Tag Archives: fantasy

Laurie Forest’s The Black Witch

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Laurie Forest’s The Black Witch

Laurie Forest’s The Black Witch got some rotten and unfair reviews.  I suspect that anyone who slammed this book as racist didn’t read the whole book.  Perhaps they are just so stupid they missed the very clear point.  In life, we all start out believing whatever we have been taught.  When we hit a certain age and venture out into the bigger world, most of us come to the realization that some of those values we were raised to accept are worth holding on to, but others are the result of fear and a limited world view.  This is a fantasy read that incorporates that experience.  If you stick with the book beyond the first few chapters, it is obvious that this is all about learning to accept and even cherish differences.  I gave this book four stars, and I think readers who give the book a real chance will agree.


Goodreads Summary
A new Black Witch will rise…her powers vast beyond imagining.

Elloren Gardner is the granddaughter of the last prophesied Black Witch, Carnissa Gardner, who drove back the enemy forces and saved the Gardnerian people during the Realm War. But while she is the absolute spitting image of her famous grandmother, Elloren is utterly devoid of power in a society that prizes magical ability above all else.

When she is granted the opportunity to pursue her lifelong dream of becoming an apothecary, Elloren joins her brothers at the prestigious Verpax University to embrace a destiny of her own, free from the shadow of her grandmother’s legacy. But she soon realizes that the university, which admits all manner of people—including the fire-wielding, winged Icarals, the sworn enemies of all Gardnerians—is a treacherous place for the granddaughter of the Black Witch.

As evil looms on the horizon and the pressure to live up to her heritage builds, everything Elloren thought she knew will be challenged and torn away. Her best hope of survival may be among the most unlikely band of misfits…if only she can find the courage to trust those she’s been taught to hate and fear. 

My Thoughts

The Black Witch is an easy book to fall into, and I apparently raced through 600+ pages this evening without realizing it!  I quickly recognized that this was going to be a fairly predictable read, and I wasn’t wrong, but I still found myself drawn into the vast world populated with characters I became attached to – Diana was surprisingly my favorite.  I was a bit disappointed that such a big book didn’t move me a little closer to more resolution, but I will be quite happy to luxuriate in a couple more volumes to get those resolutions.  A lot of the book is spent in pairing off couples in romances, which I thought slowed the pace and watered down the story, but I imagine many YA readers will appreciate the forbidden kisses and the longing.  Themes are timely and address prejudice, friendship, and standing up for what is right.  I know my high school readers will enjoy this book, especially those who liked Harry Potter or who have ever felt like they just didn’t fit in with the crowd.  I’m adding it to my classroom library wishlist.  Language and situations are appropriate for grades 7+.

I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Quests of the Kings by Robert Evert is not what you expect 

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Quests of the Kings by Robert Evert is not what you expect 

The blurb for Quests of the Kings had the magic words: “. . .  for fans of Sarah J. Maas and Kristin Cashore.”   That turned out to be pretty misleading.  Since my expectations where high, I was pretty disappointed.  The biggest difference is tone, and if you understand and embrace that before you begin reading, I think you have a better chance of enjoying the book than I did.


Goodreads Summary

From the author of the Riddle in Stone books comes a thrilling new series for fans of Sarah J. Maas and Kristin Cashore.

Across the realms, the kings’ quests captivate the imaginations of nobles and commoners alike. These dangerous competitions pit the most daring adventurers against each other as they compete for riches and glory for their kingdoms. 

Plain and ordinary Natalie, a sixteen-year-old peasant girl, loves listening to stories about famous adventurers, but the thrilling action of the kings’ quests seems far removed from her everyday life of mucking out stables and working every odd job she can find to support her siblings and disabled mother. However, after a violent run-in with Brago, a ruthless adventurer who believes Natalie is a threat to his mission, she is dragged unwillingly into the latest contest. 

On the run from Brago, Natalie seeks refuge with a rival adventurer, the legendary Sir Edris, and his squire, Reg. As they toil together to find the object all of the kings desire–an ancient golden harp–Natalie starts to feel safe with the fatherly knight. Yet, despite Edris’s protection, Brago is never far behind. When one of Brago’s cruel plots separates Natalie from her protectors, she must become as strong and cunning as the adventurers of old to save her friends and stay alive. 

