Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer – Review

Cover- Artemis Fowl

Published: April 1, 2003

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Series: Artemis Fowl #1

Genre: Fantasy, Middle Grade(?)

Pages: 396 (Paperback)

My Rating: 4.0/5.0

Synopsis:

Twelve-year-old Artemis Fowl is a millionaire, a genius, and above all, a criminal mastermind. But even Artemis doesn’t know what he’s taken on when he kidnaps a fairy, Captain Holly Short of the LEPrecon Unit. These aren’t the fairies of bedtime stories—they’re dangerous! Full of unexpected twists and turns, Artemis Fowl is a riveting, magical adventure.


After the Artemis Fowl movie was released on Disney+ I decided to do a quick refresh of what was one of my favorite childhood books before I watched the movie. I had probably read this book 5 or 6 times as a youngling and even so, the details were a little fuzzy. It was a quick read and I quickly remember why I loved it so much and marveled at how it leaned a little more YA than middle grade and how it probably shaped my taste in books.

I mean really, if you have kids aged 10 or older (and maybe even younger) who love to read this is a fantastic book. Heck, I loved it as a late twenty-something and found it had withstood the test of time ridiculously well. 

Artemis Fowl is a twelve year old criminal mastermind, set on starting his own criminal empire and restoring his family’s fading fortunes by stealing fairy gold. In order to do this, he must capture a fairy and do some serious negotiating. This is where LEPrecon captain Holly Short comes in. She’s the first female Lower Elements Police officer and she’s one of the recon members who wrangle fairies that have illegally gone top-side into the human world. It’s after a recon mission that she’s captured by Artemis and then the real fun begins. There’s a kleptomaniac dwarf and eats and then… expels… dirt/rock/other matter, a crazed troll, and a whole swarm of LEP officers that provide both tension and comedic relief. This is not to mention Domovoi Butler and his little sister Juliet who have trained for years so that they might protect the Fowl lineage. Both Butlers are master marksmen, trained in hand-to-hand combat, and numerous other martial skills and are quite likable despite their formidable skillset. 

The plot is quite good and is succinctly wrapped up in a single book. There are further books that (obviously) expand the story and bring in new and old characters alike, though I will admit that I thought the series went downhill after the third book and stopped reading after the fourth book. I must say, youngling me was still wise in the way of the series DNF. 

I will also note that while the movie kept certain elements of the plot, particularly those surrounding the Holly Short hostage situation, the writers/directors changed so many things that made this book so appealing to little me. I mean, a young criminal mastermind and his cool Russian bodyguard became a little boy trying to save his father by any means necessary and his bodyguard who was a big dude, but not quite as scary as book Butler. Also, they changed Commander Root from a raging, cigar smoking  old man fairy to the much less intimidating Judi Dench, thus also taking away Holly’s success at being the first female LEPrecon member. That being said, it was a cute movie and I still enjoyed it for what it was.

Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff – Review

Cover- Illuminae

Published: October 20, 2015

Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers

Series: The Illuminae Files #1

Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction

Pages: 602 (Hardcover)

My Rating: 4.5/5.0

Synopsis:

Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the worst thing she’d ever been through. That was before her planet was invaded. Now, with enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra are forced to fight their way onto one of the evacuating craft, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.
But the warship could be the least of their problems. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results; the fleet’s AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their biggest threat; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady plunges into a web of data hacking to get to the truth, it’s clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: Ezra.
Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents–including emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more–Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping, high-octane trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth, and the courage of everyday heroes.


Honestly. Could this have been much cooler? I sort of avoid books that have huge amounts of hype until the hype is pretty well justified (and sometimes until the series is finished). Decided to finally check out Illuminae and just WOW. The hype was entirely justified and I loved every page of it! I highly recommend the audio format as well, because it’s a full cast performance, with sound effects and it just makes it 10x cooler than it probably is in print.

