NetGalley Review: Knightmare Arcanist (Shami Stovall)

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I received an e-book copy in exchange for an honest review.


Goodreads Link | Author Website

TL;DR – A superb start to what I’m sure will be a spectacular series!

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Ragdoll Rating: 5/5 Buttons

Recommended For: Anyone who loves an easy-to-read tale of magic and heroism

About the Book…

Knightmare Arcanist is the first book in the Frith Chronicles series. It follows a Volke, a gravediggers apprentice who yearns to be an arcanist – a magician paired for life to a magical creature, capable of amazing feats. But the circumstances of his birth make this dream unlikely, until one day everything changes.

What follows is a tale of magic, mystery and heroism where friends can become enemies and enemies can become friends.

What I thought…

I absolutely loved this book. Stovall has created an engaging and wonderful world, filled with magic and wonder and well thought out characters abound.

I love the magic system. The idea of being paired with a mystical creature whose magic influences your own is a wonderful idea and I really enjoyed seeing how each magical creature approached problems in their own unique ways. I also particularly love Nicholin the rizzel (a magical creature). He’s cheeky and adorable and quite frankly, I NEED one.

Another thing I loved about this book was the way the characters interacted. The book starts on an island with Volke and his adopted sister paired against Zaxis and Atty, the islands snobby to-good-for-the-likes-of-you favourites. But it isn’t long before this dynamic starts to change in interesting and unexpected ways, and I can’t wait to find out where it goes.

This book was also incredibly easy to read. It was well paced and engaging throughout. I didn’t want to put it down and before I knew it, the book was finished!

Final Thoughts…

I didn’t want this book to end, and I will be eagerly awaiting the next instalment. In the meantime, I plan to get hold of Stovall’s other books Star Marque Rising and The Ethereal Squadron as soon as I am able!

Definitly give this book a go.

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Please Note: I received a copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The opinions contained within are my own and have not been influenced by any external entity!

Darkwood (Gabby Hutchinson Crouch)

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I received an e-book copy in exchange for an honest review.


Goodreads Link

Completely fabulous, can’t wait for the rest of the series. A strong contender for Book of the Month

TL;DR – A funny, clever and wonderful fairytale re-telling.

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Ragdoll Rating: 5/5 Buttons

Recommended For: Fans of fairytales, fantasy and female characters who kick butt!

About the Book…

Darkwood is a sort of fairytale retelling and variety pack. The lead character is Gretel, of Hansel and Gretel fame, driven out of her home by villainous Huntsmen who (wrongly) accuse her of being a witch! Gretel finds herself in the Darkwood, and soon winds up as part of a band of witches, featuring such wonderful characters as The White Knight (Snow White), Jack (of the Beanstalk fame) and my personal favourite, Trevor the Talking Spider. What follows is a hilarious adventure to fight back against the forces of evil!

What I thought…

I flat out adore this book. There are 2 things I didn’t like about it, and I’m gonna start the review with them because then I can gush about how good it was uninterrupted.

  1. The word ‘cowl’ is used to describe clothing with sleeves, which confused me.
  2. It’s written in the present tense, which I’m generally not a fan of. HOWEVER, I will come back to this point in a moment.

OK, where to begin. Let’s start with the setting. I’m a big fan of fairytales and folklore, and combining so many stories into one setting was a real treat for me. Each story has been turned on its head and reimagined, and then blended into something better than the sum of its parts. It’s really clever, well executed and extremely good fun.

And it’s funny! Oh man. I mentioned Trevor the talking spider in the intro and I’m gonna talk about him here. Trevor is *exactly* the type of character I love to read about. He’s small and apparently useless, but he dreams big. He wants to be useful. He wants to be a spy! And every time he gets the chance he does something daft. Like disguises. It’s silly, and playful and I love it.

Now I’m going to return to point 2 of my complaints. Present tense. I don’t like it, it annoys me and I’ve never been able to get over it. Until now. I really love how this book was written. I’m turned around on the use of present tense in writing, which is a big thing for me to admit.

Final Thoughts…

I love this book. I can’t wait for the rest of the series. I suppose the biggest compliment I can give to this book is that it made me want to write the book I’ve been planning for so long. It’s encouraged me to get up and give it a shot!

