Soulless by Gail Carriger – Audiobook Review

Cover- Soulless

Published: June 22, 2010

Publisher: Recorded Books

Genre: Paranormal, Romance

Series: Parasol Protectorate #1

Narrator: Emily Gray

Length: 10 hour 52 min

My Rating: 4.5/5.0

Synopsis:

Alexia Tarabotti is laboring under a great many social tribulations.

First, she has no soul. Second, she’s a spinster whose father is both Italian and dead. Third, she was rudely attacked by a vampire, breaking all standards of social etiquette.

Where to go from there? From bad to worse apparently, for Alexia accidentally kills the vampire–and then the appalling Lord Maccon (loud, messy, gorgeous, and werewolf) is sent by Queen Victoria to investigate.

With unexpected vampires appearing and expected vampires disappearing, everyone seems to believe Alexia responsible. Can she figure out what is actually happening to London’s high society? Will her soulless ability to negate supernatural powers prove useful or just plain embarrassing? Finally, who is the real enemy, and do they have treacle tart?


Another result of my unintentional purchase of extra Audible credits and a really good 2-for-1 sale. I’ve been wanting to read Soulless for quite some time now because I have a few of the other books in this particular series hanging out on my shelves, sadly unread. And oh my goodness, I fell in love with this book after about 4 pages (an estimate) and I COULD NOT PUT IT DOWN. I was in an audiobook haze, it was so good.

Soulless is our introduction to Alexia Tarabotti, a half Italian, half English spinster with a sharp tongue and mad skills with her specially made parasol. She is stunningly intelligent and opinionated, much to the chagrin of her entire family, who gave up the hope of marrying her off before she even came of age. Alexia sneaks off to the library at yet another dull party, where she unfortunately comes across a half-mad, starved vampire who attacks her, despite her soulless state which renders vampires and werewolves both rather ineffectual. This launches a rather exciting series of events that involve her with the B.U.R. and the rather handsome Lord Collum Maccon… glorious day, those two so obviously like each other, but can’t bear to admit it even to themselves!

The story was well paced and just the right amount of supernatural and mundane drama blended together. Strolls in the park gossiping with friends, tea with flamboyant Rococo-styled vampires, and scandalously late nights spent fighting evil scientists with a penchant for cephalopods. Everything about this book was absolutely fun and there were several moments that I could barely contain my laughter. Gail Carriger’s writing appealed to me in her YA geared Finishing School series, but this is leagues above that in appeal!! I’ll be devouring the rest of this series as soon as time allows. I would highly recommend this book to fans of Victorian-era paranormal fantasy, witty heroines, and dry/weird humor.

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Godsgrave by Jay Kristoff – Review

Cover- Godsgrave

Published: September 5, 2017

Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books

Genre: Fantasy

Series: The Nevernight Chronicle #2

Pages: 448 (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 ruthless young assassin continues her journey for revenge in this new epic fantasy from New York Times bestselling author Jay Kristoff.

Assassin Mia Corvere has found her place among the Blades of Our Lady of Blessed Murder, but many in the Red Church ministry think she’s far from earned it. Plying her bloody trade in a backwater of the Republic, she’s no closer to ending Consul Scaeva and Cardinal Duomo, or avenging her familia. And after a deadly confrontation with an old enemy, Mia begins to suspect the motives of the Red Church itself.

When it’s announced that Scaeva and Duomo will be making a rare public appearance at the conclusion of the grand games in Godsgrave, Mia defies the Church and sells herself to a gladiatorial collegium for a chance to finally end them. Upon the sands of the arena, Mia finds new allies, bitter rivals, and more questions about her strange affinity for the shadows. But as conspiracies unfold within the collegium walls, and the body count rises, Mia will be forced to choose between loyalty and revenge, and uncover a secret that could change the very face of her world.

Set in the world of Nevernight, which Publishers Weekly called “absorbing in its complexity and bold in its bloodiness,” Godsgrave will continue to thrill and satisfy fantasy fans everywhere.


