An Unkindness of Magicians by Kat Howard

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“Magic, at its heart, starts with sacrifice. You have to give up something to get something, and because magic is big, with all that it allows you access to, what you give up has to be big. It has to be meaningful.”

Within New York City lies a world of magic, the Unseen World. It is open only to those with magical ability, but the degree of that ability varies from person to person. Every twenty years this magical world must participate in the Turning— a series of duels between established Houses, their champions and various challengers, with the winner gaining control of the Unseen World. However, the Turning has arrived early this time around and there is something strange happening in the Unseen World; the magic is weakening. Sydney has seemingly come out of nowhere and proven herself as a force to be reckoned with. She is one of the few people who know what is occurring and why, and is intent on winning control in order to destroy the existing system. Continue reading “An Unkindness of Magicians by Kat Howard”

The Queen of Sorrow by Sarah Beth Durst

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“I suppose I’ll need Jastra’s plan after all. Pity.
It would have been nice to avoid murdering anyone.”

The Queen of Sorrow concludes The Queens of Renthia Trilogy; a wonderful fantasy series and one I have enjoyed immensely. In this final instalment, the focus is on the political landscape of Renthia, and the dynamics between three very powerful women. Daleina is a queen who has settled well into her role, although she lacks the power of her predecessor. Naelin holds great power but lacks training, and her role as queen is one she never sought or wanted. The most important thing in her life is her children whose safety and well-being she puts above everything. And then we have Queen Merecot, the key antagonist in the story and who fast became one of my favourite characters. She is incredibly ambitious, humorous, and borderline sociopathic. Her intentions are slowly revealed as the story progresses and she kept me guessing more than anyone else.  Continue reading “The Queen of Sorrow by Sarah Beth Durst”

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

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MY NAME IS KVOTHE

I have stolen princesses back from sleeping barrow kings. I burned down the town of Trebon. I have spent the night with Felurian and left with both my sanity and my life. I was expelled from the University at a younger age than most people are allowed in. I tread paths by moonlight that others fear to speak of during day. I have talked to Gods, loved women, and written songs that make the minstrels weep.

You may have heard of me.

After years of recommendations and praise for The Name of the Wind, I finally picked it up and embarked on the journey that is Kvothe’s life. I have to admit that the praise is well warranted and the hype that surrounds this book is much deserved. If you are unfamiliar with it, The Name of The Wind is the first book in The Kingkiller Chronicles, which is a trilogy that focuses on the story of Kvothe. He is a man whose name has become legend with many stories and theories that have been passed around, however Kvothe is the only one who knows the truth behind the myth and legend. He decides to tell his story and to do so in three days. Book one is day one of him telling his story. Continue reading “The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss”

Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

IMG_5349Young man,” he said, “understand this: there are two Londons. There’s London Above – that’s where you lived – and then there’s London Below – the Underside – inhabited by the people who fell through the cracks in the world. Now you’re one of them. Good night.

Intriguing in concept and full of imagination, Neverwhere tells the story of a fantastical world in which there are two Londons: London Above (real London) and London Below (full of magic and invisible to those above). Richard Mayhew has a successful career, a fiancée, and is relatively happy with his life, until one fateful night opens his eyes to a London he never knew existed. His encounter flips his world upside down and takes him on an unforgettable journey under the streets of London, which is filled with danger and adventure.

“You’ve a good heart. Sometimes that’s enough to see you safe wherever you go. But mostly, it’s not.”

I thoroughly enjoy Neil Gaiman’s writing style. There is a quality to it that provides an almost fairy-tale feeling and really brings back childhood memories of diving into great and fantastical stories. Neverwhere is written wonderfully and the world created is quite fascinating and compelling, however there is something about the story as a whole that just did not click with me and I never fully engaged with it. There is a disconnect with the characters that was there throughout the entirety of the novel, and I did not care for the main character, Richard who I found to be incredibly irritating. His journey is one that supposedly leads to growth but there is frustratingly little character development, if any. For this reason, Neverwhere is an okay fantasy novel rather than a great one.

The Reluctant Queen by Sarah Beth Durst

IMG_4978“Everything has a spirit: the willow tree with leaves that kiss the pond, the stream that feeds the river, the wind that exhales fresh snow . . .
And those spirits want to kill you.
It’s the first lesson that every Renthian learns.”

The Reluctant Queen is the second book in the Queens of Renthia trilogy, with the first being The Queen of BloodI read the first novel earlier this year and it quickly became one of my favourite fantasy books, with its beautiful writing and memorable characters. The Reluctant Queen picks up about six months after the events of the first novel as the newly crowned queen has settled into her role, keeping the peace and protecting her people from the spirits that seek to harm them. However, she is hiding a secret that jeopardizes her position and affects the safety of those she is committed to protect; she is dying. Without anyone in line to take her place, the search begins for a new heir, but finding someone gifted and strong enough to take on such a responsibility is no easy task. The search leads to Naelin, who has spent her life denying her power, and who wishes to stay far removed from the business of the palace. The only problem is, she may be the queen’s only hope.

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As with its predecessor, The Reluctant Queen is wonderfully imaginative and inventive. It completely captured my attention from the beginning right to the very last page, leaving me wanting more and eagerly anticipating the next adventure. There is action and a bit of mystery, all of which is fun and enjoyable, but what really propels it all forward is the cast of compelling characters. There are returning favourites from the first novel, as well as new ones that add to the dynamic of the story with amusing dialogue and humorous moments. This is a great second instalment in the Queens of Renthia trilogy, and one I cannot recommend highly enough.

*Book provided by author for an unbiased review. Publication date: July 4, 2017.