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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Mini Reviews: The Missing Page, Seven Endless Forests, In the Watchful City, Phoenix Extravagant

Despite the January and February slumps, I’m still reading at a faster pace than I can write full-length reviews. So here’s another round of shorter, more condensed ones to hopefully help me catch up at least a little.

All of them are books I enjoyed a lot, and hopefully I can convince you to try one or two as well 😁

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Mini Reviews: Penric’s Travels, His Quiet Agent, Od Magic, All the Horses of Iceland

The December binge combined with the spell of fatigue that lasted most of January and left me unable to do much (I’m better now, I think) mean that I’ve been left with quite the review backlog. This is not all of them yet, not quite, but it’s a start – and best of all, this time they are not DNFs, but books I quite liked. Every single one of them.

Now, onto the reviews themselves!

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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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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: 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: A Curse of Roses by Diana Pinguicha

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I’m actually not sure where I first heard of the book or what drew me in. The cover? The concept? The fact that it’s based on a Portuguese legend? Was it on some list of sapphic SFF? All of the above? But it felt like a good impulse read all of a sudden, so I went in.

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Review: She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan (The Radiant Emperor #1)

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

This was the last book of the 2021 orange sapphic trifecta (the other two being The Unbroken and The Jasmine Throne) I had left to read and another of my most anticipated releases.  It delivers everything other early reviews have promised – moral grayness, queerness, epicness, kneeling, yearning, a most interesting misogynistic eunuch, a petty scholar, determination, and romantic fisting. In short, if you’re looking for a different take on epic fantasy, you should definitely go for it.

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Review: The Bone Houses by Emily Lloyd-Jones

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“You speak of mapmaking as if there’s nobility in it.”

“There is,” he agreed. A moment, and then he added: “Just as there is in gravedigging. Neither occupation is particularly romantic, but I suspect the world would be a sorrier place without us.”

I had this book in my sights ever since it came out, part because of the disability rep, part because of the romance subplot. I don’t know what finally persuaded me to give it a go, but I’m so glad I did. I nearly read it all in one day and it was exactly what I wanted and needed it to be.

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