The Ninth Rain has fallen, the Jure’lia have returned, and with Ebora a shadow of its former self, the old enemy are closer to conquering Sarn than ever.
Tormalin the Oathless and the Fell-Witch Noon have their hands full dealing with the first war-beasts to be born in Ebora for nearly three hundred years. But these are not the great mythological warriors of old; hatched too early and with no link to their past lives, the war-beasts have no memory of the many battles they have fought and won, and no concept of how they can possibly do it again. The key to uniting them, according to the scholar Vintage, may lie in a part of Sarn no one really believes exists, but finding it will mean a dangerous journey at a time of war…
Meanwhile, Hestillion is trapped on board the corpse moon, forced into a strange and uneasy alliance with the Jure’lia queen. Something terrifying is growing up there, in the heart of the Behemoth, and the people of Sarn will have no defence against these new monsters
Around the world, black hand prints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.In a dark and dusty shop, a devil’s supply of human teeth grows dangerously low.And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherworldly war.Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real, she’s prone to disappearing on mysterious “errands”, she speaks many languages – not all of them human – and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she’s about to find out.When beautiful, haunted Akiva fixes fiery eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?
Title: The Bone Witch (The Bone Witch #1)
Author: Rin Chupeco
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Publication date: 7th March 2017
The Bone Witch, by Rin Chupeco, the first of a new YA fantasy series, has been likened to The Name of the Wind, by Patrick Rothfuss. Usually I take these things with a pinch of salt and decry “advertising!” instead of walking into the book expecting to be given just this. But in this case, the echo of style and verve truly is there—and that’s one of the things that made me love this book so very, very much. There’s a kind of slow, soft poetry to a story told through the eyes of a single character as they recall the (however distant or recent) past; as if we’re being told a story within a story. We’re told the story by Tea as she recounts it herself and we not only learn about her in snatches and glimpses, but that’s the way we’re invited to see the world of The Bone Witch as well, which is immensely rich and satisfying, as well as tantalisingly slow. The way in which Tea tells her story allows you to curl up and savour every word, simultaneously eager to spend time in the past through her recollection and race back to present day in order to follow the unravelling story wherever it is headed.
Tea is a bone witch, which she discovers when raising her dead brother from the grave, ultimately making him her familiar; in this way he is something resembling alive, though he remains very, truly dead. When a bone witch creates a familiar, the once-more-living creature retains their personality and memories and becomes linked to the witch who raised them. Which is why, when Tea is found by Lady Mikaela, a bone witch on her travels, raising and slaying the monstrous daeva as a bone witch is tasked to do, her brother is forced to remain with her. Neither sibling seems to mind this new and strange turn of events, however, and although Tea is apprehensive about leaving her sisters and family to become an asha-in-training, she is pleased enough to have raised her brother and be headed away from her tiny, insignificant village.
But it won’t be smooth sailing. Perhaps if Tea was any other kind of witch, then perhaps. Only Tea is a Dark asha, a bone witch who can only draw the Dark runes; runes for raising the dead and other darker, murkier things. And the raising and slaying of daeva. Only bone witches can kill the terrible creatures who rise up and bring death wherever they tread and though Tea has just arrived in the city with her new teacher, she already knows that this will be her fate.
As Tea struggles to manage her powers and undergo all the necessary training to become a fully-fledged asha, she finds that being the new girl is hard—let alone when you’re a bone witch. For all the bone witches are essential, they are treated with suspicion and often open hatred by many people and on the whole, they are merely tolerated as a presence among other asha. Not all of the asha think this way about their bone witch sisters, but Tea finds that for the most part she will make no easy friends among the other asha and asha apprentices.
Tea soon discovers that she is very capable, surpassing the expectations of her tutors in many areas. But life remains difficult under the strict rule of the asha-ka’s matron and there are times that Tea wishes she’d never left her little village. But she’ll never take back having raised Fox.
As Tea continues her story, we begin to see the tension mounting and are given the tiniest glimpses that might reveal what her plans will come to be. Through her eyes we see her past and through the observant narrative of the bard who sought her out, we’re told the story of Tea now, where she hides in exile from the rest of the asha as her plan begins to unfold. Much like Kvothe in The Name of the Wind, we are constantly held within inches of learning more about Tea, both in the present day and in her past, and the result is a compelling, lyrical story that lures you in and keeps your interest through its delectably slow unfolding and merging of past and present, with the smallest hint of what the future might hold.
