gods and mortals

A Promise of Fire: Romance, Thinly Disguised

27015399A Promise of Fire by Amanda Bouchet
Sourcebooks Casablanca: August 2, 2016
Genre: Fantasy/Romance
Source: Free from publisher

Beach Vacation
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Reading this book felt like eating too much candy and regretting it afterward.

It has all the romance tropes you could want (and probably more): a heroine with a terrible past and unique skills who has to hide from the world for political reasons, a hero who doesn’t tell her who he is for his own political reasons, a kidnapping, instant attraction, bickering between the hero and heroine, and gradual trust.

It’s set in a fantasy world, and the heroine, Cat, has run away from her family to avoid becoming like her ruthless, malicious, sadistic, abusive and power-hungry mother. She’s been with the circus since she was 15, until the day the local warlord, Beta Sinta – the most powerful man in the kingdom she’s visiting at the time – discovers her. They meet, sparks fly, he abducts her, and they learn to get along through forced closeness (he captures her with a magical rope she can’t escape from). He’s a decent guy, though, a good one, and completely alien to Cat, since she grew up surrounded by terrible people. So the abduction, kidnapping, and travel to his castle in another city is okay – because neither he nor his men mean her any harm. (more…)

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“Gilded” – Not Quite My Color

Gilded by Christina Farleygilded
Skyscape: March 1st, 2014 (YA Fantasy)

The view was nice, but the food was bad (meh)
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Copy provided by the publisher via NetGalley

Gilded is based in Korean mythology, particularly metamorphosis magic and the story of Haemosu, the sun god who abducted Yuhwa, the daughter of Habaek, a water deity. She escapes, and in this version, he keeps his psychotic dream – of power and possession of a beautiful woman – alive by kidnapping the eldest daughter of each generation of Yuhwa’s descendants. Jae Hwa is that daughter in her generation. When her mom dies of cancer, she and her dad move back to his native Korea, which puts her within reach of Haemosu, whose power is strongest within the borders of Korea.

Her father denies the family legends that tell of the abductions, but her grandfather tries to warn them that Jae Hwa is in danger in Korea. On a family holiday, she goes to an island cave on her grandfather’s property that transports her to the spirit world, where her troubles (and adventures) begin. Haemosu cottons on to the fact that Jae is in Korea, and begins pursuing her. Each time they meet, he steals a little piece of her soul. After the fifth meeting, she will become his eternally.

(more…)

Master of Crows – Gothic Fantasy Romance That Shines

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Master of Crows by Grace Draven
Published in Darkly Dreaming: A Five Book Fantasy Romance Anthology, 2014 (Fantasy Romance)*

My Rating: I’ll definitely go there again, and soon! (4-4.5/5)

Martise of Asher, slave to a bishop in the Conclave, an organization of mage-priests, moves in with the renegade and lawless Master of Crows, an isolated mage who works magic that is forbidden to the Conclave. Her owner, Cumbria (and that was confusing, because no it’s not a county in England, and I kept thinking of him as a place) has sent her to spy on Silhara of Neith, the Master of Crows, since the god Corruption has just appeared in the sky in the form of a star. Everyone knows the god is looking for its avatar, and Cumbria suspects the Master of Crows is involved. Martise must find evidence that the latter is conspiring with the god to bring Corruption down to earth.

Her first impression of the place is one of a dilapidated and dangerous manor, empty but for a mute servant and the Master of Crows himself. The manor, with creaking and sagging stairs, cobwebs, and dark corridors, spooks Martise – but she is determined to succeed in order to win her freedom. Her slavery she keeps a secret, because Cumbria sent there as an apprentice mage, answering a request from Silhara to help him search for ways to defeat the god. If she reveals her true status, the game is up, and she’ll never win her freedom. (more…)

Still cursed in ‘The Curse Breakers’

19154146The Curse Breakers by Denise Grover Swank

Amazon Publishing,  April 29, 2014 (Contemporary/Romantic Fantasy)*

My rating: The plane was delayed, the luggage lost, and the museums closed (1/5)

This second installment in the Curse Keepers series disappointed me. For much of the novel, I found myself uninterested and/or skimming. My main impression was one of slow plot lines, minimal action (except during those times when Ellie gets attacked – again – by vengeful spirits), and a rather painful love triangle.

This story continues the upturned life of Ellie Lancaster, who at the end of the first book watched her father die, was betrayed by her partner and lover, Collin Daley, and witnessed the Pandora’s box of Native American spirits opening up into the human world. She’s still struggling with her feelings (attraction, betrayal) for Collin, and still trying to avoid the dangerous spirits and stay alive. Still working partial shifts at the other restaurant while her former restaurant remains closed. (more…)

Fulfilling a prophecy in When Shadows Fall

whenshadowsfallWhen Shadows Fall by Bruce Blake*
Best Bitts Productions, October 1, 2013 (Epic Fantasy) My rating: Beach vacation

“A hundred hundreds seasons ago” the Goddess banished the Small Gods to the sky”, leaving humans alone on earth. The prologue of this epic-esque fantasy (-esque because it’s a bit too short and I don’t know yet if there will be three, or fourteen, in the series) captivated me. It opens with the cataclysmic events that sets the prophesy sequence in motion. The prophecy is the key.

Post-prologue, Prince Teryk is our main character, a bored, cocky young man who, when exploring the castle with his sister one day, finds an arcane scroll in a long-abandoned room. He learns of the Small Gods, their history, and their return (as prophesied the scroll). Teryk is convinced that it is his destiny to save the world from the return of the Small Gods, and the destruction of humankind. His story (and Danya’s), is not the only one the reader follows. N’th Ailyssa Ra is a woman who worships the Goddess at a temple in an unspecified location. Disturbing worship that entails bearing female children and continuing the line. Enclosed in a temple, never seeing the outside world, conjugating with men at regular intervals, and marking periods and pregnancies and births with chalk on the walls of their rooms. There’s also Horace Seaman, a crude sailor who finds himself overboard a becalmed ship as a monster rises from the deep. And Thorn, a childlike creature who traps and bargains with birds.

Teryk plots to follow his destiny, Danya prepares to go with him, while their sword master and guard, Trenan, works hard to protect them. N’th Ailyssa struggles to face her uncertain future, Horace Seaman fights to survive in the strange land where he washed ashore, and Thorn contrives to escape his prison.

The tenuous connection between such disparate protagonists added to the suspense and intrigue of the story, and kept me reading to figure it out. There are lots of plot surprises, hints, and foreshadowing. All in all, my enjoyment of the stories was increased by the mystery of the prophesy and how all characters and stories connected.

Although this book has epic fantasy sympathies, it is much more palatable, with a slightly quicker and often more streamlined pacing, a slightly smaller number of characters. I will be interested to read how everything fits together, and how the prophesy plays out in future installments.

Caution: some very crude and explicit language in Horace’s chapters.

*e-ARC provided by NetGalley

 

Read-alikes (click on any of the following to be taken to each book’s Goodreads description)

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms (The Inheritance Trilogy #1) The Curse of Chalion (Chalion #1) Range of Ghosts (Eternal Sky #1)