Review: Shades of Magic, Vol. 2: Night of Knives

Title: Shades of Magic, Vol. 2: Night of Knives
Author: V.E. Schwab, Andrea Olimpieri
Genre: Graphic Novel, Fantasy
Publisher: Titan Comics
Source: Publisher
Format: Ebook
Release Date: October 16, 2020
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Written by #1 New York Times bestselling author V.E. Schwab and torn from the universe of the Shades of Magic sequence, this all-original comic book adventure continues the story begun in The Steel Prince – perfect for fans of bloody, swashbuckling adventure and gritty fantasy!

The young and arrogant prince Maxim Maresh, having faced the terror of the Pirate Queen, now aims to capture the respect of the combative port town of Verose – by taking the impossible challenges of the Night of Knives… and surviving, where none has survived before!

These are the hidden, secret adventures of Maxim, from long before he became the king of Red London and adoptive father to Kell, the lead of A Darker Shade of Magic! 

Collects Shades of Magic #5-8: Night of Knives

Review:

Prince Maxim is training with the army, but he finds that the soldiers still think of him as a royal, not a fellow soldier. To gain their trust, he decides to do the Night of Knives. The Night of Knives is a series of four challenges that people can do to prove their strength. Maxim’s friend Isra has done it, but she only made it through the first two. She tells Maxim not to go all the way through to the fourth challenge, because no one has ever survived it. Maxim doesn’t always follow instructions, so he has some surprises waiting for him in the Night of Knives.

This was another great story set in the word of the Shades of Magic. This volume could be read without reading the first one, though you will get more out of it by reading them in order.

This second volume was even more fast paced than the first one. There were a lot of action when Maxim was fighting through the challenges, which made the story progress quickly. My only complaint is that I wish the story was longer because I love this world.

I loved this graphic novel! I’m so excited to read the third and final volume.

Thank you Titan Comics for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

Shades of Magic, Vol. 3: The Rebel Army by V.E. Schwab, Andrea Olimpieri

A Darker Shade of Magic (Shades of Magic #1) by V.E. Schwab

Other books in the series:

Have you read Shades of Magic, Vol. 2: Night of Knives? What did you think of it?

Review: Shades of Magic, Vol. 1: The Steel Prince

Title: Shades of Magic, Vol. 1: The Steel Prince
Author: V.E. Schwab, Andrea Olimpieri
Genre: Graphic Novel, Fantasy
Publisher: Titan Comics
Source: Publisher
Format: Ebook
Release Date: March 6, 2019
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Written by #1 New York Times bestselling author V.E. Schwab and torn from the universe of the Shades of Magic sequence, this all-original comic book prequel to A Darker Shade of Magic is perfect for fans of bloody, swashbuckling adventure and gritty fantasy!

Delve into the thrilling, epic tale of the young and arrogant prince Maxim Maresh, long before he became the king of Red London and adoptive father to Kell, the lead of A Darker Shade of Magic!

The youthful Maresh is sent to a violent and unmanageable port city on the Blood Coast of Verose, on strict orders from his father, King Nokil Maresh, to cut his military teeth in this lawless landscape.

There, he encounters an unruly band of soldiers, a lawless landscape, and the intoxicatingly deadly presence of the newly returned pirate queen, Arisa…

Collects Shades of Magic: The Steel Prince #1-4.

Review:

Before the events in A Darker Shade of Magic, Maxim Maresh was an arrogant prince. His father, the King, sends him to the port city Verose. There, Maxim meets a captain in the army, named Isra. She shows him the ways of the city, but they are taken by surprise when the pirate queen, Asira, arrives in town. Isra has a personal vendetta against Asira, because she is the niece of the pirate queen. Maxim has to find his place among the army, while keeping an eye on the pirate queen.

I loved A Darker Shade of Magic, but I hadn’t finished the series, so I was holding off on reading this graphic novel until I was caught up. Fortunately, I found out recently that it isn’t necessary to read the original trilogy of novels before reading the graphic novels.

