel so real and let’s it stand out from every other typical YA magical girl story.

I would be a liar, however, if I didn’t admit that it does still follow some YA conventions — namely romance with 2 love interests. However, like with everything else in the book, Cordova gives it her own take. We have a potential love triangle that DOESN’T really involve the two parties fighting constantly and forcing Alex to choose; there are moments, yes, but mostly, they are able to put differences aside for Alex’s sake and because to do otherwise would put them all in danger. Also, it’s a queer love triangle!

Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Cordova is a great read that stands out among all the other YA magical girl stories. Cordova creates multidimensional characters that feel real with realistic reactions and emotions that carry the fantastic story forward. I cannot wait for the second book in the Brooklyn Brujas series to come out!

For more in-depth commentary on Labyrinth Lost, check out the Pages and Pause Screen Podcast where I talk about the story along with my co-host Ally as it happens (Full Spoilers).

This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab

This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab

This Savage Song
by Victoria Schwab

There’s no such thing as safe in a city at war, a city overrun with monsters. In this dark urban fantasy from author Victoria Schwaba young woman and a young man must choose whether to become heroes or villains—and friends or enemies—with the future of their home at stake. The first of two books.

Kate Harker and August Flynn are the heirs to a divided city—a city where the violence has begun to breed actual monsters. All Kate wants is to be as ruthless as her father, who lets the monsters roam free and makes the humans pay for his protection. All August wants is to be human, as good-hearted as his own father, to play a bigger role in protecting the innocent—but he’s one of the monsters. One who can steal a soul with a simple strain of music. When the chance arises to keep an eye on Kate, who’s just been kicked out of her sixth boarding school and returned home, August jumps at it. But Kate discovers August’s secret, and after a failed assassination attempt the pair must flee for their lives.

Monsters of Verity #1

Rated: ★★★★
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Publication: July 5, 2016
Genre: Fantasy, YA
Personally purchased title.

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This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab

I had been dying to read This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab after hearing from so many what a wonderful fantasy author she is. I bought the book without reading the synopsis or knowing anything about it really, while I was in Portland’s City of Books about a year ago. I just thought okay, good cover, people have said good things, I’m taking a chance! That chance lay on a bookshelf for almost an entire year before I finally picked it up for the Pages and Pause Screen podcast.

I absolutely LOVED it. I knew almost immediately this book would be a five star book. The writing was flawless and the characters were so well rounded and well written. The world-building, which can prove to be cumbersome to deal with for many, seemed seamless. Everything flowed naturally, so that any little bit of information we learned about this world, about monsters and music, came alongside the action and not in large chunks of awkward exposition that breaks rhythm.

Schwab does a fantastic job deconstructing the typical male and female roles in fantasy. Usually, we’ll see the aloof, broody male that has anger issues, and the serene, docile female that quiets the rage of the other. And then, of course, this leads to an inevitable romance, that will down the line be tested. Schwab changes everything up! She gives up the perfect gem that is Kate Harker — angry, vicious, cynical, calculating, and August Flynn — a soft boy trying to do and be good in a world that only considers him capable of being a monster, that only wants him to be a monster.

The two form an unlikely alliance considering their end goals are complete opposites — at first. Slowly, the come to know each other and then, just when you think here comes the romance, there isn’t! It ends! Do you realize how amazing this is? That, in a YA fantasy, there are two protagonists, a male and female, and they grow close and DON’T kiss kiss fall in love? I can’t remember the last time I’ve read something this compelling without romance (if you have, please do rec them to me!). It felt so good, so refreshing to have two characters meet, go through something, and then realize things are still what they are (cryptic wording simply because I don’t want to go into spoilers). Though, Schwab is fantastic at crafting their platonic relationship because if you wanted to, there’s plenty that can be construed as romantic and as hinting towards a romance. And if you don’t, then it isn’t there, taking over the spotlight of a wonderful story or being crammed down your throat.

Leaning away from the characters, the story and world is extremely interesting as well. Crimes actually have real, tangible, physical repercussions in the form of the three types of monsters: Corsai, Malchai, and Sunai. We’re told that particular acts of violence will result in their creation. At first glance, this monster system makes sense. Seems flawless, but then something happens towards the end and you realize there are cracks. This opens up what can be a great discussion on whether all acts of violence deserve to be treated the same way, whether creating one malchai by accident is just as bad as creating a malchai on purpose. There’s a reason we (in the US) have different levels of murder in the judiciary system, as well as labels that can be applied instead of murder.

This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab is simply one of the best YA fantasy books I have read in recent time. Set in a unique world with it’s own set of rules and norms, redefining what the other and monsters are, and putting together a pair of protagonists that fall on different ends of the spectrum in this world, yet not having them fall in a romance, are all things that set this novel apart from many others in the genre. Definitely, pick this up, find a friend, and discuss!

