Bully (Fall Away #1) by Penelope Douglas


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“You were my tempest, my thunder cloud, my tree in the downpour. I loved all those things, and I loved you.”

Hi, my name’s Melanie and all I want to read this summer is New Adult Romances. This is my third Penelope Douglas book and, again, I’m so impressed. I loved Bully and it might be my favorite book of hers I’ve read so far.

Before I go any further, I just want to point out again for people who follow my reviews mostly for the Fantasy I read: I rate smutty books differently than other books! I know many of the relationships are toxic and problematic and I completely understand that they wouldn’t be the healthiest and/or most ideal of starts for people in real life, but I love steamy reads and I rate them purely off my enjoyment.

This all being said, trigger warnings for underage drinking and drug use, violence, descriptions of severe child abuse, and attempted rape. Also, I mean, this book is called Bully, and it is a book about a girl falling in love with her bully. There isn’t any major hazing or anything like that, but they both do some pretty mean things to one another. This is also a hate to love romance, but it’s kind of more like a love to hate to love romance, if that makes any sense, but no one writes hate to love as good as Penelope Douglas.

Our main protagonist, Tatum (one of my favorite female names of all time), leaves for France for a year to study abroad. She hasn’t had the easiest life since her mom passed away from cancer. She once had a best friend who helped heal the wounds from the loss of her mother, but one day that greatest ally became her greatest enemy.

Jared, Tatum’s now sworn enemy, lives next door to Tatum, and can’t stand the sight of any boy giving her any attention. When he’s not street racing, he’s making her life a living hell. This story surrounds them finishing their last year of high school, while they both try desperately to hide the feelings they have for one another and replace those feelings with hate.

The only reason I’m not giving this five stars is because I really disliked Tatum’s best friend’s actions. K.C. not only does something she knows will upset her best friend, but she lies about. Then, once she gets caught, she continues to do it. Like, what a terrible representation of friendship (or maybe an accurate representation of high school friendships, let’s be real). And then, to make matters worse, it is all just swept under the rug, forgotten, and everyone is over it. Like, no, you don’t do that to your friend. No matter how bad you’re hurting, you don’t make it better by hurting others.

The other thing is that there is a lot of slut shaming in this book. This is one of Penelope Douglas’ earlier books, and I haven’t noticed this in other things I’ve read by her, but there is a lot of judgement going on in this book when it comes to female promiscuity. Like, it doesn’t matter that these boys are all doing it, but they call out girls for sleeping with different guys a lot and it feels bad. Also, Tatum kind of borders on that “I’m not like other girls” line that is kind of gross, too.

But both of these things are minor enough that it didn’t ruin this book for me. I actually really, really enjoyed it and I find myself wanting to read everything by Penelope Douglas. Her writing is seriously addicting and every one of her stories have been able to completely immerse me and evoke so much emotion from me.

Also, it is important to note that obviously there is a lot of sexual content in this book, but all of the characters participating are 18+. Also, that first sex scene was 10/10. Like, sign me up for that now please.

Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust

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ARC provided by Flatiron Books in exchange for an honest review.

Buddy Read with Destiny

Girls Made of Snow and Glass is a debut novel that is also a very reminiscent loose fairytale mashup retelling of Snow White and Frozen, but with unique twists. It’s a dual narrative that switches between the points of view between two women. One is Lynet, a fifteen-year-old who will one day rule her father’s kingdom, while residing in the northern lands of Whitespring. The other is Mina, Lynet’s stepmother, who is from the southern lands and wants to be viewed for more than her beauty.

This book does have feministic undertones, and I loved every aspect pertaining to those undertones with my whole heart. There really are some great messages in here. Like, that girls are worth so much more than their beauty. That young girls can be whatever they want to be, they do not have to be the mistakes of their parents. That every single living soul is worthy of love. The feminist themes were, hands down, my favorite parts of this novel, and I think these are really important themes that young girls need to be reading about.

