Showing posts with label witches. Show all posts
Showing posts with label witches. Show all posts

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Recommendation: The Bone Witch - Rin Chupeco: Necromancy and Witches

In THE BONE WITCH, Tea gets taken in by a seasoned necromancer after she accidentally resurrects her dead older brother Fox.

What intrigued me: Necromancy! How to sell a book to me in one word.

For both fantasy lovers and skeptics

THE BONE WITCH follows the story of a rookie witch traveling the kingdoms with her mentor and her undead brother, whom you'll grow to love for his deadpan commentaries. 

There's a second POV from a bard who seeks out a bone witch and plans to sing about her life, and those two POVs are drastically different in style. While the former reads almost happy-go-lucky and lets us explore the world in a haunting, yet light manner; the latter feels really heavy. From the rich language to the tone it's spiked with more back story and feels more traditionally fantasy than the other. Especially as a very skeptic high fantasy reader, I thoroughly enjoyed the variation. 

I believe that THE BONE WITCH resides somewhere at the intersection between a light paranormal and an epic high fantasy saga, which is the most evident through those two POVs. 
Chupeco can definitely do both, her writing is so versatile that I'm convinced it will be a delight for both seasoned fantasy readers and beginners. Essentially, the experience you'll have when reading this will range from flipping through the pages happily to just being stunned by sheer magical originality of it all. 


Beauty vs. Horror

What I love most about THE BONE WITCH is how effortlessly it combines beauty with horror. The daeva, terrifying demon beasts that can never be quite destroyed meet adorable happy villagers who wear hearts made of glass around their necks that display their feelings. Every so often Chupeco will present you with the most beautifully painted scenery, spiked with horrifying monsters. Paired with the Asian influences, that's such a winning combination that I am in awe. 

The world of THE BONE WITCH reminds me of an art deco painting, sprinkled with fairy-tale creatures that present themselves twisted and darkly. It reads like Tim Burton meets UPROOTED, which stuns just as much with originality and certainly rises up to my favorite high fantasy reads of all time.


Rating:

★★★★★

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

THE BONE WITCH presents us with a spell-binding, incredibly intricate world that you'll ache to explore. It absolutely caught me off guard, I didn't expect to fall in love with both the masterful writing and the uniqueness of it all. 

A must-read for all high fantasy lovers and definitely a suggestion to readers who like witches and just want to venture into high fantasy.



Additional Info

Published: March 7th 2017
Pages: 400
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Genre: YA / High Fantasy
ISBN: 9781492635826

Synopsis:
"When Tea accidentally resurrects her brother from the dead, she learns she is different from the other witches in her family. Her gift for necromancy means that she’s a bone witch, a title that makes her feared and ostracized by her community. But Tea finds solace and guidance with an older, wiser bone witch, who takes Tea and her brother to another land for training.

In her new home, Tea puts all her energy into becoming an asha — one who can wield elemental magic. But dark forces are approaching quickly, and in the face of danger, Tea will have to overcome her obstacles…and make a powerful choice."(Source: Goodreads)


Have you read books about necromancy?

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Thursday, January 26, 2017

Recommendation: The Women in the Walls - Amy Lukavics: Victorian Mansions and Disappearances

In THE WOMEN IN THE WALLS, Lucy and her cousin Margaret are hearing voices inside the walls of their Victorian home after Lucy's aunt disappears.

What intrigued me: Horror, horror, horror, give me all the creepy YA horror.

Bursting with talent

I've seldom read such effortlessly beautiful writing. There is not a single word too much in this book, Lukavics writes so infuriatingly beautiful that you can't help but be a little jealous of her talent. THE WOMEN IN THE WALLS tells a fascinating yet very simple story without much of a complicated plot that is so, so, so enhanced and livened through the fantastic writing. Lukavics has a very atmospheric writing style that is so essentially eerie. It's incredible how much Lucy's voice sucks you into this story, makes you feel like you're wandering through this creepy Victorian mansion with her.

I started out slightly skeptical because of the setting - it surely isn't anything I haven't seen before, but THE WOMEN IN THE WALLS perfectly illustrates that you can write with the most overdone premise ever and turn it into a masterpiece, if only you put your own spin on it. And that's what Lukavics absolutely does. 

