Beware of the Midnight Bargains… Escaping From Houdini by Kerri Maniscalco Review

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My Rating 4 STARS

Thank you, to Hachette Australia and Dateabook for an early chance to read and review this book. All opinions are my own. 

Coming off the greatness that was Hunting Prince Dracula, Maniscalco had some pretty big shoes to fill. I definitely believe that she filled them and then some.

Escaping From Houdini combines all the great aspects of mystery, romance, and thriller. And, it’s safe to say that this instalment is my favourite of the series. Audrey Rose has come into her own, her relationship with Thomas Cresswell has developed to such a solid place UGH it’s just so good, and the mystery in this book is nail-biting. There is something cool about trying to figure out who did it, it reminds me very much of Cluedo growing up and I guess that’s what these mystery novels are all about. #duh

BUT, add in the science of anatomy, forensics, criminology, literally just anything coroner related – I am not good at science words – but add in all that and a whole other dimension is added to the story. It’s fun getting to know what bones are where and what the insides of a person look like – not that fun actually, nevermind, the descriptions are let’s say, vivid.

Anyway, I think that’s enough kinda backstory. Audrey Rose and Thomas haven’t even taken a breath after the last mystery and already someone has managed to be murdered. And, so much more murder occurs. It’s very Game of Thrones. The mystery in this instalment is the best so far because people keep getting killed. And, I personally love when people are killed in novels because it hardly ever happens to the degree that I want it. That sounds inherently sadistic. But, the disappointment that was ACOWAR has left me scarred and I’m happy about the healthy amount of death in this book. MWAHAHAHA.

Audrey Rose has fast become one of my favourite heroines. She’s headstrong, intelligent, and witty. Her keen eye to detail in order to figure out murders is great, but also, there is this balance brought on by her need for approval from her uncle. I mean, she is an apprentice for her uncle but there are moments where she’s on par with her uncle. It’s a great aspect of her narrative. What definitely stands out, is her relationship with Thomas Cresswell – who is also another new favourite character of mine. The two are perfect together, they have the best banter, and there are some rough moments for their relationship in this book, be warned.

Side note: It’s weird how much I like these books because I’m like a fantasy and sci-fi fanatic and to venture out into these books is not something that I normally do. So, for me to like them this much is great. I think it may have something to do with my affinity for mystery style tv shows and movies – How To Get Away With Murder, for example, is like phenomenal.

Another thing, the circus act in this story is so good! I love anything circus related – it’s a shame I haven’t read Caraval yet – and this book definitely delivers on the whimsy factor. And, how could one forget Houdini! He was great in this book and it’s great to see Maniscalco talk about him before he became THE GREAT HOUDINI. So, that was a nice addition to the story.

Overall, Escaping From Houdini is definitely my favourite in the series, so far, and I’m without a doubt head over heels for Audrey Rose and Thomas. And, if you haven’t already, give these books a go!

Goodreads Synopsis

In this third instalment in the #1 bestselling Stalking Jack the Ripper series, a luxurious ocean liner becomes a floating prison of scandal, madness, and horror when passengers are murdered one by one…with nowhere to run from the killer.

Audrey Rose Wadsworth and her partner-in-crime-investigation, Thomas Cresswell, are en route to New York to help solve another blood-soaked mystery. Embarking on a week-long voyage across the Atlantic on the opulent RMS Etruria, they’re delighted to discover a travelling troupe of circus performers, fortune tellers, and a certain charismatic young escape artist entertaining the first-class passengers nightly.

But then, privileged young women begin to go missing without explanation, and a series of brutal slayings shocks the entire ship. The strange and disturbing influence of the Moonlight Carnival pervades the decks as the murders grow ever more freakish, with nowhere to escape except the unforgiving sea. It’s up to Audrey Rose and Thomas to piece together the gruesome investigation as even more passengers die before reaching their destination. But with clues to the next victim pointing to someone she loves, can Audrey Rose unravel the mystery before the killer’s horrifying finale?

 

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It’s Time For A Rematch: Wildcard by Marie Lu Review

Wildcard is the culmination of everything good in Young-Adult Fiction, managing to transport its readers into the make-believe while commenting on current real-world issues. Marie Lu has crafted a beautiful finale to the Warcross world, conjuring a range of emotions; from happiness to heart-ache. 

