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Of Myth & Monster Review (Phoenix Fiction Writers Anthology) + Timely Cover Reveal!

Time for a review of a very cool anthology from the Phoenix Fiction Writers! And scroll to the end for a cover reveal for their next anthology, coming in June! Also, two of the short stories in Of Myth and Monster were just announced as finalists in the 2021 Realm Awards in the short story category, which I thought was super exciting! 😀 (The Eyes of the Barghest by Jillane Purrazzi and H.E.R.O. by Beth Wangler.)

Title: Of Myth and Monster

Author: Phoenix Fiction Writers

Featuring stories written by: Hannah Heath, Kyle Robert Shultz, Beth Wangler, E.B. Dawson, C. Scott Frank, Grace Crandall, Deck Matthews, Nate Philbrick, and J.E. Purrazzi

  • Date read: March 20, 2021
  • Genre: Anthology / Short stories / Science Fiction and Fantasy
  • Year pub: 2020
  • Pages: 276 (e-book)
  • Source: The publisher
  • Notes: I received a free e-ARC of this anthology from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions are my own.
  • Links: GoodreadsAmazonAuthor’s Website

Mistakes Were Made (by Hannah Heath)

What a delightful rollick! XD This one was so much fun and just such a wacky, amusing adventure. I especially loved the voice of this one — such character! — and the strong cultural flavor was neat. It’s probably one of the most unique short stories I’ve ever read. Such colorful sci-fi! Marvelous!


The Boy Who Listened (by Kyle Robert Shultz)

Full disclosure: I copyedited this short story, but my unbiased reader opinion is that it was a vibrant, fresh tale, with a fun take on the “chosen one” and “magical academy” tropes, as well as being full of heart and clever twists! And, of course, despite not being an Afterverse story, there’s still a dash of signature Kyle Robert Shultz humor. 😉


H.E.R.O. (by Beth Wangler)

Thrilling with a side of precious! With a relatable heroine who is part of a team of agents, this was an intense story which also had moments of fun. I loooved Poof the little phoenix! Such a cute side character. ^_^ This one dealt with fear and bravery, and I loved the mix of mythology creatures and technology, the agent aspect, and the twist at the end!


The Gods of Troy (by E.B. Dawson)

What a unique blending of Odysseus and space! E.B. Dawson always delights in her tales, and this was no exception, although with a bittersweet aspect which of course comes with the retelling. I really liked Odysseus and how the black hole and mythology and war of Troy and ship in space worked so well together. Fascinating!


The Unicorn Tamer (by C. Scott Frank)

A very amusing story, very tongue-in-cheek, about a fluffy, bear-like hero who’s rather grouchy but relatable. I loved the unicorn character! Almost the whole thing was wonderful and funny, although I confess that the ending horrified me. I guess I wasn’t expecting that dark of humor! But for the most part it was such fun and I really enjoyed the writing style.


Lamp of Silver (by Grace Crandall)

That was intense and fascinating! I was utterly immersed in this pirate tale-within-a-tale. A nautical adventure penned with skill. I love pirate stories and this one was amazing! I don’t want to give anything away, but the characters were fascinating and the twist on a genie was so unique. This was my first story from Grace Crandall and I definitely need to read more by her!


The Staff of Callewhyr (by Deck Matthews)

This was also my first taste of this author’s writing, and wow, I’m definitely curious to explore more, especially if there’s more in this world! This was a fascinating tale with a classic fantasy feel but its own original twists. The worldbuilding was so neat, the story edge-of-your-seat, and I found myself getting more and more curious about these characters, especially the secrets hinted at. A wonderful fantasy adventure!


Aura (by Nate Philbrick)

MY FEELS. *clutches heart* I’m pretty sure I forgot to breathe during this. Wow, wow, wow. This was SO unique and feelsy and I loved every second of it — well, it toyed with my emotions and was a bit sad near the end, but it could have been worse and overall I loved it. WWII-era but with a unique mountainous setting and just the right thread of fantasy threaded throughout. The characters were amazing and I loved them so much. I CAN’T. IT WAS SO GOOD. It felt like Lloyd Alexander but more feelsy. I can’t get over this one. I loved the journaled bits, too. I can’t stop thinking about this one!


