Book Review: Talon by Julie Kagawa

talon

Title: Talon
Author: Julie Kagawa
Pub Date: 25th January 2015
Publisher: MIRA Ink
Obtained: Review Copy
Rating: 3.5/4*

‘There are a dozen soldiers hiding in that maze All hunting you. All looking to kill you.’
To the outside world Ember Hill is an ordinary girl, but Ember has a deadly secret. A dragon hiding in human form, she is destined to fight the shadowy Order of St.George, a powerful society of dragonslayers. St. George soldier Garret is determined to kill Ember and her kind. Until her bravery makes him question all he’s been taught about dragons. 

Now a war is coming and Garret and Ember must choose their sides – fight to save their bond or fulfil their fate and destroy one another.

Talon is unlike any other dragon book I’ve read. In Kagawa’s world, dragons are able to take on human forms, and are trained to assimilate into human society in order to protect their species. We meet Ember and her twin brother Dante, both of whom are soon to complete their training from Talon – the dragon establishment – and the final stage of this is to mix with humans and not raise suspicion. This story is told in multi-narrative – we hear Ember’s first person point of view. a rogue dragon called Riley’s point of view as well as from the perspective of a human dragonslayer, Garret.

Ember was a brilliant character – funny, adorable and with that extra bit of sass, I couldn’t help but root for her in this novel. Character wise, I feel that Kagawa has written another solid character, one that I can relate to (minus the being a dragon part…) and one that I feel really jumps off the page. The other characters in this book were brilliant also – Riley was one of my favourites and of course, so was Garret!

Talon‘s pacing was also one of the highlights. I flew through this book! Bearing in mind that there are more than 400 pages in this book, I felt that it was the perfect length, and the story progressed to an exciting and engrossing conclusion.

Now, I feel that I can’t properly review this book without mentioning Julie Kagawa’s unusual take on dragons. I’ve read books before, namely Seraphina by Rachel Hartman, where dragons have the ability to change into human forms. However, these books have always been traditionally fantasy in genre; meaning, they have a historical fantasy setting, in an alternate world/time period. In Talon, Kagawa surprised me completely – by setting this in modern day America, in a beach front town called Crescent Beach. I feel like this was a huge risk – and it paid off as a whole.

Talon was a thrill ride from start to finish. With the alternate point of views, from Ember, the dragon, to Garret, the soldier of St George, an elite group of dragon slayers, a reader’s sympathies were pulled in many different directions – but one theme remained the same throughout: the discovery that Talon was in fact not what it appeared to be. Talon was an extremely interesting facet to the story. Ember and her twin, Dante, were trained by Talon individually during their time at Crescent Beach and Ember starts to suspect that Dante is being taught something quite different than what she is. I may be mistaken, I don’t think we ever discovered what was happening during Dante’s training sessions, which adds to the mystery further. And with that Epilogue, the next book (called Rogue, out April this year!) is sure to delve deeper into Dante and the deceit of Talon.

And what is a YA Fantasy novel without a romantic refrain? The love story between Garret and Ember was AH-MAZING. I was completely rooting for them the whole time. My one complaint with these two was that their love story was predictable – though I enjoyed every moment reading about it!

There is a sort-of love triangle in Talon – between Ember, Riley and Garret – and this was one of my main (minor) reservations with this book. I loved Garret. I loved Riley. And importantly, I loved Ember – but I hated that throughout the book, she seemed to like one of the love interests immensely and then as soon as she was with the other, seemed to forget about the other. The ending did settle my annoyance, only slightly, but I still dread to think about what lengths the love triangle will go to in the sequel.

One of the biggest problems I had with this book, despite loving the plot so much and the characters, was with the dragon concept. I think what puzzled and confused me, and prevented me from giving this book five stars, was Ember’s point of view. Ember was our main dragon protagonist. She was a dragon – but her voice sounded too human. It wasn’t until she shifts into her true self that I realised how much her narrative voice did not suit what she actually was. The message, of course, is that dragons are no different from the humans – or the St George dragon slayers – in the book. However, I felt that perhaps her point of view should have sounded focused on the less human side of her. This really held me back from enjoying the dragon moments of the story, when Ember shifted into her true self. It was perhaps a bit too out of my comfort zone, and I felt that I couldn’t delve into Ember’s head space and immerse myself in the story in this way.

