Tag: Fantasy

Blog Tour & Author Interview: Beyond the Moon by R.J. Wood

Blog Tour & Author Interview: Beyond the Moon by R.J. Wood

Beyond the Moon The Voyages of Jake Flynn #2 By R.J. Wood This is my stop during the blog tour for Beyond the Moon by R.J. Wood. This tour is organized by Lola’s Blog Tours. The blog tour runs from 11 till 24 June. See […]

eARC Review: The Oddling Prince by Nancy Springer

eARC Review: The Oddling Prince by Nancy Springer

In the ancient moors of Scotland, the king of Calidon lies on his deathbed, cursed by a ring that cannot be removed from his finger. When a mysterious fey stranger appears to save the king, he also carries a secret that could tear the royal […]

eARC Review: The Bone Roses by Kathryn Lee Martin

eARC Review: The Bone Roses by Kathryn Lee Martin

Sixteen-year-old Rags is the most feared Rustler in the world, and for good reason. When she’s not raiding the post-Yellowstone Kingdom’s established settlements for supplies to keep her frontier, Rondo, alive another day, she’s fending off witch hunt-happy villagers who want her rare blue eyes in an unmarked grave. 

Partial synopsis provided by Goodreads.

The Bone Roses

Series: Snow Spark Saga #1
Author: Kathryn Lee Martin
Publication Date: May 8, 2018
Publisher: Parliament House Press
Page Count: ---
Format: eARC
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Westerns
Cover Artist: ---
My Rating: ★★★★

16-year-old Rags is a wanted rustler. In the city of Hydra, she works her magic to steal supplies for her settlement of Rondo. Rondo has suffered greatly after being cut off from the kingdom’s supplies after publicly denouncing the tyrant King Hyperion. When Rags witnesses other rustlers being tortured in the city for doing the same job, Rags experiences real fear for the first time. Luckily, her mentor Tracker finds her before she is recognized by anyone in Hydra, and the two flee back to Rondo. Little do they realize that they are being tailed by the king’s second-in-command.

Upon returning, Rags is met by another threat: Hunter, the town’s self-proclaimed sheriff. Always having hated Rags since she came to Rondo, he discloses to the townsfolk that Rags has a substantial reward out for her if she is brought in dead or alive to King Hyperion. Matthew, Jericho, and Tracker come to Rags’ aide and back her against Hunter’s accusations. Matthew, Rags’ dearest friend pleas for her to run away with him, so that she may escape whatever fate that lies before her if she continues to be a rustler. 

Before they are able to leave, Rondo is invaded by the king’s guard, and Matthew is killed before Rags’ eyes. The king’s own second-in-command Henny leads the charge and is determined to destroy Rondo in just four days. Rags is forced into difficult situations, as she must try to help her loved ones escape the town before a spectacle is made of them to the entire kingdom. 

Stakes are high and the clock ticks rapidly as Rags must not only fight an incredible resourceful opponent, but also steer clear of those who want to reap the bounty on her head. When she crosses paths with one of the Kingdom’s informant, Rags is challenged in even more ways, as her feelings try to take the reins above common sense. 

When everything comes to a head, and the town is set to be “cleansed” via live broadcast, an unexpected turn of events throws King Hyperion’s plans back in his face. While some find sanctuary, Rags finds herself on a train with the wiry luresman, bound for the Threshing Floor and an uncertain fate before her. 

 

The Bone Roses (Snow Spark Saga, #1)The Bone Roses by Kathryn Lee Martin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

All included quotes have been taken from an ARC and may not match the finished publication.

 

description

“A petite trio of gray stone roses and a tiny pewter charm shaped like a rearing stag tethered together with elegant, braided leather cords rest in it. One rose in full bloom, one still a bud, and the third caught in-between. ‘ I’ve held onto these mythical bone roses for a long time. Sort of like a good-luck charm in a way. They hold the key to rare and powerful secrets, and well, I can’t think of anyone better I’d trust with them than you.’”

In all honesty, I barely skimmed the synopsis for this book before starting it. I knew that it was a Young Adult Fantasy with a Western flare, so I immediately wanted to give it a try. Boy, am I happy that I did! While I had some issues with certain elements in the plot, I found myself loving the characters and the world they were set in.

World Building

While The Bone Roses is in the YA genre, it’s definitely geared towards more mature readers, as some of its contents are harsh and in-your-face. Considering that the world is set in a post-apocalyptic West in the United States, it comes with the territory. This book felt reminiscent of The Wolves of Winter, which I read earlier this year, and the arid isolation that the setting brought. Shockingly, even though The Bone Roses is set in the West, the climate doesn’t reflect the traditional desert hotness the West is known for. This is particularly reflected in the settlement of Rondo, where the main character Rags resides.

