Review: The Dragon’s Promise (Six Crimson Cranes #2) by Elizabeth Lim

The Dragon’s Promise (Six Crimson Cranes, #2)The Dragon’s Promise by Elizabeth Lim
My rating: 4 of 5 stars


The Dragon’s Promise is the follow-up to Elizabeth Lim’s fabulous YA-Fantasy novel, Six Crimson Cranes.

I have had this on my shelves since its release, but couldn’t read it, because I hadn’t gotten around to reading the 1st-book yet. Also, a long-time veteran of my shelves.

Earlier this month, I finally decided to pick up Six Crimson Cranes and I absolutely adored it. I fell in love with the world, as well as the characters. I had to have more.

After the heart-breaking conclusion to SCC, I needed to know immediately what was going to be next for our protagonist, Shiori. There were a lot of possibilities.

This story begins with Shiori now in possession of the powerful dragon’s pearl. Her goal is to return it to its original owner, but that is not to be an easy task.

At its heart this is a quest, which works well for me as that’s one of my favorite Fantasy tropes. It also features most of the characters that I grew to love in the first installment.

We travel to places such as the dragon realm and to Shiori’s step-mother’s homeland. The brothers are back supporting Shiori and offering her guidance when she needs it.

Her love interest, Takkan, also played a role here and I ended up loving him even more after this. They have the cutest relationship. The way it developed over the course of the two books just feels so natural. They’re easy to root for.

While I still loved the writing, the characters and the world, I didn’t enjoy this one quite as much as the first book.

I know this doesn’t get said a lot, but I actually wish this had been longer. By that, what I really mean, is that I wish it had been broken into two books.

This feels, in a way, like two distinct stories. We have the first part, where Shiori gets to travel to the dragon realm. In the second part, she returns to the mortal realm and travels around there and does what she needs to do.

Personally, I loved the dragon realm and wish we could have spent more time there. There was a lot of political happenings and interesting new characters that I wanted to know more about.

Then in the same vein, the mortal realm section was just as interesting, but I also wanted to know more. It just felt rushed and like the two halves were smooshed together, when Lim’s fantastic writing could easily have carried this into two separate books.

With this being said, I still really enjoyed this story. It’s actually a compliment to say I wanted more.

I loved how quickly this kicked off. Having read the two books pretty much back-to-back made this a seamless experience for me. I love the lore behind the dragon pearl and learning more about that along with Shiori was so fun.

I can’t wait to the get to the prequel, Her Radiant Curse, which tells the story of Shiori’s step-mother, Raikama.

She is actually one of the most intriguing characters in this series for me, so I am so happy that prequel exists. She needs her time to shine!

I would recommend this series to anyone who loves YA Fantasy, particularly stories that incorporate fairy tale elements, or quests. Elizabeth Lim’s writing never disappoints. It’s always engaging and fast-paced.

Thank you to the publisher, Knopf Books for Young Readers, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I’m sorry it took me so long to get to it. This is a fabulous series!!

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Review: Six Crimson Cranes (Six Crimson Cranes #1) by Elizabeth Lim

Six Crimson Cranes (Six Crimson Cranes, #1)Six Crimson Cranes by Elizabeth Lim
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Six Crimson Cranes, like many books before her, is one that I fell in love with upon first sight.

The cover, the synopsis, the author…

I promptly preordered it and she’s been sitting on my bookshelf, gathering dust, since July of 2021.

Recently, when a book friend mentioned she wanted to read it soon, I jumped on board. Yeah, it’s about time that I got to this and unsurprisingly, I had another 5-star read just waiting to be discovered right in my very own stacks.

Elizabeth Lim is such a phenomenal writer. I knew that going in, but I was still a bit intimidated by this one. I sort of always feel that way going into a new fantasy world. I’m always concerned it will go over my head, or that I won’t be able to track all that is happening.

I shouldn’t have been worried. This was so smooth and easy to get into. The characters were charming and fun. The world, robust and well-developed, and the plot was exciting and so addictive that I finished it in 2-days.

Shiori, our main character, is the princess of Kiata, and she’s hiding the fact that she has forbidden magical powers. Shiori is one of seven children, all of her other siblings being brothers. As the only girl, Shiori certainly holds a special place amongst her family.

On the morning of Shiori’s betrothal ceremony, something she is completely against, her emotions get the best of her and she loses control of herself. In her ceremonial garb, she plunges into a lake and almost dies. The bright-side being, she did avoid the ceremony.

