Reviews

Into the Shadow: Review of The Damned (Blog Tour)

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

Read my review of The Beautiful here!

Book: The Damned (The Beautiful #2)

Summary

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

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

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

Author: Renée Ahdieh

Year Published: 2020

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

The Damned was a magical read that expanded upon the first book well, answering many of the questions that I had whilst giving me more. I loved diving back into the glamorous yet monstrous world of The Beautiful and learning more about the characters. However, it wasn’t a five star read like the first book was for me because I felt like it tried to cram a bit too much in without adequate explanation.

Celine was grappling with the trauma of what happened to her at the end of The Beautiful. She felt like she had lost herself in the midst of confusion, nightmares and terror gripping her when she was perfectly safe. For Celine, this book was about self discovery– in more ways than one. She showed even more fortitude and determination than in the previous book and I was rooting for her throughout.

Celine took centre stage in The Beautiful and Bastien had little character development, whereas The Damned saw him take the spotlight and have his own arc too. His POV chapters were in the first person and in the present tense, as opposed to everyone else’s POV chapters being in the third person and the past tense, making it feel as if it was primarily his story. We get to see the most of his inner conflict as he dealt with his own trauma and navigated uncharted waters in a familiar world. He wanted to be a better version of himself despite the darkness inside him and he went on a journey to find out what that meant. I liked discovering more depth to his character and it helped me to better understand him.

“Love and loyalty are not always the same thing. Loyalty is easy. Love is doing what is right, even when it is difficult.”

I loved getting to learn more about the side characters especially Odette and Jae. I think they both deserve their own spin off books because they’re amazing and have the most interesting back stories. We get to see the POVs of so many more characters in comparison to The Beautiful such as Bastien, Odette, Jae, Arjun and more. I was actually surprised that we don’t see Celine’s POV until around a quarter of the book. I liked reading from new perspectives even though at first it slowed the pace down too much.

The Damned didn’t hold back with the supernatural: vampires, werewolves, fey, goblins and more. We are introduced to the magical realms of the summery Sylvan Vale and the wintry Sylvan Wyld– equally dangerous despite their appearances. The plot became more about the greater picture than any one character’s goals which I liked but, as I mentioned earlier, too many components were introduced without being properly fleshed out. The conflict between the Brotherhood and the Fallen could have also felt more high stakes.

I really enjoyed The Damned but it felt like it was mainly setting the stage for the next book. I originally thought this series was a duology but it turns out there’s going to be a third book and I cannot wait!

Have you read The Damned? How do you think it compared to The Beautiful? Let me know in the comments!

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Witches and Werewolves: Review of Mooncakes

Book: Mooncakes

Author: Suzanne Walker

Artist : Wendy Xu

Year Published: 2019

  • Story: 3/5
  • Characters: 4/5
  • Art: 5/5
  • Overall: 3.5/5

Mooncakes was an endearing graphic novel with an enchanting (pun intended) cast of characters and themes of hope, family and love. I’d never actually read a graphic novel before this one so I had no idea what to expect but I was pleasantly surprised with a sweet story that filled me up with all those warm, fuzzy feelings. My only grumble is that the plot was quite basic and focused more on the relationships between characters than specific details but I still had a great general experience despite this.

Nova Huang was a teen witch who worked in her grandmothers’ bookshop and helped them loan out spell books and look into any magical mishaps in the surrounding area. One day she stumbled across her childhood crush called Tam Lang– a werewolf who had been lost and wandering for far too long. They banded together to battle occult forces but ultimately they ended up rediscovering their love and discovering the extent of the potential they both held.

The foundation of this novel was the bonds between the various characters. Nova and Tam’s relationship was the pinnacle of cuteness and I loved their quiet, hopeful trust in each other. The endless love and support from Nova’s grandmothers and the rest of her family was heart-warming as well as the humorous scepticism of Nova’s scientific best friend.

I also loved the diversity! Both Nova and Tam were Chinese American. Nova was hard-of-hearing and Tam was nonbinary. It just fills my heart with so much joy to see so much representation. Furthermore, the illustrations were gorgeous and created an adorable, whimsical mood to the story.

In essence, Mooncakes was a tale of self discovery. Of growing up and ‘leaving the nest’ but also of coming home. Yes, the plot was a bit lacking for me but it was still an enchanting read that I’d recommend and that has definitely made me want to read more graphic novels in the future.

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