The Atlas Six by Olivie Blake – Review

Published: January 30, 2020

Publisher: Self Published/Tor Books

Series: The Atlas #1

Genre: Fantasy

Pages: 383 (Paperback)

My Rating: 4.0/5.0

Synopsis:
The Alexandrian Society, caretakers of lost knowledge from the greatest civilizations of antiquity, are the foremost secret society of magical academicians in the world. Those who earn a place among the Alexandrians will secure a life of wealth, power, and prestige beyond their wildest dreams, and each decade, only the six most uniquely talented magicians are selected to be considered for initiation.

Enter the latest round of six: Libby Rhodes and Nico de Varona, unwilling halves of an unfathomable whole, who exert uncanny control over every element of physicality. Reina Mori, a naturalist, who can intuit the language of life itself. Parisa Kamali, a telepath who can traverse the depths of the subconscious, navigating worlds inside the human mind. Callum Nova, an empath easily mistaken for a manipulative illusionist, who can influence the intimate workings of a person’s inner self. Finally, there is Tristan Caine, who can see through illusions to a new structure of reality—an ability so rare that neither he nor his peers can fully grasp its implications.

When the candidates are recruited by the mysterious Atlas Blakely, they are told they will have one year to qualify for initiation, during which time they will be permitted preliminary access to the Society’s archives and judged based on their contributions to various subjects of impossibility: time and space, luck and thought, life and death. Five, they are told, will be initiated. One will be eliminated. The six potential initiates will fight to survive the next year of their lives, and if they can prove themselves to be the best among their rivals, most of them will.

Most of them.


Seems like I jumped on the bandwagon just in time with this book because it’s just been picked up by Tor for a re-release in March 2022! I love the current cover and have seen it around on Instagram enough that I was Influenced and picked it up. (Grab it now while it’s still only $5 for the ebook!). Between the dark academia setting and a cover that practically screamed “weird occult symbols” I was unable to resist temptation. And you know? It was a pretty cool story!

The story follows six magical practitioners who are highly skilled in their various disciplines. Each of them is extended an offer they can’t refuse by one Atlas Blakely, recruiter for the Alexandrian Society, an elite secret society of magicians. Only six are selected for admission each year and only five of them make it in as members. Isn’t it obvious that something ominous happens to the uninducted member? During their pre-initiation they spend their time learning secret powerful magics and inventing incredible feats of their own. Wormholes, time travel, anything is possible with their level of power and skill. They must also repel anyone who tries to invade the society’s walls and whilst they do all this, they must also decide who will be eliminated. 

The characters themselves are quite the cast. The two youngest, Nicole and and Libby have just graduated from magical university and are the fiercest of rivals, though their sexual tensions is palpable. They’re also the most likable of the cast, even though I could punch Libby for being so dense and insecure! The others are all varying shades of assholes. Callum reigns as the most psychotic and his empathic abilities only serve to make him worse. They all have quite obvious flaws and it really does serve to keep the reader on their toes and guessing about what might happen next. I liked the unpredictability of the whole story, and the ending left me clamoring for the sequel! I suppose now that Tor has picked it up I might have to wait a little longer for the next book, but I hope it will be worthwhile.

Overall, this was an interesting take on the magical school trope, had great dark academia vibes and some definite antiheroes. This is one instance in which unlikable characters worked for me – they weren’t completely awful and had enough redeeming qualities and interesting motivations to keep me invested! I can’t wait to see where the story goes next after such a wild ending!