Shiori’s powers though have caught the attention of her stepmother, Raikama, who has a dark magic of her own.

Raikama banishes Shiori and turns all six of her brothers into cranes. Raikama warns Shiori that she must not speak of the curse to anyone. For every word that she utters, one of her brothers will die.

On her own and without a voice, Shiori must find her brothers and do whatever she can to reverse the curse. In order to do so though, she ends up having to put her trust in the very same boy she fought so hard not to marry. She also must learn to embrace her inner magic and courage.

I became fully invested in this story very, very quickly. By 15% into the audiobook, I was already shouting my love for it from the proverbial rooftops.

There were so many intriguing characters and elements to this story. The magic and the lore behind the entire creation was just stunning. Lim truly created a magical tale within these pages.

I would definitely recommend the audiobook to people who enjoy that medium. The narration by Emily Woo Zeller succeeded in bringing this story to life. I could not stop once I started. It’s truly that compelling.

I also felt like the way that Lim continued to build the tension and up the stakes throughout was exceptional. It just had such an easy way about it. A classic build to a huge climax. The ending brought me to ugly tears.

I feel like I went full on journey with Shiori. I became so attached to her. Watching her grow and find her strength and courage was so satisfying, but it doesn’t end here. Shiori has big challenges ahead in the sequel, The Dragon’s Promise, which I plan to start on Monday.

If you’re like me and have had this book sitting on your shelf unread for years, stop the madness now. Pick this up. Give it a read. She deserves it!!!

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Review: A Drop of Venom by Sajni Patel

A Drop of VenomA Drop of Venom by Sajni Patel
My rating: 3 of 5 stars


A Drop of Venom is a recent YA Fantasy release pitched as a retelling of the Medusa myth, steeped in Indian mythology, and happily, it is exactly that.

This story follows 16-year old, Manisha, whose naga people have seen their lives decimated because of the King’s army. Manisha was sent to a holy temple to become a priestess, where it was believed she would be safe.

But for girls, there’s rarely any place that is actually safe.

We also follow 17-year old, Pratyush, who is a Monster Slayer and one of the greatest assets of the King. Yes, the very same King who has terrorized Manisha’s people.

When Pratyush and Manisha meet when he visits the Temple, sparks fly and both see in each other a glimpse of the peaceful life that could be possible. Unfortunately, for them both, fortune is not on their side.

Before their relationship even has a chance to get off the ground, tragedy strikes Manisha. A visitor to the temple, a General in the King’s army, brutally rapes her and throws her off the side of the mountain into a churning den of vipers, where he expects her to die.

But she doesn’t die. In fact, she rises, stronger than ever, with a new set of unimaginable powers.

Pratyush’s next assignment leads him on a hunt for a hideous monster said to be killing and maiming men in the countryside. Little does he know this very monster is actually the girl he wishes to someday marry.

I liked this story, I did. Please don’t let my 3.5-star rating discourage you. Patel’s writing is strong and I appreciate the tough topics that she examined, as well as the rich cultural influences that gave such depth and beauty to this tale.

I loved the idea of a Medusa retelling and I loved watching Manisha regain her strength, power and new courage as the story got farther along.

For me though, I did have a bit of an uneven reading experience with this one overall. There were times I was so into it and then other times when I was bored. There’s no better way to explain it.

Additionally, at times I did find some of the plot elements difficult to track, and definitely felt the second half was stronger than the start. Also, I wasn’t completely sold on the alternating perspectives.

We’re mostly getting the story from Manisha’s POV, so when we would randomly switch to Pratyush, I didn’t care about him. I didn’t feel like I had the chance to get to know him in the way that I got to know Manisha, so I sort of felt like it either should have been more equal in their narrative time, or he shouldn’t have been a perspective we read from at all.

I think I may actually have enjoyed this more if we just had Manisha’s perspective.

With this being said, even though I have some slight nit-picky things I wasn’t crazy about, this is still a good book. It actually seems like the kind of story, that if you’re the right Reader, and you read it at the right time, it could be incredibly powerful for you.

I can see that potential. This is a solid Fantasy story, with strong world creation and compelling ideas. I am definitely interested in reading more from this author in the future.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Disney Hyperion, Rick Riordan Presents and Disney Audio for providing me with copies to read and review. This definitely won’t be my last Sajni Patel!

