Tag Archives: genre: fantasy

The Devil You Know by Erin M. Evans

The Devil You Know

The Devil You Know by Erin M. Evans

Series: Brimstone Angels, Book 6
Published by: Wizard’s of the Coast on October 4, 2016
Rating: 3 stars (★★★☆☆)

Things for Farideh seem to just get more and more tangled with every attempt to unravel the situations in which she’s found herself. The spirits of Brimstone Angels are back and they have an agenda all their own. Asmodeus is still working toward achieving the greatness he feels he so rightly deserves. And is Lorcan up to something that is in service to someone else…or does he have a path of his own to follow. What’s clear for everyone is that something needs to happen to put all of this business to an end. But in order to do that, Farideh may have to put herself, her friends, and her family in danger. And if this doesn’t work…well, let’s just say everyone really, really hopes it does.

Things have been building toward this finale for a while now. Every time Farideh felt she was getting a step closer to getting back to a normal life–or what passes for normal for her–it’s as though she’s instead taken a step back. And although she refuses to be a pawn for someone else, too often it seems like she has to give in if she wants to win. This time around, it appears there will be no exception.

I was a little disappointed with the ending. After such a long buildup, it felt a bit anticlimactic to me–which is why this is pulling a three-star rating. It’s still an enjoyable read, and fans of the series and character will enjoy getting some closure, even if it’s a more subdued closure than one might expect.

[Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.]

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

The Bear and the Nightingale

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

Series: Untitled Series, Book 1
Published by: Del Rey Books on January 10, 2017
Rating: 5 stars (★★★★★)

Vasilisa (Vasya) lives with her family in the Russian wilderness, where the winters are hard and long but they work together to make it through. And one of the hallmarks of those winter nights is the gathering of the children around the oven to hear tell of fairy tales and legends from their history. They are stories that are being quickly left behind with the spread of Christianity throughout their lands. But Vasya knows there’s some truth to them. She can see the household spirits–the subject of several of the nightly stories. Vasya also knows that as people stop paying mind to these spirits, they become weak and lose their hold over the families land and the ability to keep them protected from more malevolent beings. And there is a danger lurking just beyond the trees waiting for the right opportunity to leap out from the shadows.

I struggle with where to begin with this story because I want to avoid spoilers as much as I can. I even feel like my synopsis above might be too much if it wasn’t for the fact that most of this information can be gleaned from the publisher’s blurb. But I will say this is an excellent fantasy title, referencing mythology of Russia with a strong emphasis on family dynamics. The characters are well written, especially Vasya who faces a number of challenges and moments of growth throughout the book. And the narration easily brings this world to life on the page.

This is the first book in what the author plans to be a trilogy–I certainly look forward to the next installment.

A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab

A Gathering of Shadows

A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab

Series: Shades of Magic, Book 2
Published by: Tor Books on February 23, 2016
Rating: 4 stars (★★★★☆)

In the four months since the events of A Darker Shade of Magic, both Delilah Bard and Kell have tried to put those things in their past. While Lilah has found a place on a pirate ship by putting her skills to use in acquiring things for the captain, she’s still finding her place in a world that isn’t hers. She’s learning to use magic, and she knows she can’t avoid returning to Red London (and Kell) forever. For Kell, it’s been much harder to distance himself. In the aftermath, he finds himself kept in the palace more than ever before, with tensions between him and King Maxim seeming only to grow with each passing day. But Red London is preparing for a major tournament–the Elemental Games–which may provide just enough distraction for everyone and some much needed relief. But one must be careful of distractions, as they have a tendency to distract from other dangers lurking beneath the surface…

I’ve had a copy of this since it was released, but it has taken me some time to get it open and read. That’s not because I wasn’t excited for it–I really have been. A Darker Shade of Magic was one of the best books I read last year. And that’s exactly why I waited. I wanted to make sure I had the time and space to truly experience and enjoy the next installment in this series. And it didn’t take long to get into the rhythm of these characters, to remember the wonder that these worlds left me with the first time around, and to try to anticipate some of the twists that really did surprise me. If you like high fantasy that doesn’t get bogged down too much in the details at the expense of keeping the plot moving, this is honestly a series for you. And I am personally looking forward to the conclusion in the early part of 2017.

