Review: Thornhedge by T. Kingfisher

ThornhedgeThornhedge by T. Kingfisher
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In Thornhedge, T. Kingfisher brings her lush, humorous and whimsical storytelling to a quick and adorably-reimagined Sleeping Beauty origin story.

Kingfisher is one of my favorite authors. I have loved everything of hers that I have ever read and after reading this, it doesn’t appear that is going to change anytime soon.

I will try to write an unbiased review, but it will be difficult. I’m a fan girl, what can I say?

In this story we meet Toadling, who as an infant was stolen and transported to live in the world of the faeries. They treated her well, and her early life was undeniably warm and comfortable. She couldn’t lodge many complaints.

Once she came into adulthood though, the faeries asked a favor of her that ended up changing everything.

She is asked to return to the world of humans to bless a newborn child. A little girl. A bumbling, beautiful baby girl…

A century later, a knight approaches a wall of brambles, an impenetrable fortress of thorns. He’s heard legends of a cursed Princess high in a tower. He’s here to save her, as knights do.

Toadling, however, has different thoughts on this so-called curse and she’ll do anything to uphold it. You’ll have to read this enchanting story to find out why.

This was a super fun and quick read, which I did listen to on audio. It has a nice, cozy feel to it, that I definitely need every once in a while to break up my darker reads.

I enjoyed how Kingfisher gave us enough of the original tale that you could figure out what she was alluding to, yet she brought her own original twist that caused me to view the fairy tale in a while new light.

The twist itself was fascinating to me. Darker than I expected, but whimsical at the same time. I was really impressed with it.

I think it is a great example of Kingfisher’s skill as a writer. I also highly enjoyed the narration of the audiobook. This story is pure, engaging entertainment.

I would recommend it to any Reader who enjoys twists on classic tales, whimsical, cozy fantasies, or Kingfisher’s work in general. There is no way this story isn’t going to bring a smile to your face.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Tor and Macmillan Audio, for providing me with copies to read and review. T. Kingfisher is a gift. She has a gift and she is a gift!

I will continue picking up every single thing she writes.

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Review: The Princess Fugitive: A Reimagining of Little Red Riding Hood (The Four Kingdoms #2) by Melanie Cellier

The Princess Fugitive: A Reimagining of Little Red Riding Hood (The Four Kingdoms, #2)The Princess Fugitive: A Reimagining of Little Red Riding Hood by Melanie Cellier
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Princess Fugitive is the second book in Melanie Cellier’s The Four Kingdoms series.

The books in this series are all fairy tale retellings, this one focusing on the story of Little Red Riding Hood.

I’ll admit that I have never read the original source material for this classic fairy tale. What I do know of the story of Red Riding Hood, I have gotten solely through television and movie adaptations.

In spite of that, I still really enjoyed my time with this book. This story follows Princess Ava, who we got to meet in the first book in this series, The Princess Companion: A Retelling of The Princess and the Pea.

I wasn’t crazy about Ava in the first book. She was a bit of a twat, going against the interests of my favorite character in that book, Alyssa.

Here we learn the motivations behind Ava’s earlier behaviors though. Also, since she failed at her mission in the first book, she is forced to flee from her harsh family, bringing only her personal bodyguard, Hans, with her. I couldn’t help but feel sympathy for her because of that.

During their exile, Hans and Ava discover more about their kingdom than they knew before. For one, Ava’s family is even more horrible than she could have imagined, particularly her brother, next up to rule as King.

Even though they need to stay hidden, Ava feels compelled to do something to help the citizens of her kingdom, but she cannot do it alone. She needs allies for her fight. Will she be able to gain enough support to save her kingdom from downfall, or will she be the one to fall?

I really enjoyed my time with this story. I have so many other books I feel I ‘should’ be reading right now, but once I started this, I couldn’t stop.

I loved the relationship between Ava and Hans. The books I have read in this series seem to have in common forbidden romance tropes, people falling for people they shouldn’t. I sort of love that.

In this one, Hans is but a guard and Ava a Princess. How can that work? Their stations are so unlike one another. What’s clear though is Hans commitment to Ava, right from the start and that’s hard not to swoon over.

