REVIEW: The Dark Artifices (series)

Quick Summary: Did someone say romance, demons and battle scenes?
Rating: ★★★☆☆
Try this series if you like: J.K Rowling, Sarah J Maas, Holly Black


Check out the full synopsis here

Demons, faeries, Shadowhunters, and a little bit of sizzle in the romance department – this would be an apt summary for most of Cassandra Clares writing. Indeed, The Dark Artifices series does not differ greatly from The Mortal Instruments or The Infernal Devices. There are obviously developments in the plot and the world-building, but overall if you like the Shadowhunter world, you will like this series. If you don’t, then you probably won’t.

The plot of this series is very good, with lots of twists and some interesting surprises. It begins at the of The Mortal Instruments and takes us through the lives of Emma Carstairs and Julian Blackthorn, friends of Jace and Clary and fellow Shadowhunters. We see more drama unfold for Shadowhunters, and once again the world as these young people know it threatens to come undone. This is a common theme for Clare’s plots, but I suppose if “it ‘aint broke, don’t fix it!”

Now, one thing I do really like about this series is the character building. One of my favourite parts is how Clare flips traditional male and female roles within the family. The clear example of this is Julian looks after the children, paints, and is very emotionally intelligent and available. Emma, however, loves fighting and is hell-bent on avenging her parents deaths. While these are not the only qualities these characters have, I do like how Clare reworks male and female stereotypes.

Another interesting talking point is the diversity within the characters in this series, and indeed in all of Clare’s writing. We have a bi-sexual couple, a transgender woman, a polyamorous relationship, hints at a gay relationship, a character on the autism spectrum, and the reversal of traditional masculine and feminine roles within a family. She gets it all in there. However, it does not feel like Clare is cramming in diversity for diversity’s sake. There is a wide range of people in these novels because there is a wide range of people in life. Clare is capturing a slice of humanity in her writing, and so of course there will be a whole range of different people. Being gay or Autistic is not the primary reason for the character’s existence; it is just a facet of their personality, and this makes these novels refreshing!

Overall, I find these books a bit of a slow read, but still enjoyable. If you are already into the Shadowhunters world, or like urban fantasy, then this is a good series for you. The character building is good, there are some fun and more devastating plot twists, and Clare is a great romance writer.

I would say that although you can be introduced to the Shadowhunters world for the first time with this series, I would recommend starting with either The Mortal Instruments or The Infernal Devices. 

Have you read any of Cassandra Clare’s books. Let us know what you think in the comments or on our Instagram!

Rosie x

REVIEW: DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE

Quick Summary: Be right back, off to dye my hair blue.
Rating: ★★★★☆

Check out the full synopsis here

Laini Taylor scores a home run with this trilogy. It has everything a YA Fantasy novel should have. Thrilling adventure, friends who would cross worlds for each other, spine-tingling romance and epic writing.

The trilogy begins in Prague, and it is safe to say that I have never wanted to go to Prague more than I do now. The essence of the city leaps off the page, which is undoubtedly a testament to Taylor’s clever imagery and personification of the city. It goes to the next level from just describing the physical city itself to really encapsulating its soul and hidden gems. The fantastic writing, however, does not stop at world-building. Interactions between characters, whether it be a conversation or a sideways glance, is full to the brim with intrigue and foreboding, daring you to remember every hidden detail in case it reappears later.

The characters themselves are also well developed, and Taylor does not by any means neglect any of the characters in favour of developing the main protagonist alone. Karou, the blue-haired, enterprising protagonist lives a complicated life on the fringes of Earth and Elsewhere, at the beck and call of a mysterious creature. She is bold and artistic, but has to hide half of her true self from the human world, including her best friend Zuzana (my all time favourite, by the way.)

A significant premise of the novels is observing how the characters deal with pain. Every single main character has a setback which they have to overcome, whether it be grief, loss, madness. Despite being a fantasy novel, with many of the characters being fantastical creatures, the way Taylor writes them is so realistic. We admire and dislike different aspects of their characters, just as we would humans. They feel loneliness and react to difficulty as a human would. They are sometimes selfish, they have flaws.

