Tagged: fairies

The Summer Marked by Rebekah Purdy

The Summer Marked by Rebekah Purdy(Cover picture courtesy of Goodreads.)

The sequel to the chilling Winter People returns to the world of Faerie, and is a romantic and enchanting follow-up.

Salome left humankind behind to be with her boyfriend, Gareth, in the Kingdom of Summer. But now forces of darkness are rising. Her happily-ever-after is coming apart, and the Kingdom is on the brink of war.

Newly-single Kadie Byers is on her way home for Thanksgiving, imagining a visit filled with hot chocolate, a hot guy for a little rebound action, and some girl time with her bestie, Salome. Except she receives a message from Salome with two important words: PLEASE HURRY.

When Kadie rushes to help Salome, she’s ripped from the human world and pulled into the kingdoms of Faerie, where she’s shocked to learn that Salome’s monsters are real, and that she’s now at the mercy of one extremely vengeful Winter Queen…

Now both Salome and Kadie must find a way to survive the deadly chaos…or lose themselves to Winter’s deadly, icy grasp.

[Full disclosure: I requested and received a free ebook through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.]

While I had been initially skeptical about The Winter People, the first book in this series, I thoroughly enjoyed it in the end.  So when I got the chance to read The Summer Marked, I had absolutely no hesitation in getting started.  I couldn’t wait to find out the next chapter in Salome’s life after the supposedly completely happy fairytale ending of the first book.  Of course, not all is well in paradise.

Salome and Gareth have moved in together but Nevin (the Summer king Salome kissed in order to free him from his curse) seems to be skulking around trying to break his promise that Salome and Gareth could be together.  He seems increasingly controlling and also seems to be trying to separate the two, bringing them to court only to have Gareth sent away on mission after mission.  While all this sounds so stereotypical, I can assure you that as always, Rebekah Purdy has some tricks up her sleeve, including a massive plot twist that totally blindsided me.  It was a pleasant surprise and explained a lot in hindsight but I can’t talk much more about it without giving away massive spoilers.  Needless to say, Salome and Gareth are finally together and everyone at court including Nevin want to tear them apart.  And events throughout the novel definitely conspire to do just that.

Meanwhile, Salome’s friend Kadie is left wandering on her own.  She got dumped and wants to live closer to home so she dropped out of university to come home for Thanksgiving and re-assess her life choices.  When she gets there, of course Salome is gone and her mother and grandmother aren’t really being clear on where she is.  So when she gets a text from Salome asking her to come right away, she gets sucked into a vicious trap set up by the Winter Court and has to endure unimaginable things in the land of Faerie.  All while Salome lives an ideal life on the outside while she’s secretly barely holding things together.

While I didn’t like Kadie’s point of view at first because it sounded so much like the stereotypical ditzy best friend, she really came through as a character.  At the Winter Court she learns to keep her mouth shut and scheme in order to survive and sometimes does the unthinkable to do so.  She gains a real strength of character that is absolutely remarkable when you compare it to how she was in the beginning of The Winter People.  That’s not to say she wasn’t a strong or three dimensional character then, but she really comes into her own and controls her own story (or thinks she does) a lot more than she used to.  I really did like Kadie in this second book, despite some of the things she does.

Salome, having conquered a lot of her fears in the first book, learns that she has a long way to go if she’s going to survive alongside Gareth in Faerie now that the Winter Court is on a warpath.  She learns to play the vicious games that are characteristic of faerie politics while adding in some human compassion that the fey seem to lack.  And when faced with two horrible choices that would have been unthinkable at the beginning of the novel, her choice shows just how much she has really grown.  Essentially, Salome really comes into her own in The Summer Marked so if you loved her in the first book, you will love her even more in this one.

I found the plot was a lot faster in this book compared to the first.  There was of course plenty of character development and a lot of interpersonal/intrapersonal conflict but the plot moved along quite nicely.  There’s quite a bit more action since the threat of the Winter Court is ramped up and the whole of Summer is at stake.  And, as with the first book, Purdy throws in so many plot twists that you can’t help but read on to find out what happens next.  The Summer Marked was definitely a one-sitting book for me because of that.  Even if the plot wasn’t fast-paced, it would have still been a one-sitting book because Rebekah Purdy has a magnificent writing style.  It’s beautifully descriptive and she does both the darker Winter Court and the gorgeous Summer Court incrdibly well.  It was her writing that initially sucked me into the first book and it’s part of why I enjoy this series so much.  While The Summer Marked was far darker than The Winter People, it was still very enjoyable on many different levels.

