Tag Archives: betrayal

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

8 Feb

10194157Title: Shadow and Bone
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Publisher: Henry Holt and Company
Genre: Fantasy
Page Count: 356

The servants called them malenchki, little ghosts, because they were the smallest and the youngest, and because they haunted the Duke’s house like giggling phantoms, darting in and out of rooms, hiding in cupboards to eavesdrop, sneaking into the kitchen to steal the last of the summer peaches.

Alina Starkov is an orphan to the border wars that have plagued her world, an imagined Russia called Ravka, and has always had family in her best friend and fellow orphan, Mal. After they grow out of the orphanage where they spent their childhood they are both enlisted in the First Army; Mal as a tracker, Alina as a cartographer. When they are sent on a mission to cross the Shadow Fold, a blot of darkness where nothing can grow or survive, an attack by the winged, flesh-eating volcra brings out a power that Alina didn’t even know she had. Before she understands what has happened to her, she is whisked off by the Darkling, head of the powerful Grisha Second Army. The Grisha all have powers, whether they are corporalki heartrenders or etherealki inferni, but Alina’s power has never been seen before and could be the key to the destruction of the Shadow Fold. As she gets sucked into the dazzling world of the Grisha, her uniqueness makes her the object of envy for many and marks her as the Darkling’s favorite; but when she unwittingly gets pulled into an ancient power play, she realizes that everything she knew about her new life was based on a fabrication, and that the fate of the world could balance on what she does with that knowledge.

So, this book sounds pretty tight, right? Well, it’s not. Kind of. I mean, maybe? Dammit, I finished this book two days ago and I STILL can’t figure out how I feel about it. The premise is so, so, good, but the execution is so, so lackluster.

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Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor

6 Feb

12812550Title: Days of Blood and Starlight
Author: Laini Taylor
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Genre: Fantasy
Page Count: 517

Once upon a time, an angel and a devil held a wishbone between them. And its snap split the world in two. 

After breaking the enchanted wishbone that held all Karou’s memories of her life as Madrigal, the chimaera resurrectionist’s apprentice beheaded for loving the angel Akiva, Karou finally felt as if she had all the answers regarding her mysterious identity that she had been searching for for her entire life. But within minutes of getting all those answers she also learned that Akiva had betrayed her, and that the age-old war between angels and chimaera had been rekindled as a result of that betrayal. Days of Blood and Starlight picks up right where Daughter of Smoke and Bone left off. Akiva has returned to his regiment of Misbegotten (bastards sired by the Emperor to be soldiers) where he must hide his grief over what he has done, pretending to go along with the enslavement and murder of chimaera so he can covertly try to save and warn as many as he can of their impending slaughter. Meanwhile, Karou has transported what’s left of the chimaera army to a Kasbah in Morocco, where she has taken up Brimstone’s mantle as resurrectionist for the White Wolf. But as Akiva and Karou, in different worlds appearing to work towards different ends, begin to unravel threads of conspiracy, intrigue, and deception, it becomes more and more apparent that they are still both working to the same end: hope for peace.

So, for months now I’ve been getting lackluster feedback about this book from my various friends and coworkers. And I get it, but I disagree. Whereas Daughter of Smoke and Bone was a perfect blend of urban fantasy and high fantasy, to the point that it could potentially appeal to paranormal fans and readers who don’t necessarily loooooooove fantasy, Days of Blood and Starlight is straight up high fantasy. It’s an all out war in another world; even the parts that take place in our world are utterly removed from the world as we know it (excluding the parts with Mik and Zuzana)(and yes I know I just used the word “world” three times in one sentence). While I am 100% cool with this, the genre shift means that Days of Blood and Starlight has a fairly different appeal, so I guess I get the disappointment in some contingencies of the readership.

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Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

7 Jan

8490112Title: Daughter of Smoke and Bone
Author: Laini Taylor
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Genre: Fantasy
Page Count: 448 pages

Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love.

It did not end well.

Karou is a young art student in Prague who has no idea who she actually is. Her hair grows out of her head a luscious shade of blue, she can speak a stupid amount of languages, and her sketch books are filled with hundreds upon hundreds of sketches of ghoulish devils, all with elaborate back-stories that she tells her friends. Only, they’re not just stories. Karou grew up in a devil’s lair; she is the ward of the Wishmonger, a devil named Brimstone who (you guessed it!) deals in wishes, selling them for teeth pulled out of the mouths of corpses by ghastly characters. One day, all over the world, blackened hand prints start showing up on  doors, and people report sighting strange beings who appear human, but whose shadows have wings. When Karou finds a handprint on the door to Brimstone’s shop, she is pulled into an otherworldly war between devils and angels, a war that she has been a part of for much longer than she knows.

