Children of Blood and Bone (Legacy of Orisha #1) by Tomi Adeyemi #bookreview #YA #fantasy

They killed my mother.
They took our magic.
They tried to bury us.

Now we rise.

Zélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zélie’s Reaper mother summoned forth souls.

But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, maji were killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope.

Now Zélie has one chance to bring back magic and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zélie must outwit and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good.

Danger lurks in Orïsha, where snow leoponaires prowl and vengeful spirits wait in the waters. Yet the greatest danger may be Zélie herself as she struggles to control her powers and her growing feelings for an enemy.

This has been in my TBR well over a year, and when I recently had to be in the car for long periods of time, I listened to the audio book.  I was thrilled to discover it was the same fantastic narrator as Dread Nation.

What can I say about this book that hasn’t already been said?  Intricate, creative world-building, richly drawn characters, some twists along the way.  And that cover –  stunning.

A lot of hype surrounds this novel, and it’s absolutely well-deserved for a debut, so maybe my expectations were too high.  I’m not a big fan of romance, and it makes up more of the story than I’d expected.  Pairing off the characters disappointed me – but that’s just my personal preference.  An overwhelming majority disagrees with me on that, and I get it.

The cover of the second book in this series was released not long ago, and it’s just as beautiful as this one.  Although more romance than I’d like, I plan to continue with this YA fantasy series.

Wicked Saints (Something Dark and Holy #1) by Emily A. Duncan #bookreview #fantasy #TuesdayBookBlog

A girl who can speak to gods must save her people without destroying herself.

A prince in danger must decide who to trust.

A boy with a monstrous secret waits in the wings. 

Together, they must assassinate the king and stop the war.

In a centuries-long war where beauty and brutality meet, their three paths entwine in a shadowy world of spilled blood and mysterious saints, where a forbidden romance threatens to tip the scales between dark and light. Wicked Saints is the thrilling start to Emily A. Duncan’s devastatingly Gothic Something Dark and Holy trilogy.

I’d seen rave reviews for this book throughout the blogosphere, and that, along with a gorgeous cover and riveting description, had me requesting this book from NetGalley.

Did this book live up to the hype?  Well…mostly.  This is a captivating dark fantasy that weaves the elements of religion, magic, and politics into a thought-provoking storyline.  Many reviews stated the beginning is a slower pace – something I agree with – but the brisk pace and shocking reveals at the end make up for it.  Yes, the pace takes off – but I’d guessed the shocking reveals early in the book, so maybe it’s my fault I was a tad underwhelmed.

The three primary characters exist in the fluctuating areas of gray between good and bad – and that’s my favorite type of character.  Each are wonderfully flawed, possess traits to love and hate, and are ruthless, driven, and distrustful at certain points.  They all believe they’re doing the right thing.  Supporting characters are loyal, well-developed, and occasionally humorous.  Stellar characterization.

Wicked Saints is a brutal, bloody, dark fantasy set in a world rich in history and lore.  It’s very well-written, and if you’re not into YA, give this book a try, because it’s easily a crossover.

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

 

The Fever King by Victoria Lee #bookreview #LGBT #fantasy

In the former United States, sixteen-year-old Noam Álvaro wakes up in a hospital bed, the sole survivor of the viral magic that killed his family and made him a technopath. His ability to control technology attracts the attention of the minister of defense and thrusts him into the magical elite of the nation of Carolinia.

The son of undocumented immigrants, Noam has spent his life fighting for the rights of refugees fleeing magical outbreaks—refugees Carolinia routinely deports with vicious efficiency. Sensing a way to make change, Noam accepts the minister’s offer to teach him the science behind his magic, secretly planning to use it against the government. But then he meets the minister’s son—cruel, dangerous, and achingly beautiful—and the way forward becomes less clear.

Caught between his purpose and his heart, Noam must decide who he can trust and how far he’s willing to go in pursuit of the greater good.

I’ve read some good reviews of this book and seen it on lists of highly anticipated releases.  Considering that and the beautiful cover, I requested it on NetGalley.

The different take on magic in this novel is intriguing.  Magic is a virus, and only a slim percentage of people survive after being infected.  If they are fortunate enough to survive, they become a witching and possess magic with varying powers.  A lot of time and creativity were put into the world-building – it’s complex and politically charged.  The treatment of undocumented aliens is brutal and heart-wrenching, but also timely, and Noam finds himself straddling two different worlds.

Initially, the pacing is on the slow side, and it took me a while to get into this story.  On the flip side of that, the ending is exciting, full of twists, and moves at an astounding pace.  There are conflicting opinions on the world-building in other reviews I’ve read.  Some readers wanted more, some thought it was more of an information dump.  I’m with the group that’s unsure if they understood all the political angles.  I found it a little confusing at times.

