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Spectred Isle by KJ Charles

Title: Spectred Isle (Green Men #1)

Author: KJ Charles

Publisher: Self-published

Lenght:  271 pages

Genre: Romance, Historical, Paranormal

Score: ★★★★★

 

“I suppose you know you’re beautiful,” Randolph said, very softly.

The Secret Casebook of Simon Feximal is one of my favorite books. It’s a perfect mix of romance, interesting plot, and heartbreaking ending. It is amazing partly thanks to the unique narration and the melancholic atmosphere. When I found out KJ Charles is planning sequels set in the same universe, I was both delighted and worried. How do you follow up to that kind of book, that kind of ending, without cheapening it? You write Spectred Isle, as it turns out. As I mentioned, I had very high expectations for this book, and yet, it sailed right above them.

Walking in the steps of its predecessor, Spectred Isle has magnificent atmosphere. Set in 1925 during the Roaring Twenties, London is a mix of desperately hopeful people looking forward to a better future (and the irony of that is not lost on the reader), while mourning an entire lost generation and all their potential. Our heroes have seen the horrors of the War firsthand and will fight tooth and nail to prevent something so horrible from happening second time (again, the irony is lost on nobody). All the characters have been chewed up by the war in all kinds of horrible ways, and yet, they aren’t giving up. They are amazing.

Saul took his face in both hands, one still a touch slippery with grease, and kissed him. It wasn’t the hungry need of before, but a careful, serious kiss, deep and open, and Randolph leaned into it, taking what he was given with a deep, nameless relief.

Saul Lazenby, an archeologist disgraced in the war, finds himself in the employ of the highly eccentric Major Peabody, who seems keen on uncovering an arcane conspiracy behind London. When his previously nonsensical ideas start turning up results, Saul is rightfully disturbed. When those directions make him constantly run into the mysterious Randolph Glyde, Saul isn’t sure what is going on anymore.

Randolph Glyde, the last of the ancient arcanist family, is the current leader of the Green Men, arcane defenders, a role he’s woefully unprepared for. His entire family perished in the war, taking their secrets with them and Randolph is left juggling several roles not his, only because there is nobody else to take them. He and his group must ward off the power-hungry government and figure out who is trying to take advantage of the weakened veil between worlds to summon ancient evils. So, when he keeps running into Saul Lazenby in all the wrong places, he starts to suspect there may be more players on the board. When Saul is plunged into the arcane world, Randolph sees him for his true worth and the two team up to figure out what is going on around them, all while falling deeply in love.

Saul took his face in both hands, one still a touch slippery with grease, and kissed him. It wasn’t the hungry need of before, but a careful, serious kiss, deep and open, and Randolph leaned into it, taking what he was given with a deep, nameless relief.

Randolph and Saul’s relationship is one of the most beautiful I’ve ever read about. Based on mutual respect, it’s kind and soft, with a hint of desperation two somewhat broken people might feel when they find a kindred soul. They understand each other, what they went through in their lives and the scars they carry, but that only makes the other more beautiful in their eyes. They are so, so careful with each other’s hearts and bit by bit, they help each other to lessen the pain. The see the other as they really are, and are unable to believe they could be allowed the joy of being together.

Saul is an amazing character. He has been through a lot, and while accepting his guilt, he won’t let it overpower him. He has a hard time trusting others and looks at the world around him with slight impatience for nonsense, but he’s undeniably kind and soft around the edges. Randolph is scathingly sarcastic and dominant, but his demeanor hides deep hurts. He is almost painfully honest, but that only makes his kindness more real. When he stands up for Saul, we believe him.

The supporting characters are amazing as well. The mystery surrounding Hugh Barnaby and Max Isaacs kept me guessing and when I finally found out the truth, I screamed in excitement. Sam Caldwell absolutely stole the book. As the only remaining link between The Secret Casebook and Green Men, I was excited to see him all grown up while anxious over his family’s fate in the original book. Sam in Spectred Isle is a wonderful supportive sweetheart, bringing righteous fury to anyone who deserves it. There was a perfect amount of throwbacks to his parents’ life and I cried my eyes out whenever the Casebook itself was mentioned; it touches upon the erasure of queer lives from their own narrative and how important it is to not forget our own history.