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Please Note: I received a copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The opinions contained within are my own and have not been influenced by any external entity!

Queen of Zazzau (J.S. Emuakpor)

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I received an e-book copy in exchange for an honest review.


Goodreads Link | Author Website

Totally kick-ass!

TL;DR – A smashing tale of war, love, magic and gods, with seriously strong female characters

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Ragdoll Rating: 5/5 Buttons

Recommended For: Fans of historical fantasy, fans of strong female leads

About the Book…

Amina is a princess, heir to the throne of Zazzau and a destiny of war and bloodshed. Amina must prove herself as a warrior and lead Zazzau against hordes of foreign enemies and strange magic. But the god of war has his sights set on Amina, and ruling the nation soon proves to be far more complicated than Amina could have possibly imagined.

Queen of Zazzau follows Amina from her beginnings as the heir apparent, through war and love and impossible bargains. The book takes place over some 80 years, during which Amina becomes a strong military leader, a Queen and the wife of a god. It is full to the brim with battles and magic, gods and romance.

What I thought…

I put off reading this book for a while as it is pretty long, clocking in at 510 pages – and what a selection of pages they are!

My favourite thing about this book is its lead character, Amina. Amina is a wonderful example of well-rounded, strong female lead. She’s powerful, clever, loving, dedicated – she is brilliant. We get to explore so many facets of Amina’s character as the story progresses, from romantic interests, battle tactics, diplomacy…even an unexpected pregnancy. Life throws so much at Amina, and she doesn’t take it lying down, but at the same time, she has this fragile side that feels so real – she struggles to keep going at times, allowing fear and panic to take hold of her. Amina is such a great character for so many reasons, and I’m super pleased to have read her story.

Another thing I loved was the way religion is explored in this book. Strictly speaking, the Zazzauwa are Muslim, but for many, if not most of them the old religion still exists – a host of other gods hold some sway over the workings of the world and I found it really interesting to see how the two quite disparate set of beliefs gelled together into a functioning belief system.

My only complaint about this book was the ending. Now, I need to say before I go further, that I did like the ending – I’m just not sure I’m comfortable with it. Feel free to skip this paragraph as it does contain spoilers and isn’t hugely important.

So an old prophecy has linked Amina and the god of war for years, and when he first appears, Amina wants no part of it. She’s quite happy as she is, she is already in love with someone else but the god of war insists that she will be his eventually. This turns out to be true, but when she finally does go to him, she offers herself in exchange for his influence over a battle that will decide the fate of her kingdom and everyone in it. So Amina becomes his wife, and then the god drops the bombshell that she will now feel intense sexual desire, which he will only satisfy when he feels like it. She is free to sleep with other men, but they MUST die afterwards. I think we can all agree this is beyond creepy and straight up abusive – but that’s gods for you, those guys are jerks. Anyway, because of this, Amina is prevented from properly experiencing love for her entire life – which, incidentally, is spent eternally young, so for 80 years she can’t allow herself to love another man, instead of taking a number of ‘temporary husbands’ and killing them, or periodically having sex with the god of war. Which brings us to the end. Turns out, after all this, she completely loves the god of war and they ride off into the sunset together.

OK spoilers over, on to my point. As I’ve said in other reviews, I’m autistic – I have trouble understanding how other peoples minds work. But to me, the end doesn’t make sense. I’m not sure what I would have wanted in its place, and I’m not begrudging the bitter-sweet ending, but still, it doesn’t sit quite right with me. But that could just be my weird interpretation – don’t let it prevent you reading the book and making up your own mind.

Final Thoughts…

This book is an epic tale with so much to love about it. I’m really pleased I read it and will definitely be keeping my eyes peeled for anything J.S. Emuakpor might release in the future.

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Please Note: I received a copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The opinions contained within are my own and have not been influenced by any external entity!

Book Review: Miraculum (Steph Post)

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I received an e-book copy in exchange for an honest review.


Goodreads Link | Author Website

A tattooed female lead? Yes please!

TL;DR – A story of good and evil with a freak-show background.

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Ragdoll Rating: 4/5 Buttons

Recommended For: Folks who like mysteries and mythology

About the Book…

Ruby is a freak – literally. She works as snake charmer as part of a circus sideshow. Life is normal, or as normal as circus life gets, until the day a performer commits suicide. The geeks replacement, Daniel, is an unusual man who doesn’t seem to belong. But he also harbors a deadly secret that turns Ruby’s life inside out.

