Mini Reviews: An Unkindness of Ghosts, Half Lost (DNF), The Trials of Morrigan Crow, Seraphina

Through August and September, I plowed through so many books I accumulated a bit of a review debt. Not reviewing them would, of course, not do, so this is my attempt to catch up and clean out the drafts.

An Unkindness of Ghosts by Rivers Solomon

Image result for An Unkindness of Ghosts

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Bingo square: Afrofuturism

I volunteered to be a bookclub leader, read the book, led the discussions, then forgot to write a review. Typical. So it’s getting a smol one much later instead.

I was hesitant because of how bleak the premise seemed, but despite the dystopia of a generation slave ship and various horrors that went on, it read faster than I expected. The characters were excellent too – I appreciated the portrayal of autism in particular – and I loved how it tackled race and gender.

What I didn’t like as much was that the worldbuilding was full of holes. So many things weren’t given any explanation – how did Matilda come to be organised like a slave ship, for example? That along with wildly uneven pacing (slow for most of the book, then a lightning-fast ending), lack of closure, and unrepetantly abusive characters who were constantly forgiven made for a rather mixed overall impression.

Enjoyment: 4/5
Execution: 3/5

Tags that apply: sci-fi, non-binary author, lgbtq+ representation, PoC representation, disability representation, concept-focused, ownvoices, mental health, dystopia, standalone, healing, ound families, cw: rape, cw: abuse

DNF: Half Lost by Sally Green (The Half Bad Trilogy, #3)

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Bingo square: 2nd Chance

After I realised I’ve been unwilling to pick it back up for a month or two, I decided to call it a DNF at 60%.

If not for the 2nd Chance square, I would have never picked it up. I hated the second book (fucking Annalise) and unsurprisingly, I hated this one as well. It’s simply not a good fit for me. I know Nathan is damaged from what he’s been through, but it’s so frustrating to read about a protagonist who keeps fucking up and making seemingly wrong choices and snapping at everyone over and over and over. Realistic, perhaps. Enjoyable, fuck no.

And after spoiling myself on the ending and realising it’d make me chock the book through the nearest window [bury your gays, seriously?] I have no wish to finish it properly.

Enjoyment: 1/5

Tags that apply: (╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻, fantasy, dystopia, dnf, female author, urban fantasy, not a fan, YA, witches

The Trials of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend (Nevermoor #1)

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Bingo square: Middle Grade

This was downright adorable. I read it right after Station Eleven– and if that book wrecked me, this one helped me put myself back together.

There’s nothing terribly original about The Trials of Morrigan Crow – a young girl who’s mistreated by her family and believed to be cursed gets an invitation to a prestigious magical institution for people with special talents, the Wundrous Society. But she must pass four trials first, and she insists she has no special talent.

But the devil is always in the execution – while it could have easily been another bland, Harry Potter-esque fantasy book with the same old premise, it has so much charm and whimsy it was a delight to read. There are magic umbrellas and huge cats and chandeliers that grow into shapes and all of the insane wonder a magic world can have.

The only thing that bothered me was that it contains the classic trope of a mentor who doesn’t tell the protagonist shit even after it’s too late and is never there when she needs him. I know, I know, there needs to be some mystery around her talent and some tension but it could have been created in a less artificial and tired way.

Enjoyment: 4/5
Execution: 4/5

Recommended to: anyone in the target audience and those outside it who are looking for a lighter palate cleanser
Not recommended to: those who hate the trope of a mentor who doesn’t tell the protagonist shit

Tags that apply: female author, fantasy, just plain fun, uplifting, middle grade, found families

Seraphina by Rachel Hartman (Seraphina #1)

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Perhaps my expectations were especially high because I read Tess of the Road first and adored it, but I found this book awfully mediocre. It’s not bad by any means. I enjoyed it quite a bit – the take on dragons as hyper-rational beings who abhor emotion was fascinating, and as in Tess of the Road I liked the religion, but everything else – from the plot, to the characters – was so incredibly bland and it was slowly paced besides. I guessed how the romance subplot will go way before it actually happened and none of the characters particularly stood out to me. Seraphina, for one, is far more interesting when she’s not the main character.

I think I will still read the sequel as I want to see how it ends, but…meh. I’m far more interested in Tess.

Enjoyment: 3.5/5
Execution: 3.5/5

Tags that apply: female author, fantasy, slow pacing, politics, religion, YA

2 thoughts on “Mini Reviews: An Unkindness of Ghosts, Half Lost (DNF), The Trials of Morrigan Crow, Seraphina”

  1. An Unkindness of Ghosts is one of the books I’m trying to catch up with this year, although with only a few months left and a teetering TBR, I’m not sure if I’ll get to it or not. I’m glad you enjoyed it, though:-)

    Liked by 1 person

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