“People used to drive everywhere, so I’m told, but when Yellowstone erupted thirty years ago and the snow started to fall, that came to a halt.”

I’m not sure why, but portraying the West blanketed with snow instead of dust, tumbleweeds, and cacti were incredibly submersive to me.

Set in an era thirty years after Yellowstone erupts, the United States as it was once known as has been completely reformed. A cruel king known as Hyperion takes over and establishes his reign over the entire region. Small settlements situated in the surrounding area know hardship—especially those that choose to not bow down to the king. Rondo has long been cut-off from the supplies that Adonis, the capital city, has to offer. In order to survive, Rustlers (outlaws) risk their lives in order to steal supplies for the town’s survival. If caught, the punishment for rustling leads to a brutal death.

“‘Solstice.’ That settlement sits at the heart of ‘forbidden’ things in our household. Unlike Rondo’s miserable past, Tracker spared no words when warning me about the lewd settlement just outside the Kingdom’s capital city, Adonis.
Liquor flows freely. Cheap whores are plentiful. It’s supposedly so far in bed with Adonis that it’s impossible to tell where one ends and the other begins.”

The old-time western towns that we are accustomed to aren’t completely lost beneath a layer of snow, however. Many of these settlements reflect those of the past and “safe” isn’t a term that’s thrown around.

Another aspect which murmurs the Old West is the presence of Christianity. While it’s something that Hyperion tries to outlaw, Rondo is basically governed by the town preacher, Jericho. While Christianity doesn’t play as massive of a role as perhaps was intended, it is worth mentioning especially when looking further into the dynamics between Rags and the troublesome Hunter. Hunter, the town sheriff, constantly accuses Rags of being a witch (off of what basis, it’s never really revealed other than her having rare blue eyes and the fact that she’s an outsider.) While is accusations felt quite random for the plot focus, it definitely created an atmosphere that felt like the people of Rondo were ticking time bombs.

Pacing & Readability

Because of the way the story is set up, the plot felt more character-driven than plot-driven. While there are events that take place, the characters stories and relationships always remain in the spotlight. Because of this, I felt that at times the plot would lose its focus in minor details for longer than necessary, and halted plot progression. While the writing style made it very enjoyable to read, these variations in pacing gave it a start-go quality.

Point-Of-View & Characters

“I am Rags, Rondo’s rustler and we will never bow to his Kingdom.”

Rags, a sixteen-year-old girl is a protagonist in The Bone Roses. The point-of-view is told from her perspective and helps the reader become acquainted with her unique character. With a somewhat quirky but strong presence, Rags’ story immediately grabs the reader’s attention. Often accompanied by her mule Nigel, she serves as one of Rondo’s main and feared Rustlers. While I really wanted to get to know more about her backstory, I appreciated how real Rags’ character came across. While she’s strong, she’s also realistic and sensitive. What she feels and experiences is very relatable for many readers.

Tracker is the mentor and the “adoptive” father of Rags. A mysterious man with a complicated past, he takes Rags under his wing when she first arrives in Rondo.

Matthew, preacher’s son is Rags’ dearest friend. While I first presumed their relationship to be romantic, it proves to be oddly platonic, as their interactions are flirty.

Jericho serves as Rondo’s preacher and is also Matthew’s father. As the town’s preacher, he often oversees how the town goes about settling issues and confronting problems. Along with Tracker, he is one of the few supporters of Rags against the rest of the superstitious townsfolk.

Sadie’s character doesn’t have a large role. However, she’s mentionable as she serves as a mother-figure to Rags.

There are more than one antagonists in The Bone Roses.

1. Hyperion, the evil king who has long since abandoned Rondo to fend for itself.

2. Hennrick Oreson aka “Henny”

“A dangerous young man, Rags. The Kingdom’s own second-in-command, Henrick Oreson, or “Henny” as some call him. You are never to cross paths with him. Understood?”

Known as the second-in-command to Hyperion himself, Henny’s job is to seek out rustlers and anyone trying to defy the king and his ways.

“I’ve been hunted before. It comes with the job. But I’ve never been hunted by someone like him. No one’s ever stupid enough to give a rustler the advantage. He’s far from stupid, though. The way he toys with me confirms that. He’s doing this intentionally, letting me turn all the tricks I know for his amusement. He doesn’t just think he can win. He knows it.”

Henny’s character as the antagonist is fantastic. While you want so badly to dislike him, there’s just something about him that makes the reader believe there is more to him than meets the eye. Is he really as bad as he seems? The dynamics between him and Rags are electric as the two are constantly trying to out-do one another.

And can I just mention…Xanthos!?

description

I was swooning over this horse more than anything else.

