Books, Reviews, YA Fiction

Black Bird Of The Gallows by Meg Kassel |a rich fantasy unfortunately marred by a trope-y romance

33509076

3 stars

A simple but forgotten truth: Where harbingers of death appear, the morgues will soon be full.

Angie Dovage can tell there’s more to Reece Fernandez than just the tall, brooding athlete who has her classmates swooning, but she can’t imagine his presence signals a tragedy that will devastate her small town. When something supernatural tries to attack her, Angie is thrown into a battle between good and evil she never saw coming. Right in the center of it is Reece—and he’s not human.

What’s more, she knows something most don’t. That the secrets her town holds could kill them all. But that’s only half as dangerous as falling in love with a harbinger of death.

The natural response to the premise of Black Bird Of The Gallows would be to roll your eyes and mutter a half-hearted ‘pass’ because you’re too tired of the same paranormal romance plots being reused over and over again. However, looking at the praise this book was garnering so far ignited some hope in me, and while I didn’t hold candlelight vigils praying for this book not to be a Twilight repeat (looking back, I probably should have done that), I did let my expectations get high enough to be excited for this book. Well, fellow readers, I have been conned into a state of cOnFLict (the mix of upper case and lower case letters shows the stress this book has put on me). Once again.

I am conflicted over my feelings for BBOTG, but it’s easy to admit that discerning what I liked and what I did not like was a less painful process with this book. I loved the dark and moody atmosphere of Cadence, Pennsylvania (the setting of this book) and yes, small and somewhat mysterious towns are one of my fantasy weaknesses, and Kassel executed the vibe of them perfectly in this book. The world-building was also very original, I’m not used to harbingers of death the way I am used to vampires, werewolves, or fallen angels, but the mythology and history behind the harbingers and the beekeepers was completely new but well-done. I almost wish there was a sequel (fantasy standalones are quite rare) because the storytelling feels unfinished considering the amount of potential the world-building contains.

But, alas, I would only read that sequel if it was telling the story of a different set of characters. Angie Dovage is actually a very formidable heroine, she’s got a rough history and a complicated character due to it, and she’s also smart and admirably independent. Her best friends, Deno and Lacey, are a tad unnecessary until the very end, when they become considerably more significant and useful. Reece Fernandez is a goddamn bore to me, his chiseled jaw and sculpted abs aren’t as emphasized in this PNR, but regardless of the heavy descriptions and dialogue about his tortured soul, I really couldn’t attach an interesting personality to it.

It was my mistake not reciting a couple of mantras before preparing myself for the romance to hit, because man, was it painful. Practically instalove, and I was really holding out hope for something different because I heard such great things about this book. It’s clear Reece and Angie had an inherent attraction to one another but from the beginning, but the way they acted upon it and how quickly they got together felt wholly unnatural and forced. Their relationship has such a vague foundation, and while there are details later clarifying that foundation, it wasn’t enough to make their current romance believable. It’s upsetting, because the whole book is based on their relationship, and I just can’t put my faith in it.

This is just me, but I’m sure I would have been more content with BBOTG if there was a sequel to be released. With the introduction of certain characters, the intricacy of the world-building, and the amount of questions raised, there’s just too much unfinished work left to end it after one book. What about Rafette’s backstory? Hank’s backstory? What about Angie’s mom? All these questions are answered so quickly and swiftly like??  I think fantasy standalones just make me uncomfortable. They’re so unheard of.

In certain aspects, Black Bird Of The Gallows exceeds many standard PNR novels. The main character is actually competent and the world-building is existent. However, in other aspects, it simply sinks into the elements that make PNR so recognizable yet annoying, such as the ever present high school tropes and the unbelievable romance. I would recommend this to anyone who naturally loved the PNR genre, but don’t expect to find anything particularly special in the romance department.

Advertisements
Books, Reviews, YA Fiction

Frostblood, by Elly Blake | Shadow And Bone meets Frozen

27827203

3 stars

The frost king will burn.

Seventeen-year-old Ruby is a Fireblood who has concealed her powers of heat and flame from the cruel Frostblood ruling class her entire life. But when her mother is killed trying to protect her, and rebel Frostbloods demand her help to overthrow their bloodthirsty king, she agrees to come out of hiding, desperate to have her revenge.

Despite her unpredictable abilities, Ruby trains with the rebels and the infuriating—yet irresistible—Arcus, who seems to think of her as nothing more than a weapon. But before they can take action, Ruby is captured and forced to compete in the king’s tournaments that pit Fireblood prisoners against Frostblood champions. Now she has only one chance to destroy the maniacal ruler who has taken everything from her—and from the icy young man she has come to love.