The Fever King is filled with political intrigue, characters who possess powers along the lines of X-Men, and a wonderfully diverse cast.  Overall, it’s an enjoyable read, and more for the older YA crowd.

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

Give the Dark My Love (Give the Dark My Love #1) by Beth Revis #bookreview #YA #fantasy

When seventeen-year-old Nedra Brysstain leaves her home in the rural, northern territories of Lunar Island to attend the prestigious Yugen Academy, she has only one goal in mind: learn the trade of medicinal alchemy. A scholarship student matriculating with the children of Lunar Island’s wealthiest and most powerful families, Nedra doesn’t quite fit in with the other kids at Yugen, who all look down on her. 

All, except for Greggori “Grey” Astor. Grey is immediately taken by the brilliant and stubborn Nedra, who he notices is especially invested in her studies. And that’s for a good reason: a deadly plague has been sweeping through the North, and it’s making its way toward the cities. With her family’s life–and the lives of all of Lunar Island’s citizens–on the line, Nedra is determined to find a cure for the plague. 

Grey and Nedra continue to grow closer, but as the sickness spreads and the body count rises, Nedra becomes desperate to find a cure. Soon, she finds herself diving into alchemy’s most dangerous corners–and when she turns to the most forbidden practice of all, necromancy, even Grey might not be able to pull her from the darkness.

Alchemy and necromancy – that’s what initially drew me to this book.  Also the beautiful cover.  A protagonist with all the best intentions finds herself walking the fine line separating light from darkness – it’s an intriguing hook.

Nedra’s transformation from a dedicated student determined to find a cure for the plague to a desperate alchemist who turns to necromancy is fascinating, and done to perfection.  So many times I wanted to yell at her to consider the consequences of her actions – but if she did, I guess there wouldn’t have been much of a story.  It’s difficult to like her character by the end of the book, but an excellent portrayal at what grief can do to a person.

Grey is a sweet love interest – and it’s a case of insta-love, but his character doesn’t add much to the story.  He attempts to be a moral compass for Nedra, but she’s an obstinate girl.

There are a couple of twists toward the end – one I’d figured out, and the other a bit of a surprise.  The beginning is more of a slow burn, explaining world-building and magic, but the pace picks up toward the middle.  I’ll be interested to see where this series goes in the second book.  This book is scheduled for publication September 25th, 2018.

Thanks to Penguin First to Read and the publisher for the ARC.

Ace of Shades (The Shadow Game #1) by Amanda Foody #bookreview #YA #fantasy

Welcome to the City of Sin, where casino families reign, gangs infest the streets…
and secrets hide in every shadow.

Enne Salta was raised as a proper young lady, and no lady would willingly visit New Reynes, the so-called City of Sin. But when her mother goes missing, Enne must leave her finishing school—and her reputation—behind to follow her mother’s trail to the city where no one survives uncorrupted.

Frightened and alone, her only lead is a name: Levi Glaisyer. Unfortunately, Levi is not the gentleman she expected—he’s a street lord and a con man. Levi is also only one payment away from cleaning up a rapidly unraveling investment scam, so he doesn’t have time to investigate a woman leading a dangerous double life. Enne’s offer of compensation, however, could be the solution to all his problems.

Their search for clues leads them through glamorous casinos, illicit cabarets and into the clutches of a ruthless mafia donna. As Enne unearths an impossible secret about her past, Levi’s enemies catch up to them, ensnaring him in a vicious execution game where the players always lose. To save him, Enne will need to surrender herself to the city…

And she’ll need to play. – Goodreads.com

If you’re a fan of Leigh Bardugo’s Six of Crows series, read no further.  Just go now and pre-order this book.  Immersive world-building, mesmerizing, flawed, diverse characters, life or death stakes – all done masterfully.

The setting of New Reynes, the City of Sin, is a character unto itself in this book – I felt as if I were experiencing the dark, narrow streets, enticing smells of street vendors, and threats lurking around every corner.  The guidebook references at the beginning of each chapter are entertaining and give subtle hints at what’s to come.

Although she may fool you initially, Enne Salta is almost as badass as V.E. Schwab’s Delilah Bard.  An unexpected strong resolve and nerves of steel hide behind her ‘proper young lady’ exterior – don’t underestimate her.  Levi is pulled in several directions, makes questionable choices, struggles to do the right thing – and could charm a snake.

Ace of Shades offers a fast-paced plot, gangs, casinos, rogues, intrigue, mystery, romance, and magic – and it’s one of my top YA fantasy reads.  The second book couldn’t come soon enough.  This book is scheduled for publication April 10th, 2018.

Thanks to Edelweiss and the publisher for the digital ARC.