3. Lawrence aka “Hunter” serves as Rondo’s sheriff. This guy has a severe case of bad-cop to his swagger. He blatantly hates Rags because she has blue eyes and isn’t originally from Rondo. Discriminatory, much? Because she arrived in Rondo around the time that Hyperion stopped the supply trains to Rondo, he blames Rags for practicing witchcraft and being the reason why Rondo suffers so. His hatred is completely blind and is a good example of a person who fails to look deeper than the surface.

4. Colton, a character who shows up later on the scene, is another antagonist-type character that the reader can’t really peg down and who his allegiance lies with. Is he good? Is he bad? He works as a luresman–a person highly skilled in the art of negotiation. The mystery of his true intentions make his character frustrating, yet incredibly engaging throughout the entire plot.

Major Themes

⇒ Family

A strong sense of family and belonging is evident at every turn. Rags constantly worries about her hypothetical mother, father, and brother figures, and feels a strong need to protect them. While no information is given about her biological family, Rags’ relationship with her Rondonian family is strong and unbreakable, even when secrets are revealed about their pasts.

⇒ Cleansing or Purification

Hyperion doesn’t take kindly to those who disobey his commands. It’s rather ironic how he terms his punishment for rebels, especially in the sense of religion. His form of “cleansing” is allowing rebel settlements like Rondo starve, and then be brutally treated once captured by his army. His cleansing results in death, instead of bringing forth a purified life, as Christianity does. Seeing how the religion is outlawed, he transforms this term into something sinister instead of revitalizing.

⇒ Hardship

Hardship is an obvious theme in a post-apocalyptic world such as this. Each day is a struggle. Everything is fighting against Rags, the Rustlers, and the Rondonians in their survival. The king, the terrain, the climate, the lifestyle all reflect the realness of their plight.

Overall Feelings

Things that I liked:

⇒ The atmosphere and the way the “Old West” is portrayed.
⇒ Despite a few flaws, I loved the characters and the voices and personalities that developed for each one. It made character-driven plot all-the-more dynamic and enjoyable.
⇒ The author’s writing style and descriptiveness.
⇒ This is a personal preference because I’m a horse person, but Martin knows how to write scenes involving horses! In a Western book, knowing how to portray horse characters is key because they majorly influence the plot mobilization. She writes them correctly down to the swiveling of the ears.

Things that I didn’t like:

⇒ The amount of vulgarity.
⇒ The plot’s tendency to dwell on insignificant points at times.
⇒ Christianity didn’t have the best portrayal and felt more of a “fall-back-on” asset than a focal attribute for how the characters act and react.
Very little backstory for Rags is given.
⇒ Hyperion, the main antagonist is nonexistent other than the presence of Henny and the K.C.
⇒ While I loved the mythical white stag which kept appearing, I want to know why and what its purpose is!
⇒ I’d love more information on the bone roses themselves and what secrets they hold!

I really enjoyed this book and the style in which it was written. While there were a few issues that I had with it, but I cannot be too critical. A sequel has yet to be published in the Snow Spark Saga, Garden of Ashes. I am very much looking forward to seeing what happens next, and to learn more about the characters’ journeys and also some history (especially Rags!)

Vulgarity: A lot. I counted 227 words total.
Sexual content: Kissing.
Violence: Quite a bit. It is a Western…

View all my reviews

eARC Mini Review: Song of Blood & Stone by L. Penelope

eARC Mini Review: Song of Blood & Stone by L. Penelope

Release Day, May 1, 2018! In the beginning, there was silence. Partial synopsis provided by Goodreads. Song of Blood & Stone Series: Earthsinger Chronicles #1Author: L. PenelopePublication Date: May 1, 2018Publisher: St. Martin’s PressPage Count: 384Format: eARCGenre: Young Adult, Fantasy, RomanceCover Artist: —My Rating: Since […]

Blog Tour and Author Interview: Song of Blood and Stone by L. Penelope

Blog Tour and Author Interview: Song of Blood and Stone by L. Penelope

Song of Blood & Stone Earthsinger Chronicles: Book One By L. Penelope Synopsis From the very first pages of her debut, L. Penelope delivers as a new force in the fantasy genre. The first book in the historical fantasy Earthsinger series was originally self-published, earning […]

Fairy Tale Friday #6: The Glass Dog by L. Frank Baum

Fairy Tale Friday #6: The Glass Dog by L. Frank Baum

The Glass Dog

By L. Frank Baum

Lyman Frank Baum is not an unfamiliar name to many Americans. Best known for his very famous children’s book, The Wizard of Oz, Baum also wrote several other fairy tales, short stories, poems, and scripts throughout his lifetime. 

The Glass Dog is a short fairy tale that was included in American Fairy Tales published in 1901 in the United States. This book is a compilation of twelve stories, that doesn’t necessarily have clear morals attached to them, as you will soon discover. 