The Bone Witch takes places in a diversely populated world where the asha take centre stage. In subsequent books I would be thrilled to see the male would-be-asha be afforded a place among the asha, instead of the ranks of the Heartseekers, where boys who can draw the runes usually go. I would love to see a boy join the ranks of the asha in the exact same way that Tea did: with the pretty clothes and enchanted jewellery, instead of keeping the genders separate with soldiers and witches, or by further feminising him in order to make him fit. I want Kai to be a male asha still partaking in all the traditional things that the asha do, without needing to surrender his gender somehow to do so. For me, that would mess with the gender boundaries of what is ‘masculine’ and what is ‘feminine’ in a way that feels relevant to me and more powerful given the typically feminine education and training of the asha apprentices. Basically Kai can be asha, regardless of his gender, doing all the things a girl would. That’s what I want. It’s what I’m hoping for. In addition, since there seemed to be (what I perceived as, at least) the implication of at least an attraction, if not romance, between two of the asha, I’m happy that at least some manner of queer representation was included, though I will be hoping for more in future.
I absolutely loved The Bone Witch, finding it completely enchanting and compelling: the slow, careful pace of the book is what makes it shine, with every detail lovingly rendered on the page, weaving a tapestry which becomes the backdrop to Tea’s journey. This trilogy is going to be fantastic, I have no doubt.
Title: The Ninth Rain (The Winnowing Flame #1)
Author: Jen Williams
Release date: 23rd February 2017
The thing about Jen Williams is that she gets it. In the same way that any artist needs to know all the rules of their art intimately, in order to then bend or break those rules, Williams is so intimate with the genre of true, classic fantasy that she likely meets it in the pub for Sunday lunch and sends a card at the holidays. She knows exactly what she’s doing when she crafts these incredibly familiar worlds with almost-but-not quite familiar characters, only to then turn everything on its head and throw all expectation out the window. And she’s very good at it.
Another thing about Williams is that she writes in worlds that really ought to appear so cliché and dated that the words hang off the page in tatters and dust puffs up with every turn. In fact, the worlds she crafts are both gloriously familiar and excitingly fresh, clean and new: we’re never re-reading old “golden age” fantasy ground with Williams—even if, for a moment, we would be forgiven for thinking we are. The thing about this is that we get that cosy hot-chocolate-by-the-fire feeling that’s almost nostalgia for all the classic kinds of fantasy we thought had since been usurped by newer, reimagined fare, yet without any of the dowdy old tropes and generally completely of date nonsense we put up with without knowing there was an alternative. There won’t be any wailing damsels and certainly no chainmail bikinis or armour that is as ineffective as it is silly. Instead we have intelligent, queer (!) black women tromping around the woods, going about the business of being scholars and adventurers. Even the cliché of the womanizing rogue is bashed soundly on the head and left back in the decade from whence it came, and in its place, we have an updated elf-like almost-warrior who’s just enough of a dandy to know how the hell to dress (and to care about his appearance), but lacking in the other cliché of the useless fop who contributes very little outside of someone to laugh at for his lack of Traditional Masculinity.
After the stunning finale to the Copper Cat trilogy, which both tied everything up nicely as if with a ribbon, at the same time as leaving the vast stage open for our heroes to continue on thereafter, I was excited to delve into a whole different world and meet the new denizens of William’s very vivid—and very fun—imagination. The Ninth Rain does not disappoint.
We’re whisked away to a world we see in glimpses, where war stretches back through its long, bloody history and although the level of civilization and resulting technology is on its way to impressive, much of this is contained to walled cities and safe spaces upon which the overgown and worm-touched Wild does not encroach. Those who choose to live out in the Wild do so at great risk and most elect for the safety of cities and towns—anywhere the Wild hasn’t yet spread. But the Wild is spreading, slowly but surely, and this is what (among other things) prompts our wine-making scholar, Vintage, to set off from her family’s very wealthy vineyards in search of answers. What she doesn’t count on is getting entangled with a runaway witch from the infamous Winnowry, who might hold part of the answer Vintage has been looking for.
As for Tormalin the Oathless, even traipsing around the Wild with Vintage has got to be better that what he left behind at home: sickness and the slow and dusty decay of his people. No thanks—Tor would rather leave Ebora and keep on walking, and he has very little intention of looking back. Except Tor isn’t as good at pretending he’s done with Ebora as he thinks and whether he likes it or not, Ebora isn’t done with him. In fact, what he and Vinatge find out in the Wild might just change everything for the home he left behind. Tor isn’t the rogue some readers might expect, and neither is he the brooding, manly man-man warrior of total manliness who mans about doing his man thing. Even with his experience at the House of the Long Night, he absolutely is not That Guy; that wine-and-women dude. He’s more–so much more. And of course he is: because it’s Williams who wrote him and she nails him every bit as much as she nailed Frith and Sebastian.