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My Rating: 5 STARS

Exclaimer!! This is a sequel, so naturally, there will be spoilers for WARCROSS!

Goodreads Synopsis

Emika Chen barely made it out of the Warcross Championships alive. Now that she knows the truth behind Hideo’s new NeuroLink algorithm, she can no longer trust the one person she’s always looked up to, who she once thought was on her side.

Determined to put a stop to Hideo’s grim plans, Emika and the Phoenix Riders band together, only to find a new threat lurking on the neon-lit streets of Tokyo. Someone’s put a bounty on Emika’s head, and her sole chance for survival lies with Zero and the Blackcoats, his ruthless crew. But Emika soon learns that Zero isn’t all that he seems–and his protection comes at a price.

Caught in a web of betrayal, with the future of free will at risk, just how far will Emika go to take down the man she loves?

Now, on the review. 

Marie Lu is a genius. Wildcard is now my favourite book that she has written and I’m not sure what to do with that information, well obviously celebrate with champagne. Anyway, it just had EVERYTHING I wanted and more. Warcross was great and all, but here you get to learn and understand all the characters, and not just Emika and Hideo. Every character gets some form of backstory. It was beautiful to understand Tremaine’s motivations, Roshan’s motivations, and even Zero’s motivations. I think that the character development that occurs throughout the novel, is probably one of the best I’ve read. It is very reminiscent of Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo. You get to know the characters way more in the sequel, and that what the case here, in Wildcard.

Another thing, considering the level of world-building that was needed in the first novel, I went into Wildcard not expecting much. But, there was much more to Tokyo and Warcross that I expected. Like, I know that it isn’t that major, but there are duels in Warcross. Players can go head to head, which I thought was a nice (yet duh!) addition to the narrative.

And, the romance in Wildcard! Just taken to a whole other level. The relationship that developed between Hideo and Emika, in Warcross, was so interesting to read, and it does get more interesting to read in this sequel – mainly because of the events at the end of Warcross.

What I liked.

If Emika Chen is not one of my favourite characters, I don’t know who is. She’s just magical to read. Every scene with her is fun, enjoyable, and alluring. I want to read her story. I want her to succeed. I was rooting for Emika right from the first chapter of Warcross, and that continues into Wildcard. Her development in Wildcard was wonderful to experience and can’t really be described if you haven’t read the book. But, if and when you do, you’ll understand.

Hideo Tanaka, he definitely has a solid character arc. And, there were times I was on the edge of my seat reading scenes he was in. I loved getting deeper into his motivations and learning more as to why he does/ did what he does/ did. Honestly, if there ever is a live-action film of Warcross and Wildcard, it will be a challenge for the actor to convey the range of emotions that Hideo experiences in Wildcard.

Tremaine and Roshan. These two had my personal favourite side story in Warcross and I’m definitely grateful that this was explored in Wildcard. I can’t go into much, but honestly, Marie Lu, write a story revolving around these two gems.

Also, the topics that were discussed in Wildcard felt all too real. The reliance on technology, the increasing threat of advanced technologies, our vulnerability to technology. It was great to read about topics that actually can apply to our modern world, which is something that I don’t see very often – of course, social topics are heavily discussed, but narratives that revolve around the dangers of technology are rare.

There is so much more that I want to talk about, but I don’t want to spoil the story!! Ugh!! So frustrating! I’m glad tho, that I can speak to some people who have read it as well and we can express our feelings about the awesomeness that was Wildcard!

What I didn’t like.

Well, even though the storyline finished at a good place and the pacing was great, I want more from this world. I want a story that happens when Hideo first established Warcross; I want a story that takes place ten years in the future; I just want more! This isn’t really a negative, but honestly, there is nothing bad about this book – in my eyes.

I fully suggest, that if you haven’t already, that you pick up Warcross NOW and finish it over the weekend, so that upon Wildcard’s release this Monday (September 17th) you’ll be set.

WTF WEDNESDAY.

