Category Archives: Fantasy

The One Impossible Labyrinth by Matthew Reilly -a review

the one impossible labyrinthThe One Impossible Labyrinth (Jack West Jr #7) by Matthew Reilly

THE END IS HERE

Jack West Jr has made it to the Supreme Labyrinth.

Now he faces one last race – against multiple rivals, against time, against the collapse of the universe itself – a headlong race that will end at a throne inside the fabled labyrinth.

AN IMPOSSIBLE MAZE

But the road will be hard.

For this is a maze like no other: a maze of mazes. Uncompromising and complex. Demanding and deadly.

A CATACLYSMIC CONCLUSION

It all comes down to this.

For it ends here – now – in the most lethal and dangerous place Jack has encountered in all of his many adventures. And in the face of this indescribable peril, with everything on the line, there is only one thing he can do.

Attempt the impossible.

Published 12 October 2021|  Publisher: Pan Macmillan Australia  |  RRP: AUD$39.99

Buy it at: Dymocks |  Booktopia |  A&R  |  Abbey’s  | QBD

My Blurb (4 / 5 stars)

It’s finally here!! The finale! Jack West Jr. is finally going to tackle the final challenge and of course, be the ultimate victor in this race. No spoilers but I think we all know who’s going to win in this novel, right? The good guy! Yep, this one is completely a roller coaster feel good sort of read. And coming right at the end of Sydney lockdown, #winning !!

As followers of series would expect, this last book in the series is chock-a-block full of action. If things aren’t exploding, it’s raining bullets. If you’re not being shot at, you’re running through a maze full of life threatening traps. I seriously feel like I couldn’t read fast enough; my eyes couldn’t keep up with how fast the action is taking place in my brain. The team is split into several groups and while, Jack’s team is the primary focus, there were switches in views. I do feel like it’s an action blockbuster movie that I’m “seeing” only in my head.

While I loved following their adventures; the twists on mythologies and each book always action-packed, I also find it to be a bit predictable in one particular way. That is, never believe that someone died unless their corpses are actually presented to you on the page lol. And in this way, I didn’t waste a tear at all.

All my life I’ve watched you and wondered what it is that makes you a hero. And I figured it out: it’s trying when nobody else thinks it’s even worth trying, when the odds really are stacked against you or when your friends and family are taken away from you.

That is why fans love Jack West Jr. and always, without fail, cheer for him and his team. And in centre of things, he fought for humanity so in the end, we all win. The One Impossible Labyrinth is an unmissable finale. Read It!

My thanks to Pan Macmillan Australia for this copy of book in exchange of my honest thoughts

About the author

Find author on:  goodreads  |  website  |  facebook  |  twitter  |  instagram

South of the Sun: Australian Fairy Tales for the 21st Century -a review

South of the SunSouth of the Sun: Australian Fairy Tales for the 21st Century

This is an enchanting illustrated book of fairy tales – but not the kind you read to children at bedtime.

They are strictly for the grown-ups. Often dark, the stories visit places where things don’t end happily ever after, where a single decision can haunt you forever.

But there are also tales to make you laugh out loud, stories of sweet revenge and scenes of sheer delight in the world of magic and the fey.

All the stories, lyrics and poems have something in common, a contemporary edge. Even those set in earlier times have a modern sensibility that reflects the 21st century and celebrates Australian landscapes, characters and voices.

Discover stories from emerging talent and leading award-winning Australian writers including Carmel Bird, Sophie Masson, Cate Kennedy and Eugen Bacon, along with artwork by foremost illustrators such as Lorena Carrington and Kathleen Jennings.

So if you’re ready – once upon a time …

Published April 2021|  Publisher: Australian Fairy Tale Society |  RRP: AUD$35.00

Buy it at: Serenity Press 

My Blurb (4.5 / 5 stars)

I was absolutely curious of just what “Australian Fairy Tales” could be. These would not be Dreaming Time as that is sacred to our First Nations but then what could it be?! The answer was a makeover of familiar tales; freshly dressed in Aussie fashion.

the cultural art of apparently mocking someone while still being warm and friendly. -The Lonely Mosque by Yvette Ladzinski

I loved how these tales were retold in such familiar and beloved setting with mentions of wattles, gum trees, red soil, etc and some with very exaggerated Aussie way of speaking. I especially adore the multicultural references included in these stories whether it be selkies of Irish descent or Vietnamese Pork Roll.