I was reluctant to go into Frostblood because of the overflowing negative reviews, before realizing that it was rated such a way because of its repetitive plot, repetitive character writing, and other aspects of nearly every YA fantasy we have seen before. And yeah, I agree. However, much to my chagrin, I ended up liking it anyway due to my everlasting love for the Avatar universe (water, earth, fire, aiiiir) and its general engaging, entertaining nature. Plus, arena battles. You can never go wrong with arena battles.

When it comes to the world-building and plot, many readers have been comparing Frostblood to Red Queen and Red Rising, comparisons that I totally understand even if I’ve never read those two. I would consider Frostblood to be similar to Shadow and Bone, but its world-building and writing isn’t nearly as developed as the Grishaverse. Of course, I will always choose the Grishaverse over anything but I don’t know anything about the Frostblood world, besides a few stories about their mythology and their powers. Yes, there is background information sprinkled here and there, but it never comes full-circle to form a big picture. A map would have really, really, helped (seriously, can we make maps mandatory in all fantasy novels?). It’s a good thing I enjoy frost and fire powers (you can thank my Avatar obsession for that), because that’s the only thing that kept me afloat throughout the book, plot and world-building wise.

Concerning the characters, I would say Ruby, Arcus, and the Frost King (I forgot his name, dammit) are direct parallels to Alina, Mal, and the Darkling from the Shadow And Bone trilogy. Ruby has a fiery, passionate, and mischievous personality but I simply couldn’t come to love her, because she reminded me too much of Alina Starkov, who I adore infinitely more. However, she was enough to keep the book engaging and played a significant role in engaging me. Unfortunately, her boy toy (s) aren’t as great. Arcus is another carbon copy of every brooding, mysterious male love interest and the Frost King is a poor-man’s version of the Darkling. He’s so forgettable, I can’t even remember his name!

Obviously, these three form a very uninteresting love triangle but this doesn’t entirely come to light until the second half of the book. Ruby’s primary love interest is Arcus, and while I enjoyed their chemistry and relationship, I felt as though it progressed too quickly and predictably. It didn’t particularly bring anything new to the romance department, but I am looking to see it grow throughout the rest of the books. If I even decide to read the rest.

Judging by commentary, one would assume I hated this book. So why the 3 star rating? Well, arena battles are my shit. Ruby fighting the various warriors and creatures with her powers and weapons was so cool and entertaining. I’m already hella biased toward elemental powers so I enjoyed the action scenes. The story’s overall entertaining and addictive nature kept me going, but other than that, there isn’t much that is special about this book. However, I still might continue with the series with the hope that it will define itself by branching out on its own more.

-Haven

Books, Reviews, YA Fiction

The Library Of Fates, by Aditi Khorana | a beautiful concept, an underwhelming execution

32766747

1.75 stars (I’m aware that this is probably the most ridiculous rating I’ve ever given)

No one is entirely certain what brings the Emperor Sikander to Shalingar. Until now, the idyllic kingdom has been immune to his many violent conquests. To keep the visit friendly, Princess Amrita has offered herself as his bride, sacrificing everything—family, her childhood love, and her freedom—to save her people. But her offer isn’t enough.

The palace is soon under siege, and Amrita finds herself a fugitive, utterly alone but for an oracle named Thala, who was kept by Sikander as a slave and managed to escape amid the chaos. With nothing and no one else to turn to, Amrita and Thala are forced to rely on each other. But while Amrita feels responsible for her kingdom and sets out to warn her people, the newly free Thala has no such ties. She encourages Amrita to go on a quest to find the fabled Library of All Things, where it is possible for each of them to reverse their fates. To go back to before Sikander took everything from them.

Stripped of all that she loves, caught between her rosy past and an unknown future, will Amrita be able to restore what was lost, or does another life—and another love—await?

I had been scarily intent on getting my hands on The Library Of Fates ever since my eyes brushed over the striking cover, and while there are an increasing number of books coming out on Indian folklore, it’s still pretty rare to see one and I wasn’t going to miss The Library Of Fates for the world. But, I suppose I should have turned to The Star-Touched Queen to get my South Asian fill because this book managed to disappoint me in number of ways. A much too convenient progression of events and flat character writing contributed the most to my disappointment, but to see all this potential go to waste is the saddest of all.

