The Black Song by Anthony Ryan – Review

Published: August 4, 2020

Publisher: Ace Books

Series: Raven’s Blade #2

Genre: Fantasy

My Rating: 3.5/5.0

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

Synopsis:

A matchless warrior is pitted against a near-God in the second epic installment of the Raven’s Blade series.

It has long been our lot in life, brother, to do what others can’t.

Vaelin Al Sorna was known across the realm as the greatest of warriors, but he thought battles were behind him. He was wrong. Prophecy and rumor led him across the sea to find a woman he once loved, and drew him into a war waged by the Darkblade, a man who believes himself a god–and one who has gathered a fanatical army that threatens all of the known world.

After a costly defeat by the Darkblade, Vaelin’s forces are shattered, while the self-proclaimed immortal and his army continue their terrible march. But during the clash, Vaelin regained some of the dark magic that once gave him unrivaled skill in battle. And though the fight he has been drawn into seems near unwinnable, the song that drives him now desires the blood of his enemy above all else…


I could sum this book up quite quickly – Vaelin uses his mad battle skills to kill lots of people, has issues with his new gift, and finds feelings for women that want nothing to do with him. Don’t get me wrong, I love Vaelin and appreciate that this series is a return to what I loved about Blood Song but he is certainly a predictable character. 

This picks up with Vaelin struggling with/against his new song, which he creatively dubs the “Black Song”. It is darker in nature than the blood song he lost and it revels in death, so much so that he stays drugged until he can reach the Temple of Spears. He hopes they will have a solution to more than one of his problems and they do join him to fight the Darkblade. The book is full of battles, reunions, and mysterious hoo-doo about the Tiger and the Wolf (two ancient spirits).

While I enjoy the characters in this series, I think they lacked in development this time around and ended up feeling somewhat flat. The story itself seemed to drag in places, though it was never actually boring. I think this suffered somewhat from second book syndrome, though it was in fact the end of the duology. It just didn’t quite capture me the way The Wolf’s Call did initially.

The Lights of Prague by Nicole Jarvis – Review

Published: May 18, 2021

Publisher: Titan Books

Series: Standalone

Genre: Fantasy

Pages: 416 (Paperback)

My Rating: 4.5/5.0

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

Synopsis:

For readers of VE Schwab and The Witcher, science and magic clash in atmospheric gaslight-era Prague.

In the quiet streets of Prague all manner of otherworldly creatures lurk in the shadows. Unbeknownst to its citizens, their only hope against the tide of predators are the dauntless lamplighters – a secret elite of monster hunters whose light staves off the darkness each night. Domek Myska leads a life teeming with fraught encounters with the worst kind of evil: pijavica, bloodthirsty and soulless vampiric creatures. Despite this, Domek find solace in his moments spent in the company of his friend, the clever and beautiful Lady Ora Fischer – a widow with secrets of her own.

When Domek finds himself stalked by the spirit of the White Lady – a ghost who haunts the baroque halls of Prague castle – he stumbles across the sentient essence of a will-o’-the-wisp, a mischievous spirit known to lead lost travellers to their death, but who, once captured, are bound to serve the desires of their owners.

After discovering a conspiracy amongst the pijavica that could see them unleash terror on the daylight world, Domek finds himself in a race against those who aim to twist alchemical science for their own dangerous gain.


**The release date for this book was pushed back to May 2021, however it was initially supposed to be released in September 2020**

This is for all the folks who want a vampire book without the sparkles. I had hopes that this would be a proper, threatening story and that’s exactly what it was. The vampires are a deadly threat, though not all are necessarily evil and the monster hunters aren’t all good people. The setting is delightful – Prague is always a magical setting and the time period lends toward the dark atmosphere.

