book reviews, spoiler free

Cursed: An Anthology of Dark Fairy Tales

Book Review

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Cursed: An Anthology of Dark Fairy Tales

Rating: XXXX

Published March 3rd 2020 by Titan Books

“Proposition. Bargain. Offer. Deal. Chance of a lifetime, et Cetera. Slightly Faustian, but still good. Well, good’s a slippery concept, but compared to most of these arrangements, I’m offering you a golden ticket.”

Fairy tales take a weird twist in this anthology compiling stories from an all-star cast of fantasy writers, including stories from Neil Gaiman, Charlie Jane Anders and Alison Littlewood.

Here in this book you’ll find unique twists on the fairy tale conceit of the curse, from the more traditional to the modern – giving us brand new mythologies as well as new approaches to well-loved fables. Some might shock you, some might make you laugh, but they will all impress you with their originality

If there’s one thing I love more than Fairy Tales it’s curses and I was so excited to hear that Titan books were publishing an anthology full of dark Fairy Tales and curses! As with my other anthology reviews, I took notes as I read and have a bit to say about each one.

Castle Cursed by Jane Yolen – XXXXX
I wasn’t expecting a poem but it was a perfect start to this cursed anthology.

As Red as Blood as White as Snow by Christina Henry – XXXXX
A Perfectly Christina Henry style tale with a very different version of Snow White.

Troll Bridge by Neil Gaiman – XXX
Well Written and with a great twist but didn’t really do it for me personally.

At That Age by Catarina Ward – XXX
Super creepy and weird but interesting concept.

Listen by Jen Williams – XXXXX
A beautiful and well-told tale with a satisfying ending.

Henry and the Snake Wood Box by M.R Carey – XXXXX
An absolute masterpiece. I loved this immensely, my favourite story out of all of them.

Skin by James Brogden – X
Trigger warning: Body horror and self-harm. Reading this was incredibly hard and I had to stop reading the book for a couple of days.

Faith and Fred by Maura McHugh. – XXXXX
Interesting, well written and intriguing but also simple. Great cliffhanger style ending.

The Black Fairy’s Curse by Karren Jay Fowler. – X
Confusing and didn’t make much sense to me.

Wendy, Darling by Christopher Golden. – XXXXX
Trigger warning: Mention of infant murder. Absolutely chilling and a turn I didn’t expect it to take! Dark.

Fairy Werewolf vs Vampire Zombie by Charlie Jane Andres. – XXXX
Okay so this was a weird one but I did really like the way it was written and reminds me of all the Mary Janice Davidson books I used to read. Was a bit over the top ridiculous at times.

Look inside by Michael Marshall Smith. – XX
This read a little disjointed and had an unreliable narrator. It felt like it was cut a little too short although I liked the premise. It also creeped me out the most out of all the others so far.

Little red by Jane Yolen and Adam Stemple. – XX
Major trigger warning for self-harm and sexual abuse. I almost didn’t finish this one. It’s written well but felt a little disjointed and the subject matter made feel very uncomfortable.

New Wine by Angela Slatter. – XXXXX
I’m not sure how this one fit in with the cursed theme but I really loved it, it was intriguing and kept me guessing the whole time.

Haza and Ghani by Lilith Saintcrow. – X
Didn’t enjoy this one, it’s wasn’t very clear and felt like it missed a lot and was lacking. I ended up skimming over the end.

Hated by Christopher Fowler. – XX
This would have been a much higher rating but there was just something that rubbed me the wrong way, not to mention the unnecessarily repeated mention of race and a racial slur.

The Merrie Dancers by Alison Littlewood. – XXX
A good tale but I found the narrator very unlikeable.

Again by Lebbon. – XXXX
Brilliant story! I definitely could have read more. I wasn’t sure about the ending but overall the whole thing was great.

The Girl from Hell by Margo Lanagan. – X
Did not enjoy, very disjointed. I didn’t find it particularly interesting or making a lot of sense to me.

Castle waking by Jane Yolen. – XXXX
I prefer the first one but this was still good, I loved that the book is opened and closed with linked poems.

There were definitely a few hit and miss stories in this anthology for me, most of the ones I didn’t like were due to personal preference more than the quality of the actual content so there are definitely some here that I think others that would enjoy that weren’t personally for me. It’s definitely worth checking out if you enjoy the darker side of fairy tales and the curses within.