Aside from that, Julie Kagawa has done an incredible job – not that I expected any different! She really does know how to construct characters and settings, and I could read her books all day.

3.5-4 stars for this exciting fantasy read. Looking forward to Rogue, the sequel!

*Thanks to MIRA Ink for providing me with this copy to review!

Book Review: Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas

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Title: Heir of Fire
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Pub Date: 11th September 2014
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Obtained: Review Copy
Rating: 5*

This was one of the best books I read in 2014. In fact, it was so good, it took me three long months to read it. If I enjoyed it, why did it take so long to read, you could ask. The answer? This book was so far above my expectations that I struggled to fit it inside a box. In Heir of Fire, Sarah J Maas goes beyond the fantasy YA world she creates in Throne of Glass, and catapults her readers into a multiple POV, high fantasy realm. Maas no longer plays with fantasy in this book – she owns the genre and cements herself no longer as a YA/Fantasy crossover author, but as a talented writer of brilliantly crafted, epic fantasy.

For this reason, I found it hard to adjust and had to take several breaks from reading the book. With four main story arcs, Heir of Fire‘s plot required concentration and patience – things that I didn’t seem to need for the first two books! We find our main character, Celaena, in Wendlyn, on a mission to assassinate the royal family – but from there she ends up abandoning her role as the King’s Champion, and ends up encircled in an entirely new world, one that she would later fight to protect. Celaena truly grows as a character, in so many ways. In the last two books, she faces sorrow and love – both of which have left her broken and lost. Celaena’s journey in Heir of Fire is a painful one – as readers, we accompany her on her path of self-discovery and torment.

What I adored about this novel is the extreme broadening of the plot, the characters and the entire world building. We find the world of the Throne of Glass series is larger than one country wide. Whilst Celaena is in Wendlyn, Chaol is back with Dorian in Adarlan, both of whom have extremely fascinating story arcs in this book. They are no longer secondary characters in Celaena’s world – rather they command their own plots and are just as important to the story as Celaena is.

Aside from the characters we know and love, Maas introduces us to a host of new characters, who become central players in the story – Manon, a witch, has a main storyline, as well as Rowan and Aedion; three characters who we’ll definitely see in the fourth book. These characters were so well written, it was as if they had been with us from the start. Upon first reading, I was hesitant of Maas’s introduction of new characters – surely there couldn’t be more plot lines to be introduced – but I was wrong! Rowan is now one of my favourite characters and Manon, the Blackbeak witch was a fascinating character who leapt from the page, the image of her iron nails and teeth gluing itself to my mind.

Maas, in writing this novel, has completely reassured me of her skill and talents as a storyteller. I’m that impressed by the progression and beauty of this series that I’m sure that I would even read the phone book if Sarah wrote it!

This is a series that you need to read – one that transcends the boundaries of often one-dimensional YA Fantasy. The easiest five stars I’ve ever had to give!

Book Review: My True Love Gave To Me, edited by Stephanie Perkins

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My True Love Gave To Me, edited by Stephanie Perkins
Published by Pan Macmillan
Goodreads Link
Rating 4.5*
Buy: The Book Depository | Hive

Rainbow Rowell – ‘Midnights’ – 4/5
This was a perfectly rounded, beautifully sweet story with that perfect amount of Rainbow Rowell charm. The story is set over a series of New Years Eves and two best friends, Noel and Mags, who have a series of near-misses each year. This was a story of friendship, taking chances and had an amazing happy ending that truly made me warm and fuzzy inside. But what I loved about this story in particular was Rainbow’s writing and how she managed to cram in so much characterisation within such a short story. Brilliant.

