I started this book expecting another dire story of a heroine’s survival when the world was against her. Then there was a pig. Then a Fred. And it ended up being a fun romp through a world where chemistry is magic and magic (other than potions) is, well, dull.
The tonal switch is rather strange, admittedly. The story starts with Kyra on the run after attempting to kill the future ruler of her land while planning another attempt. There are flashbacks to the event, agony over being pitted against her best friend, and terror from close calls. Then the side characters happen. Kyra is the ‘lone sane woman’ in a way - no one else seems to be taking anything seriously and it’s hilarious at times, though it drains the tension from the book.
Some of the plot twists are obvious, some are not. One that I liked at the time has convinced me this is not a book I’ll be rereading. Knowing all the secrets completely changed the feel of the story and undermine Kyra’s awesomeness. My main disappointment, though, was that Kyra’s abilities were mostly told rather than shown. We never see her brewing a potion, just using what she has on hand. We barely see her fighting, though we’re assured that she has expert aim and never misses. Except that once…
Overall it was an enjoyable light read that I’d recommend for the 10-13 crowd.
This book is fabulous for people who are interested in history, alchemy, and mystery. There is a strong sense of place and history both within the story’s time period (Victorian) and their past going back to the Revolution. Deputy Lean and Grey’s relationship was an obvious homage to Holmes and Watson but also characters in their own right.
There are series that you can read out of order, and series where the story builds and it is difficult to appreciate without the whole story. This book is definitely the latter - Shields refers back to previous events enough for the plot to make sense, but I had the constant feeling that I was missing the foundations of the characters and relationships.
Despite my lost circumstances I still enjoyed the book. The pacing seemed uneven at times, since there were so many mysteries and minor points to be investigated. A few of the side trips Grey took out of the city could have been done differently - both to keep him in the middle of the action and to leave more time to more fully flesh out the Webster family.
In the end, I’m unsure of whether I’ll be picking up and other books in this series, but I will recommend them to others.
I have heard such good things about this series and enjoyed Brian K. Vaughan’s writing in the past, so I think that my expectations might have been slightly too high. While I enjoyed the story, I didn’t feel any connection or concern about the characters. While there should be a strong narrative to the plot, it felt like it meandered off course to the point where it feels like it loses all of it’s drive.
The main characters are Alana and Marko, as well as their newborn daughter, Hope, but we never really get to know them or where they come from. They loved each other enough to defy their own cultures, yet barely seemed to communicate. They seem to be learning each other’s history at the same time we do, leaving me to wonder what they talked about during the time before Hope was born. There were bounty hunters, princes and all sorts of other characters, yet they seemed to be little more than pieces moving around the board for a game where the rules are never explained.
Some of this is the problem with sequential storytelling - you want to give people enough of a hook to start them off, but leave the big stuff for later in the run. Unfortunately, with the number of comics and books I’m trying to follow, this just wasn’t capable of grabbing me.
I loved the experience of reading this book. It has fast paced action, interesting characters, and a firm sense of world building. I confess, when I started reading I didn’t realize it was the start of a trilogy. I’m now all excited and horrified about the wait until we get the next part of the story. I hope that the plan is for the later books to go into where the epidemic comes from and how on earth it stops at the American borders.
Ruby was a fascinating protagonist, both damaged by her years in the camp and working so hard to move past them. Liam’s optimism, Chubs’ distrust and Suz’s enthusiasm tied together beautifully, and Clancy was a perfect mix of possibilities. I’m also delighted at the lack of a love triangle since they seem to have become such a mainstay of YA lit.
There are a few minor issues that I had, like why did they keep talking about trains and buses when they were on the run? Mass transit seems like it would be a bad idea when you need to hide.
Overall, I think this is a very solid dystopian story which I highly recommend.
A quick synopsis would be that this is the dystopian version of Romeo and Juliet, now with more evil!plotting, but that doesn’t quite cover it. Lawrence’s book twists the basic story we all know into a world where nothing can be trusted: memories, family, or love.
Some of the twists in the plot were fairly predictable, while others caught me by surprise. More importantly, Aria’s journey through them was well written as was her confusion. She was neither a blank slate, being pushed around by the needs of the plot or unbelievably more competent than her background would suggest. She had great initiative, and a willingness to look belong what she’d always been told
What I thought wasn’t as well thought out was the place of mystics in this world. They’re all drained - but they aren’t, some are servants to the upper class - but the Roses would never hire any - but Aria’s mothers hair is “a mystic-infused scarlet”. It feels like there is a piece missing, perhaps one that will be cleared up in the rest of the trilogy?
I’m very interested in what will be happening to these characters in the future.
At first I was going to give this book a higher rating, but as I started writing my review I remembered more and more of the little things that annoyed me. First the good: the book was an engaging read, with fabulous use of the history of Prague and the many quirky figures that have lived there. The alchemy tossed throughout was great fun, and far more interesting than if it had been straight magic.
