Review: Lord of Shadows by Cassandra Clare

lord-of-shadows-cover
Add to Goodreads

Cassie Clare just gets better and better. Lord of Shadows is a magnificent and magical second installment in what is shaping up to be the most sophisticated series in the Shadowhunter world.

Emma, Julian and the rest of the Blackthorns are back in another tale of demons, downworlders, faeries and epic battles. After the fall of evil Malcolm Fade, the High Warlock of Los Angeles, the Blackthorn clan have plenty of new issues to keep them busy. From the far-reaching repercussions of the Cold Peace to the rising tensions between Shadowhunters who want to live alongside Downworlders and those who want them to live as second class citizens, we learn more about the fabric of the Shadow World in Lord of Shadows than we ever have before.

The world-building in the Dark Artifices, and especially in LoS, is more in-depth than any of its predecessors. There’s more detail about geography, society, cultural norms and history, as well as Clare’s usual vivid detail scene setting to get your teeth stuck in to (the gang’s venture into the Unseelie Lands is a real treat in terms of world building). Despite its fantasy pedigree, Lord of Shadows also explores lots of constructs that are topical in today’s world. From the bigotry of the Centurions to strained race and class relations between the Clave and the Downworld, to the perception of people with disabilities and struggles for power and territory; this book could not be more pertinent.

The plot is sure-footed and fast moving, flitting from London to LA, Idris to Cornwall and balancing changes of scenery, a large cast of characters and different kinds of magic and weaponry with style and humour. Some of the younger characters like Livvy, Tyberius and Dru get some welcome character development and page time in this installment, and I especially enjoyed getting to know Kit Herondale, distant relation of everyone’s favourite brooding YA hero, Jace. The relationships weaved between the characters are complex and layered, and Clare writes with her trademark emotion. Those looking for classic Cassie Clare forbidden love will also find the very best example of it here in Emma and Jules, who are as tragic apart as they are perfect together.

LoS features all of the elements I’ve come to know and love in a Clare novel: quick wit, dialogue that has the power to make you both laugh and cry, sizzling romance and underpinning themes of family, loyalty, friendship and honour. The Shadowhunter books have come of age with Emma and Julian, and I for one, am proud and excited to be growing older with them. Bring on #3.

4-stars

  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster
  • Pages: 720
  • Publication Date: 23rd May 2017
  • For fans of: The Mortal Instruments, YA fantasy, Sarah J. Maas, forbidden love, brooding heroes.

 

wordpress-sign-off

Advertisements

Reviews: Six of Crows & Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

SixofCrows_Cover.jpg
Add to Goodreads

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo (Six of Crows #1)

Criminals and military strongholds and heists, oh my! Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo is a riot and a half and I absolutely adored it.

Despite having read the Grisha trilogy not that long ago, it took me a little bit of time to get into Six of Crows, but once I got my head in the game there was no getting it out. Set in the Dutch-inspired criminal underworld of Ketterdam, we follow a bunch of misfits who are attempting to pull off an audacious heist that will make them rich beyond their wildest dreams.

The characters, led by enigmatic front man, Kaz Brekker, are a delightfully dangerous crew of teen outcasts who Leigh Bardugo manages to make utterly loveable and completely entertaining, even though they’re criminals. I love that she took the concept of the fantasy teen hero turned it inside out; making her protagonists the ultimate anti-heroes who you root for right until the final page, even as they run riot through the cobbled streets peddling schemes, having shoot-outs and double-crossing everyon in sight.

The first half of the book is mostly dominated by scene setting and character development, which some readers might find a bit slow but seriously pays dividends once the action kicks in and the pacing is turned up to level 10.

Full to the brim with twisty plotting, world building that sucks you straight into the action and more character development than you can shake a stick it, Six is a unique and deliciously devilish opening gambit.

Vital stats:

Stars: 4-stars

  • Publisher: Orion (UK)
  • Pages: 495
  • For fans of: Enigmatic anti-heroes, action and adventure, the Grisha trilogy.

Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo (Six of Crows #2)

CrookedKingdom_Cover.jpg
Add to Goodreads

I read Six of Crows on holiday and I enjoyed it so much that I was pretty much downloading Crooked Kingdom onto my Kindle before I’d even finished the final sentence (God bless the Kindle, because otherwise I would have had to wait a whole TEN DAYS before being able to get my teeth stuck into this baby).

Six of Crows caught my imagination, but Crooked Kingdom blew my mind. Bardugo built wonderfully on the foundation of the first book to create a story which is in equal parts jaw-dropping and heart shattering.

As Kaz Brekker and his merry band of criminal prodigies return to Ketterdam, they find themselves surrounded on all sides by enemies who want what they have: a hostage who could turn the tide of wars and the fortune of countries. There’s hijinks, street fights, assassins, explosions and shipping a-plenty as Kaz tries to mastermind himself and his crew out of the corner they find themselves backed into.

Whereas Six was more focused on action and the ultimate goal of completing the heist, Crooked Kingdom is much more focused on what happens to the characters and their relationships. We get a lot more development for supporting characters like Wylan and Nina, and we also delve deeper into the past lives of all of the gang, most notably Kaz and Inej, whose backstories were deliciously dark and utterly compelling. As the story moves towards an explosive climax, loyalties are tested, bonds are broken and remade and feelings are revealed. In Kaz and the rest of the crew, Leigh Bardugo has succeeded in creating characters who worm their way sneakily into your heart and cling on for dear life.

