Death Warden by C. J. Stilling (Review)

Today’s review is for a suspenseful fantasy novel called Death Warden!

Title: Death Warden

Author: C. J. Stilling

Fantasy • upper YA • 2019 • 434 pages (e-book)

Read May 8, 2022 • 3 stars • Favorite character: Bastien • I received a free e-copy of this book from the author. I was under no obligation to write a review. All opinions are my own.

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This was such an edge-of-your seat read! I. Could. Not. Stop. Reading! Wow. It was a bit too dark for me, personally, but it was super suspenseful and exciting. The worldbuilding, setting, and magic systems were very cool, especially the shadows! It was neat being immersed in this world that’s magical but with a slight steampunk edge (although it was also pretty gritty, and sometimes hard to figure out goodguys versus villains). Also, it had cool tropes like found-family and assassin-girl and academy-type stories!

It was told in a really unique way in alternating present-and-past timelines, so it was neat piecing together Reen’s story from the flashbacks and the present, while second-guessing along the way. I’m not sure I BREATHED during the entire ending! Whew! *collapses* *thumbs-up*

Shoutout to Bastien for being an amazing cinnamon roll character. He was great! (I almost . . . wish . . . well, there’s a certain other amethyst-eyed character I want him to be! *cough*) All the other characters were very vivid and there were a lot of shifting motives going on, so I couldn’t always root for anyone besides Reen and Bastien (I feel like I was supposed to like Cron but I just never did; I think that’s just me, though).

Unfortunately, zombies and plagues are a no-go for me, and the book is also just . . . dark. Kind of too dark for my personal taste, but that’s just me! (I could have done without the nightmares it gave me. *nervous laugh*) I almost put it down a couple of times because of the disturbingness, but I was hooked and had to know what happened, so I am glad I finished!

Although it wasn’t a personal favorite of mine, it was definitely well-written and gripping, a solid read. I’m sure many other readers of YA would not find it too dark and would enjoy it! It’s perfect for fans of Six of Crows (with less content) and Vespertine (what I’ve heard of it).

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