Short Fantasy Reviews: queens, heists & folklore

Spoiler-alert; they were all kind of let downs in different ways.

The Shadows Between Us by Tricia Levenseller

I was promised a “cunning, villainous queen” who wanted to take the reign from the king with magical shadowy powers & secrets, even though I suspected she would fall in love with him instead. What I got was a lot of whining and unpreparedness after she’d shown considerable ambition. The writing falls into the hole of telling you how dangerous certain people are without truly following through, there seems to be little consequences. Like you might call both the main characters cold-blooded murderers, but it’s just based in a lack of reaction to murders happening around them or those they commit in some kind of self-defense. There’s very little of the expected morally-gray aspects here. Also imagine me shaking my fist at how the main character manages to get noticed by the king because she’s not a follower like all the other girls at court. It feels like a worse version of Holly Black’s ‘The Cruel Prince’ in every way, as this MC lacks a lot in comparison, like the true viciousness or skill. This book started out good, which was the reason I finished it, but in total it was a let down. Read it for the romance, I guess, but it’s pretty plain and straight forward. 2/5 stars.

The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi

A young adult fantasy that I was excited for because of the heist, found family, dark vibes and the morally gray & diverse characters which a lot of other bloggers seems to have fallen for as I’ve seen a lot of five stars reviews. Not to forget the bisexual character & autistic scientist. Still, I DNF’ed at 32% as I tried to give it a fair chance. The first thing that didn’t match with me was simply the writing, then nothing else about the characters, plot or world-building caught my interest. It’s been three weeks since I read it and there’s nothing remarkable I remember at all unfortunately. For the record, I absolutely loved Six of Crows, which it has been compared to a lot.

Silver in the Wood (Greenhollow Duology #1) by Emily Tesh

You ever have those books that you enjoyed the experience of reading, but looking back it wasn’t all that much? I feel so mixed about this book, because I liked the cottagecore aesthetic of the Wild Man of Greenhollow and the secret-folklorist that comes upon him. In 112 pages this novella manages to deliver on the fairytale-ish forest, magical realism vibes in the writing, but plot-wise, character-wise, etc. it does come up short to me. The m/m relationship and yearning could’ve been so much better than it was. I don’t quite understand the idea of giving out a second novella either, instead of having used that time setting up the story to fulfill its potential. It seems strange. Definitely an interesting debut author to watch, but I think I’ll pass on that sequel for now. 2/5 stars.

Witchy Reads for this Autumn (part two)

Here’s part one! It just became a truly too long post.

Books I recommend

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness & the rest of the All Souls Trilogy for the historian protagonist that explores a supernatural world riddled with old artifacts, powerful witches and immortal vampires, featuring time travel and a lot of romance. It’s also got a tv series which is fun, but as these things often do, gives no explanation or coherent plot like the books does. It’s been a while since I read this, and would love to reread it.

These Witches Don’t Burn by Isabel Sterling (full review) for the YA with fun, dramatic moments, a city of witches & their families, covens arguing and lots of lesbian/bi girls.

Uprooted by Naomi Novik (full review) for the fairytale vibes with wizard (more so than witches) who takes a girl from the village every ten years for mystical reasons, a fierce protagonist that never makes it boring as she creates hell for the wizard and great friendships. It’s more so on the fantasy side, but it has a lot of the village, dark forest and fairytale elements that I look for in the books I put on this list.

Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman should be a book everyone has heard of, but among the angel, demon, antichrist and a coming apocalypse, there’s also the full title “The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch” and Agne’s many-great granddaughter Anathema (Practical Occultist and Professional Descendant) who really brings out the essence of this book; there’s a lot of chaos, including being hit by a car, but it all plays into this cosmic order in some way.

The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo (full review) for the breath-taking illustrations and short stories that is fairytale-inspired. It’s more fantasy than a lot others on this list, but at the same time truly delivers on its promise of “midnight tales and dangerous magic”.

Other Witchy Books on my TBR

A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik for its school of magically gifted where failure means certain death and you’re not allowed to leave. Also a grumpy loner of a protagonist who has a powerful dark magic that might be strong enough to beat the system, but not without its risks. The promise of dark avademia, magic and monsters, with a lot of bloodshed & slytherin vibes is truly alluring. BTW: since I wrote this post I’ve seen a lot of questions brought up around if this book has racist elements. Of course, I don’t feel qualified to discuss that further. The author has apologized for one of the things pointed out around using a racist stereotype of dreadlocks being dirty, but if it is as bad of a – well in best case it’s a mishap – as it seems, it truly is strange how it got through the editing process of such a famous author.