Beasts Made of Night by Tochi Onyebuchi

Beasts Made of Night by Tochi Onyebuchi

 Beasts Made of Night
by Tochi Onyebuchi

In the walled city of Kos, corrupt mages can magically call forth sin from a sinner in the form of sin-beasts – lethal creatures spawned from feelings of guilt.

Taj is the most talented of the aki, young sin-eaters indentured by the mages to slay the sin-beasts. But Taj’s livelihood comes at a terrible cost. When he kills a sin-beast, a tattoo of the beast appears on his skin while the guilt of committing the sin appears on his mind. Most aki are driven mad by the process, but 17-year-old Taj is cocky and desperate to provide for his family.

When Taj is called to eat a sin of a royal, he’s suddenly thrust into the center of a dark conspiracy to destroy Kos. Now Taj must fight to save the princess that he loves – and his own life.

A gritty Nigerian-influenced fantasy.

Rated: ★★★
Publisher: Razorbill
Publication: October 31, 2017
Genre: Fantasy, YA
I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this title.

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Beasts Made of Night by Tochi Onyebuchi

If there is one way to guarantee I’ll read your book, just mention sin eaters, and I’m in. The concept of people existing for the sole purpose of consuming the sins from another is just so fascinating to me. So, when I picked up Beasts Made of Night by Tochi Onyebuchi, I already went in with high expectations and was not disappointed! Though, I did need to step back away from it for a moment.

The concept is a fantastic one, and not all that far-fetched considering the real life medieval use of indulgences. In the city of Kos, there exists a specific subset of people that have the ability to swallow sins. Each sin they swallow, they take into themselves, the feelings of shame, madness, revulsion. They are permanently marked with these sins. As such, you can only imagine how the sin-eaters are treated. Not with reverence, but disgust over the various marks of defect on their skins. The fact that they “seemingly” have no problem with taking another’s sins. Little do they care that the sin-eaters are forced to do so by a corrupt system that relies on them entirely. None moreso than the wealthy and the royals (I have so much I want to say about this book but with regards to the royals, I’ll simply say I love how it does not follow typical YA convention — tweet me if you want to discuss!).

There is a smidge of romance, which really leads to the amazing build-up at the end! And boy, that ending was just fantastic! I cannot wait for the follow-up. It was a great payoff to everything that Onyebuchi steadily built and weaved through from the start.

Now, all that said, why did I mention earlier that I needed to step back away from it for a moment? Easy peasy. I was reading and kept wondering WHY I wasn’t as into it as I should have been. It had all the elements and the writing was strong. So, why? I stepped away and thought about what I was having trouble with. That’s when it hit me — the culture/language, it wasn’t something I was used to. Most YA fantasy tends to come to us from a very European backdrop. We have a few that stray (The Bone Witch is one), but they tend not to really use the words. Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Cordova does, but I felt comfortable with that because I am latinx. So, after realizing that was what was giving me difficulty, I looked at myself and said get over it. If I can read Tolkien and all the gobbledegook languages he made up and not have a problem with it, this should be no different. I picked it back up, and it was night and day. Everything was so much easier. I got sucked it and loved every second of it. All it took was me identifying what was blocking me, to get my head in gear, unblock, and fall into an amazing story!

Beasts Made of Night by Tochi Onyebuchi is an amazing YA novel that finally breaks away from traditional European fantasy. It creates its own wonderful mythos and is so extremely rich in detail, I could taste the foods, smell the smells, and believe in the culture. I really cannot convey how much I want everyone to read this, and if you think you don’t ‘get’ it, think about why, and go again.

*Small note – there is an exclusive Pages and Pause Screen podcast on the patreon talking about potential racism in ya fantasy and ya fantasy reviews, for any interested listeners.

The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco

The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco

 The Bone Witch
by Rin Chupeco

Let me be clear: I never intended to raise my brother from his grave, though he may claim otherwise. If there’s anything I’ve learned from him in the years since, it’s that the dead hide truths as well as the living.

When Tea accidentally resurrects her brother from the dead, she learns she is different from the other witches in her family. Her gift for necromancy means that she’s a bone witch, a title that makes her feared and ostracized by her community. But Tea finds solace and guidance with an older, wiser bone witch, who takes Tea and her brother to another land for training.

In her new home, Tea puts all her energy into becoming an asha―one who can wield elemental magic. But dark forces are approaching quickly, and in the face of danger, Tea will have to overcome her obstacles…and make a powerful choice.

Memoirs of a Geisha meets The Name of the Wind in this brilliant new fantasy series by Rin Chupeco!

Book 1 of The Bone Witch series

Rated: ★★★★
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Publication: March 7, 2017
Genre: Fantasy, YA
I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this title.

