The Sunbearer Trials by Aiden Thomas #bookreview #YA #fantasy #LGBTQ

Welcome to The Sunbearer Trials, where teen semidioses compete in a series of challenges with the highest of stakes, in this electric new Mexican-inspired fantasy from Aiden Thomas, the New York Times bestselling author of Cemetery Boys.

“Only the most powerful and honorable semidioses get chosen. I’m just a Jade. I’m not a real hero.”

As each new decade begins, the Sun’s power must be replenished so that Sol can keep traveling along the sky and keep the evil Obsidian gods at bay. Ten semidioses between the ages of thirteen and eighteen are selected by Sol himself as the most worthy to compete in The Sunbearer Trials. The winner carries light and life to all the temples of Reino del Sol, but the loser has the greatest honor of all―they will be sacrificed to Sol, their body used to fuel the Sun Stones that will protect the people of Reino del Sol for the next ten years.

Teo, a 17-year-old Jade semidiós and the trans son of Quetzal, goddess of birds, has never worried about the Trials…or rather, he’s only worried for others. His best friend Niya―daughter of Tierra, the god of earth―is one of the strongest heroes of their generation and is much too likely to be chosen this year. He also can’t help but worry (reluctantly, and under protest) for Aurelio, a powerful Gold semidiós and Teo’s friend-turned-rival who is a shoo-in for the Trials. Teo wouldn’t mind taking Aurelio down a notch or two, but a one-in-ten chance of death is a bit too close for Teo’s taste.

But then, for the first time in over a century, Sol chooses a semidiós who isn’t a Gold. In fact, he chooses two: Xio, the 13-year-old child of Mala Suerte, god of bad luck, and…Teo. Now they must compete in five mysterious trials, against opponents who are both more powerful and better trained, for fame, glory, and their own survival. 

I’ve been wanting to read this author for quite a while. I’ve had one of his books, Cemetery Boys, in my TBR for quite a while, but just haven’t gotten to it yet. When I was approved for an ARC (audiobook version) of The Sunbearer Trials, I knew it was time to get acquainted with his work.

Similar to The Hunger Games, competitors are chosen and must complete several trials. But in this case, only the competitor with the least amount of points should die. Teo isn’t worried for himself. He’s a Jade, and for more than a century Sol has only chosen Golds to compete. He’s more concerned for his best friend Niya, a strong competitor. Golds have trained for the trials their whole lives, so when the names of two Jades are announced, everyone is shocked. Teo is an underdog and not expected to do well against the Golds, but he has no choice but to compete. I liked that he’s a go with the flow kind of guy, but also possesses a rebellious streak that tends to get him in some trouble.

The competitions are exciting, dangerous, and highly creative. Participants face both physical and mental challenges. After each was completed, I was as anxious to hear the ratings as the characters. I loved the relationships between them whether they were friends, siblings, or parent-child. All are so well-portrayed and heartwarming. As expected, some competitors form alliances, but by the end most of them support each other in some way. And that twist at the end! Not many books surprise me, but I didn’t see that one coming. It’s brilliant.

André Santana is a wonderful narrator, and I’d highly recommend the audiobook version if you enjoy them. With the competitors having various powers and the competition, Percy Jackson and The Hunger Games are perfect comp titles for this book. I’d advise fans of those series to jump on The Sunbearer Trials.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Monsters Born and Made by Tanvi Berwah #bookreview #YA #fantasy

Sixteen-year-old Koral and her older brother Emrik risk their lives each day to capture the monstrous maristags that live in the black seas around their island. They have to, or else their family will starve.

In an oceanic world swarming with vicious beasts, the Landers―the ruling elite, have indentured Koral’s family to provide the maristags for the Glory Race, a deadly chariot tournament reserved for the upper class. The winning contender receives gold and glory. The others―if they’re lucky―survive.

When the last maristag of the year escapes and Koral has no new maristag to sell, her family’s financial situation takes a turn for the worse and they can’t afford medicine for her chronically ill little sister. Koral’s only choice is to do what no one in the world has ever dared: cheat her way into the Glory Race.

But every step of the way is unpredictable as Koral races against contenders―including her ex-boyfriend―who have trained for this their whole lives and who have no intention of letting a low-caste girl steal their glory. When a rebellion rises and rogues attack Koral to try and force her to drop out, she must choose―her life or her sister’s―before the whole island burns.

She grew up battling the monsters that live in the black seas, but it couldn’t prepare her to face the cunning cruelty of the ruling elite.