Enchantée by Gita Trelease for the Paris 1789 setting, smallpox, a witch going from petty theft to trying to rob Marie Antoinette to support her family.

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden for its Russian wilderness winter and arctic fairytale-inspired fantasy where the protagonist has special abilities like her mother, but her new stepmother forbids her from practicing and evil starts to seep in. Some focus on the conflict between christianity and older religions. A lot of trigger warnings!

Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas for its gay trans boy that tries to prove himself as a brujo to his family by summoning a ghost, but then is stuck with the school’s former handsome bad-boy as he has unfinished business. If he’s not in love with this ghost by the end of it, I’m screeching.

Kingdom of Souls by Rena Barron for the fantasy inspired by West African mythology with a non-magical protagonist born into a family of witchdoctors trying to defeat her powerful sister. Also the love interest is of course of the enemy family. It’s dark and has enough trigger warnings that I’ll give a reminder to search for them before reading it.

Books I disliked, but you might like

Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Cordova for the ones who want a powerful latina bi protagonist who don’t want to be a witch (review). She is the most powerful bruja in a long time and also hates magic. Not to mention the responsibility put on her by her family. I didn’t finish the book because I thought the writing was lacking and nothing out of the ordinary, but she’s got an attitude that made me smile. It’s a story about a girl trying to save her family, but in a way that felt very ‘let’s go on an adventure’ and predictable.

When the Moon Was Ours by Anne-Marie McLemore for the trans mc, flowery young adult magical realism, also literary flowery with roses growing from skin (review). It’s another book I didn’t finish, but only because I’ve found out that I don’t match with the authors way of writing (after multiple attempts at other books), which I truly find sad as they use such interesting plots and cast of characters. I mean – the synopsis is so good! And it’s a romance between a Latina girl and Italian-Pakistani trans boy. It focuses on finding yourself, it’s vulnerable and the author is queer, latinx & nonbinary married to a trans man.

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina vol. 1 by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa for the graphic novels lovers (review). I didn’t really like this at all as I felt the charm and interesting aspects to Sabrina the teenage witch was completely removed. Would much rather recommend the tv series, as it’s roughly the same story, but with more fun elements as well as dark ones. It’s definitely a teenage soap tv series, but an interesting one. I want to still read Season of the Witch by Sarah Rees Brennan, which is a Sabrian novel published last year, but I only have hopes for it because I like that author already. It might be that both of these things were published to create more interest around the tv series, which I find disappointing if they all tell the same story.

Honorary Mentions

Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl is the book series I look back on having read a long time ago, being like “it was good, but basic”, but if you’re looking for a quick read I wouldn’t be above rereading it.

Kiki’s Delivery Service, the ghibli movie, is something I wanted to watch for a long time, but finally did this summer. It’s so perfectly adorable & worth it!!

Literary Witches: A Celebration of Magical Women Writers by Taisia Kitaiskaia is a illustrated book on my TBR, more about the magic of literature than witches, but it’s supposed to draw connection between witches & visionary writers, which I’m just guessing means connection between treatment of visionary women (like writers) who tend towards feminism. If anything I want to own it for the gothic art. “Pick a shelf” has a really good review of this unusual book!

Witchy Reads for this Autumn (part one)

Witchy books I recommend and a couple I want to get to, along with a few popular ones I disliked. I’ve tried to keep the most fantasy-heavy books out of this list on purpose, and keep it more in the magical realism realm. Also, if you’ve got any recommendations – especially with queer witches – send them my way!

The Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw (full review) for a magical realism story about a small-town by the sea cursed by witches, the protagonist moving to the lighthouse on the island and uncovering the mysteries behind the magic.

Circe by Madeline Miller (full review) for the greek mythology fantasy set around a girl alienated because of her witchcraft and the great journey of self-discovery unlike much I’ve seen in other books. She’s truly going through the process of owning her powers and deciding what she wants in life while she’s in exile. Also greek gods & protecting yourself from pirates, of course.

The Strange & Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton (full review) for the peculiar magical realism travelling into the fairytale world while following stories of magic and destinies through generations of witches starting with a girl born with wings.