The pacing is break neck, the plotting is almost unbearably tense as Kaz tries to run rings around his opponents and the resolution of the story is balances both hope and darkness perfectly. There’s action, there’s romance, there’s diversity (including PoC characters, characters with PTSD and an M/M relationship) and there’s more banter and witty dialogue than you could hope for.

A wonderfully judged and surprisingly tender resolution to what is easily the most unique, unpredictable and downright un-putdownable series I’ve read for a long time.

Vital stats:

Stars: 5-stars

  • Publisher: Orion (UK)
  • Pages: 536
  • For fans of: Devious plotting, action and adventure, LGBT romance, diverse reads, anti-heroes.

wordpress-sign-off

Mini-reviews: Too many to name because I am an absentee blogger

OMG HI, HELLO.

Seriously, I am such a hypocrite. Not that long ago I wrote a pretty fun post about making my blogging better and more consistent in 2017 and here I am, nearly 6 months into this glorious year and I’ve barely blogged for the last eight weeks. Looks like I’m pretty rubbish at taking my own advice, right?

Anyway, I’ve got about ninety billion half-written book reviews lurking about in my drafts, so we better get going!


I Have No Secrets, Penny Joelson

*I received an advance review copy of this book via NetGalley. If you’d like to read my review policy, you can fill your boots here.*

I-have-no-secrets-cover
Add to Goodreads

Jemma is fourteen years old. She loves reading crime novels, painting her nails and her favourite band: Glowlight. Jemma also has Cerebral Palsy, which makes it pretty difficult to communicate with her family, or anyone else around her. Even when things get dangerous, which all of a sudden, they have.

Because of her disability, people around Jemma find her to be a pretty good listener, often confiding their secrets and innermost thoughts in her, which must get both pretty irritating and extremely boring. One day her carer’s boyfriend, Dan, confides something in Jemma that leaves her reeling: he says he’s committed a shocking and violent crime. How can Jemma warn the people that she loves that Dan is not the man everyone thinks he is, and how can she possibly protect herself from Dan in a world where she doesn’t have a voice?

A solid blend of contemporary and mystery, I Have No Secrets is a clever and eye-opening book. With the current political and social landscape as bleak as it is for people living with disabilities in the UK, this book provides an insight into the day-to-day struggles of living with a disability, as well as commentary on the way that able-bodied people can often view disabilities. I don’t identify as disabled, so I can’t speak from an own voices point of view, but I felt as if the representation was realistic without being bleak, and uplifting without being saccharine.

Although it was pretty obvious who had done the deed from the beginning of the book, Jemma’s voice and her journey to being able to communicate are what makes the book compelling. I felt like the book leaned a little more towards the lower end of the young adult spectrum in terms of age suitability (possibly even middle grade in some places), but ultimately, this is a well-written mystery with a strong narrative voice and an uplifting and hopeful story line.

In Summary…

  • Rating: 3.5/5 stars.
  • Publisher: Electric Monkey
  • Pages: 336

Luckiest Girl Alive, Jessica Knoll

Cast as a kind of Manhattan Gone Girl (aren’t all thrillers with a female protagonist,

luckiest-girl-alive-cover
Add to Goodreads

now?), Luckiest Girl Alive tries so hard to match the bone-sharp writing and sly characterisation of Gillian Flynn’s modern classic but falls flat on its perfectly made-up face at nearly every hurdle.

TiffAni Fanelli (really?!) is not a likable character with flaws, but a truly unlikable character because of her flaws. In fact, no one in this book is likable, and I felt like the author spent far too long trying to make everyone seem as if they had hidden depths and sharp societal observations to make that it ended up being a caricature of itself.

The pacing is OK, but the writing isn’t pretty. You can tell that Knoll is desperately trying to recreate that famous Amy Dunne’s ‘Cool Girl’ speech with nearly everything Tiff says, but the prose and dialogue is heavy-handed and pithy. Luckiest Girl lacks all of Flynn’s finesse and unsettling insight into 21st century women. Unfortunately, for me, Luckiest Girl Alive misses both the boat and the point.

In Summary…

  • Rating: 2/5 stars.
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster
  • Pages: 352

Illuminae (The Illuminae Files #1), Amie Kaufmann and Jay Kristoff

illuminae-cover
Add to Goodreads

Saving the best until last, Illuminae is one of only two five-star reads that I’ve come across for quite some time (Lord of Shadows is the other one, in case you were wondering. More on that another time, promise!).

The rumours are true: you do not, I repeat, do not, need to be a fully fledged sci-fi fan to fall for this one. This is the kind of clever, witty little book that proves that sci-fi can be poignant and emotional as well as action-packed and futuristic.

The mixed media elements of this book are a kind of love/hate thing, and I personally have planted myself firmly in the ‘love’ camp. The interview transcripts, illustrations and words scattered like galaxies and shooting stars over pages really lent themselves to the pace of the story and complexity of the plot, adding a layer of both intrigue and depth that took this from a fun book to a special book.

I loved the characters: Kady’s sharp mind and sarcastic nature made her an engaging and spunky heroine, and Ezra’s self-deprecating sense of humour and soft jellybaby heart made him the perfect antidote. The writing is tip-top, building suspense and factoring in great doses of humour just when you think everything is getting too dark.

A sweeping, intergalactic romp through the stars featuring teen angst, conspiracy theories, fighter pilots, airborne zombie diseases and Shakespeare references. I am in love.

In Summary…

  • Rating: 5/5 stars.
  • Publisher: Allen & Unwin
  • Pages: 599

That’s all for now, folks! What have you all been keeping yourselves busy reading recently? Catch me up in the comments! ❤

wordpress-sign-off