Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, yours to mine and mine to yours: Reviewing The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow

Hi everyone! I hope you are all still doing well, or hopefully, doing better than you once were, if that is the case. I’ve been a little stressed lately, but it’s a healthy kind of stress; the kind that makes you want to be better. Life is just like that sometimes. There’s nothing a good book (or a good show) can’t help. Let’s get a little magical and talk about The Once and Future Witches.

It’s 1893 and witches are nothing more than a folk tale. Magic doesn’t exist and women are left to fend for themselves. There is a suffragist movement in New Salem. This is the movement that reunites the estranged Eastwood sisters after their father’s mysterious death. Beatrice Belladonna, Agnes Amaranth, and James Juniper decide to put aside their differences and start a revolution of their own: a witches’ movement. The sisters quickly come face to face with deadly and mysterious forces that try to tear them apart. Their bond, though, must withstand these challenges in order to heal their family bonds and secure a safe future for all witches from the past, present, and future.

Alix E. Harrow crafts a wonderfully spun tale of witches that is as empowering and entertaining. She cleverly spins common rhymes and fairy tales to create a powerful and clever narrative where magic is found where you least expect it. The Eastwood sisters are vibrant and complex as they struggle to heal from past tragedies. I would argue that this book is actually quite relatable to anyone who has ever felt powerless at one point in their lives. If you are looking for an enchanting and rebellious, look no further then The Once and Future Witches.

Don’t You Wish You Were Here?: Reviewing The House in the Cerulean Sea by T.J. Klune

Hi everyone! As always, I hope you are all doing well. I’ve been enjoying the highs and lows of the summer season. I meant to do a birthday post but got a little caught up. Now, I know I tend to read a lot of dark books and I will continue to read even more of those. That doesn’t mean I’m completely opposed to a happy ending here and there. This is another recommendation via “BookTok,” if I’m being completely transparent. With that being said, let’s talk about The House in the Cerulean Sea.

Linus Baker is a plain, practical man who is a caseworker for the Department in Charge of Magical Youth (DICOMY). Outside of that, his life is quiet and a bit boring. That all changes when he is approached by Extremely Upper Management, who give him an important task: he must travel to a distant orphanage and observe a potentially dangerous child. Linus arrives on the island to find a mysterious group of children and their equally mysterious caretaker, Arthur Parnassus. The longer he stays on the island, the more Linus uncovers about what hides there and soon he must make the most important choice of his life.

This was a nice, fluffy read with plenty of delightful characters and fun, magical elements. I enjoyed the immersive environment that this novel presents. Klune pays great attention to detail with the overall atmosphere of the books. Something about Klune’s writing was vaguely nostalgic to me. The novel’s tone is rather reminiscent of books I read as a kid with an ever so slightly more mature message. I am, admittedly, a sucker for the “found family” trope and enjoyed the way that it was portrayed in this novel. If you are looking for a romantic bit of escapism, I would say give this novel a read if you are so inclined.

This Ends in Roots and Bones: Reviewing For the Wolf (Book 1 of the Wilderwood series) by Hannah Whitten

Hi everyone! So, I’m a bit of a fast reader. When I get invested in a book, I have a hard time setting it aside. I get to a point in the book when I think to myself, “Whatever, I can finish it today.” Whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing, I haven’t decided. I have, however, decided I needed to share this one with you all. Let’s talk about For the Wolf.

From the moment she was born, Red had a destiny to fulfill. As the Second Daughter, she was to be sacrificed to the Wolf who lives in the dangerous Wilderwood in the hopes that he will release the Five Kings. She is almost thankful to go in order to avoid hurting anyone with a magic that she doesn’t understand. She quickly learns that the Wolf is not a wolf, but a man trying to keep a dangerous power at bay. Red must learn to use her powers to defeat the dark magic that lies in the Wilderwood before it reaches and destroys her world and everything she loves.

Hannah Whitten cleverly combines elements of classic fairy tales in her own elaborate world to create this unputdownable fantasy. I saw slivers of tales like Red Riding Hood, Beauty and the Beast, and Snow White all sprinkled throughout this story, but with a rather adult spin on them. The character shine on their own, though, with each defying their roles in epic ways. This novel is also a little sexy in the best ways. I don’t want to go on for too long because I don’t want to give away too much. If you are looking for a captivating fantasy novel, then I would highly suggest picking up For the Wolf as you will be transported into a magical but dark world that you won’t want to leave from.

Knowledge is Carnage: Reviewing The Atlas Six by Olivie Blake

Hello everyone! It is a beautiful day to stay inside and read some book that the internet told you to read. While I’m happy to have access to such wonderful recommendations, I also feel that “Book Tok” is getting out of hand. Recently, I purchased a book that had a “Seen on Book Tok” (or something like that) sticker on it and I honestly wanted to gag. Ok, that’s the end of my tangent. Let’s get into The Atlas Six.