This is an amazing fantasy world. I was hooked on the story right from the start. The images are detailed, giving small hints about the plot that could be missed if it’s read quickly. I loved seeing the setting of the Darker Shade of Magic novels in the illustrations.

The story was fast paced. It took place over a short period of time, so I felt like it ended too soon. I’m so glad the next volumes are out, so I can read them right away!

Thank you Titan Comics for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

Shades of Magic, Vol. 2: Night of Knives by V.E. Schwab, Andrea Olimpieri

A Darker Shade of Magic (Shades of Magic #1) by V.E. Schwab

Other books in the series:

  • Night of Knives
  • The Rebel Army

Have you read Shades of Magic, Vol. 1: The Steel Prince? What did you think of it?

Blog Tour Review: The Unready Queen (The Oddmire #2)

Title: The Unready Queen (The Oddmire #2)
Author: William Ritter
Genre: Middle Grade, Fantasy
Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: June 23, 2020
Rating: ★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Human and goblin brothers Cole and Tinn are finding their way back to normal after their journey to the heart of the Oddmire. Normal, unfortunately, wants nothing to do with them. Fable, the daughter of the Queen of the Deep Dark, has her first true friends in the brothers. The Queen allows Fable to visit Tinn and Cole as long as she promises to stay quiet and out of sight—concealing herself and her magic from the townspeople of Endsborough.

But when the trio discovers that humans are destroying the Wild Wood and the lives of its creatures for their own dark purposes, Fable cannot stay quiet. As the unspoken truce between the people of Endsborough and the inhabitants of the Wild Wood crumbles, violence escalates, threatening war and bringing Fable’s mother closer to the fulfillment of a deadly prophecy that could leave Fable a most Unready Queen.

Review:

Fable is the daughter of the Queen of the Deep Dark. She’s friends with Cole and Tinn, the human and goblin brothers. Some new people in town decided to dig for oil in the Wild Woods, disturbing the magical creatures who live there. Fable has to stand between her fellow magical creatures in the Wild Wood and her friends from the human town, when the dispute threatens to start a war.

There was a lot of history of the Oddmire world in this story. The story begins with Fable’s grandmother, and her experience with a changeling. She lost her own daughter, but she was returned right before the old woman died. These stories of the past made the story feel realistic, like it existed beyond the pages.

The dispute between the humans and magical creatures reminded me of race relations today. In the story, the humans took the land that the magical creatures lived on, just because they could. Other creatures were put down and accused of doing things, when there wasn’t evidence to support the accusations. This could teach kids the dangers of racism through a fantasy story.

I really enjoyed this story!

Thank you Algonquin Young Readers for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

The Dark Lord Clementine by Sarah Jean Horwitz

The Revenge of Magic (The Revenge of Magic #1) by James Riley

Other books in the series:

Have you read The Unready Queen? What did you think of it?

Review: The Gryphon’s Lair (Royal Guide to Monster Slaying #2)

Title: The Gryphon’s Lair (Royal Guide to Monster Slaying #2)
Author: Kelley Armstrong
Genre: Middle Grade, Fantasy
Publisher: Puffin Books
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: June 2, 2020
Rating: ★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Rowan is now the Royal Monster Hunter, and her twin brother, Rhydd, is destined to be king. But her mother’s cousin Heward is still determined that his children be the ones to inherit the titles, and will stop at nothing to show that Rowan and Rhydd are too immature to properly lead. After the gryphon that Rowan captured in Book One gives birth but then dies, Rowan is left with a baby gryphon she knows she cannot keep. And it grows faster than anyone can imagine . . .

In order to save face after an accident involving the troublesome gryphon, Rowan, with the help of her friends Dain and Alianor, along with an entourage of monstrous companions, must make a journey to the mountains to release the gryphon back into the wild. What starts off as a simple enough task soon becomes a dangerous quest, as the group encounters numerous rare and deadly monsters along the way, including wyverns and ceffyl-dwrs. Nothing is easy when you’re a “monster magnet” like Rowan. 

