One Dark Throne (Three Dark Crowns #2)

Three Dark Crowns (Three Dark Crowns #1)

This is not going to be a spoiler free review, so if you haven’t read Three Dark Crowns (#1) yet, you should come back to this review when you are deciding to move forward with the series.

These two books were originally intended to be a duology, and I can see why. This book could have ended with a queen who changes the system of murder and they all live kind of happily ever after. But then the series got extended to four books and we had to have a cliffhanger.

It’s just another whole book about the triplet queens taking part in the Ascension Year by trying to kill each other. The only difference is that after being thrown into the Breccia Domain (the deep crevasse in the center of the island where all dead queen’s bodies are thrown to be forgotten) by Peter, Katherine is fucking bonkers crazy and completely different than she was before. We’re not sure why at first, but eventually we’re told it’s probably because she’s possessed by the spirits of the dead queens who are completely out of fucks to give and want everything dead.

So I have some questions.

First, how does this end? Are you telling me that in the thousands of years that this island has been murdering teenagers there has never been a year in which a queen died in childbirth? Or all three queens died  for one reason or another without bearing the Goddess-blessed triplets? So this is the ONE TIME in the history of the island where the queens refused to murder their sisters and one of them is a fucking psychopath who is basically made out of poison?

Second, I must have not received the message of how the queen’s magicks work in this universe. Katherine has sex with her king-consort and murders the everloving daylights out of him because every part of her seethes with poison. How? When? Why now? Why not when she touches Mirabella at the ball? When she touches Arsinoe’s bear? When did she turn from crazy small girl to leaking bag of poison?

Third, Mirabella and Arsinoe escape to the mainland and you don’t think those “humans” aren’t going to turn them right back around? Sure, they have William Chatworth Jr (whose scheming dad is super dead now – I won’t spoil that one) so I guess that’s how they’ll survive, but how will they hide that they are queens? I guess I’ll need to wait for the next book to find this one out.

Fourth, I’m almost at the point of who cares. I felt like this at the end of book 2 of the Hunger Games – there’s only so much senseless killing and cruelty I can take without something changing or being different to allow for a change of pace or tone. This has been two books of WHO WILL DIE AND WHO WILL BECOME QUEEN and idk, who cares? I don’t feel any hope. I don’t feel like things can change. I’m glad that Arsinoe and Mirabella escaped, why can’t we just let them have their lives and let this nasty island burn itself out? Who cares?

I am going to read the next book Two Dark Reigns to see if it turns around, and the final fourth book comes out this year so perhaps we’re heading for a satisfying conclusion. Go get this one to keep up, but I’m tentative and skeptical about what the remaining books of the series have to offer and whether I want to stick around long enough to find out.


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Windwitch (Witchlands #2)

Truthwitch (Witchlands #1)

Synopsis (Goodreads)

I don’t usually link to a synopsis, but I want to take my review time to talk to you about more intricate pieces of this book as opposed to “this happened! and then this happened!” because SO MUCH HAPPENS and I don’t want to get caught up in WHAT happens, I want to talk about FEELINGS caused by what happens.

I stand by my previous assessment of Dennard’s worldbuilding and character development. It is absolutely amazing that there is so much going on in the story and yet I remember all the characters, what they want, what they care about, AND I’m able to see how all of their separate stories are woven together into the larger plot. Windwitch focuses in primarily on Merik and his sister Vivia in their defense of their country Nubrevna, but both Safi’s and Iseult’s stories feed into the future of Nubrevna while letting us know that in the next books we’ll be taking the story in other directions.

You will learn more about what Iseult’s powers are all about in this book. It’s possible that she’s not a Threadwitch at all, but a Weaverwitch, a more advanced Threadwitch who can manipulate the threads and magic of other witches. Aeduan, the Bloodwitch hunting Iseult, is now working with her and believes she may be a true Voidwitch as well as one half of the mythical Cahr Awen. I find her situation compelling, but every time we get a small glimpse of what she’s really capable of, I wonder back to Safi. Is she only a Truthwitch? If she’s the other half of the Cahr Awen, destined to reawaken the Origin Wells and heal the land, what more is there that we need to learn about her magic that might be more than we think?

