[The Gilded Wolves] Roshani Chokshi

The Gilded Wolves is a heist style novel reminiscent of Six of Crows, but that is where the similarities end. Set in Paris in 1889, the city is on the cusp of advancement and change, with the Exposition Universelle filling the city with industrial advances and the whiff of new power. There’s magic to this world, with characters having the power to read objects or build incredible inventions as they try to navigate this changing world.

The tone of the novel is set immediately, thrusting the characters and the reader into this world where the fragments of the Tower of Babel are protected by the Order of Babel. In France, this falls to the four Houses. Each House also tracks in magical artifacts, selling them to the highest bidder who then marks them with the name of their House. The seal makes them impossible to steal when they’re under House protection…but there is a short window before they’re marked where a well-planned heist could pay off.

This is where Séverin and his crew come in. Each of them have talents, whether it’s reading an object, creating explosives, or inventing new things for heists. They work together as an efficient unit, stealing things that others don’t want them to have. When one of the House patriarchs enlists them for a mission, Séverin and the others find themselves embroiled in a situation that is bigger than any of them anticipated.

Paris 1889 plakat.jpg

What I really love about The Gilded Wolves are the characters. There’s a really diverse set of characters, and each of them have very unique backstories. They may be working together right now, but they all have their own agendas too. Continue reading


[King of Scars] Leigh Bardugo

Most of us can hide our greatest hurts and longings. It’s how we survive each day. We pretend the pain isn’t there, that we are made of scars instead of wounds.

How do you review one of the year’s most anticipated YA releases? And it’s only February! King of Scars is the follow-up to both The Shadow of Bone trilogy and the Six of Crows duology. It brings back some favorite characters, namely Nikolai for me, and introduces some new ones.

King of Scars is a novel that slowly builds up to the conclusion and the climax of the story. Some people have criticized it for being too slow, but I really enjoyed the pace. We get to see more of the world and the way it’s been after the conclusion of Ruin and Rising. There’s hints of it in the duology, but the focus is on an entirely new place and storyline. I love books that do that because I feel like you can really become part of the world. Granted, a lot of the world-building has already been done in the previous books, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t new things in King of Scars. Fjerda is expanded upon as is the area around the Unsea. It’s new and it’s different. It’s also something I can’t really detail without spoiling, but just know that it was really well done and I loved it. Continue reading

[The Girl King] Mimi Yu

This novel follows Min and Lu, two sisters whose paths are spread out before them. Lu is destined to become the first female Emperor, and all of her lessons are preparing her to take over from her father when he deems her ready. Min is her younger sister, seemingly destined to be forever in Min’s shadow. But when their father betrays Lu and passes the throne to a male cousin, suddenly Min has the potential to have more power that her sister. As Lu flees her home and becomes a fugitive, Min discovers something inside of herself that she begins to nurture. Power comes in many forms.

The Girl King starts with a prologue, something I both love and hate in equal turn. Prologues can work to set the tone of the book, but I don’t think that the prologue in The Girl King did it any favors. It actually made it very hard to get into the story. It starts with characters we don’t see in the next chapter, so I was left wondering what the point of the prologue was and who the people were. Eventually it ties into the rest of the book, but when the main plot of the book involves Lu and Min, I really felt like the novel should have started with them.

The three main characters of The Girl King were Lu, Min, and Nokhai. Lu and Nokhai traveled together through most of the book, while Min was on her own. I thought they were all well-developed, with my favorite being Nokhai. I wish that more of this story had been spent on his past and shapeshifting Continue reading

[Empress of All Seasons] Emiko Jean

This is another novel that is inspired by Japan and by yokai. I recently read Shadow of the Fox, and was a bit worried I’d compare Empress of All Seasons to it. Empress is a completely different novel. When Mari is born into the Animal Wives––the beautiful beast yokai ––and is an average beauty, her mother knows that her path in life will need to be different. Instead of training to become a wife who will steal the fortune of her husband and then return to the Animal Wives, Mari’s mother begins to train her to become the greatest Animal Wife of all: The Empress of All Seasons. For every generation, a competition is held to find the next empress of Honoko. And Mari has been training for this her whole life.