Can she prove herself worthy of the title of Royal Monster Hunter? Find out in this exciting second book in the Royal Guide to Monster Slaying duology! 

Review:

Rowan is training to be the royal monster hunter in her kingdom. She caught a gryphon in the previous book, and it was allowed to live because it was pregnant. Now the gryphon is having her baby, but the mother dies due to complications. The baby gryphon grows quickly and thinks that Rowan is her mother. When the gryphon goes to extreme lengths to protect Rowan, the kingdom decides that the gryphon has to be killed. Rowan convinces them to let her move the gryphon somewhere else. On Rowan’s new adventure through the country, she meets even more creatures than last time.

I really enjoyed this series. I just found out that this is the final book in this series. I would have liked to see more of Rowan as she gets older. She had to face some more mature issues in this book, such as potential suitors for her and her brother. I love how Rowan is such a strong female character. She heads right into danger to do the right thing, rather than what everyone thinks she should do. She is confident and independent.

I felt like some of the fight scenes were too long. They lasted for a couple of chapters, sometimes, and they became repetitive. One thing that could have made the fights more entertaining is if there were illustrations to go along with them. There are some illustrations of the monsters at the end of the book, but I think the story could have been enhanced with illustrations throughout the book.

This is a great middle grade book.

Thank you Penguin Random House Canada for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

Dragon Pearl by Yoon Ha Lee

Aru Shah and the End of Time by Roshani Chokshi

Other books in the series:

Have you read The Gryphon’s Lair? What did you think of it?

Review: A Song Below Water

Title: A Song Below Water
Author: Bethany C. Morrow
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Publisher: Tor Teen
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: June 2, 2020
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Tavia is already at odds with the world, forced to keep her siren identity under wraps in a society that wants to keep her kind under lock and key. Never mind she’s also stuck in Portland, Oregon, a city with only a handful of black folk and even fewer of those with magical powers. At least she has her bestie Effie by her side as they tackle high school drama, family secrets, and unrequited crushes.

But everything changes in the aftermath of a siren murder trial that rocks the nation; the girls’ favorite Internet fashion icon reveals she’s also a siren, and the news rips through their community. Tensions escalate when Effie starts being haunted by demons from her past, and Tavia accidentally lets out her magical voice during a police stop. No secret seems safe anymore—soon Portland won’t be either. 

Review:

Talia lives with a secret: she’s a siren. She has a powerful voice that can compel people to do things. That makes people think sirens are dangerous. Talia and her family keep her siren identity a secret because of the prejudice against sirens. Talia’s best friend, Effie, has questions about her identity. She blacks out and can’t remember what happened. Effie isn’t sure who she really is, especially since her grandparents don’t have any answers for her. Both girls discover their identities as their secrets are slowly revealed.

Talia and Effie had an extra layer to their identity, with their magical abilities. This makes their intersectional identities more complicated. They were black and female, with magical powers. Race played an important part in this book. There was a murder trial for a black woman, where it was revealed that she was a siren. It ended up being a part of the defence, as a way to justify her murder. There was a protest in this book which reminded me of the protests happening throughout the world this week. The characters had to deal with racism, as well as discrimination against their magical identities.

I loved the fantasy elements of this story. There were sirens and gargoyles. Effie’s background was a mystery that they had to solve. I guessed who she was fairly early on in the story, but I was surprised at the way it was revealed. The fantasy elements added some distance between the race relations in the book and reality, but they were a great way to tell the story.

I really enjoyed this story!

Thank you Tor Teen for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

Dear Haiti, Love Alaine by Maika Moulite and Maritza Moulite

Slay by Brittney Morris

Have you read A Song Below Water? What did you think of it?

