Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Magpie's Song by Allison Pang

Series: The IronHeart Chronicles #1
Publisher: Author published
Published: Aug. 8, 18
Source: From author (won book)

In the slums of BrightStone, Moon Children are worth less than the scrap they must collect to survive. It doesn’t matter that these abandoned half-breeds are part-Meridian with their ancestors hailing from the technologically advanced city that floats above the once-thriving, now plague-ridden BrightStone. Instead they are rejected by both their ancestral societies and forced to live on the outskirts of civilization, joining clans simply to survive. Not to mention their role as Tithe, leading the city’s infected citizens deep into the Pits where their disease can be controlled.

Nineteen-year-old Raggy Maggy is no different, despite the mysterious heart-shaped panel that covers her chest. Or at least she wasn’t… Not until her chance discovery of a Meridian-built clockwork dragon—and its murdered owner. When the Inquestors policing the city find Maggy at the scene of the crime, she quickly turns into their prime suspect. Now she’s all anyone can talk about. Even her clan leader turns his back on her, leading her to rely on an exiled doctor and a clanless Moon Child named Ghost to keep her hidden. In return, all she has to do is help them find a cure for the plague they believe was not exactly accidental. Yet doing so might mean risking more than just her life. It also might be the only key to uncovering the truth about the parents—and the past—she knows nothing about.

My thoughts:

This is an author who also wrote the Abby Sinclair series (oh if you haven't read it... go do it now! Seriously, we will wait...) so I was very happy when I won my copy. This is quite different than her other series. This one is is YA (older) and a bit steampunk-ish (not too heavy on it) with a mystery to by solved. It also is dark with a dystopian feel. It isn't dystopian since it happens in a much different world than ours, but you know something happened to separate the rich from the rest of the rabble. It also created a plague which cannot be cured and children who are immune to the plague and are marked by their snow white hair. Rejected and feared, the children barely survive in thieving clans and used as caretakers to those infected and doomed to die in the tunnels.

Okay, I don't want to give away any more as it also has a mystery feel to the story and it is always good to slowly have things revealed. The worldbuilding is easy to slip into and you want to know everything and you become more invested as the story reveals bits of this world. The world isn't bright and shiny, but as I have already stated, it is dark, it is dirty, and dangerous. I also wouldn't worry with the YA title as it has murder, betrayal and even casual sex (nothing graphic, but just states it as fact). It also has some incredible gadgets that I hope the author explores more in future books.

My biggest complaint? It isn't long enough. You know where the book was going and it took it's time to get there (which isn't a bad thing here) and when it gets there it ends. It isn't a cliffie but you need the next book to find out what how and more about this world.

I give this book 4 stars. I think anyone wanting a fantasy world which isn't heavy handed but engaging should try this book. Also, don't forget to try her other series. You won't regret either series.


Monday, April 8, 2019

The Deepest Blue by Sarah Beth Durst

Series: Tales of Renthia #1
368 p.
Published: March 19, 19
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Source: From author for review

... dazzling, intricate stand-alone fantasy novel set in award-winning author Sarah Beth Durst’s beloved world of Renthia. 
Life is precious and precarious on the islands of Belene. Besieged by a capricious ocean full of malicious spirits, the people of the islands seek joy where they can. Mayara, one of the island’s fearless oyster divers, has found happiness in love. But on the day of her wedding to the artist Kelo, a spirit-driven storm hits the island with deadly force.
To save her loved ones, Mayara reveals a dangerous secret: she has the power to control the spirits. When the storm ends, she is taken into custody by the queen’s soldiers and imprisoned with other women like her. 
They vary in age and social status, but to many they are heroes who will aide the country or witches that will sacrifice themselves trying. No matter who they are, the women are sent to a terrifying place—an island filled with bloodthirsty nature spirits, and left without food, water, shelter, or any tools except their own instincts and magic. Whoever survives the Island of Testing will be declared heirs to the queen. But no matter if she wins or loses, Mayara knows that the life she dreamed of is gone.
My thoughts:

This is a book set in the world of Sarah Beth Durst's trilogy, The Queens of Renthia (goodreads link). I really loved that series and I do suggest that you read it before reading this one. The main reason is that the trilogy establishes the world in an engaging way. This book is a standalone from that world and it follows the sea and the "monsters" that dwell there. This series is also considered fantasy, but it is an accessible one and you shouldn't be afraid to jump in.

You get to know the main character Mayara and her beloved Kelo. Secondary characters are also well rounded out and a favorite sassy character from the previous books also makes an appearance. You have a few twists and even political intrigue which were all solved and some not in the way you would suspect. I also love that you even get a glimpse at some of the more evolved spirit's mind. That actually made me want more of that perspective. Even so, I would say that the glimpse actually works best within the story as a whole.

There is adventure, romance, heartbreak and betrayal within this story. Secrets and intrigue also adorn the pages. The whole series is a well rounded out world that I'm not sure I would want to live, but I do enjoy visiting. I also hope that we get to visit every corner of this world.

If you have not read this author's writing, I highly recommend that you at least try one of her books. She has several out there that are standalones. If you are hungry for a short series, do try the first book in the Queens of Renthia, The Queen of Blood.