Tag Archive | Book Review

In the Shadow of Croft Towers by Abigail Wilson (Review)

A Regency mystery novel with spies and highwaymen, secrets and blackmail and romance? Sign me up!

Title: In the Shadow of Croft Towers

Author: Abigail Wilson

  • Date read: May 13, 2019
  • Rating: 4 stars
  • Genre: Historical Fiction / Mystery / Regency Romance
  • Year pub: 2019
  • Pages: 319 (paperback)
  • Fave character: Mr. Sinclair
  • Source: Thomas Nelson publishers through BookLook Bloggers
  • Links: GoodreadsThomas Nelson Barnes & NobleAmazonAuthor Website

Set in Regency England, IN THE SHADOW OF CROFT TOWERS is a delightful mix of Regency romance and murder mystery.

Sybil Delafield travels to Croft Towers to become a companion to the old woman who owns the estate, and finds that nearly everyone at the mansion and nearby town has secrets, including Mr. Sinclair. As the mysteries and shadows deepen, Sybil doesn’t know who to trust, even as she begins unraveling the secrets of her own past.

Highwaymen, Dragoons looking for French spies in rural England, smugglers, and people turning up murdered are only some of the interesting twists. Secret messages, blackmail, and the shadow of an old tragedy, all hang over Croft Towers and those designing to inherit it from old Mrs. Chalcroft, who has her own secrets.

It has a delightful autumnal, onset of winter feel, with a somewhat eerie mansion and night rides through the woods and moors and town.

This book kept me totally absorbed! I particularly loved the middle bits where the mysteries kept mounting higher and higher. It was fascinating how every single person had something to hide, or at least were not as they seemed. I loved finding out what was going on, and guessing at things, and the experience alone was so delightful.

I also loved how the romance and the mystery were perfectly balanced and neither overwhelmed each other. It was such a neat idea to mix Regency romance with a mystery, and I loved how it was so exciting. There’s a sort of love-triangle, though I didn’t feel totally convinced by the one part of it, but I’m not the biggest love-triangle fan, so that might simply be me.

I particularly liked Mr. Sinclair’s character and all his mysteriousness! Mrs. Chalcroft (his godmother) was a fascinating, eccentric character. I found myself rooting for Sybil to discover what was going on, and for a certain romance. 😉

The ending wrapped things up fairly well, but I found myself wishing for more or for something different for a few of the details (like I was disappointed there wasn’t more about a certain character mentioned near the end), and there were one or two happenings that seemed surprisingly dark for this sort of book, particularly what happened with one of the other characters (no spoilers!). A few things also felt off, or at least improbable, for the time period—at least to me, though I’m not an expert—and there were one or two inconsistencies.

But none of that detracted from my sheer enjoyment of the book, and I absolutely loved the shadowy mysteriousness mixed with the Regency era!

I’m going to have to pick up more from this author in the future, because I had a thoroughly good time reading this—I totally recommend it if it sounds like your cup of tea!

I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

About the Book

The Secret of Croft Towers by Abigail Wilson

Croft Towers holds more than its share of secrets . . . and Sybil is determined to uncover them all.

When Sybil Delafield’s coach to Croft Towers was robbed by highwaymen, she should have realized that her new position as companion to old Mrs. Chalcroft would be no ordinary job. Upon Sybil’s arrival, Mrs. Chalcroft sneaks into her room in the dark of night, imploring her to relay messages to town that are to stay hidden from the rest of the family. Who exactly is she working for and what do the messages contain?

When fellow passengers of the robbed coach are later murdered, Sybil’s hunt for the truth takes on a new urgency. The only person she can rely on is Mr. Sinclair, Mrs. Chalcroft’s godson, but under all his charms he too leads a double life. Sybil must decide if he is the one honest voice she can trust, or if he is simply using her for his own advances.

With murderers, smugglers, and spies on the loose, nothing—and no one—in Regency England is what they claim. Can Sybil even trust what she knows about herself?

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What do you think? Do you enjoy Regency time period or murder mysteries?

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5 Thoughts: Ewan Pendle and the Castle of Nightmares (by Shaun Hume)

Good morning (or afternoon, or whenever), my dear Pagelings!

I’ve got a British, Urban Fantasy, academy-ish sort of book to share with you today!