The Eyes of the Barghest (by J.E. Purrazzi)

This was so spooky and atmospheric — pretty sure the snow made ME feel cold reading it! The Barghest was totally unexpected. Some of this was sadder than I liked, but I liked the story by the end with the oddly hopeful twist. And it was another one that totally sucked me in and made me forget I was reading. And kind of a Nordic flavor, which was cool!


All of these stories were just so good! These were all delightful stories by skilled authors and I definitely recommend checking the anthology out!

Speaking of anthologies, the Phoenix Fiction Writers have a new anthology coming soon — and the cover was just revealed! Check it out!

timelytwittertext2

*flailing* Isn’t it so cool? I’m excited for this one too! Visit the Phoenix Fiction Writers here.


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Thanks for reading! 🙂

Pangur Ban, the White Cat by Fay Sampson (Book Review)

Happy release day to this delightful Irish fantasy book!

Title: Pangur Ban, the White Cat

Author: Fay Sampson

  • Date read: February 21, 2021
  • Rating: 5 stars
  • Genre: Fantasy / Christian Allegory / Celtic Fantasy
  • Age: Older children’s to YA
  • Year pub: new edition published 2021
  • Pages: 160 pages (e-book)
  • Series: Pangur Ban Celtic Fantasies, #1
  • Fave character: Pangur and Arthmael
  • Source: The publisher
  • Notes: I received a free ARC of this book from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions are my own.
  • Links: GoodreadsAmazonAuthor’s WebsiteSpring Song Press Website

Mermaids, ancient Ireland, a feisty princess, a hapless young monk, and of course a mischievous cat! What is not to love!

This was a delightful book which was reminiscent of fantasy I grew up reading, such as Narnia, Lloyd Alexander’s books, and George MacDonald. So that made me super happy!

I never knew what was going to happen next and I so enjoyed the adventure! The Irish setting felt like coming home. The perilous mermaids and other creatures (eagle, dolphin, etc.) we met were intriguing. Pangur himself is such a, well, CAT, and I absolutely loved him! Princess Finglass was fierce and a good heroine. And of course Arthmael was so neat — but you’ll have to meet him yourself!

The timeless writing style was refreshing, and as a longtime fan of Celtic myth and legend, I found the essence of that Irish fairy tale feeling on Pangur Ban’s quest in particular to be marvelous.

With mishaps, adventure, a quest or two, and a touching allegory, it’s perfect for anyone who loves Irish fantasy or is looking for a slightly-wilder Narnia-esque story. Young adults and adults will find things to delight them, and children (who can handle a couple of violent/scary bits, so…caution on that) will love it.

This quick read is perfect if you need a brief adventure of mermaids and Ireland in your life! Which, of course, you absolutely do!

(Note: it’s not related to the Secret of Kells film, but since both were I think inspired by the Pangur Ban poem, there are similarities, and I think any fans of the movie would also, separately, enjoy this book.)

A timeless tale, originally published in England in the 1980s, this book is rereleasing with a new cover, and in ebook form for the first time, for a new set of readers to enjoy.

Now available from Spring Song Press!

(Brought to you by the amazing C.J. Brightley, who also runs PhoenixCrate and NobleBright.)


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FAVE BOOK! Dana Illwind and Growing Shadows by Arthur Daigle (Review)

Y’all, I’m ECSTATIC to be reviewing Jayden and Dana’s book today! Ready to hear about my top-favorite read of 2020? Here we go!