My Thoughts

So, you think this sounds and looks like a serious book, right?  You would be wrong.  This reminded me more of the T.H. White take on Arthurian legend.  It is lighthearted, even at the most dire of times, and the quest is complicated and strung along as characters bumble and fumble around.  Entire pages are dedicated to conversations and bickering about unimportant things for the sake of humor, and the really terrible things are treated with fleeting gravity.  It is very Monty Python at times.  If that is what you enjoy, this book does play the comedic element to the hilt.  The main character’s appearance is made fun of in a variety of ways, her feminist stance takes the form of tirades that everyone ignores, and her ideas always go really wrong.  The men who get stuck with the thankless job of protecting and rescuing her frequently end up really regretting it.  I don’t particularly enjoy the style, so this became a chore rather than a pleasure to finish.  The language and sexual references are intended to be comedic and are pretty harmlessly bawdy and immature, but I’m not sure they are appropriate for the crowd most likely to appreciate the style – middle school readers.  I would say this is probably grade 7+ interest level but more appropriate for grades 9+. 

I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Bone Witch

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The Bone Witch

I had really high expectations for Rin Chupeco’s The Bone Witch, especially because the publisher said it was for fans of Leigh Bardugo and Sabaa Tahir.  The comparison is fair – these authors offer fantasy with diverse cultures and exotic settings.  They all feature magical elements and female protagonists who find themselves outside of their comfort zone in battles they never asked to fight.  My problem is that those comparisons lead me to expect a lot of action in The Bone Witch, and when it didn’t deliver, I was disappointed.  That is a real disservice to this book, though.  The Bone Witch has a lot to offer fantasy readers, and it is a solid four star read if you go into it with the right mindset.


Goodreads Summary

The beast raged; it punctured the air with its spite. But the girl was fiercer.

Tea is different from the other witches in her family. Her gift for necromancy makes her a bone witch, who are feared and ostracized in the kingdom. For theirs is a powerful, elemental magic that can reach beyond the boundaries of the living—and of the human.

Great power comes at a price, forcing Tea to leave her homeland to train under the guidance of an older, wiser bone witch. There, Tea puts all of her energy into becoming an asha, learning to control her elemental magic and those beasts who will submit by no other force. And Tea must be strong—stronger than she even believes possible. Because war is brewing in the eight kingdoms, war that will threaten the sovereignty of her homeland…and threaten the very survival of those she loves.

My Thoughts

This is a beautifully detailed book that develops a strong narrative voice and a rich culture and setting.  There is an elaborate way of life that readers must come to understand in order to see what the narrator is up against, but that takes a lot of time to establish.  If you are looking for more action, it is likely you will grow impatient with the minutiae of Tea’s life and training.  Readers who pick this up with clear expectations that this book is building to what I believe will be an epic battle in the next book will fare better.  I was particularly interested in the dual narrative – the author alternates  between Tea in the present and Tea in the past.  I liked how that built a lot of suspense, and I thought it was an interesting way to break up the monotony of dancing,  combat lessons, and detailed clothing descriptions.  I found the ending very intriguing, so I’m pretty sure I will pick up the next book, and hope that all the heavy lifting is done and we can advance to some pretty fierce action.  The exotic setting and the necromancy will interest many of my high school readers, but I question how many of them would stick it out, so I would recommend it to readers who have the patience to let a story build over those who want girls hacking away with swords every second (not knocking that, since usually I’m that reader).  Language and situations are appropriate for grades 7+.

I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Wintersong by S. Jae-James might just enchant you

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Wintersong by S. Jae-James might just enchant you

I have had a long standing fascination with the Goblin King, and S. Jae-Jones’ Wintersong seemed like just the book I would adore.  I wasn’t far from the mark.  Fans of my childhood obsession, Labyrinth, and Christina Rosetti’s Goblin Market will find that Wintersong is the right blend of dark and light.  If you like the Stolen Songbird series or The Hollow Kingdom series, you will want to see what this book has to offer.  I will say this felt a little heavier than your average YA, something I wasn’t prepared for, but that isn’t necessarily a negative.  I gave this book four stars.


Goodreads Summary

Beware the goblin men and the wares they sell.

All her life, nineteen-year-old Liesl has heard tales of the beautiful, mysterious Goblin King. He is the Lord of Mischief, the Ruler Underground, and the muse around which her music is composed. Yet, as Liesl helps shoulder the burden of running her family’s inn, her dreams of composition and childish fancies about the Goblin King must be set aside in favor of more practical concerns.

