Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan | an edgy gothic fantasy

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Wicked Saints by Emily Duncan

April 2, 2019, from Wednesday Books
YA fantasy
Goodreads | Amazon

A girl who can speak to gods must save her people without destroying herself.

A prince in danger must decide who to trust.

A boy with a monstrous secret waits in the wings.

Together, they must assassinate the king and stop the war.

In a centuries-long war where beauty and brutality meet, their three paths entwine in a shadowy world of spilled blood and mysterious saints, where a forbidden romance threatens to tip the scales between dark and light.

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2 stars

This book seemed cool from the outset; look, I like dark fantasy, and I generally tend to enjoy all the blood and gore that comes with it. That paired with the Gothic, eastern-European setting made me think this book could be for me despite the mixed reviews I’d read. Alas, the potential was wasted. Despite Wicked Saints seeming like something I’d enjoy, I went into it with trepidation, and it still fell flat.

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Infinity Son by Adam Silvera | urban fantasy, phoenixes, and brotherhood

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Infinity Son by Adam Silvera

January 14, 2019, from HarperTeen
YA fantasy
Goodreads | Amazon

Growing up in New York, brothers Emil and Brighton always idolized the Spell Walkers—a vigilante group sworn to rid the world of specters. While the Spell Walkers and other celestials are born with powers, specters take them, violently stealing the essence of endangered magical creatures.

Brighton wishes he had a power so he could join the fray. Emil just wants the fighting to stop. The cycle of violence has taken a toll, making it harder for anyone with a power to live peacefully and openly. In this climate of fear, a gang of specters has been growing bolder by the day.

Then, in a brawl after a protest, Emil manifests a power of his own—one that puts him right at the heart of the conflict and sets him up to be the heroic Spell Walker Brighton always wanted to be.

Brotherhood, love, and loyalty will be put to the test, and no one will escape the fight unscathed.

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3 stars

When I heard Adam Silvera was writing a fantasy book, I was thrilled. His contemporary books are some of my favourites. So I went into Infinity Son optimistic. Though there are some problems with the worldbuilding and pacing, I ultimately liked Infinity Son; it’s an urban fantasy that stresses the importance of family and responsibility.
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The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang | an incredible fantasy inspired by chinese history

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The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang

May 1, 2018, from Harper Voyager
Adult fantasy
Goodreads | Amazon

When Rin aced the Keju—the Empire-wide test to find the most talented youth to learn at the Academies—it was a shock to everyone: to the test officials, who couldn’t believe a war orphan from Rooster Province could pass without cheating; to Rin’s guardians, who believed they’d finally be able to marry her off and further their criminal enterprise; and to Rin herself, who realized she was finally free of the servitude and despair that had made up her daily existence. That she got into Sinegard—the most elite military school in Nikan—was even more surprising.

But surprises aren’t always good.

Because being a dark-skinned peasant girl from the south is not an easy thing at Sinegard. Targeted from the outset by rival classmates for her color, poverty, and gender, Rin discovers she possesses a lethal, unearthly power—an aptitude for the nearly-mythical art of shamanism. Exploring the depths of her gift with the help of a seemingly insane teacher and psychoactive substances, Rin learns that gods long thought dead are very much alive—and that mastering control over those powers could mean more than just surviving school.

For while the Nikara Empire is at peace, the Federation of Mugen still lurks across a narrow sea. The militarily advanced Federation occupied Nikan for decades after the First Poppy War, and only barely lost the continent in the Second. And while most of the people are complacent to go about their lives, a few are aware that a Third Poppy War is just a spark away . . .

Rin’s shamanic powers may be the only way to save her people. But as she finds out more about the god that has chosen her, the vengeful Phoenix, she fears that winning the war may cost her humanity . . . and that it may already be too late.

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5 stars

This book. This book felt like a slow descent into madness. I’ve heard a lot about The Poppy War around the book community, namely its basis on Chinese history and the categorization of grimdark. Nothing prepared me for what The Poppy War was. It’s the brutal story of a girl forced to come to terms with the horrors that exist in the world, and the things she does to fight them.
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Fantasy Sub-Genres Explained

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Fantasy subgenres fascinate me. There’s just so damn many of them, and it is my firm belief that there is a fantasy subgenre out there for everyone. And there are so many combinations of subgenres that you can smush together and create a brand new fantasy book out of.

So I am taking the jump and attempting to explain a few of the most popular subgenres in fantasy, though there are honestly so many and a girl only has so much time to read books, so I’ve certainly missed most of them. But I can get to some of my favourites.