Another star element of these novels is that while Taylor’s female characters have strength, they are not necessarily strong because they can kick ass. Strength in the female characters in these novels means many things – being able to be vulnerable, being able to stand up and take responsibility when needed, keeping going when their world is falling apart. Sometimes in YA novels, it feels as if authors are scared of portraying women as weak, and so the answer is to show them as physically strong, with no flaws. Taylor does not shy away from showcasing the weaknesses of her characters and uses their fear or loneliness as a catalyst for personal improvements and character arcs.

The plot is strong, with elements of duty, adventure, and some good twists. I would argue that there are stronger plot lines with better and more exciting twists out there, but that actually really didn’t matter in this series. It is almost the case that any denser of a plot would have taken away too much time and space for Taylor to really come into her own on the descriptive side.

Overall, this is a fantasy series you need to read. It is very readable, with interesting and well-developed characters, an intriguing parallel-world setup and beautiful, beautiful writing.

One question which you can answer once you’ve read the series: would you say there is a small case of fridging in here…? Does it count? Let me know what you think! As always, if you’ve read this series, leave any thoughts down in the comments or on our Instagram or Facebook pages!

Rosie x

I would recommend this series for lovers of Cassandra Clare, Sarah J Maas, and Leigh Bardugo. Also, if you’re into epic fantasy and want to make the switch to a more urban or YA fantasy, then this would be a good one to start with!

REVIEW: The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle

Quick summary: A whodunnit murder mystery on steroids

Rating: ★★★★☆

Full synopsis
The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle

I got recommended this book in a book spa experience at Mr B’s Emporium of Reading Delights (review of this experience coming up soon!), and I’ve been excited to read it ever since – I was very much not disappointed!

A brief summary of the synopsis is that you follow the main character Aiden Bishop through 8 bodies over 8 days as he tries to uncover who murdered a woman called Evelyn Hardcastle at a party in her family home. Every day he wakes up and at the end of every day the same thing happens: Evelyn Hardcastle dies. The only way to end this fatal cycle is for Aiden to figure out who killed her.

Reading this book is like reading a highly complex, body-hopping game of Cluedo. Stuart Turton’s writing is full to the brim of imagery, and the character’s emotions become really tangible to you as you read. I found I genuinely didn’t know who had committed the murder (though that could just be my lack of skill in murder solving!) and the twists and turns continued to be interesting and surprising through the whole novel.

The structure, undeniably, is confusing at first, but as the book continued I understood it more, and part of the beauty of the book is being confused until the end when everything comes together in a wonderful ‘lightbulb’ moment.

Turton keeps the book rich, and his characters are not simply 2 dimensional. With every new revelation about the characters you are questioning their motives and their consciences. The story is located in an old mansion, and the mansion and its surrounding scenery almost become a character in themselves, with their menace.

I would definitely recommend this book for any Agatha Christie fans, or murder mystery fans – not only is it good for these people, but any crime or urban-fantasy lovers, this one might be for you!

Rosie x

 

Have you read The Seven Death’s of Evelyn Hardcastle? Leave your thoughts in the comments or on The Rosie Word Instagram page!

REVIEW: Delirium (series)

Full synopsis of
Delirium (1), Pandemonium (2), and Requiem (3)

Quick summary: The world the book is set in is interesting, but didn’t fully capture me.

Rating: ★★★

This has spoilers – sorry!



To be fair to this series, I did read it after I had just finished the ACOTAR series, which probably means I didn’t give it enough love and attention as it deserved because I was hung up on everything Sarah J Maas. MAJOR BOOK HANGOVER! The writing itself was good and Lauren Oliver created a believable and interesting world, but it just didn’t grab me and make me fall in love with the characters, plot or writing and for this reason I can’t rate it as highly as other books.