Title: Ewan Pendle and the Castle of Nightmares

Author: Shaun Hume

  • Date read: February 19, 2019
  • Rating: 5 stars
  • Genre: Urban Fantasy
  • Age: MG-YA
  • Year pub: 2018
  • Pages: 339 (Kindle)
  • Series: Ewan Pendle, #2
  • Fave character: Rusty, Enid, Enola, Jack Mangrove, Ewan, etc. I LOVE ‘EM ALL.
  • Source: The author
  • Notes: I was given a free ebook copy of this book from the author (thanks!). I was not required to write a positive review, and all opinions are my own.
  • Links: GoodreadsAmazonAuthor’s Blog

Ewan Pendle is back! I enjoyed the first book in this series (Ewan Pendle and the White Wraith) and I’m pleased to say that this sequel is just as enjoyable, and in fact adds new awesomeness. 😀

5 Thoughts on Ewan Pendle and the Castle of Nightmares

I love these characters, getting to read more about their adventures, relationships, and interactions, and also their backstories and mysteries. Some questions are answered, while others are hair-raisingly raised — and there was one reveal in particular at the end that more or less had me jumping up and down going “I KNEW IT! YESSS! :D”

The setting is fun (a hidden academy in modern-day London for people who know about the existence of Creatures and have lessons in things like sword-fighting? And includes an adventure to Scotland? Sign me up!) and I just feel rather at home in this world and at the Firedrake academy and with these characters! (Plus, the fact that the author lives in England, I believe, only makes it that much cooler because I feel like it’s authentic!)

The plot hits a good balance between adventure and some slower times to get to breathe and enjoy the characters and mysteries. It’s exciting and cozy and fantastical and mysterious all at once, and I love that! It’s a bit long (though shorter than the first one), but I felt like it really picked up about a third of the way in! Some errors and typos were minorly distracting, but for the most part I was too busy having a blast to care at all. XD

More awesome things:

  • The new (if brief) addition of a suitably dragon-y dragon — I hope to see more of him in the future! I LOVED how dragon-like he was!
  • Adventure that includes an attack by a flaming skeleton wil-o’-the-wisp in a bog in Scotland at night. Can you say exciting?
  • Dream world intriguingness! O_O
  • Problems like trolls and goblins and the titular Castle of Nightmares — keeps things interesting!
  • Reveals about Ewan and his backstory that have me even MORE curious. :O
  • More of our young hero Ewan, Enid the pirate (she’s AWESOME), my favorite Rusty who is in it a bit more (hurrah!), Matilde and Max of course (need those loyal friends!), tantalizing hints of Brigid and Betony and Jack Mangrove (NEED MORE!), and of course the mysterious Enola Whitewood! I adore this cast. 😀 They’re awesome and my friends. ^_^

Perfect for fans of A Series of Unfortunate Events (but without the gloom) or Harry Potter (but without the magic, exactly), or for anyone who loves a good acadamy adventure, or an urban fantasy set in modern-day London and Scotland! I feel like all teens would enjoy this, and some of us who are a bit older too and just enjoy a good book. Other than some slightly scary parts, it’s suitable for all readers, and is just a blast! ^_^

A Favorite Quote

‘However, for now, your chief task during these dedicated Vanguard sessions will be the taking of notes.’

The enthusiasm in the session suddenly wilted like petunias left in a hot car.

‘Notes? We’re only going to be taking notes?’ moaned Enid, scandalised. Something told Ewan she would have zero qualms about tackling a ferocious Creature with a sword in only her first week as a Grade Two.

‘Oh well there goes my hopes,’ Rusty offered from Ewan’s side, ‘I kind of fancied being thrown headlong into the action, after that rather tame first year.’

‘Tame?’ whispered Rosie Prince, the ends of her short blonde hair fizzing at the mere suggestion, ‘we nearly all got killed by a white wraith!’

‘Ah,’ Rusty replied with blithe nonchalance, ‘there was only one of those. And that wasn’t even during Lyceum hours. It’s like being a detective and going on holiday, init? Someone gets offed in your guesthouse, and everyone else expects you to solve the murder … Then it’s just annoying. The sessions last year were a world class yawn in comparison.’