Peak Creepiness

When it comes to horror, I'm a reviewer that you wouldn't want to read your book. I'm hardly scared of anything. You need to be exceptional to scare me and that's absolutely what THE WOMEN IN THE WALLS is. It feels a little like psychological horror, how Lukavics pretty much gives you zero information on whether these voices are real or not and what they exactly are throughout the majority of the story. Until the bombastic finale that's riddled with absolutely unpredictable plot twists, you'll find yourself questioning whether Lucy and Margaret are imagining things or not constantly. It's so well-done that I genuinely grew a little paranoid while reading and I surely loved the way Lukavics wraps it all up. 

A word of caution towards the end: if you're not a fan of open endings, THE WOMEN IN THE WALLS will be very difficult to part with. Personally, I just can't help but keep thinking about Lukavics' characters because the story doesn't quite have an ending. But that's part of the brilliance and what good horror should do in my opinion. It should leave you thinking about the gruesome creepiness for days. Lukavics certainly and effortlessly managed to knock my favorite creepy horror writers from the throne. THE WOMEN IN THE WALLS is absolutely a book you should read if you like everything eerie and Victorian. 


Rating:

★★★★★

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

THE WOMEN IN THE WALLS is exceptional. A masterpiece, really. Written with literary ease and multi-faceted atmospheric writing, this is more than just a recommendation - this is a must-read.

Note: Massive trigger warning for suicide, body horror/gore, emotional abuse, and cutting/self harm if you plan on reading this book.


Additional Info

Published: September 27th 2016
Pages: 278
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Genre: YA / Horror
ISBN: 9780373211944

Synopsis:
"Lucy Acosta's mother died when she was three. Growing up in a Victorian mansion in the middle of the woods with her cold, distant father, she explored the dark hallways of the estate with her cousin, Margaret. They're inseparable—a family.  

When her aunt Penelope, the only mother she's ever known, tragically disappears while walking in the woods surrounding their estate, Lucy finds herself devastated and alone. Margaret has been spending a lot of time in the attic. She claims she can hear her dead mother's voice whispering from the walls. Emotionally shut out by her father, Lucy watches helplessly as her cousin's sanity slowly unravels. But when she begins hearing voices herself, Lucy finds herself confronting an ancient and deadly legacy that has marked the women in her family for generations.
 "(Source: Goodreads)



Have any horror books scared you lately?

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Monday, January 16, 2017

[Review] The Graces (#1) - Laure Eve: Witches, Racism, and Biphobia

In THE GRACES, River is new to town and immediately grows obsessed with the town "celebrity" family Grace, who are said to be witches.

What intrigued me: Witches!

Carbon Copy of TWILIGHT

Many reviewers note that THE GRACES bears a lot of similarities to TWILIGHT. Which - well if you've been here for a while you know that I certainly wouldn't mind that. But it's very much a carbon copy of TWILIGHT, just interchanging vampires with witches. This is exactly the same reading experience, I don't even know what to say about the plot beyond that. 

The Grace family is exactly that brand of pretentious characters that speak in pseudo deep sentences that really makes you feel detached from the narration. None of the characters feel real, rather almost like a parody, because THE GRACES takes itself so, so seriously.
Eve has this poetic quite dreamy writing style that surely showcases her skills but it absolutely doesn't work in combination with that plot.

Beyond that we have our typical Mary Sue protagonist that's not like other girls and so special and different - can we just retire this already? There's nothing wrong with being exactly like all other girls. Girls are awesome.

Racism, Ableism, and Homophobia Galore 

THE GRACES is littered with slurs and insensitivity. So much so that I could basically educate you on what not to use just by using quotes from this book. Because it's just so much I'll use a list format.
I won't use any verbatim quotes here in the following in order not to clutter things up (and also because it's so much that going back and checking page numbers would take a century.)
  • Questionable POC/Asian rep. There is one non-white character in this book, mean girl Niral who engages in frequent homophobic comments and slut shaming. It's absolutely irresponsible to make your single POC (South-East Asian) character a despicable human being. It's even worse to include this in the first place if none of her horrible action are ever addressed and/or correct. This equals condoning her behavior.
  • Biphobia. THE GRACES uses bisexuality as a plot twist. If I tell you which character is bisexual, this would spoil the story. This is not how you represent LGBT* characters. Beyond that it's stigmatized and seen as disgusting and horrifying when the character is forcibly and violently outed. THE GRACES also features a hate crime on the basis of sexuality that is normalized and encouraged. 
  • Queerbaiting? Protagonist River has an obsession with Summer Grace that comes across more like a misguided crush. This book could've been so much more interesting if the romance was between two girls and not about running after a boy who doesn't really seem interested.
  • Homophobia. Mean girl Niral spreads rumors about a side character being a lesbian. I don't know in what world being a lesbian is a negative thing, but THE GRACES makes sure to portray it like that. Earlier on before the bisexual character is outed him being bullied by a boy is described as '[the bullied boy] seemed to enjoy [getting bullied] a little too much'. 
  • Casual racial slurs. You'll find g*psy and many more in this book as casual descriptors that are never addressed. Normalizing slurs is unacceptable. Racism isn't cool or quirky.
  • Casual ableism. The lovely line 'their parents divorce hung over them like lepracy' and calling a boy 'too strong to faint like that' are always quite lovely to read.
  • Straight-forward ableism. There's this lovely dialogue between two characters fairly early on where they talk about a supposedly mentally-ill character and say 'well you can't be friends with someone [...] with mental problems.'
...and this isn't even a complete list. At some point I just grew so emotionally exhausted that I just wanted to get this over with and stopped keeping tabs. Most of the things I mentioned can be found within the first 80 or so pages. 

