historical fantasy

A Shadow Bright and Burning by Jessica Cluess

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A Shadow Bright and Burning by Jessica Cluess
Random House: September 20, 2016
Genre: Historical Fantasy
Source: Free From Library

The view was nice, but the food was bad.
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A Shadow Bright and Burning is a YA historical fantasy novel and while entertaining, I didn’t think that Bright and Burning offered readers anything new. We’ve got some romance and some personal turmoil being the chosen one. Both of which many will recognize if anyone’s pictured up a fantastical YA read at some point in the recent past.

Miss Henrietta Howell is a young lady with a secret. Henrietta can control and create fire, something that she is struggling to conceal. After all there are no lady sorcerers anymore, not since the last one started a war. Naturally, Henrietta is discovered. Instead of punishment, Henrietta is thought to be the chosen one, prophesied to end the war with Ancients. While not everyone is convinced, Henrietta is taken to London to study, learning things about herself, her past, and those closest to her. (more…)

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Den of Wolves by Juliet Marillier

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Den of Wolves by Juliet Marillier
Roc: November 1, 2016
Genre: Fantasy
Source: Free From Publisher

I’d go there again!
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Den of Wolves is the third and what I hope will not be the final book in the Blackthorn and Grimm series. While I loved Dreamer’s Pool and Tower of Thorns, I can’t help but appreciate the fact that Den of Wolves offers a satisfying conclusion, yet still allows for the possibility of more from Blackthorn and Grim.

Since the first book, I have enjoyed how Marillier combines a fantasy tale with elements that I generally associate more with the mystery genre. In each book, the healer Blackthorn and her man-of-few-words companion, Grimm, tackle a new mystery. That is no different in Den of Wolves. This time Blackthorns helps a troubled young princess, Dalriada, who’s father is building a mysterious house in the woods. Why is this house so important? Why must Dalriada be kept away from the house and the man who is instructing it’s builders? Those are both questions that Blackthorn seeks answers to. And Grimm is uniquely positioned to help as he’s been hired on to help finish the building of the home. (more…)

The King is Dead in “Theft of Swords”

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Theft of Swords by Michael J. Sullivan
Orbit: November 23, 2011
Genre: Fantasy
Source: Free From Library

Beach Vacation
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Theft of Swords is a pretty traditional fantasy read. There’s adventures and sword fights and a dash of magic thrown in for good measure. If you enjoy more descriptive works in the fantasy genre Theft of Swords is likely to appeal. For those who appreciate a greater depth of characterization, you may want to approach with caution.

Royce Melborn, a mysterious master thief, and his equally enigmatic mercenary partner, Hadrian Blackwater, have been contracted to steal a sword. Unfortunately the theft does not go as planned and the duo are implicated in the murder of the king. So, naturally, they kidnap the new king, with the help of the new king’s sister. Politics, they just got more exciting. (more…)

The Problematic, Yet Entertaining “A Promise of Fire”

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A Promise of Fire by Amanada Bouchet
Sourcebooks Casablanca: August 2, 2016
Genre: Fantasy Romance
Source: Free From Publisher

I’d go there again!
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A Promise of Fire is one of those books that’s a bit tricky to review. On the one hand, it’s a bit of a problematic read considering that it’s a romance and the so-called hero kidnaps the heroine. On the other hand, I found it an entertaining read that I couldn’t peel my eyes away from. So keep in mind that you too may be frustrated by some character’s actions in A Promise of Fire but you will ultimately enjoy this one for being a breath of fresh air in the romance genre.

Catalia “Cat” Fisa is a psychic who works in a circus. Cat is also in hiding from the powerful Fisa family. Cat’s powers make her unique; she can sense when a person is lying, which makes her valuable as a political tool. Due to her ability to sense a lie (just one of many fantastical abilities) Cat is known as a Kingmaker. Since escaping the Fisa family Cat has successfully hidden her abilities and carved out a life for herself in the circus. Naturally, that life is not mean to be and Cat is kidnapped by the Sintan warlord Griffin who wants to use Cat’s ability to solidify his sister’s leadership after overthrowing the previous leaders of the Sinta and bringing in a non-magical leader. Enter magic and mayhem and things get complicated very quickly. (more…)

Ghostly Echoes

28110857Ghostly Echoes by William Ritter
Algonquin Young Reader: August 23, 2016
Genre: Young Adult; Historical Mystery
Source: Free From Publisher

I’d go there again!
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Ghostly Echoes is the third historical mystery featuring Abigail Rook and Mr. Jackaby, a private investigator with an unusual specialty of the unexplained.

Abigail is a transplant from England who fell into employment with the eccentric Jackaby and with this third book it’s clear that Abigail has embraced her investigations into the paranormal and has no intention of going back:

It seemed like only yesterday I had been back home in England, packing for my first term at university. Had someone told me that I would throw it all away and run off to America to commune with ghost and answer to ducks and help mad detectives solve impossible murders, I would have said they were either lying or insane. I would have sorted them on the same shelf in my mental library as those who believe in Ouija boards or sea serpents or honest politicians. That sort of foolishness was not for me. I adhered to facts and science; the impossible was for other people.

A lot can change in a few short months (p. 20).