Perfect for fans of The Hunger Games and These Violent Delights, this South Asian-inspired fantasy is a gripping debut about the power of the elite, the price of glory, and one girl’s chance to change it all. 

Gotta admit, it was the title and cover that drew me to this book. Comp titles of The Hunger Games and These Violent Delights told me I was in for an exciting read.

Koral and her family live in a dangerous world filled with deadly creatures both in the sea and air. As hunters, Koral and her brother must capture maristags, arguably the most deadly of these creatures, for the Glory Race. Trust me, this is not a job you want. Hunters risk their lives with every capture. This society is a caste system of Landers, the ruling class, and Renters, those on the bottom rung. Falling in the latter group, Koral and her family are lucky to have a roof over their heads and food on the table, but struggle to provide medicine her younger sister desperately needs. When their financial situation drastically changes, Koral has no choice but to enter the Glory Race. The problem? Only Landers may compete.

The race is very similar to The Hunger Games in that some of the contestants don’t survive, and the challenges aren’t for the faint of heart. Action moves at a breathtaking pace during these challenges, and I even gasped at certain points. The contestants ride maristags (the picture on the cover), and although they’re not horses, I was still reminded of Maggie Stiefvater’s The Scorpio Races. Clearly the stakes are high and the odds of survival slim, but Koral has no choice if she wants to save her sister and secure her family’s financial future.

This world is full of unrest and power struggles. I was a little confused, but it seemed as if several rebel groups operated under the same umbrella. With no clear leader, they fought not only against the Landers, but also against each other and lacked communication. It’s not the primary focus, but romance is included in the story, and I was intrigued by the unusual dynamic between Koral and Dorian.

With numerous power struggles, deadly creatures bent on killing humans, and a race with few survivors, this novel engaged me from beginning to end. After that cliffhanger, I’m anxious to see where the next book goes.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley.  Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

All of Our Demise (All of Us Villains #2) by Amanda Foody and Christine Lynn Herman #bookreview #YA #fantasy #TuesdayBookBlog

The epic conclusion to Amanda Foody and Christine Lynn Herman’s New York Times bestselling All of Us Villains duology that’s The Hunger Games with magic.

“I feel like I should warn you: this is going to be absolutely brutal.”

For the first time in this ancient, bloodstained story, the tournament is breaking. The boundaries between the city of Ilvernath and the arena have fallen. Reporters swarm the historic battlegrounds. A dead boy now lives again. And a new champion has entered the fray, one who seeks to break the curse for good… no matter how many lives are sacrificed in the process.

As the curse teeters closer and closer to collapse, the surviving champions each face a choice: dismantle the tournament piece by piece, or fight to the death as this story was always intended.

Long-held alliances will be severed. Hearts will break. Lives will end. Because a tale as wicked as this one was never destined for happily ever after.

With every protagonist morally gray and some close to black, All of Us Villains blew me away. This sequel was absolutely one of my most anticipated reads this year.

This is one of those reviews where I can’t reveal too much without giving away spoilers. I’ll start by saying Alistair remains my favorite character, and my heart ached for him. He’s been told his whole life he’s a monster, raised to know he’ll have to kill people, and told bedtime stories about his relatives and the heinous acts they committed. Someone he trusted, and you can count on one hand how many people attained that status in his life, betrayed him in the last book. As you can expect, this isn’t something he’ll let slide. Still, I only wanted good things for him.

If I thought the first book contained shocking twists, it had nothing on this one. Some I had an inkling of, others not a clue. Alliances are formed and expected, which is pretty much the only way to survive the tournament. Then came a hint of a surprise pairing – and I nearly jumped with joy. I was totally on board with this relationship, and it’s one of my favorite parts of the book. But my lips are sealed.

To get readers to cheer for a bunch of villains says something about the talent of these authors. Character development is outstanding and one of the strongest aspects of this duology. Be prepared – not everyone survives, but that’s something to be expected in a tournament based on death. I’m sorry to see this series end, but I count it as one of my favorites in the YA fantasy genre.

I received a complimentary copy of this audiobook from the publisher through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

#BlogTour The Necromancer’s Daughter by D. Wallace Peach #fantasy #dragons #magic

I’m so excited to participate in the blog tour for Diana’s new release, and it’s always a pleasure to host her. Make sure to read my review of The Necromancer’s Daughter at the bottom of the post.