Spectred Isle made me cry repeatedly. It is my favorite of KJ Charles’ books (and as someone who sold their soul to A Seditious Affair, I do not say that lightly), thanks to the incredible atmosphere, often creepy plot, beautiful romance with wonderful characters. The plot itself made me excited for more and I honestly can’t wait to see what happens next in the series.

Reviews

Fairytales Slashed Volume 8 (anthology)

Title: Fairytales Slashed Volume 8

Author: Samantha M. Derr (Editor), Althea Clare Duffy (Writer), Charles Payseur (Writer), Kathleen Danielson (Writer), Kodi Marshall(Writer), Lotus Oakes (Writer), TS Porter (Writer), Mercedes Vox (Writer), Stephanie Rabig (Writer)

Publisher: Less Than Three Press

Lenght:  412 pages

Genre: Romance, Fairy Tale

Score: ★★★★★

As a big fan of the first two volumes of Fairytales Slashed, I was delighted to jump on the opportunity to read more. The stories were wonderful and diverse and the quality never dipped too low for my liking, which makes this the most consistent anthology I’ve read in a long time. In fact, the stories got progressively better and better, with the last story being an absolute masterpiece. I will definitely be checking out some of these writers.

 

Tam Lin by Kathleen Danielson– 3 stars

Somewhat weaker than the rest of the anthology, but a nice start. Anabiel was a determined and strong character, and her romance with Tamlin was very sweet. The pacing was nice, but I could really do without the repeated threats of incestual corrective rape. I don’t mind being tense when reading, but not this kind of tense.

Honor in Mercy by Mercedes Vox– 3.5 stars

I was quite surprised at a story about roman gladiators being included in a fairy tale anthology, and while I still think it doesn’t thematically fit, the story itself was very interesting. Noctua as the protector of the innocent, using his kindness to help others was wonderful to see and while his romance with Atlas the lion was only sketched out, I can imagine their life together must’ve been wonderful. The ending to the story was very satisfying too.

The Fox-Bride by Lotus Oakes– 4 stars

This was where the anthology truly picked up for me. I loved Qiu Yue as a protagonist, she was kind but sensible and was aware of story tropes. The fox was charming and delightful and their slow growth from friendship to love was well done. By the end of their trials, I was cheering for them. Unfortunately, the ending was quite rushed and completely ruined the pacing of the story.

Riding Red by Charles Payseur– 4.5 stars

This story was so funny it made me laugh aloud in a doctor’s waiting room. As a big fan of the Fables series, the almost juvenile style of humor was definitely my cup of tea. The modern pop culture interpretation of the fairy tale Jack persona always charmed me, so it was a wonderful surprise to have him included. And while the sex scene was humorous and well written, it felt somewhat out of place with its very explicit nature in a book like this.

The Nixie in the Well by TS Porter– 4.5 stars

The style of this one reminded me of the old Scandinavian fairy tales I used to read as a child. It was quiet and soothing and flowed well. I liked the kind and responsible Ida and Elfreda and her kingdom fascinated me. This story gave me such a quiet joy and I loved it.

The Sky Hunter and the Princess by Althea Claire Duffy– 4 stars

A wonderful story with a very intriguing concept and setting- a flying kingdom in the sky. At points, it felt like it wasn’t streamlined enough, and the addition of a third pov character for only one scene felt redundant. The main characters were brave and kind though, and their attraction was charming. With a bit more editing, this story had the potential to be great.