Some of the stories are as traditional as they get as cautionary tales. There was one story about a young girl walking on her own in a quiet ‘blackout’ zone and sending GPS (Grandmother Please Save) signal. But, there are also stories which were just flipped inside out where heroines are strong and aren’t afraid to flex their right to act and save themselves. I love these best!

Being the hero doesn’t make you brave. – The Last Bastion by Marianna Shek

There were just so many stories cleverly twisted to fit into our current world with its own social commentaries. There was a Pied Piper who was engaged to clear out certain creepy crawlies from Melbourne and my favourite of all of this whole book, Jack & the Beanstalk “because the NBN is rubbish”.

The giant didn’t stand a chance. The bureaucrats wrapped him up in red tape in no time at all. – Jack, The Beanstalk and the NBN by Lindy Mitchell-Nilsson

I honestly didn’t expect to enjoy this book so much! The beautiful setting, strong heroines, and “new” but old stories. They made me cheer for their courage, frown at how dark parts of our world is, but best of all, they made me laugh out loud for sheer cheekiness. I’d highly recommend this collection of stories to all!

My thanks to publisher for ecopy of book in exchange of my honest thoughts

Crown of Cinders (Wings of Fury #2) by Emily R. King -a review

crown of cindersCrown of Cinders (Wings of Fury #2) by Emily R. King

Going to battle against a Titan in the war of all wars, one woman is making history in an epic novel of ancient Greece by Emily R. King, author of the Hundredth Queen series.

May Gaea be with you…

Althea Lambros is growing into her power, wrestling with a burdensome heritage, and unwilling to concede to Cronus, the redoubtable God of Gods. For that, Cronus is making good on his promise. Calling upon the elder Titans, he’s bringing down his wrath on the world. Suffering quakes, tempests, fire, and hail, mortals are paying in blood for the war of the gods.

With the help of her friend Theo, Althea takes cover with her sisters, Bronte and Cleora. But they can’t hide forever. To mastermind the downfall of the evil king, Althea must recruit allies of her own before the aggrieved mortals surrender the sisters to Cronus in exchange for peace.

Is Althea formidable enough to win? It’ll take the help of her sisters and those willing to fight for the cause of the just. As the gods pick sides, Althea must divide heaven and earth to defeat the enemy and write the true history of the war to end all wars.

Published 5 October 2021|  Publisher: 47North  |  RRP: AUD$24.99

Buy it at: Dymocks |  Booktopia |  A&R  |  Abbey’s 

My Blurb (3.5 / 5 stars)

I’m not a huge fan of Greek mythology and usually avoids retellings of them but somehow, I managed to dive into Wings of Fury (book 1)… As usual, I wasn’t paying much attention to the description and just started reading. In the end, I decided that I really like Althea and I wanted to find out what happens next.

Crown of Cinders opens some time after the end of Wings of Fury, where 2 siblings are yet to be found but Cronus has begun to make his move to destroy these siblings yet again. A very fast read culminating in a climactic battle for world rule where a heartbreaking moment made me sobbed but yet, the ending made me unsure whether this is it or if there is another book coming. I feel that the story is mostly finished but I’m also annoyed at a certain character at this point so I’m not actually sure if I’d like another one or not.

On the other hand, I feel that this book is about a particular goddess for which I am not at all familiar with her ‘background’ as such so this was a lovely fill for me. She is a strong heroine who have had to fight for her freedom, her independence, her situation in life. I believe this is what author wanted to get across and she definitely had done that very well.

Your value is not in how others treat you but in how you treat yourself. We must believe in ourselves first or there is nothing anyone can say, Titan or moral, that we will believe.

My thanks to 47North for ecopy of book via NetGalley in exchange of my honest thoughts

About the author

Find her on:  goodreads  |  websitefacebook  |  instagram  |  pinterest  |  twitter

Cursed Beauty by Stacey O’Neale -a review

Cursed BeautyCursed Beauty by Stacey O’Neale

From USA Today bestselling author Stacey O’Neale comes a standalone YA fantasy retelling of Sleeping Beauty.