The Ninth Rain fair sings off the page when reading and even the unusual and, let’s be fair, generally yuck and ick details of worm people and wandering, rampaging ghost plants, are conveyed clear as crystal and in with such an expert hand that, not for one moment, does the notion of said wandering ghost plants sound even a little silly.
Everything about The Ninth Rain cries classic fantasy, from the questing heroes to the fate of the world hanging in the balance. We even have an elfy, ethereal race gifted with longevity and beauty. Cue the forbidden magic that’s little understood, inextricably attached to a dodgy cult and the dutiful runaway with the dark past and we have precisely what’s needed to get very comfortable in that sepia-tinted Good Old Fantasy that brought us here in the first place.
But because this is Jen Williams The Ninth Rain is old fantasy all dressed up new and shiny and with only the good things left in, with all the dated and dodgy tropes drop-kicked into space. As usual, we’re invited to a diversely populated fantasy world that is engaging, exciting and written with complete abandon and no self-consciousness to be seen.
In others words, The Ninth Rain is peak Williams and if we learned anything from The Copper Cat it’s that from here, the bar is only going to get higher and higher. I have no doubt that when it does, Williams will step up her game and vault over it again and again.
Basically Williams’ The Ninth Rain is a shining example of just what modern fantasy can be and do. You need this book.
Title: The Crown’s Game (The Crown’s Game #1)
Author: Evelyn Skye
Publication date: 17th May 2016 (US) 30th June 2016 (UK)
The Crown’s Game, by Evelyn Skye, is another Truthwitch (by Susan Dennard). Not that they have anything at all in common—which they don’t, as it happens—but rather that this book is so hyped it’s unreal. And yet, as with Truthwitch: the hype is real.
There’s always a certain glee at reading a book that everyone is telling you you’re going to love, and then you actually do love. A tiny wee part of me was braced for disappointment. Not because anything about the book or the hype had put me off, but for two reasons: a) I’d rather be ready for the disappointment of a hyped book not quite hitting the spot and b) I always enter into books with a structured conflict (such as Vika and Nikolai’s duel to the death) with a thin veil of detachment, so I can figure out if it’s worth investing myself, when we’re pretty much told from the offset that someone is going to lose.
That veil did not last long.
Because this book is wonderful.
We’re introduced to an alternate Imperial Russia where magic is secret but real, and the time has come for Russia to once again appoint an Imperial Enchanter. Ordinarily, this is a simple task, with there being a single enchanter at any given time. Unfortunately for both Vika and Nikolai, who have been training their whole lives in preparation for being Imperial Enchanter to the Tsar, this time, things are a little different.
When there are two enchanters, the Crown’s Game must begin.
Vika has been raised on an island with her father, Sergei, and she knows nothing of the other enchanter out there. One day, she will be Imperial Enchanter and she will serve Russia, making her father proud. Nikolai, on the other hand, an orphan from the Kazakh Steppe who was bought from his village for a handful of livestock, has been raised and trained to be the best. Galina, Sergei’s sister, has been a ruthless mentor, giving nothing in the way of love or a comfortable life outside of dressing him for show and parading him as her dear little charity case.
Whilst Nikolai has been studying and mastering his magic through craft, engineering and more scientific ventures, Vika’s magic is all the wildness of natural energies and the very world around her. They are unalike in every way.
But it is time for the tsesarevich’s birthday, and to coincide with the beginning of the Game, both Vika and Nikolai are commanded to make their moves part of his birthday festivities. With no other guidelines given, the two enchanters are set against one another from the offset. And with their mentors whisked away to Siberia, they are left alone to participate in the Game.
Perhaps Nikolai stands a better chance of knowing how to make an impression, since he is best friends with the tsesarevich. But Pavel Alexandrovich Romanov knows nothing of his friend’s magic, or the Game, so even though they are close, things won’t be as simple as he might have hoped. In turn, Vika soon realises that she has caught the attention of Pasha, but with the tension of the Game and the growing fear for her life with each and every move of the Game, she might be too caught up in the magic to know how to use this to her advantage.