The Last Petal on the Rose by Stephanie Rabig- 5 stars

This story absolutely charmed me. I loved the characters, especially Janos and his kindness and bravery to stand up to those more powerful than him just to protect others. I loved the the slow reveal of what the war between the kingdoms really is about, and all the past secrets. And I liked that Janos was a disabled character and Roland didn’t treat him with respect, without erasing his disability. I’d love to read an entire full-length novel just about these two.

Sleeping Betty by Kodi Marshal– 5 stars, but honestly more like infinite stars

Sleeping Betty was amazing. The perfect ending to a wonderful anthology, I couldn’t stop reading. I have never liked the original fairy tale and haven’t read a good adaptation yet, but my god, this one was glorious. It made me cry repeatedly and I didn’t want it to ever end. Meg as the prince charming was a perfect combination of funny, combative, and caring. The way she learned more and more about the sleeping princess, Elisabeth, was touching, and the way she got angry at Betty’s fate was beautiful. So many lines in this story made me think about the nature of love and what we really want in life. The pacing was perfect, the ending absolutely stuck the landing and I finished the story grinning from ear to ear, joyful tears in my eyes. I definitely want to check out more of the author’s writing.

Reviews

The Scars of Jocasta Lacroix by Jack Harvey

Title: The Scars of Jocasta Lacroix

Author: Jack Harvey

Publisher: Less Than Three Press

Lenght:  48 pages

Genre: Fantasy

Score: ★★½

 

The Scars of Jocasta Lacroix caught my eye with the beautiful cover and the premise- the main character telling the truth behind one of her scars to her wife. Sadly, the story kind of falls apart due to its inconsistency.

None of the behavior made sense for the setting and the characters. Jocasta was allowed to speak rudely to noblemen and generals without any repercussions, despite being a common mercenary. She was calling Lady Norringham, the noblewoman they were hired to protect, by her first name even before being allowed to do so. I assumed they were already lovers by the start of the story and was shocked to find that they weren’t, Jocasta just did whatever she wanted and got away with it because she’s the main character. Her behavior never gets questioned and it felt like it hadn’t even crossed the author’s mind that that might not be how things are done. Either give us a completely new world where the rules are completely different (although why said world would still have aristocracy in the same form as ours does is confusing), give us a reason Jocasta is allowed to speak this way to the aristocrats around her, or have her face any consequences.

Speaking of nonsense, every character kept acting irresponsibly in such wild ways. Jocasta berates her mercenary colleague for sleeping with a courtesan on a job, while she herself was seducing their employer. When an assassin attacks, she lets him go because she “sees fire in his gaze and knows he’s dangerous” in a blatantly transparent need to set him up as someone dangerous, despite her group outnumbering him and herself was doing a good job of holding him off alone while half-dressed. After the assassin murders an entire troop of men at the keep they’re staying at, the general lets Jocasta go off alone after him and agrees to wait twelve hours. Jocasta decides that it’s within her authority to make a deal for several nobles and the assassin, without any of their agreements. Lady of the castle is allowed to stay the entire day in her chambers, fucking a mercenary, without anyone even raising an eyebrow, despite everyone being aware of it. Jocasta gets stabbed by a lover and doesn’t even blink. Everyone kept acting irresponsibly and irregularly and it was highly irritating.

Jocasta herself was irritating too. I don’t mind cocky characters, but I expect them to either tone it down when the situation asks for it, or for them to face any consequences of their behavior, yet Jocasta never did. Her seduction of Gail made me very uncomfortable- she just started feeling her up and when Gail protested, she just over-ruled her. And despite being very confused and even uncomfortable, the next scene it gets mentioned, she’s suddenly a demanding lover. Apart from Jocasta, all the characters felt unmemorable, with the exception of Katie, who seemed like a character I wouldn’t mind finding out more about.

Which brings me to the issue of worldbuilding. I wanted to know more about the world, why Jocasta is a half-elf from a high-fantasy setting living in current day US, but apart from few pages at the end, we never get any explanation for any of it. We also never find out what was in the vault the assassin wanted to get into. The Big MacGuffin, and we never find out what it was.