Review: City of Bones (The Mortal Instruments #1)

Title: City of Bones (The Mortal Instruments #1)
Author: Cassandra Clare
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Paranormal
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Source: Purchased
Format: Paperback
Release Date: May 27, 2007
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

When fifteen-year-old Clary Fray heads out to the Pandemonium Club in New York City, she hardly expects to witness a murder― much less a murder committed by three teenagers covered with strange tattoos and brandishing bizarre weapons. Then the body disappears into thin air. It’s hard to call the police when the murderers are invisible to everyone else and when there is nothing―not even a smear of blood―to show that a boy has died. Or was he a boy?

This is Clary’s first meeting with the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the earth of demons. It’s also her first encounter with Jace, a Shadowhunter who looks a little like an angel and acts a lot like a jerk. Within twenty-four hours Clary is pulled into Jace’s world with a vengeance when her mother disappears and Clary herself is attacked by a demon. But why would demons be interested in ordinary mundanes like Clary and her mother? And how did Clary suddenly get the Sight? The Shadowhunters would like to know…

Review:

When Clary Fray goes to an all-ages nightclub in New York City with her best friend, she witnesses a murder of a teenager by three other teens. However, her best friend Simon couldn’t see them. One of the teens, Jace, finds Clary the next day and brings her into the world of the shadowhunters, who hunt demons. Clary becomes personally involved in the lives of the shadowhunters when her mother disappears after being attacked by demons. Clary has to find her mother, while also discovering the secrets of her past.

I had been holding off on reading this series, because I knew I would love it and would have to read it all immediately once I started. I was sucked into this world right away. I loved that there were so many different creatures all in one world, including vampires, werewolves, and warlocks. They had a wide range of powers, but they all fit into the world.

The twists and big reveals in the story were predictable. When secrets of a character’s past were revealed, I could predict how it would affect the lives of the main characters. Even though it was predictable, I loved the storyline. I’m excited to see where it goes next!

What to read next:

City of Ashes (The Mortal Instruments #2) by Cassandra Clare

Have you read City of Bones? What did you think of it?

Review: The Beautiful (The Beautiful #1)

Title: The Beautiful (The Beautiful #1)
Author: Renée Ahdieh
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Historical Fiction
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Source: Purchased
Format: Hardcover
Release Date: October 8, 2019
Rating: ★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

In 1872, New Orleans is a city ruled by the dead. But to seventeen-year-old Celine Rousseau, New Orleans provides her a refuge after she’s forced to flee her life as a dressmaker in Paris. Taken in by the sisters of the Ursuline convent along with six other girls, Celine quickly becomes enamored with the vibrant city from the music to the food to the soirées and—especially—to the danger. She soon becomes embroiled in the city’s glitzy underworld, known as La Cour des Lions, after catching the eye of the group’s leader, the enigmatic Sébastien Saint Germain. When the body of one of the girls from the convent is found in the lair of La Cour des Lions, Celine battles her attraction to him and suspicions about Sébastien’s guilt along with the shame of her own horrible secret.

When more bodies are discovered, each crime more gruesome than the last, Celine and New Orleans become gripped by the terror of a serial killer on the loose—one Celine is sure has set her in his sights . . . and who may even be the young man who has stolen her heart. As the murders continue to go unsolved, Celine takes matters into her own hands and soon uncovers something even more shocking: an age-old feud from the darkest creatures of the underworld reveals a truth about Celine she always suspected simmered just beneath the surface.

At once a sultry romance and a thrilling murder mystery, master storyteller Renée Ahdieh embarks on her most potent fantasy series yet: The Beautiful.

Review:

In 1872, Celine Rousseau moves to New Orleans after being forced to flee Paris. She moves into a convent with some other girls who have just arrived from Europe. When a wealthy woman asks Celine to create a dress for her, Celine gets involved in a secret society, causing death to those around her.