Title: Dana Illwind and Growing Shadows

Author: Arthur Daigle

  • Date read: January 20, 2021
  • Rating: 5 stars (6 out of 5 stars, TBH)
  • Genre: Fantasy
  • Age: Teens and adults alike will enjoy it
  • Year pub: 2020
  • Pages: 289 (paperback)
  • Series: Book 1
  • Fave character: Jayden!
  • Source: Amazon
  • Links: GoodreadsAmazon

Well, that made it to my top-five favorite books of all time! Jayden and Dana are some of my favorite characters EVER. I was a fan of short stories about their adventures (two of them first appearing in Fellowship of Fantasy anthologies, and on Booksie), but they finally have a novel which just released and I. AM. ECSTATIC. I’ve read this four times now and I never get tired of it. I just can’t put into words how much I love it! I love humorous banter, I love fantasy stories, and I love these characters SO MUCH.

What do you get when you pair up a practical, solid farm girl and a lone-wolf, elegant, snarky, insanely powerful enchanter with a chip on his shoulder, and set them loose to fight monsters and injustice in a fantasy kingdom? This snarky, clever, sheer fun fantasy novel, is what! It perfectly balances comedy, epic swashbuckling, and those humorous or heartfelt character moments that I’m totally here for! Did I mention Dana Illwind and Sorcerer Lord Jayden are one of my top favorite duos EVER? THEY JUST MAKE ME SO HAPPYYYY! *deep breaths*

Let me break down some of my favorite things about this book.

1. Jayden: He’s my favorite. An elegant enchanter with anger management issues but a burning heart for justice, he’s open about his own flaws but won’t tolerate injustice and has it out for the king and queen. He can be politely cutting, snarky, or in a towering rage of righteous anger in turn, and woe to the corrupt, the villains, the oppressors who get in his sights. He has the best dialogue (my favorite!), and is always ready with a cutting remark or a bit of his shadow magic. (Also, watch out if you disrespect his friend Dana—oh, boy.) He covers a hurt, broken past with an exterior that’s alternately bored, casual, angry, or just—Jayden. I can’t do him justice in a description like this, but he’s one of my top favorite characters EVER! (He also gives me slight Howl vibes.)

2. Dana: Then we have Dana, who is just as marvelous in a different way. This sturdy, good-hearted girl is #goals. It’s amazing the way this fifteen-year-old girl can be the only friend of the world’s only sorcerer lord—and the only one to make him see reason. 😉 She brings out the best in him and he in turn respects and informs her, and they’re my faaaavorite! They make an incredible pair, with Dana being the reasonable one trying to stop him from getting killed or redirecting his destructive tendencies, and often saving the day in her own way. I can’t really describe her either but she’s got to be one of my favorite heroines, and I don’t have many of those. She’s fabulous! I just love seeing her (and both of them) grow on this journey. They’re the most epic duo!

3: The Humor: I LOVE funny books. Love them. The style and the humor, the mix of comedy and dry wittiness, and all the snark and bantering dialogue! Glorious. There’s such a variety of humor, which I think is tons of fun, and I love how the funny parts often keep it lighthearted, without detracting from some of the heavier topics and the real struggles they face in this kingdom. Humorous AND epic? Sign me up! Which brings me to the next part.

4: The World and Story: Part tongue-in-cheek comedy, part epic fantasy kingdom, Meadowland Kingdom etc. creates the perfect backdrop for Dana and Jayden’s adventures. A mix of ordinary, spooky, and elegant in turns, the towns and people they encounter are deep in struggles caused by monsters, injustice, and a king and queen out for destruction. I love how, despite Jayden’s issues, he and Dana do so much good throughout the kingdom. They battle injustice wherever they see it, rid the world of destructive monsters, and encounter zany characters like Sir Lootmore and his terrifying cat Jumpscare, Suzy Lockheart the alchemist, various mischievous goblins, and others. It’s the BEST mix of my favorite type of epic fantasy with humorous fantasy. It’s just everything I’ve ever wanted in a book!

I’ve been awaiting this book releasing ever since the very first short adventure I read about Dana and Jayden in the multi-author anthology “Mythical Doorways.” Over the next couple of years, I followed their continuing adventures with sheer delight every time a new “episode” was posted online—my family can attest to how my day was always brightened and I’d go around in a cloud of happiness all day whenever there was “a new Jayden and Dana story!”