Despite all this, I wanted to know more about the story and the world. I fully expected there to be a full-length novel explaining the events mentioned in this story and was disappointed to see that no, there’s only another short story, which seems to have the same problems as this one. I’d still love to read a book in this universe that has the space to do everything the author seems to be going for due to the constraints of the format.

Reviews

River Tale by Jau N.

Title: River Tale

Author: Jau N.

Publisher: Less Than Three Press

Lenght:  42 pages

Genre: Romance, Fairy Tale

Score: ★★★★

River Tale is a wonderful and sweet fairy tale about a brave princess who goes on an impossible quest to save her cursed uncle the king, make deals with fairies and captures the heart of a river spirit.

I’m amazed how development, plot, and character the author put in such a small number of pages. While reading, you never notice how short the book is. The pacing is really good, moving the plot without rushing it or making the writing bare. The plot is also very stream-lined, perfect balance between lushly described environments and fast pace.

I really enjoyed the characters and their romance. Bakwa was a wonderful protagonist- sweet, and polite, but clever enough to research dangers of her quest and be aware of the common stories surrounding fairy folk. Sequana was charming and playful and most of her scenes made me grin. Their developing romance was gentle, kind, and sweet and I loved it. I also appreciated having both protagonists not conventionally attractive (I liked that Bakwa herself says her looks are mediocre!), that was a nice touch.

The writing felt a bit clunky at the beginning, but picked up as soon as Bakwa arrived at the magical forest. The story was a wonderful surprise and I’ll be definitely keeping my eyes out for more from this author.

Reviews

The Ruin of a Rake by Cat Sebastian

Title: The Ruin of a Rake

Author: Cat Sebastian

Publisher: Avon Impulse

Lenght: 352 pages

Genre: Romance, Historical

Score: ★★★★★

“Love involves making your heart sort of…available. Unprotected. And you can’t properly love a person who at any moment might step on your heart and toss it into the gutter. Or, I suppose you can, but it’s a bad practice.

What makes Cat Sebastian’s books unique to me is how kind they are, both to their subjects, but also to their reader. “Come on over, and be happy with us,” they always seemed to say to me. A new Cat S. book is something to be cherished, and enjoyed when you’re feeling down. Ever since Soldier’s Scoundrel, I’ve felt comfortable and safe reading them, knowing I could trust her not to let me down.

When a book supposedly based on Lord Courtenay’s exploits gets published, he gets denied access to his beloved nephew by his protective father. Seeing how hurt her beloved friend is, Eleanor Standish asks her younger brother, the very prim and proper Julian Medlock, to help repair Courtenay’s image. Julian, desperate to get back onto his sister’s good graces, grudgingly accepts the challenge. Forced to work together, they find companionship and hidden depths in each other, yearning for things they are unsure they deserve.

Courtenay and Julian are both wonderfully complex characters who, despite everything, absolutely belong together. If asked, Julian might say he’s a bad person, who’s trying to be better. He is manipulative, completely out of touch with his emotions. He’s bossy and cold, cares too much about what others think about him and hides his true self behind a polished and shiny façade. But he’s also fiercely protective of those he loves, capable, clear-headed, and so, so very smart. People tend to forget how young he really is, Julian himself included. But when he’s around Courtenay, he’s able to start growing into his true, kinder self.

Courtenay is sweet and kind, with huge open heart that tends to break easily. He has so much love to give to others. He simply cares, and it’s often his undoing. When his responsibilities get too overwhelming, he locks them away in his trunk. He’s unable to plan in advance, be it a simple question of lodgings, or the huge, terrifying question of his own future, that seemed so impossible. It doesn’t seem like something he would deserve, same as happiness. But with Julian’s care, he starts to remember his self-worth, his strength, his responsibilities. He can look at their shared future and see something he wishes to fight for.

“Yes, that was how it was when your soul was in pieces and somebody else had one of them. Only when you were together would the pieces fit into place and become whole.”

