Review: The Archived (The Archived #1)

Title: The Archived (The Archived #1)
Author: Victoria Schwab
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Paranormal
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Source: Purchased
Format: Paperback
Release Date: January 22, 2013
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Imagine a place where the dead rest on shelves like books.

Each body has a story to tell, a life seen in pictures only Librarians can read. The dead are called Histories, and the vast realm in which they rest is the Archive.

Da first brought Mackenzie Bishop here four years ago, when she was twelve years old, frightened but determined to prove herself. Now Da is dead, and Mac has grown into what he once was: a ruthless Keeper, tasked with stopping often violent Histories from waking up and getting out. Because of her job, she lies to the people she loves, and she knows fear for what it is: a useful tool for staying alive.

Being a Keeper isn’t just dangerous—it’s a constant reminder of those Mac has lost, Da’s death was hard enough, but now that her little brother is gone too, Mac starts to wonder about the boundary between living and dying, sleeping and waking. In the Archive, the dead must never be disturbed. And yet, someone is deliberately altering Histories, erasing essential chapters. Unless Mac can piece together what remains, the Archive itself may crumble and fall.

In this haunting, richly imagined novel, Victoria Schwab reveals the thin lines between past and present, love and pain, trust and deceit, unbearable loss and hard-won redemption.

Review:

Mackenzie Bishop’s family moves to a renovated hotel for a fresh start after the death of her brother and her grandfather. Mac had a special bond with her grandfather: they were both Keepers, people who return the dead to the Library where they belong. The dead are called Histories, and sometimes they escape the shelves in the Library where they are kept, and they can wreck havoc in the world if they get out. Mac meets Wes, another Keeper who often visits her new building. Mac has to adjust to her new home and the Histories that are kept there, while also piecing together the crumbling Library.

This was an original ghost story. The “ghosts” are called histories, and they are kept in a library. When they get out, they can become dangerous, so it’s important that a Keeper returns them to the library using their special key. I loved how the library and books played an important role in protecting people from the ghosts.

There were some flashbacks in this story to when Mac was taught how to be a Keeper from her grandfather, who she calls Da. These flashbacks were jarring at first, because I didn’t know who he was and when these flashbacks were happening. A couple of chapters into the story, I got into the flow of the narrative and I loved Mac’s voice in the story.

This is a great, original ghost story!

What to read next:

The Unbound (The Archived #2) by Victoria Schwab

City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab

Other books in the series:

  • The Unbound

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

Review: Agnes at the End of the World

Title: Agnes at the End of the World
Author: Kelly McWilliams
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Source: Library
Format: Ebook
Release Date: June 9, 2020
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

The Handmaid’s Tale meets Wilder Girls in this unique, voice-driven novel from Kelly McWilliams.

Agnes loves her home of Red Creek–its quiet, sunny mornings, its dusty roads, and its God. There, she cares tirelessly for her younger siblings and follows the town’s strict laws. What she doesn’t know is that Red Creek is a cult, controlled by a madman who calls himself a prophet.

Then Agnes meets Danny, an Outsider boy, and begins to question what is and isn’t a sin. Her younger brother, Ezekiel, will die without the insulin she barters for once a month, even though medicine is considered outlawed. Is she a sinner for saving him? Is her sister, Beth, a sinner for dreaming of the world beyond Red Creek?

As the Prophet grows more dangerous, Agnes realizes she must escape with Ezekiel and leave everyone else, including Beth, behind. But it isn’t safe Outside, either: A viral pandemic is burning through the population at a terrifying rate. As Agnes ventures forth, a mysterious connection grows between her and the Virus. But in a world where faith, miracles, and cruelty have long been indistinguishable, will Agnes be able to choose between saving her family and saving the world?

