ARC Review | The Unwilling

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️

Title: The Unwilling

Author: Kelly Braffet

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Pages: 400

Publication Date: February 11, 2020

Categories: Dark Fantasy, Sci-Fi

Disclaimer: **I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.**

The Unwilling is the story of Judah, a foundling born with a special gift and raised inside Highfall castle along with Gavin, the son and heir to Lord Elban’s vast empire. Judah and Gavin share an unnatural bond that is both the key to her survival…and possibly her undoing.

As Gavin is groomed for his future role, Judah comes to realize that she has no real position within the kingdom, in fact, no hope at all of ever traveling beyond its castle walls. Elban—a lord as mighty as he is cruel—has his own plans for her, for all of them. She is a mere pawn to him, and he will stop at nothing to get what he wants.

But outside the walls, in the starving, desperate city, a magus, a healer with his own secret power unlike anything Highfall has seen in years, is newly arrived from the provinces. He, too, has plans for the empire, and at the heart of those plans lies Judah… The girl who started life with no name and no history will soon uncover more to her story than she ever imagined.

An epic tale of greed and ambition, cruelty and love, this deeply immersive novel is about bowing to traditions and burning them down.

Thank you to MIRA and NetGalley for giving a chance to read this eARC.

My reading experience of The Unwilling was not what I expected. I was intrigued and kept reading it, but halfway in I was getting restless. I kept reading to see why our main characters: Judah, Gavin, Theron and Elly were all suffering so much and I was hoping for somewhat of a happy ending. I didn’t get that.

Judah was born on the same night as the future Lord of the City, Gavin. Being born on the same night created some magical bond between them. They can feel each other’s pain and can communicate in a way no other two people can. Elban, Gavin’s father is a very cruel man who finds pleasure in torturing his children and foster child. He exerts his power through cruelty and Judah, Gavin, Theron (Gavin’s younger brother) and Eleanor (Gavin’s intended) all suffer because of him.

There is also political intrigue in the kingdom and someone is planning Elban’s downfall, but who? Then there is the newcomer Nate, the magus – he’s a healer with a hidden agenda. Everyone wants a piece of Judah and she has no idea why – but will she find out before it’s all too late?

  • Something about this book kept me reading it – and mostly because I needed to know what was so special about Judah. Why did the magus need to get to her so badly?! She had powers obviously but she hardly…and I mean HARDLY uses them in this book because she doesn’t know she has them. 🤦🏻‍♀️
  • This book is depressing so the only shining light about it is the bond and love between Judah, Gavin, Theron, and Elly. They suffered together and became their own family and relied on each other. Their love for each other really came through in this story.
  • There were a few twists in the story within the political environment of the kingdom but…again…the twists benefited everyone else, not the four abused people in this story.
  • Triggers: Almost EVERYTHING. Torture, graphic scene of a deer hunt, graphic scene of feral hounds torturing someone (think Ramsey from Game of Thrones), cutting (it’s blood magic), drug use, physical and mental abuse…so much abuse.
  • I had to reach 75% into the book to find out what Judah’s power was? Ugh…Why couldn’t it be explained earlier? Nate’s relationship with Derie (his abusive mentor)…didn’t even really explain why their people needed Judah until the end! So frustrating. 😑
  • I’ve read books with torture in it, but in the end – someone is usually a hero. Someone turns the tide…this kingdom was ruled by one mad man to another. There was no happy ending in sight for Judah, Gavin, Theron and Elly. There was seriously no HOPE for these four children, now adults, trapped together in misery. They were unwilling to become like their father Elban, I get it…they were unwilling to let their family be broken apart…but it was.
  • When Judah’s power explained by Nate who’s head is scrambled by Derie so he can carry out this mission of ending Elban’s line and unleashing Judah’s power – by then he’s a madman too. This whole story was about people who needed Judah for something. They all preyed on her even Nate who was supposed to “help” her, even Gavin who wasn’t supposed to hurt her.
  • The ending was frustrating. 😒 And this is categorized as Sci-fi on NetGalley…what was sci-fi about it? The part where Theron tinkers as an inventor? Did I miss it?