It's extremely disappointing to not only see a racist homophobic and ableist book like that published, but also to see reviewers and bloggers recommend this happily. I was hurt by this book. And so many other marginalized readers in the future will be.

So yeah. That was THE GRACES. If you plan on reading this, be extremely careful.

Rating:

★☆☆☆

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

THE GRACES shocked me through the frequent insensitivity, homophobia, biphobia, and racial slurs. It's extremely horrifying that all of this ended up in the final version. Marginalized readers, please be very careful. Beyond that it's a typical Mary Sue moves to new town story that has so much in common with TWILIGHT that you can only call it fan fiction.

Trigger warning for: racial slurs, slut shaming, homophobia, biphobia, hate crimes (LGBT)


Additional Info

Published: September 1st 2016
Pages: 415
Publisher: Faber & Faber
Genre: YA / Paranormal / Witches & Wizards
ISBN: 9780571326808

Synopsis:
"Everyone said the Graces were witches.

They moved through the corridors like sleek fish, ripples in their wake. Stares followed their backs and their hair.

They had friends, but they were just distractions. They were waiting for someone different.

All I had to do was show them that person was me.

Like everyone else in her town, River is obsessed with the Graces, attracted by their glamour and apparent ability to weave magic. But are they really what they seem? And are they more dangerous than they let on?"
(Source: Goodreads)



What's your favorite book about witches?

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Monday, August 29, 2016

[Review] Truthwitch (The Witchlands #1) - Susan Dennard: Magic and Persecution

In TRUTHWITCH, Safi has the ability to see truth and lies through magic and is in big trouble when people realize what she can do.

What intrigued me: I've been in the mood for some witches.

Magic for the Sake of It

TRUTHWITCH immediately sucked me in through the marvellous writing. Dennard uses one of my favorite ways to start a story - jumping right into the scene and leaving the reader trying to find out what's going on. I was absolutely infatuated with the idea of these two havoc-wreaking girls who also happen to be witches, but after a few dozen pages quickly realized that there is one thing missing:

TRUTHWITCH heavily relies on it's massive foreign-yet-familiar world that's somehow reminiscent of Funke's spellbinding Inkworld trilogy. But where the Inkworld is cohesive and strucutred, TRUTHWITCH absolutely doesn't explain anything. Dennard chooses to introduce us to its world by simply mentioning words. Bloodwitches, Truthwitches, magic ropes. Everything is magic somehow but beyond the name of said magical object or person we aren't learning anything about the world. It's blatanlty obvious that this world building may be extensive but isn't well-thought out. Especially with the inciting incident: Truthwitch Safi is chased by a Bloodwitch all of a sudden. What's a Bloodwitch? Why is he immortal/invincible? What did they do? Why are they being chased??

This stands representative for the entire experience you'll have reading this. Zero explanations. Zero structure and logic, despite a giant world that you'll want to desperately know more about.

...everything else? Top notch.

At the core, TRUTHWITCH is so very well-written involving the most fantastic friendship between the leading girls Safi and Iseult and I wish, I desperately wish the magic system made sense. I wish the world building wasn't so la-di-da and standoff-ish. I grew so attached to the characters so quickly and I absolutely love Safi's character voice, which makes it all the more difficult and tragic to say that I genuinely didn't like this at all. 

TRUTHWITCH is by no means a book that you should skip because of that; I feel like this is a deeply personal thing - I personally like my magic to be cohesive and to make sense immediateley. The dilemma with TRUTHWITCH is that everything else about this novel is very close to perfection. The characters are great, the writing is top-notch, the world feels absolutely real. 