“Being delicate had killed her mother, and yet he was so eager to bestow that quality on her.”

I also loved the wintery scenery and atmosphere. I truly felt like I was at Whitespring multiple times in this story, and I give Melissa Bashardoust all the credit in the world for such a magical transportation.

And I really enjoyed the found family elements in this book, too. This book is like a love letter to found families. I wish more books talked about how it’s so much more important to find people who love you unconditionally and will support you no matter what, rather than people who only happen to share the same blood as you.

My biggest problem with this book is that it reads like a middle grade novel. You guys know that I very rarely will pick up a middle grade book, and if I do I have to be in the right mindset for it. The writing in this just took me by surprise, and not in a good way. It was just too slow, too simple, and honestly just too boring. And major catastrophic events got somewhat skimmed over in a very middle grade like fashion.

My next problem with this book was simply that this book just wasn’t as gay as I wanted it to be. I wanted the romance between Lynet and Nadia to be the biggest part of this book, but it wasn’t even a major plot point in this book. And that alone wouldn’t even bother me that much, but Mina’s hetero relationship was for sure at the forefront of this story, and that just feels really bad.

I still recommend this for anyone who enjoys a good fairytale retelling, but just go into it knowing that it’s on the slower side. I also loved the important feminist messages, and I would love to put this in the hands of every preteen girl I know. I also think this would be a good book to curl up with this winter with a big cup of tea, because the snowy, wintery, whimsical magic in this is amazing and perfect for the winter season.

The quote above was taken from an ARC and is subject to change upon publication.

The Obelisk Gate (The Broken Earth #2) by N.K. Jemisin


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1.) The Fifth Season ★★★★★

Buddy Read with Petrik

I finished this book just after it won its Hugo award for the best novel of 2017. This and The Fifth Season are so deserving of the awards and praise they receive. These books leave me wordless, because there is no explaining how much of a meaningful impact these books have on the world, let alone the SFF community. All I can truly say is thank you to N.K. Jemisin for this world, these characters, and these important messages that continue to render me speechless.

I also finished this book the same night that white supremacists rallied at Charlottesville and spread their hate in my country. The country that says we are past racism. The country that is constantly telling us that we are the greatest and most forward-thinking country of all time. The country that’s passing this hatred and violence off as “free speech”.

“But if you stay, no part of this comm gets to decide that any part of this comm is expendable. No voting on who gets to be people.”

Literature does represent our real life. The Broken Earth trilogy makes us feel the things it does because it mimics our world today. It shows us the oppression unapologetically, and this oppression doesn’t just live in this SFF book, it’s in our world right now, even if you’re choosing to keep your eyes closed to it. This series is a masterpiece and I hope you read it, but I also hope you learn from it.

The Obelisk Gate picks up where The Fifth Season left off, where earth’s civilization is beginning to prepare for a new Season. What doesn’t kill them quickly, will starve them to death slowly. This book mostly follows Essun, one of the most powerful Orogene in existence, where she is trying to live in a new community in a rather strange location. She meets up with old friends who are now also a part of this community, but her thoughts never stray from her daughter that has been missing since the start of The Fifth Season. Essun is also met with new problems and dilemmas that are so much bigger than the community she is residing in.

This is one of the most immersive books I’ve ever read. The narrative of this book just forcefully will pull the reader into this broken world, regardless of if they want to or not. You can’t help all the connections you will feel and form subconsciously. You end up with this experience that just feels so real and so emotionally overwhelming. Plus, I read this with so many tears in my eyes constantly, because even though this earth is trying to kill everyone that inhabits it, it is still the humans that are the terrifying villains.

Also, this is the most beautifully crafted diverse cast I’ve ever read in any piece of literature. The representation is just on an entirely differently level. And I believe with my whole heart that every other author out there should aspire to seamlessly create their cast of characters like N.K. Jemisin.

