five stars

Review: The Bone Season, Samantha Shannon

The Bone SeasonThe Bone Season (Goodreads)
Author: Flag_uk Samantha Shannon (website)

Rating: ★★★★½

It is the year 2059. Several major world cities are under the control of a security force called Scion. Paige Mahoney works in the criminal underworld of Scion London, part of a secret cell known as the Seven Seals. The work she does is unusual: scouting for information by breaking into others’ minds. Paige is a dreamwalker, a rare kind of clairvoyant, and in this world, the voyants commit treason simply by breathing.

But when Paige is captured and arrested, she encounters a power more sinister even than Scion. The voyant prison is a separate city—Oxford, erased from the map two centuries ago and now controlled by a powerful, otherworldly race. These creatures, the Rephaim, value the voyants highly—as soldiers in their army.

Paige is assigned to a Rephaite keeper, Warden, who will be in charge of her care and training. He is her master. Her natural enemy. But if she wants to regain her freedom, Paige will have to learn something of his mind and his own mysterious motives.

Details

Series: The Bone Season #1
Genre: Dystopia/Paranormal Fantasy/Sci-fi
Published: Bloomsbury, August 20 2013
Pages: 480
My copy: the publisher for review

Paper copies: Amazon.com • Amazon.co.uk • Book Depository
E-copies:  Amazon.com • Amazon.co.uk • Barnes & Noble • Bookworld (epub)

Review

With a fast paced story, a strong heroine and a world described with exquisite detail, I enjoyed The Bone Season from beginning to end. I had heard a lot about how this was to be the next Hunger Games, the next big hit. While I’m not sure it quite hit that mark, I thought it was a brilliantly written debut that fans of the Hunger Games should certainly enjoy.

Paige is a clairvoyant – living in hiding in the criminal underworld from those in Scion London who believe her to be “Unnatural”. Her gift is to be able to sense other people’s dreamscapes and can influence others, even hurt them. She discovers that her abilities can even be deadly when she is discovered on the underground and kills two guards in self-defence. For that crime, she is arrested and sent to the penal colony of Sheol I, in the mysterious lost city of Oxford. There, she is introduced to the Rephaim – a strange race of humanoid beings who are living alongside voyant humans as their masters. All Paige wants to do is get away from her cold and aloof keeper, Warden, but as the weeks unfold it seems that the Rephaim are up to more than just keeping the world safe from the flesh-eating Emite beasts.

The Bone Season isn’t actually publicised as Young Adult, but it reads a lot like a YA Dystopia with its young protagonist, fighting to release other young people from an repressive society. This is not a new story – in fact I can think of several books I’ve read recently that have quite a similar high-level storyline, but in the Bone Season we are treated to quite a unique take on it. The world that Samantha Shannon has created here is rich and incredibly detailed, not just the corporeal world of the Scion citadel of London and of Oxford’s Sheol I, but also the etheral world – that of dreamscapes, spirits, soothsayers and guardian angels.

The world of Scion is a sort of alternative future, where the United Kingdom was rocked by some kind of event in the early nineteenth century. The Rephaim appeared from the aether and clairvoyants started appearing in the population. Fast forward to 2059 and London is now a Scion citadel, providing young voyants for the use of the Rephaim of Sheol I, or Oxford. It all has a slightly steam-punkish feel to it, although history seems to have continued in a similar fashion to the real world with Frank Sinatra music, computers and high heels still around.

The first few chapters of the story felt rather overwhelming at times, as the reader is thrown right into the thick of this world and its vernacular. There is a glossary at the back of some commonly used slang which might come in handy if you know about it before you get to the end! We only gradually learn about what has happened in the past and what the Rephaim actually are, and by the end of this first book in the series I still have a lot of questions about all manner of things in this world. The Rephaim themselves actually confused me a little as in another series I’ve read recently by Paula Weston, the Rephaim are half-angels and quite different from the beings in this book.

Information overload aside, Samantha Shannon has done an amazing job of keeping the pace up in this debut work. I had a hard time stopping at the end of each chapter, especially towards the end! The action grabbed me more than the characters did – while some of the characters were charmingly unique, I felt that most of the Dials group were a little nondescript and even the Rephaim themselves were hard to visualise. I did love Paige though – she was incredibly determined to hate everyone she perceived as an enemy and that made her a very strong character. The progression of her relationship with Warden was slightly predictable but subtle enough that I loved how it evolved.