This book has been getting an insane amount of hype ever since it came out, and I kept telling myself “by golly, I really want to read that! The next time it’s on the shelf at the library I’ll grab it.” Only, it was never on the shelf, and eventually I had to suck it up and put a hold on it, and thank god I did because this book is da bomb and easily one of the most enjoyable books I read in 2012.

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Rebel Heart by Moira Young

27 Dec

13042154I’m going to try my best to do a decent review of this book even though I’ve read 2.25 since I finished it. Why? Because, for me, it was one of the most highly anticipated releases of the year. That’s right, I FINALLY got my hands on Moira Young‘s Rebel Heartsequel to Blood Red Road in the Dust Lands trilogy.

It’s late afternoon. Since morning, the trail’s been following a line of light towers. That is, the iron remains of what used to be light towers, way back in Wrecker days, time out of mind. 

After going through hell to defeat the Tonton and rescue her kidnapped brother, Lugh, Saba is haunted by the memories of murders she had to commit along the way and tormented by the absence of Jack. When she gets news that Jack has betrayed her by going over to the Tonton, Saba abandons her brother’s quest to find the ocean and start a new life to find him. But finding Jack and making sense of his betrayal means going right into the belly of the beast; the territory of the reformed Tonton, headed by a foe from her past who has put a price on her head. But once Saba sets her mind on something, nothing can stop her, even if it means dragging everyone else down with her.

First of all, I want to start by saying that this cover is fucking terrible. Who is that dude even supposed to be? What is this, some trashy romance novel? Where did that dude (I honestly have NO IDEA who he is) even get all those clean clothes? Moira Young’s Dustlands books are about as bleak and gritty a (teen) vision of post-apocalyptic future as you can get, and the brutality of this world is a total mismatch for this weird cover.

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Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta

22 Apr

I have a not-so-surprising secret to share:

I am a serious fantasy nerd.

I mean it. Before I went to college, became an English major, and learned that it is shameful to read anything but literary fiction, I was a rabid consumer of paperback fantasies of the $6.99 variety. If there was a dragon or a woman disguising herself as a man to become a mage/warrior/first class citizen or whatever the hell I was on it (and yes, I read A Game of Thrones waaaaaay before it became an HBO series). Then I was brainwashed into believing that if it wasn’t literary it wasn’t worth reading, and I spent years slogging through things that I didn’t really enjoy but appreciated. It was actually through delving back into the wonderful world of YA fantasy that I re-discovered my absolute mania for reading. However, my time as an English major changed me: I will still shamelessly indulge in genre fiction without coming close to giving a damn, but now I tend to filter my selections a bit more based on a little thing called “quality writing.” (But only a bit.) That’s where Melina Marchetta comes in.

I fell in love with Melina Marchetta’s writing when I read her Printz award-winning novel, Jellicoe Road. If you like really complex, slowly unfurling and beautifully written stories and like to cry a shit ton, then Jellicoe Road is probably for you. Once I read it I of course decided to pursue her other books, and that’s when I came across Finnikin of the Rock, her first fantasy novel for teens (which was published in 2008 but WHATEVER. I can’t be on top of every damn thing). Say what? Could a master of contemporary teen realism really make that transition? Well, in, short: hell yes.

When Finnikin was nine years old he received a prophecy stating that he must sacrifice a pound of flesh in order to save his kingdom, Lumatere. So, being a strapping young lad, he gets his two best royal buddies together on a rock and they each cut a chunk of skin out of their thighs all in the name of heroism. I mean, that’s pretty standard behavior for a nine-year-old, right? Right. So, right after they do the great thigh-cut-a-thon, the Five Days of the Unspeakable happens: the royal family is assassinated, Lumatere is invaded by a royal asshole of a cousin, half the kingdom flees, a healer/witch lays a blood curse on the land while she’s being burned at the stake, and then this crazy black mist thing engulfs the kingdom, trapping those who remained IN and those who fled OUT. Got that? Yeah, neither did I for the first hundred pages, but all in good time. Flash forward ten years to Finnikin, now a hunk of burning 19-year-old, wandering the land with Sir Topher, the assassinated King’s First Man, in an attempt to account for all the displaced Lumaterans in order to find a nice little chunk of land where they can settle without fear of being sold to slavers, abused, starved, forced to live in ghettos to die of disease, etc. This really pleasant past-time gets disrupted when Finnikin and Topher take on a mute Novice named Evanjalin who claims to be able to walk through the dreams of those still trapped in Lumatere. Oh, and she also says that the royal prince Balthazar, one of Finnikin’s royal thigh-cutting buddies, is still alive. Finnikin must rely on the evasive and suspicious Evanjalin to lead him to the Prince so that the exiled nation of Lumatere can return home.

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