The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

28862387Rating: 3.5 stars

It’s hard for me to rate this book. On one hand I really liked it and didn’t want to put it down once I got past the 25% mark. OTOH it’s one of those books where something is always happening yet nothing is. It had to be taken as it was without looking deeper or cracks began to emerge. There weren’t gaping plot holes or anything like that. Many things were alluded to but were never explained in any depth.

The writing was beautiful. It was captivating and made the book worth reading. Many people will love this book, but I wanted more. I didn’t even realize how much more I wanted there to be until the end which is odd considering how much I liked the ending.

There wasn’t much of a plot. One event stumbled into the next without much direction. It fascinating enough that I wanted to know what would happen next. Vasya was unique. She could speak to the gods of old but did not fear them. Many had moved onto Christianity, and unknownst to them was causing chaos in the world. Vasya tried to right things, but there was little she could do alone.

The characters aside from Vasya had no depth. Determining who was good and bad was easy. Several characters were included just to move the plot forward. In hindsight some had no purpose at all. Vasya wasn’t close to anyone which is part of the reason why none of the characters were fleshed out. I felt like I knew the characters but only a certain side of them.

What bothered me more than anything was the lack of answers. Obviously Vasya was special, but what was she capable of? It was insinuated by many that she had powers, but other than speaking to animals and old gods, I’m not sure what they were. The purpose of the necklace was vague. The mythology was explained on a need to know basis, which surprisingly little was imperative to know for the story to unfold.

I received this from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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In the Land of Tea and Ravens by R.K. Ryals

Rating: 4 stars

In the Land of Tea and Ravens was beautiful. Lyric and Grayson were sad, broken characters. Neither of them were bad people but had tragic pasts that would haunt them for the rest of their lives. The story wasn’t depressing; it was about hope and acceptance although there was a pervasive feeling of melancholy throughout.

Grayson and Lyric were both outcasts. Many people did not like Grayson for what happened in his past, but it was his family that had the strongest resentment towards him. Lyric was accepted by her family because they knew her secrets, but the rest of society abhorred her. Rumors about Lyric’s family indicated that the women were crazy and managed to taint the men in their lives with their insanity.

No surprises were in store in regards to the romance. It was fairly predictable, but the story excelled in other areas. The realistic setting with a touch of fantasy enhanced the story because the fantasy elements were original. The plot was interesting because it emphasized how deeply people can be impacted by the actions of others. Truly it was the writing that made it stand out. It was eloquent and beautiful without being overly complex or hard to understand.

The Magician’s Lie by Greer Macallister

Rating: 2 1/2 stars

The Amazing Arden was a famous illusionist. The story began with her husband being murdered. Arden was nowhere to be found, and everyone suspected it was her. A policeman Victor found her on the run. He was the only cop in his small town. He brought her to the police station and listened to her story.

At first it was interesting. Arden’s story was entertaining. She escaped from her childhood home at a young age to be free of her demented, obsessive cousin Ray. Then she met Clyde who she had feelings for, but their relationship was complicated. Around 30-35% it started to feel like the story wasn’t going anywhere, and it really dragged for a long time after that. None of it seemed to have anything to do with the murdered husband. It wasn’t much of a mystery. It was just a story about Arden’s life, which eventually lead up to the murder. There weren’t any lies as the title would lead you to believe. For a story about a female illusionist, there wasn’t any misdirection or illusions in her story. Parts of the story were predictable.

Certain things that happened seemed unlikely (but I admit not impossible) based on my historical knowledge of the time period, which was the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. None of them ruined the story, but they irritated me. First of all in modern times the spouse is the first suspect in a murder, but back then the family members were the last people police suspected. The police had some reasons to suspect her, but they were convinced of her guilt instantly. It didn’t add up for the time period IMO. Secondly the police station in a tiny town with only one cop had a phone, and the cop had a phone at his house since his wife kept calling. Really? It was freaking 1905! I know phones were around back then, but they certainly weren’t common especially in poor, tiny towns. I guess it could have been possible, but it didn’t sit right with me. Also Arden used protection when she had sex. Yeah? Like what kind? There were ways, but it wasn’t as easy as walking to the pharmacy to pick up the pill. I wanted more explanation on this to make it more believable. Last but not least, at one point Arden threatened to sue someone if they contacted her. People didn’t do shit like that back then! The phenomenon of suing people over every little grievance is a modern thing.

Anyway this wasn’t a complete waste of time. It was written well enough that I did enjoy parts of it, but I can’t exactly say I’d recommend this either.