But when her sister Käthe is taken by the goblins, Liesl journeys to their realm to rescue her sister and return her to the world above. The Goblin King agrees to let Käthe go—for a price. The life of a maiden must be given to the land, in accordance with the old laws. A life for a life, he says. Without sacrifice, nothing good can grow. Without death, there can be no rebirth. In exchange for her sister’s freedom, Liesl offers her hand in marriage to the Goblin King. He accepts.

Down in the Underground, Liesl discovers that the Goblin King still inspires her—musically, physically, emotionally. Yet even as her talent blossoms, Liesl’s life is slowly fading away, the price she paid for becoming the Goblin King’s bride. As the two of them grow closer, they must learn just what it is they are each willing to sacrifice: her life, her music, or the end of the world. 

My Thoughts

This book is a lot of work to read.  The ornate writing is full of vivid imagery and the historical setting is carefull detailed and crafted, but those two characteristics will be a turn off for some readers.  The central issue, the gender of the main character, is going to be lost on many modern readers who don’t feel their gender really limits their options.  Still, it is a fairy tale bound to enchant, particularly older readers who grew up watching Labrinyth and thinking about the seductive goblin king.  The book does play heavy on the sacrifices that love demands, and that dramatic and heart-wrenching romance could appeal to teen readers, but this feels like a story that will appeal to adult readers of YA more than actual YA readers.  Some sensuality and situations means this is best for the older high school crowd.

I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

A Court of Mist and Fury – the second in Sarah J. Maas’ A Court of Thorns and Roses series

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A Court of Mist and Fury – the second in Sarah J. Maas’ A Court of Thorns and Roses series

I have loved Sarah J. Maas since I first read Throne of Glass a few years ago.  I was rather stunned when the books in that series took a sharp turn to Faerie in the third book.  I just wanted a girl assassin. I hate fae stories.  But, I can’t resist, so I blithely followed Ms. Maas into fairy land in A Court of Thorns and Roses, and again in this book, A Court of Mist and Fury.  I have to say this book deserves the five stars I gave it – it’s possibly the best sequel I’ve ever read in a series.  Bonus?  It is reasonably priced at under $9, so I didn’t feel as guilty for buying a book instead of just reading the ones I’m lucky enough to be given.

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Goodreads Summary

Feyre survived Amarantha’s clutches to return to the Spring Court—but at a steep cost. Though she now has the powers of the High Fae, her heart remains human, and it can’t forget the terrible deeds she performed to save Tamlin’s people.

Nor has Feyre forgotten her bargain with Rhysand, High Lord of the feared Night Court. As Feyre navigates its dark web of politics, passion, and dazzling power, a greater evil looms—and she might be key to stopping it. But only if she can harness her harrowing gifts, heal her fractured soul, and decide how she wishes to shape her future—and the future of a world cleaved in two.

With more than a million copies sold of her beloved Throne of Glass series, Sarah J. Maas’s masterful storytelling brings this second book in her seductive and action-packed series to new heights.

My Thoughts

It didn’t take long to recognize that this is the book Maas has been wanting to write for a long time – now I see how the faries invaded her other series.  It is a fantastic follow up to a book I just felt lukewarm about.  The characters are vivid and surprising, and their feelings are palpable and believable.  The relationships are given time to develop and leave room for questions right up until the end.  I have to say the series went epic for me in this book, and I definitely want to see what is next.  The ending is exactly what this book needed to help me forget all the things I was going to complain about.  Seriously – I remember two.

Mild SPOILERS:  There are a few moves I’m beginning to recognize as quintessentially Maas – the biggest one is that she just can’t seem to leave her happily-in-love characters alone.  It doesn’t take long to see that the relationship set up in the first book is not going smoothly.  I think most readers will be satisfied by the end result, but there will be some tears shed in the process.  Another surprise readers will encounter is that Maas makes it clear this isn’t a YA offering.  A Court of Thorns and Roses had more sensuality than any other Maas book I’d read, but this one goes all out with a real deal sex scene early on. It isn’t awful or a reason to forbid your children to read the book, but it is on par with a corset ripper romance novel.  It is discreetly graphic. I want to share these books with my students, but some moms would not approve (but they, themselves, would enjoy it immensely).

Overall, I highly recommend this book.  It is absolutely an escape read, and the characters are complex enough to be enjoyed by a wide range of readers.  Sensuality makes it most appropriate for grades 10+.

Memories of Ash – Why Intisar Khanani might be a YA fantasy goddess.