I also liked getting to see some of my favorite characters from the first book pop up here. I wasn’t expecting that at all and really enjoyed those connections.

Additionally, there is a bit of a competition at the end of this story and we all know, I love a competition.

Overall, I’m having a blast with these stories. They’re really not like anything else that I normally read, so it’s such a nice change of pace.

I am definitely planning to continue on with this series via audiobook. I have loved the narration so far. I find it completely engaging and I can’t help but get swept away, which is exactly what I am looking for.

I would definitely recommend this to anyone who enjoys a solid retelling.

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Review: The Atlas Six (The Atlas #1) by Olivie Blake

The Atlas Six (The Atlas, #1)The Atlas Six by Olivie Blake
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Atlas Six is one of those books that got so hyped up that it made me avoid it. I can’t recall precisely when the time period was, but I couldn’t go anywhere in the bookish social media world without having it pop up consistently.

Then, as happens many, many times with me, the cover got me. I’ll admit it. I wanted to own it because of the redesigned cover released by Tor. It’s stunning.

I finally decided to read it when a group I am a part of here on Goodreads chose it as a book of the month selection. I’m happy to finally know what all the fuss is about and I gotta say, this was wayyyyy better than I expected.

Since this is so hyped, and I think I am one of the last people left to read it, I won’t bother going too far into what it’s about. As a general description, I would say that it’s got the whole dark academia, secret society, magic-wielding multi-perspective thing down pat.

I was into this from the very start. The first two characters we meet, Libby and Nico, actually ended up being my two favorites of the entire book.

They’re academic rivals, which is something I tend to adore. Additionally, their backgrounds, plus the low-simmering constant vein of animosity running between them was giving me the Hermione-Draco fanfic vibes of my dreams.

We follow them as they are recruited by the mysterious, Atlas Blakely, to potentially join the ranks of the Alexandrian Society, a secret society composed of the most powerful magical academicians in the world.

I loved following along with Libby and Nico as they met the other recruits and began to learn more about what their participation with the process would actually entail.

Meeting the other individuals involved, Tristan, Parisa, Reina and Callum, was equally as fascinating and the dynamic amongst the group was ripe with tension.

This did remind me a lot of The Magicians. They share similar elements and I can’t say if this book handled those ideas any better or worse than that book did.

I sort of feel the same about them. I enjoyed it very much when I was reading it, but I’m not sure how long all the details are going to stick around in my brain.

There were some sections that were very dialogue heavy amongst the characters, as they waxed and waned about their powers and the overall magic system. I’ll admit to my eyes glazing over a bit during some of those sections.

For example, they would discuss in great lengths the parameters of their magic, what they would choose to do with it, the morality of certain choices, etc.

Personally, I just wanted to return to the action, but I can understand why those discussions may be important to the long-term growth of the story.

With this being said, the majority of this was intriguing. I found particular scenes, especially towards the end quite exciting and revealing. I absolutely will be continuing on with this series.

Overall, I’m so glad I finally took the time to read this one. I think this is a great base for the continuation of a series. I’m looking forward to it!

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Review: The Adventures of Amina al-Sirafi by Shannon Chakraborty

The Adventures of Amina al-Sirafi (Amina al-Sirafi, #1)The Adventures of Amina al-Sirafi by S.A. Chakraborty
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars rounded up**

The Adventures of Amina al-Sirafi was my first Chakraborty novel. I am so happy to have discovered her work.

This was such an incredible story; well told and well constructed. I loved this cast of characters so much. I honestly can’t believe how attached I got to them.

The star of our show, of course, is Amina al-Sirafi. As a woman over 40, I can tell you it was an absolute delight to get a female protagonist who was a little more battle-worn, and time advanced, than your typical lead.

Amina has had many, many adventures on the high seas, as one of the Indian Ocean’s most notorious pirates. She’s loved and lost, been in tight spots and epic battles of wit. She’s also been married numerous times and even is a mother to a delightful little girl, Marjana.

She should be happy and I guess, in a lot of ways she is, but an adventurer will always have that nagging feeling in the pit of their gut that there’s more out there.