On top of the amazing diversity and representation, as a woman, I really sympathize with the underlying theme of motherhood throughout this series. I do not currently have any children, but I’d one day like to, and this book just emphasizes that there is no word to describe the love a mother feels for her child/children. Like, this book is heartbreakingly beautiful, and this constant reminder of how it feels to lose a child is something I can’t put into words. I think that is every parents’ greatest fear and this book doesn’t shy away from that topic ever. The heart of this novel is oppression, but the soul of this novel is that there is nothing a parent wouldn’t do to protect their child.

“You serve a higher purpose, little one. Not any single man’s desire—not even mine. You were not made for such petty things.”

But this all being said, this book does feel like the second book in a series, and it feels like it’s leading up to what I’m sure will be a perfect ending in The Stone Sky. There wasn’t any filler so to speak, but the events very slowly unraveling to put the pieces in place so that everything makes sense. But please, don’t let that stop you from giving this once in a lifetime series a try. It truly is a masterpiece that deserves all the praise and hype that is bestowed upon it.

And speaking of The Stone Sky, I don’t think my body, heart, or soul is ready for this eventual reunion. Yet, I don’t think anything is going to stop me from devouring this book while I’m 35,000 feet in the air come this Tuesday!

#TheReadingQuest TBR

I never really do readathons, but this one was too amazing for me to possibly even think about passing up! It beautifully mixes the two loves of my life: reading and gaming! This readathon is being hosted by Aentee at Read at Midnight and all of the amazing artwork was created by CW at Read, Think, Ponder!

This readathon, which is basically more of a reading challenge, is called The Reading Quest and it takes place from August 13th to September 10th! Basically, you choose a class and then you use the bingo board to follow the path of the character class you picked!

You get exp based on the books you complete (with additional exp if you read books written by marginalized authors, which I adore). These points cause your character to level up! Everyone starts out with 10 exp, each additional book you complete from the quest board will award you 10 more points (marginalized authors give you 20 points, but graphic novels and manga only give 5 points). If you complete your character’s personal quest you will gain +50 exp, and then +30 exp for any additional character quest lines you pursue and complete after your original quest-line. And your character will level up every 50 exp.

There are also health points that you accumulate while reading! Your character starts out with ten hp, but you will accumulate way more from reading and different Twitter and Instagram challenges. I believe at the end they are just going to tally all the exp and hp points and then choose their winners based off that.

Also, make sure you check out the actual reading challenge’s blog post for more information, to sign up, and just in case I’m getting any of this information wrong. And you MUST sign up through their Masterpost if you are interested in actually winning the prizes. The deadline is Sunday August 13th, 2017. I’m just doing this for fun, but I will probably write up a wrap up and tell you guys how many points I did accumulate throughout this readathon. Also, don’t forget to check out #TheReadingQuest on different social medias!

I personally chose the path of the Mage, because in every single game I play I always end up picking the closest thing to a warlock/necromancer, so why would The Reading Quest be any different? Here is my TBR, while also trying to still participate in ARC August:

A BOOK WITH A ONE WORD TITLE:Bully (Fall Away #1) by Penelope Douglas (This isn’t a magical fantasy book, but it’s maybe a sexual fantasy with sexual powers book and maybe my mage character is a perverted character. Don’t judge me! Okay… I’m a hot mess, but I really want to read this book, and I’m not actually playing to win here, so leave me be!) 33 health points
A BOOK THAT CONTAINS MAGIC:The Stone Sky (The Broken Earth #3) by N.K. Jemisin 41 health points
A BOOK BASED ON MYTHOLOGY:Raven’s Mark: (The Raven Queen’s Harem Part One) by Angel Lawson (This was the hardest challenge of them all for me. This was probably a crazy pick, but it was only 99 cents on Amazon and it had hella good reviews, so I figured why not give it a try!?) 11 health points
A BOOK SET IN A DIFFERENT WORLD:The Dark of the Moon by E.S. Bell (Emma Scott) 54 health points
THE FIRST BOOK OF A SERIES:The Dreadful Tale of Prosper Redding (#1) by Alexandra Bracken 27 health points

