So, we’re back with Andrea ‘Anxiety’ of Ata and Cassie ‘The Sass Master’. They have new responsibilities, they must face their pasts, they must fight for their future but their relationship grows stronger and stronger. And they are stronger with it.
Please, don’t look at how long it took me to finish this. I’ve been having some mental health issues when I started it and had that not been the case it would have taken me max 3 days. This is really fast paced and action packed story.
Of course, there are softer, calmer, and tender moments woven into it as well but we’re being swept from one corner of Damea into another. We watch as one crisis after another messes up everyone’s lives. We follow the rise of the country, the politics, the new challenges and enemies. But also, the familial bonds, the romance, the love, the friendship, the forgiveness and betrayal.
I LOVED the 1st book but woah this one is really top shelf. The game changes rapidly. Everything we knew about Damea is just a drop in the ocean. And everything we knew about magic is even less than that.
Also, I’m joining Elisa/Ithmeera team because damn just how much UST can you pack into two women with a difficult history between them who have to learn how to trust each other again but who never stopped caring for each other?
★★★★★ | Every pretentious man that claims that good fantasy needs to uphold patriarchy and oppress minorities for ‘historical accuracy’ or otherwise it won’t be ‘believable’ needs to be slammed with this book immediately.
Andrea – she’s a very relatable protagonist: she rambles even before fully processes the question, she is impulsive but fully devoted to reaching her goal even if it endangers her and people around her, she tries really hard and makes many mistakes along the way
Cassie – she goes from ‘what the hell take me back home’ to ‘ok I’ll help you save the world but I’m gonna complain all the way’ to ‘I love Andrea and I’m gonna kick your ass were you to hurt her even if I die in the process’; she has a great humor sense and is a main source of sarcasm in the book; a big hothead
Kye – I like how he bonded with everyone and I think that thanks to him the group had this ‘chosen family’ vibe; this poor boy suffered through a lot
Elisa – aka ‘I’ll adopt every kid I’ll encounter but pretend I don’t care about any of them and remind them of it at every occasion as well as point out how displeased I am every time they put their lives at risk’; grumpy af; vodka aunt
Diana and Jacob – they’re a nice couple but also they highlight that gender roles and dynamics in Damea are nothing like ours and they strive to treat each others as equals even when Diana is of a higher rank
Meredith – she’s the villain that wasn’t really a villain – she’s a person who in desperation made some big mistakes regarding morality; she’s really relatable as a person and is led by very human reasons which shows us that we’re always one step away of choosing a wrong path
Andrea and Cassie complement each other greatly: while Andrea is ambitious and has her eyes set on a goal from the young age, Cassie was thrown into an unknown world from her boring monotonous life and stresses the importance of relaxing once in a while; Andrea has problems with words and Cassie can joke freely and conjure a lie on spot; (Andrea uses magic – Cassie is a walking magic battery). This way they can help each other grow – Andrea inspires Cassie to take action for the sake of something bigger and to want more of life and Cassie teaches Andrea to use her words and have fun. The ‘opposites attract’ trope is used here to make them into a good team not to create power imbalances. Their romance works so good because the majority of the book firstly focuses on them becoming friends and giving them time to start trusting each other.
Every scene is important and nothing is dragged out – the pacing is so good I never felt like skimming!
The plot was amazing! The world of Damea felt so natural to me as if I was sucked into it along with Cassie! After a young apprentice Andrea and Cassie who’s accidentally brought into Damea set out on a quest (or are forced to do so) the various stages of their journey progress so naturally we begin to live and breathe Damea even though the book doesn’t clutter us with too much unnecessary details about the world and doesn’t provide elongated descriptions. Everything moves fast forward as we are thrown from one crisis into a small resolution into yet another crisis. In more quiet moments the book explores inner conflicts and develops emotional side of the characters and relationships between them so there’s no sentence wasted.
I love that it is primarily a genre book not a romance because it makes everything neatly fall into place.