Review:

Agnes lives in a cult called Red Creek. She was born there, to a mother who came from outside the cult and a father who is descended from the founder of the cult. Agnes also has a secret: she meets with a nurse from the Outside to get insulin for her brother who has type 1 diabetes. The prophet of their town says that getting outside help is a sin, because he can provide everything they need, but Agnes knows that her brother will die if he doesn’t get his medication. One day, Agnes meets with the nurse’s son and learns of a mysterious virus that is attacking people and animals on the Outside. She begins to question whether the leaders of her town have the right answers or if they’ve been lying to them about the dangers that are on the Outside.

I was drawn to this story because of the cult theme, but I found it so relevant because of the viral pandemic. This book would have been written before the COVID-19 pandemic, though it was published this summer. It was eerily similar to the current pandemic. Some symptoms were similar, like starting with a high fever, while others were different, such as people forming a red shell over their skin. This was a creepy read for right now.

There were some heartbreaking parts of this story as well. Agnes’s brother suffered with his diabetes before he started receiving treatment. The men in the cult had multiple wives, including child brides. There was also child abuse. These things were considered normal and accepted by the leaders of the community. They would make any rules they wanted, and expect everyone to follow them. Agnes realized that it’s important to question where these society rules come from and who they benefit, to understand if they are actually for the greater good.

This was a powerful story with a beautiful ending.

What to read next:

The Grey Sisters by Jo Treggiari

Wilder Girls by Rory Power

Have you read Agnes at the End of the World? What did you think of it?

Review: The Language of Thorns: Midnight Tales and Dangerous Magic

Title: The Language of Thorns: Midnight Tales of Dangerous Magic
Author: Leigh Bardugo, Sara Kipin (illustrator)
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Short Stories
Publisher: Imprint
Source: Purchased at BookCon 2018
Format: Hardcover
Release Date: September 26, 2017
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Love speaks in flowers. Truth requires thorns.

Travel to a world of dark bargains struck by moonlight, of haunted towns and hungry woods, of talking beasts and gingerbread golems, where a young mermaid’s voice can summon deadly storms and where a river might do a lovestruck boy’s bidding but only for a terrible price.

Inspired by myth, fairy tale, and folklore, #1 New York Times–bestselling author Leigh Bardugo has crafted a deliciously atmospheric collection of short stories filled with betrayals, revenge, sacrifice, and love.

Perfect for new readers and dedicated fans, these tales will transport you to lands both familiar and strange—to a fully realized world of dangerous magic that millions have visited through the novels of the Grishaverse.

This collection of six stories includes three brand-new tales, all of them lavishly illustrated with art that changes with each turn of the page, culminating in six stunning full-spread illustrations as rich in detail as the stories themselves.

Review:

This short story collection has six tales from the world of the Grishaverse. These tales are based on real folk tales and fairy tales, set in the Grisha world. These tales are:

  • Ayama and the Thorn Wood: A tale about a creature like the Minotaur from Greek mythology
  • The Too-Clever Fox: A tale about a clever fox who outsmarts other animals
  • The Witch of Duva: A retelling of Hansel and Gretel
  • Little Knife: A tale where men had to compete for the chance to marry a duke’s daughter
  • The Soldier Prince: A retelling of The Nutcracker
  • When Water Sang Fire: A retelling of The Little Mermaid

My favourite story was The Witch of Duva. The main character, Nadya, escapes from her father and stepmother and enters the forest where she meets Magda, a witch. It had a surprising twist ending that was very clever and unlike any version of Hansel and Gretel that I’ve read before.

I loved the illustrations with these stories. Each story had its own set of illustrations that bordered the pages. The story started out with one small picture. As the story progressed, the illustrations would grow around the border. These illustrations reflected parts of the story. These were very creative and beautiful pictures that matched the stories perfectly.

This is an amazing book that accompanies the Grishaverse novels!

What to read next:

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

Other books in the series:

Have you read Language of Thorns? What did you think of it?

Review: Horrid

Title: Horrid
Author: Katrina Leno
Genre: Young Adult, Horror, Thriller, Fantasy
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Source: Owlcrate box
Format: Hardcover
Release Date: September 15, 2020
Rating: ★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

From the author of You Must Not Miss comes a haunting contemporary horror novel that explores themes of mental illness, rage, and grief, twisted with spine-chilling elements of Stephen King and Agatha Christie.