The story is told in a really interesting style – not exactly sure what to call it (epistolary?), but it’s a collection of documents, emails, transcribed video recordings, etc. It starts off on the planet Kerenza, where an illegal mining colony is attacked by a corporate competitor called BeiTech. Kady Grant and Ezra Mason have just broken up and now their day has just gotten unimaginably worse. They escape the planet with a few thousand other refugees and are now on the run from a BeiTech dreadnought that only wants to silence the few remaining witnesses. It’s a race to jump station Heimdall where they can hopefully find refuge and share their story but things just keep going wrong. BeiTech dropped a bioweapon that has infected people one one of the refugee ships and now there are raging space berserkers who only wish to kill running amok. And the AI AIDAN has gone mad. It’s just an all around bad situation.

Obviously the story is pretty non-stop just based on the details I’ve shared here. The characters are also pretty fascinating. Kady is on the path to become an extraordinary hacker and Ezra has quite the necessary hand-eye coordination to make a decent pilot so he’s drafted by the marines. They’re on separate ships and are still technically not a couple and so avoid each other for long weeks. When things begin getting a bit sketchy Kady reaches out and they begin to share info. And of course fall madly in love once again. There are tons of minor characters that really round things out, many of which you actually begin to feel for. 

This was truly a fantastic performance and I would love to see the event in a movie. It’s perfectly set up for adaptation and the writers would barely need a script. There was some cheesy dialogue, but hey, the main characters are a bunch of teenagers with raging hormones and a penchant for occasional poetry. I loved this SO MUCH and immediately picked up the sequel, Gemina which (as I type this) I have already finished.

The Beautiful by Renee Ahdieh – Review

Cover- The Beautiful

Published: October 8, 2019

Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers

Series: The Beautiful #1

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Pages: 448 (Hardcover)

My Rating: 3.5/5.0

Synopsis:

In 1872, New Orleans is a city ruled by the dead. But to seventeen-year-old Celine Rousseau, New Orleans provides her a refuge after she’s forced to flee her life as a dressmaker in Paris. Taken in by the sisters of the Ursuline convent along with six other girls, Celine quickly becomes enamored with the vibrant city from the music to the food to the soirées and—especially—to the danger. She soon becomes embroiled in the city’s glitzy underworld, known as La Cour des Lions, after catching the eye of the group’s leader, the enigmatic Sébastien Saint Germain. When the body of one of the girls from the convent is found in the lair of La Cour des Lions, Celine battles her attraction to him and suspicions about Sébastien’s guilt along with the shame of her own horrible secret.

When more bodies are discovered, each crime more gruesome than the last, Celine and New Orleans become gripped by the terror of a serial killer on the loose—one Celine is sure has set her in his sights . . . and who may even be the young man who has stolen her heart. As the murders continue to go unsolved, Celine takes matters into her own hands and soon uncovers something even more shocking: an age-old feud from the darkest creatures of the underworld reveals a truth about Celine she always suspected simmered just beneath the surface.

At once a sultry romance and a thrilling murder mystery, master storyteller Renée Ahdieh embarks on her most potent fantasy series yet: The Beautiful.


I received this in a book box I got last year and it’s been gathering dust since then waiting on me to have time to read it. Well, I finally made time because sometimes you just need a fun vampire book! It was entirely binge-able and I read it in a single sitting! It’s been a while since I’ve actually done that and I needed a nice break from some of the hefty books I’d been reading.

Okay folks – a lovely French girl running from her past arrives in New Orleans, ready to start anew and perhaps find a beau…. And then BAM, enter the bad boy. This is just so YA and I loved it. Celine Rousseau killed a man who tried to take advantage of her and she fled Paris. She’s a strong girl, a talented dressmaker, and she’s hopelessly unfit for the convent she’s staying at.  She quickly gets involved with a group called La Cour des Lions, or the Court of Lions when she’s commissioned for a dress. All the while, someone is stalking the streets murdering people and it seems to be a vampire with a grudge against the Court.

This is an interesting and beautifully atmospheric book and has given me serious inspiration for my Fantasy Feast post series. The food descriptions are luxurious and had me bookmarking recipes. In regard to the actual plot, well, it was fun but not incredibly deep. The serial killer aspect of this book had a great deal of potential but the murderer never felt like much of a threat until the last little bit. It will most certainly be a bigger focus in the next book and I hope it turns out well!