The world-building is fairly okay, as I do have a feel for the two main kingdoms the story is set in, the small yet free Shalinger, and the grand but conservative Macedon. Unfortunately, I have no idea what the rest of this world looks like which is why it should be mandatory for every fantasy novel to include a map. I did enjoy the descriptions of the atmosphere, it felt South Indian as hell and I’m South Indian as hell, so it was damn cool to see my culture (in varations) on the page. It kind of made me want to watch one of those Hindi period dramas that have been trending recently, you know, the ones that Ranveer Singh and Deepika Padukone have been in? I swear those two are all I see these days in Hindi cinema, not that I’m complaining. I probably should have watched the Padmavati trailer a few times before attempting to visualize the beauty and richness of the Indian culture expressed in this book, but I felt it nonetheless.

The story is also ridden with mythological and folk tales naturally, which I appreciated as well. These stories aren’t real of course but the elements they contained felt very familiar, but sadly, the familiarity of the novel’s culture and atmosphere was the only thing keeping me afloat throughout the course of this book. The story and plot itself were highly convenient and calculated to the point in which I had predicted the whole ‘twist’ beforehand. Things came much too easily to Amrita, making the story completely devoid of any tension or excitement. The writing seemed incredibly juvenile, especially when it came to the more intense scenes, in which the prose failed to inject any sort of liveliness. I really like the concept behind the story and what message it is supposed to tell, but it never really came full circle to me because of the utter blandness, and worse, the lack of complexity, behind the plot and characters.

Typically, by this point if I think the plot is crappy and the writing is crappy, I can rely on the characters to pull me through the novel with mild interest, and books like these are mostly rated 3 stars if I’m in a good mood, maybe even a 3.25 (there’s a big difference between the two for me, don’t judge). Obviously, the characters did not come through. Amrita is blander than … the blandest thing you could think of. First off, I could not find any reason to root for her because her personality was incredibly lacking in complexity. I despise characters that are inherently good-natured and two-dimensional in such a way. Another aspect that has probably contributed to this was the fact that everything came so easily for her. Her whole journey is so calculated and unsurprising, I never got to experience Amrita actually growing and facing her challenges, and the times where she is mildly challenged, the writing never came through to show (show, not tell) the emotion behind her changing character.

Thala actually seems to be a more complex character, but due to faults in the crafting of her backstory and general lack of insight into it, she was lost on me as well. The side characters, namely Amrita’s love interests, Arjun and Varun, were even less complex, which obviously made the romance aspect incredibly dull. Perhaps my biggest disappointment involving the characters is the total lack of dynamic and energy between Thala and Amrita. While I did like how they ended up forging a deep friendship, I definitely wanted more entertainment from them both. It didn’t have to be comedic, they didn’t have to make out (but god knows I was secretly wishing for this), they just had to create a unique energy between them both that kept me excited and entertained.

For those who enjoy younger-sounding fantasies and are looking for some South Asian-based stories, this will be a perfect fit for you. Sadly, The Library Of Fates wasn’t for me but I am happy that Indian mythology is gaining more attention in the YA world.

-Haven

Books, Reviews, YA Fiction

Snow Like Ashes, by Sara Raasch | a fast-paced fantasy adventure with a kickass protagonist

17399160

4 stars

A heartbroken girl. A fierce warrior. A hero in the making.

Sixteen years ago the Kingdom of Winter was conquered and its citizens enslaved, leaving them without magic or a monarch. Now, the Winterians’ only hope for freedom is the eight survivors who managed to escape, and who have been waiting for the opportunity to steal back Winter’s magic and rebuild the kingdom ever since.

Orphaned as an infant during Winter’s defeat, Meira has lived her whole life as a refugee, raised by the Winterians’ general, Sir. Training to be a warrior—and desperately in love with her best friend, and future king, Mather — she would do anything to help her kingdom rise to power again.

So when scouts discover the location of the ancient locket that can restore Winter’s magic, Meira decides to go after it herself. Finally, she’s scaling towers, fighting enemy soldiers, just as she’s always dreamed she would. But the mission doesn’t go as planned, and Meira soon finds herself thrust into a world of evil magic and dangerous politics – and ultimately comes to realize that her destiny is not, never has been, her own.

I had quite lukewarm feelings toward Snow Like Ashes, which I did not expect at all considering the amount of praise for this book seen on Goodreads. The ratings for Snow Like Ashes seemed to be so calm and non-polarized, and while my experience with it didn’t start off so great, my feelings greatly improved throughout the course of the story. There is a sense of calm and collectedness instilled in the progression, but it still makes a striking impact.