Dennard asks us to consider the sentiment of all for one, one for all in many different parts of our journey. Is it ever appropriate to sacrifice one person for the sake of all? Or can a single person be important enough to save at the expense of the suffering of many? Honestly Windwitch seems to show us that both are possible, that making the decision is next to impossible, and there are always consequences that you will have to live with either way. I am glad that the constant guilt machine I briefly bemoaned in my Truthwitch review seems to have ground to a halt here in Windwitch.

The way that Windwitch illustrates so many different kinds of relationships is also thoughtfully done. Parents and children, brother and sister, friendships, life-debts – all of these are played out so we can see that nothing is as simple as we think, and everything is connected. All witcheries, all people in this universe have threads that Threadwitches can see. Threads that bind, threads that break, threads that show all manner of emotion. It only makes sense that we should see how the characters that we care so much about might be working to bind themselves to one another to face an even greater foe that we have not yet even been introduced to. I can’t wait to find out what that will be.

I have preordered Bloodwitch, out in February 2019, and I caught the novella Sightwitch on a Kindle deal this past weekend. I’m into this series, and I think you should be too. Try it out and see what you think.


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Oh my god.

I am so excited right now I can’t even.



Read about the show!

Leigh Bardugo is one of like 3 authors that I would preorder without worry. 100% support. If you like fantasy – magic, intrigue, politics, mystery – you MUST read her books. All reviews are linked to the covers.

shadow-and-bone siege_and_storm ruin

six-of-crows crooked kingdom


Truthwitch (Witchlands #1)

Susan Dennard is one of the most amazing writers I have had the ability to follow and interact with on Twitter. Her newsletter (which I need to subscribe to this year) provides publishing and writing advice to the community and her online persona is warm and helpful. She’s the kind of person who, when people fuck with her, I want to queue up to avenge her.

I’m not sure why it took me so long to begin reading her Witchlands series, but with the third full installment of the series releasing in February, I figured I would try them out.

Truthwitch is a book that is a masterclass in character development and investment. It took exactly one paragraph for me to ride or die for Safi and Iseult, the Threadsisters and witches that are troublemakers that can’t help but step in it, but when they do they are always there to support each other and get out of whatever trouble they are in together.

It would have been so easy for Dennard to have given me long chapters about how this universe works – the myriad of witch types and the powers they wield are vast and far-reaching – as well as the politics of the different regions – they are reaching an end to a 20 year worldwide truce that has several long-reaching consequences across all lands – BUT SHE DOESN’T. And its absence is almost as magical as her storytelling.

We are exposed to the aspects of the Witchlands universe as our characters interact with them. Witches can cleave, which is basically their magic being overused and turning them into elemental bombs, but we don’t get a long explanation about how that happens, we see Safi and Iseult (and Merik, the prince from the water region) encountering a cleaved Tidewitch right at the start. We’re immediately exposed to this danger, we learn how it is typically dealt with, and we get a foreshadowing about Iseult in the process.

I think this is YA(?) but it has one of the major strengths that I love in a well written YA, which is that you forget how old the characters are. It’s part of what makes all of Leigh Bardugo’s work so genius – the kids are all 16 and 17 but you forget and the story is so epic that you read it as though you’re reading about adults.

You never get kicked out of the action, the forward motion of the story, in order to learn things. Right from the first chapter you will care about the characters, and the claws which Dennard will have sunk into you will pull you through the story at a breakneck pace; you will be sad to ever have to put it down to eat, work, or sleep.

I have very few critiques for this one. I felt like a LOT was thrown into the first book, almost too much for me to keep track of and I had so many questions about the world that a little bit of exposition wouldn’t have hurt things too much. I am hopeful that the sequel, Windwitch, will stretch things out a bit to give depth to the breadth of Truthwitch.