I found The Bone Season to be a fantastic debut from Samantha Shannon who at only 22 years of age, with a seven-book publishing deal and upcoming film production under her belt certainly has a bright career ahead of her. Bring on the next in the series!

Warnings: Graphic violence, some sexual situations

What did others think of The Bone Season?

  • “If you like urban fantasy at all, please read this, you won’t regret it.” – Curiosity Killed the Bookworm
  • “Shannon has created so much strange and peculiar mythology that provided so much depth to the novel. This book is just something so odd and yet so special at the same time. ” – Scott Reads It
  • “The world in The Bone Season was very in depth and well thought out, with its own language and a uniqueness unlike anything I’ve ever read before. But … sometimes it got a bit confusing and hard to grasp.” – Auntie Spinelli Reads

 

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Review: Crown of Midnight, Sarah J Maas

Crown of MidnightCrown of Midnight (Goodreads)
Author: flag_usa Sarah J Maas (website)

Rating: ★★★★★

Eighteen-year-old Celaena Sardothien is bold, daring and beautiful – the perfect seductress and the greatest assassin her world has ever known. But though she won the King’s contest and became his champion, Celaena has been granted neither her liberty nor the freedom to follow her heart. The slavery of the suffocating salt mines of Endovier that scarred her past is nothing compared to a life bound to her darkest enemy, a king whose rule is so dark and evil it is near impossible to defy. Celaena faces a choice that is tearing her heart to pieces: kill in cold blood for a man she hates, or risk sentencing those she loves to death.

Celaena must decide what she will fight for: survival, love or the future of a kingdom. Because an assassin cannot have it all . . . And trying to may just destroy her.

Details

Series: Throne of Glass #2
Genre: YA high fantasy
Published: Bloomsbury Childrens, August 15 2013
Pages: 417
My copy: the publisher for review

Paper copies: Amazon.com • Amazon.co.uk • Book Depository
E-copies:  Amazon.com • Amazon.co.uk • Barnes & Noble • Bookworld (epub)

Please note: This is my review for the second book in this series, and so contains spoilers for the first, Throne of Glass. You may wish to read my review for that book instead!


Review

I loved Throne of Glass when I read it last year, so I was desperate to get my hands on Crown of Midnight. I am so, so glad that it not only didn’t disappoint as the second book in the series, but in fact was even more awesome than the first!

Calaena Sardothien has won the contest and been named the King’s Champion. Her job is to carry out the King’s Justice, to kill those who displease him, but Calaena secretly refuses to kill at the King’s order. She must find out about a secret plot against the crown before time runs out. Meanwhile, strange things are happening at the glass castle of Rifthold – dark hooded strangers stalk the library and bronze doorknockers take on a life of their own. What new terror is lurking in the dark places of the castle?

This second book shows great polish with its perfectly constructed pacing – quiet yet steady in the creepy parts, building up to some fantastic action scenes later in the book.  There are the sort of swoony passages that make you want to re-read sections over and over. I loved Chaol in the first book and wow, do I love him even more in this one. Dorian also has interesting developments throughout this story and I’ll look forward to seeing how his story plays out from here, however for his father the King, I am beginning to have Joffrey-esque levels of dislike.

In some ways, there are two distinct sections to this book. The first half is almost like a continuation of Throne of Glass – plenty of gorgeous romantic scenes and mysterious intrigue, then BAM – right in the middle, murder, betrayal and chaos reign for pretty much the rest of the story. Without spoiling anything, I was really surprised and a little upset by the unexpected turns but I couldn’t put the book down until I’d got right to the end. Fantastic writing and such heartbreaking scenes, even if I did want to slap Calaena at times for keeping everything to herself and not sharing any of her burdens. And oh, my god, the twists right at the end – I had my suspicions but wow, what a set up for the next book!

There are currently six books planned in this series (according to Goodreads), not to mention the several novellas that have been released featuring Celaena’s adventures (which, I have just discovered, are now available in Australia – *yoink!*). It’s going to be a long, impatient wait for the book three.

I’d recommend these books to those (not just young adults) who love a slightly eccentric, kick-arse heroine, swoon-worthy romance and some fast-paced and occasionally rather creepy action. If you haven’t read Throne of Glass yet, I’d encourage you to give it a go!

Warnings: Sexual situations, torture and violence

What did others think of Crown of Midnight?

