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The Goose Girl: Review of Thorn

Thank you to Hot Key Books for providing me with a review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Book: Thorn

Author: Intisar Khanani

Year Published: 2020

Trigger warnings: physical and emotional abuse, sexual assault (off page), animal death (off page)

  • Plot: 4.5/5
  • Characters: 4.5/5
  • Writing: 5/5
  • Overall: 4.5/5

Thorn was a retelling of ‘The Goose Girl’ (a fairy tale by the Brothers Grimm) that slowly unfurled its petals to reveal a tale that had me captivated throughout. Out of curiosity, I read The Goose Girl before reading this novel and I think it truly is a stunning retelling that keeps the best parts of the fairy tale whilst adding some much needed depth and character development.

Princess Alyrra longed to be free of her family’s physical and emotional abuse, her court’s derision and her rank as a princess. She longed to live how she chose to do so. However, that desire seemed impossible when Kestrin, a prince from a vast and powerful land, sent her a marriage request she would not be able to refuse. Until a vengeful sorceress swapped Alyrra’s body with that of an accompanying noble girl in order to achieve her mysterious goals and inadvertently made Alyrra’s dreams came true. Taking on the role of a goose girl, Alyrra forged a new life surrounded by people who valued and cared for her. But as time passed and secrets unravelled she realised her choice to accept her fate would have consequences she wouldn’t be able to bear.

Alyrra’s character development was superb. At the start of the book she was scared, unsure of herself and the world and would rather be passive than stand up for herself. The entire book was about her journey of realising that once she overcame her fears and doubts she could be powerful and she could make a difference to the world. Her strong sense of moral justice and desire to help people no matter what pushed her past her limits to do things she never thought she could before. By sticking to her core beliefs she found her inner strength and overcame seemingly impossible odds. What a power arc!

I also liked Kestrin because he respected Alyrra’s right to choose her own life and while he certainly tried to persuade her to his cause he gave her space to become who he wanted to be. I loved the unwavering support from Alyrra’s friends: Sage, Violet, Ash and Rowan. The way she gradually opened up to them and began to heal from her past traumas with their love was beautiful. But most of all I adored Falada the talking Horse (yes, with a capital H it’s not a typo). He was wise, funny, generally amazing and always had encouragement and advice for Alyrra whenever she needed it. Truly, a legend.

Thorn cleverly explored many complex themes from the notion of justice to slavery, revenge, social hierarchy and much more. However, what I did want more of was world building. I didn’t feel properly grounded in the world created as I didn’t learn enough about its distinctive cultures, customs and places.

Nevertheless, I loved Thorn overall with its complex, empowered heroine, its magical plot and its thought provoking ideas. I can’t wait to read whatever Khanani writes next!

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Fairytales and Firebirds: Review of Wicked As You Wish

Thank you to Sourcebooks Fire for providing me with a review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Book: Wicked As You Wish

Author: Rin Chupeco

Year Published: 2020

  • Plot: 3.5/5
  • Characters: 3.5/5
  • Writing: 4/5
  • Overall: 4/5

Wicked As You Wish was a tale of family, friendship and a fight for freedom that was fun and full of creativity. The start of the book was very full on with a lot of information to process but it really is worth sticking with until the end.

It was set in a world similar to ours only there was the Royal States of America and a few extra countries: Wonderland, Avalon and Neverland, not to mention an entirely different history inspired by fairy tales such as Snow White, Little Red Riding Hood and much more, all cleverly incorporated into a magical world. I also loved the representation as there were characters of many different races, genders and sexualities and I especially loved how Filipino culture was so intricately woven throughout the book. All the detailed descriptions of Filipino food made me hungry!

The magic followed a give-and-take system which I thought was really interesting. For example, if you wanted fire power you’d have to endure a tolerance to cold so low that standing in front of a freezer would be too much. However, that could be overcome through spelltech: objects already imbued with magic by someone else.  