Review for book one:

What do you think? Sound intriguing? What’s your favorite academy tale or British-set fantasy? Thanks for reading! 🙂

I have feelings (Healer’s Bane by Hope Ann: Review)

Look what came out today! A delightful new novella from Hope Ann. 😀 Read on for my confused feels which I’m throwing together and calling a review. XD

Title: Healer’s Bane

Author: Hope Ann

  • Date read: March 28, 2019
  • Rating: 4 stars?
  • Genre: Gaslamp Fantasy / Novella
  • Age: YA
  • Year pub: 2019
  • Pages: 178 (Kindle)
  • Series: No
  • Fave character: Lael
  • Source: The author
  • Links: GoodreadsAmazonAuthor’s Website

5 thoughts on Healer’s Bane

I have MANY FEELINGS about this novella and I don’t know quite what they amount to so . . . I’m just going to throw them at you. XD

1. It was sooo mysterious and spooky, with an intriguing gaslight sort of feel, mixed in with a smidge of dystopian-type feel, with the rebellion and so on. The fantasy bits were woven in well, with the mysterious healing powers and the Poisoner (URGH) and the star-mists and everything. It’s sort of a shadowy, gritty setting but felt EXTREMELY vivid. Everything was quick and punchy and made it work in the small space.

2. We have a small but vivid cast of characters. Kynet, our no-nonsense but compassionate heroine. Her hot-headed brother Nayn, who runs the revolution. Street-orphan Ean with the Scottish accent. And a certain mysterious character who is all spoilers but is AWESOME and my fave! (Definitely my favorite part of the story.) And of course a villain or two. 😉 Villains aside, I loved them all! They definitely sprang to life in the course of this small story. And their snark and banter was fun, naturally.

3. It’s terribly interesting and edge-of-your-seat, and you never really know exactly where it’s going, but it’s fun too. So I really enjoyed it in one sense, while in another sense it was a smidge more dark/creepy than I generally like to read (though I didn’t mind as much as I thought I might?) and then there’s an . . . er . . . awkward fact. I kept being constantly afraid that this or that—no, THAT—character was going to die any second, so I wasn’t exactly SURPRISED buuut there was a death that was Not Okay and I’m sort of upset. BUT ALSO it was almost beautiful/okay—almost—and I’m not sure why I’m not MORE upset and giving out two-stars all over the place? It’s more like I’m mildly sad so maybe it worked well? So I’m essentially rather confused about my reactions because that death and the darker aspects would normally mean I’m a disappointed bean, but I still think it was really fascinating and rather fun most of the time. SO. I think it might be because it’s a novella.

4. ANYWAY, I have all these confused feeliiiings and I don’t know what I think. But yes, it’s a fascinating and exciting and fun and spooky story, and I loved the feel and the atmosphere even if it was creepy sometimes, and I liked the characters even if I’m rather upset about the thing that happened. I am all confusion. XD

5. But if it sounds like an intriguing story to you, and you like a gaslight sort of setting and a rebellion against the corrupt government, fabulous sibling relationships, an adorable orphan boy, a mysterious courtly awesome chap, and healers and poisoners and secrets and plots and aaall the feelz, do give this little novella a try! 😀

Thanks to the author for the Advance Reader Copy! All opinions are my own.

What do you think? Sound intriguing? And what do you do when you read something and can’t disentangle your feelings?? XD

The Road to Bremen! (by Kelsey Bryant)

The winner for the giveaway of a signed paperback of Common is . . . Raechel L.! Congrats, Raechel! The winner has been contacted. Thanks so much to everyone who entered! Stay tuned for more giveaways because I love sharing the bookish love! ^_^

Speaking of bookish love, I’m here with a review of a lovely novella/children’s book which released TODAY, and is a retelling of The Bremen Town Musicians! GUYS. I LOVED THIS LITTLE BOOK. ❤

The Road to Bremen by Kelsey Bryant

Utterly charming! A tale full of heart. ❤

I’ve always loved the fairytale of the Bremen Town Musicians, the old donkey and dog and cat and rooster on the road to become musicians in Bremen. I have fond memories of hearing an audio version of the story, and a particular picture book I found fascinating with pictures I remember vividly.

So when I heard Kelsey Bryant was writing a retelling of it, I was ecstatic! Her pen skillfully brought this story to life in this novella-sized children’s book, complete with charming illustrations by E. Kaiser Writes.

