(Cover picture courtesy of Goodreads.)
Book #2 of the Svatura Series
Selene sacrificed everything when she took her brother’s place as ruler of the Vyusher, including her secret love for her one-time adversary Griffin Aubrey. When nightmares that are just a little too real start, Selene fears she’s turned into a cold-blooded killer…the monster that Griffin thinks she is.
Griffin and Ellie Aubrey are finally safe for the first time in over a hundred years. But when an unknown menace drives Selene to leave her family and ask for help, Griffin must decide. Can he move past his hatred of everything she is? Or will the bond that could bring them both the greatest joy now be the source of their deepest despair?
The threat of the danger stalking Selene in her dreams might be too much even for this powerful group. And Griffin doesn’t want to easily forgive the woman he blames for killing his family…
[Full disclosure: I was provided a free ebook copy of this a couple of months during the blog tour in exchange for an honest review.]
Ellie, the main character of the previous novel only barely features in this one. Although I really did like her, that was fine by me as I got to see way more of Griffin and a whole bunch of Selene. Both of them are fascinating characters in their own right but I’ll talk about Selene first.
She was enslaved by her brother for 150 years, which is long even for a Svatura. More accurately, she had to do what he told her because of his mind control but unlike the rest of the Vyusher tribe she was fully aware of all of the horrible things Gideon had her do. That really just makes it more awful when you think about it. So now Gideon is dead and Selene is having a hard time accepting her role as Queen. Not only that, now she has to cope with the crushing amount of guilt from 150 years of hunting other Svatura.
What I find interesting with the way she copes is that she really doesn’t magically get over everything on her own; for that, she needs more than a little bit of help from the original Svatura group of the first book. One has the power to help heal emotions but even with Ellie’s help in amplifying it Selene will never be totally healed. This is way more realistic than having her completely healed in time for the final showdown. At the same time, even though I wanted to smack Griffin for being indecisive, I do believe it was far more realistic than him loving Selene despite all of their history together. By the end of the novel you’re really in doubt as to whether these two are sure they love each other but I promise you that the ending is a satisfying one.
Just like with the previous book, the plot of Hyacinth is more character-driven than plot-driven. The characters cause many of the events that happen in the end of the novel but this book is far from slow-paced. Abigail Owen managed to balance character development with plot development and I really appreciated that balance. It makes for a much more enjoyable, interesting read. There weren’t really any truly enormous surprise twists for the plot but I did enjoy Hyacinth all the same.
Abigail Owen is fast becoming one of my favourite authors, as you can probably tell by this review. I can’t wait to read the third book in the Svatura series! In the meantime, I’d highly recommend it to pretty much all readers who like a little fantasy in their everyday life. You really can’t go wrong with the Svatura series.
I give this book 5/5 stars.
(Cover picture courtesy of Masquerade Tours.)
2013 Bronze Medalist for Best Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Horror eBook at the Independent Publisher Book Awards (IPPYs)
2014 eLit Awards Bronze Medalist for Fantasy/SciFi
Book #1 of the Svatura Series
Ellie Aubrey is a centuries-old gypsy princess whose extraordinary abilities once inspired her Roma ancestors’ fairytales (or nightmares). Along with her twin-brother, Griffin, Ellie has spent most of her life hiding from the Vyusher, a rival tribe who destroyed their entire powerful family. But after a mysterious dream, Ellie risks discovery in order to find and watch over the Jenners, another group of similarly gifted people. She refuses to let them suffer the same fate.
Alex Jenner has come home to protect his family. His adopted mother can sense danger coming, but not who or when. Suspicious of the new girl in town, Alex challenges Ellie in ways that will spark one of two possible outcomes: they’ll spontaneously combust, or she’ll lose control of the one power she’s fought so hard to contain.
When the Vyusher once again threaten everything she holds dear, Ellie will have to face her worst fear, and Alex will have to face an impossible decision. In this fairytale, the dragon that the prince must slay is also the princess who holds his heart.
[Full disclosure: I received a free ebook copy in conjunction with the blog tour in exchange for an honest review.]
When I signed up for the Black Orchid blog tour I really wasn’t all too sure about whether I’d like the books or not. However, the thing that convinced me was that I had read Andromeda’s Fall by Abigail Owen as well and loved it. Why not give her other series a try? And let me tell you: I’m so glad I did. It’s just as good as Andromeda’s Fall and I am now a huge Abigail Owen fan.
The beginning made me cringe, I’ll admit. New girl in a small town going to yet another new school after moving around lots. Thankfully this trope was not played straight and soon we learn that Ellie really isn’t all that she seems and neither is the insanely attractive Alex. Things get awesome pretty quickly so don’t be fooled by Blue Violet‘s unassuming beginning!