What I thought…

I was really enjoying this book, right up until the end. I must say, before I go on, that the reason for this is that what I wanted to happen, didn’t happen, the ending was perfectly fine otherwise.

Miraculum starts off as a bizarre mystery over the backdrop of a travelling circus, and morphs into a wild and creepy occult battle of good versus evil. The book goes pretty deep into a sort of voodoo / occult area, which I struggled with a bit as I understood almost none of the words being thrown around.

The whole book is entertaining, and also pretty tragic in places. I love the main character, Ruby – and the way she interacts with a world she has no place in. It’s pretty upsetting to read about the treatment of the freaks, although the book doesn’t dwell on that too heavily.

Final Thoughts…

It’s a fun book and definitely worth a read if you like fantastical stuff in a historical setting.

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Please Note: I received a copy of this book via netgalley in exchange for an honest review. The opinions contained within are my own and have not been influenced by any external entity!

Book Review: Mirai (Mamoru Hosoda)

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I received an e-book copy in exchange for an honest review.


Goodreads Link

One of my favourite books ever.

TL;DR – A wonderful, beautiful story about family, sibling rivalry and love.

EBBannerRagdoll Rating: EXCEPTIONAL

Recommended For: Anybody who wants a beautiful story and isn’t put off by a bit of confusion.

About the Book…

Life is pretty good for Kun, until his sister Mirai is born. Suddenly his parents seem irritable, and have less time to spend with him, and poor Kun struggles to adapt to his new reality. He hates his new sister, he hates his parents and he hates his new life. Kun’s world has been turned upside down in an instant. But after an impossible encounter with a future version of his new little sister, Kun is thrown into an even more impossible journey and nothing will ever be the same.

What I thought…

Let it be known by one and all that I want to kiss Mamoru Hosoda and his beautiful mind. I’m not exaggerating when I say that this strange little book is one of the best I have ever read.

I don’t know what it is about this book. Perhaps it’s got something to do with being the eldest of four children, perhaps it has something to do with my own internalised difficulties with perceived rejection and change, perhaps it’s something else, but this book reached out and touched my very soul (an impressive feat considering I don’t believe in the soul!). Kun is such a relatable and believable character. He is flawed, what child is perfect, but everything he does, from his initial negative, even violent reactions over the arrival of his new sister, to the results of his dream-like journey…I just felt it, deep down inside me, that I knew exactly how he felt, and how he was hurting.

Kun is a lost boy, trapped in a scary world of conflicting emotions and change and that hits me where I live. Seeing his journey, meeting members of his family and learning from them, and then losing himself completely and almost irretrievably was heart breaking, and completely poetically beautiful. I refuse to tell you much about the ending, all I can say is that if I hadn’t been convinced by the story up until that point (which I absolutely was) the final few chapters would have swung it.

My only critique about this book is that the dream-like encounters come out of nowhere. You’re reading a slice-of-life story, and all of a sudden things get weird and sci-fi. I still have no idea what was going on, and a little bit of me wants an explanation, but a much, MUCH bigger part of me doesn’t care. Just be aware of it, and if it bothers you, please just accept it and keep reading, it is SO worth it.

Final Thoughts…

I genuinely did not expect the reaction I got from this book. It is currently 3:30AM, and I hauled myself out of bed as soon as I finished reading to write this review because I felt an overwhelming urge to tell anyone and everyone who would listen to read this book. I love it, and I really hope you’ll give it a try.

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Please Note: I received a copy of this book via netgalley in exchange for an honest review. The opinions contained within are my own and have not been influenced by any external entity!

Book Review: Evenfall (Gaja J. Kos & Boris Kos)

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I received an e-book copy in exchange for an honest review.


Goodreads Link | Author Website

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Ragdoll Rating: 3.5/5 Buttons

Recommended For: Fantasy and magic fans

About the Book…

TW: This book contains descriptions of self harm and sexual assault.

“As if waking up in an unfamiliar world isn’t enough of a surprise, Ember gains a new title to her name. Savior.” (Goodreads).