  • Crown of Midnight, for me, is exactly what a good sequel should be. It’s a clever continuation of the first instalment (yet a story in its own right), with higher stakes and an enhanced framework for character progression.” – Realm of Fiction
  • “Crown of Midnight is fast paced, action packed, with great characters and an entertaining story.” – Book’d Out
  • “This series continues to make me completely happy even as it is tearing me apart. I keep falling in love with these characters and even when they’re breaking my heart I still root for them.” – In The Best Worlds

 

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Review: Soul of Kandrith, Nicole Luiken

Soul of KandrithTitle: Soul of Kandrith (Goodreads)
Author:   Nicole Luiken (@NicoleLuiken)

Rating: ★★★★☆

Lance is a healer and wielder of slave magic, a power that demands sacrifice. He gave up his health to gain the ability to heal others, but he’s powerless to cure his beloved Sara, who sacrificed her soul to save Lance and all of Kandrith. Returning her soul would negate her gift, at the cost of his life and the freedom of his homeland.

Now Sara is but a shell of the noble, spirited woman she once was. All that Lance saw and loved in her is gone, but he refuses to give up on her. Charged by his sister, the ruler of Kandrith, with a mission to encourage a budding rebellion within the aggrandizing Republic of Temboria, he leaves with Sara in tow. But not before Wenda’s soulsight detects a spark within her.

Amidst the escalating dangers in hostile territory, Lance will have to risk both his beloved and his homeland in a final gambit to save them both…

Details

Series: Kandrith #2 of 2
Genre: Adult High Fantasy/Romance
Published: Carina Press, March 18, 2013
My copy: From the publisher via Netgalley, thanks!

E-copies: Amazon.com • Amazon.co.uk • Barnes & Noble

Review

Please note: This review is for book 2 in the Kandrith series and contains spoilers for the first book. You may wish to read my review of Gate to Kandrith instead!


Soul of Kandrith is the conclusion to the duology that began with Gate to Kandrith. I loved the first book – Loma’s sacrifice magic, the slave nation, Sara and Lance’s romance. All that is there in Soul of Kandrith, but takes a back seat to other events that weren’t quite so enjoyable.

It’s been a year since I read Gate to Kandrith so my memory of what had happened was a bit hazy. The action begins right away without any recap, and it was a bit tricky to get back into what had been happening.

Sara is now a soulless automaton after sacrificing her soul to banish an evil blue devil. Lance brings her back to the nation of Kandrith to see if his sister Wenda, the new leader of the nation, can see any spark of a new soul in Sara.

Before long, Lance is sent off on a mission to the province of Gotia to aid rebels there and encourage them to break free of the Republic. Sara goes with him, absent of any feelings – all she knows is that Lance is important and she should stay with him. She begins to find both pain and pleasure interesting sensations, which leads her into numerous situations of abuse and self-harm. Lance must try to keep her safe until her new soul can develop, while trying to convince the Gotian rebels that slave magic can help them.

What I liked

  • Lance. I love healers (I play them in games as often as I can) and I especially love that Lance has given up his own health to be able to heal others. It would be so annoying to be sick or injured in some way all the time, but Lance puts up with it without a whimper. What a star! 
  • The romantic scenes were few and far between in this book, but when they did happen, wow!
  • The action was non-stop in this story. Lance, Rhain or Sara are always off getting themselves into trouble and needing to be rescued/healed/slapped. The whole thing is very well written and I enjoyed at least the first half of the story a lot.

What I didn’t like so much

  • All the men are nasty. With a few notable exceptions, just about every bloke in this book wants to rape Sara. I mean, I know soldiers aren’t always the most noble of gentlemen but really, both the Republicans and rebels are arseholes to a man.
  • Sara’s reasoning. Surely if she wished to keep herself and her unborn baby safe for several months, she would try to avoid such horrible situations! I just felt the whole slavery portion of the book went way over the top with the levels of abuse. There’s only so many times I want to read about people being raped.
  • The ending felt rushed. Considering how much pain and suffering all the characters go through, I had hoped for a little more detail about the aftermath.

Despite the horrible situations in this book that I felt went a little too far, I did enjoy reading about Sara and Lance’s story and was on the edge of my seat for most of the book. If you read the first book, you won’t be disappointed with the rest of the story.

 Warnings: Plenty of graphic violence and rape.

What did others think of Soul of Kandrith?