#BadMoonOnTheRise Day 27 Come Hell or High Water (The Complete Trilogy) by Stephen Morris @StephenNYC1 #books #OccultThriller #witches

bad moon on the rise

Today we welcome Stephen Morris!  If you like some history interwoven with your horror/occult thrillers, this is your kind of book!

 

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Witchcraft! Ghosts! Vampires! Tarot cards!
An old crone is bound to a stake in the Old Town Square of Prague and consumed by flames in 1356, her vengeful words setting in motion a series of dark events that unfold across the centuries, culminating in the historic flood of August 2002 that threatens to destroy the city.

In the summer of 2002, two academics attending a conference at the university – a Jesuit priest and a beautiful Irish professor (who is also a voracious Irish vampire, known as the Dearg-due) – develop their own nefarious agendas. To access the enormous potential power to which the dead witch holds the key, they dupe a secretary into helping destroy the city by unravelling the protective magic built into the Charles Bridge itself that has defended the city since its construction. A small group of academics at that same university conference discover the threat and are forced by circumstances to practice the folk magic they have previously merely researched. Drawing on the power of the Tarot, always especially associated with Prague, they battle the Jesuit, the Dearg-due, the unwitting secretary and the forces of evil that threaten to destroy the city. The academics realize that once free, these forces will unleash a dark power that could undermine all of western civilization. The final confrontation occurs as the historic flood of Prague in 2002 is conjured to destroy the magical Charles Bridge which has protected the city for centuries.

The novel alternates chapters set in medieval Prague and contemporary Prague (summer 2002). The chapters set in 1356-1357 incorporate a number of local Prague folktales and legends. These 1356 events alert Nadezhda that something very wrong indeed is afoot in Prague. Together with an elderly rabbi from Prague’s famous Jewish Quarter, she sets out to avert the impending disaster.

How long have you been writing horror/thrillers and what drew you to the genre?

I have always been fascinated by black magic and the misuse of power – my first true love was the Wicked Witch of the West in “The Wizard of Oz!” The bad guys – especially the supernatural bad guys – were always the most interesting characters and seemed to have the most fun. In high school, I toyed with the idea of writing an epic that followed a particular family of wicked people who would eventually produce the Antichrist but I have yet to write that book. Occult thrillers are now my favorite reading – I’m always looking for another great book or series or author to add to my Kindle!

How did you come up with the idea for your book?

I was reading a history of medieval monastic curses against the nobility who would attempt to encroach on monastic land or privileges and as I read one of the cursing prayers, I immediately saw a witch being burned using those same words to curse the mob who had brought her to the stake. I also visited and fell in love with Prague and discovered several Czech legends that could easily be seen as the result of some of those curses. As my friend Rob and I were standing on the Charles Bridge at sunset when spring evening, he said, “You know everything about medieval theology and witchcraft and Prague history and legends; you should do something with it!” In that moment, it all clicked and I knew immediately what the story of COME HELL OR HIGH WATER would be.

If you could erase one horror cliché, what would it be?

Do the good guys ALWAYS have to win?!?!

What are you working on now?

I’m working on a novel about an Estonian werewolf who flees his homeland in 1890 to find someone who can free him from the wolf-magic that he has lost control of. He makes his way from Estonia through Latvia to Lithuania and Poland. He finally reaches Prague and hopes to find a “cunning man” or a “wise woman” to free him from the curse he has brought upon himself, but he only seems to find frauds and charlatans – poor Alexei!

Favorite horror movie and book?

It may sound cheesy but the 1970s made-for-tv movie CROWHAVEN FARM still gives me the shivers! I think Kate Griffin’s MIDNIGHT MAYOR series are the best occult thrillers available and her MAGICALS ANONYMOUS series are the best books with a slightly more light-hearted take on that same material.

Author bio

Stephen has degrees in medieval history and theology from Yale and St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Academy. A former priest, he served as the Eastern Orthodox chaplain at Columbia University. His previous academic writing has dealt primarily with Late Antiquity and Byzantine church life.

He is also the Chair of the CORE Executive of Inter-disciplinary.net and organizes annual conferences on aspects of the supernatural, evil and wickedness, and related subjects. It was an I-D.net project that took him to Prague for the first time in 2001 and he immediately fell in love with the city! He has been back many, MANY times!

Stephen, a Seattle native, is now a long-time New York resident and currently lives in Manhattan with his partner, Elliot.