The Wizard’s Desire by Anna Wineheart

The Wizard's Desire

The Wizard’s Desire by Anna Wineheart

Published by: Anna Wineheart on December 6, 2016
Rating: 4 stars (★★★★☆)

After an accident with magic caused Kei to nearly lose his parents when he was younger–and left them unable to remember who he is–he decided to avoid witches and wizards at all costs. He’s made a good life for himself as a firefighter. But when a witch moves in upstairs and starts causing him problems, he’s not quite sure how much he can take. That is, until he finds himself magically inside of a snow globe…

Orion is a wizard who never seemed to have the best of luck in controlling his magic. So for the safety of others, he agreed to be shut away inside a snow globe where he could his spend his days tending to his garden without anyone being hurt. And while it may be a lonely endeavor, he’s understood the sacrifice that he must make for the good of others. So he’s unprepared and a bit nervous when a mysterious new person shows up in the snow globe. A mysterious and very attractive person, that is.

Can Orion get his magic under control to find a way to help Kei get back out of the snow globe? And can Kei trust a wizard when he’s never been able to before? Can their time in the snow globe bring them together? And if it does, what happens after Kei leaves and Orion stays behind?

I know the word unique is not the best descriptor. But dang it, that’s exactly what this book is. There is a wonderful world and backstory created by the author here, and the two men whose lives readers get to glimpse are just as complex and realistic (well, apart from the whole use of magic thing). There are many layers to this story and to the characters. There’s a lot for them to work through individually and with each other. And the author provides space for that to happen without belaboring any of it. It’s actually a bit of a refreshing read. Also, Orion is a wonderfully cheeky character who deserves some additional attention in his own right…

I give this one a solid recommendation–especially for those who enjoy their m/m romance with a hefty dose of fantasy and just a small sprinkling of angst.

[Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.]

Darkness Savage by Rachel A. Marks

Darkness Savage

Darkness Savage by Rachel A. Marks

Series: The Dark Cycle, Book 3
Published by: Skyscape on October 11, 2016
Rating: 4 stars (★★★★☆)

Aidan faces a difficult decision. He always knew his gift (though he often thought it a curse) would be the key to defeating a demonic force. He just never expected that force would manifest in his own sister. He will need to find a way to stop her; it’s just a matter of whether he can stop her and save her at the same time. He works to bring his team together, his “Lights” as he’s been told they are called. And his friend Rebecca, who he was certain was not a Light, suddenly finds herself with powers all her own. With so much at stake and so many variables at play, what will Aidan decide? And will he have the power to carry out his plan of action?

The final installment of this series does not disappoint! This unique world that Rachel Marks has created managed to draw me back in as quickly as it did in the last two books. And the twists and turns that are thrown at the reader–it’s quite a journey! This is an absolutely fitting third act. My only major disappointment is that the story has come to an end. I certainly look forward to more from this author.

[Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.]

Flight of Magpies by K.J. Charles

Flight of Magpies

Flight of Magpies by K.J. Charles

Series: A Charm of Magpies, Book 3
Published by: Samhain Publishing on October 28, 2014
Rating: 3 stars (★★★☆☆)

Life for Stephen Day has never really been what one would call normal. But things are getting weird even for him. The justiciary is still in the process of rebuilding their forces, and one of the apprentices may be going mad with power. Of course, this only adds to the stress between Stephen and his lover, Lord Crane. A stress that comes to a head over the investigation of a theft in which Crane finds himself the victim. Can Stephen help solve the theft, figure out what’s going on with the young apprentice, and keep his relationship afloat?

I have enjoyed this series; the combination of historical and paranormal always has a way of drawing me in. And the characters here are the same characters that I’ve grown to enjoy reading about during the previous two installments. I have to say that I do feel like there’s just a little bit too much going on in this one, though. There’s the case at the core, there’s the drama with the justiciary, there’s the short-staffing of the judiciary–it’s just so many layers and makes things suddenly more complex than I feel they have been thus far. Perhaps I just wasn’t ready for this turn. I still enjoyed this book, and I absolutely recommend it. It just didn’t quite hit the spot in the way I expected it would.

Flux by Kim Fielding

Flux

Flux by Kim Fielding

Series: Ennek Trilogy, Book 2
Published by: DSP Publications on September 6, 2016 (re-release)
Rating: 3 stars (★★★☆☆)

Synopsis

Ennek took a huge risk in saving Miner from Stasis. Even the son of the Chief must obey the laws of the land. But the thought of Miner spending more time suspended in a dreamless sleep troubled him too much. Of course, so did the idea of becoming the puppet of his mentor, a man who wished to see Ennek on the throne so he could control him.
 
And now, Ennek and Miner find themselves on the run. Their mission is to get as far away from Praesidium as possible. What they don’t realize right away, though, is that they may be in more danger from those they come across than anyone who might be following them. And if they have any hope of staying together, they will both need to be strong–in mind, body, and spirit.
 