Yo. What’s up? How’s you? Tracy, from Trufflereads, created a new blog meme today and I’m for sure going along with it. You can find the original post here. But, essentially WTF WEDNESDAY encompasses the bookish moments that made you think WTF. It’s quite simple, right? So, let’s begin.

WTF was that Allegiant film adaptation?

I mean, let’s talk about the mess that was the movie. Because, I for one am a fan of the books, not as much as I used to be, but I’m still a fan – and I secretly want the hardbacks and that’s why I’m donating my paperbacks #sorrynotsorry Anyway, they butchered the adaptation.

For one, what was Chicago airport? I’m sorry, but how did it all of sudden turn into this glorious post modern, masterpiece of architecture…I’m telling you, that massive pole was unnecessary and took away from the Dystopian vibe of the story. Speaking of the Chicago airport, the bloody camera thingys were terrible. Where were my 40 odd screens that showed the locations of the hidden cameras around the city? Talk about a terrible way to emphasise your try hard tendencies to outplay other YA Adaptations. I feel like this is me just full on criticising the Allegiant movie. But, it literally made me go WTF.

Also, WTF WAS THE FRINGE? Talk about cringe. Even the ‘wasteland’ aesthetic they had going on was terrible. I was as shocked as anyone to see the pathetic excuse of a Fringe that this movie decided to create.

Even that ending had me going WTF, because it was NOTHING like the book. I mean yeah there were similarities and also, they were under the impression that there would be another part,  but, to leave the Divergent films with THAT ending. Talk about a choice and a terrible choice at that.

But yeah, I truly feel bad for the actors in these films, because they are great at their craft and we’re just trapped in this horrible excuse of movie adaptation. They truly showed that things do get better after acting in a bad ya movie adaptation.

To summarise. LOVE THE BOOKS, HATE THE MOVIE. Cause, WTF was that Allegiant adaptation.

Warcross by Marie Lu Review

Warcross is like a Steinmetz Pink Diamond – rare to find, worth more than you can imagine, and beautiful. Marie Lu has created a rare gem in amongst the Young-Adult world, as she takes her readers along a high-stakes journey. This passion project is overflowing with warmth, action, and creativity. 

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My Rating: 5 Stars

Goodreads Synopsis:

For the millions who log in every day, Warcross isn’t just a game—it’s a way of life. The obsession started ten years ago and its fan base now spans the globe, some eager to escape from reality and others hoping to make a profit. Struggling to make ends meet, teenage hacker Emika Chen works as a bounty hunter, tracking down players who bet on the game illegally. But the bounty hunting world is a competitive one, and survival has not been easy. Needing to make some quick cash, Emika takes a risk and hacks into the opening game of the international Warcross Championships—only to accidentally glitch herself into the action and become an overnight sensation.

Convinced she’s going to be arrested, Emika is shocked when instead she gets a call from the game’s creator, the elusive young billionaire Hideo Tanaka, with an irresistible offer. He needs a spy on the inside of this year’s tournament in order to uncover a security problem . . . and he wants Emika for the job. With no time to lose, Emika’s whisked off to Tokyo and thrust into a world of fame and fortune that she’s only dreamed of. But soon her investigation uncovers a sinister plot, with major consequences for the entire Warcross empire.

I’m a definite science-fiction enthusiast. Well, I like to think I am. And, it takes as significant piece of fiction to meet my expectation when it comes to science-fiction. I’m a massive fan of The Fifth Element, The Alien franchise, The Red Rising Trilogy, The Matrix Trilogy, etc. But, there’s isn’t much sci-fi in the Young-Adult realm that live up to these amazing films/ books. Then, Warcross came along. By the gods, I was saved. It manages to combine a lot of my favourite aspects of Young-Adult fiction; the badass female heroine, swoon worthy love interest, bloody amazing world-building, and a heart-wrenching twist.

Characters

Emika Chen, our protagonist, is alone. She’s had to endure a rough upbrining; losing her father at a young age, her mother walking out on her, moving in and out of foster homes.    Emika has had it tough, and sadly, still has it tough. Living in a run-down apartment, she works as a bounty hunter, catching criminals who illegally bet on the Warcross game. On the side, Emika is a hacker and she uses this to her benefit when tracking potential criminals. But, let’s just quickly mention her appearance. EMIKA HAS RAINBOW HAIR. That is all.