This tale has been paraphrased in my own words.

There once was a wizard who loved nothing more than his studies. Naturally, he was annoyed with the multitude of people who came to knock on his door, seeking his advice about their troubles. He never saw them, but even in sending them away, he lost his train of thought and ruined his work. Becoming angry with the interruptions, he decided he must have a dog to keep people away. 

Next door lived a glass blower, which he went to and asked where he could get a dog. The wizard requested that he blow him a glass dog, which he could make bark with his magic. Not having any money, he paid the glass blower with a cure for his rheumatism. 

The next day, the glass blower brought the wizard his pink glass dog. In exchange, he gave him a bottle with one drop of liquid in it that would cure his ailment. The one drop could cure any ailment in the world, It was a marvelous recipe, but the wizard had forgotten how to make it. The wizard cast a spell on the dog to make it come to life. He set it outside his door to bark at anyone who would come to knock. The glass blower, returning to his room, decided to save the drop of medicine for a day that his rheumatism was very bad. 

The next day, the glass blower read in the newspaper that the young Miss Midas was deathly ill. Remembering the medicine, he decided to take it to the beautiful Miss Midas. He cleaned himself and went to her mansion. The glass blower told the lady’s maid that if he were to give his cure to the Mistress, then she would have to promise to marry him in return. She consented, desperate to live. Taking the medication, she was well within a minute. Returning home, the glass blower smashed all of his glass blowing tools, and thought about how he would spend his future wife’s fortune. 

The next day, he called upon her. She asked where he obtained the magic potion that cured her. He told her about the wizard, and how he had gotten it as payment for making him a glass dog. Miss Midas expressed her wishes for a glass dog that could bark. The wizard cared nothing for money, so he couldn’t buy it from him. Miss Midas insisted that he steal the dog from the wizard, as she would never be happy without it. Wanting to please his future wife, he purchased a sack, and threw it over the dog to capture it when it rushed out to bark at him outside the wizard’s door, then delivered it to her home.

The next day, he returned to her house, but was greeted by the glass dog. He told the butler to call the dog off, only to find out that the Lady ordered the dog to bark whenever he came by. He went by the drug store and called Miss Midas from the phone there. The glass blower asked why she treated him so poorly, and she said that she doesn’t like how he looks. She said that if he were better looking, she’d marry him, but because he wasn’t, she wouldn’t marry him and the dog would make sure of that. 

So distraught, the glass blower went home and began with preparations to hang himself. Just then, the wizard came in, and explained how he had lost his dog. He asked the glass blower to make him another, but the glass blower was unable as all of his tools were thrown away. He suggested that if the wizard were to offer a reward for the finding of the dog, The wizard said that the only thing he could spare was a beauty powder. 

Immediately changing his mind, the glass blower pretended to go out and look for the dog. He came back and told the wizard that it was at Miss Midas’ house. The two went there and the wizard got the dog back by putting a spell over it so it wouldn’t attack them. The wizard gave the glass blower the beauty powder, which he took, and became the most beautiful man in the world. 

The glass blower went back to Miss Midas’ house. When she saw him, she immediately fell in love with his good looks. She gave him an allowance of four dollars a day. Thinking of the noose in his room, he consented. They were married, and he lived a dog’s life, but the bride was very jealous of his beauty. In return, the glass blower got in debt and made her equally miserable.  

The glass dog was returned to its original post, and probably still resides there, guarding the door of the wizard’s shop. 

The Glass DogThe Glass Dog by L. Frank Baum
My rating: 2 of 5 stars


The Glass Dog is an odd little fairy tale with an obscured purpose. While many fairy tales have a moral or morals that they try to portray to the reader population (typically children) this story simply doesn’t have that characteristic.

A tale of a grumpy wizard, a money-seeking glass blower, and a snobby wealthy lady, the story intertwines its characters in strange and unusual circumstances. While there definitely are elements of fantasy throughout, it’s not very comparable to the high-fantasy depicted in a majority of fairy tales.

While the wizard seems to be the main character at the beginning, this position transitions over to the glass blower who fashions the glass dog for the wizard. It is quickly revealed that the glass blower, although well into his years, is not necessarily a man of good character, as he seeks to marry the wealthy Miss Midas in order to squander her riches. With some difficulty, he eventually coerces her into marrying him. However, the union is a miserable one ending in squalor for both parties.

So, what is the lesson to be taken away? I’m not really sure. The glass blower nearly kills himself when he doesn’t get his way. Then, when he does, he only desires to use Miss Midas for her money. Selfishness, greed, and shallow beauty are the traits represented here, and they lead to inevitable unhappiness for the characters.