Following her father’s death, Jane North-Robinson and her mom move from sunny California to the dreary, dilapidated old house in Maine where her mother grew up. All they want is a fresh start, but behind North Manor’s doors lurks a history that leaves them feeling more alone…and more tormented.

As the cold New England autumn arrives, and Jane settles in to her new home, she finds solace in old books and memories of her dad. She steadily begins making new friends, but also faces bullying from the resident “bad seed,” struggling to tamp down her own worst nature in response. Jane’s mom also seems to be spiraling with the return of her childhood home, but she won’t reveal why. Then Jane discovers that the “storage room” her mom has kept locked isn’t for storage at all–it’s a little girl’s bedroom, left untouched for years and not quite as empty of inhabitants as it appears….

Is it grief? Mental illness? Or something more…horrid?

Review:

After Jane’s father dies, Jane and her mother, Ruth, move across the country to Ruth’s family home in the small town of Bells Hollow. The house has been abandoned since Ruth’s mother died years ago. There is a lot of mystery that surrounds the house, which is avoided by everyone in town. Jane quickly gets settled in her new life, but then she starts hearing things in the house. There are things hidden behind the locked doors, which holds a dark family secret.

I loved the mystery elements of this story. Jane loves Agatha Christie novels, and some were mentioned in the story. These were ones that I had never read, but clues in those stories also tied into the mystery in this book.

The house was quite creepy. Many parts of this story weren’t realistic, so that made the story a little less scary. For example, the roses in the garden continued to grow after being chopped down, which seemed fantastical and took away some of the fear of the house. However, the mystery behind the house was slowly unraveled, which made me keep reading.

The only problem I had with this book is that I had a lot of questions at the end. There were a few loose ends that I would love to know the answers to. At the same time, this adds to the mystery of the story, since some parts are left unsolved.

This was an exciting fantasy and horror novel.

What to read next:

Other Words for Smoke by Sarah Maria Griffin

Treason of Thorns by Laura E. Weymouth

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

Review: Dear Justyce (Dear Martin #2)

Title: Dear Justyce (Dear Martin #2)
Author: Nic Stone
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Publisher: Penguin Random House Canada
Source: Publisher
Format: Paperback arc
Release Date: September 29, 2020
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

In the stunning and hard-hitting sequel to the New York Timesbestseller Dear Martin, incarcerated teen Quan writes letters to Justyce about his experiences in the American prison system.

Shortly after teenager Quan enters a not guilty plea for the shooting death of a police officer, he is placed in a holding cell to await trial. Through a series of flashbacks and letters to Justyce, the protagonist of Dear Martin, Quan’s story unravels.

From a troubled childhood and bad timing to a coerced confession and prejudiced police work, Nic Stone’s newest novel takes an unflinching look at the flawed practices and ideologies that discriminate against African American boys and minorities in the American justice system.

Review:

Quan Banks is an incarcerated teen who writes letters to his old friend, Justyce. Quan had a troubled childhood, witnessing the arrest of his father and his step-father abusing his mother. He joined a crime group, and was arrested in connection with the shooting death of a police officer. Quan writes to Justyce to work through his feelings about being incarcerated and to possibly get some help with his case.

This is the perfect companion novel for Dear Martin, though there wasn’t meant to be a sequel. The boys Justyce and Quan have things in common even though they have different life situations. They’re from the same neighbourhood and went to the same schools, but have different futures.

There was a lot of tension in the story, due to the fact that we don’t know why Quan is in prison until a few chapters into the story. There were many important scenes about Quan’s childhood, each event leading to his time in prison. There were some uncomfortable scenes that were hard to read, such as when Quan’s father was arrested. It’s devastating to think of a child having to go through these things, but this is a reality for many children.