But in the end, it is the Tsar who will declare a winner, and he is stony and resolute. The Game will be played and an Imperial Enchanter will be appointed.
The Crown’s Game isn’t what it seems. It isn’t a bloodthirsty battle or a contest of egos or even wills. It’s, instead, a subtle and deep game that revolves entirely around the small cast and their feelings and relationships with one another. There are secrets and twists and revelations that, even if you cotton on a single page before the reveal, will make you go wide-eyed in surprise or clap about like a mad thing with glee (guilty—there might have been book-waggling/hugging). This book is a glorious feast for the senses, with delightful and extraordinary magic that exceeds both expectation and belief at every turn, making the reading of The Crown’s Game almost as exhilarating and wondrous as the Game played by Vika and Nikolai themselves.
The Crown’s Game is a stunning book with such heart and such strong characters, each in their own way. Vika is a fiery thing, whilst Nikolai has brooding, thoughtful edges. Pasha was a constant delight, even as he struggles to face up to the fact that one day he will be Tsar—and the realisation that his heart might be too soft for the role.
From the depth of the friendship between Pasha and Nikolai and the warmth of the relationship between Vika and Ludmila, this book is a pleasure to be immersed in, if only for the interactions between the characters and the way they shape and form the story. Yes, this is about magic and enchantments to make you beam with delight and gape with awe. Yes, this is about a deadly Game and a battle of wills. But it’s also so much more than that. The Crown’s Game is a story about discovery and about pushing the limits of who you are and how far you will go. It’s about finding just what it is that makes you, you, and a little bit of exploring the consequences of letting others make your decisions and sway your heart.
This book isn’t just set in historic Russia—it takes you there. You feel it in the streets, in the palaces, in the people who populate the world. From the mounting tensions of the lower and working classes, to the discomfort of those in the nobility who see the dangerous ground upon which the Tsardom treads, this is a book that really feels authentic. Which, given Skye’s love for Russia, isn’t a surprise at all. She nailed it.
At the end of the day, The Crown’s Game is about imagination and finding those little pieces of yourself in order to move one step closer to completing the puzzle of just who you are. It’s gorgeous, it’s exciting and it’s thrilling. It’s pure, pure magic.
Title: Every Heart a Doorway
Author: Seanan McGuire
Publication date: April 5th 2016
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Every Heart A Doorway, by Seanan McGuire, is a genuinely charming and wonderful book. Not ‘charming’ in a quaint or twee (and slightly condescending way), but a book that simply charmed me as I read it. I devoured the book in two sittings, but would have done so in just one had I started it the night I read the lion’s share of it—and kept reading through the night.
I was expecting this book to be different—and it was. It was a pure delight to read.
Ever wonder what happens to all the special children, the young and wayward stars of portal fantasies? What happens after the story ends—when the adventure is over and it is time to go home? Do our heroes and heroines even want to come back?
I haven’t stopped talking about this book since I finished it. The unfortunate subject of my endless book-talk (my brother) probably knows everything about this book and why I loved it, about as familiarly as he knows his own name. Once I’m done, he’ll be eligible for a degree on Why Leo Loved Every Heart A Doorway.
Every Heart A Doorway made me want to hug the world and everything in it, especially McGuire.
We meet Nancy at Eleanor West’s School For Wayward Children, a new arrival after returning to our world from the Halls of the Dead. She is enrolled by well-meaning parents who want nothing more than to love their daughter, but really, they just want their daughter back: the Nancy who wore bright colours and didn’t act so quiet and still and distant. Their Nancy who hadn’t spent so long in the perfect stillness of the Lord of the Dead’s domain. They want their rainbow princess back.
Well they can carry on wanting.
Eleanor, a formerly misplaced and traveling child herself, keeps up appearances with parents, whilst being completely honest with the children enrolled into the school. Nobody needs to pretend that other worlds don’t exist and that they haven’t spent so much precious time in them.
Nancy doesn’t want to forget the Halls of the Dead—she wants to go back. She just needs to find the door again. However, when Nancy arrives at the school, tragedy soon strikes and she finds herself tangled up in something gruesome. Still uncertain and reeling from everything at the school she barely understands, Nancy is pulled along with a new group of friends as they band together to uncover what is happening. If something isn’t done soon, the future of the school will be in jeopardy and if it is forced to close, where will all the wayward students go?
So much depends on Nancy and her new friends solving this horrible mystery.