Marie Lu crafted Emika so eloquentely, and there is this deep sense of tragedy while reading her journey. Despite all of her circumstances, Emika is a strong, willfull character; she stands up for those who need it and does not back down to those who project any negative vibes. Honestly, Warcross does contest The Rose Society as my favourite Marie Lu book, because of Emika.

Hideo Tanaka, the love interest to end all love interests. I’m not going to demean him to the love interest status – it’s the truth tho – because he’s the mastermind behind the expanse of the world. He is the inventor of Warcross, the whole reason that this story takes place, is because of him. He’s charming, charismatic, swoon worthy, and fanshionable af. AND, he owns a Corgi named Koa – I did not realise this the first time I read Warcross, but I was glad to have come across this little detail. Oh, and he reads. The dynamic that is created between Hideo and Emika is *mwah* perfection.

The side characters. Once again, I don’t want to reduce these characters to their side character status, because they have such intricut back stories. Asher, Hammie, Roshan, DJ Ren, TREMAINE. All of these characters deserve the spotlight. Tracy for Truffle Books mentiones in her review of Warcross, that Tremaine and Roshan need their own spinoff and I could not be more on board with that idea. I do, however, want Marie Lu to go more in-depth with these characters in Wildcard – which, releases in like two weeks! I’m honestly so pumped for it, now that I’ve reread Warcross.

World Building/ World

One word to describe this world. VIVID. Because Warcross takes place in a futuristic setting, a lot of smilairites are apprarent. So, it would be easy to imagine New York and Tokyo. But, much like in Warcross, there is an evident layer of virtual reality in the world-building. Everything about this book is amplified; the technology, the people, the power structures. I’m currently learning about the power of media at Uni and just to see the dissolving social climate in Warcross, because of the increased dominance of technology, is perfection. At the rate, of which, humanity is innovating technology, I would not be surprised if the themes in Warcross become a reality.

“The sky is filled with virtual flying ships and colourful orbs, some displaying news, others displaying commercials, still others just there seemingly because they look pretty.”

“The streets are crowded with young people in elaborate getups – giant lace skirts, elaborate umberellas, ten-inch-tall boots, eyelashes that seem miles lon, face masks that glow in the dark.”

As you can probably tell, just from these quotes, you can imagine the depth of the world. Marie Lu captures the atmosphere of Tokyo, allowing her readers to experience the magic of such a technology centred city – it’s honestly breathtaking to read.

Overall.

This book, after my reread, has become one of my favourites. I have such a strong appreciation for Marie Lu and her writing. She goes above and beyond when she creates a book, and to have her integrate two of her passions into one piece of art, its magicial experience.

Definitely pick up Warcross, if you haven’t already. The cover alone should be enough reason to buy this book, and to have it be just as amazing on the inside, is even better.

 

 

Dare To Dream. Mirage by Somaiya Daud Review

A debut novel I didn’t know that I needed. Mirage is a thrill of a tale; filled with political intrigue, strong female characters, and a rich sense of culture. Somaiya Daud has captured my interest and a sequel is needed as soon as possible. 

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My Rating 4.5 STARS

ARC provided by Hachette Australia for an honest review. 

Goodreads Synopsis

In a star system dominated by the brutal Vathek empire, eighteen-year-old Amani is a dreamer. She dreams of what life was like before the occupation; she dreams of writing poetry like the old-world poems she adores; she dreams of receiving a sign from Dihya that one day, she, too, will have adventure, and travel beyond her isolated moon.

But when adventure comes for Amani, it is not what she expects: she is kidnapped by the regime and taken in secret to the royal palace, where she discovers that she is nearly identical to the cruel half-Vathek Princess Maram. The princess is so hated by her conquered people that she requires a body double, someone to appear in public as Maram, ready to die in her place.

As Amani is forced into her new role, she can’t help but enjoy the palace’s beauty—and her time with the princess’ fiancé, Idris. But the glitter of the royal court belies a world of violence and fear. If Amani ever wishes to see her family again, she must play the princess to perfection…because one wrong move could lead to her death.