Unfortunately, fantasy worlds do tend to follow a formula, there isn’t a multitude of ideas that can be utilized to create something totally different, but I appreciate the fact that Snow Like Ashes maintained a more unique atmosphere even if its plot was a tad repetitive. This world is split up into 8 kingdoms, 4 season and 4 rhythm kingdoms. They each have their own histories with each other, and the book does take some time to outline that. The writing was a tad difficult to swallow because of all the info-dumps in the beginning, which I could have done without, thank you very much. Interestingly, while there is so much seriousness and darkness in the basic story, I got a very relaxed, calm and collected vibe from the ease in progression. Nothing felt rushed or directionless, some plot points took some time to sink in and other maintained their unpredictability throughout. It might seem a little blase and too quiet for some, but I thought its atmosphere only added to the overall impact.

Meira is so badass, dear lord. For once, a fantasy heroine is more focused on the revival of her kingdom, the politics surrounding it, and how she can contribute in a major way toward Winter’s comeback instead of just sticking to being a pawn that wears pretty dresses and eat fancy food all day. I might be calling out a few specific heroines on this one, but I miss the times where female fantasy characters didn’t sit their asses down on plush couches, wear long, glittery ballgowns, and dignify us with extensive passages on their makeup and hair and dressing when getting ready for a royal ball. It seems as though all these fantasy novels take place in palaces and castles, and all the political engagement we get from the main character is how her involvement in the inevitable love triangle is a problem. While Meira does experience the #royallyfe for a bit after getting into a political alliance with the Rhythm season Cordell, her strength and loyalty toward her kingdom, her relentless fight to discover her role in Winter’s revival, and her determination to stay true to herself throughout make her not only a badass female character but a relatable one. She was this book’s biggest asset and biggest victory, I loved her narration and can only hope she doesn’t turn into a wuss in the sequel.

I will never understand why Raasch decided to add in a damn love triangle, but I have to commend her for not putting that much emphasis on it. I think we have entered a new era of YA fantasy in which the political sides of each world is finally payed attention, but it doesn’t mean the romances stay in their lanes and not take over the plot. Theron and Mather are both interesting and layered characters (even if they get on my nerves a whole lot), but it’s clear their involvement with Meira isn’t supposed to be entirely developed in this book, which is why the triangle itself has a minimized page time. Meira, being the badass that she is, doesn’t really give a fuck about her ‘feelings’ for the boys, and by this, I mean she has the good sense to not describe their bodies in full detail and not angst about both of them constantly. She’s the ultimate gift, honestly.

Snow Like Ashes doesn’t do much different from other YA fantasies, but if you want an engaging, fast-paced, adventurous read, with an actually competent leading lady, this book is definitely for you. I’d recommend it to everyone, honestly.

-Haven

Books, Reviews, YA Fiction

Royal Bastards, by Andrew Shvarts | an engaging enough fantasy with an excess of wasted potential

25752041Being a bastard blows. Tilla would know. Her father, Lord Kent of the Western Province, loved her as a child, but cast her aside as soon as he had trueborn children.

At sixteen, Tilla spends her days exploring long-forgotten tunnels beneath the castle with her stablehand half brother, Jax, and her nights drinking with the servants, passing out on Jax’s floor while her castle bedroom collects dust. Tilla secretly longs to sit by her father’s side, resplendent in a sparkling gown, enjoying feasts with the rest of the family. Instead, she sits with the other bastards, like Miles of House Hampstedt, an awkward scholar who’s been in love with Tilla since they were children.

Then, at a feast honoring the visiting princess Lyriana, the royal shocks everyone by choosing to sit at the Bastards’ Table. Before she knows it, Tilla is leading the sheltered princess on a late-night escapade. Along with Jax, Miles, and fellow bastard Zell, a Zitochi warrior from the north, they stumble upon a crime they were never meant to witness.

Rebellion is brewing in the west, and a brutal coup leaves Lyriana’s uncle, the Royal Archmagus, dead—with Lyriana next on the list. The group flees for their lives, relentlessly pursued by murderous mercenaries; their own parents have put a price on their heads to prevent the king and his powerful Royal Mages from discovering their treachery.

The bastards band together, realizing they alone have the power to prevent a civil war that will tear their kingdom apart—if they can warn the king in time. And if they can survive the journey . . 