And the wizard? Well, he just continues existing, held up in his home studying away, with the pink glass dog stopping anyone from disturbing him. The last few lines in the tale read:

“As for the glass dog, the wizard set him barking again by means of his wizardness and put him outside his door. I suppose he is there yet, and am rather sorry, for I should like to consult the wizard about the moral to this story.”


description
I believe so. Anyways, if you are one for quirky fairy tales, this author may be one for your taste.

My Rating: ★★

View all my reviews

What are your thoughts on this fairy tale?
Did you find it to be as utterly pointless as I did?
Was there anything you liked about it?

Mini Book Review: Prince of the South by Ava Richardson

Mini Book Review: Prince of the South by Ava Richardson

Being a Prince, J’ahalid is no stranger to the fact that his kingdom requires protecting. When he Sees the Dragon Riders of Torvald, he knows that dragons are the answer to his problems. Prince Of The South Author: Ava Richardson Publication Date: July 2017 Publisher: […]

eARC Review: Sky In The Deep by Adrienne Young

eARC Review: Sky In The Deep by Adrienne Young

Release Day April 24, 2018! OND ELDR. BREATHE FIRE. Partial synopsis provided by Goodreads. Sky In The Deep Author: Adrienne Young Publication Date: April 24, 2018 Publisher: Wednesday Books Page Count: 352 Format: eARC Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy Cover Artist: — My Rating: ★★★½ Eeyln […]

Cover Reveals for Wheel Gone Cats & Of Stars and Monsters!

Cover Reveals for Wheel Gone Cats & Of Stars and Monsters!

Wheels Gone Cats

PUBLISHER: PARLIAMENT HOUSE PRESS

Synopsis

In a future where violence is encouraged and duels are required by law, Dathin Long has the answer: devolution. He proposes a medical procedure that will restore humanity to the state of primal bliss—to pure reptilian instinct, before guilty consciences intruded.  When a boy’s grandmother is admitted to the hospital for pneumonia, he learns the procedure will be forced upon her. To save her, the boy enlists the help of Lee Bellows, a member of the hospital staff, to search the records and find his grandmother. But the deeper Lee looks, the more horrible things he finds, until the controllers start looking back at him. His conscience needs adjusting, and soon the procedure may be forced upon him. In a flooded New Orleans in the end days, the only hope is a hero who’s lost his memory and is just trying to get by…

Find Out About Other Books by Beaird Glover at https://www.facebook.com/bluebottletree/

Beaird Glover grew up on a farm in rural Tennessee. He graduated from The Evergreen State College of Olympia, Washington, with a Bachelor of Arts in creative writing. He then moved to Southern California and wrote Secret Ciphers of the 1876 Presidential Election (Aegean Park Press). He has traveled extensively and lived in eleven of the United Sates, and Taipei and Buenos Aires. His poems have been published in the New York Quarterly and his chapbook of poetry was selected by the Austin Chronicle as one of the Top 10 Best of 1994. More recently, he acquired a Bachelor of Science degree from Long Island University in Brooklyn and has worked as a physician assistant. Beaird lives in New Orleans with his wife Kim and their cats.

Of Stars and Monsters (Of Light and Darkness #3)

PUBLISHER: PARLIAMENT HOUSE PRESS

Synopsis

After narrowly surviving a near-death experience from yet another showdown with Aiden Price and the Light, Charlotte awakens inside the forsaken, crumbling walls of the Regime Palace. Though she finds herself surrounded by her closest friends, she is conflicted by her feelings for the sudden absence of her Vampire guardian. Where has Francis taken Valek?  With new friend Nikolai there to console her, Charlotte cannot shake the undeniable chemistry she feels for this familiar stranger. But they are running out of time. Charlotte’s peculiar ailment will return, and she will die unless they are successful in finding a cure.  Charlotte, Nikolai, Sarah, and the rest of their tribe of misfits travel to the underbelly of Prague to search for Valek, but what they discover are secrets darker than they could have ever imagined. Charlotte must overcome her mortal limitations to save the life of the one she truly loves and escape the gates of Abelim with her throat intact in this enthralling, highly-anticipated third installment of the Of Light and Darkness Series.