Long ago, the world was fractured. Split into three parts across magical lines. And only Ember has the power to piece reality back together again. But to do so, Ember and her friends must steal an powerful artefact from the castle of the evil Crescent Prince.

Evenfall is chock-full of magic and adventure and has the potential to be a really fun series.

What I thought…

Here is a brief list of words I never want to hear again: Argent, Obsidian, Sapphire, Utterly. I’m starting with this because it annoyed me so much. There are a handful of descriptive words that are massively overused in this book and it just irked me something fierce. Now moving away from petty gripes…

The basic premise of Evanfall is actually something I really enjoyed. A world split along magical lines, each inhabited by a population with it’s own unique form of magic. A saviour that has to stitch the world back together or all hell’s going to break lose. Very much my cup of tea. Pure magical fantasy. The execution, however, left a little to be desired.

Actually, that’s not quite fair. There wasn’t a great deal wrong with the execution, it was just too fast! I really struggled to keep track of what was going on, even from one page to the next at times. The basics of the story I could follow, but the specifics I struggled with. It felt like it needed to be longer, just to slow the pace a little. I just found it too intense, and I hadn’t recovered from the last big thing before the next big thing kicked off.

I also felt confused, really quickly. Ember appears in a new world. Not a strange world, a world she literally had no idea even existed until right that second. She immediately meets someone who in no-time-at-all she is best friends with. A little later she encounters the Crescent Prince, the villain of the piece. Keeping in mind she has never heard of him before and only knows anything about him because of minuscule amount her new friend has told her. So obviously, she immediately fears him for no apparent reason. Then even later, she falls head-over-heels in love with him after being kidnapped by him, and completely changes her mind about the man she has been told is a bloodthirsty tyrant after a brief conversation about how much the rest of the world sucks.

Don’t get me wrong, if your negative opinions are based on basically nothing, then I absolutely see why you would change your mind almost immediately when confronted with new information, it just feels a little weird.

Final Thoughts…

Evenfall was an enjoyable, if intensely annoying, read. I’m not sure I’d read it again, but I would definitely read the next book in the series, so take from that what you will.

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Please Note: I received a copy of this book via netgalley in exchange for an honest review. The opinions contained within are my own and have not been influenced by any external entity!

Book Review: Tardy Bells and Witches Spells (Sarina Dorie)

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I received an e-book copy in exchange for an honest review.


Goodreads Link | Author Website

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Ragdoll Rating: 4.5/5 Buttons

Recommended For: Fans of magical romance

About the Book…

Tardy Bells is the tragic story of a teenage nerd who wants to be a witch. Clarissa Lawrence is a geek. She loves Star Trek and Doctor Who and Lord of the Rings, and she loves magic. But her wish for magic turns sour when, after an incident at the Oregon Country Fair, where Clarissa’s sister becomes convinced she will be murdered by Clarissa before her 18th birthday.

What follows is a tale of magical discovery and teenage romance.

What I thought…

I really enjoyed this book, it was another one of those can’t-put-it-down reads where, had I not had other things to do, I would have read it all in one sitting. I hate how much I relate to Clarissa, the 14 year old girl inside me was crying out the whole way through screaming “Oh my god YEEEEESS!” She is a nerdy little girl who doesn’t fit in, struggles at school and has a group of weird friends. She is a total underdog and you can’t not root for her. Her sister is the preppy, beautiful popular cheerleader. Clarissa’s life reads like a story book, which for a character so heavily influenced by fiction seems highly appropriate.

It is established that Clarissa is geeky by namedropping all the various geeky things she enjoys, from Star Wars to My Little Pony. I understand why it was done, it was just super irritating.

Also, I hate Clarissa’s mother. I personally feel that the events of this story, much like the events in Disney’s Frozen, could have been easily avoided if the child’s parents weren’t total morons. Clarissa’s mother goes out of her way to make Clarissa think magic doesn’t exist, allegedly for her own protection. To whit, she has drugged her daughter since birth, and after an argument, literally burned every magic related item Clarissa owned, which was about 90% of her stuff. When Clarissa’s sister gets abducted at the Country Fair and comes home raving about how Clarissa is going to murder her, instead of sending the sister to a psychiatrist or something, the whole thing seems to be put on Clarissa. Her mum hates Derrick because she senses magic in him, and worries Clarissa’s magic will surface by association. Now to her mums credit, that is exactly what happened, but realistically if she had done the sensible thing and talked to her daughter about the situation like a normal person, the terrible things that happen throughout the book might have been avoided. Infuriating, but good reading.