This book is a spy thriller in fantasy wrappings. The title, author’s pseudonym, and cover shout “Magic! Fantasy!” and even the set up for the plot feels like the beginning of a trip into a fantastical world, but then switches gears into spies and intrigue. This isn’t a bad thing, but I admit to going through some genre confusion at the beginning. I’m curious about the choice to market it this way - perhaps the thought was that some of the playing with time and alchemy was too much for readers of straight up spy thrillers?
After our heroine, Sarah, makes some stupid choices at the beginning of the novel, it took a long time for me to take her seriously as a character again. She is never fully believable in the international intrigue parts - and because of this the plot gives her every deus ex machina possible. She has convenient conversations right before she needs that information, she happens to be in the right place to overhear vital clues, and she stumbles over everything that she needs. I would have rather heard the same plot told from Nico’s point of view - he was be far the most interesting person in the whole thing.
It isn’t too far of a stretch to compare City of Dark Magic to the The Da Vinci Code; the plot is thick with historical interest, but the characters barely exist. But there is also a lot of inconsistent pacing, with almost no sense of urgency throughout most of the book, then sudden crises at the end.
I’d place this book as a borrow - don’t look for anything other than fluff, but a fun way to pass a few hours.
I have a confession to make; I’m a lapsed comic fan. I read several X titles (mostly borrowed from my brother) in high school, then dropped them because, well, I was broke. And books seemed so much more interesting. My interest has been rekindled lately and I’m getting back into them. But where to start? I’ve heard nothing but good things of Gail Simone’s writing, so when I saw a copy of Batgirl, well…
To start with, the art and coloring on this series are utterly delicious. This volume is composed of two stories, the first setting up Barbara’s return to Batgirl-ness, with Mirror as the villain. In grand storytelling tradition his story is used to bring Barbara’s further into the light. SInce this is the beginning of the series several of the character arcs are set into motion with family, friends, and superheroes circling around.
The second story arc feel rushed, not in terms of Barbara’s story, but the villain’s. Gretel and her backstory had good bones, but the run up to the finale fight didn’t feel like it used her to her full potential. Hopefully this is just her first chance to appear, wherever her future takes her.
In the end this series has so much that I enjoy: a good sense of humour, great characters, and fun action. I’ll be keeping up with this one.
Oh, and Batgirl and Wonder Woman Little People? Do want!
“we never really owned those women,” he says, “however much we married them and called them wives to the death.”
This is a mood book, where the world you’re immersed in is not just one of plot and character, but one of feeling. The sadness and melancholy surrounding the entire island in this book is palatable from the first, before there is any reason to feel it. As the details are slowly unfolded; as the ways magic has changed lives is revealed through the ties between each narrator’s lives the feeling of forlornness deepens.
The tale is masterfully told, with each narrator adding depth to their world. I took a bit to get into it, but once I fell I read it in a night. I didn’t want to abandon ‘the mams’ to their fate, but to see what would happen to them and their families.
What I find interesting is that the one perspective we never get is that of the wives themselves. We hear from their sons, the witch that brings them to the island, their husbands, and the women they supplant, but never from them. I loved this choice, as it adds the the otherness that is such an essential part of their existence.
I’ll definitely be checking out other books from this author.
I tried, oh Lord did I try. I got to page 111, but then the self-absobtion and passivity of the narrator became too much for me. At times the narrative drew me in, when Neill was talking about the past: his relationship with his father, his honeymoon, but Neill in the present destroyed it.
Sometimes I think it’s me. This tends to happen when I read books that I’m told are deep and intimate portraits of humanity. I just want to smack the main character over the head. And, wow, did I want to smack Neill. His inability to see beyond his own nose, his decision to follow someone’s advise and lie to hook up with a chick at a hostel, his stunningly ability not to see what his ex had needed. I’m sure over the course of the novel he learns a lesson about these things, but I just don’t care enough to follow him through that journey.
I loved this book for the history, for the characters, and for the food. I disliked this book for the lack of plot movement and, to be honest, the cover. It really has nothing to do with anything inside the book.
Mia is just an average American teen until she is possessed by a demon, rescued by some distant Italian relatives, and shipped off to Milan. Once she gets there we completely forget about the demon and focus on Mia’s tasks of learning the language, getting to know her huge extended family, and eating large amounts of Italian food. You can tell Kat Beyer is a history person as the attention paid to the history of the family and Milan are beautiful and engrossing. The details of the plot, however, seem to be almost an afterthought.
Occasionally we learn drips and drabbles of information with Mia, but there isn’t really a main plot for this book. Nothing is resolved at the end, leaving me with a feeling of incompleteness.
Mia was a believable angsty teen growing out of her self absorbed state and learning to look at others as full individuals. I hope that as the series progresses we learn more about the other characters, whose depth was only hinted at on occasion. Overall, I will definitely check out how the series continues. I have a feeling that Beyer will work out how to tighten up the plot, making her future books even more enjoyable reads.