Review

This is an interesting follow up to the first book. The previous installment took place mostly in the castle, and largely in Ennek’s room. Here, we’re on quite a journey, both by land and by sea. And the cast of characters that Ennek and Miner run into are more varied, and in some cases more unstable, than anyone they’ve encountered before.
 
I did enjoy the journey aspect of this story quite a bit. And the uncertainty that Ennek and Miner face was rather apparent as the story went along. I did feel like they kept playing out the same scenario in different ways, however, so I would have liked to see just a bit more variation.
 
That said, it’s an enjoyable m/m fantasy romance, and I look forward to picking up the final installment in the series.
 
[Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.]

The Midnight Gardener by R.G. Thomas

The Midnight Gardener

The Midnight Gardener by R.G. Thomas

Series: The Town of Superstition, Book 1
Published by: Harmony Ink Press on November 12, 2015
Rating: 3 stars (★★★☆☆)

Thaddeus Cane’s mother died when he was a baby. He’s spent as much of his life as he can remember with his father, moving so frequently from town to town that he’s never really made any friends. But when they arrive in Superstition, Thaddeus hopes they might be in a place where they can stay for a while.

One evening, Thaddeus looks out his window and sees a young man tending to the garden next door. There’s something intriguing about him, and Thaddeus finds himself paying attention whenever he sees the man out there–though he’s curiously only out at night. And when Thaddeus finds himself running from a wild animal a few nights later, he crawls over the fence and into the presence of Teofil. From there, things begin to get really strange and Thaddeus soon learns there is much more to his life and his history than he ever could have imagined.

I love young adult fantasy. Toss in a light m/m element, and I’ll read it up as easily as drinking a cup of tea. While this one is a bit slow in the beginning (though it’s necessary for readers to connect to Thaddeus), it picks up quickly. And the backstory is definitely very interesting.

I look forward to the next book in this series. I need to know what happens between Thaddeus and Teofil, and I also need to know if Thaddeus and crew are successful in their quest.

Guardian by Carole Cummings

Guardian

Guardian by Carole Cummings

Series: Aisling, Book 1
Published by: Prizm Books on December 15, 2010
Rating: 3 stars (★★★☆☆)

Strange crimes aren’t new to Constable Dallin Brayden. But as he sits across from Wilfred Calder and hears the story of the incident he was involved in, something doesn’t add up. And Wil’s reaction to Dallin leaves him even more surprised.

The truth of the matter is that there’s an entire history that Dallin doesn’t know. At the same time, the truth that Wil has been given isn’t exactly accurate. What is certain, though, is that Wil is on the run. And Dallin is more connected to him than he could ever have imagined.

I enjoyed the world that Carole Cummings created here. There’s a rich history, and the unexpected connections between Wil and Dallin makes for an interesting set up. And it gives us, as readers, some great insight into Dallin’s character.

What I would have liked to see, though, is a bit more of the relationship development between these two. I’m guessing this is a set up for more in later books in the series, but there’s just not that much to find in this first book.

But if you’re looking for an interesting and engaging fantasy story with intrigue and rich world building, you’ll find it here.

Black Wolves by Kate Elliott

Black Wolves

Black Wolves by Kate Elliott

Series: The Black Wolves Trilogy, Book 1
Published by: Orbit on November 3, 2015
Rating: 4 stars (★★★★☆)

Black Wolves. Where to start? Several friends recommended this book to me, so I figured it was about time I picked it up and gave it a read. This is the first Kate Elliott novel I’ve read, and I promise I’m not exaggerating when I say I’ve realized I am missing out. It may seem daunting–coming in at 780 pages–but it reads smoothly and quickly. It’s so engaging and well-paced on every single page.

The book starts with a story that sets up the plot. We’re introduced to several of the major players–especially Captain Kellas and the princess, Dannarah–and then advance to 44 years later. Dannarah’s nephew is king and the whole situation of the kingdom has changed. Part of me wants to describe all of the various players and subplots that are going on a this point, but I really, really don’t want to spoil anything. The story is so wonderfully written, and the reveals of the various twists and turns are so magnificent, I don’t want to steal their thunder.

I’ll suffice it to say that if you’re a fan of epic fantasy, I think you’ll enjoy this one. There’s also a bit of mystery, intrigue, betrayal, and all the other trappings that make any story about nobility transcend setting. And some incredibly complex and strong characters. Pick this one up and check it out!