The most notable aspect of Mirage is definitely the familial relationships. Being Lebanese, I found myself resonating with Amani and her intense love for her family. It would be heartbreaking, for me, if anything were to ever happen to them; so, I was traumatised by Amani’s kidnapping scene. To be ripped away from her family, especially in a moment of importance, had lasting effects on her, and her actions. This scene was written perfectly and fully conveyed the futility of Amani’s actions to a tea; and, also, her brother’s actions made my heart ache.

Another aspect of the novel, that I highly enjoyed, was the world-building. Definitely a book that is full of beautiful quotes and endless amounts of imagery. The world was distinct, original, and breathtaking. I could easily imagine every detail of every scene.

Suspended over the kasbah in the night sky was our mother planet, Andala, hanging like an overripe orange fruit. With such a sight it was easy to forget everything: our poverty, the rule of the Vath, the specter of loss that hovered over our parents every day. 

Amani is someone I see a lot of myself in – not really one to stand out; the youngest child; always acting in an appropriate manner; still managing to be the fun one, but she grows and develops into someone who I’d hope to be. Amani goes through a remarkable set of events and considering her situation, she maintains a bit of herself. She becomes this strong, confident, and mature person, who tries her best to do what’s right. It’s heartbreaking that Amani experiences, because of her kidnapping, cultural erasure of her heritage. The conflict that arises from this is intriguing and adds a distinct layer to the story, which I liked.

The two cultures, Kushaila and Vathek, loathe one another. One is the conquerer and the other is the conquered. Maram, who is the Princess of the Vathek and the person that Amani is chosen to impersonate, is both. Maram is definitely the character that stood out for me. Her internal battle to please her tyrant of a father or be the future Queen her people need felt all too real. She reminded me of Azula from ATLA. I’m keen on seeing what Somaiya has in store for Maram in the sequel.

And, honestly, the moment that Amani and Maram’s grandmother share with one another is something that I will forever hold in my heart. It’s a scene that reminds me of my relationship with my grandmother. There is no bond more special, than a grandchild and a grandparent, and I feel as though a lot of people can relate to this aspect of the book.

And, I’ve seen a lot of people discussing the romance aspect of Mirage, and I, personally, loved it. Every single moment that the two characters were together, (I won’t mention who, because #spoiler), I was completely enthraled by their interactions. You’ll definitely have to read it to understand what I mean. But like:

The firelight cast his face in shadow so that I could see the ghost of his lashes against his cheeks, but not his eyes. He mesmerized me as no one ever had. It wasn’t only that I wanted to look. I wanted to touch. 

There were some drawbacks with Mirage. What I wasn’t impressed with, was this lack of consequences. What I mean is, there were instances where Amani would do something and I felt that she should’ve been punished or had at least something happen to her. (That sounds so horrible.) There just wasn’t this high stakes kind of atmosphere; well, not until the last one-hundred pages or so, and it prevented me from fully connecting with the story.

Another thing that left me with more questions than answers, was the world – like overall. Don’t get me wrong, the world building was exquisite, but I found myself confused as to which planet/ moon these characters were on. I felt, that there could’ve been a stronger development of the setting. That may also come down to the fact, that the ARC of Mirage doesn’t have a map, whereas the finished copy will. I needed something to reference so these feelings may change upon release.

Mirage has definitely become a book to watch and I will definitely be counting down the days for its sequel. This book releases on the 28th of August, so mark that down in your calendar!

All Empires Fall. A Reaper at the Gates by Sabaa Tahir Review

My most-anticipated read of the year and well worth the wait. Reaper is an action-packed installment that does not disappoint, with strong character development and jaw-dropping action scenes. Sabaa Tahir has perfected her craft, creating another mind-blowing novel. 

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MY RATING 5 STARS

Goodreads Synopsis

Beyond the Empire and within it, the threat of war looms ever larger.

The Blood Shrike, Helene Aquilla, is assailed on all sides. Emperor Marcus, haunted by his past, grows increasingly unstable, while the Commandant capitalizes on his madness to bolster her own power. As Helene searches for a way to hold back the approaching darkness, her sister’s life and the lives of all those in the Empire hang in the balance.

