Review

Review: The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow

The Ten Thousand Doors of January
Author: Alix E. Harrow
Publication Date: 12th September 2019
Goodreads | Waterstones | Amazon
Rating: ★★★★★
*ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review*


EVERY STORY OPENS DOOR

In a sprawling mansion filled with exotic treasures, January Scaller is a curiosity herself. As the ward of the wealthy Mr. Locke, she feels little different from the artifacts that decorate the halls: carefully maintained, largely ignored, and utterly out of place.

But her quiet existence is shattered when she stumbles across a strange book. A book that carries the scent of other worlds and tells a tale of secret doors, of love, adventure and danger. As each page reveals more impossible truths about the world, January discovers a story that might just be the key to unlocking the secrets of her past.


Words can’t describe how much I loved this book, but seeing how this is a book review I guess I’m going to have to try. The story follows January Scaller, who at the age of seven discovers a Door to another world, and then at 17 finds a book describing many of more doors of this kind. The reader follows January through he childhood as a mixed race girl growing up in Vermont under the guardianship of Mr Locke, whom her father works for collecting strange and rare items.

The premise of the book is so interesting and it’s a fun yet emotional read. The characters are all so intriguing with their stories of travels to other worlds, some nice and some not so nice. The book itself created such a nice nostalgic feeling, through the idea of most myths and stories having originated in other worlds and then been spread by those who travelled between. Remember being young and fully believing you were one day going to find the wardrobe to Narnia? That’s the feeling I got from reading this book.

I loved Harrow’s writing style and there were just so many memorable quotes within the book. Harrow also had such a good grasp on dual narrative story telling, and unlike with some other books I never really got confused as to who’s POV I was reading as both narrators had their own distinct style.

The only negative I can really think of was that a number of the plot twists were somewhat predictable but I can’t say that really bothered me to much.

All in all, this book was honestly amazing and I think everyone should read it.


Sorry that this review has gone up kinda late I’ve been busy with work so haven’t has much time to read. Let me know what you thought of The Ten Thousand Doors of January in the comments.

Review

Review: Kingdom of Souls by Rena Barron

Kingdom of Souls
Author: Rena Barron
Series: Kingdom of Souls #1
Publication Date: 3rd September 2019 (US) 19th September (UK)
Goodreads | Waterstones | Amazon
Rating: ★★★☆☆
*ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review*


Magic has a price—if you’re willing to pay.

Born into a family of powerful witchdoctors, Arrah yearns for magic of her own. But each year she fails to call forth her ancestral powers, while her ambitious mother watches with growing disapproval.

There’s only one thing Arrah hasn’t tried, a deadly last resort: trading years of her own life for scraps of magic. Until the Kingdom’s children begin to disappear, and Arrah is desperate to find the culprit.

She uncovers something worse. The long-imprisoned Demon King is stirring. And if he rises, his hunger for souls will bring the world to its knees… unless Arrah pays the price for the magic to stop him. Magic has a price—if you’re willing to pay.


This books has such a unique and interesting plot focusing on Arrah, the daughter of two extremely powerful witchdoctors who doesn’t have any magic herself. Following the disappearance of a number of children, Arrah trades years of her life to gain magic in an attempt to discover what is going on and who or what is behind it.

The world-building in this book is truly amazing, there’s so many layers of history and mythology with the war between the Orishas and the Demons, and the differences in beliefs between the tribes and the Kingdom. The story definitely took the angle of ‘history is written by the victors’ so it was really exciting to see the difference in what the characters believed happened in the past vs what actually happened. There were so many plot twists in this story that were just so shocking, although I did guess one of them.

I loved the main character Arrah, she’s such a strong and complex character. The characters of Arti and Efia were also so intriguing, from their motivations for the actions to their complex relationships with Arrah. Also had quite a lot of love for Arti’s backstory and how she became the person she was. However I did feel a lot of the side characters needed to be fleshed out and developed a bit more, although I guess that may happen more in the sequels? I also just didn’t really care much for the main romance of the story.

One thing I didn’t really like was the pacing of the story, the first half moved so slowly and then just so much went on in the second half it was hard to work out what was happening at times.


Thanks for reading and let me know what you thought about Kingdom of Souls in the comments

Review

Review: Blood Born by Renee Lake

Blood Born
Author: Renee Lake
Publication Date: 16th July 2019
Goodreads | Amazon
Rating: ★☆☆☆☆
*Finished copy provided by the author in exchange for an honest review*


Maddie West is excited about the new adventure’s college life promises. She dreams of rallies, weird roommates and challenging classes. She expects to have fun, play house with her girlfriend and make new lifelong friends. All while keeping an eye on her terminally ill twin brother. What she doesn’t expect is a mystery and tragedy within her first semester. Is there a monster preying upon the people at her college?

Will she betray her friends and succumb to temptation? Can they band together and fight the darkens? Or is the darkness that surrounds her not the enemy…. but her only ally?’

*Trigger warning: this book contains a journal entry depicting sexual assault*


This book is a genderbent modern day retelling of Dracula by Bram Stoker, the story follows Maddie (Mina) as she starts studying at Humboldt State university with her girlfriend Jo (Jonathan), while attending the university they are introduced to professor Valora Dulcara (Dracula).