I loved how it felt true to the original tale but brought out new and unexpected things too, with some excellent twists and turns! It has its own share of excitement and adventure and, yes, peril at times! But it still feels so absolutely cozy at the same time, which made me happy. 🙂

The Road to Bremen is like a golden sunbeam across a field of wheat on a quiet summer day. It just FEELS lovely. You want to bask in it as you read. It’s rich and well-written and draws you along like a breeze calling you to the shade of the forest. You can feel the dust of the road and you’ll smile or laugh at the quiet humor or the banter between these larger-than-life (but so REAL!) animal characters as they go on their adventure.

The characters are so loveable! Etzel the donkey, from whose perspective the story is told, absolutely stole my heart. I just love this donkey and his voice! He has so much character. Jager the dog is sort of mournful but funny. XD Katarina is so CAT-like and prim, and I loved the dog-vs.-cat references. And then Rudiger is so extremely vain and always quoting Aesop and it’s great. XD I just love them all! You have to read this to meet them! There are a couple of human characters, of course, who add to the story, but I won’t spoil anything by talking about them. 😉

Also, I love that it’s set in Germany and how there are German words thrown in here and there. I felt so immersed in the forest and town and roads and setting. It made me think a little of Melanie Dickerson’s fairytale retellings and made me feel at home. 🙂

I totally recommend this if you enjoy retellings and need a quick, novella-sized read, or if you have children in your life. I feel like it would be a wonderful book to read aloud!

Just— *hugs book* It feels totally classic and makes me happy! ^_^

Disclaimer: I beta-read this book. I was not required to write a review and the opinions are my own.


About the Book

Their lives are saved by a dream. But only friendship can make that dream a reality.

Once upon a time…

Etzel the donkey is getting old, but he works hard on his farm—until the day Herr Hoffman decides he is no longer worth keeping. With no choice but to escape, Etzel sets off on the road to Bremen to seek his fortune as a musician. On the way, he rescues three other animals—a dog, a cat, and a rooster—who are also old and destined for death.

Will these four new friends find their success and worth as musicians in Bremen? Or does the road hold something better?

Based on “The Bremen Town Musicians” from the Grimms’ Fairy Tales. Ideal for kids from 7 to 11 years old, but great for all those young at heart.


About the Author

Kelsey Bryant lives in Central Texas, but being one-quarter German, she’s always wanted to visit Germany. Bogged down during the crafting of a much longer book, Kelsey started writing a retelling of one of her favorite fairy tales, “The Bremen Town Musicians,” to resuscitate her creativity. She rather liked the result.

Kelsey is the author of the Six Cousins series and Suit and Suitability, part of the Vintage Jane Austen series. The Road to Bremen is her first book for children. Besides writing fiction, Kelsey is a copyeditor, a martial arts instructor, and an avid student of the Bible. Visit her at kelseybryantauthor.com or on her blog, Kelsey’s Notebook.


Links

Purchase on Amazon (paperback or ebook)

Add on Goodreads

Announcement Post on the author’s blog!


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Thanks for reading! 🙂

Valentine Giveaway! Common by Laurie Lucking

Happy Valentine’s Day!

I’m celebrating by offering a giveaway for a copy of COMMON by Laurie Lucking!

I ended up with an extra copy signed by the author, and I want to share the love! I read it as the Fellowship of Fantasy book of the month for May last year. It was a runner-up for my favorite reads of 2018, and it just makes me happy. ^_^ Plus it has an adorbz romance, so it seemed like just the right book to give away today. ❤

Scroll to the end for the giveaway, and for a Jane-Austen-inspired sale and an Amazon gift-card giveaway the Vintage Jane Austen authors and some others are offering!

First, here are five thoughts on Common and why should read it!


5 Thoughts on Common

1. The world/setting: You feel like you’re home. At first I thought it might be a Kingdom Adventure book until fantasy elements showed up later in the story. But I just loved the cozy fantasy kingdom setting and it felt so — I don’t know! I felt so at home and I just want to hug this book. ❤ (It made me think a little of books by Gail Carson Levine.)