Together, they are able to find the strength in each other, the mutual support they need so much, to become better people and find what’s really important in life. Their romance arc is nowhere near finished- they still have much space to grow, but they are ready to learn for the rest of their lives.

Where this trilogy shines through the most, at least for me, are the outside relationships of the main characters. They live rich lives outside the romance itself, and they have friends and supportive families. The importance of support system is shown again and again. All the secondary characters were absolutely delightful. There are several parallels between Julian, Courtenay and their sisters that made me, someone who has a complicated relationship with their own sibling, very emotional. Courtenay’s friendship with Eleanor was one of the sweetest friendships I’ve read about in romance novels and I’d welcome an entire trilogy just about them. It was joy finding out Julian’s best friend is Charlotte Montbray from Soldier’s Scoundrel. Eleanor and Edward Standish’s romance arc was wonderful, even if they made Courtenay want to bang his head against a table in frustration. Again, I’d welcome an entire trilogy just about them.

Another of my favourite facets of Sebastian’s books are the disability representation. Always done with care, she has always outdone herself, and this book was no exception. It was wonderful to have something such as the illness presented in this book to relate to.

The Brigand Prince, the book that is at fault for everything that’s happening, was a really interesting framing device, although I wish it was present more. The few excerpts Courtenay read were fascinating. The mystery over the book made me teary-eyed.

The Ruin of a Rake was a wonderful final part of a trilogy and gave it the sendoff it deserved. There were kittens everywhere. Wonderful, sweet, cuddly kittens. The characters grew on me during the last year, and I will miss them dearly, but I can rest, knowing they are all loved now, and that’s honestly all I needed.

Reviews

New Super-Man, Volume 1: Made in China

Title: New Super-Man, Volume 1: Made in China

Author:  Gene Luen Yang (Writer), Viktor Bogdanovic (Illustrator),

Publisher: DC Comics

Lenght: 144 pages

Genre: Comics

Score: ★★★★

The New Super-man is a very solid book with some issues.

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After an act of heroism, Kenan Kong gets chosen to take a part in an experiment to create a government- funded Justice League of China, led by the mysterious and shadowy government agency. The story is interesting and keeps you hooked with its twists and turns, especially those involving Kenan’s father. Although, to be fair, I wasn’t a huge fan of the implications that freedom-fighters fighting for democracy are as bad as their oppressors.

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The problem with a book like this is that it needs a strong protagonist to truly succeed, and it doesn’t. Konan is, simply put, a bully. He’s a fatshaming bully. The book opens with him being a bully and he continues his behavior through the book, without it ever being challenged.

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(“The way he’s cowering… Luo Lixin used to look like that right before I beat him up. This is gonna be so much fun!”)

He bullies his classmate, calls his team-mate “tubby”, flirts with every female character to the point of unpleasantness, acts like an immature asshole and is overall jerk without principles. His character development come too late in the book to redeem him and doesn’t even touch upon the main problems.

 

Surprisingly, the team dynamics are very well done. Despite starting off on wrong foot and then constantly bickering, Kenan, Baixi and Deilan have a realistically developing friendship that was wonderful to watch.

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I wish I could’ve liked the book more, but Kenan made it almost impossible.

Reviews

Walking on Knives by Maya Chhabra

Title: Walking on Knives

Author: Maya Chhabra

Publisher: Less Than Three Press

Lenght:  32 pages

Genre: Romance, Fantasy, Fairy Tale

Score: ★★

Walking on Knives had the potential to be a great story. A queer retelling of Little Mermaid where she falls in love with the Witch sounds amazing, but sadly, it didn’t live up to its promise and left me feeling upset.

The writing is vague and confusing, with constantly switching povs, which only added to the confusion. It didn’t help that the character voices didn’t differ at all, so it was difficult to tell who is speaking most of the time. There was also a problem with the names. Characters have descriptive name, such as the Prince, the Princess, or the Strange Woman. It wouldn’t be a problem if they were used consistently, but they weren’t.

