Review: The Rose Gate by Hanna Sandvig

About the book:

Once upon a time, a girl from our world found a gate to the Faerie realm…

All Isobel wants is a quiet place to read, but apparently that’s too much to ask. She only needs to make it through one last summer with her broken family before she can leave for university and get on with her life. At least she has her books and the solitude of the woods.

But there are wolves in these woods.

Caught out in the forest after dark, Isobel is pursued by a disturbingly intelligent pack of wolves. When the grizzly bear who rescues her turns out to be a cursed fae prince, she realizes her life isn’t the only thing in danger. She could lose her heart.

Trapped by the wolves at the prince’s home in Faerie, Isobel tries to unravel the mystery behind the surly prince’s scars. Because time is running out for the castle’s inhabitants, and if Isobel can’t find a way to break the spell and save the prince from the Unseelie Queen, she may lose everything she’s come to love.

Review by Katy Haye:

Who says posting about your book on Facebook does nothing? That’s exactly how I found The Rose Gate. The cover caught my eye as I was scrolling through – and I was even more impressed when I discovered it was illustrated by the author! That’s some talent.

The Rose Gate is a fairytale retelling, updating the Beauty and the Beast story. It was a change from my usual reads (okay, so, YA fantasy; not that much of a change) because it doesn’t have the crazy, fast pace that I usually hunger for. It’s quite slow and lyrical and the story unfolded as beautifully as one of the gate’s roses coming in to bloom.

Both the main and the secondary characters were vivid and lovely, and the relationship between Isobel and “Bear” developed in a hugely satisfying way.

I’m a pedant, so I’m going to warn you that there were some irritating proof errors right at the start (peek/peak, and some present/past tense verb confusion), but if you’re not a ridiculous pedant you might not even notice – and by the time I’d got halfway through either matters had been corrected or I was sufficiently absorbed in the story not to register any mistakes.

Overall, The Rose Gate is a delight. It’s a stand alone story, but there are more retellings to come and I’ll definitely look out for them.

Can’t get enough of fantasy? Try Katy Haye’s Princess Witch series. It’s complete and ready for you to binge-read. Start Relle’s story with Dragon Thief. If you like magic, danger, deadly royals and a heroine who won’t accept her fate tamely, Dragon Thief is the book for you!

Cover graphic for Dragon Thief by Katy Haye.

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Review: Dragon Assassin by Arthur Slade

About the book:

Carmen wants to graduate. But the emperor wants her dead. Her classmates might, too.

At least she has a dragon on her side.

Carmen is days from graduation at assassin school. She’s desperate to finish ahead of her twin brother and the rest of the class. They’ve been trained to hunt using giant black swans, but Carmen has discovered a dragon. All she has to do is get on his back.

One problem: he’s killed everyone who gets near him.

Then the Emperor declares war on assassins. Graduation night is about to become the fight of her life.

 

Review by Katy Haye:
I gobbled up this omnibus during my New Year break. Carmen is a fabulous character, Drax is gloriously snarky (seems to be a characteristic of fictional dragons; not that I’m complaining!) and the world Arthur Slade has created was hugely enjoyable.

What I loved most is that nothing ended up the way I expected. The rug was constantly pulled out from under my feet in the best possible way. Just as I thought I knew what was sure to happen next, something completely different would swing the story 180 degrees.

I moved straight from this to book 2 of the omnibus (that’s books 4 – 6 in the series), which I also loved and I’m champing at the bit to get the final (? probably) omnibus to see what happens next (that’s out in May, so not long now). And if you’re worried about the time commitment with a potential for 8 books – I don’t think they’re hugely long. I certainly rattled through them, but I think individually they’d be novellas rather than full novels. At any rate, don’t let the length of the series put you off because this is a story you’re going to want to spend lots of time in.

Terrific story set in a sumptuous fantasy world. I loved this one!

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Series Review: Spoken Mage by Melissa Cellier

I reviewed Voice of Power a few weeks back. This series was so good I moved straight onto the next, and the next, and the next, and I wanted to share my thoughts (and enthusiasm). So, here you go…

Book 2: Voice of Command

Elena has found the power in her voice–now she must decide how to use it

Finally accepted as a mage, Elena struggles with her commonborn roots. And when disaster strikes the kingdom, she can’t shrug off the death toll as the mageborn have always done. Yet the limitations of her spoken magic hold her back–both in saving lives among the people and in competitions in the Academy’s arena.

