Review: The Wolf and the Woodsman by Ava Reid

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This has been one of my most anticipated books of the year and the last book I read for this year’s r/Fantasy Bingo challenge. I was, first and foremost, intrigued by the Hungarian and Jewish influences. I like cultural worldbuilding, I like(d?) folktale-inspired fantasy, it seemed like a sure bet. Unfortunately, it was yet another disappointment – while I liked the themes of religious tolerance and the protagonist being torn between worlds, the plot was a nonsensical mess, the characters mediocre, and the ending more than a little eyebrow-raising, featuring one of my least favourite tropes. And not in a good way. The more I think about it, the less sense the plot makes – never a good thing. 

However, due to the nature of my issues with the book, it’s impossible to talk about them in any detail without going heavily into spoiler territory. So be aware of that if you venture below the cut.

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Review: A Master of Djinn by P. Djèlí Clark (Dead Djinn Universe #1)

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Having put it down in late August about halfway through, I have been reading A Master of Djinn for a shamefully long time. One of those weird cases where I enjoyed it too much to DNF, but not enough to keep from being distracted by every other book out there. Still, I did, eventually finish it, and despite some plot structure issues, the worldbuilding makes it good enough to recommend.

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Mini Reviews: A Woman of the Iron People, The Labyrinth’s Archivist, The Hidden Palace, Fireheart Tiger

Given that within the last week or so I managed to finish a book that confused me too much to write a full review, two novellas, and had another DNF, it’s once again time for a round of mini reviews.

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Review: A Marvellous Light by Freya Marske (The Last Binding #1)

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ARC received from the publisher (Tordotcom) in exchange for an honest review.

Once again, I blame the ARC request on Sara (as usual with anything romancey), and once again, it was very enjoyable. Part mystery, part romance, part magic, as usual for the subgenre, it suited my mood well – I haven’t read proper historical romance in a while.

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Mini Reviews: Archivist Wasp, Madame de Pompadour, A Deadly Education, A Spindle Splintered

Once again, I accumulated enough mini reviews for a post. This time, it’s sadly rather negative, with two rather low ratings and one DNF, but one can’t stumble upon just good books all the time. On the upside, it’s rare that I get to use the tableflip tag.

Onto the books!

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Review: Niccolò Rising by Dorothy Dunnett (The House of Niccolò #1)

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I have wanted to start the series since 2017, but have always been put off by the length. Long, slow, heavy books and series are something I’m almost never in the mood for lately, so in a way, I’m surprised that I went for it now. But while it was, indeed, too long for my mood, the plot was good enough that I was able to both finish and enjoy it.

Come for the scheming merchants, stay for the chekhov’s ostrich.

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Review: Under the Whispering Door by T.J. Klune

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ARC received from the publisher (Tor) in exchange for an honest review.

The House in the Cerulean Sea was one of my favourite books of 2020. So naturally, I jumped at the chance to read Under the Whispering Door as well. Unlike Cerulean Sea, this wasn’t an instant hit with me – but it won me over completely before the halfway point and that’s vanishingly rare. It counts for something.

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Review: The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow

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As much as I anticipated this book and as much as I wanted to read it (as I’d read anything Alix E. Harrow writes), it released right about when I was in the worst of my slump. So it waited. And waited. Until finally, the time seemed about right. I have to admit that in the end, I didn’t like it quite as much as The Ten Thousand Doors of January – still, it was enjoyable enough, very witchy and very angry.

She thought survival was a selfish thing, a circle drawn tight around your heart. She thought the more people you let inside that circle the more ways the world had to hurt you, the more ways you could fail them and be failed in turn. But what if it’s the opposite, and there are more people to catch you when you fall?

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Review: Summer Sons by Lee Mandelo

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ARC received from the publisher (Tordotcom) in exchange for an honest review.

Part mystery, part creepy Southern Gothic ghost story, part dark academia, part an exploration of queer masculinity and grief, Summer Sons was like nothing else I ever read. I wasn’t sure if it’d be up my alley, I don’t go for horror, and the ARC request was of the experimental why-the-hell-not-my-friends-like-it kind, but damn it was good. I picked it up at exactly the right time.

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Review: The Diviners by Libba Bray (The Diviners #1)

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Sometimes, you have books on your TBR without quite knowing why, except perhaps a vague impression that someone, sometime might have said something good about it. Books for one day, maybe, but not soon. The Diviners was one of those – but I went for it and I’m glad I did.

She was tired of being told how it was by this generation, who’d botched things so badly. They’d sold their children a pack of lies: God and country. Love your parents. All is fair. And then they’d sent those boys, her brother, off to fight a great monster of a war that maimed and killed and destroyed whatever was inside them. Still they lied, expecting her to mouth the words and play along. Well, she wouldn’t.

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