Kelly Link – ‘The Lady and the Fox’ – 2.5/5
This story truly set off great. Miranda, our main character, visits family friends every Christmas as her mother is in jail in a Thai prison (though it was never explicitly said what for – which was very irritating!). Daniel, the son of her mother’s friend, who she stays with a Christmas every year, is obviously in love with her and this story could easily have taken a safe route to go down with Daniel, but Kelly Link took a risk – one that I’m not sure paid off. Miranda visits the Honeywell household every Christmas and each year, she seems to encounter a ghost called Fenny. And so ensues a rather enigmatic, confusing, love/ghost story. There were lots of questions, but no answers, and unfortunately it wasn’t Christmassy enough to make up for that fact! The beginning of the story did hook me initially, so for this one i’ll be giving it 2.5 stars.

Matt de la Pena – ‘Angels in the Snow’ – 4/5 stars
Oh, I loved this one! It was funny, endearing and beautiful. It is centred on a boy called Shy, who is catsitting in New York over Christmas break. He can’t go home to Mexico, where his family are enjoying Christmas, and he’s low on food and money. A huge snowstorm is keeping him inside the apartment, when a neighbour from upstairs, Haley, comes knocking, asking to use the shower. And so continues a gradual love story about honesty, truth and being yourself. I loved Shy’s character and Matt de la Pena’s writing style, and this one really put me in the Christmas spirit.

Jenny Han – ‘Polaris Is Where You’ll Find Me’ – 3/5
MAN! I wanted more. Who knew elves could be such a good basis for a story? Seriously though, that ended too abruptly and the end wasn’t at all satisfying 😦 More of Natalie and Flynn please, Jenny Han!

Stephanie Perkins – ‘It’s A Yuletide Miracle, Charlie Brown’ – 5/5
ALL THE FEEEELS. Stephanie Perkins, what is it that is so entrancing and moving about anything that you write? You made me fall in love with Marigold and North in the space of a few pages. PAGES. This was the most perfect of all the stories so far in this collection. It was sweet, uplifting, funny and adorable. And the most important question – where can I get a North of my own!?!

David Levithan – ‘Your Temporary Santa’ – 3.5/5
This was such a sweet story! Connor asks his boyfriend to dress up as Santa and come into his house on Christmas Eve night so that his eight year old brother will see what he thinks is Santa delivering presents. It was really sweet, but unfortunately there wasn’t enough depth for me to give it anything but a 3.5 star rating. I feel like this would need to be a full length book. I adored the characters though!

Holly Black – ‘Krampuslauf’ – 4/5 stars
A refreshing fantasy/paranormal love story to mix things up a bit was exactly what I was needing – and Holly Black provided! Krampuslauf was pretty darn amazing. I LOVED the setting, the story, the characters. It was all so very clever and unique, and despite the many negative reviews about this story in particular, the story shone out as one of the best in the anthology for me. I think Holly’s writing is incredible; so addictive and readable. I loved the personalities of all of the characters and when the story ended, I wanted more! Luckily, I have an ARC of THE DARKEST PART OF THE FOREST, Holly Black’s new fairy YA novel, out next year. Otherwise, I would have gone a bit crazy over not having any of Holly Black’s fairy world to read! Perfect story, and one that would make a great novel in my opinion.

Gayle Forman – ‘What the Hell Have You Done, Sophie Roth?’ – 5/5 stars
THIS STORY. Damn. I’m a mess of feels. This was SO SO ADORABLE. I was completely sucked into this beautiful short story, and completely fell in love with Sophie and Russell’s love story. Sophie is in her first year of a college in the middle of nowhere – it’s a small town, with students who are local. As a Jewish girl from New York, Sophie sticks out – but so does Russell, one of the few black students at the university. Initially, that’s how they connect – they’re both ‘outsiders’, both strangers – but it begins to go beyond that. Their humour is incredible, and this story wouldn’t be the same without the hilarious one-liners and Russell’s quick wit. I want a Russell of my own! Five stars for this sweet, perfect love story.