Domek Myska is a lamplighter, and as you may guess from the title, he is responsible for igniting the gas lamps that light Prague’s streets at night. The lamplighters are also hunters and slayers of the monsters that lurk in Prague’s dark alleys. Domek is a good man, if somewhat naive about certain aspects of the world around him. Lady Ora Fischerova is a vampire, or pijavice, as they are called in this tale. She longs for her humanity and is grieving a mortal husband that passed many years before. Ora wants nothing to do with pijavice politics and only wishes to partake in the human nightlife and culture that is available. Ora and Domek are acquainted with one another, though neither realizes what the other truly is. 

While both Ora and Domek are inherently decent folk, their respective avoidance of their own kind and naive/trusting nature do them disservice. Ora is blind to the machinations of her creator and actions taken by the new covens in Prague and she is unprepared when asked by a human friend to spy on them. Domek gets himself into a fair bit of trouble because he shares information with people he trusts… but can you blame him? These people have never given him a reason not to trust them. 

Anyway, I’m rambling. The story is delightful, tense, and action-packed with a decent amount of culture and worldbuilding to further spice things up. I love the tension between Ora and Domek – will he return her flirtations? The sudden disappearance of wisps (trapped spirits) and the discovery of a pijavice in possession of one adds a layer of mystery to an already interesting story. Both Ora and Domek are likable characters with a satisfying amount of depth – they have flaws, personal problems, interesting quirks – basically all the things that contribute to a well written character. 

I thought The Lights of Prague was a great story that perfectly suits a rainy day and a hot cup of tea. I’ll be keeping my eye out for more releases from Nicole Jarvis in the future!

The Seventh Perfection by Daniel Polansky – Review

Published: September 22, 2020

Publisher: Tor.com

Series: Standalone

Genre: Fantasy

Pages: 176 (Paperback)

My Rating: 3.75/5.0

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

Synopsis:

Daniel Polansky returns with The Seventh Perfection, an innovative, mind-bending fantasy mystery

When a woman with perfect memory sets out to solve a riddle, the threads she tugs on could bring a whole city crashing down. The God-King who made her is at risk, and his other servants will do anything to stop her.

To become the God-King’s Amanuensis, Manet had to master all seven perfections, developing her body and mind to the peak of human performance. She remembers everything that has happened to her, in absolute clarity, a gift that will surely drive her mad. But before she goes, Manet must unravel a secret which threatens not only the carefully prepared myths of the God-King’s ascent, but her own identity and the nature of truth itself.


I had initially been excited about checking The Seventh Perfection out because it seemed like a good introduction to Daniel Polansky’s writing. Well…. This may not be the very best book to start out with. Or maybe it is and I won’t know until I pick another up. This is just a very odd book, primarily due to the writing style. It’s written so that you only get one side of the conversation, like eavesdropping on someone’s phone call. 

The main character Manet is somewhat of a mystery. She works in some capacity for the god-king and it’s clear that she holds some power because the folks she speaks to become deferential when it comes up. Small details are revealed as the story goes along and soon it becomes apparent that she is highly trained and has mastered all of the “perfections” which is quite rare. She is clearly searching for someone – a woman in a locket picture – and the questions she’s asking aren’t safe. 

The story follows Manet’s search for this woman pictured in the locket and each chapter is the next step in her search. It takes place over the course of a few days and escalates into quite an adventure by the end. The writing style leaves a great deal of room for the reader to interpret as far as Manet’s actions because you only get the side of the person she’s speaking to. 

Overall, this is one of the most unique short stories I’ve read and while I feel that it’s not representative of the author’s usual writing style, I can at least say it’s made me curious about his other work. This was a bold piece of art, perfectly suited for novella format.

The Trouble With Peace by Joe Abercrombie – Review

Published: September 15, 2020

Publisher: Orbit Books

Series: The Age of Madness #2

Genre: Fantasy

Pages: 512 (Hardcover)

My Rating: 4.25/5.0

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

Synopsis:

War. Politics. Revolution.
The Age of Madness has arrived…


Savine dan Glokta, once Adua’s most powerful investor, finds her judgement, fortune and reputation in tatters. But she still has all her ambitions, and no scruple will be permitted to stand in her way.