The sequel will be released in just over a week and I do plan to pick it up, mostly in hopes of more awesome food descriptions. Oh yeah, and that irresistible YA angst. Sometimes it just really hits the spot in terms of what I’m looking for in a book and The Beautiful had plenty of it. 

Spirit by A.C. Cobble – Review

Cover- Spirit

Published: May 1, 2020

Publisher: Cobble Publishing LLC

Series: The Cartographer #3

Genre: Fantasy

Pages: 518 (eBook)

My Rating: 4.0/5.0

Synopsis:

The fate of empire is to crumble from within.

Duke Oliver Wellesley and the Priestess Samantha unmasked and destroyed a cabal of sorcerers planning an incredible sacrifice. But preventing the horrific bloodshed left lingering questions, and new attacks close to home prove the danger is not over.

Oliver must choose between his responsibilities to his family and the Crown, and seeking answers over the far horizon. As he struggles with the weight of expectation, he discovers new powers and an ancient magic that has been long forgotten. The tide of sorcery rises, and Oliver begins to understand that a sharp quill and a steel broadsword are not enough. To face the threat of the underworld, he’ll have to call upon the spirits of life


Once again, AC Cobble has written a thrilling, harrowing tale that seems to be the conclusion of The Cartographer series. Or at least, it makes sense that this would be the end of the series based on the way the book concluded. And what a rollicking good read it was!

Sam and Oliver Wellesley, having just defeated a cabal of sorcerers, are now struggling with the decision of what to do next. The king is pushing Oliver to accept the role of Prime Minister, though he longs to continue his role with the Company and to search for his mother. Sam is offered a position on the church council where she can perhaps help train more Knives to hunt down sorcerers. So many decisions… all of which end up come to naught when it becomes clear that there is someone still pulling the sorcerous strings. Of course, our duo of sorcerer hunters can’t let things lie and go after the ultimate big bad!

This story has tons of action, not much political intrigue, and honestly a few cringey moments that well… were important to the story line but could have been handled more deftly. To be frank, this was my least favorite of the three books but it was still quite an exciting way to wrap the story up. I love Sam and Duke (Oliver) – they’re banter is almost always excellent and it was great to read a story where you can have a mostly platonic male/female friendship. Oliver is an absolute rake and knows his way around a map and Sam is a blunt assassin priestess with wicked verbal and actual daggers. They are honestly what made this series so appealing from the very beginning. Sure, the plot is pretty great but would have fallen flat without such fantastic dialogue and chemistry between the characters.

Overall, this is for sure one of my favorite series (independently published or otherwise) and it has the perfect balance of darkness and levity. If you’re looking for a good murder mystery set in the a time period inspired by British colonialism with loads of dark occult baddies that need to be taken out this could be the series for you!

A Declaration of the Rights of Magicians by H.G. Parry – Review

Cover- A Declaration of the Rights of Magicians

Published: June 23, 2020

Publisher: Redhook

Series: Standalone

Genre: Fantasy, Historical

Pages: 544 (Hardcover)

My Rating: 4.5/5.0

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis:

A sweeping tale of revolution and wonder in a world not quite like our own, A Declaration of the Rights of Magicians is a genre-defying story of magic, war, and the struggle for freedom in the early modern world.

It is the Age of Enlightenment — of new and magical political movements, from the necromancer Robespierre calling for revolution in France to the weather mage Toussaint L’Ouverture leading the slaves of Haiti in their fight for freedom, to the bold new Prime Minister William Pitt weighing the legalization of magic amongst commoners in Britain and abolition throughout its colonies overseas.

But amidst all of the upheaval of the early modern world, there is an unknown force inciting all of human civilization into violent conflict. And it will require the combined efforts of revolutionaries, magicians, and abolitionists to unmask this hidden enemy before the whole world falls to darkness and chaos.


