Book Review: Insurgent by Veronica Roth

Title: Insurgent (Divergent #2)
Author: Veronica Roth
Genre: Dystopia, Sci-Fi, Post Apocalypse
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication Date: May 2012
Pages: 525
Rating: 5 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
One choice can transform you—or it can destroy you. But every choice has consequences, and as unrest surges in the factions all around her, Tris Prior must continue trying to save those she loves—and herself—while grappling with haunting questions of grief and forgiveness, identity and loyalty, politics and love.

Tris’s initiation day should have been marked by celebration and victory with her chosen faction; instead, the day ended with unspeakable horrors. War now looms as conflict between the factions and their ideologies grows. And in times of war, sides must be chosen, secrets will emerge, and choices will become even more irrevocable—and even more powerful. Transformed by her own decisions but also by haunting grief and guilt, radical new discoveries, and shifting relationships, Tris must fully embrace her Divergence, even if she does not know what she may lose by doing so.

New York Times bestselling author Veronica Roth’s much-anticipated second book of the dystopian Divergent series is another intoxicating thrill ride of a story, rich with hallmark twists, heartbreaks, romance, and powerful insights about human nature.

My Review:

“No matter how long you train someone to be brave, you never know if they are or not until something real happens.” 

This book picks up immediately after the action packed ending of Divergent. I loved where it stated – right in the thick of things. And to keep those who read the first in the series a year ago when it was first released, Veronica Roth was kind enough to put a fantastic summary on her website. Tris is suffering from an incredible amount of guilt – both from her actions and over her parents. After arriving at the Amity compound with Four, Caleb, Marcus and Peter, she needs to make a decision. What to do next? The whole faction system is in tatters and with the Eurdite leader hunting down the Divergents, Tris has to do all that she can to survive at the risk of her relationships and her life.

I get so nervous reading the second in a series when I adored the first installment. They often seem to suffer from something I like to call “Sucky Second Syndrome”. But this is not the case with Insurgent. This book is just as intense and brilliant as the first. The characters have grown throughout the series so far. Tris has come a long way from the Abnegation community she was born into. She’s Dauntless by choice but during this novel you can see that she’s so much more than that. She embraces her Divergent nature to try to survive the war as best she can.

For me, one of the highlights of this novel is the relationship between Tris and Tobias. They are the perfect example of a couple who don’t need big romantic gestures to show that they love  each other. I also loved how the author showed their relationship in terms of trust – how essential it is to have on both sides. Some of the best dialogue in the novel was interchanges between these two.

“We’re all right, you know,’ he says quietly. ‘You and me. Okay?’ My chest aches, and I nod. ‘Nothing else is all right.’ His whisper tickles my cheek. ‘But we are.” 

See? Despite the world crumbling down around them they still manage to be all romantic and sweet but at the same time being entirely appropriate for the circumstances.

As far as action goes – this book has plenty. We get to see all the other factions that we missed in the first book as well as some of the side characters that only got brief mentions. I thought everything was so well thought out. There’s nothing from the first novel that’s forgotten or skipped over – people who died are remembered and those who survived aren’t without their own issues.

There are a lot of scenes concerning gunfire, running from enemies and trying to work out just who is the enemy and who is on the side of right. Some scenes did drag a little in terms of the fighting and I was tempted to gloss over a few of them. But they all added to the atmosphere of war and a world in tatters.

I loved this book. I loved the world that Veronica has created and the characters that she lets inhabit it. There are a few surprises in this one and some revelations that may be a little hard to fully grasp. I needed to give the ending a few reads and I’m still not entirely sure what’s happening – I think that’s half the enjoyment right there. I can now spend the next year speculating and coming up with my own theories – all of which will be proved to be entirely incorrect. 😛

The third book in the Divergent series is as of yet still untitled although  do love the name of Detergent that I saw Ms. Roth using on her blog. This series has been a pleasure to read so far. I can not recommend it highly enough. I bought copies of the first two novels for both my brother and my sister for their birthdays next month. The sibling seal of approval is as high as it gets for me.