I just can’t explain my love of these characters and their fantastic, humorous, feelsy adventures. I’m absolutely beyond thrilled that there is now a whole novel available so the world can experience this book that I’ve been in love with since before it existed in book form. It’s a dream come true to finally have it on my shelf! I can’t wait for the next book. ^_^

DANA ILLWIND AND GROWING SHADOWS is my favorite book I read in 2020 and one of my top-5 favorite books I’ve read, period. Joining the ranks of Lord of the Rings/Silmarillion, Howl’s Moving Castle, and Paper Crowns, I simply ADORE this book and can’t recommend it highly enough! Perfect for fans of Diana Wynne Jones, Discworld, or Magic Kingdom for Sale/Sold. Teens and adults alike will all find this book delightful.

Go read it! We all need some humor, adventure, and these amazing characters to improve our lives. It’s my favorite and I wholeheartedly recommend it!


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The Icarus Aftermath by Arielle M. Bailey (Review)

Aaahh, I’m finally here with a review for a book I’ve been very excited about for a very long time, a Greek mythology in space novel by a lovely author friend who has at last released her debut novel! *flails around* I’m terribly behind because this came out ages ago, but I’m at last reviewing it and — y’all! It’s sooo good!

Title: The Icarus Aftermath

Author: Arielle M. Bailey

  • Date read: February 5, 2021
  • Rating: 5 stars
  • Genre: Science fiction / Space Opera / Greek Mythology / Retelling (Minotaur and the Labyrinth)
  • Age: YA/NA
  • Year pub: 2020
  • Pages: 358 (paperback)
  • Series: The Sunfire Saga, #1
  • Fave character: Talos and Mikon
  • Source: The author and Amazon
  • Notes: I received a free e-ARC from the author and was not required to write a positive review. I ended up buying a paperback and finishing on that. XD All opinions are my own.
  • Links: GoodreadsAmazonAuthor’s Website

The Icarus Aftermath was a FASCINATING read! Greek Mythology meets Star Wars, and it WORKS. I don’t read much sci-fi so I was a little nervous going in, but it felt like an awesome movie from the first moment and completely pulled me into the story.

The Minotaur and the Labyrinth in space with the greatest found family characters—what is not to love? It was so much fun! Which sounds weird to say, since it deals with a lot of grief and there’s a war/rebellion on and everything, but the moments of family and shenanigans were the perfect balance to all of that. The writing’s gorgeous and packs a punch, the mysteries and adventures and spying were super compelling/edge-of-your-seat, and I definitely fell in love with most of the characters (though the bossy ones were on and off for me. XD).

Okay, but the characters, though! I love their loyalty and looking out for each other and the tight-knit aspect of their little rebellion family of the Sunfires. (*stares into distance for a moment because of relating to Xuthos for not being a part of it* *blinks back to the present* ANYWAY.) The Starfires were great. All the side-siblings we get a bit of—what a group! XD So many brother feels, too—I’m 100% here for it. And I loved Icarus even though he’s, well, dead for most of it (not a spoiler, it’s what the book is about!), and I liked Koralia most of the time—she was quite a different, interesting heroine, and I felt for her a lot sometimes.

Then we have my FAVORITES, namely Talos and Mikon and Xuthos. I can’t even describe them! They’re so multidimensional but I adore them, particularly Talos, brooding commander of the rebels who’s just so solid and trying to keep everything together—ultimate older-brother figure and just sheer AWESOME and I wanted more of him. Okay, yes, and Mikon, larger-than-life, half-Olympian (so essentially superpowered?) and the absolute most charming, smirky character EVER, but with occasional anger management issues. I can’t with him. He’s the best. XD TALOS. MIKON. I adore them! Xuthos is a bad-boy fighter pilot and even though he’s not quite one of the Sunfires, I feel like he belongs, and he’s got more of a heart than he lets on. And, yes, Koralia trying to wrangle Mikon and Xuthos is the greatest thing and I loved those parts. XD They make a great trio! (Even if I wanted Talos in more of it. XD)