Godsgrave is the much anticipated sequel to Jay Kristoff’s 2016 hit, Nevernight. Kristoff’s work has previously been geared towards the young adult crowd, however, the Nevernight books ARE NOT YA FANTASY. Get this outta your heads, folks. This book isn’t for the faint of heart and contains copious amounts of violence, blood, and/or gore. Usually all three at once.

Mia Corvere has gone from apprentice assassin, to Blade of the Red Church, to a voluntarily enslaved gladiator. It is only fitting that a book so clearly inspired by Rome would have at least some gladiatorial combat featured, but an entire book where such is the game was nothing short of this reader’s delight. One of the very first scenes in Godsgrave is where Mia sets herself up to encounter a particular slaver in the Wastes, eventually making an arrangement with the slaver that she would be sold as a gladiatorii. This seems odd, right? Fortunately, this absurd act will get her closer to her heart’s desire than ever before if all the cards fall into place. Of course, there are struggles, subplots, and the ever present flashback segments that reveal ever so much about dark of eye, dark of hair, Mia Corvere. (And yes folks, in my head that little bit rhymed).

Mia is one of those characters that are just really fun to read about. You basically never know if she’s about to knife someone and there’s an instance in Godsgrave where you think she’s just gone full on backstabbing beastie, but she’s really not! It was great. I was 100% fooled. I wish Eclipse had gotten more development – she remains flat compared to Mister Kindly and his overabundance of sarcasm and questionable advice. The come and go nature of the shadowy companions in this installment lessened the overall amount of page time they both had, though the absences were relevant to the play of the story. The characters introduced in Godsgrave were fantastic, particularly Sidonius who started out being another crude muscle head, but was really just loyal to the wrong people.

I gotta say, Kristoff has succeeded in impressing me yet again. At this rate I’m actually going to have to read his other books just to see if they’re anywhere near this good. She comes across as this crazy tough, fearless girl but her inner thoughts are nothing but fear and fury. Her past haunts her more than anything, but it also drives her forward. Without that I think she would be mostly empty. It leaves me wondering how things will wrap up in the final book! I would highly recommend this series, particularly if you want to see an epic battle between mere mortals and an epicly sized sand beasty reminiscent of the worms from Dune.

Lord of Shadows by Cassandra Clare – Review

cover-lord-of-shadows

Published: May 23, 2017

Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Series: The Dark Artifices #2

Pages: 701 (Hardcover)

My Rating: 3.0/5.0

 

Synopsis:

Would you trade your soul mate for your soul?

A Shadowhunter’s life is bound by duty. Constrained by honor. The word of a Shadowhunter is a solemn pledge, and no vow is more sacred than the vow that binds parabatai, warrior partners—sworn to fight together, die together, but never to fall in love.

Emma Carstairs has learned that the love she shares with her parabatai, Julian Blackthorn, isn’t just forbidden—it could destroy them both. She knows she should run from Julian. But how can she when the Blackthorns are threatened by enemies on all sides?

Their only hope is the Black Volume of the Dead, a spell book of terrible power. Everyone wants it. Only the Blackthorns can find it. Spurred on by a dark bargain with the Seelie Queen, Emma; her best friend, Cristina; and Mark and Julian Blackthorn journey into the Courts of Faerie, where glittering revels hide bloody danger and no promise can be trusted. Meanwhile, rising tension between Shadowhunters and Downworlders has produced the Cohort, an extremist group of Shadowhunters dedicated to registering Downworlders and “unsuitable” Nephilim. They’ll do anything in their power to expose Julian’s secrets and take the Los Angeles Institute for their own.

When Downworlders turn against the Clave, a new threat rises in the form of the Lord of Shadows—the Unseelie King, who sends his greatest warriors to slaughter those with Blackthorn blood and seize the Black Volume. As dangers close in, Julian devises a risky scheme that depends on the cooperation of an unpredictable enemy. But success may come with a price he and Emma cannot even imagine, one that will bring with it a reckoning of blood that could have repercussions for everyone and everything they hold dear.