The story is paced well and reads nicely. The writing style is informal, I suppose very much in the way you would expect a well-read 14 year old to recount things. It makes for very easy reading. I love Clarissa and Derick as characters, I see so much of myself in both of them, which was really nice. I just want them to be happy! I’m so pathetic!

Final Thoughts…

This really is a book for the outcast weirdos out there. This book is a fun little read, that I couldn’t put down. It’s a little weirdly written at times, and the constant name dropping bugged me, but I’m glad I read it and will definitely be reading the rest of the series (I have the next 2 downloaded already!)

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Please Note: I received a copy of this book via netgalley in exchange for an honest review. The opinions contained within are my own and have not been influenced by any external entity!

Kwik Review: Amelia Fang and the Barbaric Ball (Laura Ellen Anderson)

Kwik Reads


Goodreads Link | Author Website

This is the book I wish had been around back when I taught primary kids.

TL;DR – A gross and funny tale of vampires, yetis and obnoxious princes, with sublime illustrations.

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RAGDOLL RATING: 5/5 BUTTONS (Fang-tastsic)

What I thought…

I read this book because of the cover art. I adore the art style. It’s so cute and fun. I wanted to see if the story was as good as the art. (It is).

It’s time for the annual Barbaric Ball, and Amelia is dreading it. Prince Tangine, an insufferable little twerp, has just started at Amelia’s school and Amelia is stuck showing him around. The prince is selfish and spoiled, and his father, the King gives him anything he asks for. When the King and Prince Tangine visit Amelia’s home, the prince starts demanding their property, first a statute, then a valuable heirloom chair. The King grants these requests much to Amelia’s fury – but the the prince demands Amelia’s pet pumpkin, Squashy! Amelia and her friends hatch a plan to rescue Squashy from the Prince during the Barbaric Ball, but in the process Amelia learns a terrible secret!

This book is charming, and super gross. It’s the kind of book I would love to have read to my classes when I was a teaching assistant, because oh boy would they have loved it.

The world is turned on it’s head. Amelia is a vampire, her friends are ‘monsters’, Grimaldi is a young Grim Reaper, Florence is a rare breed of yeti – they are creatures of the Dark. As such, their worldview is different. Calling someone a lovely little armpit hair could be a compliment, glitter is terrifying. It’s a small thing that makes the world fun and believable, but also opens the gates for all manner of gross ideas, from compliments to food.

The story is simple, but engaging. The characters are wonderful – and there is a particularly nice 2-page spread introducing them all. But the my favourite thing about this book is that every page has some form of illustration.  Sometimes a whole page worth. The illustrations are absolutely adorable. I think having read this book, that Laura Ellen Anderson is probably now my favourite illustrator, and that is absolutely not an exaggeration.

I’m 28 years old, and I really enjoyed this book. It was funny and gross and weird and silly. It was heartwarming, and sad, it made me angry and it made me smile. It is exactly the sort of thing I wish I could write, and I recommend it to anyone.

Give this to the weird kid in your life. (Reviewers note: All kids are weird, give this book to all of them.)

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Please note: I am in no way affiliated with the author or publishers. I bought this book with my own money for my own reasons. The opinions contained within are my own and have not been influenced by any external entity!

Book Review: Gray Hawk of Terrapin (Moss Whelan)


Goodreads Link

The fever dream of a madman.

TL;DR – I couldn’t sum this book up for you if you held a gun to my head – I literally have no idea what happened.

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RAGDOLL RATING: 1/5 BUTTONS

Why I read it…

I was asked by the publisher if I would like to read and review this book, and I wasn’t about to turn that down. It sounded good in the synopsis so it seemed like a safe bet.

The Story…

A girl with an overactive imagination is taken to a fantasy world for some reason and I really don’t know what to tell you after that, so I’m just going to borrow a bit from Goodreads:

Ever since her father’s death, Mool has been talking with an imaginary green lion named Inberl. (…) Inberl is arrested because he’s looking for Gray Hawk. Springing into action, Mool sets out to rescue Inberl.