Tala Warnock was a Makiling, which meant she negated magic of all forms. Her family were charged with protecting Prince Alexei of Avalon, the sole survivor of his royal family, but they ended up going on an eccentric quest to reclaim their homeland and Alexei’s rightful throne. Tala’s journey was one of understanding herself and her goals. She had to deal with some truths that upended her world, but she always had people around her to support her. That was probably one of the best parts of this book: the tight bonds of family and friendship that held everyone together unconditionally

I found Alex very annoying. I could understand why he was frustrated but I couldn’t understand why he continually took it out on the people who were trying to help him. That being said, I did like how his friendship with Tala was portrayed. It was rocky at times but they were always there for each other when it mattered. I loved Tala’s family especially her titos and titas and Lola Urduja. In terms of the rest of the characters… there were too many for them all to be well developed and likeable. However, I did like Zoe (how could I not like someone who appreciates skirts with pockets?!) and also Loki but quite a few of the characters were easily forgettable.

I generally quite liked the plot although there were some plot twists near the end that needed more explanation. There were lots of ominous prophecies dotted throughout the book foreshadowing a lot more strife to come in the sequel which I am excited to read as I think it has the potential to be better than the first.

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Soulmates and Revenge: Review of Bone Crier’s Moon

Thank you to Katherine Tegen Books for providing me with a review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Book: Bone Crier’s Moon

Author: Kathryn Purdie

Year Published: 2020

  • Plot: 4/5
  • Characters: 4/5
  • Writing: 4/5
  • Overall: 4/5

Bone Crier’s Moon was a riveting read set in a French-inspired world about the lengths people go to for love and loyalty. The moon waxed and waned, the stakes were high and the relationships were compelling– I definitely thought it was a story with a lot of potential.

Bone Criers or Ferriers were women who ferried the souls of the dead to either the Heavens or the Underworld every new moon. But to do this they had to complete a rite of passage that involved luring and killing their soulmate on a bridge. I did think that was a contradictory idea- murdering in order to ferry the dead. The idea was supposed to be that the Ferrier’s had to give up something important to prove their dedication but surely the person dying is making more of a sacrifice than the Ferriers?

The magic system was very novel where the Ferriers gained magical powers called graces from the bones of animals that they had killed depending on the strengths and skills of those particular animals. For example, if someone had the grace bone of a peregrine falcon they would get extra speed and the bone of a fire salamander would give a healing grace.

Ailesse didn’t just want to be a Ferrier, she wanted to be the best no matter what it took. Her drive to prove her worth and skill to her mother, the Matrone, and the rest of her famille meant that she never questioned their practices or the reasons behind them. But then Bastien took her hostage, getting in the way of the fate she had been preparing for as long as she could remember. As time passed and truths were uncovered, she realised that there could always be another way. Ailesse had the most subtle development, over the course of the book the pillars of her life crumbled and she had to trust in her own strength to get her through.

Sabine was probably the most interesting character. I loved her strong friendship with Ailesse and how they loved each other unconditionally despite their differences. However, it was that strong love that led her to break through many of her moral boundaries to help her friend, almost becoming an entirely different person by the end. As she discovered more and more unsettling secrets her limits were tested more than ever before.

For me, Bastien was probably the least developed character. He witnessed his father being killed by a Bone Crier at a young age and ever since he had been driven by a deep-seated desire for revenge. Therefore, he made it his mission to kill a Bone Crier. My problem with him was that I thought he discarded the anger that had been fuelling him for so long rather quickly, I think he should have experienced a greater conflict of emotions.

I did like how he put his revenge behind him as he knew it was not going to make anything better. And I also thought him and Ailesse suited each other very much and the way they unwittingly chose each other and defied fate in doing so was cute. However, I think it all needed more development and needed to take more time. On another note, I really liked Bastien’s friends, Jules and Marcel, and I hope they get even more of a role in the next book.

Set in a dynamic world that went between the forest, the catacombs, the city and many different bridges, Bone Crier’s Moon was a promising start to a duology about choosing one’s own destiny and rethinking the ways of the past. I’m really excited to read the sequel and seeing where the story goes next!

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Beware Golden Boys: Review of Foul is Fair

Thank you to Wednesday Books for providing me with a review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Trigger warnings: sexual assault (off-page), rape culture, abusive relationship, bullying, transphobia, suicide attempt. A detailed page of trigger warnings can be found here on the author’s website.