Though Quan tried to be successful and work hard, he was often discouraged by the people around him. When he studied hard for a math test and got a very good grade, everyone assumed he must have cheated. These events eventually made Quan believe that he didn’t deserve that kind of success, leading him to a crime group. When Quan was imprisoned, he had a great support team around him who believed in him. Many people in his situation don’t have the same kind of support, so unfortunately most of that part was fictionalized. However, I’m glad that Quan got to have a happy ending in this story.

I could talk about this book for hours. This is definitely required reading, and it’s the perfect companion to Dear Martin. I highly recommend this book!

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

What to read next:

Jackpot by Nic Stone

Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds

Other books in the series:

Have you read Dear Justyce? What did you think of it?

Blog Tour Review: A Golden Fury

Title: A Golden Fury
Author: Samantha Cohoe
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Historical Fiction
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: October 13, 2020
Rating: ★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Thea Hope longs to be an alchemist out of the shadow of her famous mother. The two of them are close to creating the legendary Philosopher’s Stone—whose properties include immortality and can turn any metal into gold—but just when the promise of the Stone’s riches is in their grasp, Thea’s mother destroys the Stone in a sudden fit of violent madness.

While combing through her mother’s notes, Thea learns that there’s a curse on the Stone that causes anyone who tries to make it to lose their sanity. With the threat of the French Revolution looming, Thea is sent to Oxford for her safety, to live with the father who doesn’t know she exists. 

But in Oxford, there are alchemists after the Stone who don’t believe Thea’s warning about the curse—instead, they’ll stop at nothing to steal Thea’s knowledge of how to create the Stone. But Thea can only run for so long, and soon she will have to choose: create the Stone and sacrifice her sanity, or let the people she loves die.

Review:

Thea Hope is the daughter of an alchemist, who has been trying to make the Philsopher’s Stone. Just before her mother can complete it, she is taken over by madness. Thea finds her mother’s notes, which says anyone who creates the Stone will go insane. Because of her mother’s madness, Thea is sent to find her father in Oxford, who doesn’t know she exists. Her father is also an alchemist who is trying to figure out how to make the Stone. When someone close to her father becomes mad with the Stone, Thea has to run away again to find some way to complete the Stone herself and end this curse.

This was a fast paced story. Every time it seemed like things were going well for Thea and she was doing what she planned, there would be a drastic event that changed everything. Thea had a strong character development. She had grown into a different, more mature person by the end of the story. I really liked how the story and characters developed.

I’m not interested in science, but I liked the alchemy in this book. It was a combination of science with some myth surrounding the Philosopher’s Stone. The alchemists had to use a wide range of knowledge to complete their work, including knowing multiple different languages. I learned a lot about alchemy and the mythical Philosopher’s Stone in this story.

I really enjoyed this story!

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

What to read next:

Cadaver and Queen by Alisa Kwitney

The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein

About the author:

Samantha Cohoe writes historically-inspired young adult fantasy. She was raised in San Luis Obispo, California, where she enjoyed an idyllic childhood of beach trips, omnivorous reading, and writing stories brimming with adverbs. She currently lives in Denver with her family and divides her time among teaching Latin, mothering, writing, reading, and deleting adverbs. A Golden Fury is her debut novel.

Have you read A Golden Fury? What did you think of it?

Blog Tour Review: The Code for Love and Heartbreak

Title: The Code for Love and Heartbreak
Author: Jillian Cantor
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Publisher: Inkyard Press
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: October 6, 2020
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

From bestselling author Jillian Cantor comes a smart, edgy update of Jane Austen’s beloved classic Emma.

Emma Woodhouse is a genius at math, but clueless about people. After all, people are unreliable. They let you down—just like Emma’s sister, Izzy, did this year, when she moved to California for college. But numbers…those you can count on. (No pun intended.)

Emma’s senior year is going to be all about numbers, and seeing how far they can take her. When she and George, her Coding Club co-president, are tasked with brainstorming a new project, The Code for Love is born—a matchmaking app that goes far beyond swiping, using algorithms to calculate compatibility. George disapproves of Emma’s idea, accusing her of meddling in people’s lives. But all the happy new couples at school are proof that the app works. At least at first.