A healer and dabbler in the dark arts of life and death, Barus is as gnarled as an ancient tree. Forgotten in the chaos of the dying queen’s chamber, he spirits away her stillborn infant, and in a hovel at the meadow’s edge, he breathes life into the wisp of a child. He names her Aster for the lea’s white flowers. Raised as his daughter, she learns to heal death.

Then the day arrives when the widowed king, his own life nearing its end, defies the Red Order’s warning. He summons the necromancer’s daughter, his only heir, and for his boldness, he falls to an assassin’s blade.

While Barus hides from the Order’s soldiers, Aster leads their masters beyond the wall into the Forest of Silvern Cats, a land of dragons and barbarian tribes. She seeks her mother’s people, the powerful rulers of Blackrock, uncertain whether she will find sanctuary or face a gallows’ noose.

Unprepared for a world rife with danger, a world divided by those who practice magic and those who hunt them, she must choose whether to trust the one man offering her aid, the one man most likely to betray her—her enemy’s son.

A healer with the talent to unravel death, a child reborn, a father lusting for vengeance, and a son torn between justice, faith, and love. Caught in a chase spanning kingdoms, each must decide the nature of good and evil, the lengths they will go to survive, and what they are willing to lose.

Diana’s Bio:

A long-time reader, best-selling author D. Wallace Peach started writing later in life when years of working in business surrendered to a full-time indulgence in the imaginative world of books. She was instantly hooked.

In addition to fantasy books, Peach’s publishing career includes participation in various anthologies featuring short stories, flash fiction, and poetry. She’s an avid supporter of the arts in her local community, organizing and publishing annual anthologies of Oregon prose, poetry, and photography.

Peach lives in a log cabin amongst the tall evergreens and emerald moss of Oregon’s rainforest with her husband, two owls, a horde of bats, and the occasional family of coyotes.

Amazon Author’s Page: https://www.amazon.com/D.-Wallace-Peach/e/B00CLKLXP8

Website/Blog: http://mythsofthemirror.com

Website/Books: http://dwallacepeachbooks.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Dwallacepeach

Purchase Links:

US: https://www.amazon.com/Necromancers-Daughter-D-Wallace-Peach-ebook/dp/B0B92G7QZX

UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Necromancers-Daughter-D-Wallace-Peach-ebook/dp/B0B92G7QZX

CA: https://www.amazon.ca/Necromancers-Daughter-D-Wallace-Peach-ebook/dp/B0B92G7QZX

AU: https://www.amazon.com.au/Necromancers-Daughter-D-Wallace-Peach/dp/B0B9FY6YZJ

IN: https://www.amazon.in/Necromancers-Daughter-D-Wallace-Peach-ebook/dp/B0B92G7QZX

My Review:

This isn’t my first rodeo with this author’s books. I know to expect writing that reads like prose, beautiful imagery, and top-notch world-building. My expectations were exceeded.

Diana’s done it again. She’s created wonderfully flawed characters who wormed their way into my heart. I cheered for them, nearly cried (seriously, I was close to needing a tissue), and sincerely hoped Teko found a good woman to make strange or magical babies with (you need to read the book to understand, but I promise you’d wish the same for him). It began with Barus, a disfigured orphan taken in by a healer, and then he held the door open for the rest of them (Aster, Joreh, and Teko especially) as they entered my heart. The father/daughter relationship and incredibly strong bond between Barus and Aster is one of my favorite things about this novel. The author certainly knows how to place her characters between a rock and a hard place, and she forces them to make gut-wrenching decisions. Each had their share of difficulties, but I felt Joreh in particular grappled with his beliefs.

There’s no shortage of deadly battle scenes between warring countries and tribes and a bloody struggle for power after the king is assassinated. And dragons! Somehow I missed in the description that they’d be a part of the story, but as a dragon lover I was thrilled and intrigued by Aster’s unique connection with them and how that factored into her identity.

The Necromancer’s Daughter is an exciting adventure filled with magic, epic battles, strong friendships, warring kingdoms, and a bit of romance. Find yourself a comfy chair to curl up in, make sure you’re not interrupted, and then fully immerse yourself in this world.

#BlogTour With Fire in Their Blood by Kat Delacorte #YA #fantasy

With Fire In Their Blood by Kat Delacorte

Ultimate Tour

Book Info

Genre: YA Fantasy

Length: 416 Pages

Publishing: 1st September 2022

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B09LLTRMR4/ 

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/61267819-with-fire-in-their-blood 

Blurb

‘Startingly original… Readers will be lured into this tumultuous world of warring families, forbidden power, and heart-searing romance’ – Lyndall Clipstone (Lakesedge, Forestfall) 

From the word-of-mouth fantasy sensation Kat Delacorte – the standout debut star of 2022 YA Lit Con (YALC) – comes the first instalment in a new YA fantasy duology. 