Book: Foul is Fair

Author: Hannah Capin

Year Published: 2020

  • Plot: 4/5
  • Characters: 4.5/5
  • Writing: 5/5
  • Overall: 4/5

Foul is Fair was a dark tale inspired by Macbeth about revenge after sexual assault and about survivors taking power into their own hands. It a was a raw, raging and visceral read.

On the night of Elizabeth Jade Khanjara’s sweet sixteen, she crashed a St. Andrew’s Prep party with her closest friends- Mads, Jenny and Summer. She became the target of a group of rich, privileged ‘golden boys’ who drugged then sexually assaulted/ raped her, thinking she wouldn’t remember, that they’d get away with it like they always did. But not this time. Because, although Jade’s memory of what happened was fragmented she remembered enough and she and her coven of friends swore to take every single person involved down.

Jade (our Lady Macbeth) didn’t want to be a victim or a survivor, she wanted to be an avenger. She was fierce and there would be consequences for anyone who crossed her or her friends. Her way of dealing with what happened to her was completely detaching herself from who she was before. She changed her name, dyed her hair ‘revenge black’ and became a new person, filled with rage. She targeted everyone involved- including the people who gave her the drink, who guarded the door, who stood by and did nothing- and transferred to St. Andrews Prep. Mack (our Macbeth) seemed to be the only member of their group who wasn’t involved and she exploited and amplified his hesitant ambition to pit them all against each other, manipulate their fears and make them meet their ends.

As a character, Jade was brutal. She revelled in exacting her revenge and wielding her power and she didn’t hold back. Her coven of friends were equally brutal and extremely loyal to one another. I liked their tight-knit friendship, how they could trust each other completely. In terms of Macbeth, they were like the witches, spreading toil and trouble and lurking in the background to ensure everything went to plan. The ‘golden boys’ were all on the lacrosse team and observed a strict ranking. Duncan was their ‘king’ and they were all abhorrent human beings, raping and assaulting girls at parties because they knew there would be no consequences for them- until Jade came along.

The writing style in the novel was unlike anything else I’ve ever encountered. It was disjointed, uncompromising and razor-sharp– at times extremely dramatic. I loved it and I think it worked really well with the story but I do think there will be some people who find it an odd and confusing style to follow, it’s just a matter of taste.

The reason I dropped a star was that many parts of the book were very unrealistic. In real life, I don’t think Jade’s plan would have worked out how it did in the novel. For example, the way Mack fell in love with her after a day or so and soon enough was willing to kill for her was very unconvincing.

I think the novel aimed to be as dramatic and vicious as possible to make a statement. Because while murder is never the answer, perpetrators of assault/ rape shouldn’t be allowed to escape justice, survivors and victims need to feel empowered not let down by the authorities. Another thing I liked was the message that there’s no right way of being a survivor and the people around Jade like her friends and parents were very supportive.

In conclusion, Foul is Fair was a ruthless tale about revenge, with social commentary on rape culture that made for a gripping read.

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Not the Chosen One: Review of Fate of the Fallen

Thank you to Tor Books for providing me with a review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Book: Fate of the Fallen

Year Published: 2019

Author: Kel Kade

  • Plot: 3/5
  • Characters: 4/5
  • Writing: 3.5/5
  • Overall: 3.5/5

Fate of the Fallen was a fantasy book that subverted the ‘chosen one’ trope and managed to strike a balance between end-of-the-world bleakness and light-heartedness. At the start, the writing and plot felt a bit immature but the story strengthened as it progressed and more characters were introduced.

Aaslo was a forester (a person tasked with caring for the forests) and all he wanted was to save the trees– but he ended up trying to save the world. One fateful day, his friend and brother in all things, Mathias, discovered he was chosen. According to prophecy, he was the only one capable of saving the world from evil. It wasn’t that much of a surprise, he was skilled and much loved by all, so of course he was destined for greatness… right? Wrong. When he met his untimely end, the very distraught Aaslo decided to take up Mathias’ mantle and give their world a fighting chance.