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Review: What the River Knows (Secrets of the Nile #1) by Isabel Ibañez

What the River Knows (Secrets of the Nile #1)What the River Knows by Isabel Ibañez
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Pitched as the Mummy meets Death on the Nile, Isabel Ibañez’s latest release, What the River Knows, is a lush YA Fantasy set in Egypt in the 19th-century.

In this story we follow Inez Olivera, who lives in Argentina, mostly with her Aunt and cousins. Inez’s parents spend the majority of their time away from their Argentinian home, traveling and researching in Egypt.

Because of this, it has always made sense for Inez to stay behind with her Aunt.

As she has gotten older though, it has started to make less sense to Inez. Why won’t they take her with them? She knows that plenty of children travel and live aboard with their parents. Why can’t she?

Before she is able to get to the bottom of these questions, she receives terrible news. Her parents are dead, lost in the desert of the country they clearly loved so much. That is all the explanation Inez is given.

Inez’s head is left spinning. How could something like this possibly happen? What were they doing unaccompanied out in the desert? Her parents were experienced travelers, in Egypt in particular, they wouldn’t have unnecessarily put themselves at risk.

When everyone in her life refuses to answer her questions, Inez decides to take matters into her own hands. Under the cover of darkness, she decides to set out on the journey that will change her life forever.

Setting sail for Cairo as a young woman traveling alone, Inez has to be extra resourceful just to get by.

Once in Cairo, she’s reunited with the Uncle she barely knows, her Mother’s brother, Ricardo, who had been a large part of all her parents’ expeditions. She also makes quick acquaintance with her Uncle’s assistant, Whit, who though handsome, becomes a big thorn in her side, dogging her every move.

Inez begins looking for clues immediately, trying to discover the truth about what happened to her parents. Her Uncle wants to send her immediately back to Argentina, but Inez isn’t giving up without a fight. She’s not leaving until she finds the answers she seeks.

This story is an absolute roller coaster ride. You go through it with Inez. Her emotions are palpable throughout. I had such empathy for her. Although she is smart and strong, there’s also something about her that is just so innocent, you want to protect her.

I loved the initial set-up and the small details of magic that Ibañez wove throughout. There is magic in this world, but it is just touches and it never overwhelms the story in any way. It’s Fantasy Light.

This story is a bit of a slow burn, and it did take me a while to read, but there was never a moment when I wasn’t enjoying it. I think the story, as it is, is just built out beautifully and although it may seem a little long, there’s nothing I would take out of it.

I loved learning about these characters, watching the relationships evolve and also trying to figure out what actually happened to Inez’s parents. It was all compelling.

The mystery does successfully build in intensity over the course of the story and I definitely suspected everyone at one point or another.

Overall, I was impressed with the scope of this adventure. I also appreciated the commentary included on colonial powers and tomb raiders, or treasure hunters, in Egypt.

Ibañez included a lot of different layers in this story, but they all worked so well together. Finally, I will just say, when I first learned about this novel, I do not believe there was anything said about it being a part of a series, so I did not know that going in.

I genuinely thought this was a standalone, then I get to the ending and I’m like, jaw on the floor, guess freaking not!?

Thank you to the publisher, Wednesday Books, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I was looking forward to this and it was just as wonderful as expected.

Ibañez is an incredibly talented writer. Her stories truly come to life on the page. I can’t wait to see where this goes from here. This is one ending that I will not forget!

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Review: The Scarlet Alchemist (The Scarlet Alchemist #1) by Kylie Lee Baker

The Scarlet Alchemist (The Scarlet Alchemist, #1)The Scarlet Alchemist by Kylie Lee Baker
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Holy heck! When can I get the sequel? Seriously, when?!

I really enjoyed Kylie Lee Baker’s The Keeper of the Night duology. I was super impressed by the characters and dark imagery she delivered throughout those books.

I was expecting something similar here and happily, I received exactly what I was hoping for and then some.

In this story we follow Zilan, a teenage girl, who lives in an impoverished village in the South of China. Even though she is a member of the merchant class, Zilan has dreams to become a royal alchemist.

Zilan already practices a certain form of alchemy to make money to help her family, but it’s illegal. She is able to bring people back from the dead. In spite of its illegality, she has earned a bit of reputation for her successes.

When the time for Zilan’s imperial exams comes, she is able to travel to the capital, along with her two cousins, to compete against the best alchemists in the country.