 

book reviews, spoiler free, Uncategorized

Heartstopper Vol 3

Six for Sunday

43449920._SY475_Heartstopper Volume Three by Alice Oseman

Rating: XXXXX

Published February 6th 2019 by Hodder Children’s Books

“There’s this idea that if you’re not straight, you HAVE to tell all your family and friends immediately like you owe it to them. But you don’t. You don’t have to do anything until you’re ready.”

In this volume, we’ll see the Heartstopper gang go on a school trip to Paris! Not only are Nick and Charlie navigating a new city, but also telling more people about their relationship AND learning more about the challenges each other are facing in private…

Meanwhile, Tao and Elle will face their feelings for each other, Tara and Darcy share more about their relationship origin story, and the teachers supervising the trip seem… rather close…?

If you haven’t already checked out volumes one and two of Heartstopper yet what is wrong with you?! This gorgeous, brilliant graphic novel By Alice Oseman centres around Nick and Charlie, previously featured in one of Alice’s ‘written’ novels, Solitare; whose main character Tori is Charlies older sister. Oseman later released an ebook story about Nick and Charlie set a year after the events of Solitare and begun thinking about the backstory behind their relationship prior to Solitare but no matter how she tried she just couldn’t get their story on the page the way she wanted; it occurred to her that maybe it was because their story didn’t fit into a conventional novel format and instead on September 1st 2016, created the Heartstopper comic Tumblr page and uploaded the first eleven pages of Nick and Charlies story. The comic gained immense popularity which would only continue to grow when she released a bound physical edition of volume one, first via Kickstarter and then after it was picked up by a publisher, Hodder.

I adored the first two volumes, (you can check out my spoiler-free review for volume one here or volume two here) and was so happy to have made it to the London release of volume three to hear Alice speak about her this brilliant series and get my copy signed.

If like me, you enjoyed the first two volumes you are in for a treat as volume three is largely more of the same, which for any other book would possibly be a negative point but if you read Heartstopper this is probably what you’re here for. Nick and Charlie being beyond adorable, beautiful and heartfelt moments and the sweetest, cutest flirting I have ever witnessed. We get to know more about Nick and Charlie’s friends which I really enjoyed, I love that they’re each so distinct and memorable; hearing their stories gave me such joy along with seeing more of their personalities come to the surface.

Volume three is the biggest volume so far and there’s so much great stuff packed in without making it overwhelming. I’m always happy to have a good amount of Heartstopper to get through so this was an absolute bonus, it did mean, however, that due to real-life time constraints and things this is the first one I’ve not been able to read in one sitting. Volume three isn’t just physically larger though, the story itself is broadened as we see the characters out of their typical settings and there are some heavy emotional moments and serious issues addressed (trigger warning for self-harm and eating disorders).

Heartstopper Volume Three is another absolute gem with a fantastic, sweet and funny story, a perfect continuation of the series and a big warm fuzzy hug for your soul and it’s out now!

 

 

 

book reviews, spoiler free

Harley in the Sky

Book Review

38326343._SY475_Harley In The Sky by Akemi Dawn Bowman

Rating: XXXX

Published March 10th by Ink Road Books

“I love the circus. I love the mystery, and the wonder, and the way every act transports my soul into another dimension. I love the way it makes me feel as if the world is in reverse and upsidedown all at once – like there’s starlight beneath my feet and the ocean above my head, and every impossible dream can come true with a single whisper.”

Harley Milano has dreamed of being a trapeze artist for as long as she can remember. With parents who run a famous circus in Las Vegas, she spends almost every night in the big top watching their lead aerialist perform, wishing with all her soul that she could be up there herself one day.

After a huge fight with her parents, who continue to insist she go to school instead, Harley leaves home, betrays her family and joins the rival travelling circus Maison du Mystère. There, she is thrust into a world that is both brutal and beautiful, where she learns the value of hard work, passion and collaboration. But at the same time, Harley must come to terms with the truth of her family and her past—and reckon with the sacrifices she made and the people she hurt in order to follow her dreams. 

As you may have seen from when I posted the cover reveal for Harley and a Book Tag (have a go yourself and you could be in with a chance to win a set of art cards from the book!) a few weeks back I was lucky enough to be a part of the Street Team for Akemi’s newest book and had the chance to read it early. I adored Starfish and Summer Bird Blue and I was so pleased to be given this chance, although I’m not primarily a contemporary reader Akemi’s books just seem to have this spark and this energy to them and she’s become an insta-buy author for me.