You really can’t go wrong with The Winter People series.  If you haven’t read the first book, you absolutely should right now.  If you read the first book and loved it, then you definitely need to read this second book.  It will blow you away.

I give this book 5/5 stars.

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Fairytale Apocalypse by Jacqueline Patricks

Fairytale Apocalypse by Jacqueline Patricks(Cover picture courtesy of Goodreads.)

A ROMANCE OF APOCALYPTIC PROPORTIONS.

Two worlds bound by magic…
Three people joined by destiny…

Lord Kagan Donmall rules the Verge, the border that protects the magical Fae Inlands from the mundane mortal world. Recently, the Verge has been failing and he suspects the source of magic is fading. His prayers to Danu have gone unanswered, until now.

The young mortal, Lauren Montgomery, hears the message of Danu and eagerly agrees to be the Lady of the Verge, for she desires more than a mundane life.

But Lauren’s twin sister, Tessa-ever her sister’s protector, challenges the decision. The Verge falls, and the Fae and mortal worlds suffer a double apocalypse.

Now Kagan, Lauren, and Tessa must survive in this new, hostile world and discover a way to repair that which has been destroyed while navigating the bonds of duty, love, and vengeance.

[Full disclosure: I requested and received a free ebook through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.]

I have a confession to make about this book.  When I requested it on NetGalley I expected it to be a shameless romance involving little or no thought.  I was looking for guilty pleasure reading that day.  So imagine my surprise when not only does Fairytale Apocalypse turn out to be serious, it turns out to be good!

What really surprised me were the characters.  Yes, there’s the typical older protective sister dynamic with Tessa (she is the older twin) but there also is a lot of resentment about her role as the protector.  Since Tessa and Lauren are essentially the same age, their totally different personalities come into conflict constantly.  Tessa is grounded and very mature for her age whereas Lauren…well she’s definitely a dreamer, but she’s also kind of flaky and naive.  Lauren is not necessarily the best match for Kagan, the Lord of the Verge, who is very serious, could never be described as naive and old by mortal standards.

I was also pretty impressed when Jacqueline Patricks decided to modify the tropes she was using, rather than being lazy and playing them straight like so many authors.  I can’t really reveal all that much without giving away the storyline, but just imagine a double apocalypse (in the Fae world and mortal world) where powerful people like the Fae can’t use their magic any longer.  How would they cope?  Could they even survive in a mortal post-apocalyptic world, let alone a Fae one?  It’s actually very interesting because it makes the plot far less predictable.

The world-building was excellent, no doubt about that.  Yes, the Fae world is sort of a typical fairy world: there’s dangerous lurking around every corner and the pretty things are probably what will kill you.  But at the same time, Patricks put her own spin on it and included some fascinating new creatures as well as older creatures that are usually neglected in fantasy.  All of the fae have swords that communicate with them, something you would think would end up being ridiculous but really didn’t.  It was actually quite a fascinating bond and I wish we had learned more about it.  There’s always next book, though.

So here we have a fantasy with themes of love vs. duty and sacrifice for the greater good.  We also have amazing characters, a really interesting and unpredictable plot as well as some pretty great world-building.  I really can’t ask for anything else, other than for Jacqueline Patricks to hurry up with the next book!

I give this book 5/5 stars.

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The Winter People by Rebekah Purdy

The Winter People by Rebekah L. Purdy(Cover picture courtesy of Bibliophilia, Please.)

Salome Montgomery fears winter—the cold, the snow, the ice, but most of all, the frozen pond she fell through as a child. Haunted by the voices and images of the strange beings that pulled her to safety, she hasn’t forgotten their warning to “stay away.” For eleven years, she has avoided the winter woods, the pond, and the darkness that lurks nearby. But when failing health takes her grandparents to Arizona, she is left in charge of maintaining their estate. This includes the “special gifts” that must be left at the back of the property.

 

Salome discovers she’s a key player in a world she’s tried for years to avoid. At the center of this world is the strange and beautiful Nevin, who she finds trespassing on her family’s property. Cursed with dark secrets and knowledge of the creatures in the woods, he takes Salome’s life in a new direction. A direction where she’ll have to decide between her longtime crush, Colton, who could cure her fear of winter. Or Nevin, who, along with an appointed bodyguard, Gareth, protects her from the darkness that swirls in the snowy backdrop.