The day has come for sixteen-year-old Aurora to receive her witch mark. She should be thrilled. But unlike the rest of her coven, a centuries-old family curse has already decided her fate; the cost of her new power is her life.

After the ceremony, her grandmother offers her hope: Aurora can save herself and prevent her coven from dying by awakening a sleeping prince with the power to break her curse. Unfortunately, she must travel through the forbidden Shadowlands to reach him.

The enchanted forest is filled with magical creatures—friends and foes—including the mysterious son of a powerful wolf pack leader. Can she find the prince in time, and if she succeeds, will he choose to help despite having been placed under the sleeping spell?

Published 30 August 2021|  Publisher: Phoenix Reign Publishing

My Blurb (3 / 5 stars)

It’s all about the cover this time! I just adore that cover and seeing that its a twist on Sleeping Beauty where the girl does the ‘rescuing’ definitely got me to read this novella. There were a few other twists as well which I liked but won’t delve too much into to avoid spoilers.

I really liked the premise of “Princess Aurora” being the one to come to the rescue of a sleeping Prince. I didn’t quite like this witchy Aurora as she can be quite annoying in here tendency to act without too much thought. She’d really land herself in hot water, if her bff, Hazel, did not come to the rescue. I loved Hazel – always ready, always smiling, and overall just the stronger character of the two. In saying that, Aurora has her own strength which allows her to grab her fate into her own hands and twist it. The romance is also kinda cute though it’s totally not what I’d expect!

Cursed Beauty is a brilliant twist to the very well-known fairy tale, Sleeping Beauty. It features gender swap and other spins which really make me wish this was a full novel. I just feel that it is a little bit undeveloped as a novella but definitely with a potential for a novel.

My thanks to Phoenix Reign Publising & Xpresso Tours for ecopy of book via NetGalley in exchange of my honest thoughts

About the author

Find author on:  goodreads  |  websitetwitterfacebookinstagram  | pinterest  |  tumblr

She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan -a review

she who became the sunShe Who Became the Sun (The Radiant Emperor #1) by Shelley Parker-Chan

She Who Became the Sun reimagines the rise to power of the Ming Dynasty’s founding emperor.

In a famine-stricken village on a dusty plain, a seer shows two children their fates. For a family’s eighth-born son, there’s greatness. For the second daughter, nothing.

In 1345, China lies restless under harsh Mongol rule. And when a bandit raid wipes out their home, the two children must somehow survive. Zhu Chongba despairs and gives in. But the girl resolves to overcome her destiny. So she takes her dead brother’s identity and begins her journey. Can Zhu escape what’s written in the stars, as rebellion sweeps the land? Or can she claim her brother’s greatness – and rise as high as she can dream?

This is a glorious tale of love, loss, betrayal and triumph by a powerful new voice.

Published 27 July 2021|  Publisher: Pan Macmillan Australia  |  RRP: AUD$32.99

Buy it at: Dymocks |  Booktopia |  A&R  |  Abbey’s  | QBD

My Blurb (4.5 / 5 stars)

The first time I heard of it was through a recommendation by Aussie author, Sam Hawke, but truthfully, the only reason I was really interested in this book is the girl-as-boy trope because it’s my absolute favourite. Set in China and somewhat structured to author’s love of East Asian historical dramas were added bonus because well, I had my own addiction of those dramas way back when. So I had an absolute blast imagining this book in my mind as if they are on screen; I hope that one day it will be adapted to screen!

…most strong-willed people never understand that will alone isn’t enough to guarantee their survival. They don’t realise that even more so than will, survival depends upon an understanding of people and power.

The novel opens with a young peasant girl who despite famine, poverty, and her parents’ expectation, was still living and surviving. She might be desperately hungry but so were everyone in the village. And then, one day, she was left on her own. She had no future to look forward to but she had a very strong desire to live and so, she assumed her brother’s identity, Zhu Chong Ba. In doing so, she believed she also subsumed his destiny, greatness. While those around her sees only what they want to see, is Heaven also fooled? To what extent would she go to to achieve this greatness?

What someone is means nothing about what kind of person they are. Truth is in actions.

There is a second perspective in this epic novel which is told from the opposite camp, the Yuans (Mongols). He was not a Mongol. He had no family left. He had been mutilated so that even as he held the highest & most trusted position in his warlord’s army, he was looked at as an aberration. He lived for one purpose only; his duty. But to what end?