For heroes like Leo dan Brock and Stour Nightfall, only happy with swords drawn, peace is an ordeal to end as soon as possible. But grievances must be nursed, power seized and allies gathered first, while Rikke must master the power of the Long Eye… before it kills her.

Unrest worms into every layer of society. The Breakers still lurk in the shadows, plotting to free the common man from his shackles, while noblemen bicker for their own advantage. Orso struggles to find a safe path through the maze of knives that is politics, only for his enemies, and his debts, to multiply.

The old ways are swept aside, and the old leaders with them, but those who would seize the reins of power will find no alliance, no friendship, and no peace, lasts forever.
 


HE’S GONE AND DONE IT AGAIN.

I loved this book too, and really, should I be surprised at this point? Nah, I really shouldn’t be. 

While this wasn’t quite as gobsmackingly amazing as the first book (I am a sucker for first books) it was brilliant in so many ways. Characters rise and fall and take you by surprise when they do the unexpected but then… you’re just like “ayyy i see what u did there”.

Savine is still dealing with her traumatic experience at Valbeck (mostly through drug use) and she’s also pregnant which complicates her life quite a bit. Orso, now king, has his own new set of problems as well. The Open Council is full of rebellious morons and the Close Council is dangerous. The most dangerous of all is the magician Bayaz, though Orso hasn’t quite figured out why his father used to be so terrified of him. Leo dan Brock is just a bloody idiot to be honest. A handsome, honorable idiot who can be so easily led by the nose. Rikke must find a solution to contain the Long Eye otherwise she will be driver mad (or perhaps madder than she is). This is just a hint of what this book contains. To delve further into the details would spoil it terribly and you really need those moments where your jaw hits the floor.

I love the character development and I enjoy that the secondary characters are just as delightfully fleshed out and disturbed as the main characters. Vick, Gunnar Broad, and Clover are probably the best examples of well done characters that aren’t quite the main characters. They do have their own POV chapters and each is quite enjoyable for a multitude of reasons. The industrialized setting is fantastic – gloom, grime, and corporate greed abound. The rich crush those they employ and there are no (or few) labor laws that do anything at all for worker safety, rights, pay, etc. It stands out from the usual epic fantasy setting, though this semi-industrialized setting is becoming more common. 

This is really quite the book and the thoughts I’ve laid down here don’t quite do it justice. I’m just glossing over things. It’s safe to say if you’ve enjoyed any of Joe Abercrombie’s other books, whether in the First Law world or otherwise, you’ll love The Trouble with Peace.

The Vanished Queen by Lisbeth Campbell – Review

Published: August 18, 2020

Publisher: Gallery/Saga Press

Series: Standalone

Genre: Fantasy

Pages: 496 (Hardcover)

My Rating: 3.5/5.0

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

Synopsis:

When a country is held in thrall to a vicious, despotic king, it’s up to one woman to take him down.

Long ago, Queen Mirantha vanished. King Karolje claimed it was an assassination by a neighboring king, but everyone knew it was a lie. He had Disappeared her himself.

But after finding the missing queen’s diary, Anza—impassioned by her father’s unjust execution and inspired by Mirantha’s words—joins the resistance group to overthrow the king. When an encounter with Prince Esvar thrusts her into a dangerous game of court politics, one misstep could lead to a fate worse than death.

Esvar is the second son to an evil king. Trapped under his thumb and desperate for a way out, a chance meeting with Anza gives him the opportunity to join the resistance. Together, they might have the leverage to move against the king—but if they fail, their deaths could mean a total loss of freedom for generations to follow.


My interest was piqued when I read the synopsis for The Vanished Queen, but I was genuinely surprised when I enjoyed it as much as I did. The book was such that it could have either become a total bore or quite the adventure and fortunately it landed on the adventurous path. Now admittedly, there’s quite a lot of politicking and talking so if that’s not your cup of tea then you may not enjoy this as much.