Packed to the brim with bisexual and queer representation, With Fire in Their Blood is a simmering supernatural romance set in the crumbling Italian city of Castello, where mafia clans make the rules, dark magic pulses the streets and the sins of the past threaten to consume the present. . . 

When sixteen-year-old Lilly arrives in Castello, she isn’t impressed.
A secluded town in the Italian mountains is not where she saw her last years of high school playing out. 

Divided for generations by a brutal clan-family war, the two halves of Castello are kept from destroying each other by the mysterious General, a leader determined to maintain order and ‘purity’. . . whatever the cost. 

Lilly falls in with the rebellious Liza, brooding Nico and sensitive Christian, and sparks begin to fly. But in a city where love can lead to ruin, Lilly isn’t sure she can trust anyone — not even herself. 

And then she accidentally breaks Castello’s most important rule: when the General’s men come to test your blood, you’d better not be anything more than human… 

Perfect for lovers of Chloe Gong, Renée Ahdieh and V.E. Schwab, With Fire in Their Blood is quality YA storytelling at its best by an exciting new voice in YA fantasy. 

About the Author

Kat Delacorte was eleven years old when her family moved from the United States to a small town in central Italy. She soon began writing stories about her new friends developing superpowers, and she hasn’t looked back since. She graduated with a BA in History from Columbia University, and lives in Venice, Italy.

The Drowned Woods by Emily Lloyd-Jones #bookreview #fantasy #YA #LGBTQ #TuesdayBookBlog

Once upon a time, the kingdoms of Wales were rife with magic and conflict, and eighteen-year-old Mererid “Mer” is well-acquainted with both. She is the last living water diviner and has spent years running from the prince who bound her into his service. Under the prince’s orders, she located the wells of his enemies, and he poisoned them without her knowledge, causing hundreds of deaths. After discovering what he had done, Mer went to great lengths to disappear from his reach. Then Mer’s old handler returns with a proposition: use her powers to bring down the very prince that abused them both.

The best way to do that is to destroy the magical well that keeps the prince’s lands safe. With a motley crew of allies, including a fae-cursed young man, the lady of thieves, and a corgi that may or may not be a spy, Mer may finally be able to steal precious freedom and peace for herself. After all, a person with a knife is one thing… but a person with a cause can topple kingdoms.

The Drowned Woods—set in the same world as The Bone Houses but with a whole new, unforgettable cast of characters—is part heist novel, part dark fairy tale.

Having enjoyed The Bone Houses (a unique take on zombies) by this author, I was excited to see this story is set in the same world.

As one of the few existing water diviners, Mer’s skills are coveted and her life has rarely been her own. After she’s forced to work for a power-hungry prince, he used her abilities to help kill hundreds of people. Since escaping, she’s constantly on the run and is seldom in the same place for more than a couple months. She longs for a home and people to call her own. When her old mentor offers her an opportunity at freedom, Mer jumps at the chance. The catch? It involves a dangerous heist. The two of them round up a team with diverse skills and make a plan. Among this team is Fane, a talented fighter with unusual abilities of his own who’s suffered tremendous losses. His furry companion is Trefor, a corgi and possible spy who stole my heart along with plenty of scenes.

Not all of the team survive the mission, and the plot throws in some unexpected twists along the way. Some of the characters’ actions surprised me, and I love it when that happens. I was determined not to like Mer’s ex-girlfriend and thief-extraordinare Ifanna because of a prior betrayal, but she steps up when it counts and won me over. The ending is absolutely perfect, exactly what I’d hoped, and left me with a big smile on my face.

With a magical well and an ambitious prince bent on toppling kingdoms, The Drowned Woods is very much a dark fairy tale that kept me flipping the pages. I finished it in a day. It’s a quiet, standalone novel that will thrill fantasy fans and corgi lovers alike.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley.  Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Violet Made of Thorns (Violet Made of Thorns #1) by Gina Chen #bookreview #YA #darkfantasy #fairytale #TuesdayBookBlog

A darkly enchanting fantasy debut about a morally gray witch, a cursed prince, and a prophecy that ignites their fate-twisted destinies—perfect for fans of The Cruel Prince and Serpent & Dove.

Violet is a prophet and a liar, influencing the royal court with her cleverly phrased—and not always true—divinations. Honesty is for suckers, like the oh-so-not charming Prince Cyrus, who plans to strip Violet of her official role once he’s crowned at the end of the summer—unless Violet does something about it.