Witch Child & Sorceress by Celia Rees for the child-friendly witchy book with a historical setting. Actually it was some of the first witchy books I really liked. It’s been a long time since I read them, so I’m not going to vouch for still considering them original enough now, but goodread friends seem to all agree with the child version of me that they’re good. I do think the first book is the best one, told through ‘lost’ journals.

The Last Apprentice series by Joseph Delaney also for the kids, but more scary. It’s about this boy becoming an apprentice, which entails hunting after all kinds of supernatural creatures, including dark witches.As the series continues, we go from a boy getting into a cool, but dangerous job to starting to think about moral questions like ‘are all witches evil?’ as new characters are introduced. Still, this series really manages to incorporate just how terrifying some of the creatures are, becoming lost in the magic. Definitely anti-church in some ways that gives it more negative reviews than it should have. And while it has a lot of supernatural evil, it measures it up against the ‘human’ evil the apprentice & the mentor meet as well in their job. It gives you chills, but also makes you think – at least it did for me as a child.

Other witchy books on my TBR:

Magic for Liars by Sarah Gailey for its bisexual love interest, magical witchy school and and promise of lots of blood, violence and other questionable things. The protagonist has zero magical skills, but tries to outweigh it by having good detective skills, a drinking problem and when all else fails – a witch sister to help (probably). It’s an urban fantasy/murder mystery standalone, and also contains several f/f relationships.

Of Sorrow and Such by Angela Slatter for the protagonist being a secret witch tired of her patriarchal town’s bullshit, and helping a lesbian shapeshifter during a witchhunt. It’s a novella. I found it trough a list of anti-heroine book recommendations, so excited about finding out the reason for that.

Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor for the fantasy set in Nigeria where the albino protagonist who recently moved from New York gets bullied, but through finding her magical gifts finds a friend-group and her people. Forming a coven, they start tracking child kidnappers.

Sea Witch by Sarah Henning for the small fishing town, mermaids, princes & a witch mourning a dead friend. It might be somewhat of a Ursula origin story.

Legendborn by Tracy Deonn for the King Arthur legends retold with a black girl as the main character. The death of her mother leads her to an early college program where she meets a witch. Well, it’s more of a fantasy so technically there’s this whole race of people called Legendborns that use magic, but they’re descendants of King Arthur & his knights – so in my head they’ll be witches. Also contains lots of queer kids, secret society politics and demons.

The Year of the Witching by Alexis Henderson for its rebellious feminist biracial main character who is marked as cursed from birth in a dystopian, puritanical society with major abuse of power. It’s a horror story of a fantasy, with promises of being gothic, dark and bloody, set in a secluded village with witches in the forbidden forest & lots of village politics. It’s also a debut novel from an author that seems truly cool.

Winterwood by Shea Ernshaw (same author as The Wicked Deep) for the haunted fairytale-like woods, a boy once lost in a snowstorm with no memories of how and a witch falling in love with him as she tries to uncover his secrets.

Kingdom of the Wicked by Kerri Maniscalco for its sicilian twin witches – streghe – living among humans in the 1800s trying to avoid persecution, until one of them is murdered. A new release with a story of vengeance, sarcastic bad boy demon princes and dark magic.

Toil & Trouble: 15 Tales of Women & Witchcraft for a short story collection about witches that I’ve only seen praise about, with a diverse cast of characters. I want to read about all the queer witches.

Mooncakes by Suzanne Walker and Wendy Xu for the graphic novel about a Chinese-American teen witch who works at her queer grandmother’s bookshop selling spellbooks and investigating supernatural occurrences. Has a non-binary werewolf main character as well. I can’t wait to get my hands on this, I’m expecting a Kiki’s delivery service type of wholesome vibe, only more demons involved.

Books I disliked, but you might like

Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins for the teen drama at a witch & supernatural creatures reform school, complete with ancient secret societies and classmates being attacked. You get what you think you get, if in a very predictable package plot-wise and stereotypical characters (not in a bad way, but in a predictable one). It’s fun, the protagonist self-aware & fast-paced. Good for young teenagers looking for a light read.