The two main (current) POVs in this book are Anza and Prince Esvar. Anza is a talented archer and collegium graduate who has gotten involved with the rebellion against the cruel King Karolje. Her father was highly ranked in the King’s guard but was executed just prior to the events of the book, spurring Anza’s choice to join the rebels. Prince Esvar is not fond of his father either, after his mother Queen Mirantha was Disappeared so many years before. He supports his elder brother Tevin and they hope to make a play for the throne soon, but they lack support from the lords. Esvar is much less remarkable than Anza, who is by far the more interesting POV. The prince is somewhat frustrating because he bends so easily to his father who is ailing. He could simply stick a sword in him on a few occasions and he just… doesn’t. It’s quite frustrating, really. The reader also gets bits of Queen Mirantha’s POV, but hers is obviously leading up when she is supposedly killed by Karolje. I like that we get her story as well – it makes her disappearance much more impactful and gives the reader more sympathy towards her children Esvar and Tevin.

As I mentioned, there’s a great deal of politicking and dialogue in this book, but there are some intense little bits of action here and there. Typically, I prefer books that lean a little more towards action-packed, but The Vanished Queen worked out surprisingly well for me. The subterfuge, tension, and all that other good stuff makes up for it! Overall, this was a surprisingly engaging read though I can certainly see that it won’t appeal to every fantasy reader.

Demon in White by Christopher Ruocchio – Review

Published: July 28, 2020

Publisher: DAW Books

Series: Sun Eater #3

Genre: Science Fiction

Pages: 784 (Hardcover)

My Rating: 5.0/5.0

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

Synopsis:

The third novel of the galaxy-spanning Sun Eater series merges the best of space opera and epic fantasy, as Hadrian Marlowe continues down a path that can only end in fire.

Hadrian has been serving the Empire in military engagements against the Cielcin, the vicious alien civilization bent on humanity’s destruction. After Hadrian and his Red Company achieve a great victory, a cult-like fervor builds around him. However, pressures within the Imperial government scared of his rise to prominence result in an assassination attempt, luckily thwarted.

With the Empire too dangerous to stay, Hadrian and his crew leave for a massive library on a distant world. There, he finds the next key to unlocking the secrets of the Quiet: a set of coordinates for their origin planet, unnamed and now lifeless. Hadrian’s true purpose in serving in the military was to aid his search of a rumored connection between the first Emperor and the Quiet, the ancient, seemingly long-dead race linked to so many of Hadrian’s extraordinary experiences.

Will this mysterious lost planet have the answers?


Demon in White has firmly cemented the Sun Eater series into place as on of the best series I’ve read in ages. It’s epic and on such a grand scale (and over such a large time span) that it cannot help but to be memorable. Hundreds of years have passed since the events of the first book and much has changed.

Hadrian is older, wiser, and a much vaunted Knight Victorian. Some would say that he is perhaps too successful and others think he vies for the Solar Throne. This is further compounded when the Emperor sends one of his many sons with Hadrian as a squire. To be charged with the protection and training of the emperor’s own blood? A high honor indeed. And when Hadrian and his now massive Red Company return successful from a mission that was intended to be a failure, he garners the eye of even more enemies.

Hadrian grows tremendously in this installment, and the reader can see how he may become a man that burns worlds. His deeds have made him an icon of the enlisted men and the moniker “Half Mortal” is known across the systems. He’s no longer the young idealist that sought peace with the Cielcin – the Half Mortal is a soldier in truth now.

While Hadrian is obviously the focal point, as he is telling his life story, the care shown in developing the entire cast of characters is quite special. Valka Onderra is brilliant and I can’t help but to adore her. She’s tough as nails, witty, and independent. Her relationship with Hadrian doesn’t diminish her character to merely a love interest, but rather makes her even more central to the story. Hadrian’s other companions, Polino, Ellara, Captain Corvo, and the many others I’m forgetting to name are all integral to the legendary deeds that take place within these pages.