Gild by Raven Kennedy – Review

Published: October 16, 2020

Publisher: Self Published

Series: The Plated Prisoner #1

Genre: Romance, Fantasy

Pages: 375 (Kindle)

My Rating: 1.5/5.0 

Synopsis:
The fae abandoned this world to us. And the ones with power rule.
Gold.
Gold floors, gold walls, gold furniture, gold clothes. In Highbell, in the castle built into the frozen mountains, everything is made of gold.
Even me.
King Midas rescued me. Dug me out of the slums and placed me on a pedestal. I’m called his precious. His favored. I’m the woman he Gold-Touched to show everyone that I belong to him. To show how powerful he is. He gave me protection, and I gave him my heart. And even though I don’t leave the confines of the palace, I’m safe.
Until war comes to the kingdom and a deal is struck.
Suddenly, my trust is broken. My love is challenged. And I realize that everything I thought I knew about Midas might be wrong.
Because these bars I’m kept in, no matter how gilded, are still just a cage. But the monsters on the other side might make me wish I’d never left.
The myth of King Midas reimagined. This compelling adult fantasy series is as addictive as it is unexpected. With romance, intrigue, and danger, the gilded world of Orea will grip you from the very first page.


I hated this book with almost every fiber of my being. It was utter shite and I genuinely do not understand the numerous high ratings I see (on Amazon especially). Like, it’s really not even good smut, so it’s definitely not good fantasy! Had I not been super invested in my hate-read I would have DNFd this after the halfway point for sure. Why did I stick with it for so long you may wonder?

Well, while it opened with a rather awkward orgy scene I kept hoping that there would be some excellent character or plot development to justify some part of those ratings. It kept teasing a potentially good plot, but it would continually let me down. At the roughly 50% mark, I concluded that there would be no plot development worth my time, but it was a shorter book so I pushed on through for the sake of writing a complete and justifiably negative review. 

This book does not feature healthy relationships AT ALL. Our MC is the King’s favorite concubine and is proof of his amazing ability- turning things to gold- because she is literally completely golden. Talk about economic inflation! She also has wiggly ribbon appendages sprouting from her back, which has honestly got to be the STUPIDEST thing I’ve ever heard and I really try not to judge too hard since SFF can get weird and make it work. Our Golden Girl has Stockholm syndrome like you would not believe, basically giving me hard-core heeby jeebies the whole book. I mean, it was just disturbing and pitiful. She just kept telling herself that life was great and that she was happy, all while downing copious amounts of alcohol to dull her feelings of entrapment.

0/10, do not recommend. It was also super rape-y, with tons of abuse of not only the main character but also the other concubines. And not just by the king! He would pimp them out to other nobles! To be fair, a disclaimer is provided at the end of the synopsis, so I knew it was going to be there… just perhaps not to that extent. Overall, it was SO NOT my cup of tea and I won’t be reading any more of the series despite the oddly attractive cover art. It gets 1.5 stars for a charming side character that gets murdered too soon and the nice cover.

Vespertine by Margaret Rogerson – Review

Published: October 5, 2021

Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books

Series: Vespertine #1

Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult

Page: 400 (Hardcover)

My Rating: 4.5/5.0

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

Synopsis:
The dead of Loraille do not rest.

Artemisia is training to be a Gray Sister, a nun who cleanses the bodies of the deceased so that their souls can pass on; otherwise, they will rise as spirits with a ravenous hunger for the living. She would rather deal with the dead than the living, who trade whispers about her scarred hands and troubled past.

When her convent is attacked by possessed soldiers, Artemisia defends it by awakening an ancient spirit bound to a saint’s relic. It is a revenant, a malevolent being that threatens to possess her the moment she drops her guard. Wielding its extraordinary power almost consumes her—but death has come to Loraille, and only a vespertine, a priestess trained to wield a high relic, has any chance of stopping it. With all knowledge of vespertines lost to time, Artemisia turns to the last remaining expert for help: the revenant itself.

As she unravels a sinister mystery of saints, secrets, and dark magic, her bond with the revenant grows. And when a hidden evil begins to surface, she discovers that facing this enemy might require her to betray everything she has been taught to believe—if the revenant doesn’t betray her first.


I have read a streak of amazing books lately, but this one wasn’t exactly a surprise. Margaret Rogerson has firmly established herself (IMO) as a reliably excellent author so I had decently high expectations. As with Sorcery of Thorns, I was entranced from the first pages and spent a nice chunk of a 16 hour car ride reading.