In desperation she turns to an unlikely source of assistance–Prince Lucas. But just as she begins to master her powers, she finds herself the pawn of stronger forces.

With everything she’s struggled for almost within her grasp, she must decide what–and who–is worth sacrificing to come into her full power and take her place among the mages.

 

My review:
In book two, Elena changes from the oddity half the people in power want to destroy while the other half want to treat as a scientific specimen, into someone they all think they might be able to find a way to exploit. Her gradual change of status is convincing and an excellent source of conflict – for Elena herself as well as those around her.

Elena’s self-awareness is hugely entertaining, while her determination is inspiring. I really like this character – she’s a true pleasure to spend time with.

The romance in book two is unfolding wonderfully – it’s messy and impossible and heart-wrenching, although the move from antagonism to a solid friendship strikes me as good progress. But they are going to have to work very hard for their happy ending – and I love it!

Book 3: Voice of Dominion

Even the Spoken Mage has limits to the power of her voice

Elena may be the only Spoken Mage in history, but she struggles with limitations. Unable to stockpile written workings as her mageborn year mates do, she runs the constant risk of burning out. But when the Armed Forces draw the third years to the front lines of their war, Elena’s strength and flexibility may be necessary to keep them all alive.

As Elena wrestles with how much she will sacrifice for the war, Lucas must decide how much he’s willing to sacrifice for her. Faced with a greater threat than even they realize, Elena and Lucas must work together and either fight or be consumed by their enemies.

 

My review:
Wow. Non-stop drama. Things move fast and furiously in book 3, with a trip to the front and immediate danger casting doubt over the future of them all. The friendship group is a delight with their refreshing banter providing a great counterpoint to the tension of battle. As I read, I found my heart-rate increasing as the tension and rapid action ratcheted up. This series gets better and better!

Book 4: Voice of Life

In her fourth year at the Academy, Elena should be focused on final exams and graduation. Instead, she has no choice but to stop a decades-long war–at least if she wants any future with Lucas.

But it’s hard to stop a war when you’re nowhere near the front lines. And an unexpected invitation–one she can’t refuse–only complicates the matter further. Embroiled in political machinations beyond her experience, Elena will have to plumb the depths of her remarkable power and new abilities.

As she finally learns who she can and can’t trust, she’ll risk everything to win a future for herself, her family, and her kingdom. But if she makes a misstep, the price could be more than she’s willing to pay.

 

My review:
This is impossibly good! About a third of the way through I had to check how many books are in the series because there was so much going on that I couldn’t believe it could all wrap up in this book.

But it does, and it does so beautifully. There are so many twists and turns that it’s impossible to predict what’s about to happen, but it all unfolds beautifully and the ending was deliciously satisfying.

Melanie Cellier is definitely one to look out for – I’m so pleased she’s got a plentiful backlist for me to work through!

Love fantasy? Try Katy Haye’s Princess Witch series, now complete and ready for you to binge-read. Start Relle’s story with Dragon Thief, full of magic, danger, deadly royals and a heroine who won’t accept her fate tamely!

Cover graphic for Dragon Thief by Katy Haye.

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Review: Fae Hunter by Sarah K Wilson

About the book:

Our lives are nursery rhymes and faerie stories now, Allie.

When Allie Hunter’s twin sister steps through a magic circle into the Faerie realm, she opens the door to deadly fae, bent on causing havoc and harm to Allie’s village.
Rendered blind to all but the spirit world, Allie is frustrated and angry but determined to bring the fae down. No matter what that might cost her.
But in a world where lies are truth, power is sustenance, and every action ripples into violence, how can one mortal stop all of Faerieland?

Illustration of the cover of Fae Hunter

Review by Katy Haye:

My first review for 2020 is an absolutely stonking story. If everything else I read this year could be just half as good I would be a very happy reader!

Sarah K L Wilson is a phenomenal storyteller. I was gripped from the first word, sunk straight into the world of Allie and her village.

