So far, 2023 has been the year of the backlog, finally getting around to many of the books that have been on my radar for years. I suspected I’d like it purely due to Berg’s reputation for writing broken protagonists (I quite enjoyed Transformation) and the first half was great. Unfortunately though, what could have been a fairly enjoyable standard dragon story started to drag on in the second half instead. And the romance subplot being unpleasant and annoying to read certainly didn’t help.
Everyone is probably familiar with the good old ebook backlog. I tend to start planning my Bingo with those to try to knock at least a couple off the list, but between being a mood reader, ARCs and more kindle sales…well. At least I managed it with this one. Even though I wasn’t really in the mood and probably wouldn’t ever be, it was perfect for the Wibbly Wobbly Timey Wimey square. In the end, I am left with mixed feelings. While the premise was interesting enough to keep me from DNFing, the characters and parts of the plot were underwhelming to say the least.
I’ve been disappointed by so many highly anticipated books with amazing premises this year that it made me a little wary of starting another. Even if it seemed almost tailor-made for me. But this was luckily the real deal. I loved it. From the first chapter on, I absolutely loved it. From the language geekery, to the brutal takedown of British colonialism and the fact that I kept being pulled back to it whenever I put it down, it completely lived up to the hype for me.
He hated this place. He loved it. He resented how it treated him. He still wanted to be a part of it – because it felt so good to be a part of it, to speak to its professors as an intellectual equal, to be in on the great game.
Thanks to the publisher (Del Rey) for the ARC of this book.
Finally, finally, after nearly two weeks of struggling, I am done with this book. I don’t think I’ve ever had such complicated feelings before, or struggled as much with a book I couldn’t help but see as excellent in many ways. I wonder if perhaps I might have loved it in another mood and another time, if it’s me or the book, but in the end, it’s no use.
It’s a shame that now that Gothic Fantasy is no longer a Bingo square I keep finding all the good books that’d fit it perfectly. I didn’t think the subgenre would ever appeal to me either, but the more I read, the more it does – after all, I’m a complete sucker for mysteries and what’s better than slowly finding out what’s wrong with that creepy old house?
The past couple weeks I have been a little preoccupied reading the Foreigner series (where I will do one review after I finish, there’s too many of them and I don’t have much to say about individual books) and playing lots and lots of Stardew Valley (my once-a-year gaming frenzy), so there hasn’t been much I could do full-length reviews of. But I finally have enough for another batch of mini reviews.
Once again, it’s a pretty mixed bunch. One novella I enjoyed, a novel I had mixed feelings on, a DNF, and an anticipated novella I ended up hating.
There’s one very simple and shallow reason I picked up this book: I wanted antelope familiars, pets, or mounts in my fantasy (mostly thanks to a certain livecam I’ve been enjoying this year). This sounded the best out of the few recs I got, it works for the Set in Africa Bingo square and as a bonus, the antelopes mentioned were kudu. Unfortunately, even though it really is a pretty good book and definitely one fans of epic fantasy would enjoy a lot, I didn’t count on my inability to handle big multi-POV epics.
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.