If you want a book that’s almost an impromptu history lesson check this outtttt. This is set right around the time of the French Revolution from 1779 – 1794 and primarily follows William Pitt, Maximilien Robespierre, and a slave girl named Fina. I knew some about the French Revolution from past history classes (though I generally preferred pre-modern Europe), but this sort of opened a fascinating rabbit hole of additional reading. I was googling characters to see if they were real people and if events sort of did really happen as such (aside from the clearly magical fiction). This is basically a history lesson with magic.

Fina was a slave on a sugar plantation in Jamaica who eventually made her way to the French island of Saint-Domingue to join the rebellion of Toussaint L’Ouverture. She doesn’t have as many chapters in the beginning of the book, but they are nonetheless interesting and heartbreaking. The slave masters use a potion that essentially traps people in their bodies and most can’t even speak or move without a direct command to do so. Fina is stuck like this for so many years, until she eventually and inexplicably is no longer affected.

William Pitt is a rather famous figure in British history, well known for his position as Prime Minister. In this book, the reader gets to follow him and he and several of his dear friends including William Wilberforce as they take on the slave trade, the French, and so many other things. Pitt has magical talents, though he keeps his true classification a secret from all but Wilberforce who acts as a balancing voice to him. They have quite the adventures and come face to face with loose Shadows on several occasions. 

Maxmilien Robespierre may be the most well known of the historical figures in this book, as he is one of the fathers of the French Revolution. He starts out as a peaceful man, calling for reform while his companions write burning critiques of the monarchy and the Templars that control and punish commoner magicians. You see, commoners with a magical talent are braceleted at birth, so that the Templars might track them and punish them if they were to use their powers. It all starts with good intentions and then things get out of hand and thousands are being guillotined and the streets run red with blood. 

Behind so much of this is a dark figure pulling the strings. He’s in contact with Robespierre, granting him more powerful mesmeric magic, he’s summoning shades, he’s enabling the slave revolt in Saint-Domingue all for his own gain at the end. The reader spends almost the entire book wondering who and perhaps what this shadowy figure is and what they hope to gain from the chaos. 

This was such a well-written historical fantasy and though it took me a week to finish it, it was well worth the time. The subject matter was deep and it needed to be read carefully and sometimes in small doses when things got serious. The characterization was brilliant; you could feel the desperation as things spiraled out of control and ultimately, if you know history you know how things end. Who lives and who dies.

The Kingdom of Liars by Nick Martell – Review

Cover- The Kingdom of Liars

Published: May 5, 2020 (eBook)

Publisher: Gallery/Saga Press

Series: The Legacy of the Mercenary Kings #1

Genre: Fantasy

Pages: 608

My Rating: 4.5/5.0

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis:

In this brilliant debut fantasy, a story of secrets, rebellion, and murder are shattering the Hollows, where magic costs memory to use, and only the son of the kingdom’s despised traitor holds the truth.

Michael is branded a traitor as a child because of the murder of the king’s nine-year-old son, by his father David Kingman. Ten years later on Michael lives a hardscrabble life, with his sister Gwen, performing crimes with his friends against minor royals in a weak attempt at striking back at the world that rejects him and his family.

In a world where memory is the coin that pays for magic, Michael knows something is there in the hot white emptiness of his mind. So when the opportunity arrives to get folded back into court, via the most politically dangerous member of the kingdom’s royal council, Michael takes it, desperate to find a way back to his past. He discovers a royal family that is spiraling into a self-serving dictatorship as gun-wielding rebels clash against magically trained militia.

What the truth holds is a set of shocking revelations that will completely change the Hollows, if Michael and his friends and family can survive long enough to see it.


This book is a great example of the right book for the right mood. When I first picked it up in early May, I was excited but ultimately just wasn’t feeling it after about 50 pages. I read a few other books I was more interested in at that moment and picked The Kingdom of Liars back up at the end of the month. At that point, I fairly tore through it and ended up really enjoying it! Moral of the story – if you’re just feeling a little meh or like you’re in a reading slump, consider picking a book up when you’re actually in the mood for it. Sometimes obvious things like this need to be pointed out to us bloggers who are trying to write reviews by certain dates etc.