Oh Cassie Clare, how your books draw me in and then spit me back out. I am perpetually frustrated by how strongly your series begin and then 2, 3, or 4 books in I just utterly lose interest. I loved Lady Midnight, it was a bang-up series intro that I thought would surely trump her other two Shadowhunter series, but Lord of Shadows was SO underwhelming.

Once again, the highlights of the story are great. What you would call major plot points range from interesting to jaw dropping, but the smaller threads that weave a tapestry of disappointment are what puts me off. So much of the text is dedicated to failed relationships, teenage angst, forbidden love, and awkward, tension filled conversations that it’s hard to see past it to the meat of the story. You could have chopped out 400 pages and had a pretty good book. The effort to make me feel for the characters was just too much. It in fact achieved the opposite and I became increasingly annoyed with them and their inability to just say what they’re thinking or at least make a clear attempt to show their feelings.

Aside from this, there were some incredible scenes where I just wanted to high five the characters. Emma Carstairs is pretty epic when she’s in battle-mode, wielding Cortana against immortal foes and generally showing up all the other Shadowhunters her age. Julian is surprisingly angry for a handsome, family-oriented YA character, which I appreciated. He makes an awesome rage-machine, much like a mother grizzly protecting her cubs and it makes a nice counterpoint to the stereotypical humorous bad-boy or sensitive types. Kit gets a lot more screen time in Lord of Shadows and we get to see his development from reluctant Herondale to one of the gang. There’s far too much going on in this book for me to discuss each and every character in detail, but I’ve covered the main points. Lots of new people are introduced, side characters are given more depth, and everyone feels the need to be in one bad relationship or another.

Lord of Shadows was pretty disappointing, though Clare managed to crush my soul (just a bit) at the end, much as I was forewarned. I’m considering finishing out the series when book three is released simply because BIG CHANGES were about to go in effect at the conclusion, but may wait until I see some reviews.

One Dark Throne by Kendare Blake – Review

cover-one-dark-throne

Published: September 19, 2017

Publisher: Harper Teen

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Series: Three Dark Crowns #2

Pages: 464 (Hardcover)

My Rating: 4.0/5.0

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

Synopsis:

The battle for the Crown has begun, but which of the three sisters will prevail?

With the unforgettable events of the Quickening behind them and the Ascension Year underway, all bets are off. Katharine, once the weak and feeble sister, is stronger than ever before. Arsinoe, after discovering the truth about her powers, must figure out how to make her secret talent work in her favor without anyone finding out. And Mirabella, once thought to be the strongest sister of all and the certain Queen Crowned, faces attacks like never before—ones that put those around her in danger she can’t seem to prevent.

In this enthralling sequel to Kendare Blake’s New York Times bestselling Three Dark Crowns, Fennbirn’s deadliest queens must face the one thing standing in their way of the crown: each other.


As I mentioned in my Currently Reading post, Three Dark Crowns was one of my favorite YA books of 2016, so naturally I was very excited for its sequel, One Dark Throne. Once I picked this up, I devoured the entire book in about two sittings because I was absolutely hooked! So much can happen between one page and the next that it’s difficult to put down. I wish I could have read both books back to back, because as I began One Dark Throne I realized I had forgotten about many of the details and character relationships that were central to the plot. I struggled through and managed to glean most of the details from context alone, alas I still missed out on stuff but it didn’t detract from my overall enjoyment.

While the story seemed dark from the very first pages of Three Dark Crowns, One Dark Throne really takes things to a new level. Katharine is now known as the Undead Queen because of her miraculous emergence from the Breccia Domain, a depthless rift in the island where dead queens are thrown. She’s gone from fearful girl to a deadly spider of a woman and she won’t be deterred from the throne. Mirabella and Arsinoe are on the defensive since Katherine’s emergence and you can practically taste their desperation. Mirabella’s role in this book isn’t as prominent as in book one, where she was introduced as the favored daughter and the most powerful elemental queen in history. Arsinoe continues here charade as the naturalist queen while testing her true gift – that of the poisoner. Her role in this book as significant as Katherine’s, thus developing her character further.