I loved this setting. Both the time period and location made it so mysterious and extravagant. This was also a time period with a lot of change in society. Celine is biracial, but she can pass for white. She notices that there are people of different races working in the city, which is something she hadn’t seen before. She commented on what a big change this was for society. It’s a shame that 150 years after this book takes place, there is still so much racial inequality.

This story was really exciting. I liked the mystery surrounding the deaths. The ending was surprising and left me with a lot of questions. I hope they will be answered in the next book.

I really enjoyed this story!

What to read next:

Serpent & Dove (Serpent & Dove #1) by Shelby Mahurin

Grim Lovelies (Grim Lovelies #1) by Megan Shepherd

Have you read The Beautiful? What did you think of it?

Review: Sky in the Deep (Sky in the Deep #1)

Title: Sky in the Deep (Sky in the Deep #1)
Author: Adrienne Young
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Historical Fiction
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: April 24, 2018
Rating: ★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Raised to be a warrior, seventeen-year-old Eelyn fights alongside her Aska clansmen in an ancient rivalry against the Riki clan. Her life is brutal but simple: fight and survive. Until the day she sees the impossible on the battlefield—her brother, fighting with the enemy—the brother she watched die five years ago.

Faced with her brother’s betrayal, she must survive the winter in the mountains with the Riki, in a village where every neighbor is an enemy, every battle scar possibly one she delivered. But when the Riki village is raided by a ruthless clan thought to be a legend, Eelyn is even more desperate to get back to her beloved family.

She is given no choice but to trust Fiske, her brother’s friend, who sees her as a threat. They must do the impossible: unite the clans to fight together, or risk being slaughtered one by one. Driven by a love for her clan and her growing love for Fiske, Eelyn must confront her own definition of loyalty and family while daring to put her faith in the people she’s spent her life hating.

Review:

Eelyn is a warrior for her Aska community. She fights alongside her father in their rivalry against the Riki. When she is almost killed in a battle, she sees her dead brother among the enemies. Her father assures her that he couldn’t have been there, but when she meets her brother again on the battlefield, he takes her as a prisoner. Eelyn has to figure out how to get back to her father and how to deal with the betrayal of her brother.

This story had a Nordic setting. They were like a viking community. I’ve never read a book like this, but I learned about vikings in school, so I found it really interesting. I really liked that the women were considered warriors alongside the men in this community. In many stories set in ancient times, the women have to stay home while the men fight, leading the main female character to figure out a way to fight. However, Eelyn was able to focus on other issues, since she was already a warrior.

The story started out quite fast paced. The moments where Eelyn saw her brother on the battlefield to when she was captured happened very quickly. The story slowed down a bit once she got to her brother’s new community. However, I was pleased with the ending. I thought the next book in the series would be a continuation of this story, but it has a new plot. I’m looking forward to reading it because I loved this setting.

Thank you Wednesday Books for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

The Girl the Sea Gave Back (Sky in the Deep #2) by Adrienne Young

Other Books in the Series:

  • The Girl the Sea Gave Back

Have you read Sky in the Deep? What did you think of it?

Review: Romanov

Title: Romanov
Author: Nadine Brandes
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Historical Fiction
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: May 7, 2019
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

The history books say I died.

They don’t know the half of it.
 

Anastasia “Nastya” Romanov was given a single mission: to smuggle an ancient spell into her suitcase on her way to exile in Siberia. It might be her family’s only salvation. But the leader of the Bolshevik army is after them, and he’s hunted Romanov before.

Nastya’s only chances of saving herself and her family are to either release the spell and deal with the consequences, or enlist help from Zash, the handsome soldier who doesn’t act like the average Bolshevik. Nastya has only dabbled in magic, but it doesn’t frighten her half as much as her growing attraction to Zash. She likes him. She thinks he might even like her.

That is, until she’s on one side of a firing squad . . . and he’s on the other.