Find Out About Other Books by Shayne Leighton at https://www.facebook.com/shayneleightonfans

With over a decade of experience in the entertainment and publishing industries, Shayne Leighton is a creative professional with edge and quirkiness. Her debut novel, Of Light and Darkness hit Amazon's coveted Top 100 overall bestsellers list once during the fall of 2015, and again in the summer of 2016, reaching the #4 spot. Having a background in film science, Shayne has produced book trailers and marketing materials for New York Times bestselling authors and major publishers such as Cynthia Leitich Smith (Tantalize, Candlewick Press), Alex Flinn (Towering, Harper Teen), and Kimberley Griffiths Little (When The Butterflies Came, Scholastic Press). She strives to be the Guillermo del Toro of the publishing industry, knowing what works visually and creatively to make stories a stunning experience that is visual, just as it is intellectual. She spends most of her time working on things that excite her, drinking coffee, traveling to the Czech Republic where she always finds new inspiration, and discovering hole-in- the-wall bookstores and coffee shops on her random adventures. Shayne is a Libra and a Ravenclaw. Her favorite book is The Night Circus (though soon it may be Six of Crows). Her wand is made out of Hazel wood with a Unicorn hair core 12 1/4" long and reasonably supple flexibility. Her patronus is a robin.

eARC Review: Ace Of Shades by Amanda Foody

eARC Review: Ace Of Shades by Amanda Foody

Welcome to the City of Sin, where casino families reign, gangs infest the streets… and secrets hide in every shadow. Partial synopsis provided by Goodreads. Ace Of Shades Series: The Shadow Game #1Author: Amanda FoodyPublication Date: April 10, 2018Publisher: Harlequin TeenPage Count: 416Format: eARCGenre: Young […]

Cover Reveals for The Garden of Ash & Cursed: The Hunter Inside!

Cover Reveals for The Garden of Ash & Cursed: The Hunter Inside!

Garden of Ashes (Snow SPark Saga #2) PUBLISHER: PARLIAMENT HOUSE PRESS Synopsis It’s the one place no rustler ever wants to end up. Having survived Rondo’s destruction, sixteen-year- old Rags has been taken captive by the Kingdom and sentenced to ‘rehabilitation’ at the Kingdom’s Threshing […]

Auto-Buy Sci-Fi & Fantasy Authors

Auto-Buy Sci-Fi & Fantasy Authors

This week's TOp 5 Wednesday prompt was a difficult one to narrow down.

–which I think is a good thing! That means that there’s no shortage of great authors out there! Seeing how Fantasy is the genre I most commonly read, it’s easy to want to only include Fantasy authors (which I sort of did…but some also write Sci-Fi!)  

J.R.R. Tolkien

This one may be a no-brainer for many fantasy lovers. The Lord of the Rings trilogy, among several other works by Tolkien set in Middle Earth are easy instant-buys for me. While Tolkien passed away in 1973, his works are still being published, and his legacy carried on by his son, Christopher Tolkien. His most recently published book came out in 2017 (which I still need to buy but definitely will), and tells the story of Beren and Lúthien, elves existing long before the famous trilogy took place.

Juliet Marillier

While I haven't read her most popular series, the Sevenwaters series yet, Juliet Marillier is one of those authors that I know I will love whatever she creates. Having multiple books published including several book series, Marillier is well versed in folklore, retellings, and everything whimsical. She writes in mainly the Young Adult fantasy genre, but these books often suitable for adults as well.

Kristen Ciccarelli

Quite new to the Young Adult Fantasy scene, Ciccarelli released her debut novel in October 2017. Her writing is lush, imaginative, and immersive. I was greatly surprised at the talent she exhibited in her first novel, and how she craftily wove such meaning throughout her plot. I'm greatly looking forward to more work from her!

Kendare Blake

I've been following Blake's Three Dark Crowns series since the first novel came out. When I read it, I knew that this was an author I wanted to keep tabs on. While her writing isn't as lush and derivative as some authors, her ability at writing a plot and incorporating so many twists is astounding! She also dabbles in horror, and has two other series published. I'm not sure if I'll read the horror series, but plan to keep an eye out for more from her in the future!

Amie Kaufman

Technically a cross-over author, Amie Kaufman writes both Young Adult Sci-Fi and Fantasy novels. While I've only read The Illuminae Files which she co-authored, I can tell from this series that her other books should be given a shot!

What are some of your auto-purchase authors? (They can be from any genre!)
Which authors would you recommend fans of Fantasy or Sci-Fi to check out?

eARC Review: Children of Daedala by Caighlan Smith

eARC Review: Children of Daedala by Caighlan Smith

Six months alone in the labyrinth has made her strong. But the search for the exit means gambling on an old ‘friend’ and going against everything she’s been taught to survive. Partial synopsis provided by Goodreads. Children of Daedala Series: Children of Icarus #2 Author: […]

Mini Book Review: The Oracle Queen by Kendare Blake

Mini Book Review: The Oracle Queen by Kendare Blake

Release Day April 3, 2018! Triplet queens born on the island of Fennbirn can be many things: Elementals. Poisoners. Naturalists. If an oracle queen is born, however, one with the gift of sight, she’s immediately drowned, extinguishing her chance at ever taking the throne. But […]

Book Review: Children of Icarus by Caighlan Smith

Book Review: Children of Icarus by Caighlan Smith

It is Clara who is desperate to enter the labyrinth and it is Clara who is bright, strong, and fearless enough to take on any challenge. It is no surprise when she is chosen. But so is the girl who has always lived in her shadow. Together they enter. Within minutes, they are torn apart forever. Now the girl who has never left the city walls must fight to survive in a living nightmare, where one false turn with who to trust means a certain dead end.