The plot itself was surprisingly unpredictable, though I can’t say the surprises were particularly astounding. I mostly found myself thinking “oh, didn’t see that coming” with raised eyebrows rather than rocketing out of my seat and hurling the book an undetermined distance. So basically, it was good but not mind-blowingly life/genre changing. The pacing was pretty solid and there was definitely enough drama. One thing that I’ve noticed is that all the male characters feel extraneous – if they weren’t there, it would hardly matter at all. I don’t feel strongly about any of them and I still can’t get over the fact that there’s one name Billy. It’s like naming your cat Kevin or something – waayyyyy too normal of a name.

Overall I liked this book quite a bit and will DEFINITELY be continuing on with the series. I’ve got to know what happens next! The ending of One Dark Throne was satisfying and unexpected – I look forward to having the world expand somewhat and I hope some of my questions will finally get answered! For instance, what really happens to the queens after they leave the island? Kendare Blake has once again delivered a book both aesthetically and intellectually pleasing.

The Punch Escrow by Tal M. Klein – Review

Cover- The Punch Escrow

Published: July 25, 2017

Publisher: Geek & Sundry

Genre: Science Fiction

Series: Stand Alone

Pages: 319 (Paperback)

My Rating: 4.0/5.0

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

Synopsis:

It’s the year 2147. Advancements in nanotechnology have enabled us to control aging. We’ve genetically engineered mosquitoes to feast on carbon fumes instead of blood, ending air pollution. And teleportation has become the ideal mode of transportation, offered exclusively by International Transport—a secretive firm headquartered in New York City. Their slogan: Departure… Arrival… Delight!

Joel Byram, our smartass protagonist, is an everyday twenty-second century guy. He spends his days training artificial intelligence engines to act more human, jamming out to 1980’s new wave—an extremely obscure genre, and trying to salvage his deteriorating marriage. Joel is pretty much an everyday guy with everyday problems—until he’s accidentally duplicated while teleporting.

Now Joel must outsmart the shadowy organization that controls teleportation, outrun the religious sect out to destroy it, and find a way to get back to the woman he loves in a world that now has two of him.


The Punch Escrow is book that came to my attention through the reviews of several fellow bloggers. Mere hours after my curiosity was piqued, I was contacted by the publisher about receiving a copy for review… could they have possibly used quantum entanglement (or something equally physics-y) to predict my interest? Unlikely, but the subject matter of this book might make you wonder such things.

Image a world run by corporations, where teleportation is a totally mundane way of travelling from point A to point B. That’s the world we have here, but we the readers are immediately thrust into crisis – the main character, Joel Byram, is being hunted down by International Transport, the inventors of human teleportation and the most powerful corporation in the world. It’s not even poor Joel’s fault, he’s just trying to use a TC terminal to get to his vacation in Costa Rica when an anti-teleportation terrorist decided to blow up said terminal. Joel’s life is quite immediately thrust into chaos because his very existence now has the power to destroy IT and proves the truth of some very dangerous secrets. You see, there are now two Joels – the one who made it to Costa Rica and the one that exited the terminal in New York…

I found Joel to be a likable character that was easy to sympathize with and the same can be said for Joel2 (aka Costa Rica Joel). The strong affinity with Joel is largely due to the fact that this story is a narrative as told by him – other characters are present (his wife, IT employees, undercover travel agents) but I never felt a strong like or dislike for them. Those who we can identify as the ‘bad guys’ didn’t elicit any really strong emotion from me, just a passive dislike which is definitely a drawback of this type of story. The author’s building of this future Earth was well done and through Joel’s eyes we get a good feel for what the world is like, though it’s definitely an overview and doesn’t get to the nitty-gritty details for the most part. The footnotes regarding certain technologies and scientific developments were and interesting addition, though the physics stuff mostly went over my head and eventually I just ended up skipping over them.

Overall, The Punch Escrow was a really cool book that I hope will actually make it through the production phase and appear as a movie! I think it will adapt very well to that format and I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for updates on that front. The ending was satisfying, the pacing quick, and the set-up for a potential sequel has me pretty stoked.