2 3/4 stars

Royal Bastards was one of my most anticipated reads of 2017, and while I don’t check out new releases almost immediately, I had to make an exception for this one. I loved how mature, chaotic, and fun the synopsis sounded and was pretty sure it was going to be a wild ride. It was a wild ride indeed, but nearly not as interesting as I thought it would be. The writing is very middle grade esque (besides the numerous cuss words thrown around), the world building a tad uninspiring, and the character development — fast. However, I do think it was engaging enough for me to be interested in the second installment, but it could have done so much better if it went a completely different direction.

The writing and pacing of the novel were, to say the least, incredibly unexpected. The prose itself is actually quite simple and modern, something you wouldn’t expect from a medieval fantasy novel, but at the same time there is profuse cussing between the characters. More formal writing is usually up my alley, and I was taken aback with the style, but I did get used to it as the story progressed. I can’t say I loved it, but as someone who is akin to sophisticated prose (think the His Fair Assassin series) in fantasies, the prose in Royal Bastards was strange but also entertaining and very relatable. I am disappointed with the overall maturity level, though. I liked the cussing, and I wanted a more destructive, dark, and at least a little psychological story. The Bastards sounded so fun yet complex in the summary, and I suppose I was expecting the vibe of the book to be darkly comic but still serious. It went a completely separate way, but I guess that’s what I deserve for expecting something so precise anyway.

The characters were equally complex but not complex enough. I understood the basic outlines of their conflicts and personalities, but the motives for their actions were simply not explained enough. They are entertaining, but not as complicated as they should be. Weirdly enough, I expected the most from the characters in this novel because it’s not everyday we read a story through the eyes of royal rejects. I wanted to see their psyche and their conflict concerning their want for belonging yet dislike for the society they’ve been barred from. Tilla does show this, she wants to be loved by her father even if she pretends she doesn’t care, but this complexity was stated so simply and bluntly. I liked Jax and Lyriana, even if they reminded me too closely of other fantasy characters, and Zell was intriguing. On the other hand, I would like to clock Miles in the face.

It seems all negative right now, but there are a few positives. The narration and dialogue were hilarious and relatable. The Bastards are actually somewhat representative of teens nowadays if they were stuck in a fantasy novel. The action and fight scenes were entertaining and there were surprises everywhere, ones that I didn’t see coming. I think I would have liked it so much more if everything was a little bit more bloodier, darker, and Tarantino-esque (I want everything to be Tarantino-esque, don’t ask why), but it was engaging for the most part.

I would recommend Royal Bastards to anyone in search of something different from the usual fantasies imposing on YA right now (I’m looking right at you, Sarah J. Mass). But, if you’re in for a more mature, complicate read, skip this one.

-Haven

Books, Reviews, YA Fiction

Hunted, by Megan Spooner | a slow but very unique Beauty and the Beast retelling

24485589

3.25 stars

Beauty knows the Beast’s forest in her bones—and in her blood. Though she grew up with the city’s highest aristocrats, far from her father’s old lodge, she knows that the forest holds secrets and that her father is the only hunter who’s ever come close to discovering them.

So when her father loses his fortune and moves Yeva and her sisters back to the outskirts of town, Yeva is secretly relieved. Out in the wilderness, there’s no pressure to make idle chatter with vapid baronessas…or to submit to marrying a wealthy gentleman. But Yeva’s father’s misfortune may have cost him his mind, and when he goes missing in the woods, Yeva sets her sights on one prey: the creature he’d been obsessively tracking just before his disappearance.

Deaf to her sisters’ protests, Yeva hunts this strange Beast back into his own territory—a cursed valley, a ruined castle, and a world of creatures that Yeva’s only heard about in fairy tales. A world that can bring her ruin or salvation. Who will survive: the Beauty, or the Beast?

Hunted is a refreshing change from the typical fairy tale retellings, specifically Beauty And The Beast retellings, which tend to focus more on the romance. Hunted, on the other hand, is more intent on exploring Yeva’s character and how she connects with the Beast as a human, instead of their combined romantic tension. It’s also largely descriptive and prose-lead, and contains a much darker vibe than the original Beauty And The Beast. It actually differs a lot from the original but in a really necessary way and it does manage to contain the most important elements. Unfortunately, while this book does a number of things wonderfully, its style was just not for me, hence the 3.25 rating. I’m simply not the type of reader that enjoys a slow plot and a gentle build, but I can appreciate all the things Hunted did well.