During her time in the capital, Zilan attracts the attention of the royal family and is soon drawn into their dangerous political machinations.

Most interestingly, the Crown Prince, Li Hong, who knowing of her ability to bring people back from the dead, approaches Zilan for help because he fears he is about to be assassinated.

There is so much going on in this story, but it is beautifully told, fluid and engaging. It’s easy to follow and I really grew to love these characters. Zilan is so well developed and I loved the exploration of her character.

As with The Keeper of the Night duology, there is some great character work involving complicated family dynamics.

Zilan was basically raised with her two cousins, Wenshu and Yufei. They call her sister and their relationship is very close.

However, Zilan is of mixed descent, with her father being a foreigner, so she looks very different than her cousins. It sets her apart and even though they have never treated her differently, she feels like an outsider; like she can never be truly accepted and loved for who she is.

I like that Baker includes these types of details. It adds great substance to the story and makes you feel like you’re gaining a deeper understanding of MC and her motivations.

So, not only does this story include fantastic action and gripping intrigue, it also has thoughtful moments where more sensitive issues are touched upon.

Yet again, I was completely swept away by Kylie Lee Baker’s storytelling. Once I got into this story, I couldn’t put it down. She’s so underrated, y’all.

You know what I’m gonna say. If you haven’t checked out Kylie Lee Baker’s work yet…

Thank you so much to the publisher, Inkyard Press, for providing me with a copy to read and review.

Baker is definitely one of my go-to authors. I can’t wait to be reunited with Zilan in the next book. The possibilities are endless as to where this story will go next!!

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Review: Foxglove (Belladonna #2) by Adalyn Grace

Foxglove (Belladonna #2)Foxglove by Adalyn Grace
My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Foxglove is the sequel to Adalyn Grace’s popular, 2020-YA Fantasy release, Belladonna.

Belladonna took me by surprise. I wasn’t expecting to love it half as much as I did, but Grace really delivered in all aspects of that story. There was a fantastic gothic atmosphere, an intriguing mystery and a compelling romance.

The main character, Signa, became one of my new favorites that year and I have been anxiously awaiting this follow-up ever since; like at the edge of my seat.

I did listen to the audiobook for Belladonna and enjoyed experiencing the story through that medium, so wanted to go with the audio again for this one. Unfortunately, I had a wee bit of a wait before my library loan came through, but boy, oh boy, was it worth it!

This story again follows Signa, her cousin, Blythe, Death and Death’s brother, Fate, who has returned to his brother’s life hellbent on revenge after Death took the woman he loved.

After a Duke is murdered, it seems that the Lord of Thorn Grove is being framed for the crime. Both Blythe and Signa are sure that he didn’t commit the crime, but they need to be able to prove it.

Another luscious, gothically-infused investigation begins…

Fate plays a huge role in this story. I enjoyed learning about the brothers’ past and watching Fate interject himself into Death’s environment was definitely entertaining.

Oddly, as Signa spends more time with Fate, she begins to display new powers. Could she possibly be linked to Fate’s past? And what about Blythe? She makes some powerful moves in this story as well and her character shows tremendous growth. I love her just as much as Signa.

Going into this, I was a little concerned that too much time had passed since I read Belladonna, and that I would have a hard time remembering the details of that story. I do think that Grace does a tremendous job at reintroducing the Reader to this world, and these characters.

It was so easy to hop back into the story, and shortly thereafter, it was like I had never left these characters at all.

There were so many great twists and revelations included in this story. It’s engaging and intriguing the entire way through. I love the character arcs for both Signa and Blythe and cannot wait to be reunited with them in the next book.

Overall, this is a incredible Fantasy story. I wasn’t quite as in love with it as I was with Belladonna, but it was pretty darn close. I need the next book ASAP.

I’m so stoked to see where this goes…

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Review: The Merciless Ones (Deathless #2) by Namina Forna

The Merciless Ones (The Gilded Ones, #2)The Merciless Ones by Namina Forna
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Merciless Ones is the second-book in Namina Forna’s Deathless series. Admittedly, it took me a minute to recommit to this story, but Forna definitely got me in the end.

I’m glad I waited until now to read it, as the next book is releasing just a few months from now, in February 2024. This had an exciting conclusion and I can hardly wait to find out what is going to happen next!

This book picks up 6-months after the final events of The Gilded Ones. We continue to follow Deka, who is currently residing in Otera with her new friends. They’ve freed the goddesses, but should have known in a world as brutal as this, their fight was far from over.