What I may enjoy the most about this book is our main character Artemesia. She has the Sight, which means she can see spirits and that means she is vulnerable to possession. Unlike most who have the Sight, Artemesia had it from birth and was possessed in her vulnerable state by a spirit called an ashgrim. Her family had no idea and thought she was just mentally unwell from birth and locked her in a shed until she severely burned her own hands to exorcise the ashgrim from herself. Events unfolded such that she was taken in to a convent where the nuns specialize in caring for the dead and this is where we find her when the story begins.

Artemesia is not particularly popular among the novices because she quite frankly pretty scary. That’s what happens when you spend many of your formative years possessed. This had the upside of making her quite capable of sensing spirits and making use of the Relics (artifacts bound with spirits) used among the Clergy. Artemesia declines to move on from her post, which is fortunate since when possessed soldiers attack the abbey she must use the relic of a Revenant, one of the Seven most powerful spirits. This act, along with following events end up garnering too much attention on our young Revenant-wielder. The people dub her a saint, but the Clergy are concerned that she is not in control and desire to hunt her down. The plot is really, really excellent and I won’t reveal any more here. 

I loved Artemesia! She has a fascinating origin story and how she handles her life going forward is quite motivating. The Revenant who possesses her is actually a fairly likable character as well, and even some minor characters ended up being rather decent in the end too, despite first impressions. The characters really made this excellent, but MAN is it cool to see a story with these super cool, yet terrifying Revenants with uncertain backstories. I’m really thrilled to learn more about how they came to be bound to saints in the first place! This is certainly  a world I can’t wait to see more from this series and I’m super happy that IT IS A SERIES, because I thought it was another standalone!

A Spindle Splintered by Alix E. Harrow – Review

Published: October 5, 2021

Publisher: Tordotcom

Series: Fractured Fables #1

Genre: Fantasy

Pages: 128 (Hardcover)

My Rating: 5.0/5.0

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

Synopsis:
USA Today
 bestselling author Alix E. Harrow’s A Spindle Splintered brings her patented charm to a new version of a classic story.


It’s Zinnia Gray’s twenty-first birthday, which is extra-special because it’s the last birthday she’ll ever have. When she was young, an industrial accident left Zinnia with a rare condition. Not much is known about her illness, just that no one has lived past twenty-one.

Her best friend Charm is intent on making Zinnia’s last birthday special with a full sleeping beauty experience, complete with a tower and a spinning wheel. But when Zinnia pricks her finger, something strange and unexpected happens, and she finds herself falling through worlds, with another sleeping beauty, just as desperate to escape her fate.


YOU GUYS! I have never loved a novella as much as I loved this one! It’s a little dark, a little hopeful, and has ten tons of snark. I picked it up and stayed glued to my couch for about an hour and a half while my eyeballs devoured it (such imagery!). 

Zinnia Gray has just turned twenty-one and expects any day to be her last because she’s nearing the term limit on her life. No one else who has this disease has lived past the ripe old age of twenty-one, so she’s basically set a record. In honor of her birthday, her best friend Charm throws her a Sleeping Beauty themed party replete with booze, cheap princess crowns, and an honest to god spinning wheel. Zinnia of course touches the needle and wakes up in another world with another version of Sleeping Beauty who was about to touch her own cursed spinning wheel needle. 

Zinnia and Prim, the other cursed princess, set off on a hastily put together journey to threaten/kill/maim the evil fairy who cursed Prim so she removes Prim’s curse (and hopefully Zinnia’s as well). It’s a short journey, but it works since this is a bit of a rush job anyway. Prim starts to wander off each time she sleeps in search of her fate, Zinnia can’t really ride a horse, and she’s also dying a bit more rapidly since she’s out of meds. They’re a hot mess.