The plot of the series was quite well developed and it did become more interesting as the series progressed. I thought the strengthening of Lena’s character and resolve as she fought back against her repressive society was good because Lauren Oliver could easily have left her as a wet, drippy character but she didn’t. The introduction of new characters (such as Julian) in the sequels was also welcome because it moved the plot along and made Lena a more three dimensional character, as we see how she responds to new characters. However, I think there was definitely room for more psychologically complex insight in a lot of this series and following novels such as Shatter Me and ACOTAR in my reading list, I particularly noticed this. Things such as the development of the relationship between Lena and Julian, the grief she feels when Alex reappears and the panic of needing to find her family could, in my opinion, have been further explored. I found it anticlimactic (spoiler!) that at the end of the series she just easily slipped back into a relationship with Alex even though when he came back at the beginning of the second book he told her he didn’t love her and basically started a relationship with someone else. This was perfectly satisfactory, but it left me feeling a bit disappointed at the end of the series.

Character-wise, these books did have interesting characters with different motives and backstories that ultimately added to the depth and enjoyment of the novels. All of the protagonists had something that had happened to them which ultimately made it more compelling to read about them – this is definitely one of Oliver’s strong points. She is good at fabricating the world and personalities within the novels which does incite you to keep reading because you are genuinely interested in what happens to the characters. This is supported by the writing style, particularly in the 3rd book, where Oliver switches between character’s points of view, or points in time (from the past to the present and vice versa.) I didn’t think I would like this writing style, but I ended up finding it a good way to get insight into all of the characters and their thoughts and emotions, which is something you can’t do from a singular 1st person narration.

Overall, these books are generally good, and someone else might enjoy them way more than I did, but I just found them to be a disappointment following other series I read recently. I think the highlight of the series was probably the writing style which had lovely imagery and structure, but there were some aspects of complexity that were missing for me, which dampened my enjoyment.

Rosie x

REVIEW: A Court of Thorns and Roses (series)

Full synopsis of
A Court of Thorns and Roses(1), A Court of Mist and Fury (2), and A Court of Wings and Ruin (3)

Quick summary: Romantic, unpredictable, unbelievably addictive, and so well constructed!
Rating:
A Court of Thorns and Roses – ★★★★
A Court of Mist and Fury – ★★★★★
A Court of Wings and Ruin – ★★★★★

(This does not include A Court of Frost and Starlight… Future me will do a review for the spinoffs when they’re all out)

As spoiler free as I could!



Prepare for major gushing because I absolutely LOVED this series!

This series is an absolute must-read for anybody who has any remote interest in YA because it has everything YA novels should have. The world of Prythian has been constructed so intricately and believably that it is impossible not to get lost and caught up in it. The relationships that emerge and are developed are heart-wrenching and beautiful. The writing itself is so detailed and full of imagery that you vividly believe the world is real.
This series made me want to linger on every page because I didn’t want it to come to an end, and yet the unpredictability makes you turn the pages as quickly as you can.

The plotline is so well constructed, and so clever; everyone just needs to bow down to Sarah J Maas.  Every character you encounter makes you wonder what their story is, and what part they are going to play. The love story between Tamlin and Feyre in ACOTAR is intriguing and has spark and romance, and the undertones of the Beauty and the Beast retelling is magical.
However, for me the series just improved and improved with every novel. The plot line of the first book becomes merely a seed that Sarah J Maas has sown to set us up for the twists and turns of the rest of the series. A Court of Mist and Fury unravels so many intricacies and personal stories that I would bet the vast majority of EXISTENCE would not have guessed. Everything we thought we knew about the characters in the first novel is flipped on its head, leaving the poor YA reader quaking and reeling (in a totally good way though, I promise). This authorial ability to warp and change our views of characters is so clever and I really loved this development of the plot.

The relationship between Feyre and pretty much any of the other characters is just so captivating because every time a new relationship pops up, it teaches us something new about her depth of personality. The constant reminders throughout the books of the differences between these relationships was key because it jarred the trust and knowledge we thought we had in the characters (side note: this is really hard to explain without giving away spoilers, so just read the books!)  

