Bites From Our Backlist– Fantasy Edition

Posted April 21, 2020 by stuckint in Bites From Our Backlist, Features / 0 Comments

Well hello everyone and welcome back to another Bites From Our Backlist, a feature where we share a series of short reviews about books that are burning holes in our physical and digital TBR piles. Whether it was released a month or years ago, you can find all our thoughts in these posts.

*We received early copies of these books from the publishers via Netgalley in exchange for honest reviews. All opinions are our own and do not reflect the thoughts or opinions of the publishers or authors.

The Sisters Grimm by Menna van Praag

Bites From Our Backlist– Fantasy EditionThe Sisters Grimm by Menna van Praag
on February 6, 2020
Goodreads
two-stars

The critically acclaimed author of The House at the End of Hope Street combines love, mystery, and magic with her first foray into bewitching fantasy with a dark edge evocative of V.E. Schwab and Neil Gaiman.
Once upon a time, a demon who desired earthly domination fathered an army of dark daughters to help him corrupt humanity . . .
As children, Goldie, Liyana, Scarlet, and Bea dreamed of a strange otherworld: a nightscape of mists and fog, perpetually falling leaves and hungry ivy, lit by an unwavering moon. Here, in this shadowland of Everwhere, the four girls, half-sisters connected by blood and magic, began to nurture their elemental powers together. But at thirteen, the sisters were ripped from Everwhere and separated. Now, five years later, they search for one another and yearn to rediscover their unique and supernatural strengths. Goldie (earth) manipulates plants and gives life. Liyana (water) controls rivers and rain. Scarlet (fire) has electricity at her fingertips. Bea (air) can fly.
To realize their full potential, the blood sisters must return to the land of their childhood dreams. But Everwhere can only be accessed through certain gates at 3:33 A.M. on the night of a new moon. As Goldie, Liyana, Scarlet, and Bea are beset with the challenges of their earthly lives, they must prepare for a battle that lies ahead. On their eighteenth birthday, they will be subjected to a gladiatorial fight with their father’s soldiers. If they survive, they will face their father who will let them live only if they turn dark. Which would be fair, if only the sisters knew what was coming.
So, they have thirty-three days to discover who they truly are and what they can truly do, before they must fight to save themselves and those they love.

Quick Take: Gold Liyana, Scarlet and Bea are elemental witches who have forgotten where they came from and each other. This fantasy novel, that is part fairytale and part coming of age, tells the story of the four half sisters not only remembering who they are and where they came from, but finding their place in the world. The book spans the length of thirty three days but the narrative flashes back in the form of dreams to fill in the girls’ origin story. All of culminates in a final battle that has the ability to destroy them all, or set them free, forever.

What I Loved: I am here for all of the feminist fantasy retelling that are flooding the YA market. I think they are important and necessary and so I appreciate all the strong willed women at the center of this story. I also enjoyed each of the sister’s background stories and how the author interwove stories of the girls’ origins and their powers into their lives outside of Everywhere.

What I Didn’t Love: Honestly I think the biggest problem of this book was the pacing and length. I could have been 100 pages shorter and cut out some of the parts that were rather repetitive and I would have enjoyed it more. I am currently unsure if I will pick up the next book in the series because this one felt so disjointed, repetitive and convoluted. I am actually quite disappointed because I was so excited about this one. I will definitely pick up more from this author but I am unsure if I will continue the series.

Ruthless Gods by Emily A Duncan

Bites From Our Backlist– Fantasy EditionRuthless Gods (Something Dark and Holy, #2) by Emily A. Duncan
Published by Wednesday Books on April 7, 2020
Pages: 544
Goodreads
three-stars

Darkness never works alone...
Nadya doesn’t trust her magic anymore. Serefin is fighting off a voice in his head that doesn’t belong to him. Malachiasz is at war with who--and what--he’s become.
As their group is continually torn apart, the girl, the prince, and the monster find their fates irrevocably intertwined. They’re pieces on a board, being orchestrated by someone… or something. The voices that Serefin hears in the darkness, the ones that Nadya believes are her gods, the ones that Malachiasz is desperate to meet—those voices want a stake in the world, and they refuse to stay quiet any longer.
In her dramatic follow-up to Wicked Saints, the first book in her Something Dark and Holy trilogy, Emily A. Duncan paints a Gothic, icy world where shadows whisper, and no one is who they seem, with a shocking ending that will leave you breathless.

