The Vanishing Throne – Elizabeth May

What is left of Edinburgh after Aileana failed her mission in the first book in the Falconer series?

Wat blijft er nog over van Edinburgh nadat Aileana haar missie om de wereld te redden niet volbracht heeft?

ENGLISH REVIEW (KIJK SNEL EVEN HIER VOOR MIJN NEDERLANDSE REVIEW!)

Second book syndrome…. It is a known condition in the book world. But let’s be frank, The Vanishing Throne is not suffering from it!

If you have been following my blog for a while you might remember my review about the first book in this series, namely The Falconer. I gave it 3.5 stars and was pretty enthusiastic about the overall story. It was clearly a set up book, but I had high hopes for the second book in the series. And I have to confess, the book exceeded my expectations.

“Perhaps he’s my curse. Perhaps I’m his weakness. Together we left the world in ruins.”

In The Vanishing Throne we pick up the story were we left of in The Falconer. Edinburgh and large parts of the world are gone. Destroyed by the Fae who escaped. Aileana failed her only mission and now she is in the hands of her worst enemy. Tormented, facing her fears… loosing herself a little bit more every day. But when Kiaran and his sister are able to rescue Aileana, she will have to face that the war is far from over.

The Vanishing Throne is a very dark book that will leave you devastated by the end of it. The darkness seeps through in all the pages of this story and on so many levels. There is a lot of bloodshed and action, which is quite gruesome. But there is also the darkness of lies and deceit. Of finding out the truth about the people you trusted most. This story is heart-breaking, action-packed and so incredibly beautiful all at once.

“He is the faery whose gift is death and I am the girl whose gift is chaos.”

I absolutely loved the fact that this story focused on the aftermath of u huge war. To many times in series the story is finished after the big war. Not in The Vanishing Throne, here Aileana needs to face her failure. The world is ripped to pieces and the surviving humans need to learn how to navigate this world filled with enemies. Another aspect of the story I really loved was the fact that there is actually a price to pay. Loved ones die, not everything has a happy ending. This is sometimes lacking in other Young Adult series. There is a war, but the main characters never loose anything valuable to them.

In this book we learn a lot more about Kiaran and his background story. Again and it feels like I am repeating myself endlessly, this was a refreshing take on his character. Other stories tend to get into “redemption arcs”. Here Kiarans behaviour isn’t excused. He admits that he is evil and he doesn’t always regrets it. It was dark, but at the same time it felt more real and made the story all the more heart-breaking.

In my previous review I stated that the story focusses on PTSD and that I loved how it was handled. In this part of the story there is once again a big storyline centred around PTSD and once again it was detailed and very well handled. The character of Aithinne was introduced and was really an asset to the overall story. I am very anxious to see more about her. She is such a multi-layered character who will make you laugh out loud at times, but who has such a dark story to tell.

“Aithinne wasn’t hardened by war; she was humanized by it.”

Simply said I loved this book. Because it rights all the wrongs of other young adult series I have read. This book is such a wonderful, thrilling ride. Its detailed, dark, action packed and the romance is just heart-breaking. I can’t wait to dive into the last and final book, because that ending shattered my heart in one million tiny pieces!

WAT VOND IK VAN THE VANISHING THRONE?

Second book syndrome…. Het is een gekend iets in de boekenwereld. Maar The Vanishing Throne heeft hier zeker geen last van.

Als je mijn blog al een tijdje volgt, dan herinner jij je misschien nog wel mijn review van het eerste boek in deze serie, namelijk The Falconer. Ik gaf het boek 3.5 sterren en was behoorlijk enthousiast over het verhaal. Het was duidelijk een boek dat de basis moest leggen voor de rest van de serie. Maar erg veelbelovend en ik moet zeggen dat het tweede deel in de reeks mijn verwachtingen zonder twijfel overtrof.

“Perhaps he’s my curse. Perhaps I’m his weakness. Together we left the world in ruins.”