When strange happenings begin to put all they’ve fought for at risk, and signs point to a dark force growing in the kingdom, Deka and her crew need to figure out what’s going on ASAP. Known now as the Gilded One’s, Nuru ((explained as a bit of a chosen one)), Deka feels it her duty to continue to lead the charge.

The investigation into what is happening takes the group on quite an adventure and of course, puts them in a lot of additional dangers.

Most surprising, a few figures from Deka’s past pop up and the reunions are not warm and fuzzy. Yet again, Deka goes through it in this story. The hits, they just keep on coming, and by the end, I had gained even more respect for this hella strong and resourceful character.

This story is interesting. It started slowly for me and through the initial set-up, I couldn’t see where it was going. After finishing, it’s no wonder I couldn’t. I never in a million years could have guessed some of these revelations.

The final portions of this book contained so many jaw-dropping moments. It pretty much took what I thought was well-established about this world and flipped it on its head.

It was an extremely exciting conclusion, and as mentioned above, I am so glad that the next book is releasing fairly soon. I can’t imagine having to have waited like a year to find out what is going to happen next.

Overall, I wasn’t as crazy about this sequel as I was the first-book, but honestly, that happens to me a lot. I just get so immersed in the initial world-building, that I fall in love.

Then when it starts to slow down a bit, in order to build up tension, or establish future conflicts, I begin to lose a bit of interest, or connection.

Nevertheless, I’m still pretty obsessed with this series and this book blew my mind by the end. Forna’s world-building is incredible. It’s a fairly complex system, but written in a way I feel is accessible to a wide-range of Readers.

I’ve found it easy to empathize with Deka. I’m definitely rooting for her. Her character saw a lot of growth in this installment and even some shifts in her powers.

I don’t even think we know yet the true extent of her powers, and I’m so anxious to learn more in the next book. I also love the friend group, more of a found family, that Deka has gathered around her. They’ve bonded so deeply after the hell they’ve been through, and those bonds run deep.

If you haven’t started this series yet, now is the perfect time to do so. The world and characters are so well developed, it’s easy to get swept up in the action.

Forna has created a brutal world and doesn’t pull punches in her action scenes. You’re going to read some things that will make your toes curl. For me, that’s a plus. It gets me even more invested. You can feel how high these stakes are.

I love Deka and am so excited for The Eternal Ones!!

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Review: Monstrous by Jessica Lewis

MonstrousMonstrous by Jessica Lewis
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Monstrous is a dark, YA Fantasy story from Jessica Lewis.

I’ve heard incredible things about this author’s first novel, Bad Witch Burning, but haven’t gotten to it yet. After reading this, I know I’ll be picking it up soon.

In this story we follow a teen girl, Latavia, who due to some challenges in her home-life, goes to stay with her Aunt in the small town of Sanctum, Alabama.

From the start her Aunt institutes a lot of rules: don’t go out after dark, come home directly after church, and definitely don’t stray into the woods…

It’s strange, but Latavia isn’t here for a holiday. It’s just a stop-over for 6-weeks before she leaves for college. She’s not here to shake anything up, so she keeps her head down and tries to do as her Aunt directs.

Nevertheless, trouble catches up with her one night when she is kidnapped from her Aunt’s house, dragged to the very same woods she was instructed to avoid, and offered up as human sacrifice to the ancient monster who lives there.

Latavia isn’t going down without a fight though, and this monster may have met its match. Latavia is willing to do anything to survive, including bargain with the monster, and maybe even risk becoming one herself.

Y’all, you have to be intrigued by this set-up. An ancient monster that lives in the woods on the outskirts of a small town. Residents ready and willing to sacrifice the new girl to feed the monster’s hunger.

What the heck is going on here!?

I was amazed at how quickly I got sucked into this story. I started reading it one Saturday and then the next thing I knew, the sun had set and I was 71% of the way through.

I really enjoyed Latavia’s perspective. I love the new girl trope, especially when that is paired with a creepy small town vibe, where all the residents behave strangely. Going along with Latavia as she tried to navigate just getting by in this town was interesting.

I also enjoyed how Lewis added some more thoughtful, hard-hitting themes as well, in addition to the Darker Fantasy elements.

I liked learning about the reasons behind Latavia coming to Sanctum in the first place. She was really going through some difficult things and in one respect, it was great that she had an Aunt willing to take her in, but then, you know, the human sacrifice and stuff, so it was a bit of a mess.