Despite the interesting and original premise I felt this story just kind of fell flat at times. Many of the side characters just seemed quite interchangeable and all the characters just had such bizarre reactions to things. Like I get that story about a vampire professor isn’t going to be realistic but some of things were just so out there that I truly just didn’t understand the thought process at all.

I think one of my biggest problems with this story is how much the the author seemed to want the reader to root for Maddie and Valora, despite the fact that they are both just terrible people (or vampire in Valora’s case). Maddie’s girlfriend is sexually assaulted and nearly gang raped at one point and it’s just written off as not that bad (a view that isn’t challenged at all within the story itself, I think one of the character’s actually says something like ‘it could have been worse’). Yet Jo lying about liking a book is deemed to be truly terrible and evil.

One thing I did like was the story about Valora and her daughters and I’d rather have just read about that to be honest as opposed the story about Maddie, Valora and Jo.


Thanks for reading and let me know your thoughts on Blood Born in the comments

Review

Review: The Shamer’s Daughter by Lene Kaaberbol

The Shamer’s Daughter
Author: Lene Kaaberbol
Series: The Shamer’s Chronicle #1
Publication Date: 4th July 2019 (new edition, original published earlier)
Goodreads | Waterstones | Amazon
Rating: ★★★☆☆
*Finished copy provided by the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review*

The first step into the thrilling middle grade fantasy world of The Shamer Chronicles.

Dina has inherited her mother’s gift: she is a Shamer, able to see a person’s most guilty secrets just by gazing in their eyes. But sometimes her gift feels more like a curse. Nobody seems to want a friend who can see their deepest shame.

But when Dina’s mother is called to Dunark Castle to uncover the truth about a terrible crime, Dina must come to terms with her power, and quickly – or let her mother fall prey to the vicious dragons of Dunark.


This book series leans more toward middle grade than YA, although I think readers of YA could still enjoy it as it’s quite a fun and engaging read. Maybe the later books change a bit but I think this series so far could best be described as Game of Thrones but for children. Mostly because the main character Dina, kind of reminds me of Arya Stark.

This story has such an original premise. The creation of a shamer, someone who can reveal someone’s biggest shame and darkest secrets is such an original idea that I hadn’t seen elsewhere before. The way in which Dina has to learn to deal with both the good and bad sides of this gift makes quite an interesting read.

The story itself was a pretty good read, focusing on Dina and her time at Dunark Castle. Including being bitten by a dragon and uncovering the true perpetrator of a murder. While some of the topics may be somewhat unsuitable for super young readers it should be fine for anyone over the age of ten.

Not sure I’ve I’m going to continue with this series but I’d definitely recommend it for readers in the 9-14 age group.


Thanks for reading and let me know what you think about The Shamer’s Daughter in the comments.

Review

Review: Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan

Girls of Paper and Fire
Author: Natasha Ngan
Series: Girls of Paper and Fire #1
Publication Date: 6th November 2018
Goodreads | Waterstones | Amazon
Rating: ★★★★★
Trigger warning: this book contains sexual assault, rape, violence, abuse and animal death

Each year, eight beautiful girls are chosen as Paper Girls to serve the king. It’s the highest honor they could hope for…and the most cruel. But this year, there’s a ninth girl. And instead of paper, she’s made of fire.

Lei is a member of the Paper caste, the lowest and most persecuted class of people in Ikhara. Ten years ago, her mother was snatched by royal guards, and her fate remains unknown. Now, the guards are back, and this time it’s Lei they’re after – the girl whose golden eyes have piqued the king’s interest.

Over weeks of training in the opulent but oppressive palace, Lei and eight other girls learn the skills and charm that befit being a king’s consort. There, Lei does the unthinkable – she falls in love. Her forbidden romance becomes enmeshed with an explosive plot that threatens her world’s entire way of life and Lei, still the wide-eyed country girl at heart, must decide just how far she’s willing to go for justice and revenge.’


I’ve finally read this book after hearing about it for months. And I’m just going to start by saying it definitely lives up to the hype. Girls of Paper and Fire is such a fresh and original fantasy story. Through this story Ngan deals with extremely complex and traumatising topics such as sexual assault, with the sensitivity that these topics really should be given. Something that is sadly quite rare in fiction.

Ngan weaves together elements of fantasy, aspects of her Malaysian heritage, her own experiences and the experiences of women living in patriarchal societies to create a fantasy world that is immensely intriguing, albeit one I would rather not live in.

Told from the point of view of Lei, one of the paper girls brought to the Hidden Palace to be trained as a consort to the Demon King. The story follows her as she is forcibly taken from her childhood home, then as she begins to rebel against the Demon King and as she falls in love with one of the other paper girls. The narrative voice of Lei is incredibly compelling and had me rooting for her throughout the story.

Ngan’s storytelling also allows the nuanced feelings of the paper girls and other women living in this society to be clearly shown. Showing how the ways in which some of these women rebel are incredibly important even if its only small.

All in all I really loved this book and I can’t wait for the sequel to be released later this year.


Thanks for reading and let me know what you thought of Girls of Paper and Fire in the comments.