I won’t go into further detail of the plot, as I think I’ve given enough away already. Demon in White builds beautifully on the previous two installments and I’ve been assured that the next installment will destroy me. If you haven’t picked this series up yet, let me assure you this- YOU ARE MISSING OUT ON SOMETHING SPECIAL. I can wax poetic for paragraphs more, detailing how much I love the care put into the world building, the rich history that could almost match that of Malazan, the epic battles that remind me of what I loved from Red Rising, and the epic recounting of a life reminiscent of Kvothe’s tale  from The Name of the Wind. It is like those, but this story doesn’t mimic them- it just happens to remind me of some of my favorite stories.

To Sleep in a Sea of Stars by Christopher Paolini – Audiobook Review

Published: September 15, 2020

Publisher: Tor Books

Series: Standalone

Genre: Science Fiction

Length: 32 hr 29 min

My Rating: DNF @ 58%

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

Synopsis:

To Sleep in a Sea of Stars is a brand new epic novel from New York Times bestselling author Christopher Paolini.

Kira Navárez dreamed of life on new worlds.

Now she’s awakened a nightmare.

During a routine survey mission on an uncolonized planet, Kira finds an alien relic. At first she’s delighted, but elation turns to terror when the ancient dust around her begins to move.

As war erupts among the stars, Kira is launched into a galaxy-spanning odyssey of discovery and transformation. First contact isn’t at all what she imagined, and events push her to the very limits of what it means to be human.

While Kira faces her own horrors, Earth and its colonies stand upon the brink of annihilation. Now, Kira might be humanity’s greatest and final hope . . .”


I had such high hopes for this book. Alas, it was not to work in my favor. Having read nearly 60% of this book I feel that I can give a proper review and share my likes and dislikes.

Starting off, this book was intriguing and had a constant sense of discovery. Or should I say, believable, somewhat scientific discovery. I enjoyed it for the first 30% and despite not loving any of the characters, I thought it would be a solid enough book. But oh, I did not realize how tedious this story would become.

The thrill of alien discovery was short lived. Kira Navarez is bonded with a mysterious xenobyte while surveying the planet Adrasteia. The xeno forms a protective skinsuit of sorts, but it can also be used as a weapon on purpose or even if the inexperienced host becomes upset. This results in the death of her fiance, and several other team members. She undergoes a battery of tests by the military so that they might determine whether the xeno is infectious and she’s kept in quarantine. Until tentacled aliens they call “jellies” attack. And then the jellies attack other human settled planets. It’s pretty bad and gets worse when another alien species called Nightmares start attacking humans AND jellies.Thus begins the interspecies war. 

It’s bad, but I’m even bored typing up the most basic plot summary. This should have been an exciting, action packed book that I adored but it so was not. It was tedious and mind numbing and after a particularly boring card game between Kira and Captain Falconi, I decided I’d had enough. For goodness sake, even the dialogue was dull and Lord knows there was far too much of it. Ceaseless droning and I didn’t care about ANY of the characters despite the authors efforts to flesh them out and make them likable. 

This book just did not work for me and I’m tremendously disappointed because I’ve spent a year looking forward to it. The characters never had more than surface level interaction and emotion, leaving me feeling underwhelmed even after what should have been impacting events. The death of Kira’s fiance Alan left me(and apparently Kira) feeling nothing. I quit before I had to suffer through another lengthy space journey where Kira couldn’t be cryogenically frozen and spent hours listening to Bach and being hungry. I’ll be honest, I’m glad I don’t have a physical copy of this book because then I’d have to find someone to give it away to. I was not excited to spend another 10+ hours on this audiobook and now here we are.

I will also note, since this is an audiobook review, that the narration was fine. It wasn’t spectacular and it wasn’t terrible – solidly middle of the pack.