The romance made me angry. We are never given any reason the Strange Woman fell in love with the Little Mermaid, she just does. She was unpleasant and possessive about it. Little Mermaid was rightly wary of her and avoided her, but all it took was one “I love you” for her to do complete 360° and proclaim her love too. Without any development, they are thrown into a sudden HEA that makes no sense.

The book opens with the Little Mermaid getting raped. That’s literally the first scene in the book. I don’t understand why the Sea Witch requires rape as a payment for her services, but it sets the tone for the rest of the book. Little Mermaid is clearly traumatized by said event and the Strange Woman, fully aware of what happened to her, treats her with scorn and annoyance. When she lightly asks for a kiss as a payment for a gift and Little Mermaid has a triggered reaction, she barely stops herself from calling her names. This is from the love interest.

Another, somewhat even worse scene happens when the Prince decides to save Little Mermaid’s life by marrying her, despite being in love with the Princess and being supposed to marry her the next day. They are forced to consummate their marriage (why was that necessary??) in a scene that left me deeply unsettled and left the Prince clearly fucked up. And for his act of kindness, he loses his own future with his beloved Princess. He doesn’t get any closure and we’re supposed to be okay with that.

All in all, Walking on Knives was short but managed to be crammed with unpleasant things and left me feeling very uncomfortable.

Reviews

Teen Titans Vol. 1: Damian Knows Best

Title: Teen Titans Vol. 1: Damian Knows Best

AuthorBenjamin Percy (Writer), Khoi Pham (Illustrator), Jonboy Meyers (Illustrator)

Publisher: DC Comics

Lenght: 154 pages

Genre: Comics

Score: ★★★

 

The story of this book is not original: a group of people who barely know each other have to overcome their differences to defeat their enemies. The only thing that saved it from being completely forgettable was Damian and his character arc. He was well-written, his goals and relationships clear and touching. He went from cocky self-assured lone wolf to someone willing to sacrifice himself for his friends. He easily stole the whole book and every page with him was a joy.

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The only problem with a storyline based on „Damian turns out to be a good person after all“ is that we’ve already seen this exact storyline several times already and it always goes the same, until he gets rebooted and de-aged again. As a Damian fan, it’s exhausting and frankly annoying. Yes, Damian is a good person with a troubled past fighting to stay good. That is a good base for a character, but after the amazing Batman and Robin run by Peter J. Tomasi, I’m expecting to move past that.

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The other problem with Damian outshining everyone else so spectacularly is that this is supposed to be a team book, despite not being written that way. The other members of Teen Titans might as well be mannequins with notes on them for their dialogues, for all the personality they have. Starfire is the only one who gets to be occasionally interesting, and her dialogue is completely hamfisted.

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Demon’s Fish, the enemy team, is interesting, but aside Mara, their leader, none of them have a real reason to be here. According to the plot, all of them chose their own Teen Titan nemesis based on some criteria, except we never learn what those are.

All the characters give long speeches about friendship and change their behavior, as if they underwent a complex character development, but they didn’t. They spend most of their short time together fighting, but when the story needs them to be friends, they suddenly are. It’s all very abrupt and a classic case of telling, not showing.

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There are two art styles in this book. The first half, done by Jonboy Meyers, didn’t fit the story much. The colorful angular style seemed at odds with the story. The second half of the book was done by Khoi Pham, whose fluid and soft style fit the book much better.

Overall, the book is sadly mediocre. It gets better in the second half, but not by much. Maybe now that the basics are set, the next book can be much more solid.

 

Reviews

Roller Girl by Vanessa North

Title: Roller Girl

Author: Vanessa North

Publisher: Riptide Publishing

Lenght: 154 pages

Genre: Romance, Contemporary, Sports

Score: ★★★★

 

When Tina Durham gets a chance to a join a local roller derby team, she jumps on the opportunity immediately. Having retired from a professional wakeboarding career due to her transition and being freshly divorced, she is at a loss as to what to do with her life. The fact that the beautiful and charismatic Joe gives the invitation doesn’t hurt at all.