First of all, I haven’t been to a circus for years but the moment we see both of the circuses in this book through Harley’s eyes I find myself filled with the wonder and magic of it all that Akemi has captured so incredibly well. She really manages to anchor you into Harley’s point of view which I think is vitally important for a character who makes rash and sometimes hard to understand choices but put in her mindset it’s much easier to rationalise the seemingly irrational thoughts. Harley is, at times a difficult character but as a teen who often tried to run away (thankfully with much less success)  and who to this day still makes decisions based too heavily on strong, fleeting emotions I feel like I got her and that a lot of us possibly used to be her to some extent.

The cast of characters, Harley included, is a wonderfully diverse mix of cultural backgrounds and full of colourful personalities who are hard not to get immediately attached to, I particularly loved Dexi and Vixen! I found Vas an interesting character and thought he played mysterious stranger well, with all of the information about his past and motives coming out in a way that wasn’t exactly hidden but forthcoming due to Vas purely being a private person which was a nice touch.

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Although for me the characters really make this book the plot is still an enjoyable one and although a little predictable at times, especially the romance I still enjoyed it immensely and although there are certainly some wonderful and painful moments I found it a much lighter read than Starfish and Summer Bird Blue making this a bit of a comfort read for me, especially the around the middle of the story. Don’t let my words fool you though, there are still definitely some tough moments (trigger warnings include depression, mood swings, heart attack and references to suicidal ideation).

One of my random, favourite things about this book that didn’t fail to make me smile every time was the sheer amount of “nerdy” references. ‘Nerd’ culture is, I think, more popular than ever at the moment which is brilliant but other than the occasional mention of Harry Potter I haven’t seen it reflected in many books (this may be because of my habit of not reading a lot of contemporary) and it was very enjoyable, it also seems me and Akemi have a lot of the same taste in fandoms!

Harley in the Sky is out March 10th (in just three weeks) so make sure to get your pre-orders in and get ready to visit the Circus with Harley!

 

book reviews, Comics, spoiler free

NPC Tea Issues 6&7

comicbookreview

 

NPC Tea – Issues Six and Seven written and illustrated by Sarah Milman

Rating: XXXXX

Published: 2018 and 2019 by Sarah Milman

“I don’t want to be calm. I want to be angry. I want to be furious.”

A world identical to our own – identical that is, apart from all the orcs, elves and magic… A love letter to Final Fantasy and Lord of the Rings, NPC Tea is about Cardiff’s least popular tea shop, Y Ddraig, run by a perfectionist elf and a laid-back fire summon.

NPC Tea follows an ex-fire summon, an elf and a magicless human as they attempt to save a failing tea shop in modern-day Cardiff. Soon they find out that a lack of customers and caddies upon caddies of rotting tea are the least of their worries when a type of banned magic rears it’s ugly head and threatens to destroy the entire city. Bryn, Oz and Hannah must unite if they are to save their business – and ultimately the city itself.

An 8 issue series, NPC Tea escalates from a slice of life comedy into an epic fantasy, twisting typical RPG and fantasy stereotypes into a modern-day setting. It’s about what happens when there are no more dungeons to crawl when magic needs to be organized, and when orcs, elves and men try to live peacefully side by side – a balance that’s harshly tested when an entire city is threatened with destruction…

Some of you might remember that back in December 2018 I posted a review for issues 1 through 5 of NPC Tea, a beautiful, fun comic by writer and illustrator Sarah Milman. I had initially thought to review issues 6 through 8 together after issue eight releases later this year but with the events of issues 6 and 7 as well as the Kickstarter campaign for issue 8 going live I thought it would be a good time to review these two together and urge you to get on board with the series ready for the final issue! I’ll keep this spoiler-free for the entire series as much as possible for those of you who may have not have read the others yet! You can order issues 1-7 via Sarah’s Etsy store here right now if you want to catch up asap or if you back the Kickstarter you can choose to receive all of the single issues (with an exclusive slipcase to keep them all together neatly) OR a hardback bindup of all of them! Not forgetting Sarah also has a Patreon where at the $1 tier you can read up to issue 6 digitally right away!

