Book Review: A Dowry of Blood

I’d heard many exciting things about A Dowry of Blood before finally picking it up as part of Wilted Rose’s book club. S.T Gibson writes a re-imagining of Dracula’s brides in a lyrical style that gripped my attention from the very beginning. It is dark, thrilling and somewhat gory, with characters that I really enjoyed getting to know.

Star rating:: 4 stars

Constanta is our protagonist, the first of Dracula’s new brides in this time period that spans hundreds of years. Her character voice is strong throughout as she tells her story, reflecting on the past as her more mature self in various interludes. I really enjoyed this format – there was something really harrowing about Constanta reflecting on her ‘younger’ self. Dracula is also referred to as ‘you’, as if Constanta is writing him a letter she will never send explaining her actions.

Magdalena is the second lover introduced – a beautiful woman interested in politics. She agrees to be turned into a vampire and joins Constanta and Dracula in their escapades. The isolation of vampire life leads to her suffering from depression which was really heart-breaking as you see this contrast between an energetic, intelligent woman who becomes lethargic and lonely.

Our third lover is Alexi, a struggling actor who Dracula takes an interest in. Alexi is different to the women, he’s a lot younger for one and sees through to Dracula’s abusive side much faster. Even still, Alexi is still enthralled by him and doubts his own observations.

This is a beautifully written re-imagining that I only wish was longer so we could get to know the characters more. The beginning and ending are really strong, but the middle part lacked development to me. Overall, I loved the writing style the most – it felt really haunting, personal and emotional.

Book Review: The Never Tilting World

Hello everyone! Today I finished my re-read of The Never Tilting World by Rin Chupeco. After really loving The Bone Witch trilogy I was so excited to see what Rin would do next and this really does not disappoint! It’s described as Mad Max and Frozen combined which is such a weirdly fitting description.

Star rating: 5 stars

So, what’s the book about? It has four points of view – they are Lan, Arjun, Odessa and Haidee.

Odessa and Haidee are twins on opposite sides of the world – Odessa living in the rainy darkness and Haidee in the scorching dry of the desert. Neither know of each other’s existence as something happened with their mothers in the past to cause The Breaking of the world.

Lan is a Catseye who is charged with protecting Odessa. She used to be a ranger, and was the only one who returned from her previous expedition meaning she is suffering with a lot of survivor’s guilt. Arjun lives in the desert, getting by on scraps with the other orphans that live with him. But one day he meets the young Goddess Haidee and his life changes forever.

The book follows Lan and Odessa on their journey to The Abyss, with a mirroring journey taking place for Haidee and Arjun. I loved each and every character and their point of view, but if I had to pick a favourite it would be Haidee. Rin really masters the balance between character development and action in this book as it blends elemental fantasy and science-fiction to build a futuristic world. I loved that the world-building mixed technology with magic.

Overall, another hit from Rin and I’m going straight into the sequel next. Have you read any Rin Chupeco before? What did you think? I highly recommend her books.

Book Review: A Deadly Education

I am finished and I want MORE. After a rocky first chapter, I couldn’t put A Deadly Education down. I absolutely adore books set in magic schools and this one was so unique – I’ve never read anything like it before. No teachers, death around every corner and a cast of characters that I just loved, I’m already greatly anticipating book 2, especially after that ending!

Star rating: 5 stars

El Higgins is an outcast in the Scholomance. It’s a school with no teachers, where being a loner can get you killed. But now in her Junior year, El has worked out what it takes for her to survive on her own – she’s meticulous, cautious and slightly paranoid, which along with the power she has kept hidden from her classmates, has kept her alive.

That is until Orion Lake is drawn to her. The gifted kid in the class who has kept way more students alive than in any year, Orion is special. El treats him with the same casual rudeness she treats everybody else, which Orion finds refreshing. The two form a unique friendship in a system where kids that grew up in Enclaves, like Orion, have greater odds than those that don’t.

In the mix of all the monster-fighting madness is a whole lot of emotional depth. El is lonely, she is angry, she is craving real friendships. Her affinity for mass destruction isolates her, and it was heart-warming to see her from real friendships for the first time in her life.

This book is so unique – its setting, its magic system…they are brilliantly creative. I love El so much, I just want to protect her from all the manipulative Enclave kids that reside in this school. There are so many conflicts that had me on the edge of my seat, I couldn’t stop reading until I got to the end. And the end…there’s a suitable time period for calm before what I can only imagine will be a dramatic second book.

Overall, this was one of my most anticipated books of 2020 – and after I got through the first chapter it really didn’t disappoint.