Night of Cake & Puppets by Laini Taylor – Review

Cover- Night of Cake and Puppets

Published: September 12, 2017

Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Series: Daughter of Smoke & Bone #2.5

Pages: 256 (Hardcover)

My Rating: 4.0/5.0

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

Synopsis:

In Night of Cake & Puppets, Taylor brings to life a night only hinted at in the Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy — the magical first date of fan-favorites Zuzana and Mik. Told in alternating perspectives, it’s the perfect love story for fans of the series and new readers alike.

Petite though she may be, Zuzana is not known for timidity. Her best friend, Karou, calls her “rabid fairy,” her “voodoo eyes” are said to freeze blood, and even her older brother fears her wrath. But when it comes to the simple matter of talking to Mik, or “Violin Boy,” her courage deserts her. Now, enough is enough. Zuzana is determined to meet him, and she has a fistful of magic and a plan.

It’s a wonderfully elaborate treasure hunt of a plan that will take Mik all over Prague on a cold winter’s night before finally leading him to the treasure: herself! Violin Boy’s not going to know what hit him.


Ever since reading Strange the Dreamer earlier this year, I’ve basically been on a Laini Taylor binge read. I devoured her Daughter of Smoke & Bone series, so obviously when a Zuzana and Mik novella showed up at my doorstep, I was ecstatic!

Night of Cake & Puppets is the story of the fated first introduction/date of Zuzana and Mik (who are positively adorable). It’s probably one of the most bizarrely cute first dates ever and I love that Laini decided to turn it into a novella, complete with illustrations because it was only ever vaguely mentioned in the main series. I’ll be honest, if this were about any characters other than our beloved rabid fairy and her blue-eyed violinist, I wouldn’t have liked it nearly so much.

There’s really not much more to say, other than if this story is basically a little winter time fairy tale. You may ask why I didn’t give it 5 stars if I liked it so much and my answer is that it just didn’t feel like a 5-star book to me. Can’t really explain it. I would definitely recommend it to those who have already read at least the first two Daughter of Smoke & Bone books, as this is sort of book 2.5 and contains some spoiler-y material.

An Alchemy of Masques and Mirrors by Curtis Craddock – Review

Cover- An Alchemy of Masques and Mirrors

Published: August 29, 2017

Publisher: Tor Books

Genre: Fantasy

Series: The Risen Kingdoms #1

Pages: 384 (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 polymath princess and her faithful musketeer must unravel the plot of a thousand-year-old madman in order to save an a foreign kingdom from a disastrous civil war.

Caelum is an uninhabitable gas giant like Jupiter. High above it are the Risen Kingdoms, occupying flying continents called cratons. Remnants of a shattered world, these vast disks of soaring stone may be a thousand miles across. Suspended by magic, they float in the upper layers of Caelum’s clouds.

Born with a deformed hand and utter lack of the family’s blood magic, Isabelle is despised by her cruel father. She is happy to be neglected so she can secretly pursue her illicit passion for math and science. Then, a surprising offer of an arranged royal marriage blows her life wide open and launches her and Jeane-Claude on an adventure that will take them from the Isle des Zephyrs in l’Empire Céleste to the very different Kingdom of Aragoth, where magic deals not with blood, but with mirrors.


GAH! I loved the synopsis for An Alchemy of Masques and Mirrors, so despite my busy schedule I made time to read this and I’m glad I did because it was literally SO much better than I could have expected or hoped. This book has elements similar to those found in David D. Levine’s Arabella of Mars – I’m quickly coming to find that I have a fondness for steampunk empires similar to those found in Europe in the 1700-1800’s. An Alchemy of Masques and Mirrors pulls elements from France and Spain (for once there are no Brits!), both of which have always had this elegant, gilded image in my mind.