There’s two main parts of this novel. The competition to become empress is one of them. Young women from across Honoko come to the palace to compete in seasonal rooms, where perpetual spring, summer, autumn, and winter––and their own dangers––wait for them. The rooms were interesting and I thought it was unique to have the woman fight the season. If they conquer the room, they’re one step closer to becoming empress. Continue reading

[Truthwitch: The Witchlands I] Susan Dennard

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Truthwitch is my official first read of the year! I read it last year in three days and I read it in three days this year. It’s one of those books that sucks you in and suddenly it’s three in the morning.

Truthwitch follows two witches who have a knack for getting into trouble. But when they get into a bit more than they can handle, Safiya and Iseult have to flee everything they’ve ever known. And as a rare Truthwitch––her powers the kind that people would kill for––Safi must keep one step ahead of everyone who is after her. The Threadsisters will do anything they can to keep out of the hands for those who would do them harm.

This is one of my favorite fantasy books! I love this immense world so so much. It’s set in the Witchlands, a series of lands with different rulers that are just coming out of a Twenty Year Truce. There’s a lot of bureaucracy that surrounds the Truce, which means that there’s rules that each country are bound by. But there are ways around the rules. As Safi and Iseult navigate through this world, they begin to discover just how much they need each other––and how much their world may need them.

It’s not only the world that I’m really impressed by, it’s the magic system. Safi is a Truthwitch and she can tell if people are telling the truth or not. Iseult is a Threadwitch, someone who can read the Threads that make up a person. It’s very handy for knowing if they’re in danger or not. There’s also Windwitches, Earthwitches, Waterwitches, Airwitches, Aetherwitches, and Voidwitches. Each witchery is connected to an element, and each witchery is further broken down into different elements of control over the element. It is so unique. The magic system alone is a reason to read Truthwitch, but another thing is the great characters. Continue reading

[Rule] Ellen Goodlett

Akeylah. Ren. Zofi. Three young women with terrible secrets that spell death if they’re found out. They think they’ve managed to get away with it, living quietly with their guilty conscience. In a moment, that changes. Suddenly the heirs to a dying king, they are moved to the court where they need to learn how to become a ruler. Navigating a court where their every move is watched is difficult for three women who are used to going unnoticed in the world. Only one of them will take the throne. Unless their blackmailer reveals their secrets first.

These secrets and the mystery of who is blackmailing them is the focus of the novel. While the book is also about the three sisters suddenly becoming heirs to an empire that for some of them has caused them nothing but harm, this mystery underlies everything that occurs. Supposedly the king wants to train Akeylah, Zofi, and Ren to be the next ruler. However, I felt like there wasn’t enough of this in Rule. It seemed to have been forgotten in the wake of the mystery. I would have liked to learn more about the world. There’s hints of a growing rebellion and of the way different countries have merged in the past, but it doesn’t really go in depth.

As for characters, I found Akeylah, Zofi, and Ren to be interesting protagonists. Coming from three distinct backgrounds, they allow the reader to navigate the world of the court with them. They each had unique voices and I found their fears and motivations to be well-developed. I liked reading how they went from working individually to working together. Continue reading

[Shadow of the Fox] Julie Kagawa

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In a world where yokai are reviled and hunted down, Yumeko has been raised in an isolated temple for her own safety. Or so she thinks. When the peace of the temple is shattered by an attack that leaves her family dead and Yumeko alone, Yumeko realizes that the stories her mentor has been telling her are true. Setting off on a quest that is full of adventure and potential allies––and enemies––Yumeko must protect her temple’s greatest treasure: an ancient scroll that holds the key to saving her world.

While Yumeko’s naiivity annoyed me a bit at first, her character began to grow on me as she proved that she was not just a mischievous half-kitsune out on an adventure. As she matured, she became a protagonist whose perspective I looked forward to reading. Instead of using fox magic to trick others, she began to find other ways to use her magic in order to protect those around her. Yumeko’s growth was on a trajectory that made sense to me; she didn’t suddenly become wise to the ways of the world, she had to fight her way there.

Nekomata, a cat yokai.

Continue reading