Have you read A Deadly Education yet? You absolutely should!

Other reviews you should check out:

Paragraphs and Pages

Janel Allison

Book Review: The Deathless Girls

This hardcover is one of the most beautiful books on my shelf. It has a beautiful dust jacket, gorgeous endpapers – the way it’s presented just makes it that much better to read. My copy also has sprayed edges which are gorgeous. The hardcover is out of stock but you can get the Waterstones exclusive paperback online.

The Deathless Girls is an origin story for Draculas wives. It’s a book with the complexities of sisterhood at the forefront, has a f/f romance and all the vampire spookiness – perfect for the upcoming spooky season. I really love the fairy-tale like prose – this is a delightful read that packs a lot into it’s 300 pages.

Star rating: 5 stars

Lil is nothing like her beautiful twin sister Kizzy, but these two girls do everything together. When their group of travellers are murdered, including their mother, Lil and Kizzy are captured to be sold as slaves. Both are forced to work in the kitchens until Kizzy’s burned hands heal, where Lil meets Mira, a former serving girl who is learning to talk again after having her wind-pipe crushed.

The book is very dark – lots of horrible stuff happens to poor Lil and Kizzy. They both handle their new situation in different ways which leads to friction in their relationship. I really liked the contrast in their characters – Kizzy is much more feisty and disobedient where as Lil just wants to survive.

There are elements of fantasy within the book – from dancing with bears to mushrooms that give you visions, there is a lot more than just vampires. I really enjoyed the creepy atmosphere in the latter half of the book – and the ending is bold and unexpected.

Overall, I love Kiran’s beautiful, poetic writing, and the themes presented in the book. The romance could have been given more time, but that’s my only criticism.

Have you read any books by Kiran Millwood Hargrave? I encourage you to pick up The Deathless Girls – or The Mercies if you’re more into adult fiction! Let me know in the comments.

Book Review: The Court of Miracles

I had the pleasure of reading an eARC of this book back in the summer, and I just finished it for the second time (couldn’t resist re-reading when I had the beautiful Waterstones special edition). Overall, I really enjoyed this book! The series has lots of potential. The world-building is creative, the hints of fantasy are clever, I loved the twist on history. The main character Nina is wonderfully morally grey, and there are a whole bunch of love interests that she is not even entertaining. Got to love it.

Star rating: 4 stars

The book is set in France over the course of a number of years. In fact, the only reason this isn’t a 5 star read for me is that the passage of time is difficult to follow in places. Nina, as a child, joins the Guild of Thieves after her sister saves her from enduring the same fate as herself. Azelma is sold by their father to the Tiger, Lord of the Guild of Flesh (basically a vile character who turns the Guild of Sisters into a guild of human trafficking, drugging all of the women so they don’t remember their lives and can’t escape – it’s a really dark book).

Nina will do anything to get her sister back – but history starts to repeat itself with her father’s ward Ettie, putting Nina and Ettie on to a new adventure, with a whole host of interesting characters. There is Montparnasse of the Guild of Assassins, St Juste of the revolutionaries, and none other than the Dauphin of France. Nina has caught the eye of all three, and the romance could go any way up to yet (but I do have a favourite!)

From the dynamic of the Court, to the plot full of twists (this book is packed with action), this is not a book to miss. I feel like people who haven’t seen Les Mis enjoy it more (it’s supposed to be a retelling I think, but I have no idea how it does in that sense!). The last fifty pages or so are absolutely wild – I think it was so wild that I blanked it out after my first read so this second read was like reading the end for the first time!

Overall this is an excellent debut – the series has a lot of potential to get even better. I honestly hope Kester Grant writes an adult novel at some point so she doesn’t have to hold back at all. This is very dark and graphic for YA.

Have you read The Court of Miracles? What are your favourite books set in France? Let me know in the comments!

Book Review: Igniting Darkness

A stunning conclusion to the His Fair Assassin follow on duology, Igniting Darkness is everything I hoped it would be. There is politics and intrigue, fantastic character development, beautiful romance and a fast paced plot that keeps on surprising. We are re-united with Sybella and Genevieve, both who met for the first time at the end of Courting Darkness (review here). Their adventures were far from over!

Star rating: 5 stars

Sybella and Genevieve definitely get off on the wrong foot. For one, Sybella doesn’t know where Genevieve’s loyalties lie, and secondly, Genevieve makes a huge mistake that she spends a lot of the book correcting and making up for. The relationship between the sisters is one of the most powerful in the book as they learn to trust each other and bond over their backgrounds.