Princess Isabelle des Zephyrs is a lacks the magical gifts that mark the nobility and with a malformed hand to boot, she has never had the warmest welcome amongst her family, peers, or even the commoners. Largely left to her own devices, Isabelle pursued her passions of science and mathematics, using the pseudonym Lord Martin DuJournal to publish her groundbreaking works. With no one but her faithful protector Jeane-Claude (a King’s Own Musketeer) and her bloodhollow servant Marie, Isabelle seems to be destined for a lonely life, despite her scholarly pursuits and social status. Until, that is, the Aragothic Empire extends an offer of marriage to one of the principe’s – an unheard of offer, as mixing of the magical lineages of Glasswalker and Sanguinare is practically considered heresy.

What follows this unexpected offer of marriage is several hundred pages of intrigue, assassination attempts, courtly politics, and a level of adventure that I had not at all anticipated. To say I was pleased with the pacing and world building would be an understatement. IT was chock full of history and lore, and the religious aspect was interesting, but I was nevertheless thankful that the author declined to go into a wearying information vomit of how the religious system was structured. I would have liked more discussion of the saints, as they were central to the plot, despite having been dead for, oh, a multitude of centuries or so. There was also a bit of a hurried romantic element near the end that was reasonable enough, but still made me go “hmmm”.

All in all, my few minor quibbles with An Alchemy of Masques and Mirrors are far outweighed by my delight at the entire story – from lovable (and detestable) characters, majestic kingdoms, to the very description of the sky continents themselves. This was a really fantastic debut and I’ll be impatiently awaiting news of the sequel as I simply cannot wait to see where things lead to next! I highly recommend this book and think fans of David D. Levine’s Arabella of Mars series or even Jim Butcher’s Cinder Spires series would particularly enjoy this.

The Queen of Blood by Sarah Beth Durst – Review

Cover- The Queen of Blood

Published: September 20, 2016

Publisher: Harper Voyager

Genre: Fantasy

Series: The Queens of Renthia #1

Pages: 353 (Hardcover)

My Rating: 4.0/5.0

Synopsis:

An idealistic young student and a banished warrior become allies in a battle to save their realm in this first book of a mesmerizing epic fantasy series, filled with political intrigue, violent magic, malevolent spirits, and thrilling adventure

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 . . .

But the spirits that reside within this land want to rid it of all humans. One woman stands between these malevolent spirits and the end of humankind: the queen. She alone has the magical power to prevent the spirits from destroying every man, woman, and child. But queens are still just human, and no matter how strong or good, the threat of danger always looms.

With the position so precarious, young women are chosen to train as heirs. Daleina, a seemingly quiet academy student, is under no illusions as to her claim to the throne, but simply wants to right the wrongs that have befallen the land. Ven, a disgraced champion, has spent his exile secretly fighting against the growing number of spirit attacks. Joining forces, these daring partners embark on a treacherous quest to find the source of the spirits’ restlessness—a journey that will test their courage and trust, and force them to stand against both enemies and friends to save their land . . . before it’s bathed in blood.


The Queen of Blood is another one of those books that I’ve been meaning to get around to since it was released in September 2016. At last! I decided to pick it up in audio format since there’s basically ZERO chance that I have time to squeeze in reading the actual book right now. It’s got a tremendously appealing cover, plus the synopsis mentions nature spirits as the basis for magic and even culture… sign me up!

The premise of The Queen of Blood is fairly standard when you look at the big picture – a girl from a small town overcomes great hardship to become the chosen one – but when you dig down a bit more it feels much more unique. The people of Aratay both rely on and fear the spirits of nature. Without them, the forest dies, water does not flow, and people will starve and waste away. The Queen is granted power by the spirits because they desire the balance she brings between their creative and destructive tendencies. Girls from across Aratay who display an affinity for the spirits are trained to become heirs, so when the Queen dies, there can be an immediate successor who can take control and prevent the utter decimation of mankind that the spirits could bring. This is where our main character comes in to play…

Daleina is not your average fantasy book character. First and most obvious of all is that her magic skills, which here translates to control over spirits, is minimal. She’s no prodigy, that’s for sure, and is even assisted by her friends on multiple occasions just so she can pass her magical tests. One thing she has in abundance is heart and determination. Despite her magical deficiency she remains determined to become on the Queen’s heirs, who are selected based on their strength and capability in controlling spirits. Daleina was an admirable character and I greatly appreciated the deviation from the standard character tropes. Ven, a disgraced Champion of the Queen, is our other main PoV in The Queen of Blood. I found him to be likable, though frustratingly naïve when it came to Queen Farrah due to his past relationship with her.