Learn to want something for yourself. Not what someone says you should want. Not what you think you should want. Don’t go through life thinking only of duty. When all we have are these brief spans between our nonexistences, why not make the most of the life you’re living now? The price is worth it.

As these two characters pulled towards each other and pushed towards their own destinies, I was amazed at the parallels and contrast these two very different yet very alike characters. The author cleverly wove their stories seamlessly and with this second perspective, added extra dimensions to the story we otherwise would not have. It is also very savvy of the author to take on a reimagining of a founder of the Ming dynasty where the overall (major) arc is as per history but being able to twist it with a potentially true gender bender. I won’t say much more but just read it then do some research 😉

She Who Became the Sun is an epic historical fantasy reminiscent of East Asian historical TV dramas; just as author’s vision. The setting and sense of place feel authentic with ancestor worship and Heaven’s Mandate having critical places in these characters’ lives, the suffering of common people, the stress placed on duties and loyalties. Yet, it is a novel based on vengeance with twists of betrayals and sacrifices abound throughout the telling. It is also a novel of brotherhood and love. It is a complex novel that pulls readers in all directions as tensions, both on and off battlefields, wax and wane, we are irrevocably drawn to these characters to see them reach their destinies. 

My thanks to Pan Macmillan Australia for this paperback copy of book in exchange of my honest thoughts

About the author

Find author on:  goodreads  |  website  |  twitter  |  instagram

A Song of Flight by Juliet Marillier -a review

a song of flightA Song of Flight (Warrior Bards #3) by Juliet Marillier

Two warriors. One wields the power of music, one the strength of her sword. Both face a grave threat in this enthralling historical fantasy.

After a violent encounter with masked men and the sinister Crow Folk, Prince Aolu of Dalriada disappears without a trace, and his companion Galen is seriously injured.

Liobhan and the Swan Island warriors seek answers to the prince’s abduction. For Liobhan this mission is personal, as Galen is her beloved brother.

While she and her team investigate, Liobhan’s younger brother Brocc is in serious trouble. Brocc’s secret attempt to communicate with the Crow Folk triggers a shocking incident, and sends him on a path which endangers the one he loves above all else.

What brought the Crow Folk to Erin? And who plots to use them in an unscrupulous bid for power? As Liobhan and Brocc seek the truth, it becomes clear the two missions are connected – and an extraordinary mystery unfolds.

Published 27 July 2021|  Publisher: Pan Macmillan Australia  |  RRP: AUD$32.99

Buy it at: Dymocks |  Booktopia |  A&R  |  Abbey’s  | QBD

My Blurb (5 / 5 stars)

I read it too fast that I’m totally having a mind blank trying to write this review. Truly, I could NOT put the book down until I finished and err… it wasn’t 11pm as I felt it should’ve been but 1 AM 😲 I guess this most of all would tell just just how good, how immersive, and just how brilliant A Song of Flight is.

One thing I really loved about this instalment in the series is that all of the family was here. Granted the main protagonists remain Liobhan, Dau, & Brocc with a few secondary POVs but we get to see a little of  Blackthorn & Grim too and I guess if you’re just as in love with this universe, you’d swoon just as I have done. There was also something about Brocc this time around. I never felt drawn to him previously but he’s really shown himself in this book that I think he even outshone Liobhan and that’s not an easy thing to do.

There was still a mystery to be solved by Liobhan and her Swan Island warrior counterparts but finally, the overriding mystery of the Crow Folk (and therefore, Brocc’s story) has reached the pinnacle and it’s make or break time. And at the end, there were no strands left hanging with all questions and futures more or less tidied up. I hope that this is not a goodbye to this universe, though, and that we’ll see a bit more of this family in the future.

I don’t re-read many books even as I pick up a sequel, I don’t usually re-read the previous book but for this trilogy I did. Not because I felt that I have but because I really wanted to dive into this world again and again. And even now as I just finished A Song of Flight mere hours ago, I feel the need to either reread this book again or maybe go right back to the beginning with Dreamer’s Pool. If you haven’t read Marillier before, I strongly recommend you begin immediately!

My thanks to Pan Macmillan Australia for this paperback copy of book in exchange of my honest thoughts

About the author

Juliet is the author of twenty-one historical fantasy novels for adults and young adults, as well as a book of short fiction. Juliet’s novels and short stories have won many awards.