2. Leah — She tells the story, which is a fact I keep forgetting (I don’t always love first-person, but the ones I most enjoy are the ones where I’m so sucked in that I forget!), and I just loved this red-haired servant girl. She has this sort of . . . I don’t know . . . quiet strength. She’s lovely.

3. Rafe — You have to love the prince character! Rafe is so absolutely sweet and I love him. He also feels sort of stuck in all these political schemes, and wishes he could just stay in the closet he and Leah meet in and just read with her forever. Rafe is just SO PRECIOUS. And kind of epic too.

4. The nuns — They’re quite unexpected but such neat characters! I loved how distinct they all were, each with their own personalities and temperaments, and they were unexpectedly lovable side characters. You’ll have to read it to see how they join in on the plot, but it’s really cool. 😉

5. The plot: a mix of secrets and court intrigue and politics and plots, mixed with quiet character moments and journeys, with a smidge of magic and the barest hint of an almost-Cinderella tale, and all wrapped up in an absolutely precious romance thread. Leah and Rafe are just SO ADORABLE, okay? I adore them. But I also loved reading about Leah’s adventures. 😀 This book stands alone, but I’m still so looking forward to the sequel!


Add to Goodreads • Find on Amazon • Visit the Author


GIVEAWAY

To win this gorgeous paperback copy of Common, signed by the author, enter via the Rafflecopter form HERE! (Open to US residents only, due to shipping costs. Begins Feb. 14, 2019, and ends Feb. 20, 2019, at midnight Central Time.)

EDIT: The giveaway is now CLOSED. The winner has been contacted. Thanks for entering, everyone!


A Sale + Another Giveaway

P.S. Check out this Jane-Austen-Inspired Valentine  ebook sale and $45 Amazon gift-card giveaway! Check out the details HERE or click the image below!


If you want to read my reviews of some of the Vintage Jane Austen books, you can see those here:

 

If you like Common, you may also enjoy:

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Now let me know in the comments: Do you have a favorite fictional couple?

Thanks for reading! 🙂

Retrieve by Sarah Addison-Fox

I’m joining in on the blog-tour for Sarah Addison-Fox’s latest book, the first in her new Stormers series!

Title: Retrieve (The Stormers Trilogy, #1)

Author: Sarah Addison-Fox

  • Date read: December 23, 2018
  • Rating: 5 stars
  • Genre: Fantasy / Kingdom Adventure?
  • Age: YA (slightly gritty)
  • Year pub: 2018
  • Pages: 170 (Kindle)
  • Series: The Stormers Trilogy, #1
  • Fave character: Kade!
  • Source: The author
  • Notes: I received an e-ARC from the author. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions are my own.

WHAT. AAHH. There was a HUGE plot-twist near the end that had me gobsmacked, staring at my screen, and then that cliffhanger! I need to know what’s going oooon! Book 2, I need you ASAP. *collapses*

Ahem. I’m getting ahead of myself. 😛

This is a super enjoyable fantasy/kingdom-adventure type story, with a hint of Mulan and just a smidge of Prince of Persia. Our heroine, Hadley, pretends to be a boy and joins up with our hero, Kade, who has been sent as one of the Stormers—a sort of secret special missions group—to rescue a princess from a hostile nation.

I liked Hadley and how the POV switched back and forth between her and Kade so we could see how they were reacting all the time. She’s tough and determined at times, which I loved, but I also appreciated how she was still very much a young woman lost in this rough world, and how it’s okay if she needs to cry or wish for a bath or want to wear a dress and be feminine, without in any way detracting from her grit and determination. It was just cool, okay?

Kade was pretty awesome and you can’t help but like his stubbornness and how he just keeps going, and how he doesn’t let anything stop him—and sometimes his thick shell cracks a little and he’s nice to Hadley in his brusque way and she doesn’t realize it. XD He’s so dedicated to his mission and always looking out for those he loves, in his own way. Kade’s the best!

These two were so fun to read about on their journey together, and their relationship from not trusting each other and arguing all the time turns into something more and they learn to work with each other—ish. I love them and totally ship them and need to see where their story goes. 😀

It’s very exciting and there’s a lot of traveling in deserts and through either ghost-towns (plague, yay) or a colorful market town in enemy territory, with ambushes and fights and arrows and knives and sneaking around and climbing walls and ALL the survival. The writing sometimes made me wish it had been edited one more time (though I did read an ARC, which means it wasn’t the final version) but it’s very punchy writing and could just be the style—and like I said, was very exciting!