Indeed they can. (more…)

Monstress: Awakening

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Monstress, Vol. 1: The Awakening by Marjorie Liu & Sana Takeda
Image Comics: July 19, 2016
Genre: Fantasy
Source: Free From Publisher

I’d go there again!
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Monstress is the first volume in a a historical fantasy graphic novel series, and it’s amazing. Like, really amazing. The artwork is gorgeous and the storyline is compelling and mysterious. Fantasy fans out there will rejoice at the sheer level of complexity of the world that has been created in this graphic novel.

Maika is a teenage girl who’s out for revenge. She orchestrates her own capture in order to infiltrate those she believes to have the information that she needs. Something has happened to Maika and she finds herself changing, becoming more violent as she’s influenced by an unknown force. Maika struggles to control the monster that is living inside her, but it’s a constant struggle and at this point Maika doesn’t have much control over the mysterious creature the compels her to do things she wouldn’t otherwise. (more…)

The Gods Wake in “The Copper Promise”

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The Copper Promise by Jen Williams
Angry Robot: July 5, 2016
Genre: Fantasy
Source: Free From Publisher

I’d go there again!
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I’m not sure exactly what I was expecting going into The Copper Promise, but whatever it was my expectations were far exceeded! The Copper Promise is a fun, fast-paced, swashbuckling adventure and I can’t wait to read more about the adventures of our (mostly) heroic trio.

Wydrin of Crosshaven and Sir Sebastian are mercenaries for hire. Wydrin and Sebastian are recruited for a job by Lord Aaron Frith, a seemingly simple job: infiltrate the Citadel and snag the treasure. Of course, no job is so easy and the unforeseen consequence is that a terrible goddess has been awoken and unleashed her army. You would assume that Wydrin, Sebastian and Frith would naturally want to help defeat this terror, but you would assume wrong. Each of these characters have their own private motivations, and not all mean dealing with the scourge that they have just helped to unleashed. Yet, it’s a problem that just wont go away, and the trio must reunite and figure out how they could possibly kill a seemingly unbeatable dragon and her brood army. Smooth sailing is not in the cards for our heroes. (more…)

“Flamecaster”: A Revenge Read

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Flamecaster by Cinda Williams Chima
HarperCollin: April 5, 2016
Genre: Fantasy
Source: Free From Library

Beach Vacation
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Flamecaster is the first book by the much-hyped Chima that I’ve read. I’ve wanted to read Chima’s Seven Realms series for a long time, but alas, time, there is never enough. Instead, I decided to jump right into Chima’s new series, which I understand is connected to the Seven Realms series. Having not read the other series, I think I can safely say that Flamecaster can be read as a standalone series.

Flamecaster follows the adventures and revenge plots of four people. There’s Ash, a young prince who’s family has been targeted by a rival king. Like Ash, Jenna’s friends have been murdered by the same king, and now she is being hunted down by the king because of the mage mark on the back of her neck. Lila is playing multiple sides, but it’s anyone’s guess who’s side she’s really on. And perhaps the most mysterious of all, Destin Karn, son of the powerful general that serves the dastardly king seems to have his own operation running that is contrary to his king. Each of these characters have their own motivations, but what ties them all together is their hatred for the current king of Arden. (more…)

Western Weird: “The Curse of Jacob Tracy”

19283155The Curse of Jacob Tracy by Holly Messinger
Thomas Dunne Book: December 1, 2015
Genre: Western; Historical Fiction
Source: Free From Library

Beach Vacation
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The Curse of Jacob Tracy is the first in a new series, featuring a former seminary student/soldier.

Death constantly lives in the shadow of Jacob Tracy. After surviving the Civil War, Trace discovered that he could see ghosts; this was not a gift that he wanted and each time he tells someone about this gift they die. So, when Miss Sabine Fairweather asks for his assistance and claims to be able to help Trace with his gift, Trace is understandably wary.

Trace has lived for years repressing his ability to see and speak with ghosts. Trace has always believed that his gift was a curse and does his best to ignore it. After starting to do the odd jobs for Miss Fairweather, Trace finds his powers increasing and changing all the while Miss Fairweather tempts him with her knowledge. However, Trace refuses to succumb to the temptation that Miss Fairweather presents, instead running off only to discover that he has been targeted by another man with powers, Merek. It seems that the mysterious and secretive Miss Fairweather is Trace’s only chance for answers, and she needs him just as much as he needs her.  (more…)

Let Down in the “Forest of Ruin”

25174874Forest of Ruin by Kelley Armstrong
HarperCollin: April 5, 2016
Genre: Fantasy
Source: Free From Library

The view was nice, but the food was bad
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Forest of Ruin picks up where Empire of Night left off: the empire is on the verge of war, Moria and Ashyn are separated and those that they care about are in imminent danger. Having LOVED Empire of Night, I anxiously awaited getting my hands on the final book of the Age of Legends trilogy. Did Forest of Ruin live up to my expectations? Well…no, no, it did not.

As soon as I cracked open Forest of Ruin it seemed that something was different. The tone seemed off and everything I liked about the second book seemed to not work for this time around. What I loved about Empire of Night was the author’s use of multiple perspectives. Both Ashyn and Moira get equal page time and readers are immersed into the twin’s perspectives and their very different personalities. I really appreciated this narrative style in the first two books, but I didn’t find either sister that interesting this time around. For me, the problem lays in the fact that Ashyn and Moira didn’t really seem to change that much in the final book. Ashyn continued to be reserved yet quietly strong, and Moira continues to be brash and impulsive. There was very little progression in either girl’s character development that reading their separate narrative felt like a re-hashing of Empire of Night. (more…)