But when the king asks her to falsely prophesy Cyrus’s love story for an upcoming ball, Violet awakens a dreaded curse, one that will end in either damnation or salvation for the kingdom—all depending on the prince’s choice of future bride. Violet faces her own choice: Seize an opportunity to gain control of her own destiny, no matter the cost, or give in to the ill-fated attraction that’s growing between her and Cyrus.

Violet’s wits may protect her in the cutthroat court, but they can’t change her fate. And as the boundary between hatred and love grows ever thinner with the prince, Violet must untangle a wicked web of deceit in order to save herself and the kingdom—or doom them all.

I read some stellar reviews of this book before I started it and hoped my expectations would be met. Not a problem. They were exceeded.

As a devoted fan of flawed, morally gray characters, this book delighted me from beginning to end. Violet is a seer. But she’s also a cunning liar who’s occasionally selfish and harbors a strong dislike for most people. She’s completely unapologetic about it. Charismatic Cyrus is heir to the throne and has women practically tackling each other to garner his attention. He’s also determined not to let anyone or anything block his ascension. Violet may have saved Cyrus’s life when they were children, but their fur bristles in each other’s company. There’s a fine line between love and hate and as the description states, they have fate-twisted destinies. I adored both of these ambitious characters, and their banter (she addresses him as Princey) is witty and amusing.

This is a fairy tale retelling and wonderfully dark. With a dreaded curse hanging over the kingdom, ominous occurrences are afoot and it’s difficult to know who, or in Violet’s case what visions, to trust. The world-building is well-crafted and immersive. Plot points are unexpected. My predictions of the story’s path were completely thrown out the window more than once, and I’m thrilled when that happens. The ending might have twisted my heart, but it stays true to the characters and is perfect. Can you tell how anxious I am for the next book?

Characters like this are few and far between and are always a welcome change for me. Readers may love them or hate them, but there’s no doubt they can certainly toss in some devious plot twists. If you’re a fan of characters who exist in the gray, I can’t recommend this series enough.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley.  Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

This Vicious Grace (The Last Finestra #1) by Emily Thiede #bookreview #YA #fantasy #TuesdayBookBlog

Three weddings. Three funerals. Alessa’s gift from the gods is supposed to magnify a partner’s magic, not kill every suitor she touches.

Now, with only weeks left until a hungry swarm of demons devours everything on her island home, Alessa is running out of time to find a partner and stop the invasion. When a powerful priest convinces the faithful that killing Alessa is the island’s only hope, her own soldiers try to assassinate her.

Desperate to survive, Alessa hires Dante, a cynical outcast marked as a killer, to become her personal bodyguard. But as rebellion explodes outside the gates, Dante’s dark secrets may be the biggest betrayal. He holds the key to her survival and her heart, but is he the one person who can help her master her gift or destroy her once and for all?

From the description, I knew I’d enjoy this book – I just wasn’t prepared for how much.

Poor Alessa. With the Divorando (a hungry swarm of demons bent on killing the citizens and destroying the island) countdown looming and everyone depending on her, she feels like a failure. Her power is so immense that it’s killed three partners, and few volunteers are in line to take their place. Much of the population have lost confidence in her, and several attempts have been made on her life – even from her own soldiers. She takes it upon herself to hire a bodyguard, someone who’s loyal only to her. Smart girl.

I loved Alessa and Dante, and their banter is one of my favorite things in this novel. She’s unsure of herself, desperately misses her family, and can’t trust anyone around her. He comes with a shrouded past and considers himself a bad person (he’s so not), and will defend Alessa to the death. He also stole my heart with his love of books. The supporting characters are nothing to sneeze at and add so much to the story – especially Kaleb and Kamaria. They start out bound by duty, but fear for their lives at the thought of being chosen as Alessa’s Fonte. By the end they become an exceptional, supportive found family.

This is an action-packed, compelling read, but the last 10% left me absolutely breathless. I couldn’t look away if I wanted. Seriously, there better not be a long wait for the next book. Life or death stakes, plenty of humor, slow burn romance, incredible action scenes, and clever banter make this an outstanding debut. Highly recommend to fantasy fans!

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

The Final Strife by Saara El-Arifi #bookreview #fantasy #LGBTQ #TuesdayBookBlog

Red is the blood of the elite, of magic, of control.
Blue is the blood of the poor, of workers, of the resistance.
Clear is the blood of the slaves, of the crushed, of the invisible.