Synopsis provided by Goodreads.

Children of Icarus

Series: Children of Icarus #1
Author: Caighlan Smith
Publication Date: August 1, 2016
Publisher: Switch Press
Page Count: 313
Format: ebook
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Horror, Dystopia
Cover Artist: Cecily McKeever
My Rating: ★★

Welcome to the city of Daedala, a city situated at the center of a massive labyrinth. A city built on history and lore. A city of people seeking to enter the labyrinth in order to become angels.  

“Children between the ages of ten and sixteen are candidates for the labyrinth trial. Clara is sixteen. So am I. This is our last chance to become Icarii: to enter the labyrinth and become angels.”

Clara has always been the brave one. Eager to enter the labyrinth to join her brother on the other side has been her dream since he was chosen to be one of the Icarii years before. Her timid friend, however, doesn’t feel the same way about the labyrinth. Preferring the shadows and staying home, she’s surprised when they are both chosen to become Icarii. The glorified position immediately turns sinister only moments after the chosen enter the labyrinth.

Once inside, the Icarii are descended upon by angel-like creatures, who attack and reduce their numbers immediately. Terrified, everyone remaining disperses and hides. Tragically, the narrator witnesses Clara’s brutal demise, and immediately understands that her “privileged” position isn’t what everyone believed it to be in the city. She must now learn how to survive the treacherous labyrinth, in hopes to eventually find the exit. Foes are around every corner, and friends are hard to come by.

 

Children of IcarusChildren of Icarus by Caighlan Smith
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

⇒ To disclose the content warning a little further, there is a weird, “rape-y” vibed scene between the main character and another character named Ryan. The main character’s response reveals a masochistic-like quality to her which appears later on as well.

”I can feel his ragged breath down the front of my shirt. Something about how it gets quick when I twist the dagger excites me. He’s terrified me and treated me so cruelly, and all it takes is me doing one thing to make him this weak.”

In an unrelated incident, another character tries to rape the main character as well.

Initial Thoughts

Before I really got into this book, I was pretty excited to read it. However, at only ten percent into it, I realized it was going to be a very different read that I had expected. Sure, mythology has it’s creepy, and rather gory moments, but Children of Icarus takes it to a new level.

World Building

The story begins in the city of Daedala and gives only brief accounts of its makeup, history, and societal functions. The scene quickly shifts to inside the labyrinth as it follows the main character for the remainder of the book. While some details are given in both settings, vague terminology and direction give the reader a sense of being lost. Which, for a book like this, I guess is appropriate–seeing how the characters are lost in a labyrinth…

The most page time for world building is spent on identifying the creatures in the labyrinth and developing the social hierarchy among the Icarii.

Society is structured upon, and orbits around an interpretation of the Greek mythology story of Icarus and Daedalus (aka Daedala in this version).

“The gods have always been cruel, always tricksters. The sun was no gateway, but poor, young Icarus could not have known the gods’ plan for him. He flew into the sky until his wings caught fire and he plummeted back to the earth.

In this book, Icarus is initially depicted as a young angel. Also being the last free angel, he was tricked by the gods to come to their land and rescue the angels that had been captured. But the gods tricked him into believing that the sun was a portal to their realm.

Daedala, a representation of Daedalus from the original story, retains the same vocation and identifies as a craftswoman. She mourns the death of Icarus. Hoping he may regenerate, she built Icarus a tomb.

“Daedala knew she would not live to see Icarus fly again, and so built for him two more gifts, to protect him from the ruthless, relentless gods. She constructed a giant city over the tomb of Icarus, with walls and towers so high they threatened the territory of the gods themselves. And then, around this city, she built a labyrinth that was thought to never end.”

To the residents of Daedala, Icarus is a sort of god. The people of Daedala would choose a select number of children between the ages of ten and sixteen each year to become “Icarii” and enter the labyrinth in order to find the end of the maze. Once through, they would enter into Alyssia–the land of the angels and have the honor of welcoming Icarus home.

Pacing & Readability

While this book starts off with a bang, the entire body of the text was so slow and tediously uneventful. There are some creature attacks and what-not here and there, but not a lot happens for the majority of the book. It gave a disjointed feel to the book because the beginning and end had so much going on, that the middle was the exact opposite.