Like in every game that I play, I always feel the most enjoyment from completing all of the quests. I’m such a completionist and an achievement lover, so I know I will complete many of the side quests that are also offered in the middle of this bingo sheet:

POTIONS:Paper Princess (The Royals #1) by Erin Watt (Elle Kennedy & Jen Frederick) 37 health points
MULTIPLAYER:Echo After Echo by Amy Rose Capetta (Buddy Reading with Elise ❤) 43 health points
GRIND:Tower of Dawn (Throne of Glass #6) by Sarah J. Maas 67 health points
TIME WARP:Weaver’s Lament (Industrial Magic #2) by Emma Newman 16 health points
OPEN WORLD: – I’m keeping this open to whatever whenever.
RESPAWN:Body of The Crime (Blackest Gold #2) by R. Scarlett (I DNFed this entire series, but this author just keeps proving what a sweetheart she is, and it makes me want to give this series another chance!) 34 health points
EXPANSION:The Eleventh Metal (Mistborn 0.5) by Brandon Sanderson 1 health point, baby!
MINI-GAME:The Black Tides of Heaven (Tensorate #1) by J.Y. Yang 16 health points
ANIMAL COMPAION:Black Bird of the Gallows by Meg Kassel 30 health points

And if I am able to finish my mage path, I could possibly continue on with the knight’s path, but I don’t have too high of hopes with how far I will get, just because I am planning to complete so many of the side quests! But I still planned my TBR around a couple of the things down this path, just in case:

A BOOK WITH A VERB IN ITS TITLE: Warcross (Warcross #1) by Marie Lu (I am sneakily breaking this into TWO verbs) 41 health points
A BOOK WITH A WEAPON ON ITS COVER:Mask of Shadows (Untitled #1) by Linsey Miller 38 health points

I know many of my fantasy choices are loose, but that’s just because I’ve been craving romance all summer! But anyway, I hope many of you will join along with #TheReadingQuest! I love anything that has to do with accumulating points, and I couldn’t resist participating in a reading challenge that celebrates a love for gaming. This is such a unique and creative idea and I can’t wait to get reading! Happy reading, loves!

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The City of Brass (The Daevabad Trilogy #1) by S.A. Chakraborty


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ARC provided by Harper Voyager in exchange for an honest review.

The City of Brass was unlike any Fantasy novel I’ve read before, and I completely adored it. This debut novel is easily one of the best books I’ve read in 2017, and I will sing its praises even after its release on November 14th, 2017. Please guys, don’t sleep on this story, because it has not received the hype it deserves.

This is the first book in an own voices Muslim Fantasy series, that walks the line between Young Adult and Adult, and switches between two very different points of view. One point of view is a girl in her early twenties, who remembers nothing of her childhood, and is living near Cairo, Egypt. Her name is Nahri and she is a street healer by day, and a con-woman and thief by night. Nahri has a natural affinity for healing people, and can magically see what the problem is. Sometimes she can wish it away, other times it is not so easy. Many people realize Nahri’s talents and believe her magic to also work spiritually, which is why she gets hired a lot to cleanse and heal people at Zar Ceremonies, where she leads dances and prayers to be rid of demons/ifrits, which she doesn’t believe in.

Our story truly starts at a Zar Ceremony where Nahri is doing the steps she normally does while really just putting on a show to get paid at the end of the night, except this time she actually does feel something after an old song is sung. After a turn of events, Nahri ends up in a cemetery where she begins to pray and accidentally summons a djinn daeva warrior.

And Dara isn’t just any daeva warrior. He is the best warrior to have ever lived, and he has a very tormented past, because, let’s be real, what brooding male protagonist doesn’t? Dara soon realizes that Nahri isn’t completely human, and that ifrits will soon be after both of them. He then tells her about a city that is hidden behind brass walls, that will completely keep them safe from said ifrits.