The Vanishing Throne start waar The Falconer eindigde. Edinburgh en grote delen van de wereld zijn verdwenen. Vernietigd door de ontsnapte feeën. Aileana is gefaald in haar enige missie en de wereld heeft er de prijs voor betaald. Zij bevind zich nu in de handen van haar grootste vijand. Martelingen en haar eigen angsten en schuldgevoel onder ogen kijken staat dagelijks op het menu. Maar wanneer Kiaran en zijn zus er in slagen om haar te redden, zal Aileana onder ogen moeten zien dat haar strijd nog lang niet voorbij is.

The Vanishing Throne is een erg duister boek dat je hart echt in stukken zal scheuren. Het verdriet en de wanhoop druipt echt van elke pagina en komt in heel veel verschillende facetten naar voren. Zo zijn er heel wat gevechten en bloedvergieten. Maar ook leugens en bedrog zorgen voor de nodige teleurstellingen. En het gevaarlijkste struikelblok in het verhaal is de waarheid ontdekken achter de mensen die je dacht blindelings te kunnen vertrouwen. Het verhaal is hartverscheurend, vol met actie maar terzelfder tijd ontzettend mooi.

Ikzelf word echt ontzettend gelukkig van de grote focus op de naweeën van de oorlog. Heel vaak eindigen verhalen na een oorlog en weten we eigenlijk niet hoe het met onze personages verdergaat nadat de epische strijd gestreden is. The Vanishing Throne draait net volledig rond dit concept. Hoe de overlevende mensen moeten zien te navigeren binnen een wereld die hen eigenlijk niet wil hebben. Waar vijanden om elke hoek kunnen loeren. Daarnaast kon ik het erg appreciëren dat de hoofdpersonages niet gespaard bleven. Ik val misschien een beetje in herhaling, maar vaak moeten de hoofdpersonages geen offers brengen. Hier wel, geliefden en belangrijke zaken moeten opgeofferd worden

“He is the faery whose gift is death and I am the girl whose gift is chaos.”

In dit boeken krijgen we ook meer te zien van Kiaran en zijn achtergrondverhaal. Gelukkig wordt het geen goedpraat verhaal. Kiaran blijft een grijze figuur, waar de balans de ene keer naar de slechte kant helt en de andere keer meer naar de goede. Hier hield ik wel van. Veel te vaak worden de donkere, mysterieuze mannelijke hoofdpersonages goedgepraat. Maar Kiaran blijft gewoon zijn heerlijke, donkere, soms best slechte zelve. Dit zorgt ook voor een extra laagje in het hele liefdesverhaal.

In mijn review van deel een haalde ik al aan dat een groot deel van het verhaal rond PTS draaide en dat het zo mooi overkwam; Ook in dit deel van de serie speelt PTS een belangrijke rol. Het nieuwe personage Aithinne is hierin de spilfiguur, maar daarnaast is zij ook een belangrijk nieuw onderdeel van de cast. Ik ben zo benieuwd wat ze nog voor ons als lezers in petto heeft. Ze zorgt voor een komisch noot, maar ook voor een duistere verhaallijn.

“Aithinne wasn’t hardened by war; she was humanized by it.”

Het mag wel duidelijk wezen dat ik helemaal betoverd werd door dit boek. Voornamelijk omdat het alle clichés van Young Adult reeksen op de hak neemt en mij eindelijk het verhaal geeft waar ik al zo lang op zit te wachten. Dit boek is een prachtig geschreven verhaal, vol actie en romantiek dat je hart zal breken. Ik kan amper wachten om het derde deel in de reeks in te duiken, want het einde bracht me echt tot op de rand van mijn zetel.

Tower of Dawn – Sarah J Maas

Review Tower of Dawn

Everybody knows how much I love Sarah J Maas writing. I devour her books, but that doesn’t mean I am blind to the sometimes problematic situations that present itself in her stories. I see them, I acknowledge them and I just enjoy the ride. Because a Sarah J Maas book is really quite a ride!

Tower of Dawn has been on my shelves since the release date in 2017. For some reason I kept putting it off. Not because I didn’t like Chaol. I know a lot of readers had quite a big aversion against him after some of the things that went down in previous books. I am not one of them… I never loved Chaol and I never hated him. He was just a bland character to me. Part of me was really excited to see if a whole book about him would chance my view on Chaol.