Half bad by Sally Green is included on this list only as an excuse to link to my old (like five year old) review ranting about how creepy the writing is. It’s a good example of a book being read and liked by people who doesn’t usually read about witches, just because it’s got enough cliches to be avoided by everyone else. There’s little magic, little back-story or any context clues, a lot of running around, a lot of whining about being half-black half-white* kind of witch making life difficult and a lot of angst and torture for some reason. It has an exciting ending. *Not to be confused with skin-color, the protagonist is white, and also describes the love interest what I considered creepily (and in rhymes), including noting her ‘honey’ skin. 16 year old me thought the racial undertones throughout the whole book was problematic, but I can’t remember enough to conclude anything and don’t want to put myself through reading it again.

The Price Guide to the Occult by Leslye Walton (full review), same author as Ava Lavender, for its witches living on an island where their magical abilities seem to fade with each generation. My problems came with not being able to know enough to buy into the setting of the island or connect with the cast of characters, I felt they lacked depth.

Exciting New Book Releases Summer/Autumn 2020

So I made a exciting book releases for spring and summer and also a short one with queer summer books, but then I forgot all the July book releases, so that’s included in this as well I guess? Mostly fantasy, young adult, queer, sci-fi, but also some poetry and a graphic novel.

A Beautifully Foolish Endeavor by Hank Green

Release date: July 7th

Why I want to read it: I’ve already bought it, I just forgot to add it to my latest list. It’s the sequel to Hank Green’s first amazing novel and here’s a review all trying to explain how much I loved that one.

Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust

Release date: July 7th

Why I want to read it: a fairytale vibe story based on Persian mythology about a princess who’s poisonous to the touch. I’m looking forward to demons and a great character development, let’s see this girl own her powers.

Burn Our Bodies Down by Rory Power

Release date: July 7th

Why I want to read it: Loved Wilder Girls by Power, and looking forward to more horror involving young adult-age girls, without it really being YA. And w/ all the sapphic vibes! It’s about a girl trying to find her past & old hometowns, which is pretty vague.

Boyfriend Material by Alexis Hall

Release date: July 7th

Why I want to read it: Any m/m romance being compared to “Red, white and royal blue” piques my interest, mostly for the enemies-to-lovers trope & slight political setting that hopefully promises. Here we also get fake-dating for publicity.

The Year of the Witchling by Alexis Henderson

Release date: July 21st

Why I want to read it: a promise of feminist fantasy & discovering dark powers. Also witch / church conflict. I mean, I’m always looking for good witch books.

Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas

Release date: September 1st

Why I want to read it: a trans guy summons a ghost, which then creates a lot of trouble for the hell of it. Also ownvoices for trans & latinx elements of the book.

To Sleep In a Sea of Stars by Christopher Paolini

Release date: September 15th

Why I want to read it: the first sci-fi book by Paolini since his Eragon series – that seems like both a hard thing to write & something I’m very curious about

Legendborn by Tracy Deonn

Release date: September 15th

Why I want to read it: grieving her dead mother, witnessing a magical attack on campus, a mage by the name of Merlin that tries and fails to vipe her memory, investigating mother’s murder, learning that there exists a group of ‘Legenborn’ magicians that are descendants of King Arthur & magical war – this young main character is getting put through a lot. Also has a bi mc and lesbian and nonbinary characters, secret societies and demons.

Solutions and Other Problems by Allie Brosh

Release date: September 22nd

Why I want to read it: Hyberbole and a half by Allie Brosh is one of my all time favourite humor comics/graphic novels.

A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik

Release date: September 29th

Why I want to read it: magical school!! but this time by an author that I truly adore, so hopefully done right or in an interesting way. A YA fantasy where monsters lurks everywhere and frienships are hard to come by as everyone is struggling for survival. And a main character who’s got powerful dark magic.

Sweetdark by Savannah Brown

Release date: October 8th

Why I want to read it: I’ve enjoyed Savannah’s poetry & writing in general for a long time. Pleasure, chaos, apocalyptic vibes, vulnerability – it all sounds very exciting.

Swamp Thing: Twin Branches by Maggie Stiefvater & Morgan Beem

Release date: October 13th

Why I want to read it: It’s by Stiefvater. But also I’m a sucker for the completely opposite, but inseparable duo. Very interesting to see how the illustrations turns out in this graphical novel as well as just how alive those swamps they discover are.

F/F Magical Book Recs | #PrideLibrary20

I’m joining in on some of the #pridelibrary20 prompts, hosted by The Library Looter, Michelle Likes Things and Anniek’s Library throughout June. Here’s a link to a summary of my posts from last year.

