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fantasy

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Hall of Smoke by H.M. Long

Hall of Smoke by H.M. Long

Hessa is an Eangi: a warrior priestess of the Goddess of War, with the power to turn an enemy’s bones to dust with a scream. Banished for disobeying her goddess’s command to murder a traveller, she prays for forgiveness alone on a mountainside.

While she is gone, raiders raze her village and obliterate the Eangi priesthood. Grieving and alone, Hessa – the last Eangi – must find the traveller and atone for her weakness and secure her place with her loved ones in the High Halls. As clans from the north and legionaries from the south tear through her homeland, slaughtering everyone in their path Hessa strives to win back her goddess’ favour.

Beset by zealot soldiers, deceitful gods, and newly-awakened demons at every turn, Hessa burns her path towards redemption and revenge. But her journey reveals a harrowing truth: the gods are dying and the High Halls of the afterlife are fading. Soon Hessa’s trust in her goddess weakens with every unheeded prayer.

Thrust into a battle between the gods of the Old World and the New, Hessa realizes there is far more on the line than securing a life beyond her own death. Bigger, older powers slumber beneath the surface of her world. And they’re about to wake up. (publisher)

Hessa is an Eangi warrior-priestess who gets punished for disobeying a direct order to kill a lone traveller. After her village is destroyed and believing to be the last Eangi left, she vows to kill the traveller and fulfil her task. But during her quest, she learns things about the gods that threaten her lifelong beliefs and her devotion to them. Old gods are trying to get back their power from the new gods.

The story is told from Hessa’s point of view, and she was a likeable character and a loyal to her friends. It was interesting to see how Hessa goes from being a devoted follower to question everything and doubting the gods. She hadn’t travelled far from her village before and now seeing different places and customs makes her question things more. During her journey, she meets Nisien, a Souldorni horseman, who is more cynic towards the gods and their powers. They become close friends, but it was nice that they stayed just friends through the book. I hope we learn more about Estavius in the next book.

I liked how big part the gods played in peoples lives. Like you could actually talk and interact, and occasionally fight, with them. Somehow that, and their actions, made me think Xena/Hercules world and the line from Hercules intro kept playing in my head: “… a time of myth and legend, when the ancient gods were petty and cruel…” Maybe that’s just me but yeah… Everyone keeps talking about the Viking style and all I can think is Xena…

What a great debut and I’m definitely looking forward to reading more from the author!

4/5

Published: Titan Books (January 19, 2021)
Format: ebook
Source: Netgalley

reviews

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab

When Addie La Rue makes a pact with the devil, she trades her soul for immortality. But there’s always a price – the devil takes away her place in the world, cursing her to be forgotten by everyone.

Addie flees her tiny home town in 18th-Century France, beginning a journey that takes her across the world, learning to live a life where no one remembers her and everything she owns is lost and broken. Existing only as a muse for artists throughout history, she learns to fall in love anew every single day. Her only companion on this journey is her dark devil with hypnotic green eyes, who visits her each year on the anniversary of their deal. Alone in the world, Addie has no choice but to confront him, to understand him, maybe to beat him.

Until one day, in a second hand bookshop in Manhattan, Addie meets someone who remembers her. Suddenly thrust back into a real, normal life, Addie realises she can’t escape her fate forever. (publisher)

Curses, devils, doomed loves. What’s not to like? I mean you really should be careful what you wish for…

Addie is born in a small village in 17th century France. She doesn’t want to marry the man she is supposed to marry and ends up making a deal with that comes with a price. People won’t remember her and that can be difficult and not an ideal situation to have a relationship. Until she meets a boy that changes all that.

The story flips between Addie’s story through the years and the year 2014. The story starts a bit slow getting the back story, but it does pick up soon-ish. There’s no adventures and action like in Shades of Magic series.

My one problem was that nothing really changes with Addie. You would think that in 300 years she would change and grow up, but she doesn’t. I still loved the book but that was something I wish was explored better. I must say though that I liked the devil. But despite all that, I did like the book.

4/5

Published: Titan Books (October 6, 2020)
Format: ebook
Source: Netgalley

reviews

Firefrost by Camille Longley

Firefrost: A Flameskin Chronicles Novel (Flameskin Chronicles #0) by Camille Longley

She’s a huntress: Sol d’Hillerod is sent on a desperate mission through a treacherous winter pass. She carries with her the only hope of her village’s survival, and she will do whatever she must to keep her world from burning.

He’s a monster: Lieutenant Kelan Birke has spent his whole life fighting for his freedom and his soul. As his control slips, and the war rages on, he knows it won’t be long before he loses himself entirely to the fire that flows through his veins.

Sol and Kelan are enemies in an age-old war, forced to depend on each other to survive a perilous journey through the mountains. As fire melts the ice in Sol’s heart, she questions everything she’s been taught to believe, and Kelan becomes more desperate to fight the flames that consume him. Together they discover that their struggle will have repercussions for both sides of this burning war. (publisher)

Flameskins have this fire “spirit” thing inside them called pyra and when they grow up it consumes them and takes over. They are feared, hated and persecuted for it. Flameskins and a kingdom called Tokken has been at war for a long time. Sol, a Tokken huntress, and Kelan, a flameskin soldier, end up travelling together and things happen.