When there wasn’t a ‘chosen one’ anymore, everyone gave up and prepared for doom. Aaslo, however, thought if he was fated to die he might as well do so fighting for the greater good– not hiding away. Generally, I thought that was a good message because in real life so many things don’t go to plan but it’s not an excuse to give up but more of a reason to move forward with resilience, tenacity and hope for the future- like Aaslo.

As a character, Aaslo was solemn and serious but also extremely genuine in a likeable way- there was not an ounce of deception in him. Some of the other characters were quite endearing too, most notably the two thieves Peck and Mory and an ex-mage called Teza. However, there were a few different points of view, some of which I didn’t care about at all (like that of the reaper called Myropa) which made my progression through the book quite forced at times.

The plot was just… a lot. I think if it just focused on Aaslo it would have been fine but the meddling gods kept making appearances and they made the plot more confusing. There was magic, mages, prophecies, fae, zombies and a dragon arm (yes, just an arm) and while it sounds fun, it would have been more fun if the plot was better developed and there was less of what felt like seemingly unnecessary filler.

In conclusion, Fate of the Fallen was a rather humorous read that had a nice twist on a well-known trope. It wasn’t spectacular but would make a refreshing read for someone tired of the same old, same old.

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Review: Steel Crow Saga

Thank you to Gollancz for providing me with a review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Book: Steel Crow Saga

Author: Paul Krueger

Year Published: 2019

  • Plot: 5/5
  • Characters: 5/5
  • Writing: 5/5
  • Overall: 5/5

Steel Crow Saga was an Asian-inspired standalone fantasy (also influenced by anime) with intricate world building and a well developed cast of characters that captured my heart. It was truly an unforgettable and worthwhile read.

Many fantasy novels focus on the events leading up to and during a great war but this book was all about the aftermath of a war. The countries Sanbuna, Shang and Dahal had revolted against the colonising power of Tomoda but there was still a long way to go to establish peace.

That’s where our characters came in. Tala, a Sanbuna soldier, was tasked with escorting Prince Jimuro to Tomoda so that he could claim his throne. But a Shang princess and detective called Xiulan and a thief from Jeongson called Lee were trying to find and capture Jimuro so that Xiulan could prove to her father her worthiness to rule. However, all four characters ended up uniting under the same goal to defeat a terrible threat to them all.

I loved this novel’s original approach to magic. The people of Shang and Sanbuna had the ability to Shadepact, creating a soul bond with an animal which can then be called by their name to do a person’s bidding. However, the people of Tomoda could Metalpact which as the name suggests involves manipulating metal. Finally, in Dahal they were able to use Hexbolts which involved firing powerful bolts of energy. These various forms of magic were used creatively, for good and to gain control. For example, the Jeongsanese were not allowed to Shadepact as a means of subjugation.

Tala was haunted by the desperate actions of her past that led her to shadepact with her brother to save his life, gravely defying the laws of magic. Her relationship with her brother portrayed the complex layers of loyalty, hate but most of all love between them emotively. Tala had to help the very person she felt represented the pain and suffering her people had experienced, her worst enemy- Jimuro. But as the story developed she realised a person is more than what they represent and without forgiveness to others and herself there would be no hope for future peace.

Jimuro had one of the best development arcs I’ve ever read and was definitely my favourite character. He gradually understood the damage his country had caused and put aside some of his deepest beliefs to become the ruler not just best for his people, but for all. His relationship with Tala was perfect as they went from enemies to trusted friends (to hopefully more). By learning about and accepting each other they helped bridge a rift carved by years of fighting and hatred.

Although the detective-princess Xiulan was razor-sharp smart, all she really knew about the world was what she had read in books. She was driven by a consuming desire to prove her right to power, especially to her siblings who had always put her down. Her journey was one of acknowledging her own talents as well as weaknesses and learning how to use them for the good of her people. Lee was used to leaving people behind before they left her and she had to overcome her deep-seated suspicion of people to form a connection with Xiulan. Their relationship was dynamic and endearing but they also had to deal with issues surrounding trust that remained unresolved at the end.