The school is largely attended by girls, because girls are so much more easily misplaced than loud, important boys, aren’t they? (I adored this part: the point about girls being easier to let slip away than boys, whom are usually louder and kept closer to hand than girls. Not only is this a very poignant prod towards the treatment of girls, but the addition that even the quiet boys are encouraged or cajoled—by mockery or teasing—to be louder than they naturally are, entirely because they are boys just made me generally happy, because it’s so damn true.)
There’s a great many things in Every Heart A Doorway that are true and illuminating (I’m on board for realistic depictions of parent0,s because you know what? Parents can suck), in that it reads so very much like a fairy tale in and of itself—but one written for the different ones; those who can’t help but be themselves. This isn’t a fairy tale written by adults, encouraging only as much bravery and uniqueness as it takes to be interesting and worthy of attention, but rather a complete reassurance that however you are, however you turn out to be, if you’re happy, you are enough. Do not change; do not be anyone’s rainbow.
Furthermore, it does not shy away from accusing both parents and the rest of the world for the unreasonable and selfish expectations that are placed upon the shoulders of young adults every single day of their lives. But this isn’t a preaching sort of book; it reads more like honesty. It is a blindingly good book.
Everything about this book was perfect. This is the kind of book that proves that diversity is not a difficult demand. Look around you at the world—that’s what this book feels like. An accurate representation of somebody’s life. Nancy is asexual (but not aromantic); there is a trans character; characters of different racial origins that aren’t just white. Bam, bam, bam. Three things there that you see so very rarely.
I wish I didn’t feel the need to point out when diversity is a thing in book, because it feels so completely unnecessary (the pointing out—not the diversity itself, obviously). If a book doesn’t have a varied cast, then your book is not a realistic representation of the real world in which you sat and wrote it. Fact.
So, gloriously, I will loudly yell to everyone I meet about asexual Nancy and the rest of her wonderful comrades at Eleanor West’s School for Wayward Children.
I’ve seen whispered here and there that although this is a finished book in and of itself, there are to be more books in the same setting. I hope this is true. I really, really, really hope this is true, because I can’t adequately describe how much this book delighted and touched me.
An utterly enchanting, charming story of being yourself, no matter what that means. Every Heart A Doorway is perfectly magical, perfectly strange and perfectly delightful—and I couldn’t possibly have loved it more.
✎Title: Hidden Huntress (The Malediction Trilogy book #2)
✎Author: Danielle L Jensen
✎Publisher: Angry Robot
✎Publication date: 2nd June 2015
✎Rating: ★★★★★ x one million and one
Hidden Huntress, by Danielle L Jensen, is the sequel to the much-praised, fantastic YA fantasy debut, Stolen Songbird. With the closure of Strange Chemistry, for a short time the future of Tristan and Cécile was up in the air—but not for long. Angry Robot soon realised they’d be absolutely mad if they didn’t keep Jensen. Stolen Songbird was praised from here to the moon, and with very good reason.
It is incredible.
In the aftermath of Stolen Songbird, Cécile’s life has grown complicated. Recovered from her injuries, Cécile is free from Trollus. But she is separated from Tristan, with whom she is bonded—and she feels the same ache from Tristan’s mind that she knows he feels from her. It was a forced union in the beginning, when she was kidnapped and taken under the mountain—said by a prophecy to be the answer to breaking an old witch’s curse and finally freeing the Trolls.
She was only ever supposed to be a means to an end. Only Cécile is nobody’s tool. However, in pite of it all, romance blossomed and now Cécile is just as invested in the future of the Trolls as Prince Tristan is. Except that freeing the Trolls seems to be the last thing the Troll prince wants; hesitant to set free his people and possibly force a new age of servitude upon the humans on the Isle after their inevitable return to power. Freedom for the Trolls could mean tantamount to slavery for the humans.
But nothing is ever that simple.
The halfbloods, part Troll, part human, are second-rate citizens and freedom for them could mean true freedom. But at what cost? With the threat of Tristan’s mad, blood-thirsty younger brother set free along with the oppressed halfbloods, there are more factors to consider than it seems at first glance. And what of the politicking and machinations of the nobles of Trollus and its king? The ruling class is divided in the dark, scheming. And now Tristan is shut out from that world, completely in the dark. With the discovery of Tristan’s true loyalties, and his subsequent imprisonment by his father, his brother has been named heir in his place—and the balance of power has never been less stable.