“I will cherish it always.
No matter what may befall the world.
No matter the oceans, or mountains, or forests in the way.” 

Well…. Let me tell you it didn’t. After 672 pages I still don’t have strong feeling regarding Chaol. I liked the idea of Tower of Dawn but I think it should have been a novella like Maas intended in the first place. For me the pacing of Tower of Dawn was completely off.

The last 172 pages of Tower of Dawn are filled with action, heartbreaking moments and breath catching revelations. The plot twists are thrown at you at roller coast speed. And made me realize why I love Maas her writing so much. But the rest of the book just lacks action or real emotions. It isn’t really engaging.

“The heart he’d offered and had been left to drop on the wooden planks of the river docks. An assassin who had sailed away and a queen who had returned.”

It certainly isn’t all bad. I absolutely loved the Arabian feel to this new part of the Throne of Glass world. It is completely different from anything we have ever encountered in this universe. On the other hand I really disliked the royal family. I understand what they needed to represent, but they just seemed like a bunch of 9 year olds fighting over a cookie. Except Shartaq, he and is non blood family really stole my heart. I can hardly wait to see more of him in the last installment in the series.

“No lady, beautiful or plain, young or old, deserved to be gawked at.” 

For me Tower of Dawn wasn’t about Chaol, it was about Yrene and Nesryn. I was thrilled to see Yrene return to the story and I think she is going to play a very important part in the final book. She is another very strong female character that has her own story to tell and won’t take crap from anybody. And then there was Nesryn, you really saw her grow throughout the story. Was she first was just Chaols shadow, she really became her own character.

If you want to continue with the series, you will have to read Tower of Dawn. To many things are revealed and a whole lot is set in motion for the last (hopefully epic) last installment of the series. The last 200 pages are really wonderful to experience as a reader and a fan, but the rest of the book is rather mediocre.

The Cruel Prince – Holly Black

 

Synopsis The Cruel Prince:

Jude was seven years old when her parents were murdered and she and her two sisters were stolen away to live in the treacherous High Court of Faerie. Ten years later, Jude wants nothing more than to belong there, despite her mortality. But many of the fey despise humans. Especially Prince Cardan, the youngest and wickedest son of the High King. To win a place at the Court, she must defy him–and face the consequences. In doing so, she becomes embroiled in palace intrigues and deceptions, discovering her own capacity for bloodshed. But as civil war threatens to drown the Courts of Faerie in violence, Jude will need to risk her life in a dangerous alliance to save her sisters, and Faerie itself.

Review The Cruel Prince:

The Cruel Prince is one of those books that gets hyped up so much that it even scares me to start reading it. Because when a book is so hyped the fear of being disappointed becomes all to real. And the first part of this book I was feeling the disappointment settling in. I kept thinking “okay, this is good, but where is the phenomenal story-line?” And then, all of a sudden the book swept me of my feet and I just drowned in it.  It swept me of my feet and by the last 80 pages I didn’t want it to finish. I had fallen, deeply in love. But it took sometime for me to find the absolute brilliance that is The Cruel Prince and for that reason alone I just can’t give it 5 stars.

“If I cannot be better than them, I will become so much worse.”

I think it took me a while to love The Cruel Prince because I needed to adjust a little bit. Holly Black writes Young adult and it means real Young Adult. (Not like Sarah J Maas or Lainey Taylor write YA.) No this is real YA and I needed to get in the right mindset for it. I tend to think everything is a bit childish and needs to be darker and ruder. What can I say, I am an adult and am not so easily swiped of my feet as a once was. So yes The Cruel Prince is real YA, but it is the Game of Thrones version of YA to be honest.

“I have lied and I have betrayed and I have triumphed. If only there was someone to congratulate me.” 

People who have been following my reviews know I wasn’t all to fond about The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black. One of my main complaints about that book was that it wasn’t dark enough. That the characters never really reacted to all the gloom and horrible things happening around them. Well none of that in The Cruel Prince. The book is dark, with gruesome murders, suicide, bullying, betrayal,… like I said Game of Thrones on a YA level. But the characters also engage and react to all the horrible things that are happening. They are heartbroken and angry. They are out for revenge! So much better executed then The Darkest Part of the Forest.