One of the many elements that separates Hunted from the original/other retellings, is its addition of Russian folklore and culture. The story is set in medieval Russia, and there are are multiple stories traded throughout the book which definitely further that magical vibe that is already there. The snowy setting was largely emphasized as well as Yeva’s skills as a hunter, with descriptions of her frequent excursions into the chilly and dangerous yet peaceful woods. The prose was beautiful, I loved the dark, mysterious, and guarded feel of the story but the vulnerable moments were wonderfully written too.

I’m not the type of reader that enjoys reading slower, more description-based stories, which is exactly what Hunted is. The story can be draggy and dull at times, bogged down by the immense description and lack of enough dialogue to match it. The story’s progression felt very tentative to me, and I had a difficult time investing myself into the mystery behind the Beast and how Yeva fits into it. While there are many intriguing elements added as the plot moves on, I can’t quite say what caused my ‘meh’ feeling for the plot, it just wasn’t my type of story. Which sucks, because it has so much going for it.

The characters though, I was definitely invested in. Yeva came as such a surprise. She’s badass, spirited, and strong but also compassionate and vulnerable. Her love for nature and the woods, as well as her yearning for magic were so expertly expressed, specifically her wanting for something beyond. It’s definitely reminiscent of the original Belle from Beauty and the Beast, but Yeva’s wanting is more entwined with the mystical elements of the story and the nature of her character itself. Contrary to the lone Belle, Yeva actually has two sisters, Lena and Asenka, with who she shares a huge bond. All three sisters are so loving and understanding toward one another while remaining utterly realistic. It’s a refreshing change from the warring and jealous siblings we usually see in fairy tales. B&B’s Gaston is also there in the form of Solmir, who is actually supportive and loving toward Yeva and her sisters instead of being villainous and arrogant like in the original.

Interestingly, the only character I couldn’t come to invest in was the Beast himself. This book did something different by showing the Beast’s perspective too, but it wasn’t enough to make me connect to him. The only time I felt something for the Beast deeply was when Yeva tries to kill him, which was a beautifully written scene altogether.

The ‘romance’ between Yeva and the Beast was very minimal, as it wasn’t the romantic part of their relationship that was emphasized the most. I loved the way Spooner showed how Yeva and the Beast were inevitably bound together, through their mutual love for nature and their yearning for something beyond their reach. I do like how they were never viewed or intended to be romantically involved, but that it was their connection and trust that brought them back to each other. Unfortunately, I still thought the development behind their relationship was a tad rushed and simply ‘not enough’ even if I see the idea behind it. I wanted Yeva to stay with the Beast longer and further explore his psyche, instead of jumping to conclusions and finding out she is right about his past immediately.

Hunted contains many elements that readers will love, but it simply wasn’t my type of book. I’m not that big a fan of fairy-tale retellings anyway, which might explain my indifference toward it to an extent. I do have a strong appreciation for it though, and would definitely recommend to those who like slow plots, descriptive writing, and a more mature vibe from a retelling.

-Haven

Books, Original Post, YA Fiction

Waiting On Wednesday #3 | Leigh Bardugo’s ‘The Language Of Thorns’

Waiting on Wednesday is a meme created by Breaking the Spine where each week we discuss upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.

Hey guys! This week’s ‘Waiting On Wednesday’ book is The Language Of Thorns: Midnight Tales And Dangerous Magic by Leigh Bardugo! (YEEEEEEEEEE)

34076952

Release Date: September 29, 2017

Love speaks in flowers. Truth requires thorns.

Travel to a world of dark bargains struck by moonlight, of haunted towns and hungry woods, of talking beasts and gingerbread golems, where a young mermaid’s voice can summon deadly storms and where a river might do a lovestruck boy’s bidding but only for a terrible price.

Inspired by myth, fairy tale, and folklore, #1 New York Times–bestselling author Leigh Bardugo has crafted a deliciously atmospheric collection of short stories filled with betrayals, revenge, sacrifice, and love.

Perfect for new readers and dedicated fans, these tales will transport you to lands both familiar and strange—to a fully realized world of dangerous magic that millions have visited through the novels of the Grishaverse.

This collection of six stories includes three brand-new tales, all of them lavishly illustrated with art that changes with each turn of the page, culminating in six stunning full-spread illustrations as rich in detail as the stories themselves.

I’m so hyped for this, y’all don’t even know. The Grishaverse is probably my favorite fictional universe ever and I was not prepared to let it go when the Shadow And Bone trilogy and the Six Of Crows duology ended. So ready for the slayage.

What are your guys’ anticipated releases? Let me know in the comments 🙂

-Haven