Also, Latavia did have a love interest over the course of this story and watching their relationship blossom was very sweet. In spite of everything going on, or maybe because of that, they grew close fairly quickly, but it all felt quite natural to me.

At the end of the day, this story just had so many fun and interesting elements, and Lewis was able to blend them all seamlessly. The new girl trope, small town secrets, Sapphic romance, a man-eating monster and a murder cult. Seriously, what else do you need!?

I was hooked from the start, and while there were some things that weren’t perfect for me, I still had a great experience with it and found it super compelling.

As mentioned above, I am definitely planning to read more from this author, starting with Bad Witch Burning. If you like Dark, YA Contemporary Fantasy, channeling small town vibes and dangerous secrets, you absolutely should check this one out.

Thank you to the publisher, Delacorte Press, for providing me with a copy to read and review. This was a lot of fun!

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Review: Lakesedge (World at the Lake’s Edge #1) by Lyndall Clipstone

Lakesedge (World at the Lake's Edge, #1)Lakesedge by Lyndall Clipstone
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars rounded up**

Lakesedge, the first book in Lyndall Clipstone’s YA-Gothic Fantasy Romance duology, World at the Lake’s Edge, delivered the exact vibes I was hoping for.

Dripping with angst, ’tis the season for this kind of story.

This novel released in 2021 and has been sitting on my shelves, glaring at me accusingly ever since. Last year, her sequel joined her on the shelf, and the judgement doubled.

Unable to handle their harassment anymore, and in the mood for a Dark Fantasy Romance that was going to serve Gothic Feels, I decided it was finally time to give it a go.

In this story, we follow 17-year old, Violeta, and her younger brother, Arien, 13. Violeta and Arien were orphaned when they were very young. They fled their original home after the deaths of their parents and were eventually found on a road beside the mysterious Vair Woods.

The woman who found them decided to take them in. Initially, all was well, but when Arien started exhibiting certain dark powers, the woman began to punish him, trying to rid him of these disturbing behaviors.

Leta, trying to protect her brother, would frequently be harmed and punished as well.

Her treatment of them continues getting worse. The night before a tithe day, things come to a head. They’re not sure how much more they can take and discuss running away.

On tithe day, a mysterious young man takes notice of Arien’s powers when they bubble up unexpectedly. The Monster of Lakesedge, Rowan, offers Arien the chance to come live at his estate, to learn how to control his peculiar powers.

It’s an intriguing offer, one the boy can’t and doesn’t want to refuse. Through some prodding, it is agreed that Leta will go along to Lakesedge as well.

Thus, Leta and Arien are able to escape their terrible home life, but what will their fate be now? It seems equally as dangerous. Can they truly trust Rowan?

They’ve heard terrible rumors about him and the estate is dripping with gothic dangers. Will they be better off than they were before, or will they become the next victims of the Monster of Lakesedge?

I thought this was a lot of fun. It definitely delivered me the vibes, drama and romantic angst that I was hoping for.

A dark tone is set within the first pages and just from that alone, I was hooked. It’s a compelling read and I flew through it. It had a great, dark Fairy Tale feel, and I was picking up slight Beauty and the Beast vibes, which I wasn’t expecting; a delightful surprise.

The sexual tension between Leta and Rowan was so dramatic and well written. I loved watching them learn about each other. They were drawn together like moths to a flame and I was here for every minute of it.

I also enjoyed the Elemental Magic system, which involved drawing sigils on the users body to control the elements and channel the spell. There were a couple of other women, Florance and Clover, who lived at the estate with Rowan, sort of like domestic help, and Clover, in particular, helped teach Arien and Leta about magic.

We love supportive teacher/student vibes.

The main drama focuses on a sort of curse that Lakesedge has on it, called the Corruption. It has poisoned the grounds and lake. Rowan has been searching for a way to clear the Corruption and he believes Arien can help.

Both Arien and Leta begin to fall in love with their life there. They begin to feel like they’ve finally found a home and they’re committed to helping Rowan any way they can. I loved that for them; how attached and comfortable they began to feel at the estate.

The concluding events were intense. There’s a dark spirit involved, the Lord Under, who seems particularly drawn to Leta. Through negotiations with him, Leta may be able to break the curse, but what will it cost her?