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Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo | a dark, atmospheric urban fantasy

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Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo

October 8, 2019 from Flatiron Books
Urban Fantasy
Goodreads | Amazon

Galaxy “Alex” Stern is the most unlikely member of Yale’s freshman class. Raised in the Los Angeles hinterlands by a hippie mom, Alex dropped out of school early and into a world of shady drug dealer boyfriends, dead-end jobs, and much, much worse. By age twenty, in fact, she is the sole survivor of a horrific, unsolved multiple homicide. Some might say she’s thrown her life away. But at her hospital bed, Alex is offered a second chance: to attend one of the world’s most elite universities on a full ride. What’s the catch, and why her?

Still searching for answers to this herself, Alex arrives in New Haven tasked by her mysterious benefactors with monitoring the activities of Yale’s secret societies. These eight windowless “tombs” are well-known to be haunts of the future rich and powerful, from high-ranking politicos to Wall Street and Hollywood’s biggest players. But their occult activities are revealed to be more sinister and more extraordinary than any paranoid imagination might conceive.

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5 stars

Ninth House was probably my most anticipated book of the year. For the record, here are some of my favourite things in literature: Leigh Bardugo books. Secret societies. Dark academia. Strong worldbuilding and a vivid setting. Characters that feel real. Ninth House has all of it, a tale of dark academia and privilege at the cost of others and murder and violence, all taking place at one of the most prestigious universities in the world.

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The Never Tilting World by Rin Chupeco | blog tour & aesthetics

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The Never Tilting World by Rin Chupeco

October 15, 2019, from HarperCollins
Epic fantasy
Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

Frozen meets Mad Max in this epic teen fantasy duology bursting with star-crossed romance, immortal heroines, and elemental magic, perfect for fans of Furyborn.

Generations of twin goddesses have long ruled Aeon. But seventeen years ago, one sister’s betrayal defied an ancient prophecy and split their world in two. The planet ceased to spin, and a Great Abyss now divides two realms: one cloaked in perpetual night, the other scorched by an unrelenting sun.

While one sister rules Aranth—a frozen city surrounded by a storm-wracked sea —her twin inhabits the sand-locked Golden City. Each goddess has raised a daughter, and each keeps her own secrets about her sister’s betrayal.

But when shadowy forces begin to call their daughters, Odessa and Haidee, back to the site of the Breaking, the two young goddesses —along with a powerful healer from Aranth, and a mouthy desert scavenger —set out on separate journeys across treacherous wastelands, desperate to heal their broken world. No matter the sacrifice it demands.

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4 stars

I’m very excited to be one of the stops on the blog tour for Rin Chupeco’s The Never Tilting World! Thanks so much to Shealea at Shut Up, Shealea for giving me the opportunity!

I knew I had to read The Never Tilting World when I read the synopsis. I’d read The Bone Witch and loved it, and the premise to this book just sounded on point. I was not disappointed. The Never Tilting World is definitely one of the most creative fantasies I’ve read in a long time, full of action and adventure.

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The Lady Rogue by Jenn Bennett | a historical romp through Europe

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The Lady Rogue by Jenn Bennett

September 3, 2019
Young adult historical fantasy
Goodreads | Amazon

Traveling with her treasure-hunting father has always been a dream for Theodora. She’s read every book in his library, has an impressive knowledge of the world’s most sought-after relics, and has all the ambition in the world. What she doesn’t have is her father’s permission. That honor goes to her father’s nineteen-year-old protégé—and once-upon-a-time love of Theodora’s life—Huck Gallagher, while Theodora is left to sit alone in her hotel in Istanbul.

Until Huck arrives from an expedition without her father and enlists Theodora’s help in rescuing him. Armed with her father’s travel journal, the reluctant duo learns that her father had been digging up information on a legendary and magical ring that once belonged to Vlad the Impaler—more widely known as Dracula—and that it just might be the key to finding him.

Journeying into Romania, Theodora and Huck embark on a captivating adventure through Gothic villages and dark castles in the misty Carpathian Mountains to recover the notorious ring. But they aren’t the only ones who are searching for it. A secretive and dangerous occult society with a powerful link to Vlad the Impaler himself is hunting for it, too. And they will go to any lengths—including murder—to possess it.

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3 stars

I’ve always enjoyed Jenn Bennett’s romance, something that surrpises me every time. So when I heard she was writing a historical fantasy, I was intrigued. I love history, I love secret societies and magical artifacts, so I was excited to get my hands on this book. A lot of The Lady Rogue felt like a rehash of her contemporary romance in a historical fantasy setting, but it was still on the whole enjoyable.

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