 

An evil that, given the chance, will kill her.

 

[Full disclosure: I requested and received a free ebook through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.]

Through the first few chapters of The Winter People, I kept thinking “Oh no, there’s going to be a love triangle just like every other YA book out there.”  Still, the premise of this book was interesting enough that even a love triangle couldn’t dissuade me.  I was resolved to give it a fair try and I’m so glad I did.

Yes, The Winter People seems like it has your absolutely typical love triangle in the beginning.  But I promise you that doesn’t last as Salome realizes not everything is as it seems and not everyone is deserving of her affection.  She really matures as a character and desperately tries to get over her justified fear of winter from a previously traumatic incident only to realize that she should still be afraid of it.  Very, very afraid.

The thing that really sets The Winter People apart from most YA books I’ve read lately is the quality of writing.  Rebekah Purdy really does have a beautiful, descriptive writing style that sucks you into the story.  She doesn’t describe things in mind-numbing detail but the way she describes them really does make you feel like you’re in all of these scenes, both magical and ordinary.  It takes a talented writer to do that and I really believe that if nothing else, the writing alone would be enough reason to read this book.

However, the main character is pretty awesome as well.  Salome is terrified of winter because she fell through the ice in her family pond at a very young age.  She was rescued by our mysterious Nevin at the time but she still retained a somewhat justifiable fear of all things wintery.  Now in high school she’s having to cope with taking care of her grandparents’ house when they go south for the winter because her dad is usually gone (as a trucker) and her mother has a broken leg.  Seeing how she deals with that really gives me a lot of respect for her because despite her fear, she’s determined to help out her grandparents.

In the beginning Salome is a bit naive but never falls into the ‘too stupid to live’ category.  She really grows and matures not only as she falls in love (then realizes what love really is thanks to a little help from a special someone) but as she fights for her life.  There’s a mysterious curse hanging over her head and no one will tell her anything about it so she’s absolutely determined to find out on her own in order to save herself and her family.  You really can’t help but love Salome as a character.

The plot isn’t insanely fast-paced because this is a character-driven novel but it is pretty exciting.  Just when you think you know how things are going to end, Rebekah Purdy throws a twist in and you’re left scrambling.  There were one or two twists I predicted but in general I was pleasantly surprised by most of the turns the story took.  They stayed true to the essence of the story while still throwing the reader for a loop and that takes talent on the part of the author.

Even if you’re not big into fairies, I can’t recommend The Winter People enough.  These fairies really aren’t all that they seem and they’re more like the fairies of old, not the sweet, innocent and ridiculously hot fairies of most books these days.  They’re more capricious and dangerous than your average YA fairy and it certainly makes the story more interesting in that things aren’t only in shades of black and white.  After reading this book, I honestly can’t wait to read more of Rebekah Purdy’s work.

I give this book 5/5 stars.

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Fairy by Shane McKenzie

Fairy by Shane McKenzie(Cover picture courtesy of NetGalley.)

Cecilia will do anything to have a baby. Anything.

Cecilia has tried everything to have the one thing she wants most—a baby. She’s been through every procedure, taken every medication. Nothing seems to work. Her body simply refuses to grow the life she so desperately yearns for. Her jealousy is making her lash out at the pregnant women around her. She’s starting to worry about her sanity.

But all is not lost. There is still one way. And Cecilia will do whatever it takes.

Even if it means inviting an ancient creature into her bedroom.

[Full disclosure: I received a free ebook through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.]

I know the blurb sounds like it belongs to a crappy erotic novel, but I swear to you that this is straight up horror.  It’s actually quite terrifying.

I don’t find Cecilia incredibly sympathetic but she is interesting and held my attention.  She’s so desperate for a baby that she’s willing to try anything and she’s especially tortured by seeing new life come into the world as a midwife.  It’s hard for her, especially when she runs into her ex-husband with his new pregnant wife.  You can kind of see where Cecilia would try something so ridiculous and so horrifying that it’s hard to even read about.  I don’t want to spoil too much, but let’s say the ending was very much in character for her.