There are threats all around – the regent is still causing trouble in her efforts to control the King, Beast’s father is also exerting his influence to get what he wants, Sybella’s brother still wants his sisters back and there is a troublesome uprising in Brittany that will only hurt the new Queen of France. With all this going on, there are no slow sections.

Sybella and Genevieve’s powers also become stronger which means that even in the fifth book their are still magical discoveries to make. Together, with their allies, they must protect their Queen and their loved ones from all those that wish to hurt them – a big ask in a history that does not trust women. The romance in this book is just as good, even if it does get put a little on the backburner for all the action that takes place. Beast and Mauraud are great love interests. We even get some of Mauraud’s point of view!

Overall this is an excellent conclusion – the ending made me cry, the characters have found their way into my heart. I can’t wait to see what Robin LaFevers writes next.

Have you read any books by Robin LaFevers? I highly recommend them.

Book Review: Courting Darkness

Robin LaFevers has smashed it again with this follow up to the His Fair Assassin trilogy (Grave Mercy, Dark Triumph and Mortal Heart). Courting Darkness is another stunning historical fantasy set after the events of Mortal Heart. We are re-united with Sybella, one of the assassins of St Mortain, and introduced to Genevieve, an assassin sent to France at a young age to wait to be called upon. Now, with the Duchess of Brittany married to the King of France, that time has arrived.

Star rating: 5 stars

What I love about Robin LaFevers is that her female characters can all protect themselves. Sure, they fall in love, but they also rescue their lovers, which is awesome. Sybella and Beast are still going strong as they travel to France with the Duchess so she can take her place as the Queen of France. There are new threats from the Regent, and old threats are still haunting Sybella in the form of her old family. Pierre wants his sisters back, but Sybella wants to keep Charlotte and Louise with her.

Genevieve is in Cognac, and after finding a mysterious prisoner, forms a bond with him. The pair escape and begin and adventure together. The romance between Genevieve and Mauraud is HOT. Robin LaFevers really knows how to write a good romance story, and in every book there was been a magnificent one. I really can’t wait to see what happens in Igniting Darkness with these two who are so perfect or each other.

This is a fast-paced, action-packed book with characters that I can’t help but love. It also ends on a cliffhanger, and I can’t wait to see what happens in the final instalment of the duology, Igniting Darkness. I read this book as part of the #ConquerAChonker challenge, and I am really glad I did because I was putting off reading all 523 pages again!

Have you read any books by Robin LaFevers? I highly recommend her books. Follow Ismae in Grave Mercy, Sybella in Dark Triumph and Annith in Mortal Heart for three great stories about three amazing women.

Book Review: Queen of Coin and Whispers

Hi everyone! Recently I read Queen of Coin and Whispers by Helen Corcoran and loved it so much. This is a book for all the women out there – because they’re the only ones pulling all of the strings in this world. It reminds me of Priory of the Orange Tree, except it isn’t quite as long. There is a lot of political intrigue with subtle battles for power and control, with characters relying a lot on their intelligence and ability to act quickly. I just love this gorgeous cover too, so dramatic.

Star rating: 4 stars

This is a book with two points of view – Xania and Lia. Lia has inherited a Kingdom where the resources have been abused by the previous King. It is bordering on bankrupt, and she must decide who she can trust. Xania’s father died, but she’s pretty sure it was murder. She wants nothing more than to find out what really happened and avenge his death, but for that she needs access to the right people. When offered the chance to be Lia’s spymaster she’s sceptical, but something makes her take the job. Lia offers her previously inaccessible connections and the chance for her to improve her family’s position.

As the Queen’s Whispers, Xania’s life is more dangerous than ever before. Lia gets her promoted at her job at the treasury to give her more reach. She’s relying so much on her instincts and has to use her intelligence rather than her limited ability to fight. As Queen, Lia faces betrayals from all over. She has Parliament nobles to contend with and they are not making it easy for her. Never mind the pressure to get married and produce an heir to secure the future.

This book has female / female romance front and centre, in a world where same-sex relationships are accepted. Lia’s issue is that she needs an heir, which is a consideration when it comes to her feelings for Xania. I loved the romance, the two characters work really well together and complement each other.

The other thing about this book that I really appreciated was Xania’s relationship with her Step-Father, which is portrayed positively. In a world of evil Step-Mother stories, I enjoyed this change! Definitely something I never even knew I wanted in a book, and I definitely be looking for it in the future.

Helen Corcoran definitely put Ireland on the map in fantasy fiction here, and I can’t wait to see what she decides to write about next.

I found out about this book from Nikki at Books and Lemon Squash, and you can read her review here!