Today’s prompt is f/f relationships and I’ve tried to gather up some fav f/f romance books of the more magical realism or fantasy genre. Because I’ve been even more into the blend of cottagecore aesthetic, queer girls and magic lately. Ahh, the gay side of tiktok has got me with it’s #wlwcottagecore and my need to be more outside safely after this quarantine.

There’s also Queer Girls YA Book Recommendations #1 if you want more.

Sawkill Girls by Claire Legrand

  • Horror magical realism with queer girls trying to uncover the mystery of the island the main character moves to as more and more girls are killed off. Definitely has enemies-to-lovers trope and folklore coming to life, with living in lighthouse, trying to save your loved ones before it’s too late and an actual cult.
  • Queer girls, including mc, and asexual character.

The Midnight Lie by Marie Rutkoski

  • More straight-up fantasy, but definitely not straight.
  • The main charcter is an orphan that has magical abilities, something that belongs to the upper classes in the society she lives in. She’s low-key criminal with a fierce spirit that lands her in prison, where she meets a stranger ( ~ a traveller from distant lands who is not bound by conservative customs ~ ) that transforms her life, and also starts a slow-burn of a f/f romance.
  • This one scene of the mc trying to find the place she was supposed to meet up with a stranger, without knowing anything about this outside world, wandering around the woods is burned into my memory. As is her confusion as she’s brought along, breaking into abandoned buildings with no explanation. The inncocent, brave, awkward gay vibes is immaculate.

These Witches Don’t Burn by Isabel Sterling

  • Witchy found-family type of young adult book
  • Contains fun, dramatic moments, a city of witches, covens arguing and lots of lesbians. Has more strong friendships than relationships. Meaning some f/f relationship, also some lesbian exes trying to get along and not always suceeding.

Similiar books on my TBR

Wilder Girls by Rory Power

  • All girls high school put under quarantine (ahh made last year, pre-corona), where they get infected and die one by one and described as more of a horror vibe and survival story following this queer friendgroup.

Magic for liars by Sarah Gailey

  • Urban fantasy/murder mystery standalone with bisexual love interest, a magical witchy school and lots of blood and violence and other questionable things. Also several f/f relationships.

Short reviews from quarantine: young adult

I’m just going to be doing these laid back short reviews for a while I think, because I’ve got time, but not nearly enough energy hahha. Hope everyone is doing well, feel free to just chat with me in comments or on twitter regardless if we’ve talked before! I promise I won’t be quick to answer, but I would love to.

These short reviews in particular are books I read a while back, but only had collected a couple sentences about.

The Queen of Nothing (The Folk of the Air #3) by Holly Black

I truly loved The Cruel Prince. I kind of enjoyed/tolerated The Wicked King. I really didn’t care for The Queen of Nothing. My feelings reading this book; I love Jude Duarte so much, but this is just filled with expected turns and lacking plot. I really wanted to like it, but I just feel like Jude’s character is going constantly one step forward and two backwards in terms of how bold she is or how much of a villain/hero she is supposed to be. Make her darker or give her some good reasons, I don’t know. 2/5 stars.

I wasn’t planning on reading this book anytime soon, but at the beginning of the year, this book was on a free-for-all bookshelf in my hostel in Edinburgh, calling to me.

The Vanishing Stair (Truly Devious #2) by Maureen Johnson

I loved Truly Devious as well. It’s a good enough sequel, following the same type of mystery boarding-school vibe as the first one. You certainly get further in the story, especially about the old mystery at the school the main character is trying to solve. But it was also lacking the freshness and felt a bit repetitive. I’m still excited to read the third book, but a bit less hopeful I guess. 4/5 stars!

Funfact: reading the first book I definitely appreciated how all the different characters was the best at their skill. Especially Janelle’s character and how creative and stereotypical engineer-mind she had. But since then I’ve met and currently live with someone who’s the guy’s version of her and I definitely realized so while reading this. I can never say my wild plans out loud anymore, because suddenly they go from theoretical to “ahh actually, if we do it this way” … and me facepalming.

Call Down the Hawk (Dreamer #1) by Maggie Stiefvater

I was going to write a longer review, but my copy is far far away from me and then also my notes in it. Yes, I do write in my books, especially if they are pocket books.