Basically, the web of characters Sarah J Maas creates is intricately designed and fascinating. Each character is three dimensional and real. They are not all good or all bad; in fact there are only one or two out-and-out evil antagonists. All of the characters reflect human nature, and this absolutely adds to the power of the books because you start to believe the world exists and the characters exist. Maas’s ability to create layers of audience and contradictory impressions of characters is perhaps what makes these books so addictive because I for one wanted to find out the next piece of information, or the next revelation from characters.

These books are like little masterpieces; the language, the plots, the characters all contribute to this. I, however, think the real genius lies in the gentle unraveling of the novels. We find out conversations that have happened without us knowing, and morsels of the character’s stories are revealed at intermittent points. We learn more and more about the history of the world, and we are not sure that good will conquer evil right until the end. This series summarises everything I love about YA fantasy and books in general; they should take you on the journey and keep you hooked, as well as wholly invest you in the lives and emotions of the characters. This is something this series did for me and I would 100% recommend!

Rosie x

REVIEW: Shatter Me (series)

Full synopsis of Shatter Me, Unravel Me and Ignite Me

Quick summary: Slow starter, but once I got into it I did enjoy it.
Rating: Shatter me – 5/10
Unravel me – 7/10
Ignite me – 8.5/10

THIS CONTAINS SPOILERS, SORRY!

Full synopsis of
Shatter Me (1), Unravel Me (2), and Ignite Me (3)

Quick summary: Slow starter, but once I got into it I did enjoy it.
Rating: Shatter me – ★★
Unravel me – ★★★★
Ignite me – ★★★★



THIS CONTAINS SPOILERS, SORRY!

Just before I start, this series review is only for Book 1, 2 and 3 of the series (i.e Shatter Me, Unravel Me, Ignite Me.) All of the other spinoffs and the new Restore Me might come up in a later review, or I might re-edit this one, but for the moment it’s just going to be the original series.

This is a series I was majorly conflicted about when I first started reading it. I really wasn’t sure about the writing style, which was modern, and seemed to ramble slightly. However, I had bought all three books as a set and so wanted to persevere so as to feel like I hadn’t wasted my money, like the tight stingy person I am. I am glad I did this because the books did keep improving and I was hooked by the third book.

I found character development to be the strongest part of Mafi’s writing in these novels. Part of the reason I didn’t like the first book was that the characters were not three dimensional enough for me. Although Juliette and Adam each had interesting back stories, I found their immediate love story cliche and honestly quite boring. However, as the second and third books unfolded, I started to become really invested in the characters, particularly as Juliette began to understand herself more, and her relationships with Warner and Kenji began to develop. I loved the relationship between Juliette and Warner; I really like how Mafi gives us insight into the ‘evil’ character. This development of Warner from a psychopath to a genuine man who had a really difficult childhood was so refreshing and interesting. I think it was the psychology behind Warner’s character that kept me hooked on the books – I’m really glad Mafi took this plot path for the trilogy, or I would not have enjoyed it anywhere near as much.

In terms of the plot, I think that there were fascinating twists and turns which made these books different from other YA novels. The relationship between Warner and Juliette was a particularly strong plot point, as it allowed for character development of Juliette, Warner and Adam. Although I would not describe these novels as having been a page turner for me, I do think that they were interesting and the world in which they were set was well constructed.

The third book, Ignite Me, was, for me, the strongest book of the trilogy. By the time I got to the third book I was invested in the world because it had grown on me as the series progressed. It was somewhat repetitive, as certain phrases (such as “I swallow, hard”) were used lots throughout, and this started to annoy me towards the end. Having said this, I did get used to the writing style and there were captivating aspects. I liked that as Juliette became disenfranchised with Adam, the reader began seeing his flaws and failings, inviting us to make a more weighted judgement on him; equally, as she became more infatuated with Warner, he became kinder and sweeter in our eyes as well.

Ultimately, although I did like these books by the end of the series, I feel like had I not bought them as a trilogy then I might not have gone further than the first book. I do think they are worth reading if you want to read a series, because they are psychologically interesting and there is good character development, but for me they were a slow starter and did not immediately captivate me. It was definitely the character of Warner that made these books.

Also, side note, I really like the covers and the books are that satisfying floppy kind, which is really nice.

Rosie x