Despite all the things that turned me off about this book, I read this book in three days! That means something about it kept me interested and I think it was the mystery of Judah’s power. But by the time it is explained I was just so frustrated with this story and the ending left me even more unsatisfied. Judah’s dilemma seemed so impossible to fix, here was a girl who was bound to another, not by choice. Bound to a kingdom not by choice and here were this people, trying to keep her bound. This book wasn’t for me but I did finish at least.

ARC Review | The Night Country

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️1/2

Title: The Night Country ( The Hazel Wood, #2)

Author: Melissa Albert

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Pages: 352

Publication Date: January 7, 2020

Categories: Dark Fairy Tales, Young Adult, Dark Fantasy

Disclaimer: **I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.**

In The Night Country, Alice Proserpine dives back into a menacing, mesmerizing world of dark fairy tales and hidden doors. Follow her and Ellery Finch as they learn The Hazel Woodwas just the beginning, and that worlds die not with a whimper, but a bang.

With Finch’s help, Alice escaped the Hinterland and her reclusive grandmother’s dark legacy. Now she and the rest of the dregs of the fairy tale world have washed up in New York City, where Alice is trying to make a new, unmagical life. But something is stalking the Hinterland’s survivors―and she suspects their deaths may have a darker purpose. Meanwhile, in the winking out world of the Hinterland, Finch seeks his own adventure, and―if he can find it―a way back home…

Thank you to Flat Iron Books and NetGalley for giving me a chance to read this eARC.

I rated the first book in this series The Hazel Wood, 3 1/2 stars because though the story goes off on an Alice in Wonderland like mind bend, I was still immersed in the mystery that was the Hinterland and The Hazel Wood. It keep me reading and wanting to find out what was going on.

Alice has escaped the Hinterland, choosing to go back to New York City and live her life as before. You would think things go back to normal but someone is murdering her ex-Story friends in New York City, but who? This story is a murder mystery with more dark fairy tales to tell.

  • I will say this about the series in general, both books have amazing book covers so yay to the artist! 👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼
  • Sophia Snow is a new character in this book and I liked her a lot. I also liked learning about her fairy tale, even though it doesn’t come until later in the book. She was Alice’s only friend now that Finch chose to stay in the Hinterland.
  • The murder mystery kept me interested in this story. It gave me the creepy feeling I had like in the first book, especially the scene on the subway! I liked how the murders was something bigger than just some serial killer on the loose, I liked that twist in the story.
  • Ellery Finch’s letters were sweet! Maybe because I love Jane Austen but I thought it was quite romantic. As for their relationship, I can’t say there was much to grow on with them being separated and only having the one-sided letters but in the end they are finally in the same world.
  • This world of The Hazel Wood series is so unique, I love how it’s different and the fairy tales are so dark and scary. I adore that it’s a world of stories and books coming to life, that books are a door…that just got me thinking, yes, yes, YES. I get that so much. I think the concept of the Spinner making and remaking these worlds is so interesting.
  • Triggers: violence, blood, murder scenes
  • I wanted to know more about what happened with Ellery Finch and he shows up later in the book. So much later that I thought, he wasn’t going to be in this book at all! By the time we see what he’s been up to, I’ve lost interest. Finch comes back strong in the ending, but by then, I just wanted to finish.
  • The middle of this story lost me. I was disinterested. 😒 I put it down so many times and picked it up, just to get a few pages in but it didn’t grab me. I’m amazed I finished.
  • The mysteriousness of the first book is gone in this one. The reason I kept reading the first book was because I wanted to know what the Hazel Wood was and if it was real. The Night Country didn’t captivate me like the Hazel Wood did.
  • I wanted more dark fairy tale stories!

If you loved The Hazel Wood, you will love The Night Country because there is so much more than just the Hinterlands. The darkness is still there as it seems to always surround Alice, and though I enjoyed the first part of the book, I lost interest in the middle but managed to finish the book.

I don’t know if I just needed to be in the mood to read it, but I thought reading The Hazel Wood just recently would have continued my interest in the sequel. That wasn’t the case, but that’s okay, I find this world to be unique, fascinating and dark and I may not love the series, but I like it just enough.

Book Review | Wintersong

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2

Title: Wintersong (Winterstong, #1)

Author: S. Jae-Jones

Format: Paperback (owned)

Pages: 436

Categories: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance, Dark Fairytale

The last night of the year. Now the days of winter begin and the Goblin King rides abroad, searching for his bride….