The Bone Shard Daughter by Andrea Stewart – Review

Published: September 8, 2020

Publisher: Orbit Books

Series: The Drowning Empire #1

Genre: Fantasy

Pages: 448 (Hardcover)

My Rating: 5.0/5.0

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

Synopsis:

In an empire controlled by bone shard magic, Lin, the former heir to the emperor will fight to reclaim her magic and her place on the throne. The Bone Shard Daughter marks the debut of a major new voice in epic fantasy.

The emperor’s reign has lasted for decades, his mastery of bone shard magic powering the animal-like constructs that maintain law and order. But now his rule is failing, and revolution is sweeping across the Empire’s many islands.

Lin is the emperor’s daughter and spends her days trapped in a palace of locked doors and dark secrets. When her father refuses to recognise her as heir to the throne, she vows to prove her worth by mastering the forbidden art of bone shard magic.

Yet such power carries a great cost, and when the revolution reaches the gates of the palace, Lin must decide how far she is willing to go to claim her birthright – and save her people.


This was exactly as amazing as I hoped it would be!! The Bone Shard Daughter has been one of my most anticipated debuts of the year and I’m so excited! I’ve come across too many books that have been hyped up (or that I’ve been hyped for) that have been tremendous let downs. This however…has such awesome characters, the world is awesome, the magic is awesome, and may I just say I love animal companions?

The synopsis introduces us to Lin, daughter of the Emperor, who is secretly learning her father’s bone shard magic. She competes with Bayan (a boy her father has fostered) to earn his favor, but it seems that Bayan is winning for he is being instructed in the bone shard magic while she is endlessly quizzed about her memory. Lin begins to sneak about and steal keys to enter forbidden areas of the palace while trying to avoid the spy constructs her father has created.

Another main POV is Jovis, a smuggler, who is just trying to outrun this world’s equivalent of the mafia and find his wife who went missing seven years ago. He’s chasing down a little boat with blue sails that was seen sailing away after she went missing. During his journeys he begins helping children escape the ceremony where shards of their skulls are taken for the emperor’s collection and he becomes a bit of a hero to the people. He also picks up Mephi, a weird little creature that reminded me of a magical mink or otter when described. Mephi quickly became one of my favorite parts of this book. I just LOVE animal companions! 

There’s also Phalue, who is the daughter to the governor of one of the islands. Phalue’s lover Ranami is mixed up with the resistance soon Phalue is too. Well, not that soon because it takes quite a bit of convincing and effort for Phalue to come around to the idea. Phalue took awhile to grow on me as she isn’t as immediately likable as Jovis and Lin but I ended up liking her fairly well. 

Lastly, there’s Sand, who is a bit of a mystery. She’s on an island with a group of others who cannot remember ever living anywhere else. They have certain tasks they complete and sort of mindlessly go about their lives… until Sand falls out of a tree and begins to question everything.

The characters are the biggest part of what makes The Bone Shard Daughter a delight to read, but the world building is pretty fantastic as well. The magic is way cool and well thought out, the islands seem to move about the sea and the weather changes between dry and wet years. One of the islands also sinks into the sea pretty early on, which is kind of terrifying and makes you wonder what could be in store for later books. There’s also some mysterious beings that the Emperor is supposedly protecting his people from by using his life draining bone magic.On top of all this, the rebels are trying to find ways to destabilize the island governors and the emperor.

If all of this somehow doesn’t totally sell this book to you, I guess nothing will. It’s absolutely fantastic and I was honestly a little skeptical prior to starting it. I thought it would be like so many other things I’ve read this year (and in previous years) but it has memorable content and characters. This really, truly deserves the sense of hype and anticipation it’s gotten leading up to it’s release this week! I’ll be eagerly awaiting the next book in the series because, WOW THAT ENDING!!!!