Despite its short length I loved this book immensely. The characters are the most badass group of heroines fighting their fates down to their last breath and/or waking moments. There’s a sequel scheduled for release next year and I am sooooo excited to see where this story goes!

Activation Degradation by Marina Lostetter – Review

Published: September 28, 2021

Publisher: Harper Voyager

Series: Standalone

Genre: Science Fiction

Pages: 480 (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 Murderbot Diaries makes first contact in this new, futuristic, standalone novel exploring sentience and artificial intelligence through the lenses of conflicted robot hero Unit Four, from Marina Lostetter, critically acclaimed author of Noumenon, Noumenon Infinity, and Noumenon Ultra.

When Unit Four—a biological soft robot built and stored high above the Jovian atmosphere—is activated for the first time, it’s in crisis mode. Aliens are attacking the Helium-3 mine it was created to oversee, and now its sole purpose is to defend Earth’s largest energy resource from the invaders in ship-to-ship combat.

But something’s wrong. Unit Four doesn’t feel quite right.

There are files in its databanks it can’t account for, unusual chemical combinations roaring through its pipes, and the primers it possesses on the aliens are suspiciously sparse. The robot is under orders to seek and destroy. That’s all it knows.

According to its handler, that’s all it needs to know.

Determined to fulfill its directives, Unit Four launches its ship and goes on the attack, but it has no idea it’s about to get caught in a downward spiral of misinformation, reprograming, and interstellar conflict.

Most robots are simple tools. Unit Four is well on its way to becoming something more..


I can certainly see why this would be compared to Murderbot in so many blurbs! It’s an excellent becoming human type story, but it’s unique and in no way derivative of the Murderbot  series that has taken readers by storm. There are a few little twists and turns that totally blew me away!

The story starts off in possibly the most stressful situation possible. Unit Four, our protagonist, has just been yanked from a solution vat and is being rushed about to help save a mining station that has come under attack. Four’s handler insists that the attackers are extremely dangerous and so in a last ditch effort Four takes out a ship to fend off the invaders. It (as Four wants to be referred to as) is captured by humanoid creatures, and though it manages to injure a few, ends up strapped to a chair.  Turns out the humanoids are humans (a shock!) which also begs the question of who/what is Four’s handler if Earth isn’t inhabited by humans any longer. There a several of these topsy-turvy moments that really make one question what’s happening! Keeps you on your toes for sure!

The humans don’t trust Unit Four (who has been given the name Aimsley) but they do need it’s help. Their ship was damaged in the short battle that commenced at the beginning of the story and they now must work with Aimsley to repair their ship. 

This is ultimately a story of self-discovery and though it doesn’t give you the warm fuzzy that Becky Chambers stories have, it does have a similar feeling. It’s a crew up against stacked odds, they’re a weird and wonderful found family and now Aimsley might just get to be a part of that. Life can be longer than 90 days of eating recycled protein and getting blasted by radiation. Should a sequel be in the works, I would most definitely check it out!

Among Thieves by M.J. Kuhn – Review

Published: September 7, 2021

Publisher: Gallery/Saga Press

Series: Standalone

Genre: Fantasy

Pages: 352 (Hardcover)

My Rating: DNF @ ~50%

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

Synopsis
A high-stakes heist novel set in a gritty world of magic and malice

In just over a year’s time, Ryia Cautella has already earned herself a reputation as the quickest, deadliest blade in the dockside city of Carrowwick—not to mention the sharpest tongue. But Ryia Cautella is not her real name.

For the past six years, a deadly secret has kept her in hiding, running from town to town, doing whatever it takes to stay one step ahead of the formidable Guildmaster—the sovereign ruler of the five kingdoms of Thamorr. No matter how far or fast she travels, his servants never fail to track her down…but even the most powerful men can be defeated.

Ryia’s path now leads directly into the heart of the Guildmaster’s stronghold, and against every instinct she has, it’s not a path she can walk alone. Forced to team up with a crew of assorted miscreants, smugglers, and thieves, Ryia must plan her next moves very carefully. If she succeeds, her freedom is won once and for all…but unfortunately for Ryia, her new allies are nearly as selfish as she is, and they all have plans of their own.