Fae Hunter rocks along at a breathless, hectic pace and is chock full of feelings. I wanted to wrap Allie in a hug and spent much of the book enraged on her behalf, wanting to burn down her awful neighbours.

Like an original, blood-soaked fairytale,  Fae Hunter is bursting with vengeance and fury and I loved every single word.

***I was lucky enough to receive an advanced copy of Fae Hunter. It releases on January 7th and is available right now at the laughably low price of 99c/p. Do yourself a favour and grab a copy right now, because I can’t believe it’ll stay that low for long (it certainly shouldn’t!)***

 

Love fantasy? Try Katy Haye’s Princess Witch series, now complete and ready for you to binge-read. Start Relle’s story with Dragon Thief, full of magic, danger, deadly royals and a heroine who won’t accept her fate tamely!

Cover graphic for Dragon Thief by Katy Haye.

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Review: Voice of Power by Melanie Cellier

About the book:

In Elena’s world words have power over life and death—but none more so than hers.

As the daughter of shopkeepers, Elena has always known that the mysteries of reading and writing are closed to her. Only the mageborn can risk harnessing the power unleashed from putting pen to paper. Until Elena discovers an impossible new ability and joins the elite ranks of the mages.

But with the kingdom at war, the authorities can’t agree if Elena is an asset, or a threat they need to eliminate. Thrust into the unknown world of the Royal Academy without friends or experience, Elena will need all of her wits, strength, and new power to carve a place for herself.

Except as the attacks become more personal, wits and strength won’t be enough. Elena will have to turn to new friends and an enigmatic prince to unlock the mysterious potential of her words and survive her first year as a trainee mage.

 

Review by Katy Haye:

My last review for 2019 and my goodness, it’s a cracker! This YA fantasy started out as an unassuming, easy read, but it has real depth.

Melanie Cellier has created an excellent world with in-built tensions, and the magical system is refreshingly new and convincing.

Elena was a strong and relatable character, and I loved how she grew during the course of the book – and how that tied in with the world and its politics and beliefs. I hope the next in the series will go in the direction I think has been hinted at – where there is lots of scope for character development and a whole heap of drama.

My only niggle is that the romantic elements were beautifully handled, low key and believable – up until the kiss, which felt clumsy and tacked-on to me.

Overall, I loved this book and I’ll definitely be continuing Elena’s adventures (Voice of Power is first in the series).

Love fantasy? Try Katy Haye’s Princess Witch series, now complete and ready for you to binge-read. Start Relle’s story with Dragon Thief, full of magic, danger, deadly royals and a heroine who won’t accept her fate tamely!

Cover graphic for Dragon Thief by Katy Haye.

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Review: Blood Trial by Kelly St Clare

About the book:

The dice are rolled at midnight.

As the twenty-one-year-old heiress to the Le Spyre fortune, my life should consist of strawberry mojitos and golf carts. Right?

But I’m determined to forge my own path.

Desperate to escape the meaningless games of the rich, I flee my family’s estate.

Secret alias—check.
Place to sleep—uh, kind of?
Job—crap!

I’ve bitten off more than I can chew, but that’s the least of my worries.

My city is a giant board game. The players are supernatural— freakin’ vampires—including an overbearing crown prince whose unwanted attention could spell my demise.

Now, I must play their deadly game, or my grandmother and best friend will pay the ultimate price.

 

Review by Katy Haye:

Okay, so first I have to point out that this is NA, not YA. It’s a step up in maturity from what you might have read by Kelly St Clare before. There’s chemistry and steam aplenty between our hero and heroine, but nothing explicit or unacceptable. Just be aware!

Blood Trial provides a refreshing new take on the vampire myth and the premise of the story is both crazy and captivating. I always love Kelly St Clare’s characters and I utterly *adore* Basilia’s determination and sass.

The relationship development between Basilia and Kyros was spot-on and I just loved watch them prowl around each other as they learned more about the other and their feelings started to gain real depth. It gave an excellent portrayal of a couple determined to get both head and heart in alignment before acting on their biological attraction.

I love all of Kelly St Clare’s books and this series looks set fair to become a new favourite. I can’t wait to read book two, which I pre-ordered as soon as I finished Blood Trial. Click the graphic above and grab your copy (to buy or with your KU subscription) NOW!

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