Myra McEntire – ‘Beer Buckets and Baby Jesus’ – 3/5
This story was perhaps one of the weakest of the collection – don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed it, but the plot didn’t really excite me or draw me in. The characters however? I loved them! Vaughn was so loveable and I loved how he was an unconventional protagonist – he hadn’t that much going for him, and he was a troublemaker. To summarise, there’s a nativity play gone wrong, a bad boy falling for the pastor’s daughter, a Civil War re-enactment doublebooked and the worst snowstorm in history – it was a fun read, but not one of the best. It did however fill me with that Christmas spirit, so for that, I’ve given it three stars.

Kiersten White – ‘Welcome to Christmas, CA’ – 4/5
This story is set in a dot-on-the-map town called Christmas; so small that it doesn’t even appear in a Google search. Maria wants to get out of Christmas as quickly as possible – she works in the Christmas Cafe that her mother manages, and the only wage she gets is her tips. She dislikes her stepdad, and how her mother is slowly drifting away from her. However, upon the arrival of the new, young, hot chef called Ben, all of this changes. Maria learns that appearances are not always what they seem – her stepfather has been rooting for her this whole time, and altogether her perspective of the town of Christmas changes, thanks to Ben. I really loved this story. It was as sweet as the delicious food that our love interest, Ben, cooked up. The descriptions of the food were incredible! I loved the humour, sweetness and festivity of this story, and the fact that it can only take a change of perspective to appreciate what you really have.

Ally Carter – Star of Bethlehem – 2/5
Arghhh. This story set off so great but then unfortunately went downhill! Lydia, our main character, is on her way to New York for Christmas, but at the airport, she sees a girl from Iceland, desperate to change her ticket and go to New York. On a whim, our main character decides to swap tickets with her – and then ends up impersonating Hulda in the middle of nowhere in Oklahoma, staying with Hulda’s ex-boyfriend and his family. This story began to play into one of my favourite YA tropes – the fake!relationship trope, but from then on, it just got a bit muddled. Lydia attempts to play into her role as Hulda, the Icelandic girl at the airport, and ends up falling in love with Ethan, who’s family ends up welcoming her in with open arms. We learn that Lydia is not what she appears to be – she’s escaping from another life in New York, the life of fame and fortune. The big reveal of this was over-the-top dramatic, and unfortunately it really put me off the story. I didn’t like the twist at all, and felt that the story brought in too much in such a short space of time. I did love how funny this story was – especially Lydia having to explain to Ethan’s family all of the Icelandic Christmas traditions! Overall, a sweet story, but one that lacked shine for me.

Laini Taylor – The Girl That Woke The Dreamer – 5/5
AHHHHH. THIS STORY. YES LAINI TAYLOR! I’m a fantasy lover at heart, and when I found out that the final story in this anthology was a fantasy one, AND written by Laini Taylor, I think I may have squealed. How do I even explain the plot of this story? I can’t. I won’t be able to do it justice. There’s our main character, Neve, a girl alone in the world, the world that is freshly inhabited by humans – the Isle of Feathers. There’s a mythical god – or creature – who once inhabited the Isle, but the human invaders killed him and colonised the island – or so they thought. Every Christmas, for the twenty four days up until Christmas Eve, men court women by leaving them gifts on their porches. When Neve receives an old bible, she knows that it’s Spear – the harsh Reverand who had a trail of dead wives before him. And Neve is to be the next. Upon seeing the bible upon her porch, she prays to Wisha – the Dreamer – to save her. And from then on, she receives the most special gifts from an unknown suitor. What Neve begins to realise is that she has woken the Dreamer – and he will fulfil his promise, and save her from her doomed fate. What unfolds is a beautiful, completely unconventional love story that will blow you away. Laini Taylor’s writing is stunning. Whilst reading this, I wanted to wrap the words around me, they were that beautiful. The ending is triumphant and magical, and though Laini Taylor took a huge risk with this story, it paid off tenfold. She could have easily written a conventional Christmas romance, but no. She wrote a Christmas romance that none of us can relate to, but that we can all fall in love with. It was the perfect end to a fantastic anthology!