So, I feel like this was not the right time or format for this book to work for me. I picked up the audiobook so I could whittle down the tremendous number of new books I had on my review list and it never quite clicked. Partially, I think this was due to narration style – the narrator had the same voice for every character and they all muddled together. 

This was a weird situation because this book has SO MANY THINGS that I usually love! Ryia is a gang enforcer with a bloody terrifying reputation. She’s also hiding under an assumed name and she’s running from the Guild because she has magical powers. People with these powers are usually spirited away shortly after birth to become slaves to the guild. When the opportunity to steal a powerful object from the Guildmaster arises, she takes the offer and sets off with a group of harebrained fellow criminals. 

It sounds so awesome, right?? I just never connected with any of the characters and even though I listened to it for four hours straight while driving (and therefore with nothing else to do) I couldn’t tell you much beyond the basic synopsis I just gave. Rather than force my way through a book I wasn’t enjoying, I decided to DNF at around the 50% marker. I might give this a second chance in the future.

Horseman by Christina Henry – Review

Published: September 28, 2021

Publisher: Berkley Books

Series: Standalone

Genre: Horror, Fantasy

Pages: 320 (Paperback)

My Rating: 3.5/5.0

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

Synopsis:
Everyone in Sleepy Hollow knows about the Horseman, but no one really believes in him. Not even Ben Van Brunt’s grandfather, Brom Bones, who was there when it was said the Horseman chased the upstart Crane out of town. Brom says that’s just legend, the village gossips talking.

Twenty years after those storied events, the village is a quiet place. Fourteen-year-old Ben loves to play Sleepy Hollow boys, reenacting the events Brom once lived through. But then Ben and a friend stumble across the headless body of a child in the woods near the village, and the sinister discovery makes Ben question everything the adults in Sleepy Hollow have ever said. Could the Horseman be real after all? Or does something even more sinister stalk the woods?


I’ve had decent luck with Christina Henry’s other titles, so I was really quite excited to see that she was writing a Sleepy Hollow retelling. It was ultra creepy, not at all what I expected, and a really refreshing take on the tale. 

Horseman takes place two decades after the events of the original Headless Horseman tale and stars Ben van Brunt, grandchild of Brom and Katrina. Ben’s parents died when Ben was just a babe, supposedly of a fever. This is the generally accepted story, but it becomes clear something suspicious is afoot when a child’s body, missing head and hands, is discovered in the woods. The reaction of certain adults who were around the first time this happened is a dead giveaway that not all is as it seems. Something dangerous is in the woods, and it has a hunger that only hands (and a head) can satisfy. Ben is determined to investigate this mystery, but between the spine tingling presence in the woods, and the ghostly drumming of a horse’s hooves it’s quite a terrifying thought.

I loved the first ~85% of the book. There was a creeping dread that really fit the tale well, I loved Ben, Brom, and Katrina, and the little reveals of what actually happened during the original Headless Horseman tale were great. The dead bodies devoid of head and hands were absolutely ghastly and the thing eating them was honestly way creepier than it had any right to be. It was fantastic! And then the book jumped forward in time and I didn’t care for that portion all that much. It yanked me out of the story and while I can understand why it was executed that way, I was a little let down by the ending. The creeping dread was gone and only sadness remained. 

Overall, this was a really good story with plenty of creep factor. I love reading spooky retellings as Halloween gets ever closer and Sleepy Hollow is one of my favorites! The landing didn’t quite stick (for me) but I’d definitely recommend this if you’re looking for a good Sleepy Hollow retelling.

The Bone Ship’s Wake by R.J. Barker – Review

Published: September 28, 2021

Publisher: Orbit Books

Series: The Tide Child #3

Genre: Fantasy

Pages: 592 (Paperback)

My Rating: 5.0/5.0

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

Synopsis:
Discover a brilliantly imagined epic fantasy of honor, glory, and warfare in this action-packed conclusion to the David Gemmell Award-nominated trilogy.

