The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon

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Published: February 2019, Bloomsbury (UK)

Review:

“because something has always been done does not mean that it ought to be done.”

This book is my first 5 star read of the year! It’s worth every penny to buy and it’s worth double every second you spend reading its many, many pages.

Sat firmly in the high fantasy genre, I know this book isn’t for everyone. It’s big, it’s heavy, and there are a lot of characters and an entire universe to digest so that you can get to the nitty gritty plotlines. It’s also different. It’s new. It updates and refreshes an old fashioned genre. But don’t let this put you off! I implore everyone to give it a try, it comes across at first as skittish, bouncing between multiple characters but the ease with which these characters develop and come into their own is fantastic, building up until you just need to know what happens next.

All of the characters are flawed, dangerous and selfish, working towards their own means and desires while battling their internal voices and this is even apparent in the dragons. I loved the dragons in the novel! Some are vicious and some are kind which makes them so human and so believable as characters in their own right and not just a narrative tool to show an unstable society.

So I can’t tell you who the real ‘main’ character is because they all have their importance and to be honest, I don’t want to show favouritism but I personally found myself drawn to Ead and Queen Sabran which is interesting for me as you don’t get any of the narrative from Sabran’s perspective; everything you know about her you learn through the relationships she has with other characters so you truly get to build your own opinions of her as if you are a character in the novel yourself and this is why I enjoyed reading about Ead so much too as she found herself closest to Queen Sabran and able to explore all of her mentalities which are broad and also devastating. The relationships these two women experience are heart breaking and very relatable to anyone in today’s society without being ‘preachy’ and overused.

Samantha Shannon is a fabulous author who really delves into the worlds she wants to create, exploring everything in minute detail, particularly in regards to language. Her love of words and language development comes across in character names, places and even spelling. It’s a real treat to read an author’s work who genuinely has this addiction to language and all of its nuances allowing us to fully immerse in a believable universe and all in one novel too – a standalone epic (although with definite hints of possible further novels) like this I think is hard to find at this standard and it makes me really excited to read The Bone Season novels.

Goodreads: 5/5

The Kingdom by Jess Rothenberg

Genre: YA, Science Fiction, Mystery, Fantasy

Published: UK, July 2019, Pan Macmillan (USA, May 2019, Henry Holt and Co.)

Synopsis:

Welcome to the Kingdom… where ‘Happily Ever After’ isn’t just a promise, but a rule.

Glimmering like a jewel behind its gateway, The Kingdom™ is an immersive fantasy theme park where guests soar on virtual dragons, castles loom like giants, and bioengineered species―formerly extinct―roam free.

Ana is one of seven Fantasists, beautiful “princesses” engineered to make dreams come true. When she meets park employee Owen, Ana begins to experience emotions beyond her programming including, for the first time… love.

But the fairytale becomes a nightmare when Ana is accused of murdering Owen, igniting the trial of the century. Through courtroom testimony, interviews, and Ana’s memories of Owen, emerges a tale of love, lies, and cruelty―and what it truly means to be human.’

Review:

I received an electronic copy of this book from Netgalley and Pan Macmillan.

The Kingdom is a fabulous novel which mixes up Westworld and Disney World. All the way through the novel I couldn’t help but think of Disney! The Kingdom follows protagonist Ana, a fantasist (aka Hybrid A.I Princess) who has been created to make park guests dreams a reality. Mostly this is meeting and greeting, walking in parades, attending tea parties etc but as expected, there is a sinister and dark institute working in the background so everything isn’t quite as rosy as it seems in the park and Ana quickly becomes entangled in the not so perfect reality of The Kingdom and its creators and investors.

I really enjoyed this book as an introduction – it has set a good scene that I want to know more about and introduced characters I can root for in novels to come (hopefully). The Kingdom is the setting and designed as a theme park created to satisfy guests desires for experiences including being able to see animals that are now extinct. The narrative itself is told through story interactions between characters from Ana’s point of view as well as transcripts of interviews with Ana (and others) when she is in custody and on trial. Through this the story enfolds through the interview process and Ana’s memories of what actually happened and delivers all of the detail with a fresh outlook. I like the use of transcripts in the novel and find that it makes the book easy and quick to read!

The draw back for me was the lack of detail in the other fantasists but I understand it wasn’t really needed for the storyline in this novel. I would have enjoyed more interaction between Ana and Owen and I would have liked some more time with Eve & Pania – other ‘princesses’ especially these as they are mentioned the most. But this doesn’t detract from the quality of the writing, which is superb. The language flows quickly – I barely realised how much I had read until I was halfway through and although there are instances where sexual harassment/assault is hinted at, there is nothing explicit and it is handled with a gentle respect, not as a main plot point.

Overall I feel really positive about this book and I will definitely be looking at more of Jess Rothenberg’s writing from now on. If you’re looking at something to dip your toes into for Sci-Fi fantasy novels this will do the trick nicely!

 

Rating: 3.5/5 Stars (4 on Goodreads)

Getting the Job Done

Hello Friends,

I’m going to start off by setting this scene out so you cant blame me later … I am terrible at these things!

This is maybe the 5th blog I’ve attempted to set up  but for some reason or another they never get very far. Whether it’s life moving so (so) quickly or just my general lack of technological skills, something always puts me off. But! I have been actively thinking about doing this for about a year now (it was on my list of things to do before I’m 30… that went well).

So, I actually paid money for this, to motivate me a little into posting things. I’m trying (in all areas of life) to challenge myself a little bit and really push myself. This year I’ve done so many things already that I’m proud of! I actually went to a book club (with real live people present) and I did an amazing photoshoot in an aerial hoop which I never dreamed I would have the confidence to do!

So anyway, yes here we go. I am aiming to ‘get the job done’ this time and really make the effort. All I can say is, watch this space …