This wasn’t perfect. There were some aspects I felt could have been more clear, particularly towards the end, or some repetitive things in the middle section, that could have been taken out, but overall, I feel like this was a solid story.

It does end after a fairly large, life-changing event for Leta. While I wouldn’t necessarily call it a cliffhanger, it definitely leaves you wanting to know more; where the story will go from here.

Luckily, as mentioned above, I have the sequel at the ready and plan to be starting it very soon.

I would recommend this to YA-Fantasy Romance Readers, particularly if you enjoy a Gothic atmosphere, an engaging magic system and angsty romance.

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Review: A Fragile Enchantment by Allison Saft

A Fragile EnchantmentA Fragile Enchantment by Allison Saft
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

…like I wasn’t a big enough fan already!

A Fragile Enchantment is the third full-length novel from Allison Saft. It is set to release on January 23, 2024, but I couldn’t wait any longer to pick it up.

I have read all of Saft’s novels now and IMO, they just keep getting better and better. I’m so drawn in by her writing and dazzling, gothic-feeling atmospheres.

In this story we follow a magical young seamstress, Niamh, who gets called to the castle to create the wedding day wardrobe for the Prince and his bride-to-be. This is putting it simply, but that is the basic set-up.

As Niamh arrives at the castle and is introduced to court life, it’s clear she’s a fish-out-of-water. Coming from the country, she’s never experienced court politics close-up.

Nevertheless, she feels blessed to have the opportunity and even though her people aren’t big fans of the monarchy, she’s determined to make the most of it.

The Prince, Christopher, Kit to his friends, is the younger of two Princes. His brother, Jack, is functioning as monarch. It was actually Jack who arranged Kit’s engagement, as well as Niamh’s services.

When Niamh meets Kit, she’s a little surprised by how abrasive he is. It’s clear he’s not overjoyed about his upcoming nuptials. The wedding isn’t one that will be based on love, but rather on political advantage. So’s the way of court life, Niamh supposes.

The bride-to-be has now arrived at the kingdom, along with her father, and it seems she is just a pawn as well. With a dark personality and darker fashion sense, Niamh finds herself puzzled by the Princess, Rosa.

Nonetheless, she finds herself drawn to her and her charismatic lady’s maid, Miriam. Along with Kit’s childhood best friend, Sinclair, the five unlikely allies end up forming an entertaining friendship group.

Niamh is starting to feel like she belongs, though she never would have thought it possible, and the more time she spends with Kit, the less she is able to deny the chemistry crackling between them.

Unfortunately, she’s not the only one who has noticed the sparks and soon Niamh and Kit are the fodder of the anonymous gossip columnist, Lovelace. Will Lovelace’s rumors and insinuations ruin everything for Niamh, or will she be able to survive the scandalous court life unscathed?

Y’all, I thought this was fabulous. It kicks off so quickly. Saft wastes no time getting Niamh to the kingdom and enmeshed in the complicated palace lifestyle.

I loved that she was an outsider taking it all in for the first time. Additionally, I really loved Kit as a character. He had some depth to him and I feel like Saft spent enough time building-out his character, so that his caustic personality truly made sense.

I love a prickly, abrasive man, so his entire demeanor definitely worked for me. I enjoyed watching Kit’s relationship with his older brother, Jack, and learning a bit about their family history as well. I was definitely picking up William and Harry vibes there.

Further, I enjoyed the friendship group that formed between Niamh, Rosa, Miriam, Kit and Sinclair. I was able to glean a lot of insight from their interactions and I felt it helped to better develop each character.

The political intrigue really amps up in the second half and I felt that was exciting and extremely well written by Saft. There were some scenes, as we raced towards the conclusion, where I was at the edge-of-my-seat, biting my fingernails, just hoping for the best for the characters I had come to love.

Speaking of characters I loved, Kit’s betrothed, Rosa, was such a fun character. All I could picture when reading about her was Wednesday Addams. She was bringing all that morose, gothic energy.

As mentioned above, I started getting really tense towards the end. I figured, objectively that things would probably work out okay, but getting there sure was emotional!

Overall, I had such a great time reading this. Saft’s writing is accessible and fluid. It’s magical and enchanting, but without feeling over done. The plot never gets drowned out by flowery writing. It’s easy to follow along and become emotionally attached to her characters.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Wednesday Books, for providing me with a copy to read and review.

Saft has quickly become a go-to YA Fantasy author for me. I look forward to following her career for a long, long time.

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