I stumbled upon Sarah and at MCM Comic-Con in London a few years ago and was absolutely hooked on the art and the plot!  I’ve always loved worlds where high fantasy and contemporary can mix with a nice dollop of magic stirred in and NPC Tea is all that and more! These books capture that perfect balance where this is still fantasy but set in a modern world. I have remained hooked on this series ever since and I’m super nervous and excited about the final (possibly for good) issue coming very soon!

Issue Six
I think this might be my favourite issue so far. There are just so many great moments, of which two are ‘romance’ related and they just fit in so seamlessly, they up the stakes and work so well with the main plot-line. At this point in the story, it’s starting to feel like the beginning of the end in that we begin to find out more about what’s really going on and the final plans are being carried out as the endgame nears. We get more background on the summons and the interactions between them were fantastic. The writing and illustrations have been consistently brilliant throughout the series but the use of colour felt a lot more prominent in this issue and was absolutely gorgeous, I will never get over how much I love the style Sarah has chosen to use for this series. The dialogue too has been ramped up a notch (although the banter in the past few issues has been on point) this mixed with perfectly timed scene cuts made all served to build a brilliant amount of tension throughout the issue, with separate scenes binding together in such a satisfying way that meant it all just came together perfectly. Cait definitely wins MVP for this issue, I loved every scene she was in and her trick with her sword was bad-ass.

Issue Seven 
The penultimate issue! When this issue arrived I was SO hesitant to read it purely because I wasn’t ready for it. I’ve loved this series these past few years and the thought that we were coming to the end was terrifying! I lasted two days before I gave in and then read it three times in one sitting just to make sure I had taken it all in. The same praise issue six received applies here although there are, understandably less ‘romantic’ moments. This is a heavy issue filled with a startling reveal and we get down to lore down. As mentioned about issue six, Sarah once again uses the same fantastic technique of linking separate scenes meaning we get that lore from both sides but without having to repeat it. I did get confused when a certain character popped up as it took me a while to place them which prompted me to reread the entire series thus far (like I needed any more of an excuse) and it seemed I had just forgotten about them but read all together it made much more sense so this is my own fault. If Hannah wasn’t already my favourite character she absolutely would have been after this issue, I love her spirit and she definitely wins MVP for issue seven.

I am in no way emotionally ready for issue eight.

If you enjoyed this or are intrigued by the series then keep your eyes peeled for an interview with creator herself, Sarah Milman coming this Thursday!

 

 

Blog Tours, book reviews, spoiler free

CTRL+S by Andy Briggs

Book Review

45437425CTRL+S by Andy Briggs

Rating: XXXX

Publishes November 28th by Orion Books.

“Escape is easy. Staying Free – That’s harder.”

Life in the near future’s NOT ALL BAD. We’ve reversed global warming, and fixed the collapsing bee population. We even created SPACE, a virtual-sensory universe where average guys like Theo Wilson can do almost anything they desire.

But ALMOST ANYTHING isn’t enough for some. Every day, normal people are being taken, their emotions harvested – and lives traded – to create death-defying thrills for the rich and twisted.

NOW THEO’S MOTHER HAS DISAPPEARED. And as he follows her breadcrumb trail of clues, he’ll come up against the most dangerous SPACE has to offer: vPolice, AI Bots and anarchists – as well as a criminal empire that will KILL TO STOP HIM finding her . . .

When I received an email asking if I would like to receive a copy of this book I took one look at the synopsis and practically made grabby hands. I’ve been working on a piece of writing for about three years now which share some similarities and I decided that this book would be the perfect read for during NaNoWriMo as I often find it hard to read books of a different genre to what I’m writing or it has a habit of taking me too far out of the story and I have to ease back in every time. A huge thank you to Orion for an advanced finished copy in exchange for an honest review.

I will admit that to start with I wasn’t sure about this book. We had the hard done by main character who was a bit of a dick, the angry, only female friend the main character has a crush on with the high up and/or well respected dad who just wants her freedom, the confident guy friend who may or may have had a thing with said only girl and the shy guy who doesn’t want to take risks but ends up doing so anyway. Sounds familiar right? We even get the crappy relationship between the main character and his struggling single-parent mother who he tends to refer to just as ‘Ella’ instead of Mum. It’s not that it was a bad start, it just felt very predictable. Flash forward to me a few days later frantically reading as I walk the three minutes to my son’s school because I just could not put it down. 