When Cécile left Trollus, left Tristan, she was determined to find the witch and break the curse—at least she believes she was. It is only when she is forced into a promise to the king that she truly understands what determination and compulsion feel like. Soon she is exhausted and struggling against all the conflicting urges of finding Anushka, and her doubt as to whether the answer is indeed to free the Trolls. Soon all she can think of is finding the witch. She barely eats, barely sleeps, barely manages to perform and maintain her veneer or normality—all that matters is the promise.
But Anushka has remained hidden for centuries and the Trolls have tried everything. What can one girl do against a centuries-old witch with enough hatred to damn an entire race for the actions of but a few? Cécile is about to find out. Not only did she discover the magic in her line whilst being in Trollus, but she’s since realised that she is powerful. If only she has the courage to push past her limits and commit to the magic, she will find she is capable of far more than she expected.
But magic can be addictive… power can be addictive.
Cécile’s friends are few as she performs with her mother for the people of Trianon, an opera singer by night and a huntress by day, searching for Anushka. The situation worsens with each day and she begins to doubt just who she can trust. Certainly not her mother, with whom Cécile has never had a splendid relationship. And what of her friends? Sabine’s thoughts of Tristan and the Trolls are seemingly set-in-stone and unlikely to change, regardless of what Cécile tells her. Only Chris remains unwavering at her side, dependable and always far more clear-headed than she.
Before long, Cécile grows desperate and her enemies begin to mount: suspicions begin to rise and yet the closer she gets to answers, the more mysteries and questions she uncovers. And then, just when she thinks everything is over, for better or worse, everything changes. In a single moment the centre of Cécile’s world shifts on its axis and nothing will ever be the same again. The extraordinary happens—she makes the extraordinary happen. A small something given to her in Trollus finally makes sense to her now. And she uses it, not realising what consequences her actions will have.
Yet she must still accomplish the impossible and until she does, the promise will continue to push her until either the curse is broken or Cécile herself is dead.
Meanwhile Tristan is struggling. Weak and sickening and doing what little he can on behalf of the halfbloods, whilst desperately trying to secure the tree that has kept the mountain in place over the heads for so long, Tristan has fallen from his father’s favour and bears the marks of his imprisonment and torture. And he can feel his father’s compulsion—her promise—pushing her to her limits. He has played a long game for a long time and although unseen pieces are moving on the board, Tristan knows how to play. Though his allies are few, he is determined to somehow turn things around.
In the end, Cécile and Tristan will find that in order to achieve the impossible, one must do the unthinkable. And in this case, it might just be that a single unthinkable truth shines out as being the only answer to the Anushka riddle. Perhaps the answer was in plain sight all along…
But what will happen if that barrier comes down and the Trolls are freed? What happens if the curse is broken? What happens if there are other things—worse things—being kept at bay? And what might happen if they, too, are freed?
Everything is about to change—again.
Hidden Huntress is perfect. It’s exactly what I wanted it to be and more.
It’s a gorgeous book that surpasses expectations at every turn, and with twists that you literally have to be out of your mind to even guess at (raising my hand, here!). Exhilarating and exciting, Hidden Huntress will keep you guessing right up until the end and then leave you with a hint of sweet success—before transforming the game altogether.
It is a fantasy YA novel with scope and heart and ambition. Cécile is all strength and vulnerability and delicious realness, caught up in things far larger than she is; things she was nevertheless destined by circumstance of birth to become entangled in. But Cécile refuses to be used and she knows what she’s fighting for: for the halfbloods, for Tristan—and for herself. This is the kind of book you want to take everywhere and thrust randomly into the hands of strangers, imploring they read it! You’ll want this book to meet your mother, to serenade it late at night on the library balcony, to build a little shrine to it on your bookshelves. It’s a sleep-with-it-under-your-pillow and hug-it-to-your-chest kind of book. Magical and compelling and overflowing with heart and talent, Jensen has got this down. If she isn’t soon a go-to author for YA SFF, then the world has gone mad and I’m evidently reading a very different copy of Hidden Huntress to the rest of you. It is impossibly brilliant and rich and vibrant. What else can I say? Jensen will break your heart and remake it from the shattered pieces, newer and shinier and stronger.
Love, adore, heart-to-freaking-pieces. This kind of book is why, why, why people need to look more closely at YA fantasy if they don’t already. Let Jensen show you how it’s done. Topping Stolen Songbird was always going to be a difficult task, but naturally Jensen manages it. The bar was set and so she vaulted over it, off into the sunset to a fanfare of praise.
Hot damn, buy this book.
Buy it and fall in love with every word.