Emma’s code is flawless. So why is it that perfectly matched couples start breaking up, the wrong people keep falling for each other and her own feelings defy any algorithm? Emma thought math could solve everything. But there’s nothing more complex—or unpredictable—than love.

Review:

Emma Woodhouse loves numbers and coding. She is co-president of the coding club at school with George Knightley. Emma comes up with the idea to create a dating app for their competition project. Though George doesn’t agree with that idea, they create the app and start matching up students in their school with their ideal partner using a special algorithm. Most of the matches seem to work out at first, until they discover some problems with the algorithm. Despite the successful matches, Emma is reluctant to make a match for herself, because her love code may not give her the result she wants.

Emma is one of my favourite classic books, so I was so excited to read this adaptation. This story works perfectly as a modern adaptation. The original Emma liked to match her friends and acquaintances in her town with who she thought would be a good romantic match for them. In this story, Emma is also a matchmaker, but using a modern matchmaking app, rather than just doing it herself. Both of the Emma characters are clueless to her own love interest who is right in front of her the whole time.

I loved the coding theme to this book. I don’t know much about coding, and I find it fascinating to read about. Emma embraces her nerdy side by working hard in her school work and activities, such as coding club and playing the piano. She was a hardworking and intelligent character, even if she didn’t always catch on to the social cues around her.

This is a great Emma retelling!

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

What to read next:

Tweet Cute by Emma Lord

The Dead Queens Club by Hannah Capin

About the author:

Jillian Cantor is the author of award-winning and bestselling novels for adults and teens, including In Another Time, The Hours Count, Margot, and The Lost Letter, which was a USA Today bestseller. She has a BA in English from Penn State University and an MFA from the University of Arizona. Cantor lives in Arizona with her husband and two sons.

Have you read The Code for Love and Heartbreak? What did you think of it?

Review: The Bone Houses

Title: The Bone Houses
Author: Emily Lloyd-Jones
Genre: Young Adult, Historical, Fantasy, Horror
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Source: Owlcrate box
Format: Hardcover
Release Date: September 24, 2019
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Seventeen-year-old Aderyn (“Ryn”) only cares about two things: her family, and her family’s graveyard. And right now, both are in dire straits. Since the death of their parents, Ryn and her siblings have been scraping together a meager existence as gravediggers in the remote village of Colbren, which sits at the foot of a harsh and deadly mountain range that was once home to the fae. The problem with being a gravedigger in Colbren, though, is that the dead don’t always stay dead.

The risen corpses are known as “bone houses,” and legend says that they’re the result of a decades-old curse. When Ellis, an apprentice mapmaker with a mysterious past, arrives in town, the bone houses attack with new ferocity. What is it that draws them near? And more importantly, how can they be stopped for good?

Together, Ellis and Ryn embark on a journey that will take them deep into the heart of the mountains, where they will have to face both the curse and the long-hidden truths about themselves.

Review:

Ryn lives with her siblings after the death of her parents, continuing her father’s job as gravedigger. Her father went into the forest one day to investigate the “bone houses,” dead bodies that would rise and attack anyone who entered the forest, and he never came back. Now, the bone houses are entering the town. Ryn saves Ellis, a mapmaker from the kingdom, from a bone house attack. When the bone houses become more aggressive, Ryn and Ellis venture into the forest to figure out how to save her town and her family.

This was a creepy zombie story. I liked that it was historical fiction, so it was removed from our world. From the names that were used, it seemed to be a Welsh setting. I don’t usually like zombie stories, because they can seem forced and fake. Since this story had historical aspects, the bone house zombies could be more realistic.

This story also had some really emotional parts at the end. There were some twists that surprised me, and they were heart wrenching too. Even though there were some heart breaking parts, I really liked the ending.

This is a great spooky historical story.

What to read next:

Bone Crier’s Moon by Kathryn Purdie

The Kingdom of Back by Marie Lu

Have you read The Bone Houses? What did you think of it?