We get to see our second point of view, which is from a young djinn prince named Ali, who lives in the magical hidden city of Daevabad. In Daevabad Ali’s brother, Muntadhir, is the promised king, even though their father, Ghassan, currently rules, and Ali is training to become what his brother needs him to be once he takes the throne. I loved Ali’s selflessness and his unconditional love for his family, because in this world, Ali will never marry or have children, but will be groomed to serve and protect Muntadhir with his life. Ali is completely okay with what is promised of his life, and he completely dedicates his life to God. Yet, with devoting his life to God, he starts to see the unfair treatment among the citizens.

People in this world can use magic, including humans, even though there are different ways, kinds, and extremes. This is a historical novel set in our time in the early 1800s, which barely touches upon the Ottoman Empire. Yet, we do get to briefly see how some of the Turkish people treated the Egyptians, and we even get to see some French Soldiers. I’m getting off topic, but basically what I’m trying to say is that even though this is for sure a fantasy novel, it ties in with our real world, and this makes humans a key part of this story.

Beings of Earth – Humans.
Beings of Water – Marid (water elementals).
Beings of Air – Peri, Rukh, Shedu (all flying creatures).
Beings of Fire – Daevas, Djinns, Ifrit.

With all these beings, come different powers and abilities. I loved this fantastical element and it truly made this story feel so whimsical. Also, Dijnns and daevas are the same, but “daeva” is an ancient term that means fire elementals, and after a war was over, everyone started calling themselves the human word for “daeva” which is “djinn”. But many people hold on to their daeva roots, since they have very different roles in Daevabad. Also, there are six tribes. But our dear Nahri though, is something completely different, very rare, and very sought after.

But ultimately this is a story about oppression, and what it means to believe that your blood is more pure than someone else. The mixed bloods in this world, shafits, are treated horribly and without a second thought. They are killed for crimes they didn’t commit, just to make the pure bloods feel safer. They aren’t allowed even close to the same luxuries pure bloods are, but they aren’t even allowed significant food or any medical treatment. Their children are stolen and sold away, most the time time as working slaves or pleasure slaves. This story can feel so very real at times and, in my opinion, S.A. Chakraborty writes this systemic oppression beautifully to mirror our world today.

“It’s not just a word […] That slur has been used to demonize our tribe for centuries. It’s what people spit when they rip off our women’s veils and beat our men. It’s what the authorities charge us with whenever they want to raid our homes and seize our property.”

Yeah, this is a pretty powerful book for many reasons. The only negative thing I can really say about it is that I felt somewhat like I was being queerbaited. Like, I was very unsure of Ali’s sexuality, because a few of his observations made me feel like he wasn’t straight by any means. I thought this was going to be addressed, but it just lead to a very anticlimactic and saddening death of a very minor side character, who had the promise for so much more. And then, once I got to the epilogue I was surprised to see something else that I would also borderline call queerbaiting, but hopefully she will address that in the next book in this series. Plus, maybe it’s just me reading things through my queer-tinted-glasses, and maybe you guys won’t pick up on it, but I personally feel like it is there and it’s the only negative thing about this book.

Besides that, this is such a beautiful Middle Eastern story, that ties in so much of the culture’s folklore in an absolutely beautiful and seamless way. I completely recommend with my whole heart. I loved it and I couldn’t put it down. And the cover? Goosebumps.

This is the diverse fantasy novel I’ve been searching for. The fantasy world needs more diverse stories like this, and the world needs to see the diverse stories can be easily consumed and loved and, most importantly, worth buying. Everyone in this story is beautifully brown, we get to see some of these characters interact in mosques, we get to see our main character wearing a headscarf. I mean, I don’t think I’ve ever read a fantasy novel with these minor elements that are real life for so many readers. And this story is so amazing and so very beautifully written, too. I cannot wait to get my hands on The Kingdom of Copper in 2018!