All her life, Liesl has heard tales of the beautiful, dangerous Goblin King. They’ve enraptured her mind and spirit and inspired her musical compositions. Now eighteen and helping to run her family’s inn, Liesel can’t help but feel that her musical dreams and childhood fantasies are slipping away.

But when her own sister is taken by the Goblin King, Liesl has no choice but to journey to the Underground to save her. Drawn to the strange, captivating world she finds–and the mysterious man who rules it–she soon faces an impossible decision. With time and the old laws working against her, Liesl must discover who she truly is before her fate is sealed.

Dark, romantic, and powerful, Wintersong will sweep you away into a world you won’t soon forget.

Wintersong is a perfect fall read and winter read actually, I mean it is called Wintersong.

When I heard this was part Labyrinth (one of my favorite movies) and Beauty and the Beast (one of my favorite Disney movies haha) I knew I had to read this…and I tried when it first published but for some reason it didn’t catch my interest at the time. I heard some good things about it lately and decided to give it another go and I can see how readers can be entranced by this story! And why didn’t anyone say it’s part Phantom of the Opera too? Without the opera of course.

In this dark, sexy and magical story, the Goblin King has been eyeing Liesl since she was a child. He is entranced with the untamed music that lives inside her and he sees someone who maybe can appreciate the wildness in him. We follow Liesl and learn how close she is with her exceptionally and musically talented brother. Whereas her beautiful and passionate sister, Kathe is left to her own devices. As Winter approaches she is reminded by her grandmother about the Goblin King coming to take a wife. When he steals Kathe away and makes a bargain with Liesl, she knows she has to win or pay the consequences. Who will Liesl choose? Her family, the Goblin King or herself?

  • This book is sexy…I mean, it has sex and though it’s not explicitly described because this is a YA book, I like that it went there because this is a dark attraction between a human and the Goblin king, who is basically fae and powerful. You can’t deny the connection between Liesl and the Goblin King.
  • This story is dark and the story telling is enchanting. The writing is lyrical and poetic. I loved the folklore Constanze told about the Goblin King, it’s that spooky fairytale, not the ones with a happily ever after. There is nothing very happy in this book, Liesl is consumed with music, so much so that it brings her absolute joy but she is obsessed about it. Same with the Goblin King and how he covets Liesl and her joy with music. They both desire and want but you also see it in Liesl’s family, her brother the musical virtuoso, her sister Kathe who dreams of finer things and a rich husband. This story explores desire, and what length one goes to attain them.
  • It’s interesting that the book ends with a Beethoven quote, because music is central to this story. I mean the Goblin King plays Liesl body like a violin (ahem-ahem 🔥🥵) – talk about sensual. But music IS sensual, it’s full of emotion and this story wove it’s enchantment on me like Beethoven’s music does (he’s my favorite). Liesl is a genius composer, her brother is a gifted violinist and the Goblin King is a musician as well.
  • The love story between Liesl and the Goblin King as mentioned is scintillating. It is full of dark desire and sweetness too, but tragic.
  • I enjoyed the games Liesl and the Goblin King would play because the stakes were high. It was interesting and maybe predictable what path she chooses but she did kind of give in pretty quick.
  • Liesl and the Goblin King…had that push and pull relationship that kind of made me crazy. I wanted them to make up their minds, especially when she decides to go all in and then he backs off. I understood why it was that way, but I also got tired of it too.
  • I would like to know more about the Goblin King. I know he is all mysterious but I was getting confused about how he is the Goblin King but his looks keep changing when he is with Liesl. She sees a boy of her age and then he looks like the fae he becomes. I mean her grandmother wanted to be the Goblin King’s wife at one point and I’m just hoping it wasn’t HIM has the Goblin King that time. 😅 Because…awkward. He is a fascinating character because he used to be human, worshipped God and brought some of those customs with him into the Underground. But I’d like to learn more about him.
  • The ending was…okay? I guess in a sense it was the right thing to do, but damn did I just want them to go all in and make it work. If I was Liesl, I’d be all about being the Goblin Queen and never leave and die a dark death. 🤷🏻‍♀️ I mean, the story was dramatic in every other aspect, might as well make the ending one too!
  • Triggers: mind manipulation (I mean, the Goblin King does mess with Liesl!)