The romantic moments between Safi and Merik will seem eerily familiar if you enjoyed the A Court of Thorns and Roses trilogy by Sarah J. Maas. The acknowledgements show that Dennard and Maas are very good friends, with Maas reading and commenting on the work in progress. Another echoing theme from Maas’ books here in Dennard’s Truthwitch is the “everything is my fault, I feel so much guilt because if I’d only never been born…” kind of stuff. It’s not there a lot, but when it was I rolled my eyes and just kept reading.  I’m fine with this as long as the future books don’t involve the word mate in reference to a partner or feasting in reference to oral pleasuring.

If you love fantasy, magic, mystical creatures, surprises, intrigue, and a little romance, then Truthwitch is a book you should pick up right away.


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Three Dark Crowns (TDC #1)

Three Dark Crowns

I have been waiting for my library to get a physical copy of this book for at least a year. They had the ebook but if I learned one thing about myself last year it’s that I don’t do well with ebooks. I download them and forget about them, and then I have the audacity to get angry when they aren’t available anymore. In my pre-2019 TBR searches I discovered that the book was finally available and grabbed it!

On a magical island surrounded by a mist that holds in magic, a Goddess provides magical powers to three populations. Poisoners can eat, make, and cure poisons and are very hard to kill. Elementals control water/fire/air/earth. Naturalists control plants and animals and are paired with animal familiars that reflect the strength of their power. One queen rules over them all with the help of the Black Council and the Temple of the Goddess. The queen chooses a king-consort, and when the Goddess sees the queen’s rule as finished the queen gives birth to a set of triplets and is forced to leave the island.

The triplets are raised together in a cottage on the island until they are 4 or 5, at which point they are sent to be fostered by the communities that match their given abilities. In this generation Katherine is the youngest and sent to live with the most influential poisoner family, the Arrons, who control the Black Council and have fostered the triplet who became queen for the last 100 years. Arsinoe is fostered by the naturalists and is friends with one of the most powerful naturalists ever born. Mirabella (the firstborn) is raised by the elementals who are in with the Temple and its priestesses, who are doing their best to be sure their triplet becomes queen and ends the century of poisoner rule. Once the triplets turn 16 they enter their ascension year, which is a year in which they display their powers to the entire kingdom and then proceed to kill each other.

Three queens enter. One queen leaves.

The political intrigue and the magical systems are very interesting. My questions about how and why this all works kept me reading to the very end. The fact that Blake doesn’t take a lot of time to give any backstory keeps the story moving, and we are given glimpses of history and tradition as the need arises, which leaves you with more questions than answers, but enough answers that you don’t get frustrated.

I loved this story from beginning to end. It hits the ground running and I kept asking “why is this happening???” or “OMG what will happen now???” and even though I kind of had an inkling about the big reveal at the end, it still felt powerful. The knowledge you end with is a magnificent cliffhanger that will have you clicking “Buy Now” on the next book.


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Throne of Jade (Temeraire #2)

Throne of Jade

His Majesty’s Dragon (Temeraire #1)

Throne of Jade begins months after the battle at the end of His Majesty’s Dragon, with a Chinese envoy (and prince) demanding the return of Temeraire as a Chinese Celestial to the Chinese emperor. Laurence of course refuses, as does Temeraire, and so they travel with an English crew and the envoy back to China to negotiate the continuing partnership of Temeraire and Laurence.

I regret to inform you that this book was so slow and boring that it took me *checks notes* 16 days to read 338 pages. The first 100 were tense and exciting – the beginning of their journey is fraught with peril and after becoming to close to them after the first book, I felt very upset that they might be forced to part (although there being another 5 books in the series helped ease my fears a bit). But then the sea voyage that brings them to China lasts almost the entire book and it’s almost all translations and diplomacy and weather and negotiations…ugh. I finally made it to the part where they take off for Peking and Temeraire even meets his mom, but I’m so bored I don’t even care anymore.