Mool… (finds) …a secret map, finds a hidden bridge and crosses it (…) On the other side of the bridge, they find a secret city that keeps Terrapin at war.

Since that doesn’t explain much I’m going to paint you a little picture.

Imagine, if you will, that you have been kidnapped by sinister forces. The sinister forces have taken you to a place that looks like Disneyland and they have tied you up on Main Street. Attached to your arm is a large IV bag labelled “Adrenalin”. This strange Disneyland extremely busy, except instead of tourists, every patron is a costumed character. They take it in turns to read to you from Alice in Wonderland. In the background, you hear the theme tune to The Magic Roundabout playing far too loud, on a permanent loop. Every time you close your eyes, a costumed character clouts you round the head with a shovel. Every time you try and sleep, they pump you full of adrenaline. Imagine this continued for a full month – a full 31 days of loud, repetitive music, shovel beatings, adrenaline, sleep deprivation and surrealist literature in a setting that is quite ludicrous. Then, for no apparent reason, it all stops and they untie you.

Then imagine they told you that you could leave, but first you had to write a book. I imagine this is the book you would have written.

I tried to finish this book. I read about 65% of it. But in the end I had to add it to the extremely small list of books I just couldn’t finish.

What I thought…

I really don’t know. It’s trying to be like Alice in Wonderland – it’s surreal, and strange, there’s lots of made-up words and concepts, there’s even a Dodo and a chess theme. Problem is, I don’t like the Alice books very much, and they are pretty classic, so a book in the style of Alice wasn’t necessarily going to go down that well anyway.

Thing is, I kept reading this book because of a couple of throwaway lines and details. First off, Mool’s father has recently died and she’s been seeing a green lion ever since. Second, was a line from Mool’s mother who says Mool doesn’t go to school – they have an arrangement; something to do with her overactive memory. These two things made me think that the explanation for this book lie in Mool’s mental health. This book reads like an explanation of ADHD, autism and maybe some sort of dis-associative disorder (and as someone with the latter 2, that spoke to me) – so I kept reading hoping that at the end I would have some traumatic explanation about grief, mental health and recovery, and for all I know that’s exactly what I would get, I just couldn’t make it that far.

Problem was that I don’t know how to process any of what I read. The plot jumped wildly, to the point that I felt like I was missing pages or even chapters. I could follow it in so far as Mool tries to rescue the green lion, but anything more specific than that was just lost in the relentless tsunami of peculiarity.

There were made up words galore, and many of these were in italics, so you knew they were made up. Problem was, they weren’t all in italics, and there were – possibly – a bunch of spelling errors from time to time. Thing is, I had no way of knowing if it was a made up word or a spelling error due to the inconsistent use of italics. The grammar was also peculiar in many places – words seemed to drop out of sentences and appear elsewhere, and I have no way of understanding if this was intentional or not.

To be honest it all felt excessive. Like a teenage boy telling racist jokes because he thinks the harder he tries to be edgy, the funnier he is, this book just goes so far into the surrealist realms that the story gets lost along the way.

Final thoughts…

I couldn’t follow it, I didn’t have any reason to care about any of the characters and the constant surrealism made it feel like it would never end. So I apologise to the author, but this just wasn’t for me.

Having said that, I have heard from others who have read it, that if you are a fan of the Alice stories, and surrealism in general, then you might really like it. To each their own I suppose.

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Please note: I received a free e-book copy of this work from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. The opinions contained within are my own and have not been influenced by any external entity!

Book Review: Foundryside (Robert Jackson Bennett)

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I received an e-book copy in exchange for an honest review.


Goodreads Link | Author Website

Book of the Month
Book of the Month (August 2018)

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Ragdoll Rating: Exceptional

Recommended For: Fans of fantasy and adventure. Also anybody else at all.

About the Book

Sancia Grado is a thief. A good thief. But she is also different. Tevanne is a strange land, that runs on a form of magic known as scriving. If you know the write sigils, you can alter objects and change their behaviour – legend has it that an ancient group called the hierophants could use scriving to bend reality to their will!

Sancia is a scrived human. The only scrived human. She started her life as a slave and she was experimented on – but the scrived plate in her head gives her some special abilities which make her an excellent sneak thief.