This is a novella which is good because I don’t think it would be possible to sustain this level of suspense over an entire novel.  In the beginning things are only kind of sad, but then the mood gets darker and darker as Shane McKenzie takes the novella to its terrifying (but believable conclusion).  The pace is quite fast but not at the expense of readers getting to know Cecilia and feel at least a little bit for her plight.

I like that Shane McKenzie stuck with the darker fairy mythology rather than making this into a shameless erotic novel that has a wonderfully happy ending where everyone goes about their merry way.  No, this really is horror and although the ending was rather predictable to my mind, I think it will be a shock for some people who pick this up.  If you’re big on horror I wouldn’t recommend it because you’ve probably read a novel just like this already but if you’re a newbie like I am this is a good sample of what the genre has to offer.

Basically, Fairy was everything a horror novella should be: short, dark and terrifying.  What more can you ask for?

I give this novella 4.5/5 stars.

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Words Once Spoken by Carly Drake

Words Once Spoken by Carly Drake(Cover picture courtesy of Goodreads.)

YA meets high fantasy in this lush series debut about a girl who never quite fit in — and the reason why…

Evelyn might not love the confines of her village life, but she takes her small freedoms where she can get them. But everything changes when her parents decide it’s time for her to wed. Suddenly she loses her tunic and breeches, her bow, her horse, and gains rigid gowns, restrictive manners, and carriage rides.

The best way to escape is through her dreams, but as they become more and more real, Evelyn begins to worry that she is losing her grasp on reality. It is only when she makes two new friends that the truth is revealed: she is destined for far, far more than even she could imagine.

[Full disclosure: I requested and received a free ebook copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.]

For a debut novel this isn’t a terrible book, but it is by no means a great book.  There are some good elements and some bad elements but I think the main problem that kept me from truly enjoying this book was the pacing.

The pacing was bad, if I’m honest.  It was nice to start with a gentle beginning but the beginning dragged on and on and on while the plot went nowhere in the beginning.  Then, when things finally started getting interesting Carly Drake just rushed through them without much explanation.  I really wanted to know more about Evelyn’s fairy powers and the world she is suddenly thrust into but it’s just so confusing.  There simply was not enough backstory to make me emotionally invested in Evelyn’s struggle to stabilize her new realm.

Evelyn is an okay character I suppose.  She’s brave but eventually learns to admit when she needs help.  She can be incredibly self-sufficient and even though she’s a stereotypical sort of girl empowerment character there’s a legitimate reason for it.  The only problem I really had with her was her lack of emotions.  She didn’t really seem fazed when her parents abandoned her, when she learned the life she was living was a lie, etc.  Even during that rather disturbing scene at the very end of the novel I couldn’t feel her panic.  As for the love triangle, well there was nothing unique about it.  It’s pretty much the same old love triangle you’ve seen in every other YA book today.

The writing itself was not bad, however.  Carly Drake has some potential here with her style of writing; she just needs to work a little bit more on the plot elements.  If the plot had not been so poorly paced and the world had been fleshed out a little more this could have made it into the ‘good’ category but as it stands, this one was a solid ‘meh’.  I don’t feel particularly strongly about it one way or the other so I can’t in all honesty either recommend it or warn people away from it.

I give this book 2/5 stars.

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Feyguard: Spark by Anthea Sharp

Feyguard; Spark by Anthea Sharp(Cover picture courtesy of Anthea Sharp’s blog.)

Superstar gamer Spark Jaxley’s life might look easy, but she’s part of an elite few who guard a shocking secret; the Realm of Faerie exists, and its dark magic is desperate for a foothold in the mortal world.

Aran Cole hacks code and sells his gaming cheats on the black market. It’s barely a living, and one he’s not proud of. But when he turns his skills to unlocking the secrets behind Feyland—the most exciting and immersive game on the market—he discovers power and magic beyond his wildest dreams.

Spark’s mission is clear; pull Aran from the clutches of the fey folk and restore the balance between the worlds. But can she risk her life for someone who refuses to be rescued?

[Full disclosure: I requested and received a free ebook from Anthea Sharp in exchange for an honest review.]

In Feyland: The Twilight Kingdom one of my favourite characters was the teenage gaming superstar Spark Jaxley.  She was sassy, tough and a talented gamer and I wanted to learn more about her.  Imagine my surprise and happiness when I learned that the first book in the spin-off series would actually feature Spark as a main character.