The characters are definitely their stereotypes but it was easy to forget at times as we did get further insight into them, the main character especially and although I still don’t particularly ‘like’ any of them but they’re still interesting characters who DO develop throughout the story which only spans less than a week anyway so I wasn’t expecting any huge and major changes, I don’t feel like they’re meant to be idea ‘loveable’ characters and I kind of like that about them because it’s very easy to see our own flaws in them and it gives them a whole other level.

The plot itself is the real MVP here, again there are moments that seem predictable but to honest having read a fair amount of sci-fi and seen a hell of a lot of sci-fi films and TV shows that is absolutely bound to happen, almost every story has been told before but this if the first time it’s been told by Andy and I really loved the twists and turns we got along the way and how each clue had to be found and then unravelled. As well as the plot, the writing is at times incredibly fast-paced and has you right at the edge of your seat which is probably my favourite thing about this book, I’m shocked I don’t have any ripped pages and apparently I was impossible to talk to while reading because I was just SO engrossed with the events. We have some downtime, obviously but it fits well with the pacing and isn’t too slow as we get information in that downtime, as well as some character development and some new (awesome) allies.

Another aspect I really enjoyed was the world-building, it’s a not too distant future and incredibly believable in pretty much all aspects for me, the good and the bad. Not only do we get to see the good things that have changed like the way we as a human race impact and care for our planet and it’s animals, finally accepting how important the earth and it’s ecosystems are but we also see how such technological advances could develop going forward and how, like everything that exists it has the potential to do great good but also evil too. There is a fair bit of ‘technobabble’ but most of it seemed easy enough to understand and where needed we get extra information anyway so if you’re used to reading sci-fi this shouldn’t be a problem at all.

Overall I really enjoyed this book and I’m glad I gave it the chance it deserved. It was addictive and possibly one of the most satisfying books I’ve read in a while. I highly recommend it, especially if the synopsis catches your attention.

CTRL+S releases in just two days time on Thursday, November 28th. Make sure you check out the other wonderful book bloggers also taking part in the blog tour over the next week!

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book reviews, Older books, spoiler free

Navigating the Stars by Maria V. Snyder

Book Review

42756706._SY475_Navigating the Stars by Maria V. Snyder

Audiobook narrated by Gabra Zackman

Rating: XXXX

Published December 1st 2018 by Maria V. Snyder

“There’s this girl, she’s like a comet – makes the rest of the galaxy seem dull in comparison.”

Terra Cotta Warriors have been discovered on other planets in the Milky Way Galaxy. And Lyra Daniels’ parents are the archaeological Experts (yes with a capital E) on the Warriors and have dragged her to the various planets to study them despite the time dilation causing havoc with her social life.

When one of the many Warrior planets goes silent, and looters attack her research base, Lyra becomes involved in discovering why the Warriors were placed on these planets. And, more importantly, by who. 

I first read the first book in Maria’s new Sentinels of the Galaxy series, Navigating the Stars last year. Maria has been one of my favourite authors for a very long time and this month, to celebrate the release of of the second book in the Sentinels of the Galaxy, Chasing the Shadows coming out in under two weeks I decided I would reread the first book, Navigating the Stars via audiobook.

Maria has written in this particular genre before but this time feels very different, we get a lot more tech, world-building and space travel in Navigating the Stars then we did with the Outside/Inside series, I believe Lyra is a little older than Trella and their priorities and dynamics are very different. The blending of futuristic technology on faraway planets with archaeology feels right and I could honestly have read even more about the whole process and I couldn’t get enough of the mystery and wonder surrounding these Terra Cotta Warriors and their unexplained presence throughout the galaxy.

I liked most of the characters but didn’t feel a huge attachment to loads of them. Lyra is seventeen but sometimes feels a little younger but I understand that because although I’m thirty honestly I sound a bit like Lyra at times. She’s a bit snarky, very sarcastic and has a knack for getting into trouble, there are a few moments where she effectively breaks the fourth wall and sort of addresses the reader which it took a little while to get used to but honestly I kind of liked it after a while and made it feel like me and Lyra were friends. She certainly made some questionable choices but they always make sense for her character. Gabra Zackman was a perfect choice for the audiobook narration, she really captures Lyra’s snark and in my reread thanks to her I ended up spitting half of a glass of orange juice across my lounge.