I loved the intricate world building that fully immersed me in the differing cultures, customs, foods, etiquettes, beliefs and lifestyles of the various places. Furthermore, the harmony it achieved between magic and technology was unparalleled. At its core, this book was about the importance of overcoming differences and not allowing past traumas to fester in order to achieve peace. It was about the importance of the coloniser accepting responsibility and the advent of change through decolonisation.

For a fantasy, every aspect of Steel Crow Saga felt so real from the many layered characters to the detailed world. I don’t re-read novels often, but I’m very sure I’ll have to re-read this one soon. It’s a book I feel like I could get lost in a thousand times and always discover something new.


At the start of the review, I briefly mentioned the influences of anime in the book. I don’t know much about anime but if that is something you want to know more about, Petrik’s review is great and talks about it in great detail.

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Review: The Monster

Thank you to Tor for providing me with a review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Book: The Monster

Series: The Masquerade #2

Author: Seth Dickinson

Year Published: 2019

  • Plot: 4/5
  • Characters: 4.5/5
  • Writing: 5/5
  • Overall: 4/5

The Monster (the sequel to The Traitor) was another sprawling geopolitical fantasy full of twists and scheming. It wasn’t as mind-shatteringly brilliant for me as the first book but it was still very intriguing and well worth reading.

This book started exactly where the previous one ended. We met the main character Baru again and got more insight into her motivations. Then the story took a wildly unpredictable turn involving a quest for immortality, new characters, new points of view and general chaos (in a good way). The Traitor focused on Baru’s machinations to gain power and destroy the empire from within but The Monster was bigger than that. Baru had the power now and she using it to achieve her goal whilst trying to outmanoeuvre the manipulations of everyone else.

Baru’s cool, indifferent façade shattered away and we got to see her more vulnerable than ever before. For much of the book she was completely lost, reeling from grief and feeling horror at the destructive consequences of her actions- but only after she’d done them. She didn’t know how to handle the moral cost of taking down an empire. She knew what she wanted to achieve and told herself that she didn’t care about whoever ended up as collateral. It was hard to tell if she truly thought her actions were for the greater good or if she saw herself as a monster, just like everyone else. The Empire had nothing to hold over her and therefore found her terrifying– and rightly so. But as her control over herself and her situation slipped it became increasingly difficult to tell if she was the puppeteer or the puppet.

I think the most impressive aspect of this book was how much it expanded on its world. We are told all about the federation of Oriati Mbo which had completely different politics, beliefs and culture to the Empire of Masks. However, all the new variables added to the story made the plot go a little out of control as if it was frantically trying to arrange everything for the next book.

This series is unlike anything I’ve ever read before. It’s so unashamedly brutal, daring and clever and in its own odd way, it works. Overall, The Monster was a gripping read and although some parts felt too outlandish and unnecessary I still have high hopes for the next book in the series.

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Review: Blood Heir

Book: Blood Heir

Author: Amélie Wen Zhao

Year published: 2019

  • Plot: 3.5/5
  • Characters: 4/5
  • Writing: 4/5
  • Overall: 4/5

Blood Heir was a dark retelling of ‘Anastasia’ full of action and determination. It contained some important themes and multi-faceted characters and although at times it felt a bit repetitive I still enjoyed it very much.

Anastacya ‘Ana’ Mikhailov was the crown princess of the Cyrillan Empire– a hostile place for Affinites (people with magical abilities). As a child, Ana discovered her blood Affinity (being able to control people’s blood) when she accidentally killed a group of people and ever since she lived her life locked away, feeling like a monster. After being framed for her father’s murder, Ana was thought to be dead but she actually went on the run to prove her innocence and enlisted the aid of a crime lord named Ramson Quicktongue to track down the real murderer.

“Show them what you are, my little monster”

Affinites, were trafficked into Cyrillia on the promise of good opportunities and jobs but then indentured into forced labour with no escape. Although Ana had been on the run for months before finding Ramson, she was incredibly naïve surrounding the corruption in her lands until he made her face the truth. Being an Affinite herself, Ana’s journey of acknowledging and understanding the rife slavery and suffering was essential for her character development and also for making her a better and more just princess. Slavery wasn’t just a problem in history but a massive issue today all over the world and tackling it, even in a fantasy setting, is so important because more people need to become aware of it, just like Ana.