I really liked the idea of flameskins and how pyra just takes control pretty much turns them into a demon. We get the story from both sides as every other chapter is from Sol’s pov and every other is from Kelan’s pov. The plot revolves mostly around Sol and Kelan and their relationship from enemies to lovers. I liked Kelan instantly and I did like Sol, but she was so hung up on her ideals at first.

My complaints are that there was little of world-building. We didn’t really learn about like the cultures and people in it. Sold and Kelan are most of the book alone in the mountains but still. But apparently, this is a prequel to the actual series, and I hope the world-building gets better in that. And I would have liked less focus on romance and more focus on world-building.

That being said, I didn’t want to put the book down because I wanted to know what happens next. So that’s a good thing. A great debut book.

4/5

Published: BooksGoSocial (September 21, 2020)
Format: ebook
Source: Netgalley

reviews

The Angel of the Crows by Katherine Addison

The Angel of the Crows by Katherine Addison

This is not the story you think it is. These are not the characters you think they are. This is not the book you are expecting.

In an alternate 1880s London, angels inhabit every public building, and vampires and werewolves walk the streets with human beings in a well-regulated truce. A fantastic utopia, except for a few things: Angels can Fall, and that Fall is like a nuclear bomb in both the physical and metaphysical worlds. And human beings remain human, with all their kindness and greed and passions and murderous intent.

Jack the Ripper stalks the streets of this London too. But this London has an Angel. The Angel of the Crows. (publisher)

So, we have Sherlock Holmes and Jack the Ripper. In an alternate London and there’s also angels, vampires and hellhounds. Sort of all thrown in together, at least it felt like it. I’m not sure what I was expecting from the book, but it wasn’t this.

Angels named Crow is our Sherlock and hellhound named Dr Doyle is our Watson. Angels have a habitation in a public building where they are bound and sort of… oversee it? Protect it/or it’s people? Crow no longer have a habitation and he’s an anomaly. Normally after angels lose their habitation, they become Fallen but Crow didn’t. Instead, he helps solve crimes.

Doyle was injured in a war in Afghanistan by a Fallen and became a hellhound. Now that he’s back in London and trying to figure out what to do, he meets Crow and helps him solve crimes.

The book had good moments but mostly I was just confused. There are many cases that they work on and keeping them in order was kinda hard. And then remembering where the other case was left. I liked Crow and Doyle should have been far more interesting considering he had a lot going on and many secrets.

I’m not very familiar with Sherlock Holmes stories so those details were lost on me and I wasn’t expecting the Sherlock Holmes story/retelling, I expected more of a fantasy book. And since I’m not a fan of Sherlock, I wasn’t as excited as I thought I would be. I had to reread the book synopsis to check if it mentioned Sherlock and if I had somehow missed it but it didn’t mention it.

3/5

Published: Tor Books (June 23, 2020)
Format: ebook
Source: NetGalley

reviews

The Unspoken Name by A. K. Larkwood

The Unspoken Name (The Serpent Gates 1) by A. K. Larkwood

What if you knew how and when you will die?

Csorwe does—she will climb the mountain, enter the Shrine of the Unspoken, and gain the most honored title: sacrifice.

But on the day of her foretold death, a powerful mage offers her a new fate. Leave with him, and live. Turn away from her destiny and her god to become a thief, a spy, an assassin—the wizard’s loyal sword. Topple an empire, and help him reclaim his seat of power.

But Csorwe will soon learn—gods remember, and if you live long enough, all debts come due. (publisher)

Csorwe is an Oshaaru and her people worship the Unspoken One. Csorwe is a Chosen Bride, someone who will be sacrificed to the god on her 14th birthday. But on the day of the sacrifice, a stranger called Belthandros Sethennai makes her an offer that she can’t refuse and helps her to run away.

Sethennai is a wizard in exile and has his own reasons for helping Csorwe; she can help him to return to his land.

I have mixed feelings about this one. It had good things and then the not so good things. But it’s not a bad book by any means, especially for a debut.

I liked the world-building and it’s impressive but there is quite much to take in. The book is divided into several parts and I liked the first part most where it focuses on young Csorwe. But the transitions between parts were somewhat awkward with time-jumps. Fast forward a few years and suddenly she is all trained to fight. Then 5 years have passed, and she has worked with Tal for 5 years and they hate each other. We’re missing huge chunks of her life and I didn’t connect with her, or the others, because so much happens behind the scenes. It just made me detached from the characters.

It dragged a bit in the middle and I felt the book could have been shorter. And if I’m honest, the most boring thing was Csorwe’s love-interest Shuthmili. She’s a super talented wizard who must be kept safe. And who had a non-existing personality. I just couldn’t understand why her?

I realize that I’m making it sound worse than it was because it wasn’t bad. There were lots of good things in it. But I really wanted to like it more. And since this was a debut book, I’m interested to see where the author will go from here.

3/5

Published: Tor Books (February 11, 2020)
Format: ebook
Source: NetGalley