The banter and snark and humor in this book absolutely GIVE ME LIFE. I love it so, so much. The dialogue is gold and the interactions and shenanigans are the greatest! I kept quoting particularly golden lines aloud. *grinning*

Also, some of the sci-fi aspects reminded me of my favorite Timothy Zahn Star Wars books, which made me happy. 🙂

Greek mythology in space was such an interesting twist! I think I missed some things due to not being as brushed up on Greek myth as I probably should be, but I could still enjoy the book despite that. I did pick up on the Minotaur and the Labyrinth retelling bits which were SO well done and unique and awesome. I just love how perfectly it fit into the sci-fi setting! Absolutely brilliant. 😀

It also gave me ALL THE FEELS and there was a particular character I did NOT expect to like as much as I did and uuuuugh why do authors kill off characters. (Yes, I literally did bombard the author with a shrieking message about how could she have killed this person. XD Ahem.) ANYWAY, sometimes character deaths make me knock stars off but I think I’m okay, just whoa, ouch. So I may have had a bit of a quibble or two, heheh, what with that and occasional confusion due to not reading the genre much/references going over my head, but that’s pretty much on me. But yep, all the feels and also all the FUN too, so there’s that!

[Heads-up for readers who might be sensitive to some of these things: there’s some PG-13-level language, brief mentions of various scandals (ah, yes, Greek mythology characters and their messy drama…), and some dealing with character deaths. Clash of the Titans meets the new Star Wars trilogy, basically.]

It feels like a beautiful homage to Star Wars and Greek myth. If you like either of those, this book is going to be your next favorite read. 😀 Delicious, and I’m definitely looking forward to more from this author! You might not have known you needed a sci-fi Minotaur/Labyrinth retelling in your life, but you absolutely do! And especially Talos and Mikon and snarky shenanigans and brothers and family and space battles and magic and all of the feels—you need all of that in your life even more. A gorgeous, masterful book!


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Blood of the Seer by C.M. Banschbach (Review)

Happy release day to Blood of the Seer, only my most anticipated release of 2021! *flailing* The first book was my favorite read of 2019, and this one is even better if you can believe it (believe it), so here’s my review! (Also known as me shrieking to the hills and flailing forever and a day, but anyhoo . . .)

Title: Blood of the Seer (The Dragon Keep Chronicles, #2)

Author: C.M. Banschbach

  • Date read: January 23, 2021
  • Rating: 5 stars (all of the stars!)
  • Genre: Fantasy
  • Age: NA
  • Year pub: 2021
  • Pages: 324 (e-book)
  • Series: Book 2 in the Dragon Keep Chronicles. Book 1 is Oath of the Outcast—read my review of that one here.
  • Fave character: Rhys/the Baron, a.k.a. my smol floof of anger management issues
  • Source: The publisher
  • Notes: I received an ARC from the publisher. This review is my own independent and fair evaluation.

Links

GoodreadsAmazonBarnes & NobleAuthor’s WebsiteSwag Preorder link (through 2/16/21)Signed Paperback

The smol floof of anger management issues that is the Mountain Baron/Rhys is back in this spectacular conclusion to the duology that began with Oath of the Outcast! YOU GUYS. OH MY WORD. This book—THIS BOOK. Just—I don’t even know if I can be coherent enough to review it, especially without spoilers, but let’s give it a shot. I JUST LOVE THIS BOOK AND THIS SERIES SO MUCH.