The world was cool and I’m curious to learn more about the countries and what’s going on. The semi-desert-y setting for a lot of it was unique and neat, and I loved how the mysterious Numachi people and their culture kept us on our toes. So intense!

It could get a little brutal sometimes and there’s a little language and the usual awkwardness connected with a gal trying to pretend to be a boy for part of the book. So if any of that bothers you, it might not be your cup of tea. But it’s much tamer than, say, Six of Crows, and it’s a really good book and so exciting and I enjoyed it a ton! ^_^

And like I said, there was this enormous plot twist that I totally didn’t see coming and turned everything on its head and just alkdljk! That was pretty awesome. 😀 It was a solid four-star read but that twist totally made me bump it up to a five-star because I was impressed. XD (Plus I just love Kade and Hadley. *cough*)

Butbutbut I NEED TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENS. It’s not, like, a horrible cliffhanger, but it definitely left me wondering what on earth is going on and where things are going to go next! :O

If you need me I’ll just be over here watching the calendar until the release date of the sequel, because I love these characters and need to know what happenssss. O_O


About Retrieve

Retrieve (The Stormers Trilogy #1)

By Sarah Addison-Fox

What if the job you took to stay alive might be what kills you?

Kade knows what it is to suffer. He knows what it’s like to lose everything and everyone around him.

His job in a Stormer Unit guarantees not just his survival in the decimated country of Azetaria, but his sister Meg’s. Even if it means facing the Numachi warriors baying for his blood, he’ll do what it takes to keep her safe.

Hadley is alone and surviving the only way she knows how. By hiding where predators won’t find her and scavenging enough just to keep her alive.

When desperation drives Hadley to search for her missing brother, she mistakenly accepts the offer of recruitment into the Stormer’s camp, only to be partnered with Kade and sent as a scout into Numachi territory.

The intimidating young Stormer may just know where her brother has gone. But can they stay alive long enough to find him?


Find the book:

Goodreads

Amazon


Find the Author Online:

Facebook

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Website

Twitter: @saddisonfox

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Blog Tour

You can check out all the stops on the blog tour HERE!


GIVEAWAY

The author is giving away this FANTASTIC pack of epic things, so make sure you go enter HERE!


You may also enjoy:

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Thanks for reading! 🙂

Five Poisoned Apples: Falling Snow by Skye Hoffert (Review!)

*emerges from my post-NaNo coma to bring you a review for an INCREDIBLE book which YOU ABSOLUTELY MUST READ*

It’s here, guys! Five Poisoned Apples released December 1st, and I’m incredibly excited about it — particularly because of one specific story that I just read and is by my talented friend Skye Hoffert.

Y’ALL. I’M SO EXCITED. I’m excited for her debut novella, Falling Snow, being out now — go Skye!

I’m also excited because this story was genuinely amazing. I expected to enjoy it but I was not prepared AT ALL for how much it blew me away!

I can’t wait to tell you about. 😀

Title: Falling Snow (in Five Poisoned Apples)

Author: Skye Hoffert

  • Date read: November 29, 2018
  • Rating: 5 stars
  • Genre: Fantasy / Fairytale / Retelling / Novella
  • Year pub: 2018
  • Fave character: Chayse
  • 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 and all opinions are my own.
  • Links: GoodreadsAmazonSkye Hoffert’s Blog

Gorgeous interior cover artwork by Hannah S. J. Williams which totally captures it!

FALLING SNOW is a truly spectacular read. I’m utterly enchanted!

This review is going to be difficult to write, because how do I recover from something so amazing? MY FEELS. WHAT ARE WORDS. I’M PEN-SLAIN. I don’t know how to express how much I absolutely adored this story and how striking and thrilling it was and how it blew me away. But I’m going to give it a shot.

This tale is both mesmerizing and perilous, as a story about a circus run by fae should be. A deadly dance of deception and illusion and shadows. The first thing that comes to mind about this story is the feel, the atmosphere, the colors of it—the stark whites and blacks and reds and golds. It’s so vivid! There are so many contrasts—the grungy half of the circus performers versus the opulence of the queen’s side of things; the fire versus the cold (my favorite!); the calculated deception of the fae characters versus the pure innocence of Snow herself.