When Amina is approached by an extremely wealthy woman to embark on one more quest, she’s definitely reluctant. It’s dangerous and she doesn’t want to leave her daughter behind, in spite of the slight urge to adventure on.

Unfortunately, the woman really leaves her without much of a choice and when riches beyond Amina’s wildest imaginations are dangled in front of her, she agrees. One more mission.

Determined to succeed, Amina assembles a team of her old colleagues, each one with a specialty likely to contribute greatly to their task. They’ve got their means of transportation, they’ve got their team, they’ve got a goal.

Thus, they set out to find and rescue the allegedly kidnapped granddaughter or their rich benefactor.

This adventure was so engrossing. I loved the crew. The banter was witty and the stakes were high. As the story progressed, more magical elements were introduced and I definitely found it enchanting.

There were some sections towards the end that I found a little confusing, but it could have been because I was reading it so quickly. I was dying to discover what was going to happen, so it kept me going at a pretty steady pace.

I’m super stoked that this is just the start of this series. What a fun way to kick it off. I am very anxious to see where it is going to go from here. I can’t wait to go on more adventures with Amina and her crew!!

Thank you so much to the publisher, Harper Voyager, for providing me with a copy to read and review. This was fantastic!

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Review: Malice House by Megan Shepherd

Malice HouseMalice House by Megan Shepherd
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

After a very successful start, Malice House dropped off a cliff for me around 75% of the way in. It’s unfortunate, I hate to say it, but it happens…

This story follows an artist named Haven Marbury. Haven’s father, a very famous author, has recently passed away. Because of this, Haven travels from her home in New York City to his property on the West Coast. She has inherited his possibly haunted house and everything in it.

Having recently suffered through a very traumatic break-up, with barely two pennies to rub together, the idea of having a place of her own, far from her ex, is actually a blessing.

Once at the house, Haven meets with her father’s 0ld-caregiver, a rather disturbing woman in her own right. A woman that in the past has refused to spend one single night at the property.

Unusual happenings begin pretty much right away. It’s a big house and definitely spooky. Additionally, it’s bringing up a lot of mixed feelings for Haven.

Sifting through her father’s belongings, Haven discovers an unpublished manuscript called Bedtime Stories for Monsters, which is quite different from his previous works.

It’s dark and twisted, right up Haven’s alley. She has an epiphany. She needs money. Her father’s name on a cover will sell any book. She’s an artist. She’ll illustrate this book and pitch it to publishers as a father-daughter posthumous collaboration.

Unfortunately, a local group of bibliophiles that her father was a part of, the Ink Drinkers, start continuously trying to insert themselves into the process of deciding what to do with the unpublished manuscript. Haven probably should have kept that discovery to herself.

After that, things start to get really weird. Haven feels like they’re crazy, she wants them to stay the heck away from her. It’s her father’s work. They have no say over what she does with it, or do they?

There’s an attractive, though suspicious, neighbor. There’s potential poltergeist activity at the house. There are monsters coming to life and attacking. There are crazy locals and a dark, ill-feeling atmosphere.

As mentioned above, I was super intrigued by this in the beginning. I love the idea of fictional stories pulling through into real life. Monsters jumping off the pages and wrecking havoc. Are you kidding?! That’s amazing!

There were a few fun twists and as it began to come together as to what was happening, I lifted an eyebrow. Okay, Megan Shepherd. I see you. You are a Horror Gurlie. Me too!

At some point though, it kept going and went too far. It got so convoluted that it was hard to follow. I’m not sure what could have improved, I’m not claiming to be an author here, but it completely lost me by the conclusion.

I liked Haven as a character and enjoyed watching her discover some fairly significant family secrets. I just wish the pace could have been more even. The monstrous elements did build steadily, but they didn’t stop at a coherent point. It just devolved into chaos.

The more I think about this, as I am writing this review, the more disappointed I get. I am serious when I say, I really enjoyed the beginning. There are so many elements in this to love, especially if you are a fan of darker fiction. Unfortunately, it just wasn’t pulled through to a solid conclusion in my opinion.

With this being said, just because I wasn’t crazy about the ending doesn’t mean you won’t be. If the synopsis sounds intriguing to you, absolutely give it a shot. You could find a new favorite read within these pages.