  • “So am I glad I read this? Absolutely. I was dying for it and in that sense, I enjoyed the second half of Sara and Lance’s tale. What I just didn’t like were some of the choices that the characters made.” – The Window Seat
  • “Luiken’s latest offering is a tough, long slog. Readers familiar with her previous novel will have no problem immersing themselves in the story, despite unlikable characters and a plot that builds extremely slowly.” – RT Book Reviews

Review: Throne of Glass, Sarah J Maas

Title: Throne of Glass (Goodreads)

Author:  Sarah J Maas (@sjmaas)

Rating: ★★★★★

In the dark, filthy salt mines of Endovier, an eighteen-year-old girl is serving a life sentence. She is a trained assassin, the best of her kind, but she made a fatal mistake: she got caught.

Young Captain Westfall offers her a deal: her freedom in return for one huge sacrifice. Celaena must represent the prince in a to-the-death tournament—fighting the most gifted thieves and assassins in the land. Live or die, Celaena will be free. Win or lose, she is about to discover her true destiny. But will her assassin’s heart be melted?

Details

Series: Throne of Glass #1 of ? (there are also four prequel novellas)
Genre: YA Fantasy
Published: Bloomsbury, August 2, 2012 (August 7 in the USA)
Pages (paperback): 404
My copy: From Netgalley, and from a Bloomsbury ANZ giveaway, thanks!

Paper copies: Amazon.com • Amazon.co.ukBook Depository • Booktopia
E-copies: Amazon.com • Amazon.co.uk • Barnes & Noble

Review

Celaena Sardothien, or Adarlan’s Assassin as she’s infamously known, is offered a deal – take part in a competition against other thieves and brutes for the position of King’s Champion. If she wins, she’ll be granted her freedom from the Salt Mines where she has been enslaved for the past year.

Chaol Westfall, the Captain of the Guard, takes her for training on behalf of her sponsor, the Crown Prince Dorian. As the competition begins to heat up, one by one, the champions are discovered horribly murdered by a vicious beast in the deserted corridors of the castle.

US Cover

Where to begin? I loved reading this book. I didn’t want it to end – I was completely caught up in the story and hated having to put the book down! It was partially the romantic aspects of the story that were keeping me reading, but also the exuberance with which Celaena jumps into any challenge coming in her direction – and the the challenges do come, thick and fast.

Throne of Glass is certainly not the “Game of Thrones for YA readers” that I had heard about – it’s a light and enjoyable read, despite its 400-odd pages. Early on while the competition was getting under way, it seemed almost like a fantasy Big-Brother-style elimination with one competitor leaving after each test, but the story didn’t deal very much at all with the actual competition. The relationships between the competitors, the strange magic symbols appearing around the castle, the mysterious murders of the champions and the court intrigue with the King, Duke Perrington and the Lady Kaltain provided most of the suspense.

The story is supposedly based on Cinderella, but apart from the part when they all go to the ball, I must admit I don’t see any similarities. If anyone can enlighten me here, please do!

Celaena is completely adorable. At first she comes across as quite arrogant and selfish (actually that feeling never really goes away), but as the story progresses she shows much more of her vulnerable, girlish side hidden under the prickly exterior.

As with so many young adult books, there is a love triangle of sorts. In this case, it was quite delicious and I enjoyed the swoony romantic scenes, even if they were a little shallow and eyeroll-worthy at times. I know this is aimed at a younger audience and all, but I didn’t feel the story would have been hurt by perhaps Celaena actually spending a night with the Prince. They are adults, after all! What is it with all these lovely honourable men in books these days?

Throne of Glass is a brilliant debut and I am dying to read the next in the series already to find out where Celaena’s adventures take her next! Get your copy as soon as you can. There’s a handsome prince. And puppies. Did I mention the kick-arse heroine?

If you’d like to read one of the prequel novellas for free, Sugarscape still has The Assassin and the Empire up for a limited time! The other three novellas are available on Amazon but sadly, not in Australia 🙁

Warnings: Quite a bit of violence.

What did others think of Throne of Glass?

  • “So much creativity, imagination and love has gone into this novel. That is crystal clear.” – Hannah of Once Upon a Time
  • “This was a wonderful fantasy story. I enjoyed it immensely and Celaena is a fantastic heroine and role model for a Young Adult crowd.” – 5/5 – Philippa of Tea, Daydreams & Fairytales
  • “While the synopsis may come off feeling a little Hunger Game-esque, let me calm your fears now. It’s not. ” – 3/5 – Stephanie of Cuddlebuggery

 

Review: Amped, Daniel H. Wilson

Amped, Daniel WilsonTitle: Amped (Goodreads)

Author:  Daniel H. Wilson (@danielwilsonpdx)

Rating: ★★★★★

Technology makes them superhuman. But mere mortals want them kept in their place. Enter a stunning world where technology and humanity clash in terrifying and surprising ways.