I loved The City of Brass and it is one of the best author debuts I’ve ever read in my entire life. But I will say, the ending of this book ripped my heart out three times, so be prepared for that. This story was amazing, the characters are beyond words, the prose is exceptional, and the messages and representation are so very important. This book is heartfelt and powerful. Please give this a try come November 14th, 2017.

Trigger Warnings for graphic violence, human trafficking, rape, slavery, and war.

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The quote above was taken from an ARC and is subject to change upon publication.

Vein Of Love (Blackest Gold, #1) by R. Scarlett

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“Demons don’t love, they destroy.”

Okay, so this the new hot book on Instagram right now. I’m seeing it everywhere, and I couldn’t resist picking it up for myself. I will also say that this is a debut novel that was originally written on Wattpad, also this author seems like an angel on Instagram, so I give her all the credit in the world. I also expect that the other books in this series get a lot better. Unfortunately, Vein of Love just didn’t work for me.

This book stars a young 19 year old girl, Molly, who is the victim of a 300 year old contract that was set up by her ancestors. The contract promises Molly, who was born with ancient daemon (unlike demon) powers beyond her control, to marry a demon of a very prestigious demon house. She is also promised to give him an heir eventually, but he has to have sex with her, AKA mate her, so no other demon can pursue Molly, since she is a very rare commodity that would make any demon mate even more powerful. Her parents knew about this deal and this eventual engagement, and tried to keep her as safe as possible on each birthday, but Molly’s time has finally come for her to face the fate that was forced upon her.

“Never trust a demon, Molly. Number one rule.”

Tensely, the demon who is promised to Molly, is taking this contract only a little better than Molly. They both had lives before this forced arrangement, and Tensely is more willing to do what his family expects of him, but he is still apprehensive. Also, he never forces himself on Molly, and I really appreciated that, since this book has a big theme of “marking” her via sex, and he could have forcefully done it at any time and made his life much easier.

In this world, demons look weak if they show any emotion. If a demon falls in love with someone, they will grow a fully formed heart, which proves to the other demons how weak they truly are. Tensely is constantly trying to keep his feelings and emotions in check, because not only does he not want to look weak, but he is tormented by something that happened in his family not too long ago. Since then, his family has been the butt-end of many jokes, and Tensely wants only to see his house grow into the most powerful demon house of them all.

Molly, unsure of her new fiancé, is looking everywhere for help. Her family kind of just randomly leaves her, but her best friend is there and is more than willing to help. She also seeks outside forces, that brings a whole new demonhunter element to this story.

My problem with this story is that it just feels so juvenile. Maybe I would have devoured and loved this in my teenage years, before I experienced all the amazing PNR that I know the world has to offer, but in comparison Vein of Love just falls so very short.

Also, this book is constantly back and forth. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good angsty romance, but these two were so back and forth it was absurd! And I get that Tensely is unsure of what he wants to do with his feelings, but his actions were all over the place. Then, Molly also couldn’t decide what she wanted for the life of her, and she started putting herself in the dumbest and most terrifying situations. Like, girl, I can only blame you being only 19 for so long before I have to start making you take responsibility for your own stupid actions.

Also, trigger warnings for attempted rape, lots of talk/threats of rape, sexual abuse, physical abuse, and just violence in general. This book never felt that dark to me, but this is a story about a forced marriage, while a demon will gain an immense amount of power if he takes her virginity.

The rest of this review is going to have minor spoilers about a few of the sexual scenes, or lack thereof, in this book! If you would like to go into this story completely blind, please do not read the rest of this review!

Okay, that’s another thing; this book puts virginity on a pedestal. Not only is Molly completely inexperienced, but her virginal self is still a pro at giving a blow job for her first time. I can’t remember if there is any slut shaming in this book, but I know that Molly is very proud of being a virgin, even though she acts like a cat in heat anytime that Tensely is around.