The Last Uncharted Sky by Curtis Craddock – Review

Published: August 11, 2020

Publisher: Tor Books

Series: The Risen Kingdoms #3

Genre: Fantasy

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:

The Three Musketeers meets Jules Verne in Curtis Craddock’s concluding novel in the critically-acclaimed high fantasy Risen Kingdoms series, an engrossing tale of courtly intrigue and breathtaking magic.

Isabelle and Jean-Claude undertake an airship expedition to recover a fabled treasure and claim a hitherto undiscovered craton for l’Empire Celeste. But Isabelle, as a result from a previous attack that tried to subsume her body and soul, suffers from increasingly disturbing and disruptive hallucinations. Disasters are compounded when the ship is sabotaged by an enemy agent, and Jean-Claude is separated from the expedition.

In a race against time, Isabelle must figure out how to ward off her ailment before it destroys her and reunite with Jean-Claude to seek the fabled treasure as ancient secrets and a royal conspiracy threaten to undo the entire realm.


This has been a tremendously fun and underrated series. If you want interesting magic, exploration, politics, and a hefty dose of Three Musketeers vibes you should check this out. It has all this in spades and a dozen other things you didn’t know you wanted in a book until you read it.

Isabelle, Marie, Jean-Claude, and the delightful Major Bitterlich are setting off to discover a new craton (floating continent) for la reine. Of course nothing is ever easy and they’re set upon by pirates, Jean-Claude is captured, and Isabelle is dealing with too much mental strain. After the events of the previous book she’s left frayed and it’s beginning to show and affect her judgement. Bitterlich is struggling with some decisions of his own and the tension between he and Isabelle runs quite high at times. Throw in a feisty new cabin girl (Rebecca) and Isabelle’s ship is basically constrained chaos.

The characters are an utter delight – the main characters are each quite unique and I love their stories. The villains are nefarious, but this is an overall positive book, so they don’t drag it into too dark of territory. I love the sense of discovery, the new locals, cultures, just everything! This was a great conclusion to a trilogy that surprised me in it’s execution. It was leagues better than books/series that have gotten 10x more hype and marketing.

If you haven’t decided whether or not to read this by now, let me encourage you once more! It has strong, intelligent female characters, found families, and epic adventures galore. Also, the covers are so lovely for all three that I don’t know how anyone has not picked them up on that alone.

The Damned by Renee Ahdieh – Review

Published: July 7, 2020

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

Series: The Beautiful #2

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Pages: 456 (Hardcover)

My Rating: 1.5/5.0

Synopsis:
Following the events of The Beautiful, Sébastien Saint Germain is now cursed and forever changed. The treaty between the Fallen and the Brotherhood has been broken, and war between the immortals seems imminent. The price of loving Celine was costly. But Celine has also paid a high price for loving Bastien.

Still recovering from injuries sustained during a night she can’t quite remember, her dreams are troubled. And she doesn’t know she has inadvertently set into motion a chain of events that could lead to her demise and unveil a truth about herself she’s not quite ready to learn.

Forces hiding in the shadows have been patiently waiting for this moment for centuries. And just as Bastien and Celine begin to uncover the danger around them, they learn their love could tear them apart.


Can I just unread this book? Because it was awful. It genuinely changed in tone so much from the first book that it’s like it wasn’t the same series anymore!

Starting off, I was hopeful. Bastien was turned into a vampire and is not coping well with his transition. Celine isn’t coping quite well either, since she gave up her memories of Bastien in order to save him. It seemed like it would be a great throwback to angsty teen romance.

And then it changed so much and it was out of nowhere and frankly, the quality instantly declined. I speculate that this is largely due to this going from an intended duology to a four book series. It needed more filler to extend the series. It turned into the cheesiest of stories – Celine becomes special due to her parentage and not just because she’s mentally tough, and then we take a trip into fairyland. Fairyland was mentioned in the first book, but honestly I could have done without exploring it in this instance. 

This was a book I probably should have DNF’d, but I continued to hope that it would end okay. I can say for certainty that this is a series I won’t be continuing.