Sylah dreams of days growing up in the resistance, being told she would spark a revolution that would free the empire from the red-blooded ruling classes’ tyranny. That spark was extinguished the day she watched her family murdered before her eyes.

Anoor has been told she’s nothing, no one, a disappointment, by the only person who matters: her mother, the most powerful ruler in the empire. But when Sylah and Anoor meet, a fire burns between them that could consume the kingdom—and their hearts.

Hassa moves through the world unseen by upper classes, so she knows what it means to be invisible. But invisibility has its uses: It can hide the most dangerous of secrets, secrets that can reignite a revolution. And when she joins forces with Sylah and Anoor, together these grains of sand will become a storm.

As the empire begins a set of trials of combat and skill designed to find its new leaders, the stage is set for blood to flow, power to shift, and cities to burn.

There’s a reason this novel was named One of the Most Anticipated Books of 2022 by Book Riot. What an incredible debut!

Such exceptional, detailed world-building. This world is a caste system based on the color of your blood. At the top of the food chain are Embers with their red blood, Dusters are blue-blooded, and Ghostings (whose hands and tongue are removed due to centuries old transgressions by their ancestors) translucent blood. The empire is govered by four wardens of strength, truth, knowledge, and duty. The Aktibar (a several months long competition) is held every ten years to choose a disciple who will become the next warden in these categories. Only Embers may be wardens, of course, and everyone must bow to them.

The three main characters are vastly different from each other. After watching her family be murdered, Sylah is now a drug addict (joba seeds) and a thief who fights in the ring for money. She’s abrasive, selfish, and difficult to like. Anoor is the daughter of a warden who deserves an award for the worst mother of the century. She belittles Anoor at every turn, which has left her with little self-esteem. Hassa may be my favorite character. As a Ghosting, she’s unseen by upper classes – but the girl is full of surprises. Don’t underestimate her.

As much as I didn’t initially care for Sylah, she and Anoor have magnificent character arcs (especially Anoor), and they grew on me by the end of the book. It’s pretty clear from the description this story includes an enemies to lovers trope, and it’s a humorous one at times that gave me some laughs. There’s a lot going on – rebellion, political intrigue, betrayal, loads of secrets, discrimination, and brutality. Then there’s the Aktibar competition with some deadly, harrowing trials included. At over 600 pages, this isn’t a light read. Maybe some content could have been cut, but honestly, not much.

The Final Strife is categorized as YA, but is easily a crossover. It’s one of my favorite reads this year, and I’ll absolutely continue with this series. A must read for fantasy fans.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Wreck of the Lanternfish by C.S. Boyack #bookreview #pirates #fantasy

James Cuttler created a peaceful spot for he and his wife to settle down. Far from the war that ravages their homeland, far from the reputation he earned as the notorious Captain Bloodwater, and far from responsibility.

A royal Prelonian houseguest is a constant reminder of what’s at stake half a world away, of the friends he put ashore to fight the war. He lives in a dream world that’s temporary, at best. It’s only a matter of time before his guest is identified and the black assassins come for her.

He mortgages his precious vineyard to pay for repairs to his ship. If nothing else, Lanternfish will be one of the most powerful ships in the war. He’ll need to avoid those on his own side who would hang him for piracy.

Serang is half a world away, leading her army of mercenary swordsmen toward the Fulminites. Mistrusted by both sides of the war, she appears as a third combatant on the battlefield. She may eliminate the mysterious order, only to succumb to the demons of her own tragic past.

Strap on your swords and hoist the colors one more time as the thrilling Lanternfish Trilogy comes to an end.

Sadly, all of my beloved book series must come to an end at some point – it’s inevitable. I dreaded reaching the conclusion of the Lanternfish series, but I was also excited to embark on one last high seas adventure with my favorite group of pirates.

The story focuses on three groups – the Palumbo con artists, General Serang, her army, and the Fu dogs, and Captain James and his crew aboard Lanternfish. I enjoyed spending time with each of these groups and seeing how the author gradually merged their stories toward the end. And the root monsters! I’m such a fan of these creatures (still hoping for merch) and laughed over their antics and misunderstandings. I also loved that more of them received names on this last voyage.

Expect exciting battles, humor (I may have snorted out loud more than once), fantastical creatures, political maneuvering, and some heartfelt relationships. I savored every last moment, and the ending is absolute perfection – especially for the root monsters and Fu dogs. I’m sad to say goodbye to these characters, but very happy with the way the series wrapped up.