Now to the actual review!

Michael Kingman is the son of the man who murdered the prince. He and the rest of his family have been stigmatized and spat upon by most of the kingdom – commoner and noble alike – since the terrible event and he’s never quite come to terms with that. The Kingman family had been the right hand of the King for centuries and were instrumental in founding Hollow but that legacy has been tainted and the Kingman children have taken their own paths in life. Michael is a bit of a rogue and hangs out with folks who are somewhat criminally inclined or who’ve just had a hard upbringing. His eldest brother is the executioner and wants nothing but to lose his tainted last name. His sister Gwen works in a care home where their mother has also been secreted away from the public eye.

When Michael is offered a high paying job assisting a noble called Domet as he moves from the care home back into society he can’t refuse. It’s the only way of continuing the care his mother needs after she suffered terrible memory loss, which is the unfortunate side effect of having a magical gift that is overused. Domet turns out to be a brilliant drunk and encourages Michael to enter the Endless Waltz, which is basically a ritual wherein a young noble steps out into society, in order to prove that Michael’s father didn’t truly murder the prince. This is where the story begins to really take off and become a page-turner. From this point I didn’t want to put it down – the stakes and drama were high!

Overall, this ended up being a fantastic read and I’m incredibly excited for the sequel because it had one heck of an ending. The whole ending was just traumatizing and I loved it! It totally turned my expectations on their head – suddenly nothing was as I thought and just… wow!

We Ride the Storm by Devin Madson – Review

Cover- We Ride the Storm

Published: June 23, 2020

Publisher: Orbit Books

Series: The Reborn Empire #1

Genre: Fantasy

Pages: 528 (Paperback)

My Rating: 4.0/5.0

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis:

In the midst of a burgeoning war, a warrior, an assassin, and a princess chase their own ambitions no matter the cost in Devin Madson’s visceral, emotionally charged debut.

War built the Kisian Empire. War will tear it down.

Seventeen years after rebels stormed the streets, factions divide Kisia. Only the firm hand of the god-emperor holds the empire together. But when a shocking betrayal destroys a tense alliance with neighboring Chiltae, all that has been won comes crashing down.

In Kisia, Princess Miko Ts’ai is a prisoner in her own castle. She dreams of claiming her empire, but the path to power could rip it, and her family, asunder.

In Chiltae, assassin Cassandra Marius is plagued by the voices of the dead. Desperate, she accepts a contract that promises to reward her with a cure if she helps an empire fall.

And on the border between nations, Captain Rah e’Torin and his warriors are exiles forced to fight in a foreign war or die.

As an empire dies, three warriors will rise. They will have to ride the storm or drown in its blood.


We Ride the Storm is another book that’s made its way quite successfully from self-published to traditionally published. I didn’t entirely love this book from the beginning, but the POVs really started to grow on me and by the end it was gripping. 

The assassin character, Cassandra, was fascinating from the first page. She’s a talented assassin who also happens to be a high-end prostitute. She can get close to the wealthy and few others look too closely. She also has a voice in her head (not her own voice). Princess Miko was also fairly likable and made a stunning turn into one of the most cunning characters. She was clearly clever from the start, but by the end I was thoroughly impressed! Captain Rah e’Torin was a bit less likable from the start. I can’t quite put my finger on why, but it took me a good half of the book before I really became invested in his POV. 

The story is basically that of two kingdoms on the brink of war and what leads the war to finally begin. Throw in a nomadic horse warrior nation and you’ve got yourself quite the action packed tale. I feel the horse warrior tribe component is increasingly popular of late in fantasy – I can think of at least one (and maybe two) other books that feature this. I like it, just hoping I don’t get burned out on it due to overuse!

Overall, this was an enjoyable read with interesting characters and some excellent political plotting from all three players.  The next book in this series, We Lie With Death, will be released January 2021.

The Angel of the Crows by Katherine Addison – Review

Cover- The Angel of the Crows

Published: June 23, 2020

Publisher: Tor Books

Series: Standalone

Genre: Fantasy

Pages: 448 (Hardcover)

My Rating: 3.5/5.0

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis:

A fantasy novel of alternate 1880s London, where killers stalk the night and the ultimate power is naming.

