Rating: 4 stars
Series: The Folk of the Air #1
Think Game of Thrones without sex and less violence with fairies.
It had a slow start. For a while it seemed just like tons of other YA novels about the fae where the lowly human and faerie prince beat the odds and eventually fall in love. That’s where I thought this was going. I was wrong. Halfway through I couldn’t stop reading. The level of treachery impressed me. I had a few things figured out but not all of it.
I’m giving this 4 stars because of the phenomenal plot. It would have been 5 if I had liked the characters. It is told from Jude’s POV. I did not like her and couldn’t relate to her at all. She reminded me of Arya on GoT, but even she is more selfless than Jude. Being angry and bitter caused her to be hellbent on getting vengeance on the people who had wronged her. To stop people from looking down on her, she needed power and lots of it. Jude wasn’t evil but has the potential to be because she wanted power for all the wrong reasons. It could easily corrupt her. Power was a way for her to make her life better, not the lives of others. Her concern for the downtrodden was vastly eclipsed by her concern for herself. Anger and selfishness are two of my most hated traits in people, and Jude exuded them. Her lot in life was not fair, but it is no excuse for the person she became. Despite her claims that she was an excellent spy, clearly she was not. There were many things she did not figure out and could have if she looked beyond the obvious.
Surprisingly Cardan was the only character I really liked. Despite his tendency to be an asshole, he was incredibly charming when he wanted to be. Some of his appeal may be because he wasn’t drawn to power although he was in a position of power. Ironically Jude was like him, the prince she hated. Both were mad at those in their families who had wronged them and took it out on people their own age to feel better about themselves.
There may be a romance later on in the series, but it wasn’t the focus of this. It’ll definitely be a slow burning enemies to lovers romance. It was great that Jude didn’t turn into a complete idiot just because a good looking guy showed interest in her. I was very happy with the ending. Jude’s plan was not sitting well with me, to think that she would subject a young child to that kind of life with no choice of their own in the matter. I am looking forward to the next one to see where it goes from here.
Rating: 3 stars
Series: Iskari #1
Asha was the Iskari, the dragon slayer. That’s what irked me from the start. Dragons are awesome! I couldn’t get behind the MC killing them especially when they weren’t a threat. She went out of her way to hunt them down. They weren’t actively going after people.
Asha was very hard to like. Blinded by her own hatred, her view of the world was skewed. Her greatest pride was her ability to kill dragons. There were reasons for her desire to kill them, but it was clear she never looked deeply into the situation to see if there were more to the story. She genuinely believed that she was better than the people her people had enslaved. These are not qualities I want in a MC. Obviously things happened that began to change her views, but she was obstinate.
All of the side characters were one dimensional. Jarek was a power hungry evil bastard. Safire was cool, but there wasn’t a chance to learn much about her. Dax had a lot going on, but most of it happened off page. The details of what he was doing were nonexistent. Torwin was by far the most prominent side character. I liked him.
It was the romance between him and Asha that I couldn’t get behind. It wasn’t insta-love because Asha resisted for a long time. For half of the novel she referred to him as the slave. If that doesn’t say true love, then IDK what does. I would have been happy if he told her to fuck off. It was one of those relationships where they developed feelings for each other for no apparent reason. The second half of the book focused on their romance more which is why I didn’t like that part as much.
Rating: 3 stars
A year after Ro’s death, the people who loved her were still deeply affected. Her younger sister Mae desperately wanted to know what happened when she died. Unexpectedly Ro’s boyfriend, Cage, showed up at their house wanting to know what happened to Ro which didn’t add up since he was there when she died. Mae was the only one who believed Cage didn’t kill Ro. The two of them tried to figure out what happened when Ro died.
Ro had secrets. Mae knew they had something to do with an old family book. It was filled with vague spells and cryptic writings. Some of the things Mae uncovered from the book and around the house were spooky. All the while she was meeting with Cage while he regained his memories of what happened a year before.
It was interesting at first. The things going on were eerie and mysterious. After a while it was boring because nothing of significance was happening. Although Ro was dead, her presence was strong because many of Mae and Cage’s thoughts were about her. She was a major obstacle in becoming deeply invested in the story. I didn’t like her. Two boys were in love with her and fought for her attention, and I couldn’t understand why. Ro was obnoxious. She used various methods to manipulate people, some of them cruel. She thought she was hot shit and flaunted it. The rest of the characters were one dimensional. I was never invested in their fates.
The ending was lackluster after all of the build up about magic. The key to completing the spell seemed quite obvious to me, so I didn’t get why it was shocking to the characters. There were a lot of little things that weren’t explained in the end. What was up with Fern seeming to be in the know? Why was Lance different after being away for a year? Why did Cage have severe headaches all of the time? The main thing that should have been explained and was not was what happened to Cage during the year he was missing. Leaving those things open ended would have been okay if this weren’t a standalone.
Rating: 4 stars
Series: The Winternight Trilogy #2
Vasya was independent as ever. She refused to do the only two socially acceptable things which were get married or go to a convent. With the help of Morozko she went out to see the world. The only way to do it was to pretend to be a boy. After inadvertently getting the attention of the Grand Prince, she put the lives of her siblings in danger.
I admired Vasya for being bold and brave. She was willing to risk it all to live life on her own terms. However risking it all meant possible death. She had no desire to die, but didn’t do much to prevent it either. Her recklessness aggravated me. It was hard to believe someone could be so cavalier about their own life. It was that behavior that made her seem immature. Even with everything she had been through she managed to be incredibly naive about the dangers of the world.