Thank you to the publisher, Hyperion Avenue, for providing me with a copy to read and review. Even though this one didn’t blow me away, I would definitely pick up more Megan Shepherd novels.

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Review: Hell Bent (Alex Stern #2) by Leigh Bardugo

Hell Bent (Alex Stern, #2)Hell Bent by Leigh Bardugo
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Hell Bent is the second release in the Alex Stern series by Leigh Bardugo. I’m told this is a trilogy, but at this point I would certainly accept a lot more.

As this is the second book in the series, I may mention certain things in this review that some may consider spoilers for the first book. I will try not to, but if you are concerned at all, turn back now.

In this book, we find Alex and Dawes desperately trying to find Darlington and bring him back from…well, hell.

It’s so dangerous and many would have chalked it up as a loss, but Alex and Dawes refuse to give up. After a failed attempt, it’s clear the girls cannot achieve their goal alone. Dawes thinks she knows the reason and the type of team they will need to assemble to help them.

They need to find two other people with a very specific qualification. It won’t be easy, but there’s more going on in New Haven than Darlington being missing. It’s imperative they work quickly.

As faculty members begin to mysteriously die off, it’s clear Alex and Dawes will need all the help they can get.

In this installment, both Alex and Darlington’s backstories continue to be built-out, but we also get more info on the side characters. Most importantly, the things that these characters have been through in their lives that make them strong additions to this team. They’ve all had their traumas.

I loved the team ultimately assembled, every one of them. It was giving me light Buffy-vibes in a couple of different ways and I was verrrrrry here for it.

Alex’s past comes back to haunt her when she least expects it, providing us with a very convincing new villain. I was really intrigued with the new occult/supernatural elements explored in this one, the new villain being one of those.

I think my favorite thing about this was watching Alex let down her guard a bit with her peers, or dare I say, friends. She has always been closed off, so watching her accept help from others was really very satisfying.

The closing scenes left me so excited for the next book. There is absolutely zero information on it right now, that I know of. It literally could be years, but you better believe I will be rereading these first two books again prior to it’s release.

Upon completion, I was left with my head spinning, racing and ecstatic. There was so much that happened over the course of this story, I can still hardly wrap my brain around it all. I seriously can’t wait to move forward with this series!

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My Ninth House Reread

Ninth House (Alex Stern, #1)Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

In anticipation of the recent release of Hell Bent, I wisely chose to reread Ninth House. The first time I read it, in July of 2020, I listened to the audiobook while on a road trip.

I’ve left my full, original review up below. You will see that at that time I rated it 3.5-stars, rounding up to 4. This time, it’s nothing but a full 5-stars, baby!!

I think the difference is I was able to put my full focus on it this time around. I don’t know about you, but when I am traveling, my mind is going a million miles an hour, it can be hard to concentrate.

While I can enjoy a story I am listening to on the road, the premise, the vibe and the characters, I don’t think I was truly able to hold onto the finer points of this one.

Upon reread, I’m in love.

One of the aspects that really stood out to me this time around was the detailed back stories for both Alex and Darlington. I remembered a little bit of Alex’s, particularly the trauma she suffered directly before being recruited to Lethe House, but Darlington’s I remembered not at all.

I definitely have a stronger understanding of both of their characters now, which I feel is going to be important going into Hell Bent.

Also, I feel like I have a better understanding of the structure and functioning of Lethe House. The importance of the different roles and who fills those roles.

I love how dark Bardugo gets with this story. With this being said, though, although most of us are aware of the numerous trigger warnings, if you aren’t, please be sure you find those and are aware prior to jumping into this story.

Finally, I had forgotten how much I enjoyed the murder mystery aspects. The investigations into the other houses and all of the supernatural aspects help to make this story quite compelling.

At this point, I have started Hell Bent and am absolutely loving it. I’m not sure how many books are slated to be in this series, but you best believe, I will be picking up every single one.

If this series sounds interesting to you and you haven’t started it yet, you absolutely should. There will be no better time to read these first two books than right now…

Original Review:

**3.5-stars rounded up**

Ninth House is moody, dark and secretive. In other words, it’s everything I love in my fiction!!