There were lots of small things I loved in this book, but it was very much the interactions between characters I already loved from The Raven Cycle. Stiefvater has said that you could read this series as a stand-alone, but I’m not sure I agree. Call Down the Hawk didn’t feel as coherent as a book, and for me it floated on knowing the history of these characters. Like Ronan interacting with Adam’s new college friends and their too-complex card game, especially as Adam is trying to urge him to remain calm. Knowing more about how dreaming magic worked was really cool. And another upside is that I find it hard to imagine someone not falling in love with Ronan or Adam at first sight. In general I’m glad this book exist, and I’m looking forward to reading the rest of the Dreamer trilogy! 4/5 stars.

“Do you understand? For you, reality is not an external condition. For you, reality is a decision.”

Call down the hawk by Maggie Stiefvater

Short Reviews: DNF (magical realism, queer, classics)

Some books I stopped reading, but still want to share my thoughts about.

1984 by George Orwell: I joined my first book club and was so excited, got through 40% of this book, and wasn’t able to go dicuss it. I probably will give it another try, someday. I’ve heard the ending described as amazing, but as for now I feel like I’ve already read so many books that has taken inspiration from this one (both for worse and better) to the point where nothing in it feels revolutionary or intriguing to me, even though it clearly was for its time.

Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova: I had hope for this latina bisexual main character witch and her story. But then, in the very beginning, she meets the mysterious guy and obvious future love interest, and it unravels from there. It just felt badly written. And then the mc fucks up and has to save her family and I got flashback to Percy Jackson going to the underworld, but without knowing any of the characters enough to care what happened to them. I got 40% through (it’s starting to become a cursed percentage).

When the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore: here’s another queer book (with trans main character) that I wanted to love. I’ve given this book a couple tries. It seems that McLemore’s writing is just not for me. It’s flowery magical realism, with a lot of imagination and interesting aspects. Which is absolutely something I love, but not in this case. I would whole-heartedly suggest to give it a try and see for yourself!

Exciting New Book Releases Autumn 2019

Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo

Release date: 1. October

Why I want to read it: I’ve barely peeked at reviews, not wanting to be spoiled, but my excitement kind of faded with the mixed reactions I’ve seen. But it’s Leigh Bardugo and while I disliked the Grisha trilogy and loved the Six of Crows, I’m willing to give it a try. I do generally like darker themes in books..?

The Secret Commonwealth (The Book of Dust #2) by Philip Pullman

Release date: 3. October

Why I want to read it: I REALLY REALLY REALLY LOVED LA BELLE SAUVAGE AND IT’S SO SHORT TIME UNTIL THIS BOOK WILL BE IN MY HAAAANDS. yes i’m extremely excited.

Call Down the Hawk by Maggie Stiefvater

Release date: 5. November

Why I want to read it: I’M SCREAMING OF EXCITEMENT. IT’S RONAN LYNCH’S LONG-AWAITING STORY. IT’S STEIFVATER- ONE OF MY ABSOLUTE FAV AUTHORS.

The Fowl Twins by Eoin Colfer

Release date: 5. November

Why I want to read it: I grew up loving the Artemis Fowl series and when I heard of this I was so damn excited. Along with the new tv adaption I’m really hoping to not be absolutely let down.

Winterwood by Shea Ernshaw

Release date: 5. November

Why I want to read it: I liked, but didn’t love, The Wicked Deep by the same author, but still I really liked the tone and writing of it and willing to give this a try too.

The Queen of Nothing by Holly Black

Release date: 19. November

Why I want to read it: It’s the third book of The Folk of the Air and while I disliked the second book, I’ve got too much invested. Also Holly Black is one of my fav authors. I’m just really nervous where this is going and I don’t like Jude not being ambitious and as cunning as she has shown herself to be, without reason. Aaaahhh.

Children of Virtue and Vengeance by Tomi Adeyemi

Release date: 5. December

Why I want to read it: The first book was a good fantasy, I’m waiting to see if this sequel can live up to it.

Short Reviews: queer magical realism & graphic novels

Wild Beauty by Anna-Marie McLemore

DNF’ed at 70%, which says a lot about how I really wanted this book to work for me.

I love magical realism, but sometimes I’ve found that the books I can’t get into have in common that they have no set plot making the focus feel all over the place and I don’t personally connect with the characters. Which was my problem with this one. I loved the family, the idea that they were tied to their land, the writing (well, it did get too flowery at points), and the queer girls. It feels like someone wrote a lovely world with these girls with flower magic and this lost boy with amnesia, and then just didn’t have a clear vision of the rest. Also the writing tried to push the magical feeling at points by describing the place instead of showing how the magic really could be used, or where it was hiding within the ground, story and people. I still think & hope I might like “When the moon was ours” by the author better.