Joron Twiner’s dreams of freedom lay shattered. His Shipwife is gone and all he has left is revenge. Leading the black fleet from the deck of Tide Child, he takes every opportunity to hurt the Hundred Isles he is given. But his time is limited.

His fleet is shrinking, the Keyshan’s Rot is running through his body, and he hiding from a prophecy that says he and the avian sorcerer, the Windseer will end the entire world.

But the Sea Dragons have returned, a miracle in itself, and who is to say that if you can have one miracle, there cannot be another?


RJ Barker has really knocked this WHOLE series into another category of awesome. Not to mention, it’s earned its spot as one of my favorite sea-faring fantasies of all time! It’s quite an emotional tale and honestly, I was somewhat teary-eyed by the end of it. Thanks for punching me in the soul, RJ.

It starts off with a rather traumatic scene showing Meas’s brutal torture at the hands of the religious order, which only serves to really make the reader quite anxious. I spent many pages mentally hurrying Joron along and hoping they would find Meas sooner rather than later. It was to no avail of course, since these things happen in the author’s own good time. Joron and the crew of the Tide Child are in their own series of unpleasant predicaments, running from the Hundred Isles fleet while low on supplies and with a ship that desperately needs to dock for repairs. Joron’s fame as the brutal Black Pirate has made the Tide Child a more tempting target than ever and this means there’s not a dull moment to be found. Sailing into the deadliest uncharted waters, encounters with krakens and the massive keyshan, rescuing Meas, and taking down corrupt leaders certainly keeps one on the edge of their seat. 

It’s safe to say that if you’ve enjoyed the previous books, you’ll be delighted (and maybe traumatized) by this final installment. The characterization gets better and better and the characters suffer real consequences for their choices and the choices of others. Joron is now a capable acting Shipwife, but secretly struggles with the distance his position puts between him and his crew. The life of a leader can be lonely. Meas’s lengthy capture leaves her with serious physical and psychological damage, evident in her actions later in the book. Gullaime continues to be a strange creature you can’t help but love, and it saddened me to see it be oppressed by the Windshorn and weighted down by duty. All of these elements serve as evidence of RJ Barker’s talent and kept me thoroughly hooked.

I can’t recommend this series enough! If you think pirates and sea dragons sound awesome, then you should definitely give this a try. If you’ve read this and need more RJ Barker books to fill the void, check out his Wounded Kingdom trilogy which is a great story about assassins, war, and friendship.

Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neal Gaiman – Review

Published: May 1, 1990 

Publisher: William Morrow

Series: Standalone

Genre: Fantasy

Pages: 491 (Mass Market Paperback)

My Rating: 4.0/5.0

Synopsis:
‘Armageddon only happens once, you know. They don’t let you go around again until you get it right.’

People have been predicting the end of the world almost from its very beginning, so it’s only natural to be sceptical when a new date is set for Judgement Day. But what if, for once, the predictions are right, and the apocalypse really is due to arrive next Saturday, just after tea?

You could spend the time left drowning your sorrows, giving away all your possessions in preparation for the rapture, or laughing it off as (hopefully) just another hoax. Or you could just try to do something about it.

It’s a predicament that Aziraphale, a somewhat fussy angel, and Crowley, a fast-living demon now finds themselves in. They’ve been living amongst Earth’s mortals since The Beginning and, truth be told, have grown rather fond of the lifestyle and, in all honesty, are not actually looking forward to the coming Apocalypse.

And then there’s the small matter that someone appears to have misplaced the Antichrist…


I was struck with the sudden desire to see what this book was all about after years of being a little curious. It was really quite fun! And now I feel like I can finally check out the tv series without ruining all the fun for myself.