Even with the few issues I had with the story, it wove its dark enchantment around me. I feel like I’ve been waiting so long for a story about the Goblin King (ever since Labyrinth) and wow, there haven’t been any that I remember reading about. I’m about to pick up the second book in the duology so stay tuned for my review on that one soon. If you like dark fairy-tales written in a poetic, lyrical style, you might want to give this one a try.

Book Review | The Hazel Wood

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2

Title: The Hazel Wood

Author: Melissa Albert

Format: eBook (borrowed)

Pages: 359

Categories: Urban Dark Fantasy, Young Adult, Adventure, Dark Fairy Tales

Seventeen-year-old Alice and her mother have spent most of Alice’s life on the road, always a step ahead of the uncanny bad luck biting at their heels. But when Alice’s grandmother, the reclusive author of a cult-classic book of pitch-dark fairy tales, dies alone on her estate, the Hazel Wood, Alice learns how bad her luck can really get: her mother is stolen away―by a figure who claims to come from the Hinterland, the cruel supernatural world where her grandmother’s stories are set. Alice’s only lead is the message her mother left behind: “Stay away from the Hazel Wood.”

Alice has long steered clear of her grandmother’s cultish fans. But now she has no choice but to ally with classmate Ellery Finch, a Hinterland superfan who may have his own reasons for wanting to help her. To retrieve her mother, Alice must venture first to the Hazel Wood, then into the world where her grandmother’s tales began―and where she might find out how her own story went so wrong.

I think I tried reading this when it first published but I wasn’t in the mood and put it off until…now. But honestly, I don’t think I would have picked it up again if I wasn’t approved for the sequel on NetGalley. 😅

I finished this in two days which is surprising so I guess it really caught my attention this time around. Alice and her mom Ella is basically living on the run, but from what? Curses? Bad luck? It’s not clear but there is an undercurrent in this story, a mystery about a book called Tales from the Hinterland that Alice’s grandmother, Althea Proserpine, wrote. Alice and Ella are settled in New York City but the bad luck that seem to stop following them has found them again and Ella goes missing. The only clues Alice has are linked to the book. But what is Hinterland? She thought it was just a book of fairytales, that it was just a story. Alice and her friend Finch, go on a quest to find The Hazel Wood, her grandmother’s estate, so she can figure out what has happened to her mom, Ella. Instead they find out some stories are very real.

  • Alice’s voice is very unique. Is she likable? Most people wouldn’t like her I think but she’s a fascinating character, very mysterious, blunt, full of this unexplained anger. But she loves her mom Ella very much. Her gypsy upbringing (not by choice but survival) has shaped her greatly. When we find out more about her then it totally makes sense why she is the way she is.
  • There were words in this book that I had to google! I was intrigued by the writing, it’s very lyrical – if you don’t lyrical writing you will not like this book.
  • I liked the scary fairy tales that are told throughout the book. They remind me of the fairy tales we grew up. When you think of Snow White, as a child it was supposed to be cute because the singing dwarfs singing hi-ho, it’s Disney! But it’s actually a scary tale of the Queen wanting to kill Snow White and she poisons her. Like…that is not cute! The Tales of The Hinterland is straight out frightening, nothing cute about them at all.
  • I like the world of the Hinterland but it is mostly revealed in the later half of this book. When regular people cross into the Hinterlands they are called refugees. So the Hinterlands was almost like another country but in an alternate universe! I liked meeting Janet who explains a lot about this world. Thank you Janet!
  • A lot of things in this book made me go hmmm! Like I mentioned I liked the writing BUT I was also thinking wow, does Alice really think like this? It didn’t feel realistic that a teen would use these words, words from like an SAT test vocabulary list, to narrate her story but then again, her grandmother was a writer. Alice seemed very well read and a lover of literature. Of course we find out more about Alice, and when we do…it makes sense that she’s “different”. Because she IS.
  • There is a part in this book, 60% in where I felt like my brain BENDED, it was a total mind-bend and as someone who has vertigo when my sinuses get clogged/affecting my ears and such….when I read the part when Alice gets into The Hazel Wood, I got dizzy. Literally. A lot of the first part of the story is a mystery about The Hinterland and The Hazel Wood and when it is revealed, it was a bit too much for my head because the way it’s written. It almost feels all over the place and I couldn’t pin things down and that was disorienting until the story stabilized again. It was like Alice in Wonderland when she gets to Wonderland…🤔. I felt like I was Alice. It was jarring.
  • Alice gets kidnapped in the beginning, and she literally says she went into a car with this strange guy but he wasn’t a perv…he told her stories, etc…and I’m like say what? 😳 We also find out it’s not the first time she was kidnapped! What is with the kidnapping in this story? I guess it’s reminiscent again of the fairy tales we grew up with like Rapunzel. And there is a purpose to her being kidnapped but just reading it in the beginning I was a bit wary of where the story was going.