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The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco

Sometimes, a popular book comes out that everyone loves and I just don’t get. I’m used to those situations happening. But then, sometimes the opposite happens and a book that has been hyped up comes out to less favorable reviews, but I love it. That always shocks me. So, when I finished The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco and immediately thought FIVE STARS GREAT FANTASTIC, then checked goodreads to see the rating, I was flabbergasted. This was a book that I thoroughly enjoyed and wanted more of.

Chupeco does tremendously well in framing the story between before and after. This is probably one of the most successful aspects of this book. It builds up the suspense and helps propel the plot forward. It kept me thrumming with anxiety as I saw the pages left to finish the book dwindle down while the two halves of the book were nowhere near close to connecting. Part of the book takes place after. After what? We can only guess the specifics but we know Tea was exiled. A bard finds her and she tells her tale to him while working on something that had me frightened, not only for what’s to come, but for her very sanity as well. The rest of the book is the story Tea is telling about her childhood, about how she got to the point she’s at by the end of the book. He story stops short of filling in all the gaps, which we’ll likely see more of in a sequel.

The story itself was well crafted, with a solid start to worldbuilding. We get the idea of these different cultures, social hierarchies, myths, etc. and how they influence everything, especially Tea’s story. Tea, a small town girl with big town magic, gets roped into becoming an Asha, almost like a magical geisha. She has to learn history, politics, song, dance, etc. all in order to provide stimulating conversation and entertainment to those that can afford it. But, Tea’s specialization requires even more of her. As she is a bone witch, she will also be in charge of defeating monsters that pop up periodically — a task only bone witches are capable of completing.

Now, this wouldn’t be a YA fantasy novel if it didn’t also include romance, which is hinted upon from the very beginning. I died because I was so intrigued by who it would be she fell in love with. I had my suspicions and I had my hopes and my suspicions won out, but my hope is still there! Trust me, you don’t want me to spoiler that because we literally do not get a name until the last page and it was SO WORTH IT.

Another thing that really sets The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco apart is the inclusion of people of color. I never once while reading felt that this was a world of white, which I absolutely loved and think we need more of, especially in fantasy. I mean, if we can have 3 headed dragons, why not a cast of diverse characters? Also, the addition of a potentially lgbtqa* character towards the end had me throwing my hands up in glee (at least, that’s how I read the character secret as).

There was only one part that did slow the book down — fashion descriptions. Yes, they may have been important in creating the story, but I honestly could not keep track of it all, nor did I make that big an effort to. It ended up becoming lines on a page to skim past.

Overall, The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco is a novel that I absolutely adored. It felt unique, had me connected to the characters and world, and now has me in agony waiting for the sequel to pop up. Such a lovely and refreshing YA book!

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas

 A Court of Thorns and Roses
by Sarah J Maas

When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution for it. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she only knows about from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal, but Tamlin–one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled their world.

As she dwells on his estate, her feelings for Tamlin transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie and warning she’s been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But an ancient, wicked shadow over the faerie lands is growing, and Feyre must find a way to stop it . . . or doom Tamlin–and his world–forever.

Rated: ★★½
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Publication: May 5, 2015
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Personally purchased title

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A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas

I have heard such amazing things about A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas. Heard about how great Sarah J Maas is at creating great characters and amazing worlds. How gripping ACOTAR is and what a wild ride it is. Told it is everything I could ever want. Well, maybe all of that is true, but I didn’t see or feel it until the very end of the book.

One of the biggest flaws for me has to be the pacing. The first half of the book had me slogging along, ready to pull my hair out. There was so little actually accomplished, I just didn’t know what the big fuss was about. Then, finally at about the 75% mark, things picked up wildly. The last quarter of the book is what saved the book. If Maas was better able to find a balance between setting story up and going through action, this would have made a world of difference.

Then, the second biggest flaw for me were the characters, mainly protagonist Feyre. She fell so flat for me. The first half, and main reason the book was such a chore to get through, sees Feyre lamenting her life and in such a state of self-pity, I had to wonder why I was reading this instead of just living my own life and fretting upon my own depression. People are allowed to feel depressed, to be in despair, but when you’re writing characters feeling these things, you need to do so with craft. It’s hard to spend a hundred pages or so stuck in the mire with them, especially when you’re just getting to know them.

So, with the faults out of the way, how did the book still get three and a half stars? That ending! It was so unexpected and action packed, it made up for the rest of the book dragging. It made me wish we had seen more of that, convinced me that yes, Maas does know what she’s doing, but had me wondering why she saved it for the end.

There’s a lot more I can talk about, and have talked about in a pair of podcasts on Pages and Pause Screen (first half, second half). In general, however, I think my thoughts on A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas can be summed up by saying that it’s an intriguing start to a new series that will hopefully only pick up in the sequel!