I daresay at this point most folks know of this book – I mean, it has been out for decades at this point and I think I remember seeing it in the library when I was pretty young. Good Omens is a big story of “what if”. What if a demon and an angel sort of teamed up to stop the apocalypse because they think Earth is cool and want to keep enjoying good meals and nice cars? What if the Antichrist was raised as a normal lad, who grew up playing in the woods with his friends? What if the four horsemen of the apocalypse were bikers? You get the point. 

This was a very fun read that made me laugh aloud on many occasions. Aziraphale and Crowley were a riot, Adam was a good-hearted kid, and the Witchfinders… wow, what an interesting cast of characters. I did feel that towards the latter quarter of the book I started to get a little bored and wanted things to wrap up and events just kept going on and onnnn. Overall, I think it was quite good and lived up to my expectations very nicely. If you’re not a fan of irreverent humor poked in the direction of religion, then perhaps steer clear. When it gets dreary and cold out this winter I might just check out the tv series to fully appreciate David Tennant as Crowley.

A Dance with the Fae Prince by Elise Kova – Review

Published: August 19, 2021

Publisher: Silver Wing Press

Series: Married to Magic #2

Genre: Fantasy, Romance

Pages: 344 (Kindle)

My Rating: 4.0/5.0

Synopsis:
She knew her hand in marriage would be sold. She had no idea a fae prince was the buyer.

Katria swore she’d never fall in love. She’s seen what “love” means through the cruelty of her family. So when she’s married off to the mysterious Lord Fenwood for a handsome price, all Katria wants is a better life than the one she’s leaving. Feelings are off the table.

But her new husband makes not falling in love difficult.

As their attraction begins to grow, so too do the oddities within her new life: strange rules, screams in the night, and attacks by fae that Katria never thought were real. When she witnesses a ritual not meant for human eyes, Katria finds herself spirited away to the land of Midscape.

Surviving the fae wilds as a human is hard enough. Katria must survive as a human who accidently pilfered the magic of ancient kings – magic a bloodthirsty king is ready to kill her for in order to keep his stolen throne – and her new husband is the rightful heir in hiding.

The power to save the fae is in her hands. But who will save her from a love she vowed never to feel?


Elise Kova has done it again! I’m absolutely loving these standalone fantasy romances that are set in the same world. This particular tale is described as a mix of Cinderella and the tale of Psyche and Eros and the beginning definitely has strong Cinderella themes. 

Katria is the unwanted stepdaughter and since her father disappeared at sea, her stepmother has only grown more inclined to abuse her. The final straw is when her stepmother springs a surprise marriage arrangement where her family will receive a substantial bride price and she’ll be stolen away to marry a mysterious lord. To her pleasant surprise, Katria finds a beautiful mansion near the woods but it comes with an unusual set of rules – don’t look upon her husband, don’t leave the grounds, and don’t leave her room at night no matter what she hears. All goes well until Katria finds a note from her husband and she follows him into the woods, interrupting a strange fae ritual where she is granted the magic that he had prepared for so long to reclaim. Thus begins Katria’s journey into the Fae lands and she can finally get to know Davien, the mystery man she married as he tries to claim the throne that should rightfully be his.

Katria is quite an easy character to empathize with and Davian, though frustrating at first, ends up being quite likable as well. There’s a nice cast of secondary characters, the evil king is a pretty standard jerk, and the settings were “fairy” cool. This story isn’t revolutionizing the genre, but I do think this series is one of the best in the fantasy romance category. I’ve read some that were ABSOLUTE TRASH (reviews forthcoming!) and Elise Kova is wayyy better than much of the competition! Admittedly, I’m fairly new to the genre but I’ve checked out a few of the more popular series that are garnering attention on TikTok and Bookstagram as well as a few that came recommended from a friend and I can safely say that this is one of my favorites.

My biggest peeve with this is that there are always extra chapters that aren’t in the books – you have to join the author’s mailing list and read them on her website. It’s super frustrating because they’ve been great and absolutely needed to be an epilogue chapter in the book!