Quick Take: a continuation of the New York Times bestseller Wicked Saints, Ruthless Gods continues the stories of Nadya, Serefin and Malachiasz right where things left off in the first novel as all three wrestle with

What I Loved: I love Russian/Slavvic-based magic systems. Ever since falling in love with The Winternight Trilogy by Katherine Arden, However, as anyone who has read Wicked Saints will know, this series is incredibly dark which I am totally here for. I think one of the most powerful aspects of both books is Nadya’s development from the beginning of the series to this point. Speaking from personal experience, I know what its like to completely deconstruct your own worldview and then do your best to pick up the pieces. It can be incredibly jarring and the internal monologues Nadya has, along with the philosophical conversations she participates in about the gods were really fascinating and touching to me personally.

What I Didn’t Love: I honestly thin I would have enjoyed this one more if I had read a physical copy. I listened to it on audio and as a result I feel like I missed a few things. Plus, the narrative is naturally confusing because each of the characters have their own internal monologues with other beings and the narrators aren’t that great at distinguishing between the different voices and characters so yeah, it just became really muddled and while I’ll pick up the next book because I want to now how the trilogy ends, it probably won’t be in audiobook form.

Night of the Dragon by Julie Kagawa

Bites From Our Backlist– Fantasy EditionNight of the Dragon (Shadow of the Fox, #3) by Julie Kagawa
Published by Inkyard Press on March 31, 2020
Pages: 368
Goodreads
five-stars

Kitsune shapeshifter Yumeko has given up the final piece of the Scroll of a Thousand Prayers in order to save everyone she loves from imminent death. Now she and her ragtag band of companions must journey to the wild sea cliffs of Iwagoto in a desperate last-chance effort to stop the Master of Demons from calling upon the Great Kami dragon and making the wish that will plunge the empire into destruction and darkness.
Shadow clan assassin Kage Tatsumi has regained control of his body and agreed to a true deal with the devil — the demon inside him, Hakaimono. They will share his body and work with Yumeko and their companions to stop a madman and separate Hakaimono from Tatsumi and the cursed sword that had trapped the demon for nearly a millennium.
But even with their combined skills and powers, this most unlikely team of heroes knows the forces of evil may be impossible to overcome. And there is another player in the battle for the scroll, a player who has been watching, waiting for the right moment to pull strings that no one even realized existed… until now.
Master storyteller Julie Kagawa concludes the enthralling journey into the heart of the fantastical Empire of Iwagoto in the third book of the Shadow of the Fox trilogy. As darkness rises and chaos reigns, a fierce kitsune and her shadowy protector will face down the greatest evil of all. A captivating fantasy for fans of Sabaa Tahir, Sarah J. Maas and Marie Lu.

Quick Take: the final installment of Julie Kagawa’s Shadow of the Fox trilogy sees Yumeko and her band of misfit friends trying to stop anyone from using the Dragon Scroll to make a wish and save the world. If you loved the first two books in the trilogy you will love how Kagawa wraps up the story. Its a wild ride and Kagawa does a fantastic job of getting the end of the trilogy the time and attention it deserves.

What I Loved: Kagawa is so talented with her creation of characters. She makes you care about each and everyone of them and makes them feel important to the story even if they are a side character playing a minor role. There were a lot of things which happened that I did not expect and I really appreciated that Kagawa was unafraid of going where the story needed to go and giving us a bit of a bittersweet ending instead of tying all the loose ends up in a deep little bow.

What I Didn’t Love: Honestly, I loved everything about this book. If I had to complain about anything it would be that some of the aspect of the journey seemed a little repetitive and almost formulaic. For example, the friends arrive in the city ready to rest- but something seems off- then they are forced to battle their way through a bunch of possessed citizens and then they are rescued by some who managed to escape whatever is possessing the town. I am fairly certain it happened at least once and every book and while it might be petty it struck me in the third book as I felt like I had read the same scene already before.

What About You?

Have you read any of these books? What did you think? Let us know in the comments!

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