Some people are implanted with upgrades that make them capable of superhuman feats. The powerful technology has profound consequences for society, and soon a set of laws is passed that restricts the abilities—and rights—of “amplified” humans.

On the day that the Supreme Court passes the first of these laws, 29-year-old Owen Gray discovers that his seizure-supressing medical implant is actually a powerful upgrade. Owen joins the ranks of a new persecuted underclass known as “amps” and is forced to go on the run, desperate to reach an outpost in Oklahoma where, it is rumoured, a group of the most enhanced amps are about to change the world—or destroy it.

Details

Series: Standalone
Genre: Science fiction
Published: Knopf Doubleday, June 5, 2012
Pages (Hardcover): 288
My Copy: Digital ARC from Netgalley

Paper copies: Amazon.com • Amazon.co.uk • Book Depository
E-copies: Amazon.com • Amazon.co.uk • Barnes & Noble

Review

Amped was a roller coaster ride from start to finish. I was constantly pulled between being worried about the main characters, horrified at the anti-amp protests and media beat-ups and sad at the human cost of similar conflicts that are mirrored in the real world.

This story would make a great movie – the action scenes play out like a screenplay, complete with slow-motion sections. I loved the fast pacing and the detailed descriptions.

Amped is a really interesting look at the way society works. Once people are given permission to hate something or someone, and fed and encouraged by the media, they will often go ahead and hate no matter how reasonable a person they seem to be. All it takes to start a war is for one person in authority to say that something is not right and call for action. It’s scary, honestly. Parallels can be drawn with the way western society handles the perceived threat of terrorism from minority groups.

Power can do funny things to people. To paraphrase a quote from Amped: “… (it) makes a good person better, and it makes a bad person worse.” Poor Owen has to learn how to use his implant in a very short time and hope that when it comes down to the crunch and his implant takes over, he’ll end up being a good guy instead of a bad one.

Fans of dystopia will love this book, and anyone who likes a fast-paced action-packed story should enjoy it as well.

Warnings: Graphic violence, some swearing.

Review: Insurgent, Veronica Roth

Title: Insurgent (Goodreads)

Author: Veronica Roth (@VeronicaRoth)

Rating: ★★★★★

One choice can transform you—or it can destroy you. But every choice has consequences, and as unrest surges in the factions all around her, Tris Prior must continue trying to save those she loves—and herself—while grappling with haunting questions of grief and forgiveness, identity and loyalty, politics and love.

 

Details

Series: Divergent #2
Genre: YA Dystopia
Published: HarperTeen, May 1 2012
Pages (hardcover edition): 525

Paper copies: Amazon.com • Amazon.co.uk • Book Depository
E-copies: Amazon.com • Amazon.co.uk • Barnes & Noble

Review

*WARNING*  There are spoilers for the events of Divergent here. If you haven’t read it yet, I suggest skipping the rest of this review!

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Review: Gate to Kandrith, Nicole Luiken

Gate to Kandrith, Nicole LuikenTitle: Gate to Kandrith (Goodreads)

Author:   Nicole Luiken (@NicoleLuiken)

Rating: 

Series: Kandrith 1 of 2(?)

Genre: Adult High Fantasy/Romance

Published: Carina Press, March 26, 2012

My copy: Ebook ARC from NetGalley

Pre-order an E-copy: Amazon.com • Amazon.co.uk • Barnes & Noble • Diesel eBooks

Sarathena Remillus, daughter of the newly elected Primus of the Republic of Temboria, has been given a mission: discover the secret of slave magic. Anxious to escape the corruption and treachery of the capital, Sara welcomes the chance to finally prove herself far away in Kandrith, the tiny nation of former slaves.

Accompanying her on the journey is Lance, a Kandrithan to whom Sara owes her life. Lance despises the nobility, and is determined to resist his desire for Sara, despite her attempts to entice him into divulging the secret of his magic. (Goodreads)

Review

Gate to Kandrith drew me in from the very first chapter and didn’t let go. The story moves along at a cracking pace, introducing elements of romance right away and weaving them around an interesting society and world.

The countries of the Republic and Kandrith are very different. The Republic is ruled by a Primus who has seized power, attended by a court of nobles with slaves to serve them. Kandrith was founded by escaped slaves, headed by one chosen by the Goddess of Mercy and protected by magic. Kandrith is rather utopian –  even though they do have a fairly fool-proof justice system in the “Listeners” who cannot hear lies, surely even in a nation of escaped slaves there would be someone ambitious enough to seize power? In any case, it sounds like an idyllic place.