The Queen of Blood was an interesting book, but the beginning seemed to drag somewhat. I liked the magic school setting (always a win), but after a while I couldn’t wait for something to actually happen. I suppose that since it covered a large span of years it wasn’t that bad, but the story really picks up SO much in the latter half. I loved the latter half and the ending was especially brutal and fantastic, thus making up for a beginning that lacked real pizazz. I’d definitely recommend this and I thought it was appropriate for a broad age range of readers, from the younger YA to adult fantasy readers.

An Echo of Things to Come by James Islington – Review

Cover- An Echo of Things to Come

Published: August 22, 2017

Publisher: Orbit

Genre: Fantasy

Series: The Licanius Trilogy #2

Pages: 752 (Hardcover)

My Rating: 3.5/5.0

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

Synopsis:

In the wake of the devastating attack on Ilin Illan, an amnesty has been declared for all Augurs – finally allowing them to emerge from hiding and openly oppose the dark forces massing against Andarra. However as Davian and his new allies hurry north toward the ever-weakening Boundary, fresh horrors along their path suggest that their reprieve may have come far too late.
In the capital, Wirr is forced to contend with assassins and an increasingly hostile Administration as he controversially assumes the mantle of Northwarden, uncovering a mystery that draws into question everything commonly believed about the rebellion his father led twenty years ago. Meanwhile, Asha begins a secret investigation into the disappearance of the Shadows, determined to discover not only where they went but the origin of the Vessels that created them – and, ultimately, a cure.
And with time against him as he races to fulfill the treacherous bargain with the Lyth, Caeden continues to wrestle with the impossibly heavy burdens of his past. Yet as more and more of his memories return, he begins to realise that the motivations of the two sides in this ancient war may not be as clear-cut as they first seemed…


The Shadow of What Was Lost was one of my favorite fantasy books when it was released as an audiobook a few years ago. I recently did a re-read and loved it just as much the second time, despite the fact that I’m infinitely more critical once I’ve already read a book. An Echo of Things to Come was one of my most highly anticipated sequels of the year, but unfortunately it didn’t strike the same resonance with me as the first installment.

While the characters are for the most part, those we know and love from the first installment, the dynamic just didn’t seem to be there this time. I think this stems from the fact that each of them has gone their own way and been given their own PoV chapters. Caeden, Asha, Davian, and Wirr don’t feel as cohesive as they once did and they lack personality in comparison to the previous book. Caeden is portaling to every corner of the continent, uncovering hidden memories, and running into old pals. His portion of the book felt like an info dump, coupled with a wishy-washy dilemma over whether he was on the side of good or evil, with a splash of self-loathing for good measure. I liked him in the first book, but this time around Caeden was irritating. Asha continues to be a favorite of mine, but I found myself enjoying all the characters less than I had anticipated.

Events seem to be more the focus of this book than the characters. There are SO many events happening that I can barely remember all of what I would consider to be major plot points. There’s an assassination attempt, Caeden’s numerous barrages of memory, a rogue auger, and so many secrets that I can’t keep track of them. This book just has a bit too much going on and I feel that the story would have benefited from a somewhat more leisurely pace. This isn’t a small book by any means, clocking in at over 700 pages, but I think it would have been best as either a longer book or two separate books.

Overall, this was still a very good story – I read the last 350-ish pages in one sitting because I was absolutely engrossed. I know my review has focused on the negative aspects, but James Islington has written a really cool story, set in an interesting and storied world. The legends come alive, there’s the struggle between what’s good versus evil, and it’s got a nice save the world quest as the main theme. It’s a very compelling story and I hope the I won’t have to wait too terribly long for the finale!