Review: There’s Someone Inside Your House

Title: There’s Someone Inside Your House
Author: Stephanie Perkins
Genre: Young Adult, Horror, Thriller
Publisher: Dutton Books for Young Readers
Source: Library
Format: Ebook
Release Date: September 26, 2017
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Love hurts…

Makani Young thought she’d left her dark past behind her in Hawaii, settling in with her grandmother in landlocked Nebraska. She’s found new friends and has even started to fall for mysterious outsider Ollie Larsson. But her past isn’t far behind.

Then, one by one, the students of Osborne Hugh begin to die in a series of gruesome murders, each with increasingly grotesque flair. As the terror grows closer and her feelings for Ollie intensify, Makani is forced to confront her own dark secrets.

Review:

Makani has moved in with her grandmother in Nebraska, after a scandalous event in Hawaii. She has a few close friends, and a potential love interest. However, one day a student is brutally murdered. It turns the school upside down. Then, another student is killed. Eventually, Makani gets involved in this serial killing spree, and her dark past must be revealed.

I went into this book without knowing what it was about, and it was a shocking read! It was quite dark at times, with gory murders described in detail. This story was also set in October, so it’s the perfect Halloween read.

One thing that was interesting about this book was the narration style. It was all written in the third person omniscient perspective. The narrator knew what everyone was thinking. Some chapters focused on a random character, who wasn’t one of the main characters, which signaled they were about to be targeted by the killer. This was a little confusing at first because I wasn’t sure who these other people were, but I soon figured out that they were the ones who would be killed next.

This is a thrilling horror novel, perfect for Halloween!

What to read next:

Burn Our Bodies Down by Rory Power

Two Can Keep a Secret by Karen M. McManus

Have you read There’s Someone Inside Your House? What did you think of it?

Blog Tour Review: Kingdom of Sea and Stone (Crown of Coral and Pearl #2)

Title: Kingdom of Sea and Stone (Crown of Coral and Pearl #2)
Author: Mara Rutherford
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Publisher: Inkyard Press
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: October 6, 2020
Rating: ★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Ever since Nor was forced to go to a nearby kingdom in her sister’s place, she’s wanted nothing more than to return to the place and people she loves. But when her wish comes true, she soon finds herself cast out from both worlds, with a war on the horizon.

As an old enemy resurfaces more powerful than ever, Nor will have to keep the kingdom from falling apart with the help of Prince Talin and Nor’s twin sister, Zadie. There are forces within the world more mysterious than any of them ever guessed—and they’ll need to stay alive long enough to conquer them… 

Review:

Nor has returned to her ocean village after trading places with her twin sister to go marry the future king, Ceren. Her return is short lived when the king’s brother, and her boyfriend, Talin arrives. Prince Ceren survived the knife wound that Nor thought killed him. He not only survived, but he’s now more powerful than ever. Nor, Talin, and her twin sister Zadie have to travel to find allies to fight against Ceren.

This was one of my most highly anticipated books of the year. I loved the first novel. This one moved away from the first story, since most of that tension in that book was from Nor going to the city to marry the prince. That book ended with a bang, with Nor attacking Ceren to escape, but that turned out not to be what it seemed since he survived the fatal blow.

This story had steady pacing all the way through. There weren’t many heart pounding moments until the end. I think this steady pacing was because most of the characters got what they wanted, or what they expected. There weren’t many twists like there were in the first novel.

I really enjoyed this story. I’m excited to see what Mara Rutherford writes next!

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

What to read next:

Ash Princess by Laura Sebastian

Serpent and Dove by Shelby Mahurin

About the author:

Mara Rutherford began her writing career as a journalist but quickly discovered she far preferred fantasy to reality. Originally from California, Mara has since lived all over the world with her marine-turned-diplomat husband. A triplet born on Leap Day, Mara holds a master’s degree in cultural studies from the University of London. When she’s not writing or chasing after her two sons, she can usually be found pushing the boundaries of her comfort zone, whether at a traditional Russian banya or an Incan archaeological site. Mara is a former Pitch Wars mentee and three-time mentor

Have you read Kingdom of Sea and Stone? What did you think of it?