Review: The Path of Thorns by A.G. Slatter

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

I requested this completely on a whim, based entirely on the strength of the premise. It’s deliciously gothic – witchcraft, revenge, dark family secrets, revenge, ghosts, and lots and lots of murder – and I recommend it to anyone interested in fantasy with undertones of horror.

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Review: Weird Fishes by Rae Mariz

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

I’ll admit: it was the cover that got my attention. The cover, and the promise of a story centering strange sea creatures with an ecological bent. And really, it largely delivered on that – the worldbuilding was incredibly imaginative. I love non-human POVs that feel non-human, taking biology into account. The expected environmental aspect was not “humanity is a plague and must die” and I loved that too. If you liked The Deep, you might like this as well.

Unfortunately, the ending was soured by a rape scene with incredibly brutal consequences, that both felt rather pointless and the content warning at the beginning didn’t come close to preparing me for. It also left me in quite a predicament regarding how to review. After all, most of the book was fantastic, with that one scene like a worm in the last bite of an apple. And, after all, I do not do spoilers as a rule and it’s an ARC besides. But how else to talk about it? What do I do?

So: this summarizes my thoughts for those who need a TL;DR, more details with the minimum necessary spoilers for those who need a more detailed content warning somewhere below the cut.

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Review: Strange the Dreamer and Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor (Strange the Dreamer #1-2)

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I have been on the fence about reading this series for a long, long time. Would I like it, would I hate it? The reviews were unclear. Well, when I finally gave it a try, it turned out to be a little bit of both – very atmospheric at the start, but after the egregious cliffhanger ending of the first book and the plot devolving into a mess in the second, I slowly lost interest. That’s the trouble of books based purely on vibes, when they lose you, they lose you.

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Mini Reviews: DNFcember

December was not a good month for reading. My choices were questionable and my luck was worse, ending in a staggering six DNFs, which is more than the rest of the year combined. Spanning the whole spectrum from the books that were just kinda mediocre, to those others might like but I very much didn’t, a betrayal leading to a rage quit, and a couple genuinely bad stinkers. No quicker way to knock a couple books off the TBR.

Ready? Ready.

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Review: A Dowry of Blood by S.T. Gibson

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You did not let me keep my name, so I will strip you of yours. In this world, you are what I say you are, and I say you are a ghost, a long night’s fever dream that I have finally woken up from. I say you are the smoke-wisp memory of a flame, thawing ice suffering under an early spring sun, a chalk ledger of debts being wiped clean.

I say you do not have a name.

After two DNFs in a row threatening to push me into a slump, and a general over a month long streak of mostly unsatisfying reads, I needed something good. And short. At barely over novella length, dark, and beautifully written, A Dowry of Blood, luckily, turned out to be the perfect recommendation.

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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: 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: 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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Mini Reviews: Seven Surrenders, The Queer Principles of Kit Webb, Mindline, Dangerous Liaisons, Sisters of the Vast Black

Once again, it’s time for a batch of mini reviews. I might not be in a reading slump anymore, not quite, but I am in a bit of a reviewing slump and I finally have enough of these hoarded up for a post.

So, let’s get started!

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Review: Too Like the Lightning by Ada Palmer (Terra Ignota #1)

Too Like the Lightning: 1 (Terra Ignota): Amazon.co.uk: Palmer, Ada:  9781786699503: Books

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I’m not sure where to even start with this book – I’m not sure a review can do it justice. I picked it up because I heard about the 18th century references and it turned out to be one of the craziest, best, wildest, most cursed rides involving a lot of quite uncharacteristic incoherent screaming. It has to be experienced to be believed. As hard as it was to tell from my commentary while I was reading it, I think I might have a new favourite series. Definitely not for everyone, but very up multiple of my niche alleys.

I struggle to open history’s inner doors to you, to teach you how those who made this new era think and feel. In my age we have come anew to see history as driven not by DNA and economics, but by man. And woman. And so must you.

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