Yet, even with all of these sexy themes and promises, there isn’t any sex in this book. Like, there is a few steamy scenes, but no actual intercourse. Which is fine, I’m not saying there is anything wrong with that. But with the way everyone once was making this seem, I would have guessed this was a hella erotic story, and it really wasn’t.

But for as much as Molly and Tensely’s back and forth upset me, I absolutely loved the side characters, Illya and September. Like, give me their book, please? I loved how they were both selfless and both unapologetically loved and supported their friends. Like, they were such a shining light in this book. I loved every scene involving these two. If I continue on with this series, it is 100% because of Illya and September.

So a lot of friends talk about this book ending in a cliffhanger, but I don’t really feel like it does. I mean, there is a million more questions that need to be answered, but I didn’t think there was an actual cliffhanger. Like, I’m still totally intrigued to read Body of The Crime, but that’s just because I think this author is so sweet and I really want to give her books more of a try, plus I want to love this series as much as so many of my friends do, but a cliffhanger ending? Did I get a different copy of this book?

And the plot is intriguing enough! I mean, for those of you who regularly follow my reviews, you will all know my guilty pleasure that is the Indebted Series, and this is pretty much that but with demons. I mean, sign me up for that concept.

Overall, this story just didn’t work for me, no matter how high of hopes I have to its successors. The story was just too all over the place, and the characters couldn’t stay happy for more than one page at a time, repeatedly, over and over. But maybe if you think the concept sounds unique and sexy enough, you should give it a try.

Blackwing (Ravens’ Mark #1) by Ed McDonald

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ARC provided by Ace Books in exchange for an honest review.

“Some men are born to charm ladies and spread their irresponsible seed across the land. Some exist to create the great works of art that inspire dreams and drive creativity for generations. Others are born to till the fields, put bread on the table, and raise their sons to till the fields, put bread on the table, raise sons of their own. I was born to end lives.”

2017 appears to just be the year for amazing debut fantasy novels, and Blackwing by Ed McDonald was no exception. This book is already released in Europe, but doesn’t drop for us Americans until October 3rd, but you definitely want to put this on your pre-order list if you’re a fantasy fan.

Blackwing is a super unique novel that isn’t afraid to talk about dark themes. I never felt like Blackwing was too much, but you should probably know going in that many people do consider this grimdark. Also, trigger warnings for suicide, war themes, and graphic violence. But, again, I don’t think it’s anything too brutal, and I never felt overwhelmed by any of the dark themes.

“I’m Blackwing Captain Ryhalt Galharrow. I’m here to beat the living shit out of you until you tell me what I need to know.”

This is a post apocalyptic story following a bounty hunter, Ryhalt Galharrow, AKA: Blackwing, who is constantly running away from his past. He also has a very magical arrangement with a Nameless, which aren’t Gods, but they are pretty close to it. This arrangement is also constantly haunting him, because he never knows when he will be called upon for a quest.

Well, that’s how this story truly gets started, and Blackwing receives a quest that not only seems impossible, but also forces him to look his past straight in the face. Blackwing is quickly tangled up into a a much bigger mission where the fate of human existence depends on him helping solve a problem that seems unsolvable.

Basically, the humans live in fear of the Dhojaran forces and the Darlings, who were once human and now turned into magical beings by the Deep Kings. All of these forces live in the Misery alongside ghosts and other magical, yet terrifying, beings.

“The blasts that had created that stalemate had left their scars deep in the earth. Nobody and nothing moved out there in the poisoned lands of the Misery”

There are now outposts where soldiers are constantly on the lookout for the Deep Kings and their armies. Many years ago, the Deep Kings tried to take over the rest of human existence, but a magical weapon unleashed a fury like no other, and now its presence keeps the humans feeling safe and the Deep Kings feeling weary to try another attack. That is, until there is talk circulating that the weapon may not be in function anymore.