This one is going back to the library on my way home from the Miami Book Festival and I’ll be moving on to a different set of books over Thankgiving break. Honestly I’m really disappointed, I thought this would be a series I could really get into after loving the first book so much. *sadface*

His Majesty’s Dragon (Temeraire #1)

His Majesty's Dragon

Naomi Novik stole my heart away with Uprooted. It was one of my first ever reviews on this site. Her writing was evocative and fresh and kept me hooked from chapter to chapter. Reading her book was like being welcomed into a new universe by an old friend and I had to stay to hear all her stories because I LOVE her stories!

When I began reading His Majesty’s Dragon, I gave an inward sigh because the writing style and language was reminiscent of very stilted and suffocating movies like Master and Commander. The height of propriety, every word has a place, every statement is backed by deep consideration for tradition and expectations, and everyone’s station is life is set. Think honor and duty above all else.

Imagine my surprise when I sank into this language and writing like I was being cuddled by the most comfortable chair, covered in blankets, with a hot beverage, watching the snow fall softly outside as my best friend told me the story of his old war days riding on a dragon against Napoleon. It was a story I didn’t realize I wanted to hear that I couldn’t get enough of as I moved through the chapters falling in love with character after character. Angels, I cried openly during one particular part because by the time I reached that point in the narrative everyone involved was someone I loved and I could not stand to see them hurt or in pain.

An English naval vessel captures a dragon egg from a French ship, and when it hatches before they can reach land Laurence, the English captain, moves forward to harness the dragon to ensure that it flies for England. His deep sense of duty drives him to act for the good of his country, but out of this action grows one of the deepest friendships and loves that I have read about in a very long time. He names the dragon Temeraire and they plan to enter the aerial Corps once the ship makes land.

Now the traditional military branches view the Corps as ‘lesser than’. It’s seen as a rougher life. People who enter the Corps traditionally don’t marry, they aren’t involved in the typical English social circles or ladders anymore. Their only duty is for England, the Corps, and the dragon to whom they are bound from the hatching. This kind of isolation gives most people the vapors, and Laurence, having been fed a steady diet of this misinformation, enters this new world with some nervousness. He soon discovers that the people who are involved with the Corps are just as smart, honorable, and duty bound as any other part of society that he has experienced thus far.

Temeraire is a very different dragon from those typically used in the Corps. Laurence speaks with dragon scholars and they believe him to be an Imperial breed from mainland China, sent as a gift to Napoleon but intercepted by England. Temeraire is disappointed because he cannot breathe fire or spit acid like some of the other dragons, and you get to watch him grow and eat and develop throughout the book to finally reach his full growth and abilities to reveal an identity even bigger than they initially thought. He loves for Laurence to read to him, and he knows both English and French, having heard them both spoken while he was still in the egg. In this book dragons speak with humans and it is so entertaining to see them as equal participants in the process instead of simply being beasts of burden.

Novik asks us to consider relationships in this first book of the series. Abusive relationships, especially ones that you cannot escape. What is kindness in the face of such inescapable bonds? How do we balance duty to our country and duty to each other? When is love the greatest duty that we hold? What is consent? YES CONSENT.

Honestly the most comforting aspect of this novel, and what creates the most tension, are the moments where the riders consider their dragons as equal partners and ask their input before doing things and when they do not. For example, Laurence insists on removing Temeraire’s harness at the end of exercise and washes his dragon after he eats and trains because Temeraire asks for it. Because it makes Temeraire comfortable. And what’s really excellent is that these simple acts of consideration and kindness spread to the other dragons, creating a community of deeper companionship among the members of the Corps. The lengths to which people consider the needs and comfort of others in this novel, both people and dragons alike, will renew your hope that such a society might be possible in our dragonless world.

Naomi Novik has written a novel in the traditionally formal style of an old naval story that will capture your imagination and your heart, making you wish for your own dragon as a partner. Please go read this book. You will be better for having read it and I would not lead you wrong. Go get you some.