Ellie is now one of my favourite heroines. Yes, she can agonize over Alex but she has the self-awareness to at least realize that he’s a college student and he’s probably not going to be interested in his little sister’s new high school aged friend. When she realizes that the Jenners also have abilities similar to hers, her first instinct is to protect them, no matter how coldly Alex treats her. I think the most interesting part about Ellie’s character was her second ability, the one that terrifies her the most. Abigail Owen really works hard to not only portray her obvious fear of it but also to portray the temptation to use it, especially when the Vyusher come knocking.
I really just loved the world-building in Blue Violet. Not only are the different abilities unique and pretty darn cool, there are believable backstories for even the villains like the Vyusher. Of course there are still a couple of questions about abilities and such but this really is only the first book in the series and all of the most pressing questions are answered. In the beginning we learn pretty quickly of Ellie and Griffin’s abilities, which is refreshing considering writers’ tendencies to drag things out for as long as they can. Not so in Blue Violet!
Now, with a blurb that focuses on the inter-character relationships you’d think this would be more of a slow paced novel. It’s definitely not. While it is character driven to a large extent, you’re never going to get bored as both the personal drama and dangerous outside forces come together to create one heck of an epic climax. And there’s just a little cliffhanger so you’re eager to read the next book.
All in all, this is definitely not your typical urban fantasy novel and I can’t recommend it enough. Seriously, go buy it!
I give this book 5/5 stars.
(Cover picture courtesy of BandelierGirlReadsEverything.)
In 1533, an Italian orphan with an uncanny knack for creating fragrance is plucked from poverty to become Catherine de Medici’s perfumer. To repay his debt, over the years René le Florentine is occasionally called upon to put his vast knowledge to a darker purpose: the creation of deadly poisons used to dispatch the Queen’s rivals.
But it’s René other passion—a desire to reanimate a human breath, to bring back the lives of the two people whose deaths have devastated him—that incites a dangerous treasure hunt five centuries later. That’s when Jac L’Etoile—suffering from a heartache of her own—becomes obsessed with the possibility of unlocking Rene’s secret to immortality.
Soon Jac’s search reconnects her with Griffin North, a man she’s loved her entire life. Together they confront an eccentric heiress whose art collection rivals many museums and who is determined to keep her treasures close at hand, not just in this life but in her next.
Set in the forest of Fontainebleau, crisscrossing the lines between the past and the present, M.J. Rose has written a mesmerizing tale of passion and obsession. This is a gothic tale perfect for fans of Anne Rice, Deborah Harkness, and Diana Galbadon.
[Full disclosure: I was provided a free ebook through NetGalley for the blog tour in exchange for an honest review.]
If I had to describe The Collector of Dying Breaths in just one word it would have to be ‘beautiful.’ Yes, beautiful.
Beautiful is the word that comes to mind simply because M. J. Rose’s writing style is just that. It’s descriptive, but not overly so. It’s very heavily focused on appealing to the reader’s five senses. Since this is a novel heavily centred around perfume of course she describes the scents in pretty much every scene, but she also doesn’t neglect the reader’s ears or sense of touch. Very few writers can appeal to all five of the senses in a natural way but M. J. Rose stands out in this respect.
As with most books, the one element I liked most was the characters. René le Florentine really spoke to me as a character and through the flashbacks I felt his triumphs and his greatest sorrows. He really is a tragic character and although he tries to do the right thing, it seems like it always turns out badly for him. I can’t tell you much more about poor René without having too many spoilers but I can tell you that by the end of the novel your heart will ache for him.
Jac is an interesting character as well. Having lost her beloved brother and seeing an opportunity to complete his life’s work, she’s in a state of emotional confusion. Added to that are her constant past life memories that are triggered by being around objects and locations with so much history. I liked slowly learning her back-story and seeing how she coped with both her brother’s death and the return of her former lover. She changes throughout the course of the novel and I was very happy with her decision in the end.
The plot is not fast-paced by most people’s standards but The Collector of Dying Breaths is interesting enough to keep you reading into the early morning hours. The plot twists and turns as you try to learn what happened to the unfortunate René and whether Jac could complete her brother’s work or not. These point of view shifts never really slow down the action in the story, though. Instead, they add more tension as the past and present collide, culminating in a heart-pounding climax.
If you like history, romance or just books with well fleshed-out characters, you’re going to love The Collector of Dying Breaths. I can’t speak to its historical accuracy as I know very little about the period, but I guarantee that you’ll feel like you’re right there along with René in the court of Catherine de Medici.
This is the 6th book in The Reincarnationist series by M. J. Rose but it can absolutely be read as a standalone novel, which is how I read it.
I give this book 5/5 stars.