Posted in book review, fantasy, fiction, gifted

The Winter Duke by Claire Eliza Bartlett

Published by Titan Books October 2020 (UK)

Titan Books sent me an e-copy of this book in exchange for a review!

Synopsis

An enchanted tale of intrigue where a duke’s daughter is the only survivor of a magical curse.

When Ekata’s brother is finally named heir, there will be nothing to keep her at home in Kylma Above with her murderous family. Not her books or science experiments, not her family’s icy castle atop a frozen lake, not even the tantalizingly close Kylma Below, a mesmerizing underwater kingdom that provides her family with magic. But just as escape is within reach, her parents and twelve siblings fall under a strange sleeping sickness.

In the space of a single night, Ekata inherits the title of duke, her brother’s warrior bride, and ever-encroaching challengers from without—and within—her own ministry. Nothing has prepared Ekata for diplomacy, for war, for love…or for a crown she has never wanted. If Kylma Above is to survive, Ekata must seize her family’s power. And if Ekata is to survive, she must quickly decide how she will wield it.

Review

In all honesty, when I first started this YA book, the opening chapter completely overwhelmed me – so much happened and Bartlett introduces such a rich world that I completely thought I wouldnt be continuing with the book … but I pushed myself to not judge by an opening and trust that the author would fill me in on all the details – and she did.

I really enjoyed the characters in The Winter Duke, Ekata was a great protagonist who I did root for – her decisions were human – sometimes reckless and other times calculated which really built her as a solid character. I enjoyed her choosing of a wife although felt the relationship part of the marriage was timid and more hinted at than actions – understandable given their age (sixteen I believe). Bartlett also includes a non-binary character who is quite important to the plot at one point so it was great to see some solid diversity in that respect.

The world was fantastic – I loved the idea of an underwater community living below an ice palace. The relationship between the two worlds is one of agreement – an exchange for the magic that the underwater dwellers can grow – I just found this totally unique and it took me by surprise!

Goodreads has this down as ‘part Sleeping Beauty, part Anastasia’ but I’m not completely on board with that – I think The Winter Duke was much more original. Bartlett uses russian style names and she has a very in-depth political plot running throughout the novel which although I found a little confusing, it did make sense and I really appreciated the detail involved.

Also – that cover! The US cover is a little different – I much prefer the UK choice – it reminds me of fairytales and folklore which is perfect!

Goodreads Rating: 4 / 5 stars!

Posted in beauty and the beast, book review, faeries, fantasy, fiction, retelling, supernatural, Uncategorized

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas

*sigh* I have joined the Maases (he he he)

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Published yonks ago (2015) by Bloomsbury


Synopsis (just in case you don’t know)

Feyre’s survival rests upon her ability to hunt and kill – the forest where she lives is a cold, bleak place in the long winter months. So when she spots a deer in the forest being pursued by a wolf, she cannot resist fighting it for the flesh. But to do so, she must kill the predator and killing something so precious comes at a price …

Dragged to a magical kingdom for the murder of a faerie, Feyre discovers that her captor, his face obscured by a jewelled mask, is hiding far more than his piercing green eyes would suggest. Feyre’s presence at the court is closely guarded, and as she begins to learn why, her feelings for him turn from hostility to passion and the faerie lands become an even more dangerous place. Feyre must fight to break an ancient curse, or she will lose him forever.


Review

Yikes! I am so behind with this series!

The ACOTAR series completely passed me by when it came out – I missed it, I didn’t know it existed for a long time but then I kept hearing about it. I resisted still, I thought I had left it too long, that I wouldn’t be the right audience for it and to be honest I didn’t know which books went with which series when it came to Sarah J Maas!

So it took a lot of prodding and encouragement from my fellow readers over on Instagram but I decided this year I was at least going to dip my toe in the Maas worlds (it still took six months after I made the decision). Several people told me to read ACOTAR first and I had seen those beautiful new covers coming out but I just couldn’t wait. I bought the older covers second hand and set out to join in a readalong on Instagram with a few others.

Now I must apologise to the entire reading community and all the Book Gods. I’m sorry I didn’t read this sooner, it was right up my street and I shall always listen to you in future! 

I enjoyed it a lot, I loved the instant world-building and how fast-paced the story was. I kept pronouncing Feyre wrong so I’m glad Maas cleared that up in the narrative. Despite having the book split into five sections, I read it in three and I’ve really enjoyed experiencing this for the first time alongside those who have already read the books because they have made me excited to see where it’s going. I have to say I haven’t read any series specifically around faeries that I’ve enjoyed (I tried Cruel Prince and didn’t click with it). Faeries tend to drop in on my reading but don’t take centre stage, especially fantasy novels not set in our world so this was a pretty new phenomena for me.

BUT I’m not going to say it was perfect. After all the comments on the internet and references I had seen everywhere on Bookstagram. I just couldn’t help but notice the breathing and the purring and the tongue clicking. How many times?? I know it is going to get worse and I tried not to focus on it but maaaaan these tiny things are annoying when they pop up in every conversation! My only other drawback was while I was reading I couldn’t help but feel that Feyre fell pretty easily into her new life … yes she thought about leaving at first and then all of a sudden, nope she was cosy. I guess for me, when she first arrived in the Spring Court I thought Feyre could have been a bit more suspicious about what was going on.

From what I can gather, most people say this series gets better so I have all my fingers and toes crossed since the other two books are a bit chunkier than ACOTAR which I have to say was a pretty energetic and adventurous opener. I’m excited to be on this journey and I’m bringing you all along for the ride … sorry! Let’s see what the Night Court is like!

I would also like to stress that this book had some sexual content in it and although it’s labelled as Young Adult … I would not have been comfortable reading this as a teenager!

Also, it is currently less than £2 for Kindle here in case you don’t have a copy …

Goodreads Rating  4 / 5