Review:

When her parents and sister were sent away from her home, Anastasia’s father, the Tsar, gave her the task of smuggling a special Russian doll with a hidden spell to their new hideaway. However, the leader of the Bolshevik army is after them and he knows that Anastasia has the secret magic. Her situation is further complicated by her sudden attraction to one of the soldiers who is guarding her family. Anastasia will only be able to use the spell when the moment is right, so she has to hang onto the doll until she can save her family.

I knew of the Romanov’s before reading this book, but I didn’t know the details of what happened to them. It was a tragic story. I kept looking up the details of the real Anastasia’s life while I was reading, to find out what was fact and what was fiction. This story follows the real history of what happened to the Romanov’s quite closely.

One part that is fictional is the fantasy aspect. Anastasia wasn’t the keeper of a special spell to save her family. However, the fantasy aspects serve to fill in a gap in Anastasia’s story. Her body wasn’t discovered with her family’s bodies. There were women over the years following their death who claimed to be Anastasia. That was a fascinating story to read about! I don’t want to give anything away, but this story attempts to give an alternate history for Anastasia Romanov to account for the reason her body wasn’t buried with her family.

This was an amazing historical fantasy story!

Thank you Thomas Nelson for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

Fawkes by Nadine Brandes

My Lady Jane (The Lady Janies #1) by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows

Have you read Romanov? What did you think of it?

Review: The Egyptian Mirror

Title: The Egyptian Mirror
Author: Michael Bedard
Genre: Middle Grade, Fantasy
Publisher: Pajama Press
Source: Publisher
Format: Paperback
Release Date: May 20, 2020
Rating: ★★★★★

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Synopsis:

A darkly fantastic middle-grade mystery with the ominous atmosphere loved by fans of Jonathan Auxier and Jonathan Stroud

Thirteen-year-old Simon’s life has been knocked askew ever since his family moved into his deceased grandfather’s house. First there’s his eccentric neighbor Mr. Hawkins, who is laid up with a broken leg. Simon’s mother begins sending him over there with dinner for the elderly man, and soon Mr. Hawkins is depending on Simon to fetch old books and manuscript pages from all over his eerie, mirror-filled house. There’s one mirror in particular, an ancient Egyptian piece, that keeps showing Simon visions of a disturbing figure emerging from its depths. No one else sees the figure, though—just like they don’t see the huge, gaunt dog lurking in Mr. Hawkins’ bushes. As Simon himself becomes increasingly plagued by a mysterious illness, he is powerless to help as his neighbor descends into paranoia about dark forces encircling his house.

The terrible part is, Mr. Hawkins is right. Everything is about to get much, much worse.

Review:

Simon’s family moves into his grandfather’s old house after he passes away. When the old man across the street breaks his leg, Simon brings him food and helps him around his house. His house is filled with mirrors, because he was an archeologist who collected mirrors. Simon is fascinated with an Egyptian mirror in the house. After examining it, Simon starts seeing things that aren’t there, like a mysterious dog in the yard. He then gets an illness that confines him to his house. Simon has to figure out the mystery behind the mirror.

I love ancient Egypt, so I was so excited to read this book. There was some history of ancient Egypt in the story, but there was a lot about the history of mirrors and what they symbolize. Mirrors represent a person’s double, since it is a copy or reflection of yourself. In many cultures, mirrors are believed to capture a person’s soul when they die. That makes mirrors mysterious and dangerous objects, like in this book.

This book was very creepy and suspenseful. Mr. Hawkins was a mysterious figure at the beginning, because he seemed to have some secrets hidden in his home. His home was also full of mirrors, which sounds very creepy. The illness that Simon had was also quite mysterious. He couldn’t do anything but sleep, yet the doctors couldn’t figure out what was wrong with him. It’s scary to imagine having a mysterious illness that no one can figure out.

I really enjoyed this story.

Thank you Pajama Press for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

Target Practice (Cleopatra in Space #1) by Mike Maihack

Me and Banksy by Tanya Lloyd Kyi

Have you read The Egyptian Mirror? What did you think of it?