“That’s what comes of hungering for something; you forget to check if it’s rotten before you gobble it down” 

All the characters in The Cruel Prince are flawed, even Jude, the main characters. And I absolutely loved it!  I like morally grey characters and because some of their actions were so questionable I just kept turning the pages at high speed. I needed to see where this story was going. And then there of course was Cardan, the cruel prince. A bully, a horrible boy, a complete asshole…. but there is more. I want to gush about what Cardan did to me and how I feel about him, but I can’t, because I would ruin the story for people who haven’t read it. But if you have read it, please let me know cause I am dying to talk to somebody about it!

The Cruel Prince has drawn me in and really touched me. And to be honest it has been quite some time since a book has done that to me. It is dark, with a lit of twists and turns. I loved the main character Jude and the game she played. But that ending…. ow that ending. I just can’t wait for the second part in this series. 

An Enchantment of Ravens – Margaret Rogerson

 

Review An Enchantment of Ravens:

I had my eye on An Enchantment of Ravens for quite some time. In the first weeks leading up to its release date a lot of book tubers and bloggers were promoting it as ideal for fans of Sarah J Maas her Court of Thorns and Roses series. So you can understand why I was interested. After the release date the reviews become less enthusiastic and some criticize began to rise. So I never got around to buying my copy. But around Christmas I thought it was high time to figure this book out for myself. And if I didn’t like the story, then at least I would have a pretty book on my shelves. Because honestly the cover to this book is absolutely stunning!

I must say that even after finishing this book I am still a little confused as to the whether or not I liked this story part. So excuse me if this is going to be a very unclear review! But I will try to share all the good, the bad and the ugly with you guys!

THE GOOD

  • I absolutely loved the forest were the story took place. From past reading experiences I am aware that magical forests are a setting I tend to enjoy. And the way the forest chanced and really was its own character made me enjoy the whole story more.
  • Rook and Isobel were well developed main characters. I especially liked that Isobel wasn’t a meek “ow lets follow the beautiful stranger into the forest without any complaint” type of girl. She desired an adventure. She wanted to know what the world was outside of her daily routine. And Rook wasn’t the horrible Alfa male we tend to see in a lot of YA. He had manners, was considerate, without ever forgetting he was a Prince.
  • Their romance wasn’t instalove. I know I am disagreeing with a lot of reviewers, but for me it didn’t feel like instalove. Although I understand why people tend to experience it other ways. In this book something is completely wrong with the pacing of the story. (I will come back to this later on.) But Rook and Isobel spend a lot of time together before the develop romantic feelings for each other.
  • The Fae in this book are perfect! Full of mischief and tricks. I love that about Fae.
  • You feel that that Margaret Rogerson put a lot of effort in researching Fae mythology. She uses lots of classic images of the Fae, but gives them her own twist.

THE BAD

  • As I said before the pacing in this book is just completely off. Too much is glossed over. An Enchantment of Ravens holds the promise of a really good story, but it needed to be more. Actually it could have been two books to be completely honest. If an editor would have said to Rogerson “this is completely wonderful” but could you please expand more on those parts, it would have been a complete hit. Now it feels rushed.
  • The relationship between Rook and Isobel. I was glad it wasn’t instalove. But where was the sweep me of my feet part of this relationship? Where was the angst and the passion simmering? I just didn’t ship it. It was flat and passionless. I don’t see any love either. Yes I see attraction, but love? No there wasn’t any for me.

 

THE UGLY

  • So sad to say but the world building in this book was completely lacking. And you know why it is so sad to say? Because as I said before Rogerson really put a lot of effort in researching Fae mythology. You can feel that all through the story. So many things are touched upon but aren’t explained or are just glossed over. What is the world beyond? What is the Wild Hunt? What made Whimsy such a special place? Most of the time it felt like you were missing out on a part of the story. Like there was a previous book that you didn’t read and now you didn’t get the full story.