FAVOURITES OF THE COLLECTION:
1) The Girl Who Woke The Dreamer – Laini Taylor. Obviously!
2) It’s A Yuletide Miracle, Charlie Brown – Stephanie Perkins. Written by the queen of YA romance, of course this would come up top!
3) What the Hell Have You Done, Sophie Roth? – Gayle Forman. Another queen of YA romance, this was a gorgeous story which filled me with Christmas cheer.

Collection Rating overall – 4.5 stars.

Review: Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

Cruel Beauty
Rosamund Hodge
Published January 28th 2014

Balzar + Bray/HarperTeen
3.5 stars

So this book started off super and then trailed off towards the end. Cruel Beauty is set in a Greek-mythology inspired world; I loved all the references to the Gods and all of the mythology that the author included and dropped in. As someone who loves mythology, I particularly loved the rich detail and classical allusions.

I initially loved our main character, Nyx – she was bitter, cruel and filled with hate for her family, who had sacrificed her to fulfill a bargain made with the Gentle Lord, a demon who our main character was betrothed to.

This book was almost a retelling of the classic fairy tale, Beauty and the Beast, but not quite; the beast was not such a beast at all, and once Nyx began to discover more about Ignifex’s background and story, I began to fall in love with this gorgeously detailed character.

The mythology was perfect, the characters so alive, but I feel like Rosamund Hodge may have tackled too much in terms of the plot. This book is confusing and at many times, I felt like skipping pages as I was so lost with where this book was heading. In terms of the ending, a typical trait in YA fiction was used that I really hate – the ‘memory’ plot. For those who have read this book, you’ll know what I mean! I realise that Nyx, our main character, had to sacrifice certain things in order to save the world – literally – but I still found myself being annoyed at her decisions and choices.

The ending was not satisfying enough – we got our happy ending but it sadly did not deliver in a way that shocked me and made me feel something. However, despite this, I couldn’t help loving the relationship between Nyx and Ignifex, the amazing mythological allusions which really sucked me in and the way that this book was written as a whole.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t ‘wowed’ by this book, which is disappointing, as it held so much potential up until half way. An enjoyable YA read, however, and one which those who enjoy fairy tale retellings, romance and mythology will definitely enjoy!

Review: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

ImageFangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Pan Macmillan
5/5*

Cath is a Simon Snow fan. Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan . . . But for Cath, being a fan is her life — and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving. Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere. Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to. Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words . . . And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone. For Cath, the question is: Can she do this? Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories? And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?

Well – this sure was unexpected! As a YA Contemporary read, I was initially sceptical over picking Fangirl up; contemporary isn’t usually my preferred genre as I’m far too much of an escapist to fall in love with it. However! I’m getting over this aversion pretty quickly, and boy, aren’t I pleased about it. It’s also quite important to note that Fangirl is my first Rainbow Rowell read. Rainbow’s other YA book, Eleanor & Park, is high up on my TBR pile after hearing so, so many glowing reviews and after receiving countless recommendations to read it. I’m surprised I’ve been able to resist reading any of Rainbow’s beautifully written books so far!

Yet, I was drawn to the gorgeous cover of Fangirl and the lighthearted, cute premise. Rainbow Rowell truly comes up with a unique and shockingly relatable plot in this book; the world of fanfiction, especially for many book lovers such as myself, is a world that we’ve all stumbled into and are very aware of. Rowell injects excellently crafted pop culture references and laugh-out-loud humour into what could have been an average college love story.

Our protagonist, Cath, is not immediately a likable character – she’s withdrawn, insular and enclosed – and pretty unrelatable initially. Yet, this soon changed! Rowell’s effortless character development for Cath was one of the highlights of the book for me – to quote the book, I was definitely “rooting” for Cath to come out of her shell and to explore life beyond the realms of fiction. Cath’s humour was a delight to read but as was her strength; Cath is not only our main character, but she is the support system for the rest of the characters in the book. Her constant support of her father and her sister, Wren, truly touched me and I really loved this part of her personality.