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 under 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.


Friends. Countrymen. This is not the book you expected based on the amazing synopsis. I mean, the synopsis does say that, but fair warning. This is purely and simply, Sherlock wing-fic (fanfic but give a character wings). I was just as shocked as so many other reviewers seemed to be, but I wasn’t entirely disappointed. It was fun and catered to my love for the mystery solving, brilliant Sherlock Holmes and the ever loyal John Watson. 

To be clear, the characters are not called Sherlock Holmes and John Watson, but rather Crow and J.H. Doyle. Crow is an unusual sort of angel who doesn’t have a building to be guardian to the way the rest of his brethren do. He’s an anomaly and has managed to bend the rules and declares himself the Angel of London. J.H. Doyle (or Dr. Doyle) has rather traditionally been injured during the war in Afghanistan and his injuries have resulted in his return to London where he can’t afford a flat by himself. If you’re at all familiar with the BBC show or the books you’ll guess what happens next. They become fast friends, solve crimes, and have dangerous adventures but this time the author throws in a bunch of supernatural stuff and Jack the Ripper.

Crow and Doyle, while original in some aspects, are comfortingly familiar characters. The cases themselves are thematically on point with the stories as well, though they certainly have minor differences. It was similar enough that I could guess who the culprit would be at each turn. 

While I greatly enjoyed this book, I struggle to rate it because it’s literally Sherlock with supernatural bits and the supernatural parts themselves weren’t all that in depth. The whole angel thing for one could have been so much more detailed! Angels guard a building. If the building is destroyed, the angel usually becomes Nameless and they sort of float about in a drone type state until further notice. The Named angels can’t leave their buildings, but protect them and usually the inhabitants. Crow has managed to avoid this, though I won’t spoil how. Angels can Fall and become evil, but this is merely glossed over. So many of the potentially amazing supernatural elements were just vague. 

This was tremendously fun, but it certainly wasn’t what I expected from Katherine Arden’s latest book. Admittedly, I would hate to have to live up to reader’s expectations following her much loved and acclaimed The Goblin Emperor. If you like Sherlock and/or re-tellings of Doyle’s stories then you’ll more than likely enjoy this as well. Do note that Crow (our Sherlock) doesn’t so much do amazing deduction as what seem to be brilliant guesses. I think this is in part due to Dr. Doyle being the main POV. 

The Obsidian Tower by Melissa Caruso – Review

Cover- The Obsidian Tower

Published: June 2, 2020

Publisher: Orbit Books

Series: Rooks and Ruin #1

Genre: Fantasy

Pages: 528 (Paperback)

My Rating: 4.0/5.0

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis:

The mage-marked granddaughter of a ruler of Vaskandar, Ryx was destined for power and prestige at the top of Vaskandran society. But her magic is broken; all she can do is uncontrollably drain the life from everything she touches, and Vaskandar has no place for a mage with unusable powers.

Then, one night, two terrible accidents befall her: Ryx accidentally kills a visiting dignitary in self-defense, activating a mysterious magical artifact sealed in an ancient tower in the heart of her family’s castle.

Ryx flees, seeking a solution to her deadly magic. She falls in with a group of unlikely magical experts investigating the disturbance in Vaskandar—and Ryx realizes that her family is in danger and her domain is at stake. She and her new colleagues must return to the family stronghold to take control of the artifact that everyone wants to claim—before it destroys the world.


Having absolutely loved Melissa Caruso’s first series, it only made sense for me to be equally excited for news of a brand new series set in the same world. This is set a number of years after the events of the first series and many of the characters are new, but there are a few familiar names that pop up. Things have changed a great deal since Amalia Cornaro’s push for mage rights in the first series and readers do get to see this, though the series is set in Vaskandar and the main character is the granddaughter of the Lady of the Owls.