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Memories of Ash – Why Intisar Khanani might be a YA fantasy goddess.

Intisar Khanani has been on my must-read list since I first encountered Thorn, but she has really, really shown what she can do in her latest book, Memories of Ash.  This is a sequel to Sunbolt, which reads more like a novella, so it doesn’t take long to read and it is absolutely worth your time.  It only hints at how awesome this series is going to be, though, because Memories of Ash took things to an epic level.   Khanani is an indie writer, but she is one of the best I’ve ever read.  I would seriously wager on her in a write-of with some of the biggest names in YA fantasy, and you can snag her ebooks for about $4!!!  If you love your leading ladies strong, and your settings exotic and magical, you can’t go wrong with this book. I gave it a solid five stars.

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Goodreads Summary

In the year since she cast her sunbolt, Hitomi has recovered only a handful of memories. But the truths of the past have a tendency to come calling, and an isolated mountain fastness can offer only so much shelter. When the High Council of Mages summons Brigit Stormwind to stand trial for treason, Hitomi knows her mentor won’t return—not with Arch Mage Blackflame behind the charges.

Armed only with her magic and her wits, Hitomi vows to free her mentor from unjust imprisonment. She must traverse spell-cursed lands and barren deserts, facing powerful ancient enchantments and navigating bitter enmities, as she races to reach the High Council. There, she reunites with old friends, planning a rescue equal parts magic and trickery.

If she succeeds, Hitomi will be hunted the rest of her life. If she fails, she’ll face the ultimate punishment: enslavement to the High Council, her magic slowly drained until she dies.

My Thoughts

I put this one down after a straight read through and all I could think was WOW!!  Fans of Sarah J. Maas, Rae Carson, and Leigh Bardugo will fall in love, not only with the determined yet vulnerable Hitomi, but also with the plot which blends action, adventure, magic, loyalty and betrayal in an irresistible way.  Hitomi, through a powerful spell, has lost her past, but her future is the one thing she is determined to hold on to, and if that means making bargains with mystical creatures, trekking through sun baked deserts, or following through with one of the more impressive jail breaks I’ve encountered, well, so be it.  The secondary cast isn’t too shabby either – they boast a surprising depth and almost no one is precisely who he or she seems.  And they populate a world as vast and unexpected as any fantasy reader could desire.  Honestly, the only complaint I have about this stellar sequel is that it left me with a terrible book hangover and the ennui that always accompanies the wait for the next book.  I will gladly wait, though, because this book just went to the top of my favorite reads of the year.  I can’t wait to share it with my high school readers, particularly those who enjoy a great female protagonist.  It is definitely going on my classroom library wishlist, and it is a book I know I will revisit and linger over again and again.  Language and situations are appropriate for grades 7+, but adult readers will find it just as compelling.

I received an ARC from the author (thank you, thank you, thank you) in exchange for an honest review.  You couldn’t pay me to gush like this if I didn’t mean it!

Assassin’s Heart – YA that is part Romeo and Juliet, part Dia De Los Muertes

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Assassin’s Heart – YA that is part Romeo and Juliet, part Dia De Los Muertes

This is a good old fashioned “Hell hath no fury” read, and I enjoyed it. For me, this book’s plot is actually secondary because the world building really stole the show.  Ghosts and goddesses, codes of conduct and questionable morals that are ruled by honor all make for a richly imagined setting.  I could see this place in my mind so clearly, and I’m desperate to read another story set in this deadly and enchanting place.

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Goodreads Summary

In the kingdom of Lovero, nine rival Families of assassins lawfully kill people for a price. As a highly skilled member of one of these powerful clans, seventeen-year-old Lea Saldana has always trusted in the strength of her Family. Until she awakens to find them murdered and her home in flames. The Da Vias, the Saldanas’ biggest enemy, must be responsible—and Lea should have seen it coming. But her secret relationship with the Da Vias’ son, Val, has clouded her otherwise killer instinct—and given the Da Vias more reason than ever to take her Family down.

Racked with guilt and shattered over Val’s probable betrayal, Lea sets out to even the score, with her heart set on retaliation and only one thought clear in her mind: make the Da Vias pay.