When I finished this I needed a moment to digest what I just read. Overall, I liked it because of it being so dark, weird, and fascinating. I liked some of the fairy tales that were told in the story, it is very Brother’s Grimm fairytales instead of the cutesy Disney ones.

If you like stories like Alice in Wonderland, then you will like The Hazel Wood. I’m about to read the sequel and we’ll see how that goes. I think it might follow more of Finch’s adventures because there is more to discover in the Hinterlands. Overall a fascinating, mind bending story that probably wouldn’t appeal to everyone.

ARC Review | An Unholy Magick

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Title: An Unholy Magick (Vile Sacraments, #1)

Author: Kali Rose Schmidt

Format: eBook (provided by The Parliament House)

Pages: (can’t find this info)🤷🏻‍♀️

Publication Date: October 22, 2019

Categories: Dark Fantasy, New Adult, Romance

Disclaimer: **I received this book free from The Parliament House in exchange for an honest review.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.**

She’s an assassin with a gift her parents died for.
He’s a reluctant prince content to drink himself into oblivion.
And hiding in plain sight amongst them both, a monster is searching for redemption.

In a kingdom where magick is forbidden and spoken of only in whispers, they must each face their own demons, walking the line between loyalty and betrayal. 

Enter a dark new world full of forbidden love, painful loss, and a growing war between those with power and those who crave it. An Unholy Magick is a bloody and spell-binding fantasy debut, the first from Kali Rose Schmidt’s shadowy series, Vile Sacraments.

Thank you to The Parliament House Press for giving me a chance to review this eARC or An Unholy Magick.

An Unholy Magick is the story of a girl name Elena, she is part witch, part Elf and one hundred percent cold blooded assassin. She’s also beautiful and knows it. She’s defiant, stubborn, sometimes arrogant and ignorant but she learns quickly and cares deeply for her friends. Elena is also very brave. I wasn’t sure if I should categorize this as New or Young Adult but I went with NA because Elena is 18 and her romantics interests are 20 years old and above. There is one steamy scene but it only involves a kiss.

The kingdom of Anglar is just a part of Terra that King Nicolas rules but he wants to expand his domain. And what better way to do that than by using a witch-assassin to infiltrate the neighboring kingdom of Garcari and slay their ruler Queen Raytha. But to get to Garcari, Elena would need to travel and survive the legendary Dark Forest. Will she survive the mission? And will King Nicolas set her free after her task is done?

This book was a pleasant surprise for me! I like the world building of Terra. There is the Dark Forest where legendary monsters like vampires, werewolves and many more beings make their home. The story takes place mostly in Anglar at King Nicolas’ castle where Elena is training with her guards and a sorcerer to be ready to go on her mission. Magick use is forbidden in Anglar and many people who used it were persecuted or fled the kingdom. Elena’s parents were killed when she was young and she harbors hard feelings against the king because of it, but she has no choice but to take on this mission – it’s kill Queen Raytha or die by hanging.

There are a few interesting characters that I enjoyed. Matvey, the vampyre disguised as a sorcerer, is helping Elena access her powers. I don’t know why but I totally wanted Elena and him to hook up. 😅 His true self under the glamour is a monster, a “bloated corpse” as Elena describes him but why did I so approve of their attraction to one another? 🤷🏻‍♀️ Except Elena is very much into Prince Zoran. And he may be charming and besotted with Elena but he just seemed too weak for my taste. Seems like the two of them may end up together though, or…who knows, maybe the book will surprise me? So it seems like a love triangle but I don’t think it really is – I think Elena’s choice is made.

