A Darker Shade of Magic

A Darker Shade final for Irene

★★★★★

Goodreads Summary:

Kell is one of the last Antari—magicians with a rare, coveted ability to travel between parallel Londons; Red, Grey, White, and, once upon a time, Black.

Kell was raised in Arnes—Red London—and officially serves the Maresh Empire as an ambassador, traveling between the frequent bloody regime changes in White London and the court of George III in the dullest of Londons, the one without any magic left to see.

Unofficially, Kell is a smuggler, servicing people willing to pay for even the smallest glimpses of a world they’ll never see. It’s a defiant hobby with dangerous consequences, which Kell is now seeing firsthand.

After an exchange goes awry, Kell escapes to Grey London and runs into Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She first robs him, then saves him from a deadly enemy, and finally forces Kell to spirit her to another world for a proper adventure.

Now perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, they’ll first need to stay alive. Read More »

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Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik

36896898★★★★

Goodreads Summary:

Miryem is the daughter and granddaughter of moneylenders… but her father isn’t a very good one. Free to lend and reluctant to collect, he has loaned out most of his wife’s dowry and left the family on the edge of poverty–until Miryem steps in. Hardening her heart against her fellow villagers’ pleas, she sets out to collect what is owed–and finds herself more than up to the task. When her grandfather loans her a pouch of silver pennies, she brings it back full of gold.

But having the reputation of being able to change silver to gold can be more trouble than it’s worth–especially when her fate becomes tangled with the cold creatures that haunt the wood, and whose king has learned of her reputation and wants to exploit it for reasons Miryem cannot understand.Read More »

Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh

23308087★★★

I made the mistake of picking this up on a weekday night, and I definitely stayed up just a little too late finishing it. With a gripping storyline, strong characterization, and a unique setting, Ahdieh’s new series does not disappoint.

Set in feudal Japan, FitM follows the story of Mariko, the daughter of a daimyō lord and bride-to-be of the Prince. Along her way to the capital, her litter is attacked by what she suspects to be the Black Clan, a group of bandits who is rumored to support the old emperor’s claim to the throne. After evading capture, Mariko decides to infiltrate the Clan to reveal their motives in attacking her. Disguised as a boy, she befriends the Clan’s leader, Ranmaru, and their strange second in command, Ōkami. But Mariko’s ruse is faltering, as the lines between her enemies and her friends aren’t as clear-cut as she thought them to be. Meanwhile, her twin brother Kenshin, the famed Dragon of Kai, will stop at nothing to bring his sister back home. And strange stirrings hover around the emperor’s consort, who may have a hand in more events than we know.Read More »

Rosemarked by Livia Blackburne

29346927★★★★

I did not expect this book to be as good as it was. I put off reading it, thinking it was just another typical YA fantasy, but the characters won my heart in the end. The plot, although not action-packed, made me want to keep reading, and the setting was fantastic.

Zivah and Dineas are both under the rule of the Amparan empire. Zivah’s people of Dara are peaceful, and acquiesce to the empire’s demands, but after Dara’s healers failed to cure the empire’s soldiers after an outbreak of the deadly rose plague, their village is put under the spotlight. Now rosemarked from contracting the plague, Zivah is unable to practice her art of healing that she has trained so hard for. Meanwhile, Dineas has just escaped from the Amparan prison and is reunited with his people, the Monyars. He wishes vengeance for the brutalities done on him, and a way to stop the Amparans from conquering his people. A chance encounter between Dineas and Zivah spawns a plan that could bring the empire to its knees, if the pair can play their cards right.Read More »

The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden

34050917★★★★★

Enchanting and bewitching, the Girl in the Tower does not disappoint. Arden transports readers back into the snow filled world of Rus’, this time into the heart of the capital with its snow-capped rooftops and burning wood stoves. With its vivid descriptions, enthralling plot, and beautiful prose, this book cements the series as one of my all-time favorites.

After the events of the first book, Vasya disguises herself as a boy and sets off from her village to become a traveler and to see the world. But Vasya soon finds that the world is a dangerous place. When she saves three girls from the Tar Tar barbarians, Vasya unintentionally catches the Princes’ eye, and is whisked off to the capital, where her siblings Sasha and Olga reside. Her reputation hangs by a thread, for if anyone discovers who she really is, the repercussions for her and her family would be dire. And strange events are happening behind the kremlin bound gates of the city, which may bring in a whole new enemy.Read More »

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

36325370★★★★★

The Bear and this Nightingale blew me away. Be transported into the frigid Russian wilderness, where creatures of fairytales breathe and frost demons wander the woods. Gather around the warmth of the hearth, around the crackling flame, and hear the story of Vasilisa, the girl marked by the winter king.

The atmosphere and setting of this book was magical. The way Arden writes every word and strings them into sentences and build them into pages is enthralling. Her descriptions are vivid, and made the setting come to life. Set in a village on the edge of the woods, in a place where the snow almost never melts, the role of nature plays a key role in both the plot and the setting. Creatures like the domovi, which are the household spirits that protects the inhabitants, and the lake spirit added a mystical quality and dimension. Throughout the pages, I could see the glint of sunlight on frost, feel my breath mist the air, and look out to a landscape of white. A warm house with a roaring flame never felt so good. This book utterly immersed me into a whole new world that I was eager to be lost in.Read More »

Godsgrave by Jay Kristoff

23264671★★★★

Woooowwww. I’m still reeling from this. So about a year ago, I read Nevernight, the first installment of the series and I thought it was a bloody, murderous book. Here, Kristoff ups the game with even more brutality, which I didn’t even think was possible. I’m slightly stunned, but I think in a good way.

Mia is now a full-fledged assassin of the Red Church, and she’s ready to kill some people. Specifically, Counsul Scaeva and Cardinal Duomo, the two bastards who took her family away from her. But the Church won’t allow her to, so Mia decides to go rogue and handle this on her own terms. There’s a chance at a clean kill for both of them at the end of the Grand Games, a form of mass entertainment that showcases the Republic’s finest gladiators fighting to the death. Only by killing off all her competition can Mia become the victor of the games, but the price she must pay may be too steep for the reward.Read More »