Ryx is mage marked and should really be at the pinnacle of Vaskandran society, but her magic is deadly to any who may come in contact with her. She serves her grandmother, the Lady of the Owls, but has no one she can really call friend except for one of the castle gargoyles. Part of her job is to ensure that no one enters the obsidian tower that lies at the heart of Gloamingard. Its purpose is unknown, only that it must not be opened by anyone under any circumstance. Of course, there wouldn’t be a story if some foolish and ambitious mage-marked didn’t force their way into it, unleashing unknown trouble. This foolish person was the beloved of the neighboring witch lord, and when she was killed he demanded vengeance for her death. Ryx is sent to find a group of magical experts that have a deployment nearby the castle in hopes that they can help with whatever may have been unleashed when the seals were breached.

Ryx was quite a likable character and it was easy to sympathize with her desire to just be normal. She wants to be useful, but she also wants friends and human contact without the fear of harming those she cares for. The Rookery (the magical experts) were a delightful bunch that found Ryx to be fascinating rather than terrifying and I quickly fell in love with the whole group of them. The less savory characters were just as delightful, but in an evil sort of way. The Shrike Lord, whose beloved entered the tower, was rather awful. Perhaps not quite as reprehensible as Lord Ruven from the first series, but manipulative and abusive for sure. His brother, while not necessarily entirely a good guy was quite a spicy addition to the book as well. 

Overall, this was a great intro to a new series in a much beloved setting. Looking back, I ended up rating the Tethered Mage 4 stars as well, so I’m hoping that the next book will really solidify my love for this new series in much the same way! The characters are compelling, the stakes are high, and boy oh boy, do I love those morally grey Vaskandran guys.

Deal with the Devil by Kit Rocha – Review

Cover- Deal with the Devil

Published: July 28, 2020

Publisher: Tor Books

Series: Mercenary Librarians #1

Genre: Dystopian

Pages: 336 (Paperback)

My Rating: 3.5/5.0

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis:

Deal with the Devil is Orphan Black meets the post-apocalyptic Avengers by USA Today and New York Times bestselling author duo Kit Rocha.

Nina is an information broker with a mission–she and her team of mercenary librarians use their knowledge to save the hopeless in a crumbling America.

Knox is the bitter, battle-weary captain of the Silver Devils. His squad of supersoldiers went AWOL to avoid slaughtering innocents, and now he’s fighting to survive.

They’re on a deadly collision course, and the passion that flares between them only makes it more dangerous. They could burn down the world, destroying each other in the process…

Or they could do the impossible: team up.

This is the first book in a near-future science fiction series with elements of romance.


Alrighty then, let’s talk about the new Mercenary Librarians series! First of all, if you want a book with tons of good looking characters who are all highly skilled at something go ahead and add it to your TBR. All the characters are either super hot super soldiers or stunningly gorgeous genetically altered babes. And they’re all soooo touchingly good at heart.

Despite my sarcasm, this was an incredibly entertaining book if you suspend disbelief and accept that this is like a cheesy tv drama. Also, there’s minimal librarian stuff going on here. I was expecting something like near-future Indiana Jones hunting down hidden information and dodging booby-traps. The only booby traps here are the trio of women hunting down the information. Hahahah…. Wow that was awful. I loved them though – they had an incredible bond of sisterhood and they were tough, smart, and always looked out for one another and their little corner of the community. The guys of the Silver Devils were all equally lovable and I just couldn’t help but to ship them!

Spoiler alert! Your ship dreams might come true because this does have a romantic element to go along with the action. It’s just as corny and touching as you might imagine and yeah, it was fantastic. I do think the romance took away from the plot toward the end because it seemed to become the central focus of the story. I was hoping for more data hunting danger but that was definitely not the focus in the latter half. It starts out that way… but then the two groups get together and become friendly and it turns rather character driven.

All in all, it was a fun book and I’m planning to pick up the sequel whenever it might be released. That being said, dial back those expectations if you’re expecting female Indiana Jones searching for hidden data caches because that’s mostly superficial in this installment. I do hope in the next book that the author really shows off the Mercenary Librarian vibe and balances the romance and action a bit better.