Elena makes friends easily which is a part of her personality that I liked. Her friendship with prison guard, Aranka, was a fun aspect of the book. I also loved that she had Tabitha, her maid who really took care of her. And then there is Jaime, her friend who grew up with her like a brother. They are close, but are apart for most of the book until the end…where things get a little crazy in the Dark Forest and Garcari. I like Elena’s character growth and in the end she realizes her position as an assassin can be used to help make some changes in Anglar, like helping witches regain the freedom to use magick again. She has power, more than she knows.

Most of the book is about Elena training, building relationships and learning about the history of Queen Raytha, Saint Ragnhild, the Death King, witches and elves but I enjoyed it immensely. A lot more of the action comes in the second half of the book and it kept me quite engaged! There was even one scene as I read in the dark that creeped me out for a quick minute! 😆

An Unholy Magick is the first book in a series and it is entertaining, bloody, dark and full of witches and monsters. I look forward to the sequel!

ARC Review | Marrow Charm

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Title: Marrow Charm

Author: Kristin Jacques

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Pages: 333

Publication Date: October 1, 2019

Categories: Dark Fantasy, Young Adult, Horror,

Disclaimer: **I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.**

‘In his pursuit of the occult, the Third Reich opened the Gate to a realm of magic and brought the world to ruin. The Gate was eventually closed, but They were already in our world and They were hungry.’

-The Lost History, Library of Avergard

Azure ‘Azzy’ Brimvine lives in a world decimated by magic, where humans have retreated underground from the overwhelming dangers of the surface. But Below is no safer than Above.

Magic borne plagues continue to eat away at the remaining human cities, a sickness that doesn’t merely kill, but creates aberrations from the stricken: people twisted by magic into something dark, dangerous, and powerful. It is an existence of fear and constant dread. When Azzy’s brother, Armin, is infected and cast out into the Above, she sets out after him, determined to be there for him no matter what he becomes.

The world Above is full of monsters, both wild and cunning, some more human than Azzy was led to believe. Armin is captured and bound for the Auction block of Avergard, a ruthless city of inhuman lords and twisted creatures. To reach him, Azzy must brave the perils of the Above and the chaotic life forms created by the Gate. To reach him, she must find allies and forge new bonds in this broken world.

And Azzy must reach him, before Armin’s new power is used to open the Gate once more.

Thank you to The Parliament House and NetGalley for giving me a chance to read this eARC.

I requested this book on NetGalley because of the cover, I love it. I guess I’m in a very dark mood lately with the change in seasons coming. The blurb sounded fascinating, and I love the words around the title, “as above, so below”. I have to say that intrigued me. By the way, I am NOT a horror fan usual, but I love this book.

The book blurb begins with some lost history of Avergard, but I forgot about the blurb when I started reading and I don’t remember anything about the Third Reich being mentioned in the story, unless I just missed it? 🤔 What did catch my attention was the writing. This is a beautifully told story, the words seeming effortless to describe this detailed world of the Above and Below. But let me just say, this is a dark tale.

The world in Marrow Charm is divided into the Above and the Below. Azure, or Azzy, has always lived below. And ohhhh boy did I not want to live there with her. Azzy grew up hearing about the monsters that live Above. But…as above, so below. There are scary things below! I was terrified for her life! And mine…even though I didn’t live there. 😂 Now I was trying to figure how to categorize this book…fantasy? But it seemed post-apocalyptic as well, so it is an interesting mix of both I suppose.

The world building is detailed and there was always something new to learn up until the last chapters when we actually get to Avergard. For most of the story we navigate the Below and Above with Azzy, as she tries to find her brother Armin. The separate journeys of Azzy and Armin in this book is harrowing, painful, suspenseful, and heart-breaking. But it’s not only Azzy and Armin trying to find their way, we meet secondary characters along the way that make this tale feel so rich with personalities, danger, mistrust, and hope.

Did I already mention this is dark? There is violence. There is a lot of blood, and despair and but I believed in Azzy. That girl is a survivor with powers we don’t fully understand yet. She is so determined to find her brother and I have to hope she will. And speaking of powers, this is a world of magic, especially in the Above where it seems valued in Avergard. Below, having skills like being an apothecary was very important. I loved learning about Brixby and his skill as an apothecary.