I was far from disappointed, believe me.  Spark sure is a sassy, tough and talented gamer but she’s also a teenager who’s lonely in her fame.  Her fame makes it hard for anyone to see her as a real human being requiring company that’s on the same level.  I liked the whole it’s-lonely-at-the-top angle Anthea Sharp gave her because it’s far more realistic than Spark revelling in her fame 24/7.  Of course there are advantages (mainly the gaming itself) but I found it interesting to see Spark not just as a good gamer, but as a lonely teenage girl.

Aran Cole was also a fascinating character.  He’s extremely poor and one of the best hackers out there when it comes to finding game cheats.  He certainly has the motivation to improve his station in life and he’s not afraid to manipulate people to get what he wants.  Aran’s not your typical cold-hearted criminal, though.  Although he tries to hide and deny his feelings, he does feel quite a bit of guilt about his hacking.  Especially when it lands Spark in danger later on in the novel.

So basically you have two awesome characters.  How was the world-building?  As with the original Feyland trilogy, the world-building is fantastic.  I liked that Anthea Sharp focused more on the real world with this one, especially the gaming culture that Spark is so immersed in.  It gives you a better picture of her imagined future where extreme wealth and poverty stand in stark contrast to one another.  Of course she also adds some new stuff to Feyland itself, but the new information we learn is mostly about the real world.

The plot was so fast-paced that although I intended to only read a few chapters, I ended up finishing the whole book in one sitting.  Spark is one of my favourite main characters and her and Aran’s story was fascinating.  They’re both great characters in a fast-paced novel with three dimensional world-building.  What more can you ask for?

I give this book 5/5 stars.

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Feyland: The Bright Court by Anthea Sharp

Feyland The Bright Court by Anthea Sharp(Cover picture courtesy of Kobo Books.)

INSIDE THE GAME…

Jennet Carter escaped the dark faeries of Feyland once. Now, fey magic is seeping out of the prototype game, beguiling the unwary and threatening everyone she cares about.

MAGIC…

Tam Linn may be a hero in-game, but his real life is severely complicated. Still, he’ll do whatever it takes to stop the creatures of Feyland, even if it means pushing Jennet toward the new guy in school–the one with an inside connection to sim-gaming… and the uncanny ability to charm everyone he meets.

ALWAYS WINS…

Despite the danger, Jennet and Tam must return to Feyland to face the magic of the Bright Court–and a powerful new enemy who won’t stop until the human world is at the mercy of the Realm of Faerie.

[Full disclosure: I received a free ebook copy of this book from Anthea Sharp in exchange for an honest review.]

Since Feyland: The Dark Realm was almost a futuristic retelling of the ballad of Tam Linn, I really had no idea where Anthea Sharp would go from there.  Would book 2 in the Feyland trilogy just drag on and on pointlessly and focus on the romance between Tam and Jennet?  Or would she completely change the fairytale underpinnings of the story and go for a pure technological thriller?

Thankfully, Anthea Sharp did neither of those.  She manages to get Jennet and Tam back in Feyland without making it seem forced and creates a believable explanation for the Roy Lassiter’s (the new guy in school) charm.  What the explanation is I can’t reveal without spoiling some major plot points, but you’ll definitely be surprised at what he did to obtain his seemingly magical charm.  Okay, maybe you won’t be that surprised considering we’re dealing with the world of the fae, but there are definitely a few plot twists you won’t see coming because of Roy’s actions.

What I liked about the plot is not that it was unpredictable (which it generally was) but that it was such a departure from the first book yet stayed true to it all the same.  It’s hard to explain without spoiling things, but I like how it didn’t follow a fairytale storyline like the Tam Linn story in the first book and yet still retained those fairytale elements.  So it ended up being different from the first book, but just as good!

My favourite part is the character development when it comes to Jennet and Tam’s characters.  I love how the two have grown closer since their adventure in the last book but how they still have to learn how to trust one another throughout The Bright Court.  There’s more than just friendship between the two and I like how Anthea Sharp manages to create that romantic tension without being in your face about it all the time.  It’s definitely a skill more authors need to learn.

In short, if you loved Feyland: The Dark Realm you’ll love the sequel, The Bright Court.  And if you haven’t started the Feyland trilogy yet, you should.  It’s the perfect mix of technology and fantasy.

I give this book 5/5 stars.

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