The Society only recruits the most powerful magic users into its mysterious and elite depths. Every decade, six of the most talented individuals are selected to join the Society. In order to do so, they must pass a series of tests to prove that they are worthy. The six newest recruits quickly find themselves making allies, or enemies, in order to get to the top. The stakes are even higher when they realize that one among them will not survive the initiation into the Society.

I went in wanting to like this book as I was given the impression it was like The Secret History but with magic. Despite Olivie Blake having a fully fleshed out magical world, there really wasn’t a lot of magic actually being done in the book. If I’m being honest, I was rather bored at times as there were long stretches of the book that were just characters having drawn out conversations, or having long internal monologues. As much as I enjoy introspection, when you promise me magic then I want some magic. I am not going to tell anyone to not read this book. I will be nice and say that I did enjoy the characters quite a bit. I also liked how well Blake captures the spirit of dark academia in the book. There is still plenty to like, but it just didn’t transcend my expectations or thrill me in the way other magic – based novels have.

Do you want to drown the world in blood?: Reviewing The Tower of Swallows (Book Four of the Witcher Series) by Andrzej Sapkowski

Hi everyone! I hope you are all doing well. I’ve fallen a little behind in my TBR but you can blame that on a sudden windfall of good streaming content. Does anyone else notice that there are either a ton of good shows out or there’s absolutely nothing good out? Maybe I just watch too many shows, but that is beside the point. I am still determined to read this whole series and my committment has not been shaken. So, let’s talk about the fourth book in The Witcher series.

Despite Geralt’s best efforts, Ciri has seemingly completely vanished. Unbeknowst to Geralt, though, Ciri continues to hone her strength and finds several odd allies along the way. With his own group of allies, Geralt continues to search for Ciri but has his own threats following close behind. He must travel through the Tower of Swallows, where he finds that the fate of the world hangs in the balance.

The problem with high fantasy novels, in my opinion, is that sometimes the world in the novel just gets too weighed down by an excess of characters. That was my main issue with this particular book in the series. When the book was focused on Geralt, Ciri, or Yennefer, it was at its strongest. I do enjoy how Sapkowski crafts these strong action sequences. The world building is truly interesting, but like I said, the pacing is pretty slow at points. So far, this is not my favorite book in The Witcher series but I am still going to dilligently finish this series for my followers.

Fighting, Fury, and Madness: Reviewing Baptism of Fire (Book 3 of The Witcher Series) by Andrzej Sapkowski

Hello everyone! I’m back way sooner than I thought with another book review. I tend to read up to four books at the same time and just kind of rotate through them. Not to brag or anything, but I have a bit of free time on my hands. Being that I am in a “winter break” of sorts, I’m hoping to put out at least one or two more reviews before the end of January. With any luck, I’ll find out if I have been accepted into a PhD program or not. Enough of my rambling, let’s talk about The Witcher.

War has swept across the Continent and every kingdom is out for blood. Recovering from an injury, Geralt must rely on an odd group of travelers to help him find Ciri, who is being hunted by the villainous Emhyr. Meanwhile, Yennefer is caught in a tangled political web with her fellow mages as they try to protect the future of magic. Everything is at stake as the world descends into chaos and fire.

This book is probably my favorite so far in The Witcher series. It had a lot of traveling that was rather reminiscent of The Lord of the Rings and battle scenes akin to Game of thrones, all the while maintaining its own unique world building. I felt that the story was evenly distributed among the main characters with each having their own high stakes. Even the more expository parts were interesting as it was Sapkowski really investing the readers into the magic system and fictional history he has so carefully crafted. I personally really enjoyed this entry in The Witcher series and will continue to highly recommend this series (and the Netflix show). Maybe I’ll even give the video game a shot one day.

Men Die. Gods Die. She Lives On: Reviewing The Witch’s Heart by Genevieve Gornichec

Hello everybody! I hope everyone is enjoying this last bit of summer. I’ve been keeping busy but still reading more ravenously than I have in a while. Now, I’m a big mythology nerd so this whole new rise in mythology inspired – novels makes me very happy. In particular, Norse mythology has become more popular and I have become increasingly fascinated with the subject. This book was right on the top of my list for adaptations. So, let’s talk about The Witch’s Heart.

Angrboda began life as a powerful witch who was cast down by Odin after she refused to tell him about the future. This ending, however, was actually a brand new beginning for her. After escaping from her punishment, she meets Loki, the trickster god, and they fall in love. Their marriage produces strange heirs who all have a part to play in the end of the world. Angrboda’s best efforts to protect her children are thwarted once Ragnarok begins. With the help of the hunter goddess Skadi and a powerful she-wolf, Angrboda must decide whether to accept her fate or change the outcome completely.