The story is emotional due to the relationship between Azzy and Armin. You can feel the love between them as siblings and I just pray Azzy can reunite with Armin. I just want it all to work out in the end for these characters I fell in love with. Is there a romance? A slight infusion of it with Azzy and a journey companion she meets. I hope to see where that storyline goes.

The story ends in the city of Avergard and once more I feel like there will be a lot to learn about this city. There is so much to uncover in this world of Marrow Charm, it seems to be unending, which I love. I love the layers I got to dig into with this story. I can’t wait to read the next book!

There are witches, shape shifters, high lords that rule with fear and we will most definitely learn more about them in the sequel. The thing I need in the sequel is to know the history of The Gate. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and went looking to see where I could find a hardcopy or paperback for my shelf but so far I only see it in ebook form? It’s an amazing book and I look forward to reading more from this author.

ARC Review | Diamond City

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Title: Diamond City

Author: Francesca Flores

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Pages: 400

Publication Date: January 28, 2020

Categories: Dark Fantasy, Violence, Drug Abuse

Disclaimer: **I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.**

At twelve years old, Aina Solís was pulled off of the streets she slept on and trained to be one of the most feared assassins in Sumerand, a kingdom founded by immigrants and built by magic―and in recent years transformed by an industrial revolution. When Aina is given the most lucrative and dangerous job of her career―killing a wealthy industrialist named Kouta―she knows it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to leave her impoverished roots in her past once-and-for-all: the payout is enough to free her from under her boss Kohl’s thumb. But when the job goes wrong and Kouta escapes, she is left without a penny to her name and in the crosshairs of Kohl, who is eager to show the world what happens to those that fail him.

With Kohl on her heels, Aina is running out of time to find Kouta and finish what she started. But the closer she gets to killing him, the more she begins to ask the questions assassins are never meant to ask: who wants Kouta dead? And why? In a city full of half-constructed subway tunnels, hidden magical dens, secret weapons markets, and wolf-sized spiders, Aina discovers a conspiracy that could rewrite her city’s history and―if it isn’t stopped―sink her country into a catastrophic war.

Thank you to St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley for giving me a chance to read this eARC.

I am a sucker for female assassins and here we have Aina Solis, a Blade, who works for the Blood King. Aina kills whoever the Blood King tells her to kill and her specialty is with knives. She has a history with the Blood King, Kohl, who runs the city with his motley crew of spies and assassins. Kohl molded Aina into the killer that she is, but is that all she is?

Aina is a survivor in Sumerand, a kingdom torn apart by war, rebuilt with industrialization controlled by the Steels. The world building is interesting. There is conflict between the Steels (industrialists) versus the Inosen, a sect of religious followers that believe in using magic from long ago. But in a kingdom where Steels rule, magic use is outlawed so it creates secret worship places and a black market for raw diamonds used for magic use. So far the book talks mostly about how the magic can be used to track people and also do healing spells.

Kohl presents Aina with a big contract hit, to take out one of the most untouchable and wealthiest Steel in Sumerand. The money she can make from the hit can bring her dreams to fruition – but what happens when everything goes wrong? Here is when I kept on reading, because Aina’s world starts to crumble and she’s trying to survive again. I wonder if she could do it and if she could get out of this book alive! Seriously at some parts, I was like, oh she’s dead – she’s so going to die! 🤭

There is an interesting relationship brewing in this story between Aina and the brother of the man she’s supposed to kill. I wasn’t sure this would work out for either of them and it was even somewhat sort of unbelievable how Ryuu handles the events that take place. I don’t think I’d be as forgiving as he is! Like…really?! 🤔 She also has a best friend in this story, Teo, who’s luck is as bad as Aina’s but he’s a really good friend. And around these men she finally makes some female friends too – because seriously, she needed that too.

The story is violent with lots of action, blood spilling, body counts and fighting, which I enjoyed because I love female assassins kicking butt. But there is also the issue of Aina’s past drug use and her unhealthy relationship with Kohl. I think it’s believable that it’s hard for her to break away from Kohl, because he manipulated her to get what he could from her. It was frustrating to see her waver though, stay strong Aina! But Aina, poor girl, she just seriously needs a break! I want to see her just take back herself and her power!

Overall, this story sucked me in and it’s a fantastic debut. I look forward to reading the sequel just to see if Aina can redeem herself and kick more butt.