The two feel instant attraction and become lovers. However, due to the coach-player nature of their working relationship, Joe begs Tina to keep their affair secret until she can explain it to their teammates. Tina’s reluctant acceptance of the situation is where most of the conflict of this book comes from. It’s also my biggest problem with the book.

Roller Girl is in its nature a very feel-good story. It offers empowerment through a female-dominated sport. It gives us trans empowerment and body positivity and queer spaces. Which makes me mad that the relationship drama frankly annoyed me. I didn’t want to be annoyed because I was absolutely in love with everything else, but I was.

Books with queer characters in secret relationships, where one of the characters get angry about being a secret, make me angry, because for obvious reasons, it’s not always safe to be open about said relationship. But what gets me about this book is that the it isn’t a safety issue that forces them to be secretive, but a case of miscommunication. And whenever Tina gets understandably upset about the situation, instead of talking through the problem and trying to resolve it, Joe would instead seduce her into ignoring it until it grew too big and blew up into their faces. Honestly, the entire issue of their secret relationship felt shoehorned in just for the sake of having some drama. The book would’ve been much more improved by taking out the entire subplot.

Despite that, Roller Girl was wonderful. It was sweet, funny, and touching. I was in fact so touched, I cried my way through most of the final part of the book. The inclusion of a non-binary child was a very sweet reminder of the importance of representation. The friendships made me root for the characters and the Tina and Joe’s relationship made me wish for another story with the characters.

Reviews

Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

Title: Six of Crows

Author: Leigh Bardugo

Publisher: Orion Children’s Book

Lenght: 462 pages

Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult

Score: ★★★★★

Absolutely magnificent. I actually picked this one up at a local bookstore because of the gorgeous cover and the fact I remembered my beloved comic artist Kevin Wada once did some character art for the series (check him out, he’s incredible) and I was intrigued. And once I started reading, I couldn’t put the book down.

The worldbuilding is rich without overwhelming the reader, the magic is fascinating and the characters are complex and fun. I loved that the main team are (with some exceptions) a bunch of hardened career criminals, but also (with some exceptions) fun-loving teasing teenagers. Every member of the main team has a history, likes and dislikes, strenghts and weaknesses. While Kaz Brekker is the main character, all of them get equal screen-time (with one exception that makes perfect sense by the end of the book).

There is a wonderful simplicity to the plot itself- get the best team, infiltrate prison, get paid. And while the plot is simple, the way it builds in on itself is so beautifully complex. I loved every word of it. The information is given to us in small amounts in non-linear narrative, slowly unveiling the mystery, which works very well for this world.


Title: Crooked Kingdom

Author: Leigh Bardugo

Publisher: Orion Children’s Books

Lenght: 536 pages

Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult

Score: ★★★★★

A Sequel to Six of Crows is somehow even more magnificent. A Sequel to Six of Crows is somehow even more magnificent.
The actions picks up right where the first book left of and raises the stakes. Crows are in hiding, betrayed and down two members. They have to fight for their lives, while getting revenge and what they truly deserve. The book goes deeper into the lore and history of the universe; we even get visits from some characters from Bardugo’s other works.
The characters get more development and so do their relationships. This book thrives on the connections between the team, be it platonic or romantic. Their friendships are wonderful and the romances heartfelt. All three couples got to shine and I loved how diverse they were, with their needs and the way they show affection.
This series is very clever in it’s plotting (I can’t even begin to imagine the prep process that must have happened before writing) and the way it makes you feel terrified for the characters and the plot twists. More than once did I shout “OH SHIT” out loud while reading it. There were several truly heartbreaking moments (bring some tissues) but also moments of joy
Crooked Kingdom is the kind of sequel that improves on the original in every possible way and I can’t wait to read more of Bardugo’s writing