Gornichec’s debut novel is solid its with fairy tale – esque writing and a focus on character study. Angrboda was a very relatable character as a woman trying to make her way in a world that does not understand her powers. I would be lying if I said I didn’t appreciate the female gaze of this book as it benefited the characters immensely. The novel is also very accurate to the original myths and you do not have to have any previous knowledge before reading this. It was a novel worth savoring as it took its time to introduce such complex characters with complex motivations. I really loved this book and would recommend it if you enjoyed Madeline Miler’s Circe or are a fan of Norse mythology.

Quietly, Treacherously, Cruelly: Reviewing The Time of Contempt (Book Two of The Witcher series) by Andrzej Sapkowski

Hey everyone! How are you all doing? I really have nothing of importance to say. I just turned 25 so I have that going for me. Right now, though, I am just reading everything I can get my hands on. I have recently developed an interested with the Star Wars novelizations and got a copy of the first book in the Thrawn trilogy so expect to see that in the near future on this blog. Let’s keep going with my reviews of The Witcher series with the second installment in this saga.

It is a struggle for power as war against Nilfgaard is on the horizon. As tensions build among the monarchs, Gerald finds himself caught in the middle of a deadly coup. Meanwhile, Ciri clashes with Yennefer about her magical education. When an attack splits up the group, the three must find ways to survive in a world now ravaged by war and with many powerful enemies on every front.

I can say that, as much I am enjoying this series, I do have some mixed feelings. The exposition can be a bit much, especially since it is the second book in the series. I absolutely love when the action really gets going, though. Geralt is still very much a favorite character of mine and I love to read about him (and Yennefer). This book, however, focuses more on Ciri who I am not terribly attached to. I will say, though, if you like the “found family” trope then you will enjoy this particular installation of The Witcher series. I can still say that I am enjoying this series and plan on reading all of it as I do love high fantasy and escapism.

In my mind are all the tides…: Reviewing Piranesi by Susanna Clarke

Hello everyone! Instead of sleeping, I have decided to write this review because I simply could not wait to talk about this book. One of my favorite things is picking up a book at random and having no real expectations, only to have the book take you aback with its quality. This is exactly how I felt reading Piranesi and I want to share my thoughts with you.

Piranesi lives an an infinite house, filled with gorgeous statues and countless corridors, hallways, and other rooms. Within the house, there is an ocean which Piranesi loves deeply for its power and beauty. He spends his days exploring his house and relaying his information to The Other, a mysterious man who uses Piranesi’s evidence for his pursuit of A Great and Secret Knowledge. Piranesi’s solitary and peaceful existence begins to fall apart when he uncovers evidence to a darker truth that lies within the infinite house.

I am a huge fan of surrealist literature that involves magic and Piranesi fit the bill in every way. The book is written in an almost fairy tale – like way that draws you into the world with each paragraph. Even though the novel is fairly short, it has a rich world that you only want to know more and more about. I love novels that have rich aesthetics, which Clarke creates in her writing. I also loved the mystery element that lies at the heart of the novel. It made it all the more un-put-downable. It was definitely reminiscent of Neil Gaiman and Erin Morgenstern, both of whom I love. This was an absolutely fantastic read I will absolutely be re-reading over and over in order to fully absorb every detail of Piranesi.

When we crash, we intertwine: Reviewing Children of Virtue and Vengeance by Tomi Adeyemi

Hello everyone! It has been a hot minute since I’ve posted. I promise I won’t abandon this blog any time soon. I’ve just been all caught up with university, anxiety, social distancing, and all that other fun stuff (See? Sarcasm). I’ve still found enough time to go out a little and enjoy things. Of course, I wasn’t about to give up on Tomi Adeyemi’s series. Feel free to check out my review for the first novel, Children of Blood and Bone. Now it’s time to talk about the recently released sequel.

Zelie and Amari had finally succeeded in bringing back to Orisha, but they were not prepared for the other consequences it might bring. Now, Zelie must unite all of the maji in order to defeat Inan and put Amari on the throne. When the monarchy launches an attack on the maji, it is up to Zelie to protect her people and avoid the war or else everything she loves will be destroyed.

Even though this book took me a little while to get through, it is actually very fast paced and has tons of action. The magic system in the novel is incredibly well thought out, which helps add to the incredible world building that Adeyemi has done. When it comes to fantasy, though, a lot of authors tend to make their characters either too powerful or neglect any consequences that their characters may have to deal with. Adeyemi completely avoids that pitfall by making her characters understandably, albeit frustratingly, imperfect. I wouldn’t enjoy the book if I couldn’t sympathize with Zelie, Amari, and the rest. That is why I love this series. It harkens back to my love of shows like Avatar: The Last Airbender. Though this is a YA fantasy series, I think adult and teen readers alike can bond over this series with it’s incredible action, high stakes, and emotional beats that will keep you wanting more.