This book is a delightfully intriguing start to the all-new Alex Stern series by Leigh Bardugo.

I have been fascinated by the idea of this book for a while. What’s not to love about the Yale campus in Autumn, paired with secret societies and magic?

On a recent road trip, I finally decided to give this one a shot.

I have to say, while I really enjoyed the audiobook, particularly the two narrators, I think I may have enjoyed the story even more if I had read a hard copy.

I feel like I may have been able to concentrate more on the fine details if I had been holding the book in my hands. There’s a lot to take in here.

There are intricate details regarding the setting of the Yale campus, the magic system, the lore of the secret societies, as well as a back and forth between timelines. I think I just got lost somewhere around mile marker 50.

I was intrigued by Alex as a character. Here was a girl who had a rough start at life; raised by a hippie Mom in California, yet somehow, mysteriously ends up at one of the most elite institutions of higher learning in the world.

After a close call, Alex ends up not in the morgue, but being offered a seat in the Freshman class at Yale. Why? Her academic transcript certainly wasn’t recommending her for the slot.

Regardless of any trauma experienced in her life, Alex is a survivor and a fighter. I loved that about her.

When she starts at Yale, Alex gets tapped for Lethe House; the ninth of the secret societies at Yale and the one with the closest ties to the occult.

It’s also the responsibility of Lethe House to oversee the other houses to ensure there are no bad actors.

Alex, as it turns out, is well-suited for her new house, as she has an arcane ability she has been struggling with her entire life. This allows her a close connection to the spiritual underworld surrounding her.

Essentially a Murder Mystery, this novel offers up a lot of darker real world topics for consideration as well.

One of these that I found extremely interesting, was the examination of the amount of privilege on the Yale campus. The way that uneven power dynamics can contribute to an extremely harmful environment.

There is also quite a bit on page regarding drug abuse, addiction, sexual assault and rape culture in general. If you are sensitive to these topics, I would tread cautiously.

With this being said, I was impressed overall with Bardugo’s transition to the Adult space. This is definitely an Adult novel. There are some real dark scenes in here and frankly, I am glad that she went as dark as she did.

It made this seedy underbelly of a privileged world seem incredibly real. I think as the series progresses the stories will continue to get stronger and stronger.

I may even read this one again, my hard copy, before the second novel is released.

I would love to experience this entire story in a more controlled environment than an SUV whizzing down the highway.

Also, does anyone else want to go snoop around New Haven in the middle of the night now, or just me?

The atmosphere, as always with Bardugo, was really something to behold; loved that aspect so much. I am really looking forward to getting back into this world when the next book releases!

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Review: Emily Wilde’s Encyclopaedia of Faeries by Heather Fawcett

Emily Wilde's Encyclopaedia of Faeries: Book One of the Emily Wilde SeriesEmily Wilde’s Encyclopaedia of Faeries: Book One of the Emily Wilde Series by Heather Fawcett
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Emily Wilde’s Encyclopaedia of Faeries is the perfect, snuggled-under-a-blanket, Winter read.

A Cozy Fantasy with low-stakes, light romance, enchanting atmosphere and easy-to-love characters. This was exactly what I needed for January!!

This book follows Miss Emily Wilde. Emily is a Cambridge Professor, who specializes in the study of faeries. In fact, when we meet her, Emily is fastidiously researching her latest project, the first ever encyclopaedia of fairy lore.

Emily has traveled all over the world studying various culture’s magical beings and the legends and lore surrounding them. She has one destination left, a remote village in the Scandinavian country of Ljosland.

Emily is used to field work, so she’s not put off at all by the stark, isolated village life. However, she wasn’t aware that it would be so rustic that she would need to chop her own wood to keep warm.

Needless to say, Emily, along with her trusty companion, her dog, Shadow, have a bit of a learning curve to overcome in Ljosland.

As they’re settling in, Emily receives a letter from one of her Cambridge colleagues, Wendell Bambleby, that he’s planning to join her. He can’t be serious? Emily works best alone.

Alas, arriving as unexpectedly as his earlier correspondence, there he is. Wendell Bambleby on her doorstop, two student research aides in tow. Good grief.