Far to the east, Laia of Serra knows the fate of the world lies not in the machinations of the Martial court, but in stopping the Nightbringer. But while hunting for a way to bring him down, Laia faces unexpected threats from those she hoped would aid her, and is drawn into a battle she never thought she’d have to fight.

And in the land between the living and the dead, Elias Veturius has given up his freedom to serve as Soul Catcher. But in doing so, he has vowed himself to an ancient power that will stop at nothing to ensure Elias’s devotion–even at the cost of his humanity.

I think it bodes well to establish that I was utterly broken after finishing this book. It was everything that I wanted and needed. A Reaper at the Gates was literal perfection.

The novel opens with a chapter from the Nightbringer. I especially love when authors provide at least one chapter that lets us as readers get some insight into the workings of the villain. Let’s actually talk about the Nightbringer for a second. So, recently, Sabaa talked in an interview with Tomi Adeyemi and they touched on villains or should I say, antagonists. They made a valid point that antagonists are the hero of their own story and it put in perspective the motivations of the Nightbringer. They’re just trying to save their people, who are the jinn and free them from their prison. It’s always interesting to have that element in a story.

Now, I have some strong feelings towards this book! Bloody hell was Reaper good. Nothing felt out of place or irrelevant, it all added to the progression of the narrative.

The plot was phenomenal. We don’t jump right back into the story, like Torch, but are thrown right into the action. Laia, Elias, and Helene are all struggling with new challenges – mainly Elias as he now is The Soul Catcher.

Everything is very separate. Laia is with her brother Darin trying to find the mysterious ‘Bee Keeper’ and help her fellow Scholars to freedom. Elias is dealing with his new position as Soul Catcher, also his conflicting morality and newfound powers. Helene, now accepting her position as Blood Shrike, is honed in on one person – The Commandant.

There were massive amounts of anticipation leading up to Reaper – I reread the books to be EXTRA prepared – and it definitely delivered.

What was most notable. I truly believe that Sabaa is THE most intelligent writer. She was able to catch me completely off-guard at the end of the book and even throughout the narrative I was in awe of the intensity that every scene had. Reaper truly is a page-turner. I was left #SHOOKETH Everything was eloquently written, the writing was magical to read. Just like the first two novels, Sabaa develops such a complex world – but, in Reaper, this world is extended. In Reaper the reader is taken to new places – we have heard of them, but never seen them – and Navium and Antium are, even though this is the first instance that they are seen, fully realised. It’s great.

Another thing that stood out – the character growth. If you could compare the trio to their characters in the first book, even the second, there is a CLEAR difference. Laia is no longer the shy, weak little girl, Laia has developed this sense of inner-strength that reflects on the outside. Elias is no longer our sacrificial Mask, he challenges his morals and beliefs, it’s refreshing to see a character battle with themselves – If you’ve read it, you would understand (I can’t really say much about his growth because of spoilers). HELENE, still kind of the character that overlooks the oppression of the Scholar, but what a glow-up. Bloody hell, the climax of her character arc is so moving and emotionally charged – it’s intense.

I think that’s the world to describe A Reaper at the Gates – intense.

Overall, Reaper has, without a doubt, become my favourite book in this series and my favourite book I’ve read this year. For one thing, the cover is STUNNING and another thing, it’s just as beautiful on this inside as it is on the outside.

If you have not started the An Ember in the Ashes series, I suggest you do so now, because it truly is a masterpiece.

I think that will be all I’ll say, I don’t want to spoil anything. JUST READ THIS SERIES!

The World Will Fall. Two Queens Will Rise. Furyborn by Claire Legrand Review

The long-awaited tale of two queens, separated by a thousand years, is overflowing with succulent imagery and nail-biting storytelling. Claire Legrand has crafted a masterpiece worthy of a position as one of the greatest fantasies of the year.

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MY RATING 5 STARS

Goodreads Synopsis

When assassins ambush her best friend, the crown prince, Rielle Dardenne risks everything to save him, exposing her ability to perform all seven kinds of elemental magic. The only people who should possess this extraordinary power are a pair of prophesied queens: a queen of light and salvation and a queen of blood and destruction. To prove she is the Sun Queen, Rielle must endure seven trials to test her magic. If she fails, she will be executed…unless the trials kill her first.