I love the world-building for this book, the idea of effectively crinkling space to travel across large distances was explained really well with two different ways of measuring someone’s age as a result which was an interesting concept. I love the Q-net and the way users, especially wormers (like hackers) are able to navigate it, one of my favourite parts being the star roads within the Q-net. Then we get a whole other set of lore surrounding the warrior pits themselves and the things that lurk within but I won’t give anything away!

Navigating the Stars is already out now and it’s sequel Chasing the Shadows officially launches November 18th (my review is coming next Tuesday on the 19th!). You can pre-order the Kindle edition on Amazon now buuuuuut if you want the paperback Maria sneakily made them available to order RIGHT NOW!

 

Blog Tours, book reviews, spoiler free

Angel Mage by Garth Nix

Book Review

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Angel Mage
 by Garth Nix

Rating: XXX

Published October 17th by Gollancz

More than a century has passed since Liliath crept into the empty sarcophagus of Saint Marguerite, fleeing the Fall of Ystara. But she emerges from her magical sleep still beautiful, looking no more than nineteen, and once again renews her single-minded quest to be united with her lover, Palleniel, the archangel of Ystara.

A seemingly impossible quest, but Liliath is one of the greatest practitioners of angelic magic to have ever lived, summoning angels and forcing them to do her bidding.

Liliath knew that most of the inhabitants of Ystara died from the Ash Blood plague or were transformed into beastlings, and she herself led the survivors who fled into neighboring Sarance. Now she learns that angels shun the Ystaran’s descendants. If they are touched by angelic magic, their blood will turn to ash. They are known as Refusers, and can only live the most lowly lives.

But Liliath cares nothing for the descendants of her people, save how they can serve her. It is four young Sarancians who hold her interest: Simeon, a studious doctor-in-training; Henri, a dedicated fortune hunter; Agnez, an adventurous musketeer cadet; and Dorotea, an icon-maker and scholar of angelic magic. They are the key to her quest.

The four feel a strange kinship from the moment they meet, but do not know why, or suspect their importance. All become pawns in Liliath’s grand scheme to fulfill her destiny and be united with the love of her life. No matter the cost to everyone else. . . 

First of all, I want to say a huge thank you to Stevie and the wonderful people at Gollancz for sending me an advanced copy of this book and for having me on this book tour. I vaguely remembered reading Sabriel (also my Garth Nix) when I was younger and enjoyed it even if I started going to music concerts and sitting in the park with my friends instead of reading not long after and didn’t end up reading any more of the series. Still, as a result, when I heard Mr Nix was releasing a young adult book with an interesting magic system I was instantly interested.

The magic system is indeed really fascinating and described fairly well and in an easy to understand way while still being interesting and leaving room for loopholes here and there. The idea that icons with depictions of different levels of angels allowed mages to summon them for aid with varying costs in the currency of said mages own lifeforce feels quite unique but familiar and I enjoyed each piece of information we were given about them and the tolls and aspects of different angels.

The world-building too was done brilliantly and was my favourite aspect of the book. The world felt very easy to visualise as did the different governing bodies, military forces and general existence as a whole. I liked that with the cardinal essentially in power by way of having the ear of the Queen alongside her force of musketeers (led by a female Dartaghtan) it had a real Three Muskateers feel to parts of it even if the resulting story was very different.

Unfortunately, the plot and pacing felt terribly clunky for the most part. A plot doesn’t always have to be fast-paced obviously but usually, when that’s the case it’s because the book is very character-driven and I don’t know if it was because we had four main characters AND the “big bad” as POV parts but it didn’t feel like especially character-driven either. There are some interesting moments for sure and I did like the characters, Doretea especially but I would have liked more character building with them and maybe less insta-friendship although I do understand the circumstances behind it.

One last thing that I noticed and absolutely wanted to praise and shout about was the fact that a lot of prominent characters who when named or mentioned I would often assume were male were female which was very refreshing. The Cardinal and the Queen who hold the highest power were both female, there was a good amount of gender-neutral language throughout and no-one batting an eyelid at anyone’s differing sexual preferences. Not to mention that all of this just felt organic which was honestly just *chefs kiss* and a standard I would love to see in more books instead of having female, queer and/or POC characters slotted in for the sake of it.

Overall it was still an enjoyable read despite its faults, I don’t think it helps that I’m having trouble getting through longer books at the moment either and this is not a particularly short book. Angel Mage by Garth Nix is out now and definitely worth a read if it sounds like it might be your kind of thing.