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My Thoughts

As far as assassins go, Lea is no joke.  She is a killing machine, and she doesn’t hesitate to get the job done.  I think she makes a few questionable decisions, and her emotions certainly drive her to an extreme, but I still liked her journey back from the underworld, a place we could all end up under the right circumstances.  I did feel the story lagged a lot at the midpoint, and Lia spends way too much time hanging out trying to reconnect with the last of her remaining family, but it didn’t ruin my overall enjoyment.  I also wasn’t swept away by the romance in this story, and I don’t think I was meant to be because this felt more about loyalty and friendship than lust (once bitten, twice shy and all), but the readers who want that Romeo and Juliet kind of love might be disappointed.  This is Romeo and Juliet gone even more wrong than it did the first time.  Some people will find the mystical elements stretch their suspension of disbelief, but I thought those were some of the most powerful moments in the book and I bought into them wholeheartedly.  The resolution was smart, satisfying, and exactly what I wanted.  I think this book will capture the imaginations of my high school readers, especially those who have enjoyed Sarah J. Mass’ Throne of Glass books and the His Fair Assassin’s series.  I’m adding it to my classroom library wish list, and I’m keeping an eye on this author.  Language and situations are appropriate for high school readers.

I received an ARC from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

The Girl From Everywhere

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The Girl From Everywhere

I am generally a sucker for time travel or pirates, so I was pretty sure I had hit the jackpot with this book, which combines both.  But I wasn’t convinced I had a five star read on my hands until the end.  Then my brain exploded. There is a lot of set up to this story that really pays off in the last third of the book. Don’t misunderstand, the first part of the book is still engaging, but it really comes together when all the pieces fall into place in a very satisfying way.

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Goodreads Summary

Nix has spent her entire life aboard her father’s ship, sailing across the centuries, across the world, across myth and imagination.

As long as her father has a map for it, he can sail to any time, any place, real or imagined: nineteenth-century China, the land from One Thousand and One Nights, a mythic version of Africa. Along the way they have found crewmates and friends, and even a disarming thief who could come to mean much more to Nix.

But the end to it all looms closer every day.
Her father is obsessed with obtaining the one map, 1868 Honolulu, that could take him back to his lost love, Nix’s mother. Even though getting it—and going there—could erase Nix’s very existence.

For the first time, Nix is entering unknown waters.

She could find herself, find her family, find her own fantastical ability, her own epic love.

Or she could disappear.

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My Thoughts

Nix is the narrative voice in this story, and it is easy to feel empathy towards her plight.  She is also smart and resourceful, but she still manages to make the mistakes and have feelings that teen readers will find believable.  The cast of secondary characters is diverse and entertaining, and they have back stories that book lovers and history enthusiasts will adore.  While the romantic relationships fell a little flat for me, I think it reflects both Nix’s own inability to make big decisions until her fate is decided, and her formative experiences with Earth-shattering love.  I wasn’t bothered when they didn’t sweep me away, but some readers will be disappointed.  I think it is more important to consider all the messages about love – the kind you feel for your family, your friends, and even places that you hold sacred.  Those are all thoughtfully touched on in this work.  The biggest draw for me, though, is the concept.  It really grabbed my imagination – time traveling pirates (of a sort) on a quest that takes them to places real and imagined with the help of maps and faith-fueled magic.  While some readers might find the rules a little limiting, I thought the idea was sublime. It takes some time to really establish how the idea works, it is so worth the effort.  It is also worth your time to read the author’s notes at the end, especially if some of the literary and historical references elude you (I’m an English teacher, and I still found it enlightening).  Overall, I think this is a book that will appeal to dreamers and readers with the souls of adventurers, and I have plenty of those in my high school classes.  This is definitely going on our classroom library wishlist.  Language and situations are appropriate for grades 8+, but it will hold appeal for adult readers as well.

I received an ARC from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

Worlds of Ink and Shadow – So that’s where Heathcliff and Mr. Rochester came from

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Worlds of Ink and Shadow – So that’s where Heathcliff and Mr. Rochester came from

Yesterday, I reviewed a book that felt like a Jane Austen.  Today, I’m writing again to my kindred in literary geekery.  Worlds of Ink and Shadow is a fantasy story starring The Brontë family, and it will have you digging out your copy of Jane Eyre (either that old paperback or the delicious movie adaptation starring Michael Fassbender).  It’s a slow burn, but those who stick it out will feel it was worth it.

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Goodreads Summary

Charlotte, Branwell, Emily, and Anne. The Brontë siblings have always been close. After all, nothing can unite four siblings quite like life in an isolated parsonage on the moors. Their vivid imaginations lend them escape from their strict, spartan upbringing, actually transporting them into their created worlds: the glittering Verdopolis and the romantic and melancholy Gondal. But at what price? As Branwell begins to slip into madness and the sisters feel their real lives slipping away, they must weigh the cost of their powerful imaginations, even as their characters—the brooding Rogue and dashing Duke of Zamorna—refuse to let them go.