In those days the world did not favor women, so pretending to be a boy seemed wise in the moment. Some things about it did not seem entirely plausible. It was always emphasized that Vasya was not pretty, but would she have passed for a boy? Masculine was never used to describe her. It was unusual that two of her siblings lived in the palace yet no one thought it odd that they had a brother whom they’d never heard of show up. It irritated me that Vasya was blind to the consequences of her actions. Her rouse put her siblings and nieces in danger.
Morozko was my favorite character. He stole every scene he was in. I really like him and Vasya together although when I think about it I don’t understand why he feels the way he does about Vasya. She always doubted his motives. Creatures like him don’t do things out of the goodness of their hearts. OTOH how many times does he have to come to her rescue before she sees the truth? Almost everyone in her life let her down at one point or another, so that may be why she was hesitant to trust him.
It didn’t end on a cliffhanger, but a lot was left open ended in regards to Vasya’s fate and her relationship with Morozko. I looking forward to the next book especially since this was even better than The Bear and the Nightingale.
I received this from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
Rating: 2 stars
I desperately wanted to like this. It was one of my most highly anticipated books of the fall. I love the fae. I should have loved this, but it fell flat. Although this was YA, that wasn’t the issue. The characters were mature enough. I thought this was a fantasy with a side of romance when all it turned out to be was a romance. You take out the romance and this book literally has no plot.
Isobel was a talented painter who did portraits for the fae. Her ability was so impressive that she was commissioned by the autumn prince to paint her portrait. She did the unthinkable and painted him with human emotions. Apparently this warranted the prince to kidnap her and drag her to his court to stand trial for her crime. Somehow this was meant to repair his reputation.
At the point she was kidnapped, she had known Rook the autumn prince for a fairly brief period of time. They had no meaningful interactions in the time they had known each other, but when the painting was finished, Isobel thought she was in love with him. The idea that they could be in love by this point in the book was ridiculous.
This had the potential to be good. The Wild Hunt wasn’t functioning normally. Three of the four fae courts were being weakened somehow. Many zombie like fae creatures made from human bones were rising. There was a fascinating world to be explored and developed, but it wasn’t. None of that stuff mattered in the end. The world building was awful. The explanations for how things worked were vague. I wanted to know so much more. I could have forgiven the mediocre romance if the world building had been focused on more.
It was emphasized that Rook was one of the most powerful fae in existence, which perplexed me since he often seemed weak. Even though he was often the most powerful man in the room, somehow he was always very close to being killed. Isobel was okay. She didn’t do anything too stupid but didn’t make the best decisions either. Since the romance was the plot, the big conflict impeding their relationship was the Good Law, which was a fae law that prevented humans and fae from being in love. It wasn’t having sex or procreating that was illegal but simply loving each other. It was stupid. The end was disappointing. The resolution to their crisis was too simple. It annoyed me that they defeated their powerful enemy with such ease.
I’d definitely be willing to give another book of hers a shot. This one wasn’t for me, but I’m sure most people will like it more than I did.
Rating: 1.5 “I’m too old for this shit” stars
Series: The Iron Fey #2
It was all so stupid. There’s nothing good to say about it. Meghan is a moron. If it wasn’t for her merry gang of followers, she either be dead or someone’s slave by now. Whenever something happens someone always pops up at just the right time to save her. People continually warn her that Fairyland is dangerous especially since she doesn’t know the rules and customs. Apparently she isn’t capable of heeding anyone else’s advice. She makes one mistake after another only digging herself into a deeper hole. Then she seems shocked when the thing that people told her would happen happens.
All of the characters act like petulant children. Meghan is young, so it’s somewhat excusable. Most of them are supposed to be hundreds or thousands of years old. They’re all so rash. Every time their feelings get hurt they immediately lash out. All of them use modern slang and simple language. Maybe it’s wrong of me to expect ancient beings to be more sophisticated and cunning.
Some things didn’t make sense. 1) Oberon asked Mab to release Meghan and let her go with him. She said no, and he was basically like well okay and rides off into the sunset. WTF? He is the king of half of fairyland. It’s pathetic to give up so easily. Shouldn’t someone of his caliber excel at bargaining? 2) Mab said Oberon couldn’t have her back because she made a deal with Ash to come to her. Wouldn’t that bargain have been fulfilled when she went back with Ash? She didn’t specify that she would stay for any length of time. No one ever noticed this. Fae are supposed to be crafty and manipulative and spot pathetic loopholes like that a mile away. 3) When Megan bargained with a fae in the last book and agreed to give up a memory, why is it that she can no longer remember the man she believed to be her father? She got fucking screwed on that deal. IMO that’s a lot of memories that were taken, not just one because someone being in a person’s life for 10 years comprises far more than one memory. None of these crafty fae saw that something was off with that situation either.
The love triangle was one of lamest, most pathetic love triangles ever. It was clear in The Iron King that Puck had feelings for Meghan although it wasn’t brought up. She and Ash lusted after each other. Neither of her relationships with them felt solidified romantically. From the start of this she acted like Ash was the love of her life. He had to put on a show and act like he hated her to protect her from his family. She was too stupid to understand what was going on even though he tried to explain how it was going to be beforehand. She was hysterical half of the time, going on and on about how she couldn’t be without him. It didn’t take long for her to inexplicably develop feelings for Puck, all the while still thinking of Ash. It was resolved at the end and went the way I expected it to, but it would have been so much better if there hadn’t been a bunch of bullshit along the way.