As days pass, and Emily’s research deepens, she begins to suspect that Bambleby knows more about the fae than he is letting on and there may be an unconventional reason for that. Will Emily’s research be a success? Will she figure out the mystery of the Hidden Ones near her cottage?

Most importantly, will she figure out the mystery of the man residing within?

Emily Wilde’s was such a lovely, cozy, warm hug of a read. I’ll be honest, I teared up at the end. I just didn’t want to part from these characters. I’m so happy this is just the start of our journey with Emily.

There’s a lot to love about Emily as a character. She’s a true academic. Not one for small talk, she struggles a bit interacting with other humans. It’s not her favorite thing.

I loved the whole idea of her setting off into the great unknown, Shadow by her side, to complete her research. She is fearless. In fact, her life is in jeopardy more than once over the course of this story, yet she seems to navigate it all so well.

Emily has her ups-and-downs over the course of this story and I felt for her every step of the way. She’s definitely the type of character you would want to be friends with. I found it so easy to connect with her.

Wendell was so fun too. He’s handsome, charming and has a natural ease with people that instantly gets under Emily’s skin. Everything seems to come so easily for him and if you’re struggling, as Emily is with some of the villagers, that can definitely be frustrating.

I loved their sort of love-hate relationship. All love on his side, a little less so on hers. I wouldn’t say hate, but she definitely rolled her eyes at him more than once.

I really enjoyed the cold, barren setting with the backdrop of the magical faerie realms as well. There were quite a few whimsical scenes that I thought were done really well.

Additionally, I liked how Fawcett chose to format this. It reads like you are reading Emily’s journal entries. It felt intimate and real-time with her adventures.

There are footnotes though, just a warning, I know not everyone is crazy about those. I felt they worked here though by adding to the vibe of the story.

Overall, I think this is a fantastic start to a series. I am definitely attached to these characters and look forward to reading more about them in the future.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Del Rey, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I had a lot of fun with this one and definitely recommend it to fans of Cozy Fantasy and stories involving the Fae!

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Review: The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo

The Ghost BrideThe Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’ve had my eye on this gorgeous book for a very long time. After recently reading through some glowing reviews from friends, I decided not to put it off any longer. Proving that sometimes I do make good choices. It’s rare, but it happens.

One of my favorite aspects of this ended up being the striking atmosphere. It was such a good fit as we transition from a spooky October into a still spooky, yet more cozy November…

Set in the 19th-century port town of Malacca, in colonial Malaya, this story follows 17-year old, Li Lan, who lives with her father and loving nursemaid, Amah.

Li Lan’s family was once well-off, but due to her father’s persistent opium addiction, they now find themselves virtually bankrupt.

Li Lan is at the point in her life when most young women her age are getting married. Due to their status, however, Li Lan finds herself without many prospects.

When her father first presents her with the idea of becoming a ghost bride for the wealthy Lim family, he says it lightly, sort of in passing; like he wasn’t really considering it.

The local practice of ghost brides are said to calm restless spirits of those who have passed on. The Lim’s son, Lim Tian Ching, has recently died under mysterious circumstances and his mother seems set on finding him a ghost bride.

Even though Li Lan would be set for life, having a lavish place to live, never wanting for anything, she’s not into it. Tying herself to a dead man for the duration of her life, no thank you. She wants more, maybe even love.

When she gets invited to the Lim home for a visit however, she does accept. There’s no reason to be rude. Plus, she’s genuinely curious about the family.

It is a very interesting visit. She’s mesmerized by their lifestyle and the characters fluttering around their lush estate. After the visit, the haunting of Li Lan begins.

In her dreams, Li Lan is visited by the dead Lim Tian Ching, whose spirit makes her incredibly uncomfortable for a host of different reasons. The nightly interactions begin to wear heavily upon her.

She even goes as far as visiting a medium to try to find a way to free herself of his spirit. In short, she’s given a potion of sorts to try to help and after taking too much, Li Lan slips into a coma.

Y’all, I am really simplifying this here, but you get the gist. Through her condition, Li Lan is transported to the parallel world of the Chinese afterlife, where vengeful spirits, ghost cities and monstrous establishments abound.