However, beneath the humour and the brilliant fanfiction snippets, Fangirl addressed some really interesting topics – divorce, teen drinking and coming of age. Cath and Wren come from a broken family background, raised by a single father after their mother leaves them all. This familial trauma resonates in Wren’s drinking but also rather subtly in Cath’s inability to write her own characters. Cath struggles to step beyond something that she feels comfortable with – the world of Simon Snow – into a world foreign and unknown – her own fiction. What was truly great about this novel was that it was multi-dimensional, a perfect balance between heart-warming romance, refreshingly awesome pop culture and emotional drama.

But, I would be lying if I didn’t mention that it was also Levi that made this book awesome. I love his endearing struggle with reading, his amazing support and love for Cath and most importantly the fact that Rainbow Rowell has constructed his character in such a human manner. He was an unconventional romantic hero in the sense that he was, without the negative connotations the word brings, ordinary – and that’s why I loved him. He was a relatable character with flaws and imperfections, but he was beyond adorable regardless of these.

So, to wrap up this rather gushing review, I’d like to leave you all with one thing. If you’ve heard bad reviews about this book (god knows from where, however!), please ignore them and experience it for yourself. Pick this book up. Seriously.

Book Review: All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill

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*Sent for review*

5/5 STARS

“You have to kill him.” Imprisoned in the heart of a secret military base, Em has nothing except the voice of the boy in the cell next door and the list of instructions she finds taped inside the drain.

Only Em can complete the final instruction. She’s tried everything to prevent the creation of a time machine that will tear the world apart. She holds the proof: a list she has never seen before, written in her own hand. Each failed attempt in the past has led her to the same terrible present—imprisoned and tortured by a sadistic man called the doctor while war rages outside.

Marina has loved her best friend James since the day he moved next door when they were children. A gorgeous, introverted science prodigy from one of America’s most famous families, James finally seems to be seeing Marina in a new way, too. But on one disastrous night, James’s life crumbles apart, and with it, Marina’s hopes for their future. Now someone is trying to kill him. Marina will protect James, no matter what. Even if it means opening her eyes to a truth so terrible that she may not survive it. At least not as the girl she once was.

All Our Yesterdays is a wrenching, brilliantly plotted story of fierce love, unthinkable sacrifice, and the infinite implications of our every choice.

So upon receiving All Our Yesterdays, I was immediately excited. I heard A LOT about this book on YouTube, Goodreads and other book blogs, and so when it came through my mail box, I knew I had to pick it up and read it immediately.

From the very first page, I was hooked. We find Em and Finn held captive in a military base, and the action begins from the very start. The switching narrative between Em and Marina was extremely well crafted – each of these characters had a distinctive voice and the plot twist regarding these two narrators was so unexpected and just proved to me how great of an author Cristin Terrill was.

Considering All Our Yesterdays is Terrill’s debut novel, I was so, so impressed. The character building and development throughout the book was excellent, and by the end of the book, I was so attached to each character that the ending slightly killed me inside!

I admit, however – I did have my hesitations – and yes, I was proven wrong! I have never read a book on time travel before, and admittedly, sci-fi books aren’t my favourite. I was worried how Terrill would be able to explain time travel, and how well the plot would flow if we were being thrown backwards and forwards in time. I was wrong to have hesitations! Time travel in All Our Yesterdays was presented in an incredibly unique way. The science behind it was really logical, and I loved the ‘rules’ of time travel itself, that Em and Finn discovered were perhaps not the rules at all.

James’s character was one of the delights of the entire book. I loved him, I hated him, and at times I felt so sympathetic I just couldn’t hate him! His evolution from his past with Marina to his present conflict with Em was really enjoyable to read, and really gave you mixed emotions regarding his character.

In summary, this book was all kinds of awesome. It was fast paced, addictive, moving and emotional, and I am so thrilled that I read it!

I know there is a sequel coming out, which initially shocked me, as the ending of the book gave off the impression that it was a stand-alone novel. I am dreading, and also anticipating, the tricks that Cristin Terrill has up her sleeves for this sequel! I believe it will follow all the main protagonists, so I’m exceedingly anxious to read it!