The magic system used by the slaves is based on sacrifice – you must give up something in order to receive power. I like systems like this where balance is preserved more than those where magic is freely available to be used. It seems more realistic to me – as realistic as magic can be, anyway.

When this book is described as “adult fantasy”, it’s not wrong – right from the first chapter we’re introduced to jazoria, a drug that increases desire against the victim’s will. There’s quite a few raunchy and violent scenes throughout the book, and I can’t help feeling that these scenes may prevent the book from reaching as wide an audience as it might otherwise have. Not that I didn’t enjoy the romance – Sara and Lance are rather swoon-worthy!

The characters were, perhaps, a little shallow. That didn’t stop them from being likable though. It was great to see Sara’s journey as she discovered that there were ways to live other than how she had been raised in the Republic. Lance was just a total sweetheart! Absolutely no complaints there, I loved him.

Gate to Kandrith was a brilliant read and was very difficult to put down.  It will be tough to wait for the next book to come out to find out what happens next!

Read this book to your little ‘uns? Absolutely not! Contains some grisly deaths, graphic adult scenes, rape and torture.

Review: Daughter of Smoke and Bone, Laini Taylor

Title: Daughter of Smoke and Bone (Goodreads)

Author:   Laini Taylor

Rating:

Series: Book 1 of 3 (planned and unnamed)

Genre: YA Fantasy

Published: Hachette Book Group, 2011

Pages: 418
Paper copies: Amazon.com Amazon.co.ukBook Depository
E-copies: Amazon.comAmazon.co.ukEbooks.com

“Errand requiring immediate attention. Come.

The note was on vellum, pierced by the talons of the almost-crow that delivered it. Karou read the message. ‘He never says please’, she sighed, but she gathered up her things.

When Brimstone called, she always came.”

In general, Karou has managed to keep her two lives in balance. On the one hand, she’s a seventeen-year-old art student in Prague; on the other, errand-girl to a monstrous creature who is the closest thing she has to family. Raised half in our world, half in ‘Elsewhere’, she has never understood Brimstone’s dark work – buying teeth from hunters and murderers – nor how she came into his keeping. She is a secret even to herself, plagued by the sensation that she isn’t whole.

Now the doors to Elsewhere are closing, and Karou must choose between the safety of her human life and the dangers of a war-ravaged world that may hold the answers she has always sought.

Review

I was a bit wary picking this book up since it has been hyped beyond any other book recently released. Thankfully, Daughter of Smoke and Bone delivers. I started reading it a couple of days before I was due to do some travelling for work and thank goodness I did – it gave me a few uninterrupted hours of reading time during which I couldn’t bear to put the Kindle down.

I’ve intentionally left this review fairly vague to avoid spoilers, and also because it had been a while since I read any reviews or descriptions of this book before I started reading it which ended up working really well – the story starts slowly, revealing piece by piece of Karou’s lives in Prague and “Elsewhere”.

I loved this book! The action was fast-paced and exciting, the story of love and hope of peace between warring races is sweet and lovely, and the romantic scenes were rather swoon-worthy. Karou is a strong, but vulnerable heroine. I felt the love-at-first-sight introduction of Akiva was a little overdone at first, but later the reasons unfolded and it made more sense. I shall say no more in the interest of avoiding spoilers!

I loved the descriptions of places in our world, especially Prague. I only visited the city for one day but I certainly remember the twisting passageways and odd little shops tucked away in the old town area. What a brilliant setting for a fantasy tale!

The worlds and events described in this book are so detailed that I felt I was almost seeing the action taking place before me. I was so pleased to discover that the rights to make Daughter of Smoke and Bone into a film have been acquired by Universal Studios – I thought a couple of times while reading that the story could make a beautiful and unique movie, and I really hope they will do just that.

The story shifts between Karou and Akiva’s points of view, and also jumps backwards and forwards in time to tell different parts of the characters’ histories. I found this a little off-putting at times, especially as they are just getting into exciting events and suddenly we are in a flashback to a much earlier time. The flashbacks are rarely more than one chapter so we get back to the action quickly, but I felt they disrupted the flow of the story a little.

The ending left me open-mouthed and desperate to know more. The second book in the series will be called Days of Blood and Starlight and is due for release in September 2012. I cannot wait.

Challenge: I read this book as part of the Eclectic Reader Challenge, hosted by Book’d Out.

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