There she meets Er Lang, a sort of spiritual guide, and they help her upon her journey. The more ensnared Li Lan becomes in this world, the greater the risk becomes that she will never be able to return to the mortal realm. It’s a race against the clock.

I adored the menacing, magical tone of this. I loved the infusion of Chinese folklore. It’s so interesting to read about and learn about. I have read a couple of other novels tackling similar concepts and always end up really enjoying the imagery of the dark underworld.

I did end up listening to the audiobook and I would absolutely recommend that format. It is actually narrated by the author and is completely mesmerizing.

I love when an author narrates their own story. If done right, it can just breath such energy and authenticity into it. Only they know exactly how their words should be read and wow, Yangsze Choo could be the best I’ve ever heard!!!

I know I am probably forgetting a million things that I wanted to say about this one. The goodness of it all has just zapped thoughts straight out of my brain.

Overall, I found this story to be beautifully-lyrical, fantastical and compelling. I’m so glad that I finally made time for it. I am definitely planning to read more from Yangsze Choo; looking forward to it. I’m a fan!

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Review: Into the Windwracked Wilds (The Up-And-Under #3) by A. Deborah Baker

Into the Windwracked Wilds (The Up-and-Under, #3)Into the Windwracked Wilds by A. Deborah Baker
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars rounded up**

🌈🌬 🌈🌬 🌈🌬 🌈🌬 🌈🌬 🌈🌬 🌈🌬 🌈🌬 🌈🌬 🌈🌬 🌈🌬

Into the Windwracked Wilds is the third installment to Seanan McGuire’s, writing here as A. Deborah Baker, The Up-and-Under series.

This fantastical series is connected to McGuire’s tour de force of SFF, Middlegame, and is perfect for Readers of all ages.

If you haven’t read the first two books in this series, Over the Woodward Wall and Along the Saltwise Sea, proceed with a little bit of caution, as some things I mention herein could be considered spoilery.

Now is your chance to turn back. I am only saying this once.

The series follows two children, Zib and Avery, who upon a normal commute to school one day encounter a giant wall where it shouldn’t be. Together they decide to go up and over this wall, thus finding themselves in a different world, known as the Up-and-Under.

In the first novel, they travel through a magical forest while following the improbable road and the second book finds them traversing the Saltwise Sea. Along the way they collect new friends, encounter challenges to overcome and enemies to out-maneuver.

After a final, very Pinocchio-esque, adventure on the Saltwise Sea, Avery, Zib, the Crow Girl and Niamh, finally find themselves on dry land.

More specifically, they’ve entered the Land of Air, ruled by the intimidating Queen of Swords, who is known to have a habit of turning people into monsters. Although, by this definition the Crow Girl would be considered a monster and we love the Crow Girl!

It doesn’t take long before they come across Jack Daw, the Queen’s son, but he’s giving off a serious vibe that he’s not too crazy about Mommy Dearest.

Can he be trusted though, or is he playing double agent with our intrepid heroes?

They eventually end up at the castle and have to stay on their toes at all times to avoid being tricked by this Queen. She is a devious one indeed.

Will they all be able to make it out in one piece? At this point, Zib and Avery are beyond ready to get home to their parents. But the Queen of Swords is tricky and coming out on top is going to take all their mental stamina. She may be their biggest challenge yet.

After a bit of a slow start, this wrapped up with an absolutely beautiful ending. Once they finally made it to land was when it really started to pick up for me. The Queen was quite the character. She’s got the dangerous, evil Queen thing down and I was living for it.

The intensity was high once they reached the castle. I love these characters so much. I can’t wait to see what’s next. I’m really looking forward to the 4th-book, when I believe we’ll be entering the Land of Fire.

McGuire’s writing, as always, continues to impress. There’s such intention behind every word. The nuance is stunning and truly mind-boggling.

This entire world, the connection to the Alchemical Journeys series, the characters and the lore of it all is so fun to read and think about. There are so many layers, it’s the type of thing you could read over and over and still find new things each time.

I love that kind of story and will definitely continue to pick up anything in this world for as long as McGuire is putting them out.

Thank you to the publisher, Tor, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I just adore this series and definitely recommend it to anyone who enjoys a dark, whimsical read.

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