What an ambitious debut! A parasitic Institute, the gothic landscape of a dystopic future, humans with machines for body parts, and another parasite on the verge of destroying life as Verdira and Inultus know it.
I initially picked this up because I loved the comp. title, Wuthering Heights. Unfortunately, nothing about Leech, apart from living in isolation, found its way into this novel. Sure, there are gothic elements galore, and some parallels to Frankenstein, but if you're looking for a deeply flawed yet realistic romance, this isn't the book you're looking for.
I loved the prose. Ennes has a knack for imagery and setting. My main criticism is that there was too much going on. In isolation, many of the elements would have worked well, but lumping them together and stitching them into a whole at the tail end of the novel didn't really work. I also felt let down by the ending, but perhaps it was meant as a cliffhanger.
Though it wasn't perfect, I'd recommend this to fans of ambitious sci-fi with a gothic slant.
*Thank you to Tor for the advanced copy.*
The Book Eaters is a fantastic fantasy debut and my favorite read this year. It tackles themes such as tradition, motherhood, trauma, and found family while staying grounded and whimsical. I loved the contemporary yet quirky background of the Families, and I adored Devon and Cai.
The six Families are backward, conservative, and traditional. Everything they do is for the greater good of the book eater line. However, when Devon's son is born with a proboscis tongue, she knows they'll never let him live. He is a mind eater and must be taken care of.
The novel weaves the past with the present in a way that solidifies the horrors of the Families and the traditions they uphold. I recommend this to anyone who appreciates a grounded fantasy, family dynamics, and novels that upend and question tradition.
*I received a copy in exchange for an honest review.*
A New Calling is a phenomenal paranormal debut. The main character, Alyssa, is frequently difficult to sympathize with but feels real and raw in a way that complements the subject matter. Though she’s often dislikable, her actions and feelings toward the world around her are realistic given her age and past experiences.
I also appreciated how the paranormal aspects were sprinkled into the story instead of taking center stage. As the first novel in a series, I enjoyed the character-driven plot and world-building. By the end, there were plenty of questions left unanswered, providing the perfect transition into the second book.
Breker’s prose reeled me in and left me wanting more.
If you enjoy adult paranormal fiction, I recommend giving this a shot. It doesn’t hurt if you, like the author, also enjoyed the Twilight series growing up. If A New Calling had been published when I was in high school, it would have ticked all the boxes.
Potential triggers: sexual assault, self-harm, and suicidal tendencies
Flowers for the Sea reminded me of the Binti series in many ways. The prose had a similar tone, the protagonist was "chosen", and each tale took place on a ship.
Though I enjoyed this short book, it felt like an introduction and left me wanting more. I also would have preferred a longer book, to flesh out the characters and world a bit more. Nevertheless, it was a decent debut and I intend to read future books in the series.
*I received a free copy in exchange for an honest review.*
The Fallen in Soura Heights is a phenomenal thriller debut. Fey is a great protagonist and Soura Heights is the perfect backdrop for a murder mystery. From the first page, I was hooked. It didn't hurt that the characters were compelling and the descriptions of the landscape and town were easy to visualize. Though the "twist" was an easy call, I appreciated the way everything played out. Amanda Jaeger is a writer to watch out for.
I recommend picking up this quick read if you enjoy a good thriller/mystery.
*I received a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.*
Awakening: Book One of the Berserker Chronicles centers around Leif, a Berserker who must go on a quest to save the nine realms of Yggorasil. After reading the blurb, I was intrigued. I don't read many books about Norse mythology, so I was excited to dive into something I didn't know much about.
- Miller's world-building is great. I could visualize the scenery and other realms without much effort, and I enjoyed how the descriptions weren't overwhelming.
- Backstory and myth are offered through dialogue, research, and dreams. Instead of falling prey to the dreaded info dump, Miller offers the reader vital information in an organic manner.
- The character/monster descriptions are written well.
- The fight scenes were too long. I would have preferred if they were either shorter or happened less frequently.
- The use of pronouns is minimal. The protagonist's name (Leif) is used multiple times per paragraph, hindering the flow of the passage.
- Many of the scenes could have been condensed. Though the structure of each scene was strong, some of the fat needed to be trimmed.
Overall, I believe Miller did a decent job with this novel. Sure, there were areas that needed revision or could have used trimming, but a good story lies beneath those fixable things. Leif was a fun character to follow, and the world-building was on point; I just hoped for something more polished.
The Scarring of the Roshanra by Kara SB Brown is a phenomenal fantasy debut. Though the writing and story is great, I would like to preface this review with a trigger warning; the book deals with rape, torture, and PTSD and might prove too much for some readers with traumas of their own.
The story follows Kala, Daniel, and James — three linked individuals with gritty pasts. Much of the novel focuses on their “scarring,” hence the title of the book. The fantasy elements are executed well and I look forward to seeing more of the worlds in the books that follow.
The characters are at the forefront of the book, and there’s nothing I love more than a character-driven plot. The world-building is also effective without being overwhelming; you’re given enough detail to paint an image but there’s still a great deal of mystery to evoke intrigue and suspense.
If you enjoy character-driven plots, fantasy, or adventure novels, I recommend picking this one up.