 

 

All in all I enjoyed An Enchantment of Ravens but it could have been so much more. But let’s not forget it is a debut book and there was clearly a lot of promise in the story. I will be looking forward to another book by Rogerson!

The darkest part of the forest – Holly Black

Children can have a cruel, absolute sense of justice. Children can kill a monster and feel quite proud of themselves. A girl can look at her brother and believe they’re destined to be a knight and a bard who battle evil. She can believe she’s found the thing she’s been made for.
Hazel lives with her brother, Ben, in the strange town of Fairfold where humans and fae exist side by side. The faeries’ seemingly harmless magic attracts tourists, but Hazel knows how dangerous they can be, and she knows how to stop them. Or she did, once.
At the center of it all, there is a glass coffin in the woods. It rests right on the ground and in it sleeps a boy with horns on his head and ears as pointed as knives. Hazel and Ben were both in love with him as children. The boy has slept there for generations, never waking.
Until one day, he does…

Review:

The darkest Part of the Forest has everything to be a complete success. It has a very unique writing style, an intriguing premise and its a YA stand-alone. Lets be honest…. that is something you don’t see everyday. These days its all series and trilogies. I was so excited about the synopsis of the book and I must say that my expectations were quite high. Holly Martin is called the queen of Fae for something, right? But for me the book missed something and I can’t seem to put my finger on what it is.

“Once, there was a girl who vowed she would save everyone in the world, but forgot herself.” 

The Darkest Part of the Forest is a eerie, dark fairy-tale. And the first few chapters are absolutely wonderful. Full of creepiness and mystery. I was compelled to read on and on. Even forgetting that it was bedtime for me, considering an overenthusiastic child would be waking me in the wee hours of dawn. I just kept on reading, because I wanted more of that creepy, dark goodness. And then everything just fell a little flat for me. The story seemed to deflate and crept on…. It’s like the spell breaks the moment the horned prince wakes up and is ready to cause havoc!

“The only way to end grief was to go through it.” 

Maybe it just me. I seem to be struggling with YA fantasy for quite some time now. Its all so light and fluffy, something I also noticed in The Darkest Part of the Forest.  Dead, tormented bodies were found in the woods, monsters were on the loose and the situation was pretty dire. But it didn’t feel that way. It never got so dark as it was intended to be, if that makes any sense?

“There’s a monster in our wood. She’ll get you if you’re not good. Drag you under leaves and sticks. Punish you for all your tricks. Anest of hair and gnawed bone. You are never, ever coming… home.” 

I absolutely loved the way the Fae were portrayed in this story. They are evil, full of trickery and deceiving. And best of all there are so many kinds of them! There are dwellers of the woods with horns on there head. There is a kind that lives in the water. Some hang tourist to bleed out from trees and dip their hats in the blood they have spilled. I loved everything about them. Not because I have a sick mind and love to see torture and murder going around. But because it was such a refreshing take on fairies. They are dark and cruel. They can’t lie, but they are great in deceiving. And they make bargains with mortals… Bargains that those same mortals will come to regret.

“Well fine, then. I could send you out to win my favor. Possibly on a quest involving bringing a large mug of coffee and a doughnut. Or the wholesale slaughter of all my enemies. I haven’t decided which.” 

Apart from that I was surprised to see that one of the main characters falls in the LGBTQ spectrum and how well it was handled in the story. I absolutely love it when an author incorporates LGBTQ in the story, but without making it  big deal. Holly did that perfectly! The fact that Ben was gay was never question, he just was. But at the same time the fact that Ben is gay is quite an important side story. Really well executed!

I read The Darkest Part of the Forest in preparation of The Cruel Prince. One of my most anticipated releases of 2018. I hear there some reoccurring characters there and I wanted the full experience. But to be completely honest, this book has set a little damper on my excitement. I really hope Holly Black can win me over with the Cruel Prince. Because The Darkest Part of the Forest was quite a let down for me.

What to say… What to say…. The Darkest Part of the Forest is a creepy, dark fairytale. And I am convinced that my fourteen year old self would have absolutely loved it. My 32 year old self however found the book lacking. It just wasn’t cutting it for me. It should have been much darker!