The stakes and everything have scaled up in this one and everything climbs to another level, as if Oath of the Outcast was the amazing setup and this one drags us deep into a whole new level of epic. DID I MENTION EPIC? (*whispers softly* Epiccccc.) Again, I don’t know how much to say to not spoil things . . . But I’ll just say that you want the Baron and his Cairns on your side if there’s a war going on, or at least not NOT on your side. *grinning*

The scope is broader, we have new characters and already beloved ones, there’s kind of a war on, Rhys is trying not to deal with stuff he really needs to deal with (but being totally awesome in the meantime), and there’s more going on with the Seer/bond/vision world thing which is so fascinating and I shall not spoil. Also, lots of things that only get hinted at in book one are front and center and it’s fabulous. *cackles*

CHARACTERS! Of course, we have our Mountain Baron himself, Rhys MacDuffy (shhhh, he says that’s not his name because banishment, but pffft, details), and he’s still an absolutely growly, terrifying, amazing outlaw with a heart of gold that’s slooowly emerging more than he wants it to and is still prone to go stabby on you if you’re evil or, you know, annoy him. RHYS IS MY FAVORITE FOREVERRR. He’s just the best and following him through all he goes through is just—my feels! He’s my smol floof of anger management issues (yes, I named him that) and I love him so. He totally makes these books. 😀 His arc and story are my favorite.

Then we have Sean, the Seer of the title, and he’s such a cinnamon roll and the brother feels with him and Rhys are realll. I love seeing more of him and finding his fierce side but he’s also just such a goodhearted guy and he and Rhys will do anything to protect each other even if they’re not “supposed” to be brothers and they’re just liiiife. (Brother tropes are the best, hush.)

Alan! Alan is another great almost-bro of Rhys and the loyalty is fierce with this one. His humor and happy-go-lucky, laid-back, chill-seeming self are the perfect recipe to make us laugh (or make Rhys pretend he’s annoyed at him), but he’s also got a bloodwrath warrior side. Alan makes the bestest friend and we all need an Alan, for reals.

Also, new characters! Brother Ennis is a fantastic new addition and I love him so much (this guy! So good-natured, always ready with a soul-seeing remark or a staff to smack with), and there are more of the Cairns who we get to know better and they’re also amazing. (I mean, terrifying. But amazing.) We’ve seen the Cairns a bit in the first one (especially Bryn, Rorie, and Jes, my friendsss!), but they are SUCH an intriguing bunch, and I love how unique they are. *can count off like ten of them by name with info about them but will restrain myself* They’re terrifying outlaws but they follow their Baron anywhere, and it is just the most amazing tight-knit band of bloodthirsty outlaws Celts, essentially. I love them so.

And Ajax, the Baron’s mastiff—aaahh, this dog! He’s basically Rhys’s emotional support loyal hound and it’s great. Everyone needs an Ajax, too. Then there’s DAMON who’s another favorite (oh my word, Damon) and involved with my favorite fantasy trope. *grin, grin* They’re just all amazing! *collapses* Not to mention a certain side antagonist has a veryyyy interesting arc and it’s my favorite. Ahem. (I know I keep saying everything’s my favorite. WELL, IT IS.)

It’s just the greatest cast! AND ALL THE INTERACTIONS AND SNARK (the snark, though) ABSOLUTELY GIVE ME LIFE.

There are some powerful scenes and arcs that give me all the feels and draw me in so hard. Also, I beta-read an early version of this a few years back, and reading the final version was such a rush of coming home as I read these vivid scenes that were already coiled deep in my heart like a beloved dragon and sprang to life. (May I just draw your attention to some clifftop scenes and the castle and standing stones and some Baron-being-dramatic scenes—oh, boy, the TENT, and the forest-court bit—and Damon scenes, and the epilogue scene, and I’m gonna stop now before I list everything.) I just got SO excited to rediscover this book now that it’s published and it was EVEN BETTER and I’m blown away and already want to re-read the duology, even though I just re-read Oath before diving into Seer. (The back-to-back reading experience was amazing, binge-reading them in just over a day.) I know it’s a series I’m going to want to come back to and read again!