“It’s up to us to fight our battles in this world”

Although Ana and Ramson seemed like complete opposites at first glance, they were actually really similar. They both carried rage towards the world and pasts full of injustice that shaped their lives and actions. They both saw the bad and good in each other and accepted it and went from deep mistrust to caring for each other dearly. Ana thought there was always a chance to make the right decision despite previous actions and as Ramson was losing himself in a snarl of expectations and ambitions she helped him find a way out. And while Ana realised that nothing can truly be completely good or completely bad she also realised that her monstrous power had the potential for good too.

“All Affinities are a double-edged sword. One must simply learn to wield it.”

The descriptions of places and foods were stunningly detailed– almost real. However, I did want to know more about how Affinities work, especially Ana’s blood affinity, because the book didn’t offer much explanation. I also wanted more of Linn, she was a character who came late in the book even though she was an important character and I really liked her and I hope she is more prominent in the next book.

Overall, Blood Heir was a book that dealt with dark themes but was also fun and action-packed. It almost gave me Grishaverse vibes and is suited to fans of YA fantasy who want something a little bit deeper. I have high hopes for the next book in the series and I can’t wait to read it.

Thank you to HarperVoyager for providing me with a review copy in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

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Review: Mrs P’s Book of Secrets

Book: Mrs P’s Book of Secrets

Author: Lorna Gray

Year Published: 2019

  • Plot: 3/5
  • Characters: 3.5/5
  • Writing: 3/5
  • Overall: 3/5

Mrs P’s Book of Secrets was a historical novel set in 1946 about the effects of war, grief, loss and how traces of the past always remain in the present. It wasn’t perfect but it still had some interesting themes and was a gentle read for the frosty winter months.

The story was about a woman called Lucy Peuse or Mrs P. who lost her husband in World War II and was struggling to find her feet. She decided to return home to her aunt and uncle and join the small family publishing business, which was barely coping with the paper rationing, to try to help. She ended up getting drawn into the intrigue surrounding the new editor Robert, a former prisoner of war, and the mystery of the Ashbrook family, who they were publishing a book about.

Lucy constantly pretended to be fine, even when she wasn’t, and she didn’t always realise it. The loss of her husband had almost numbed her to herself but gradually the love of those around her made her come to terms with her feelings and rediscover her who she was. She developed a profound connection to the past and learnt the importance of keeping the memories of those who had passed away alive. She was always seen as more vulnerable and insecure by others simply because she was a widow but despite the way she was treated at times, she proved to be perfectly capable of looking after herself. It was nice seeing her and Robert open up to each other and find some peace.

Lucy was an intriguing and complex character although it was quite hard to understand her motivations at times. She was the type of person to obsess over every word said to her and infer hidden meanings that simply weren’t there, sometimes creating an impression of awkwardness. The writing was long and rambling to reflect her way of thinking but the large sections of narration in between dialogue and her confusing train of thoughts did get quite annoying as it felt like the effect was needlessly overdone. What was well done however, was the portrayal of her grapple with her lingering grief and how she was afraid of recalling her husband’s memory because it would just serve as a reminder of how when she lost him, she felt like she lost herself too.

Throughout the story, plot threads were picked up and dropped seemingly randomly so it was hard to see what its purpose was until the end. It seems the main messages were about how the scars of war can be deep and enduring but can also bring people together and about the importance of learning about and from the past whilst looking to the future. But most of all it was about how things that are meant to happen always do, but sometimes in a very roundabout way.

Overall, Mrs P’s Book of Secrets was a pleasant story that was a welcome change from what I usually read, even though it had its flaws.

Thank you to One More Chapter for providing me with a review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions exchanged are my own. I received this book as a part of the author’s #30daysofbookblogs event.