There’re still many questions left unansweared, like Cassie’s past, but since it’s only first part of the series I believe it’s going to become relevant to the plot further on.
(I had some issues with the writing, mainly usage of epithets like ‘the enchanter’ ect. instead of names but it didn’t disturb my reading much so I’ll let it slide.)
While reading this I felt like I was thrown into an old-style fantasy but for the first time I had so many characters I could relate to!
I joined the #RetellingAThon this month and I’m in the Fairy Tale team hosted by Sereadipity! I decided that this is a good time as any to post my old mini reviews of fairy tale retellings I read in the past and loved! Maybe other participants will find it of use and if not they’re still good stories.
Original and hilarious Cinderella retelling where… Hannah doesn’t care about the prince one bit and takes care of her garden instead. She only gets convinced to go to a ball because she wants to see the orangery and when the duke’s son chases after the girl who lost her shoe she dreads becoming his wife and not being able to actively practice gardening.
If you’re interested in seeing a girl with a passion, different relationships between women, talking birds, dryads who try to be helpful, and lots of humour check this out!
★★★★☆ | In Ageless Sleep by Arden Ellis | Sleeping Beauty retelling | GR
Mal is a spy with a mission to hijack a ship with a daughter of the Sovereign King. Everyone on board is deep in cryo-sleep which should make it easy. However, then the ship starts to malfunction and the only person able to take care of the problem is the very person Mal was sent to kidnap — Aurora.
In Ageless Sleep is a story of two women on the opposite sides of war trying to remember their allegiances and failing miserably. There are also themes of classism, disability, and poverty.
★★★★☆ | Finding Aurora by Rebecca Langham | Sleeping Beauty retelling| GR
I don’t really know what yo say without spoiling too much but it’s a nice sapphic Sleeping Beauty retelling with a bisexual MC who does some magic. There’s a prince as well. He doesn’t do much but he’s cool and a good friend.
I wish there was some sort of an epilogue though because it ended too soon for me.
Also, I smiled the whole read so give it a go if you need something sweet and short with friendships, lots of pinning, curses, and so much more!
★★★★☆ | Hunting Monsters by S.L. Huang | Little Red Ridding Hood, Beauty and the Beast + many others| GR
Grundwirgen are human cursed animals. To kill one of them means a fatal punishment.
One memorable day in a girl’s life — mainly because of her mother getting arrested for taking grundwirgen’s life — will lead to uncovering many family secrets. This short story is followed by another one taking us closer to Chinese stories. Both are amazing stories about magical creatures, parent-child relationships, forgiveness, and making choices.
Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme created by Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases.
Title: Ink in the Blood
Series: Ink in the Blood, #1
Author: Kim Smejkal
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Release Date: February 11th 2020
Genres: Fantasy / YA / LGBT
A lush, dark YA fantasy debut that weaves together tattoo magic, faith, and eccentric theater in a world where lies are currency and ink is a weapon, perfect for fans of Leigh Bardugo and Kendare Blake.
Celia Sand and her best friend, Anya Burtoni, are inklings for the esteemed religion of Profeta. Using magic, they tattoo followers with beautiful images that represent the Divine’s will and guide the actions of the recipients. It’s considered a noble calling, but ten years into their servitude Celia and Anya know the truth: Profeta is built on lies, the tattooed orders strip away freedom, and the revered temple is actually a brutal, torturous prison.
Their opportunity to escape arrives with the Rabble Mob, a traveling theater troupe. Using their inkling abilities for performance instead of propaganda, Celia and Anya are content for the first time . . . until they realize who followed them. The Divine they never believed in is very real, very angry, and determined to use Celia, Anya, and the Rabble Mob’s now-infamous stage to spread her deceitful influence even further.
To protect their new family from the wrath of a malicious deity and the zealots who work in her name, Celia and Anya must unmask the biggest lie of all—Profeta itself.
➽WHY I WANT TO READ THIS BOOK??
Tattoos, theatre, & fighting an evil religion?? This better be Good.