Rating:

★★☆☆

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

TRUTHWITCH is by no means a bad novel. I guess it comes down to personal preference; I'm a factual person that likes clear-cut descriptions and explanations. If you don't mind that and want a solid High Fantasy read that will suck you into its world, TRUTHWITCH is the right pick for you.



Additional Info

Published: August 22nd
Pages: 512
Publisher: Penhaligon
Genre: YA / High Fantasy
ISBN: 9783764531348

Synopsis:
"In a continent on the edge of war, two witches hold its fate in their hands.

Young witches Safiya and Iseult have a habit of finding trouble. After clashing with a powerful Guildmaster and his ruthless Bloodwitch bodyguard, the friends are forced to flee their home.

Safi must avoid capture at all costs as she's a rare Truthwitch, able to discern truth from lies. Many would kill for her magic, so Safi must keep it hidden - lest she be used in the struggle between empires. And Iseult's true powers are hidden even from herself.

In a chance encounter at Court, Safi meets Prince Merik and makes him a reluctant ally. However, his help may not slow down the Bloodwitch now hot on the girls' heels. All Safi and Iseult want is their freedom, but danger lies ahead. With war coming, treaties breaking and a magical contagion sweeping the land, the friends will have to fight emperors and mercenaries alike. For some will stop at nothing to get their hands on a Truthwitch.(Source: Goodreads)



Have you read TRUTHWITCH?

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Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Recommendation: Labyrinth Lost (Brooklyn Brujas #1) - Zoraida Córdova: Witches, Latinx, and Demons





In LABYRINTH LOST, Alejandra discovers that her witchy powers are stronger than she thought when she accidentally sends her entire family into limbo.

What intrigued me: I can't pass up books about witches, even less books about Latina witches!

Brujas > Witches

LABYRINTH LOST will show you witches in a way you definitely haven't seen them before. 

Córdova skillfully manages to merge Latin American tradition with magic in a way that makes it seem natural and extremely believable. I thoroughly enjoyed how she doesn't shy away from adding lots of diversity, lots of cultural influences, and lots of little nods to Latinx people. The world building is impeccable, I probably won't ever be able to read about witches again without thinking of Córdova's brujas. 

Paranormal Romance AND Fantasy Adventure in One!

Love interest Nova, fellow brujo and troublemaker deluxe grew close to my heart and became my favorite character throughout the novel. To save Alejandra's family, she bribes him into coming with her to magic limbo, or Los Lagos. Their adventures there differ a lot from the first impression I had of this. On the surface, LABYRINTH LOST is a typical paranormal romance novel, but halfway in changes into an epic magical, mythological-feeling fantasy adventure. 

This is difficult to pull off, to change the entire tenor of a novel so far in, but I think Córdova did a fantastic job. Exactly the fact that we have the first half to get to know her family, raises the stakes and personally made me invested. I needed Alejandra to save her family just as much as her, and I sucked up every little bit of information and lore about Los Lagos

I generally feel like the world building is the core and reason why I consider LABYRINTH LOST to be a gem in the genre. All those stories about the Deos/Gods La Mama and El Papa, the little snippets from the Books of Shadow of Alejandra's ancestors - where is Córdova getting all this from? Regardless whether this is based on real lore, it's fresh, it's fun, it's fantastic.

I need to have a separate bonus novella with a collection of all those little spells! LABYRINTH LOST has the potential to be the beginning of a truly epic and memorable series and I am already in pain when I think about how long I'll have to wait for the sequel. 


Rating:

★★

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

LABYRINTH LOST is a fantastically magical book about family, adventure, and first love. I can wholeheartedly recommend this to everyone, especially because of the wonderfully and skillfully interwoven Latin American base frame.


Additional Info

Published: September 6th 2016
Pages: 339
Publisher: Sourcebooks 
Genre: YA / Paranormal / Witches and Wizards 

Synopsis:
"Alex is a bruja, the most powerful witch in a generation…and she hates magic. At her Deathday celebration, Alex performs a spell to rid herself of her power. But it backfires. Her whole family vanishes into thin air, leaving her alone with Nova, a brujo boy she can’t trust. A boy whose intentions are as dark as the strange markings on his skin.

The only way to get her family back is to travel with Nova to Los Lagos, a land in-between, as dark as Limbo and as strange as Wonderland…"(Source: Goodreads)


Can you recommend some witchy books to me?

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