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Wicked, Wonderful Witchery: Review of Hex Life

Book: Hex Life

Editors: Christopher Golden and Rachel Autumn Deering

Year Published: 2019

Overall Rating: 4 stars

Hex Life was an anthology of wicked and wonderful witchcraft. It played around with the stereotypes surrounding witches and each story was unique and magical. I liked some stories more than others but I think that there is something for everyone as it had a broad scope of styles and takes on the theme of witches..

(1) An Invitation to a Burning by Kat Howard, 4 stars: One of the shortest stories in the anthology that took the idea of witch burning and turned it into something powerful, uniting and about moving on from the past.

(2) Widows’ Walk by Angela Slatter, 4 stars: Completely inverts the usual tropes surrounding widows and had themes of domestic abuse. It was about a group of widows who try to help young girls with family problems.

(3) Black Magic Momma: An Otherworld Story by Kelley Armstrong, 4 stars: This one was about a witch who dealt in black market trading of magical objects while trying to keep her daughter safe. I liked the way that women supported each other in this story. It was a part of the Women of the Otherworld series, which I am not familiar with.

(4) The Night Nurse by Sarah Langan, 1 star: Dark, depressing, weird. I didn’t like it at all. It felt all over the place and I think the ending was supposed to be shocking but by then I just wanted it to be over.

(5) The Memories of Trees by Mary SanGiovanni, 3 stars: This was a dystopian with themes of nature retaliating against technology.

(6) Home: A Morganville Vampires Story by Rachel Caine, 4 stars: I found this story quite funny. It had some eccentric characters and vampires not knowing what to do with a baby. There a touch of madness and magic mixed in with the mundane and it was about the long-lasting effects of heartbreak and grief. It was a part of The Morganville Vampires series which I am also not familiar with.

(7) The Deer Wife by Jennifer McMahon, 3.5 stars: This was a sort of witchy romance story and it was quite sweet.

(8) The Dancer by Kristin Dearborn, 3.5 stars: It had people with superpowers, an extremely twisted and creepy family and a very obscure yet haunting ending.

(9) Bless Your Heart by Hillary Monahan, 4.5 stars: This was about a mother whose son was getting bullied because he was gay and who decided to put an end to it. It was very gruesome but I couldn’t help cheering on her revenge. Also the mother’s narration was quite humorous with a lot of ranting.

(10) The Debt by Ania Ahlborn, 5 stars: It had Baba Yaga in it so obviously it was amazing. The ending was unexpected in its cruelty and betrayal and I felt for the protagonist, a young girl called Karolin.

(11) Toil & Trouble: A Dark-hunter Hellchaser Story by Sherrilyn Kenyon and Madaug Kenyon, 2 stars: This one also felt quite random and all over the place, I didn’t feel like it had a strong sense of story. It started off catching my interest and went downhill from there.

(12)  Last Stop On Route Nine by Tananarive Due, 4.5 stars: This one was scary, like a horror movie. It also had themes of racism, a ghost and people getting lost.

(13) Where Relics Go To Dream and Die by Rachel Autumn Deering, 2 stars: I don’t know what this story was trying to achieve but I just found it disturbing and weird. I mean it was well written but that isn’t enough.

(14) This Skin by Amber Benson, 4.5 stars: This one was also disturbing but in more of a good way. It was a very creepy story about a young girl who murders and gets away with it.

(15) Haint Me Too by Chesya Burke, 3.5 stars: It was about a girl called Shea whose family was sharecropping and who resorts to more magical means to help her family. It was a bit confusing but also interesting.

(16) The Nekrolog by Helen Marshall, 3 stars: It was too long and rambling, it definitely should have been way shorter. Parts were intriguing but I was mainly bored.

(17)  Gold Among The Black by Alma Katsu, 3 stars: It was a bit like a fairy tale but it was also quite predictable and average.

(18) How To Become A Witch-Queen by Theodora Goss, 5 stars: My favourite story of the anthology. It was a retelling of Snow White about what happened to her years after the ending of the fairy tale. It had clever use of the second person and a gripping plot with themes of female empowerment. I want to read other works by this author now!

Overall, Hex Life had a range of stories for a range of tastes and I’d recommend it to anyone who likes stories about magic and witches.

Thank you to Titan Books for providing me with a review copy of this book in exchange for honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

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