A brilliant YA debut, and a beautiful start to what I believe will be a truly addictive series!

Book Review: The Diviners by Libba Bray

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This, fellow readers, is how you write a book.

It’s 1920s New York City. It’s flappers and Follies, jazz and gin. It’s after the war but before the depression. And for certain group of bright young things it’s the opportunity to party like never before.
For Evie O’Neill, it’s escape. She’s never fit in in small town Ohio and when she causes yet another scandal, she’s shipped off to stay with an uncle in the big city. But far from being exile, this is exactly what she’s always wanted: the chance to show how thoroughly modern and incredibly daring she can be.
But New York City isn’t about just jazz babies and follies girls. It has a darker side. Young women are being murdered across the city. And these aren’t crimes of passion. They’re gruesome. They’re planned. They bear a strange resemblance to an obscure group of tarot cards. And the New York City police can’t solve them alone.
Evie wasn’t just escaping the stifling life of Ohio, she was running from the knowledge of what she could do. She has a secret. A mysterious power that could help catch the killer – if he doesn’t catch her first.

From the moment I picked up this brilliant book, I was hooked. This book astounds me in how atmospheric it is. Never before have I been this impressed by a book. The setting, the era, the characters, the plot… Perfection. That’s the only word for it.

The characters were astoundingly well constructed. There were a LOT of characters in this book. Usually, I would say that’s a huge no-no. The more characters, mean the more time spent constructing them, the more pages spent in getting a reader to care or to hate them. To really react to fictional characters, as a reader, you must feel for them in some way.

Libba Bray is an expert in her craft in that she introduces all of these characters and makes you feel so much emotion towards each one of them.

I was also incredibly impressed by Bray’s ability to master the switching, third-person narrative. Her writing is seamless, her form is incredible. As previously stated, I was hooked from the first page. As each chapter was told from a different characters perspective in third-person, there was a new point of view each chapter. Libba Bray managed to give each character SUCH a distinctive, unique voice. Evie, protagonist, was witty, sharp-mouthed and charming. Yet, by the end of the book, she was also strong, brave, determined and had become one of my favourite YA heroines. Her character development was really visible, and I loved that about her.

As stated, there were a lot of characters in this book. Perhaps my favourites, apart from Evie, were Memphis and Theta. Memphis really brought out my emotions in his dedication to his brother Isaiah, whilst Theta completely surprised me. The discovery of her backstory was startling and horrific but just made me love her more, as it truly showed how strong she was. And, the relationship between these two characters was my favourite in the book!

As I’m discussing characterisation, I can hardly ignore the construction of Naughty John. Possibly the creepiest character in YA? I think so. The way Libba Bray introduced this character, with his HORRIFYING song, scared the life out of me! So, so chilling, but all in all, incredible characterisation! Bray really kept you at the edge of your seat with this character.

Now, the plot; the murders, the mystery surrounding the ‘diviners’, Memphis and Theta’s shared dream, the truth about Jericho… So many questions were asked and answered in this book.

The murder mystery itself – the killings, the Knowles’ house and the creepy figure of Naughty John – was so cleverly woven. There were so many plot twists that I didn’t see coming, I really was blown away! What I loved most of all, however, was how the killings all had method and meaning, and how the discovery of Naughty John was literally a race against time. Such an exciting and fast-paced read, I can’t express it enough!

Finally, I want to truly emphasise the amount of research that Libba Bray must have put into this book. The 1920s came to life, and every part with it.

Prohibition, The Jazz Age, the KKK, the First World War, Flappers, Industry, the motor car industry, Segregation, Religious Fanaticism….

All of this was in the book, and helped create the authentic atmosphere that was simply so great about this book.

As a reader, it all comes to life. The conflicts of religion, politics, race, class… And also the celebration of style, sexual freedom, women’s rights, and life itself.

An incredible book that is without a doubt one of all time favourites. I bow down to you, Libba Bray!