Juliet lives in a 110 year old cottage in a riverside suburb of Perth, Western Australia. When not writing, she tends to her small pack of rescue dogs. She also has four adult children and eight grandchildren. Juliet is a member of the druid order OBOD (the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids.)

Find author on:  goodreads  |  website  |  facebook

Witchshadow by Susan Dennard -a review

witchshadowWitchshadow (The Witchlands #4) by Susan Dennard

Susan Dennard’s New York Times bestselling fantasy series continues – with the story of the Threadwitch Iseult.

War has come to the Witchlands . . . and nothing will be the same again.

Iseult has found her heartsister Safi at last, but their reunion is brief. For Iseult to stay alive, she must flee Cartorra while Safi remains. And though Iseult has plans to save her friend, they will require her to summon magic more dangerous than anything she has ever faced before.

Meanwhile, the Bloodwitch Aeduan is beset by forces he cannot understand. And Vivia – rightful queen of Nubrevna – finds herself without a crown or home.

As villains from legend reawaken across the Witchlands, only the mythical Cahr Awen can stop the gathering war. Iseult could embrace this power and heal the land, but first she must choose on which side of the shadows her destiny will lie.

Witchshadow is the fourth book in the Witchlands series by bestselling author Susan Dennard.

Published 29 June 2021|  Publisher: Pan Macmillan Australia  |  RRP: AUD$12.99

Buy it at: Dymocks |  Booktopia |  A&R  |  Abbey’s  | QBD

My Blurb (4.5 / 5 stars)

Wow, definitely worth the wait though I feel it to be a shame that I read it so quickly (2 days) to read when it took 2 years between 3rd and 4th book to get to me. Witchshadow (all 464 pages of it) is such an immersive read that pages flew past and before I knew it, I reached the end of the book.

If you’ve been following the series, you’d know that it’s an utterly complex world with multiple threads that just keep unspooling. I did wonder if I’d manage to enjoy this read without rereading earlier books but while I struggled with minor characters and certain threads, I managed to follow the story just fine and without too much confusion. There were soo many threads floating around and some timelines going back and forth that I’m totally amazed that I wasn’t confused. Such tight structuring speaks well of both author [and editor]. By the way, if you need it, author has recap summaries on her website.

It feels like fans have waited forever for Iseult’s story. The Witchlands begins with Safi’s story in Truthwitch and that was in 2016; 5 years ago. I can promise you though that it is worth the wait because Iseult’s story is absolutely epic and fairly earth-shattering! Safi is her usual whirlwind self but Iseult and her stasis is facing some tough challenges with encountering strong enemies and discovering things about herself. But as they say, what doesn’t break you makes you stronger. I can’t wait to see what these Threadsisters get up to next.

My thanks to Pan Macmillan Australia for this paperback copy of book in exchange of my honest thoughts

About the author
Find author on:  goodreads  |  website  |  twitter  |  instagramfacebookpinterest

Blog Tour: The Immortal Game by Talia Rothschild & A.C. Harvey



The Immortal Game
Talia Rothschild & A.C. Harvey
Published by: Swoon Reads
Publication date: May 25th 2021
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult

An exiled goddess goes on a quest to clear her name and save Mount Olympus in Talia Rothschild & A C Harvey’s action-packed young adult debut, The Immortal Game!

Galene, daughter of Poseidon, desperately wants to earn her place among the gods. But when a violent attack leaves Mount Olympus in chaos and ruins, she is accused of the crime. Banished from Olympus, Galene sets out to prove her innocence and discovers a more deadly plot—one that threatens even the oldest of Immortals.

Fortunately, she has allies who willingly join her in exile:

A lifelong friend who commands the wind.
A defiant warrior with deadly skill.
A fire-wielder with a hero’s heart.
A mastermind who plays life like a game.

All-out war is knocking at the gates. Galene and her friends are the only ones who can tip the scales toward justice, but their choices could save Olympus from total annihilation, or be the doom of them all.

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / iBooks / Kobo / Google Play

My Blurb (3 / 5 stars)

I’m not actually a fan of Greek mythology so I don’t read very much of books related to it. However, I did have a lot of fun with the Percy Jackson series and The Immortal Game sounds a bit more like the series in that protagonist plus friends are going on an adventurous quest which I thought could be fun; it did not disappoint.