My Thoughts

I struggled with this book for quite some time before I was finally able to settle in and enjoy the story.  The elevated language, which is necessary to evoke these characters and this time and place, won’t make for an easy read for most YA’s (or adults).  The large cast of characters, though individually distinct, will probably be a roadblock for some.  My biggest struggle was trying to figure out why the author chose the Bronte family because for a good portion of the book that was not clear.  Finally, there is a lot of time spent developing several worlds and characters before a clear direction is established.  For readers who stick it out until the end, I think there is some real pleasure to be had, particularly for those who have read Bronte books and can see the connections.  I teach Jane Eyre, and by the end of the book, I was delighted to see how this author dovetailed her story into the classic.  I had a passing knowledge of the Bronte family, but this book made me go hunting for more.  As a literary geek, I am wholly delighted by this book, and I’ve already been blurbing it to my students since this fall when we read Jane Eyre.  As a realist, I think this might be a difficult book for just any reader to fall into, but those who do, enjoy the ride! Language and situations are appropriate for high school and beyond.

I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Daughters of Ruin – Don’t judge this one by its cover, or its summary. Really, you should just read my review.

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Daughters of Ruin – Don’t judge this one by its cover, or its summary.  Really, you should just read my review.

This was a pretty fierce read.  Ignore the cover and the summary because they both fail to really impart how vicious and bloodthirsty this book is.  I admit it sounds sweet – four future queens raised to be sisters and guardians of peace.  However, something went seriously wrong with this plan because each new scene pits these girls against each other in everything from hand-to-hand combat to the subtle art of mean girling.

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Goodreads Summary

Rhea, Cadis, Suki, and Iren have lived together since they were children. They are called sisters. They are not. They are called equals. They are not. They are princesses…and they are enemies.

Not long ago, a brutal war ravaged their kingdoms, and Rhea’s father was the victor. As a gesture of peace, King Declan brought the daughters of his rivals to live under his protection—and his ever-watchful eye. For ten years the girls have trained together as diplomats and warriors, raised to accept their thrones and unite their kingdoms in peace.

But there is rarely peace among sisters. Sheltered Rhea was raised to rule everyone—including her “sisters”—but she’s cracking under pressure. The charismatic Cadis is desperately trying to redeem her people from their actions during the war. Suki guards deep family secrets that isolate her, and quiet Iren’s meekness is not what it seems.

All plans for peace are shattered when the palace is attacked. As their intended futures lie in ashes, Rhea, Cadis, Suki, and Iren must decide where their loyalties lie: to their nations, or to each other.

My Thoughts

I think my high school readers are going to be wildly engaged by this book.  It isn’t just the fact that the plot is full of action packed fight scenes.  This book also manages to concisely convey the universal emotions and doubts inherent in coming of age.  Add in the surprising twists of plot and unexpected reversal of characters, and you have a story that is guaranteed to captivate a wide range of readers.  I’ll admit that I wasn’t sold on a book that involved four narrative voices, and I did have a preference for Rhea, the initial narrative voice.  However, I am now convinced that this was a pretty smart move on the part of the author because it acts as a device that rotates the story so readers get a 360′ view of the plot, which maximizes the depth of the twists and betrayals.  I know I’m gushing here, and I’m not sure that this book is gush-worthy for a few simple reasons.  The narrative sometimes felt disjointed.  There are clearly chapters that are styled with purpose and intent to be disjointed, but several times outside of those chapters, I found myself having to retread passages that just weren’t smooth enough to be clear.  I also didn’t really connect emotionally with these characters. Two characters were, I believe, distant by design.  However, I still struggled to embrace the two characters I felt I was suppose to connect with, which I think is the fallout of having four narrative voices.  I don’t think these issues interfered with my overall enjoyment of this book, and I would recommend it to my high school students, particularly those who have enjoyed books like Victoria Aveyard’s Red Queen or Sarah J. Maas’ Throne of Glass.  The characters are distinct, crafty, and battle hardened lady warriors, and I found them quite intriguing.  I can’t wait to get a copy or three in my classroom library. Language and situations are appropriate for high school readers, but I think a lot of adult readers of YA will enjoy this just as much.

I received an ARC from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.