Point-of-View & Characters

The point-of-view is told from the perspective of the main character, who happens to remain unnamed for the entire book. While I thought this tactic was clever, I didn’t care for her character very much. The fact that I wanted to find out who she was battled with her being unlikeable, and made me more aggravated with her character than anything.

”I grew up in this building and I was supposed to die in this building. Now I’ll never die. Now I’ll become an angel. So why is my heart in my throat?”

Our unnamed narrator is clearly a “follower.” From the first page, her adoration for her best friend Clara is clear. Without Clara, she doesn’t know what to do or how to handle herself. This element of her personality gets her into tight places when she finds herself alone, unsure of how to process the situation in front of her. Several times instead of facing what was actually going on, she instead wishes that she is home and back behind the curtains of safety. This “smoke screen” tactic pushes her to act before she thinks about the repercussions of her decisions.

Clara is the main character’s best friend. She’s outgoing, fearless, but also dominating, over-confident, unrefined, and self-centered. While she’s not very nice to her friend, she naturally falls into the leader role and expects “unnamed” to take the backseat willingly. Eager to become one of the Icarii, she instantly shows her true self when “unnamed” is chosen first.

Some of the minor characters, like Ryan and the Executioner, was the most interesting of them all. Both Ryan and the Executioner are difficult to make out. While Ryan’s character isn’t explored much (and comes off way worse than I think he actually is), the Executioner’s true nature is revealed more towards the end and remains to be the most complex characters of them all.

The main antagonist is shared between the labyrinth, and later on, with Collin. While the labyrinth poses a constant threat to the Icarii, Collin becomes a threat to the main character when he discovers that she is not who she claims to be. Collin turns from a pleasant person to a despicable, tremendously cruel human.

Major Themes

⇒ Bullying

Bullying is very visible throughout this book. The main character is thrust into a situation that she doesn’t want to be in in the first place and is not prepared for the challenges before her. While she doesn’t handle herself well, she also doesn’t deserve the treatment that people give to her. I cringed at the way Collin would treat “unnamed,” and it nearly made me stop reading this book altogether. The interactions between these two characters (along with “mob mentality”) show just how dangerous bullying can be when no one decides to stand up for what’s right and for the person being bullied.

⇒ Fending for oneself

There isn’t a good example of friendship in this book. The closest glimpse the reader gets into a “friendship” is between the main character and the Executioner. While a sense of comradery is attempted to be built in Fates, the moment someone does something wrong, they are thrown to the wolves…quite literally.

⇒ Facing Reality

“I didn’t mean to trick you. I didn’t want to, but you were so kind, and I was so scared, and I didn’t know what to do. And then it was too late and I couldn’t find a way to tell you the truth because I…I didn’t want to think about her being dead, and I knew if I told you it would hurt you even more than it was hurting me. She was my friend. My best friend. Pretending to be her, it was almost like it kept her alive, and I know that’s no excuse, but I wasn’t ready to face it.”

The main character has a major issue with facing the reality of her situation. While her reactions are understandable, they still aren’t right. She spends a majority of the book wishing for everything to be different, which inhibits her from being able to grow, adapt, and move on.

⇒ Paying for your Mistakes

“You’re just like all the monsters in this graveyard. You’re worse than the monsters, because they can’t help being disgusting and vicious and cruel. You chose to do this. You ruined my sister’s name and memory.”

Another rather negative theme visible was paying for the mistakes that were made. Instead of any type of decency or attempt to understand where a person was coming from, a cruel punishment was given instead. Several characters experience this treatment, especially the main character.

Overall Feelings

Things that I liked:

⇒ The way the plot was constructed around the original mythological tale.
⇒ The Executioner’s character complexity.
⇒ For the most part, it was romance-free.

Things that I didn’t like:

⇒ The overall brutality.
⇒ The major variation in pacing.
⇒ The feeling that the backstory was somewhat incomplete and therefore, left unexplained.
⇒ The main character’s passiveness when she was being bullied and abused, her general character being rather annoying, and the weird masochistic qualities that surfaced at a few points in time.
⇒ There is little detail given on character description across the board.

Overall, I wasn’t a fan of this book. The gore and dismal atmosphere overpowered anything else in the story and kept me from enjoying it much–not that I found much to enjoy. While I liked how it was a creative twist on the original mythological tale, I felt that a lot of the plot was left unexplored, the characters underdeveloped (and unlikeable), and uncomfortable topics being focused on that weren’t redeeming in any way. This may be a case of “it’s me, not you,” but I also don’t think that action scenes and suspense make for a solid plot alone.

Vulgarity: Surprisingly, none!
Sexual content: As stated in the content warning at the beginning of this review, there was a scene that felt like it was leading up to something, and then another scene where rape was actually attempted.
Violence: Quite a lot, including very gory scenes.

View all my reviews


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