In this world, some humans are Spinners, who are like sorcerers and able to make Phos from the powers of the three moons, which help them produce magic. Talents are a lesser type of sorcerer, who are still able to produce Phos, but for Spinners and others to use. And the magic that the Spinners and Talents use is always at a cost. Many go mad, and are killed or tucked away in asylums. Talents are also treated terribly and forced to work at mills, where they are just harvested for their Pho production.

This book constantly talks about and touches on the three moons in their sky:

Rioque – Red
Clada – Blue
Eala – Gold

These moons also play a huge part in this book, because of the Spinners and Talents that are drawing power from them, but I predict these moons will play an even bigger part in this world and story in later installments.

I touched upon this earlier, but there are six Nameless who could possibly help Blackwing against the Dhojaran forces, and they were pretty much my favorite part of this story:

Crowfoot – Has the pact with Blackwing.
Nall – Vanished. Also, made the powerful weapon that keeps the Deep Kings at bay.
Cold – Presumed dead.
Songlope – Presumed dead.
Shallowgrave – Vanished and is a complete mystery.
The Lady of Waves – Never seems to leave the island of Pyre. But, like, I am so in love with the mystery about this Nameless. I’d love to read an entire book just about her and what is going on on her island.

I loved the mystery behind all the Nameless, and I cannot wait to read more books in this series just to find out all of their secrets. It is also pretty apparent that they are going to play a much bigger role in this series, and I’m completely ready to learn any and everything about them. Also, give me all the information on Saravor, the Fixer, because I’m already obsessed with his entire situation.

This story is action packed and moves so very fast that the book feels impossible to put down. Like I said above, the world is so unique and has such a Mad Max feels to it. I completely adored it all, and the characters are just as amazing, too.

“The great mistake of man is to believe that other men can live up to the ideals that we set them.”

Plus, the prose of this novel, especially in juxtaposition of this cruel world, is absolutely beautiful. I was so impressed with the writing in this, and I couldn’t believe all the quotes I had tabbed once I finished. Not only is this a fast paced thrilling story, but it’s written absolutely lyrically.

And this book is so funny. It’s hard to make me actually laugh in a book, but this book actually made my sides hurt at times. The banter is just the perfect combination of witty and humorous, that is very reminiscent of Sebastien de Castell’s Greatcoats, especially during many of the fighting scenes. And if you’ve been following my reviews for a while now you will know that comparing anything to Sebastien de Castell means that I love it completely.

This book also excelled in female representation. The two strongest fighters on the good side of this war are both women. Woman are soldiers, Princes, and godlike deities in this world. They are all strong, brave, and rather fearless if I do say so myself. The female representation in Blackwing is amazingly portrayed.

And Ed McDonald even gives us a little sexual representation, because there is also a gay side character that I instantly fell completely in love with. It was said, known, and accepted that he was gay without question or contestation. And the entire society that is built in this book feels very gender neutral and I was completely living for it.

Also, the main female character has severe scarring all over her body, and I was living for the body positive representation that Ed McDonald wrote. Like, he did what Colleen Hoover in November 9 could not, and he did it seamlessly and completely beautifully. And seeing things like that in Fantasy? Rare and beautiful and I completely applaud this debut author for incorporating all of these amazing and important themes.

Seriously, Blackwing has it all, and I’m still in somewhat disbelief that this is Ed McDonald’s debut novel. I also expect nothing but great things for everything else he has in store for us surround this world. The plot is unique, the world building is incredible, the characters are fantastic, the representation is important, and the writing is nothing short of gorgeous. Blackwing is a must read in 2017 for Fantasy lovers, and I promise you won’t be disappointed.

“Back behind where my heart should have been, I harboured a fury hotter than any pile of burning literature could ever produce, a rage born of fear and pain and longing. I needed to see a head roll across the floor, and I needed it to be his.”

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The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.

Buddy Read with Michael from Bitten by a Radioactive Book