Review: Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir

Series: The Locked Tomb #1
Goodreads: Gideon the Ninth
Publisher: Tor Books
Buy: Bookshop.org UK | US
Synopsis: The Emperor needs necromancers.

The Ninth Necromancer needs a swordswoman.

Gideon has a sword, some dirty magazines, and no more time for undead bullshit.
Brought up by unfriendly, ossifying nuns, ancient retainers, and countless skeletons, Gideon is ready to abandon a life of servitude and an afterlife as a reanimated corpse. She packs up her sword, her shoes, and her dirty magazines, and prepares to launch her daring escape. But her childhood nemesis won’t set her free without a service.

Harrowhark Nonagesimus, Reverend Daughter of the Ninth House and bone witch extraordinaire, has been summoned into action. The Emperor has invited the heirs to each of his loyal Houses to a deadly trial of wits and skill. If Harrowhark succeeds she will become an immortal, all-powerful servant of the Resurrection, but no necromancer can ascend without their cavalier. Without Gideon’s sword, Harrow will fail, and the Ninth House will die.
Of course, some things are better left dead.

Review: Gideon the Ninth has been on my to be read since its release back in 2019, I mean who can say no to lesbian space necromancers? not me. I’ll admit though that I found this harder to get into than I thought, but I think the fault lays entirely with my kindle and my goldfish sized brain. This book introduces so many new terms and characters, and if I’d picked up the hardback I would have easily been able to flick to the back and enlighten myself, but instead I was reading on my kindle and didn’t realize there was a glossary until I’d finished the whole thing. My single brain cell really let me down here so I’m not holding it against Gideon, and I really did love this book (to the point where I’m probably going to attempt a Harrow cosplay build).

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Review: A Touch of Darkness by Scarlett St. Clair

Series: Hades and Persephone #1
Goodreads: A Touch of Darkness
Publisher: Self Published
Buy: Bookshop.org UK | US
Synopsis: Persephone is the Goddess of Spring by title only. The truth is, since she was a little girl, flowers have shriveled at her touch. After moving to New Athens, she hopes to lead an unassuming life disguised as a mortal journalist.

Hades, God of the Dead, has built a gambling empire in the mortal world and his favorite bets are rumored to be impossible. After a chance encounter with Hades, Persephone finds herself in a contract with the God of the Dead and the terms are impossible: Persephone must create life in the Underworld or lose her freedom forever. The bet does more than expose Persephone’s failure as a goddess, however. As she struggles to sow the seeds of her freedom, love for the God of the Dead grows – and it’s forbidden.

Review: I’ve recently descended into booktok hell and alongside that swift descent I rekindled my love of Greek mythology, so when A Touch of Darkness popped up on my for you page it felt like fate. A spicy Hades and Persephone retelling while I’m gripped by Lore Olympus, yes please, but this book ended up being a major flop for me.

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Review: Reaper of Souls by Rena Barron

Series: Kingdom of Souls #2
Goodreads: Reaper of Souls
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Buy: Bookshop.org UK | US
Synopsis: After so many years yearning for the gift of magic, Arrah has the one thing she’s always wanted—at a terrible price. Now the last surviving witchdoctor, she’s been left to pick up the shattered pieces of a family that betrayed her, a kingdom in shambles, and long-buried secrets about who she is.

Desperate not to repeat her mother’s mistakes, Arrah must return to the tribal lands to search for help from the remnants of her parents’ people. But the Demon King’s shadow looms closer than she thinks. And as Arrah struggles to unravel her connection to him, defeating him begins to seem more and more impossible—if it’s something she can bring herself to do at all.

Review:  I received this digital copy in exchange for an honest review, thanks HarperVoyager.

So, when I got an email from HarperVoyager offering me an eARC of Reaper of Souls I swiftly broke my Netgalley ban so I could read it. I managed to win a physical ARC of Kingdom of Souls back in 2019 (you can read my review here), and it was a series that I definitely wanted to continue reading.

Reaper of Souls picks up pretty much where Kingdom of Souls left off, so just in case you hadn’t realised there’ll be spoilers for the first book ahead! Arrah is dealing with the fall-out after her families betrayal and attempt to free the Demon King, and with her role as the last remaining witchdoctor. In this book we also get a few other perspectives in the form of her love interest Rudjek and the Orisha Dimma’s memories, their perspectives are a great and necessary addition as Arrah and Rudjek split from each other and go on their own journeys.

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Review: These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong

Series: These Violent Delights #1
Goodreads: These Violent Delights
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Buy: Bookshop.org UK | US
Synopsis: The year is 1926, and Shanghai hums to the tune of debauchery.

A blood feud between two gangs runs the streets red, leaving the city helpless in the grip of chaos. At the heart of it all is eighteen-year-old Juliette Cai, a former flapper who has returned to assume her role as the proud heir of the Scarlet Gang—a network of criminals far above the law. Their only rivals in power are the White Flowers, who have fought the Scarlets for generations. And behind every move is their heir, Roma Montagov, Juliette’s first love…and first betrayal.