This occult thriller explores the legends of medieval and modern Prague. Magdalena, a bored administrative assistant in Prague, discovers the ghost of Fen’ka, an old woman burned alive as a witch in 1356, and agrees to help her pursue justice. Magdalena becomes more and more involved with the occult: She communicates with the spirit of Madame de Thebes, a fortuneteller murdered by the Nazis, and seeks out powerful demons to aid Fen’ka. Her story is interwoven with the novel’s strongest chapters, set in medieval Prague, which dramatize the effects of Fen’ka’s last dying curseon the city. Well-versed in 14th-century Prague, Morris draws heavily on folk legends to create a window into the lives of characters from various walks of life, including righteous priests, wealthy merchants and budding thieves. Each self-contained medieval chapter builds tension fairly well; the chapters set in modern times…. culminate with powerful demons let loose in Prague and the development of a compelling theme regarding Magdalena’s temptation to gain power and the price she’s willing to pay for it. Although the dialogue could use more subtlety… the plot and portrait of the 14th century are gripping enough to keep readers engaged…. (From Kirkus Reviews)

” As eloquently told as it is informative and thought-provoking, ‘Wellspring’ is a title worthy of standing on the shelf alongside acclaimed works such as those in The Vampire Chronicles and Mayfair Witches series penned by the mother of all things occult, Anne Rice.” – Red City Review

“Well-versed in 14th-century Prague, Morris draws heavily on folk legends to create a window into the lives of characters from various walks of life, including righteous priests, wealthy merchants and budding thieves.” – Kirkus Reviews

This supernatural suspense… is the beginning of a trilogy that has the potential to be a genre-transcendent epic a la Deborah Harkness’ bestselling All Souls trilogy (A Discovery of Witches, et al.) — Blue Ink Review

This is a book that you just do not want to put down! It is all about the past, and how the energy from the past lives on in the present…. This is a well researched book, from the point of view of medieval history, the Tarot itself, occult practices, the church, and the psyche behind what motivates people to act as they do. — Perspectives on Tarot

“Morris generates some genuine chills and thrills in this entertaining series opener that alternates between the 14th and 21st centuries…. The author’s background in medieval history stands him in good stead in the 14th-century sections, as he slips in interesting details to help make the fantastic plausible.” – Publishers Weekly

“…Out of the many characters we meet, Father Conrad is a standout. The priest who instigates Fen’ka’s burning and is to blame for another death in the book, rises from hand-rubbing villainy to something far more clever. You sympathize with his passions, and his ultimate fate is perhaps one of the book’s best moments…. A well-crafted yarn, which takes you deep into the year 1325, mysticism, religion, and pagan rites in a quaint Prague town, COME HELL OR HIGH WATER, PART ONE: WELLSPRING is an epic journey worth taking.” — Indie Reader Discovery Awards

Where to find Stephen

Please see Stephen’s website for more information on upcoming novels and his most recent blog posts:
www.stephenmorrisauthor.com

You can also reach him at nycstephen12@yahoo.com

Twitter: @StephenNYC1

Buy links

Amazon

Bound (Bound Trilogy #1) by Kate Sparkes

Welcome to Darmid, where magic is a sin, fairy tales are contraband, and the people live in fear of the 22371104Sorcerers on the other side of the mountains.

Rowan Greenwood has everything she’s supposed to want from life—a good family, a bright future, and a proposal from a handsome and wealthy magic hunter. She knows she should be content with what she has. If only she could banish the idea that there’s more to life than marriage and children, or let go of the fascination with magic she’s been forced to suppress since childhood.

When Rowan unknowingly saves the life of one of her people’s most feared enemies, that simple act of compassion rips her from her sheltered life and throws her into a world of magic that’s more beautiful, more seductive, and more dangerous than she ever could have imagined.

Rowan might get everything she ever dreamed of—that is, if the one thing she’s always wanted doesn’t kill her first. – Goodreads.com

Boy, I had no problem at all just falling right into this book and the world the author created from the very first page.  I would have loved to find a comfortable spot and read this book straight through.

Rowan was a very easy protagonist to identify with – who hasn’t wondered at some point in their life if this is all there is?  She’s torn between making her family and friends happy by doing what’s expected of a girl her age or going out on her own and seeing what else is out there.  With so many YA/NA books having female protagonists waiting for someone to rescue them from their dire circumstances, Rowan was a welcome change with her independence, compassion, sense of adventure, stubbornness, and touch of rebellion.

Aren, the male protagonist, came from difficult circumstances and also had some serious family obligations and expectations.  I enjoyed seeing how his character developed throughout this book.

The author did an excellent job of engaging the senses in her descriptions – the feel of fabric and tree bark, the smell of tea, the color of dresses, the taste of food.  I had no problems at all with imagery.

If I had to choose something I didn’t like about this book, it’s the fact that I got to the end and discovered the next book doesn’t come out until Winter 2015!

This book has something for everyone – fantasy, magic, a hint of fairy tales, dragons, humor, action, adventure, romance.  A thoroughly enjoyable debut novel.

This review is based on a digital copy from the author in exchange for an honest review.