Sancia is offered the job of a lifetime – steal one item for more money than she could ever hope to see in her lifetime. She takes the chance, and then her world falls apart.

What I thought

I cannot stress enough how much I enjoyed this book. I mean I really, REALLY loved it. It’s 512 pages long, and I must have read 350+ of them in one sitting – I would have read three quarters of the book in one day if I’d had the energy to keep reading. It was that kind of book.

First of all, we’ve got to talk about scriving. At first this seems like your pretty average magic stuff. Say the right words and it does what you say kind of thing. But it isn’t. It goes WAY deeper than that. Bennett goes into considerable detail over the course of the book about the mechanics of scriving, the theory, the practical uses and the history. It’s rare to find a magical mechanic in a story that has been this clearly thought out, which would be worth big points in my book on its own, but it was the way this information is relayed to the reader that really made this book stand out. We never get too much information in one go – it doesn’t feel like you’re reading fictional non-fiction – you get just enough information to understand without breaking the flow of things…and it’s just really cool.

I’m not sure if the following paragraph counts as spoilers, but I’m gonna talk a bit about why scriving is awesome:

  1. Scrived objects are logical and stupid – you can only change them in ways that make sense. For example, you can make wood stronger, by scriving it to act like stone, but you can’t make it melt by telling it that it’s ice, because that’s too different.
  2. BUT you can do cool things with it if you are clever. For example, you can make a cart propel itself by telling the wheels they are rolling down a hill and telling them how steep the hill is. This leads to some wild things later on.
  3. It’s hard work. You’ve read got to know what you are doing to make it work, and experimentation can be really dangerous because its so easy to get things wrong – because of this, it’s a rich mans game, which has led to a really horrible unequal society.
  4. It controls (almost) everything in Tevanne. It’s so understandable. Sometimes you read about something amazing in a story and wonder why it’s under utilised, like the Force in Star Wars. If I had the force I would never stop using it, all the time for EVERYTHING. But they never do. But in Foundryside, those who can afford scriving, use it for everything they possibly can. It supports buildings, changes weapons, powers foundries, it is everywhere, and that can lead to big problems.

I’m sure there is more I could say about why I like this element, but I don’t want to go on and on. Trust me though, it’s really cool and it stays cool all the way through.

Secondly, two words. Unexpected Queers. I’m not the only queer person who, unless explicitly told otherwise (and often even then), assumes every character in everything is 400% queer. Then I find out it’s not the case. Well guess what – there’s at least 3 actual, factual queers in this book (by my count). Which is GREAT. Not just because they are queer –  but because it’s written completely naturally. Nobody bats an eye. In Tevanne, it’s perfectly, completely and utterly normal to be queer. And that is so refreshing. It’s so nice to read a book that – to the best of my knowledge – isn’t presented as queer-lit where a characters queerness is just another part of their character. It was also really nice to be right for a change, after deciding a character was queer.

Thirdly, the plot. I am a big fan of the idea that if it’s gonna go wrong, it may as well go catastrophically wrong. I like it when things go to hell, real fast. It’s fun and I like seeing how it can get worse as much as I enjoy seeing how that characters fix the problems – and this book did not disappoint on that front. I found every page more exciting than the last (especially the pages involved in the previous paragraph 😀 ). Everything went from bad to worse, and was written really well so you actually care about it.

Finally, the mystery element. This book has a lot of folklore in it – tales of the Makers or Hierophants or Ancient Ones – a race of giants who could bend reality to their whim with scriving. It also includes a talking key and a bunch of weird artefacts which are all surrounded in mystery. You find yourself constantly guessing how the ancient mysteries actually work, and how to solves the puzzles the characters are trying to solve – and I was right about 50-70% of the time. Actually if I’m honest this was probably the only element (besides some peculiar phrasing at times) that I didn’t like as much – mainly because for some things (for example, how the ritual works), I knew how it worked so long before the characters I wanted to yell at them for being so dense! But I suppose that’s the advantage readers have over characters – we get the extra context.

Final Thoughts

I loved it and I think anyone with even a vague interest in the fantasy / adventure genre should read it immediately. Also, I cannot wait for part 2 in the series!

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Please Note: I received a copy of this book via netgalley in exchange for an honest review. The opinions contained within are my own and have not been influenced by any external entity!