But Estrella let all those things chase her down the stairs, out of the stone house, through the gardens where dahlias and calla lilies rose up around her like a flowering forest. The lawns and paths flew under her feet, but still, she ran, until the gardens thinned and the land passed from tended to wild. 

Wild Beauty by Anne-Marie McLemore p. 164

Big Mushy Happy Lump & Herding Cats by Sarah Andersen

Sarah’s Scribbles book 2 (four out of five stars) & 3 (three out of five stars).

The second graphic novel felt very much similar to the first one in all the good ways. Obviously the concept of the drawing panels are further developed, but the spirit of the introverted relatable character is still all over it. It experimented with a storyline, which I didn’t like as much. Which is probably why I didn’t like the third graphic novel as much, because it really stayed to themes which felt very much like anything you would find on tumblr/twitter in comparison to the previous ones. It’s still good, but more average. Would recommend the first (Adulthood Is A Myth, full review here) and second, probably the third is worth a try if you’ve liked them.

Herding cats

The Wicked Deep | Book Review

Genre: fantasy, witches, small-town

Pages: 310

Synopsis

Welcome to the cursed town of Sparrow… Where, two centuries ago, three sisters were sentenced to death for witchery. Stones were tied to their ankles and they were drowned in the deep waters surrounding the town.

Now, for a brief time each summer, the sisters return, stealing the bodies of three weak-hearted girls so that they may seek their revenge, luring boys into the harbor and pulling them under.

Like many locals, seventeen-year-old Penny Talbot has accepted the fate of the town. But this year, on the eve of the sisters’ return, a boy named Bo Carter arrives; unaware of the danger he has just stumbled into.

Mistrust and lies spread quickly through the salty, rain-soaked streets. The townspeople turn against one another. Penny and Bo suspect each other of hiding secrets. And death comes swiftly to those who cannot resist the call of the sisters. But only Penny sees what others cannot. And she will be forced to choose: save Bo, or save herself.

My thoughts

Rating out of five: three

Let’s start with how great the writing was! I really liked it, simple and elegant. Right at the beginning the story really defines itself, the magical realism vibes associated with small-town witches. The setting of the town Sparrow is great and the myth built up around it. The protagonist Penny lives on an island separated from the town, and it really felt like a special place. Much of this laid on the writing, but also the character and the mysteries of the plot being built up and the secrets of the town.

Intertwined with Penny’s story is the story of the three Swan sisters being accused of being witches two hundred years prior, after arriving into the town and how the city goes after them. The city are still haunted by their murders, especially during the Swan festival in the summer.

My big problem with the story was the twist and how it didn’t work because it completely broke with the expectations built up, not just plot-wise, but the characters suddenly changed. In a way that immediately made the story lose its magic. The mystery/plot-twist was maybe resolved to quickly? The pace really changed? It can’t really be character development if we don’t see the development? Looking at you, Bo. (I really adore that name btw.) I could see the twist coming, even if it wasn’t what I was expecting, because people were acting really weird to the point where what was supposed to be “foreshadowing” really bothered me as flaws while reading the book.

If you’re looking for a great summer read about small-town witches and a bit of mystery, with cute characters and settings like an island, lighthouse and bonding over an abandoned orchard being brought back to life – I would recommed to give it a try. But it will be very taste-based how people like it, especially the ending.

SPOILERS: the moment I knew the ending

Or plot-twist, rather.

“It’s our town’s penance,” I say. “We drowned three girls in the ocean two centuries ago, and we’ve suffered for it every summer since. We can’t change it.” “But why don’t people just move away?” “Some have, but the families who’ve been here the longest choose to stay. Like it’s an obligation they must endure.” 


Penny just never associated herself with the town or its “obligation” in such a strong “we” kind of way. Having her established as such a strong character voice early on, which also was much more likeable than what she became, was a problem as well as what I adored about the book.

The fear rimming our eyes. But if he knew the truth—what I see what I peer through Olivia Greene, the creature hidden inside. If he knew the things that haunt my waking dreams. If he saw what I saw. If he saw. He’d leave this is- land and never come back. He’d leave this town. And I don’t want to be alone on the island again. There have only ever been ghosts here, shadows of people that once were, until he arrived. I can’t lose him. So I don’t tell him.