★★★★☆ | Choosing your own path with all odds against you
Author: Ariel Slamet Ries
Publisher: Lion Forge
Release Date: September 17th 2019
Genres: Fantasy, YA, Graphic Novel
In the kingdom Hyalin the length of your hair is a big deal. It determines the strength of your magic, thus short-haired people have fewer possibilities and are less respected. However, sometimes those in power decide that one’s hair is too long and such a person is a treat to the country. Such a person is burned. Such a person was Nyneve’s father. And now so is Nyneve.
Witchy is a story of choosing your own destiny even with the whole kingdom against you. It’s about the fight against society’s expectations. About sometimes simply running away when things get too intense. About different ways of standing up for yourself. About pain and about healing. About the sacrifice and about accepting it. About living your true life and about being forced to hide.
Witchy has also and interesting magic system with witches, various ways of channelling one’s magic, talking birds, small spirits and so much else.
It’s a tale of a controlling ruler and the manipulation from those in power. Of a determined mother. Of a lost father. Of protecting one another and finding friends where you least expect them.
The art style is original and the colours beautiful. The dynamic and cartoonish shapes seem to move the adventure faster and the colours which are a bit pale yet warm set an almost fairy-tale mood.
I love Carmilla! I watched the webseries. I saw the movie. I read the original novel. So, it is not a surprise that the existence of a poetry collection based on the story makes me pretty excited. And it’s an erasure poetry collection created from erased pages of the original Carmilla in a form of alternating poems between Laura and Carmilla telling the story of their relationship.
Erasure poetry is created by taking a fragment of text and erasing words until you end up with a poem. With Sapphic Book Club, we did “a challenge” and tried to create such a poem and it’s a really interesting process. I think it made me appreciate the whole books of those poems much more and I advise you to try as well!
Honestly, I thought the earlier cover was ok until I saw this one. The earlier version was quite dark and the picture took less than half of the space? It looked cool with all the stars around but this story is colourful and the cover should be as well!
Only top three for today because I’m technically not here and only scheduling this post but please let me know your favourites/least favourites in the comments and I will answer as soon as I can! Leave me links to your TTT too!
Magnus Chase is still my favourite Rick Riordan’s series, but this is a close second — I love the bad haikus. I love how annoying and yet still lovable Apollo can be. I love how casual LGBT rep is here.
➽This series has one of the greatest character development
I like how we started out with a really annoying Apollo in the book one. I instantly knew that there’s so much potential with that and Uncle Rick did not disappoint. Apollo grows so much throughout the series and we’re just at book 3 of 5. He still retains some of his annoying qualities but it only makes him much more interesting imo because it shows that by becoming human he gained so much contrast. He is scared shitless and the most defenseless of the group but he’s ready to sacrifice himself. He didn’t care about whole cities dying and he mourns someone he barely knew.
➽This is also a part of character development but I like how we see both Meg and Apollo dealing with abuse in their lives and healing
I like that Apollo tries to help Meg but he also knows when he needs to let her grow on her own. How he knows he can’t force her to see things his way and that he respects her autonomy and supports her choices (unless they’re really bad choices. Murder is bad, Meg.) How he realises similarities between his life and Meg’s and how even he as a god had this experience. How that doesn’t make either of them weak. How he helps her with misdirecting her anger…
But also, I like how Meg grows on her own. How she goes back-and-forth and how realistic it is. How she gains her own support system and how that strengthens her. How she lets herself feel anger. How she lets herself feel happiness. How she slowly heals.
➽I love how Apollo being the god of healing and Demeter, Meg’s mother, being the goddess of growing is exactly what both of them need
➽This book had a much darker feel to it than any of Riordan’s books
Usually I’m the first one to shout ‘why do creators always insist on making all the bright and easy things darker and darker’ but it fits here? There’s still enough humour to counter it so it’s not only all sad and serious but Apollo and Meg’s arcs wouldn’t work as well with the usual mood of Percy Jackson Verse. Here making things a bit darker has a function and it just works.