A thousand years later, the legend of Queen Rielle is a mere fairy tale to bounty hunter Eliana Ferracora. When the Undying Empire conquered her kingdom, she embraced violence to keep her family alive. Now, she believes herself untouchable–until her mother vanishes without a trace, along with countless other women in their city. To find her, Eliana joins a rebel captain on a dangerous mission and discovers that the evil at the heart of the empire is more terrible than she ever imagined.

As Rielle and Eliana fight in a cosmic war that spans millennia, their stories intersect, and the shocking connections between them ultimately determine the fate of their world–and of each other.

Now, let’s get into my thoughts about this book and there are a lot!

The most notable feature of this novel, other than Remy, would definitely be the world-building. Everything feels real. Little mundane details are what ground fantasy novels and allow the reader to relate to the story, and Furyborn does this well. Throughout the entirety of the novel, I felt a part of the narrative and was able to fully immerse myself in this reading experience. Legrand was able to create this epic fantasy with grand palaces, almost ‘Tri-wizard Tournament’ challenges, and well-developed villages, but it never felt unrealistic – I know right? That sounds a bit far-fetched. But, the two distinct time periods feel as though they could have existed at one point.

That’s another thing, the story itself was incredibly unique and nothing like I’ve read before. Yes, you go into this book assuming that it will be just another fantasy that has two perspectives that never intercede – I mean, that’s what I thought going into this book and I can’ say much else about this aspect because of spoilers, but as the story progresses information is revealed and this is what allows Furyborn to stand apart from typical fantasy stories.

And, bloody hell, THE CLIFFHANGERS! They are a killer and I would suggest starting this book sometime in the morning, because if you read it sometime at night – YOU WILL NOT SLEEP. The cliffhangers are not extremely dramatic, but they provide the reader with this sense of need. So, my advice is to start this at sunrise and that would allow you to get a decent amount of sleep.

Let’s talk about the two main characters – Rielle and Eliana.

Both are struggling with the trials and tribulations that they are faced with, especially as women in their time. But, that doesn’t stop them. Legrand has crafted female characters in both perspectives, including the two protagonists, that anyone can root for.

Rielle, who we are introduced to first, is shown to exude power. Her story arc involves growing into this power and it was completely refreshing to read her development. Rielle has to deal with the fact that she killed her mother with these powers and her father emphasises this and really traumatises Rielle. Watching Rielle battle with both external and internal forces was highly intriguing.

Eliana, another protagonist that I can root for. She is a more modern character, compared to that of Rielle, and her development was also interesting to read. She doesn’t allow herself to be treated like a doormat and especially does not let anyone mess with her family. And, I think, for me, one of the best features of a character is the love of family – I come from a Lebanese family, so it’s extremely important to me. I felt that I could connect with Eliana more than Rielle because of this.

Speaking of family – REMY. He is by far my favourite character in this whole book! He’s this big ray of sunshine who only sees the best in people. Remy is a cinnamon-roll. No doubt.

And, Audric. The heartthrob. He filled the position of love-interest well and really lifted Rielle up and allowed her to reach her full potential. He wasn’t the typical self-loathing prince. Audric is a character who I want to read more about and I want to see how he develops throughout the next two books.

Other characters who I LOVED were Ludivine and Simon, both for different reasons. Ludivine brought a new energy to every scene and has this sense of realism to her character – she had an Elle Woods vibe about her. Simon is majorly significant to the story and every time he popped into a scene I would squeal.

Almost forgot about Corien! What a villain. A villain that truly embodies being evil for just wanting to be evil. I like these types of villains, they’re ruthless and don’t hold back. It adds more tension to the story when the villain just does not care and I loved it!

Lastly, the magic in Furyborn just added the fantasy vibes of the story. It felt natural that there was a regression of magic as time progressed. But, bloody hell, Rielle holding all that power is beyond me! She’s just a total badass.

Overall, Furyborn was a tale that needed to be read and needs to continue. Rielle and Eliana are two characters who I will forever root for. Furyborn is now one of my all-time favourite fantasy books – the last few chapters left me breathless and I really want the sequel ASAP!