I love how you get this feeling where you hardly know where the magic ends and begins. I loved the fire-manipulating (and the character who does it!) but that’s the most obvious fantastical part—at least at first—and you’re sometimes left wondering about what is mere illusion and what is actual fantasy, which is just how a fae circus should be.

I really appreciated how perilous the fae characters were! Obviously, the evil queen character (this is, after all, a Snow White tale) who runs the circus was chilling and creepy. But the fae characters we like also had their edge of danger, which was fascinating, and I felt was totally true, somehow, to what a fae story should be. It was a natural part of what they’re like, but we, and Snow (the one human character), can see that it’s off a bit. But for the fae characters it’s part of their lives, a ruthless, deadly dance they live in—even if some of them wish for a way out.

The complete originality of a Snow White story set in a circus, and then the brilliant way that it wove in the different Snow White elements in unexpected ways, was so awesome! I can’t talk much about that here because of spoilers, but guys, it was genius. I love it so much. 😀

The writing was also incredible. Aaahh! I kept wanting to quote things and hoping to one day be able to write like that. Every word is sharp and in just the right place to absolutely drag you completely into the story and into the minds and lives of these characters I fell in love with. It immerses the reader completely into this circus world. I’m pretty sure I forgot to breathe for the last half of the story. O_O It’s super intense, and a bit bloody at times, so younger readers might find it a bit dark, but I absolutely loved it and couldn’t stop reading—the story was so thrilling and I had no idea how things were going to turn out!

Speaking of writing, I loved the alternating viewpoints of our main characters, Snow and Chayse, and getting to see everything (including each other) from different perspectives, and all the raw emotion from both, tucked down under the illusions. Which brings me to the last but opposite of least aspect: the characters!

I loved Snow and how precious she was, and how as the only human she was something kind of nice in the middle of the scary deceptions. But she wasn’t helpless either, and her goals and dreams and determination—not to mention her stubbornness and commitment to learning to walk the wire—really had me rooting for her, and sometimes breathless on the edge of my seat.

Chayse was my favorite, and part of that was learning about him throughout the story bit by bit, so I almost don’t want to say much about him! But he’s got a couple of unexpected roles thrown together, which was great, and his interactions with Snow are my favorite. ^_^ His interactions with the queen… O_O I felt really bad for this guy—my poor precious Chayse! He’s super dangerous but he also wants out. I loved him so much. And the fire… Needless to say, Chayse is absolutely awesome. 😀

And I can’t quite finish without mentioning Cynfael. This guy. O_O One of the most truly enigmatic characters I’ve read, ever. I kept changing my mind about his roles in the story, changing my feelings about him, and he kept me guessing. I can usually guess a character’s role but Cynfael defied conventions—the sneaky fae!—and I was genuinely blown away. (This writing, guys!) I’ll let you discover him yourself, because spoilers, but wow. Chayse and Cynfael also had some excellent scenes which I loved.

Oh, and (talking of Chayse and Cynfael) one final thing is the dialog. I LOVED IT SO MUCH. It’s so sharp. These characters are almost constantly exchanging either verbal duels or loads of snark or hidden meanings, and sometimes all three at once. It was absolutely fantastic. 😀

If I keep writing, my review will get as long as this novella, but FALLING SNOW is an absolutely stunning, breath-taking, edge-of-your-seat read. I positively adored it and plan to re-read it sometime!

I have yet to read the other tales in the FIVE POISONED APPLES collection because this one left me with a major book-hangover. I do look forward to trying them out, but even if you only get it for FALLING SNOW, it’s totally worth it.

You need Snow and Chayse and Cynfael and this gorgeous writing and super-aesthetic black-white-red-gold perilous-fae Snow White circus story in your life. YOU JUST DO. ❤

~ ~ ~

Whew. Sound like something you need? Because… GUYS. You do!

Also, do you have any favorite fae stories you can recommend to me??

How about circuses? (Thinking of The Electrical Menagerie, The Greatest Showman, and The Night Circus…)

*pretends I’m totally not eating a (totally-not-poisoned) apple while I write this post*

Talk to me! Thanks for reading! 🙂