It was such a perfect, satisfying conclusion. I adore how it ended. Just. All of it. It. Was. Perfect. IT MAKES ME SO HAPPY. It was everything I wanted and just wrapped up SO WELL and I’m utterly pleased. 10/10 would read about Rhys and this world for a DOZEN books but at least the two we have are absolute perfection, so there’s that. 😀

This one definitely goes down as one of my favorite books and series! Brothers, outlaws, an incredible cast, the Baron (of course!), snark, soul-deep journeys, an awesome fantasy/Celtic feel, and the sheer epic of all of it combined. What is not to love? IT’S. SO. GOOD. I adore, adore, adore this book and I hope it will amaze and delight others as much as it did me. *hugs it forever*

Blood of the Seer is a magnificent conclusion to a stunning Celtic fantasy duology about redemption and brotherhood that you absolutely need in your life!


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Talk to me! Do you like Celtic Fantasy? Are you excited for this one? (Or have you not read Oath of the Outcast, in which case you muuuust!) Thanks for reading! 🙂

Into the Heartless Wood by Joanna Ruth Meyer (Review)

I’m so excited to be reviewing this new release from Joanna Ruth Meyer! *flails around* Read on for all my thoughts!

And shoutout to this huge tree for being a part of my photoshoot. *grins*

(The scheduling didn’t work properly for this post, and I don’t have internet right now, so I’m trying to fix it from my phone. Hopefully there’s no weird formatting or anything due to this, but please forgive any wonkiness if there is!)

Title: Into the Heartless Wood

Author: Joanna Ruth Meyer

  • Rating: 5 stars
  • Genre: Fantasy
  • Age: YA
  • Publication date: January 12, 2021
  • Pages: 368 (e-book)
  • Series: No
  • Fave character: Owen!
  • Source: The author
  • Notes: I received an e-ARC of this book from the author and was under no obligation to write a positive review. All opinions are my own.
  • Links: GoodreadsAmazonAuthor’s Website

Whenever I dive into a Joanna Ruth Meyer novel, I prepare to be enchanted, but somehow I never prepare quite enough!

INTO THE HEARTLESS WOOD is a stunning and unique tale, with touches of The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast (both of which I got so happy about when I noticed nods to them) but simultaneously its own story. I stayed on the edge of my seat the whole time, never knowing what was going to happen next, and utterly enthralled the whole time. I couldn’t put it down! With brilliant twists, expertly-woven threads criss-crossing in a dazzling pattern through this skillful tapestry of story, this book enchanted me.

Can we talk about Owen? OWEN. This cinnamon roll character is amazing and must be protected at all costs. ‘Scuse me while I steal him from his author and wrap him in bubblewrap. His heart and stargazing and rashness and love and heartbreak. He’s just awesome, I can’t! And Seren too! I feel like I can’t talk much about her without spoilers but her arc was incredible and I love her too. Awk! I adore them and their story so, so much, and they give me all of the feels. They go through so much and grow so much and the way they improve each other and just — ! I’m blown away. Go meet them!

The world is amazing and I love it — the woods and castle mixed with slight technology like trains was perfection. (And for some reason I really loved the bits at the palace.) The writing was superb and so immersive, and the way Seren’s chapters were almost like poetry was so unique! Oh, and the side characters were awesome, and I especially like Owen’s two buddies later in the book. 😀

I love how this was a story about people — Owen and Seren and Owen’s little sister (aaahh she’s adorable!) and aaall the people they meet — but at the same time there’s this vast mass of plot building behind them with far-reaching tendrils until it explodes into the forefront at the end. It just felt so well-done, being a story about two people but also what they come up against on both sides (which was…also unique). Sooo fascinating and mythic and amazing!

Quick warning, for anyone who’s squeamish, that there’s quite a bit of blood and death and darkness here and there, but that’s literally the only downside and the book is just amazing. I adore this author’s writing and I love how… at home… I felt reading this book. I loved the Welsh-like names and the Maleficent-ish feel.

It’s a quintessential fairytale of dark beauty and love and sorrow and redemption. A story of a boy and a tree siren girl who meet against a backdrop of trees and stars. A story that’s grown tight around my heart and that I recommend to anyone who needs a dark fairytale and amazing writing in their life. A blazing star against the dark woods. Magnificent.


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