The novel opens with Galene, main protagonist, about to face her trial to earn her place among the gods. It’s a pretty exciting start to the novel with more exciting action to come in the second half of the story. I must admit I felt that it dragged a bit during the actual quest journey but that may also be because of the love triangle. This is my pet peeve so unfortunately, that’s taken off 1 star but I have to confess that it could’ve been worse. The fact that I finished reading this novel does mean that the love triangle is only just slightly annoying; just have to persevere ’til just after halfway and it gets better.

There are 4 POVs in this novel but there are 5 in the quest… that in itself is a bit too cluey! I don’t know if it was meant to be a twist but it was definitely not at all surprising. While I do like all characters especially the girls as they appear to have grown the most in this story, I think we could do with 1 or 2 less POVs. The girls, Galene & her BFF, Iyana, grew stronger & stronger throughout and in the end, truly came into themselves which I really loved to see in my female protagonists.

Overall, I enjoyed The Immortal Game especially the latter half which is love-triangle-less and action-packed. It’s an easy read to relax & unwind with.

My thanks to Xpresso Book Tours for having me on this tour and  copy of ebook in exchange of honest review

GIVEAWAY (INT)

Follow below Rafflecopter link to enter for a print copy of this book (ends Jun-03)

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About the authors

Author Bio:

Talia Rothschild, Italian American, is passionate about stories in many forms—music, dance, photography, film and, of course, great novels. She believes in thick hot chocolate and creamer in your tea. When she’s not happily writing, she’s mothering the sweetest baby girl and making memories with her husband. Her debut book The Immortal Game, coauthored with A. C. Harvey, hits the shelves May 2021.

Ashleigh Harvey is teaching high school physics and bringing her writing dreams to life. English-born and world-traveled, she loves filling her life with new adventures, such as visiting a new country or exploring the Wild West with her husband. She also finds escape in movies, music, literature, and yearly comic conventions. The Immortal Game is her debut novel, created alongside Talia Rothschild, her close friend.

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Review: The Helm of Midnight by Marina J. Lostetter

The Helm of Midnight by Marina J. Lostetter

Hannibal meets Mistborn in Marina Lostetter’s THE HELM OF MIDNIGHT, the dark and stunning first novel in a new trilogy that combines the intricate worldbuilding and rigorous magic system of the best of epic fantasy with a dark and chilling thriller.

In a daring and deadly heist, thieves have made away with an artifact of terrible power—the death mask of Louis Charbon. Made by a master craftsman, it is imbued with the spirit of a monster from history, a serial murderer who terrorized the city.

Now Charbon is loose once more, killing from beyond the grave. But these murders are different from before, not simply random but the work of a deliberate mind probing for answers to a sinister question.

It is up to Krona Hirvath and her fellow Regulators to enter the mind of madness to stop this insatiable killer while facing the terrible truths left in his wake.

Published 13 April 2021|  Publisher: Tor Books  |  RRP: AUD$19.99

My Blurb (4 / 5 stars)

One of new release books that came highly recommended by author Sam Hawke at her book launch late last year was The Helm of Midnight. I can’t quite remember how she described it but it sounded so good that I just had to read it.

An engaging opening to the novel that draws the reader right into the mystery that was quickly followed by an interaction between sister to reveal just how close they are. I loved this pair of sisters! And that twist at the end was a marvel though I did think the way part of this is written is rather deceiving but that’s neither here nor there as I figured it out before the actual reveal. Unfortunately though this means that we really only get one sister as a fully developed character being Krona Hirvath, mainprotagonist.

In between Krona’s chapters, there are 2 other POVs as mystery traced back to 10 & 2 years previous so there was a bit of back & forth in time setting as well. While I sometimes struggle with too much changes of time setting, I didn’t with this book because it was very easy to note which POV and therefore, which time.

While I found the mystery brilliant and utterly immersive, I struggled a bit with this universe. I think I’m probably only about 80% in my understanding of how it all works or perhaps the point is that it’s not all been revealed yet because there is bigger things at play and so, upcoming sequel.