But when gangsters on both sides show signs of instability culminating in clawing their own throats out, the people start to whisper. Of a contagion, a madness. Of a monster in the shadows. As the deaths stack up, Juliette and Roma must set their guns—and grudges—aside and work together, for if they can’t stop this mayhem, then there will be no city left for either to rule.

Review: I received this digital copy in exchange for an honest review, thanks Hodder & Stoughton.

I’ve been struggling with this review in the same way I struggled to finish this book. I think it may be a case of covid brain and an ill-timed Hades play-through that meant I read this in bits and couldn’t settle into it, but I’m going to try my best to explain why I didn’t click with this book.

The Shanghai that Chloe Gong developed was so intricate and interesting, and I really felt as though I was walking the city streets alongside Juliette and Roma. It’s vivid, and the clashes between the different cultures alongside the colonisation of Shanghai, and Juliette’s discomfort with the westernisation of her home is palpable. Juliette was certainly my favourite part of the These Violent Delights. She’s tough, whip smart, plus I loved the fact she was torn between her loyalty to the gang and working with Roma to save Shanghai. Juliette returns to the city from America with something to prove and a lot to lose, and you can really feel how on edge she feels walking round an often unfamiliar Shanghai. She’s wonderfully well developed, and I was always disappointed when we moved away from her perspective!

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Review: Piranesi by Susanna Clarke

Goodreads: Piranesi
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Buy: Bookshop.org UK | US
Synopsis: Piranesi’s house is no ordinary building: its rooms are infinite, its corridors endless, its walls are lined with thousands upon thousands of statues, each one different from all the others. Within the labyrinth of halls an ocean is imprisoned; waves thunder up staircases, rooms are flooded in an instant. But Piranesi is not afraid; he understands the tides as he understands the pattern of the labyrinth itself. He lives to explore the house.

There is one other person in the house—a man called The Other, who visits Piranesi twice a week and asks for help with research into A Great and Secret Knowledge. But as Piranesi explores, evidence emerges of another person, and a terrible truth begins to unravel, revealing a world beyond the one Piranesi has always known.

Review: This book, gosh this book it’s just so gorgeous. The world that Susanna Clarke builds in Piranesi is so sumptuous and mysterious, I was instantly drawn in and this book effortlessly became a five star read for me.

The novel is actually a set of journal entries written by Piranesi himself. This format can be a little jarring, but Piranesi is so knowledgeable and fascinating as a character that this feeling left as soon as it came. Piranesi makes you take your time reading it, I’m a notoriously quick reader, but my pace dramatically slowed so I could absorb all of the details. Our protagonist takes his time explaining his world and how it works in minute detail, and so despite it’s short length the story feels so fleshed out and gorgeous.

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Review: Cinderella Is Dead by Kalynn Bayron

Goodreads: Cinderella Is Dead
Publisher: Bloomsbury YA
Buy: Bookshop.org UK | US
Synopsis: It’s 200 years since Cinderella found her prince, but the fairytale is over.

Sophia knows the story though, off by heart. Because every girl has to recite it daily, from when she’s tiny until the night she’s sent to the royal ball for choosing. And every girl knows that she has only one chance. For the lives of those not chosen by a man at the ball . are forfeit.

But Sophia doesn’t want to be chosen – she’s in love with her best friend, Erin, and hates the idea of being traded like cattle. And when Sophia’s night at the ball goes horribly wrong, she must run for her life. Alone and terrified, she finds herself hiding in Cinderella’s tomb. And there she meets someone who will show her that she has the power to remake her world.

Review: This book was so unexpected. I’d managed to completely dodge spoilers, and was honestly expecting something along the lines of The Selection but this book is not that.

I think everyone and their mother has reviewed this diverse retelling of Cinderella, and I’m definitely going to do the same. This book was a surprise to me and I wasn’t entirely sure I was going to enjoy it, but Bayron really managed to make me do a full uno reverse and love this.

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Review: If I Had Your Face by Frances Cha

Goodreads: If I Had Your Face
Publisher: Viking
Book Depository
Synopsis: If I Had Your Face plunges us into the mesmerizing world of contemporary Seoul – a place where extreme plastic surgery is as routine as getting a haircut, where women compete for spots in secret ‘room salons’ to entertain wealthy businessmen after hours, where K-Pop stars are the object of all-consuming obsession, and ruthless social hierarchies dictate your every move.

Navigating this hyper-competitive city are four young women balancing on the razor-edge of survival: Kyuri, an exquisitely beautiful woman whose hard-won status at an exclusive ‘room salon’ is threatened by an impulsive mistake with a client; her flatmate Miho, an orphan who wins a scholarship to a prestigious art school in New York, where her life becomes tragically enmeshed with the super-wealthy offspring of the Korean elite; Wonna, their neighbour, pregnant with a child that she and her husband have no idea how they will afford to raise in a fiercely competitive economy; and Ara, a hair stylist living down the hall, whose infatuation with a fresh-faced K-Pop star drives her to violent extremes.

Review: I was provided with this digital copy in exchange for an honest review! Thanks, Viking.

If I Had Your Face takes a long, hard look at the harsh beauty standards that South Korean women face, and how so often they resort to invasive surgery to maintain these ideals. The book itself doesn’t hold back, following the story of four different young women as they try to navigate a complicated society driven by wealth and beauty.

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