I cry so easily that I really think I need to rate my books by tears! Yes, I shed some tears at the end of this book but despite my heartache I’m keen to see how Krona will develop in the future plus I loved the fun flirting she had with her informant. The Helm of Midnight is rather dark in content but it is relatively on par with crime novels I read (seeing that a serial killer is involved). It has got some lighter & warm moments as foils to the violent murder scenes.

Thank you Tor Books via Netgalley for the e-copy of this book in exchange of my honest thoughts

About the author

The open skies and dense forests of the Pacific Northwest are ideal for growing speculative fiction authors–or, at least, Marina would like to think so. Originally from Oregon, she now resides in Arkansas with her spouse, Alex. In her spare time she enjoys globetrotting, board games, and all things art-related. Her original short fiction has appeared in venues such as LightspeedUncanny, and Shimmer Magazine.  Her debut novel, NOUMENON, and its sequels, NOUMENON INFINITY and NOUMENON ULTRA, are available from Harper Voyager.  Her first fantasy novel, THE HELM OF MIDNIGHT, is forthcoming from Tor. In addition, she has written tie-in materials for Star Citizen and the Aliens franchise.

Find author on:  goodreads  |  website  |  twitter  |  instagram |  facebook

Review: Spellmaker by Charlie N. Holmberg

Spellmaker (Spellbreaker Duology #2) by Charlie N. Holmberg

Dead wizards, stolen enchantments, and broken promises force a young spellbreaker out of the shadows in the next thrilling installment of the Spellbreaker series by the Wall Street Journal bestselling author of The Paper Magician.

England, 1895. An unsolved series of magician murders and opus thefts isn’t a puzzle to Elsie Camden. But to reveal a master spellcaster as the culprit means incriminating herself as an unregistered spellbreaker. When Elsie refuses to join forces with the charming assassin, her secret is exposed, she’s thrown in jail, and the murderer disappears. But Elsie’s hope hasn’t vanished.

Through a twist of luck, the elite magic user Bacchus Kelsey helps Elsie join the lawful, but with a caveat: they must marry to prove their cover story. Forced beneath a magical tutor while her bond with Bacchus grows, Elsie seeks to thwart the plans of England’s most devious criminal—if she can find them.

With hundreds of stolen spells at their disposal, the villain has a plan—and it involves seducing Elsie to the dark side. But even now that her secret is out, Elsie must be careful how she uses the new abilities she’s discovering, or she may play right into the criminal’s hands.

Published 9 March 2021|  Publisher: 47North  |  RRP: AUD$24.99

Buy it at: Dymocks |  Booktopia |  A&R  |  Abbey’s  | QBD

My Blurb (4 / 5 stars)

Let’s face it, I’m just a sucker for beautiful covers so authors & publishers, it’s totally worthwhile to invest in eye catching covers. I’ve also loved the first book of this duology, Spellbreaker, so I really needed the closure both in the mystery and the romance. Spellmaker did not disappoint!

Spellmaker opens a few weeks after the end of Spellbreaker and Elsie is back at home with Ogden, working and her usual routine except of course, no secret messages/missions this time around. However, the villain who murdered master spellmakers & stole their opuses are still on the loose and isn’t willing to let Elsie go. First, Elsie is arrested by the authorities and only by Master Bacchus Kelsey’s wily petition that she’s freed. Then as attacks on master spellmakers are still happening, Elsie needs to see this stopped and to close this particular past of hers.

This alternate universe of Victorian England truly fascinates me and I’m so particularly drawn by Kelsey’s background (a bastard son of an English lord with a Barbados maid). While the romance and the mystery take the main stage, I appreciated the author’s seemingly effortless insertion of Kelsey’s struggle as a person who is not completely accepted into English society.

it is easy to miss the pain of being different when you fit in so well with the standard

I’m very happy with the way this book ends; the mystery was well done and the romance was well and truly in bloom. While readers mostly follow Elsie’s perspective, there were times where we are given Ogden’s & Kelsey’s but these happened without any warning of any sort so there were a number of times that I just had to re-read again because I just didn’t expect that and got rather confused. Aside from these unexpected jumps in povs, the story was well-paced and everything tied up very nicely at the end. You do need to read Spellbreaker first though before you tackle this one but I’d recommend this duology as a totally fun read.

Thank you 47North via Netgalley for the e-copy of this book in exchange of my honest thoughts

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