Purchase the novel from: 

Amazon / Book Depository 


Book Review: Kiss of Frost by Jennifer Estep

Title: Kiss of Frost (Mythos Academy #2) 
Author: Jennifer Estep
Genre: Paranormal Romance, Contemporary, Mythology
Publisher: KTeen (an imprint of Kensington Publishing Corp.)
Publication Date: November 2011
Pages: 354
Rating: 4.5 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
I’m Gwen Frost, a second-year warrior-in-training at Mythos Acad­emy, and I have no idea how I’m going to sur­vive the rest of the semes­ter. One day, I’m get­ting schooled in sword­play by the guy who broke my heart—the drop-dead gor­geous Logan who slays me every time. Then, an invis­i­ble archer in the Library of Antiq­ui­ties decides to use me for tar­get prac­tice. And now, I find out that some­one at the acad­emy is really a Reaper bad guy who wants me dead. I’m afraid if I don’t learn how to live by the sword—with Logan’s help—I just might die by the sword…

My Review:

Gwen Frost is back – a few weeks after the incident in the library – and she’s ready to take her place as Nike’s Champion. She’s getting a handle on her psychometric ability, training at combat with three of Mythos’ greatest Spartans and she’s even keeping her jealousy of Logan Quinn’s new relationship under control. Or at least mostly under control.

In this second installment of the Mythos Academy series, Gwen has a Reaper out to get her – retribution for Jasmine. Daphne – Gwen’s new BFF – convinces Gwen to go on the school trip to the Winter Carnival. Anyone who’s anyone goes to the prestigious carnival along with students from New York’s Mythos branch. Gwen can’t manage too much enthusiasm about the change of scenery. She hasn’t spent her winters skiing and then there’s Logan Quinn flaunting his relationship with his glamorous Amazon in her face. Oh – and there’s still someone out to kill her. Will Gwen manage to get to the bottom of whoever is trying to end her before it’s too late?

I really enjoyed this story for a number of reasons. The friendship between Gwen and Daphne is one of this series’ strongest points. The comic book obsessed Gypsy Girl and the pretty-in-pink princess could not be more mismatched but they work perfectly. And as all good heroines know, a computer geek no matter what form they are in, are a girl’s best friend. Carson and Daphne’s blossoming romance is equally adorable. I love their besotted and cute interactions and whilst being completely into each other they try really hard not to let Gwen feel too much like a third wheel.

And then there’s Logan Quinn. Even his name is sexy. I’m a huge fan. He is the bad boy every girls wishes she had. The amount of sex appeal that boy has? I’m not ashamed to say that I’d let him sign my mattress… if he were a little bit older.

The chemistry between Gwen and Logan was my favourite part of the novel. They’re so intense. I think it’s a testament to the author’s skill that she can write scenes that are positively steamy when the two characters involved don’t even touch. And then when they do… my goodness! They have become one of my favourite literary couples to read.

The only reason I’m giving this four and a half of a five is I couldn’t believe how clueless Gwen could be. She’s an intelligent and street smart kind of girl who knows how to handle herself most of the time but I couldn’t believe she couldn’t work out certain key plot points before they sort of fell upon her. She could have avoided a lot of trouble but then one of my favourite scenes may never have occurred… I’m not quite sure how to feel.

I can’t wait for the next book – Dark Frost. This is one of the few times when I’m glad I have come to a series late because this means that I only have a few weeks to wait before I get to emerge myself in Mythos Academy again.

Purchase the novel from:

Amazon / Book Depository 


Book Review: Touch of Frost by Jennifer Estep

Title: Touch of Frost (Mythos Academy #1) 
Author: Jennifer Estep
Genre: Paranormal Romance, Contemporary, Mythology
Publisher: KTeen (an imprint of Kensington Publishing Corp.)
Publication Date: July 2011
Pages: 350
Rating: 5 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
My name is Gwen Frost, and I go to Mythos Academy — a school of myths, magic and warrior whiz kids, where even the lowliest geek knows how to chop off somebody’s head with a sword and Logan Quinn, the hottest Spartan guy in school, also happens to be the deadliest.

But lately, things have been weird, even for Mythos. First, mean girl Jasmine Ashton was murdered in the Library of Antiquities. Then, someone stole the Bowl of Tears, a magical artifact that can be used to bring about the second Chaos War. You know, death, destruction and lots of other bad, bad things. Freaky stuff like this goes on all the time at Mythos, but I’m determined to find out who killed Jasmine and why—especially since I should have been the one who died. . .

My Review:

I think I was sold on this book when I read this line from the author’s website. “Basically, I’m pitching the book as Veronica Mars meets the movie 300. I’m also using this tagline — Magic. Myth. Monsters. Mean girls.

It’s true, I only watched 300 for Gerald Butler’s abs but I am one of the world’s biggest Veronica Mars fans. She is one of my all time favourite characters – from film, TV and books – she is just everything that I wanted to be when I was a teen but lacked the confidence and mad detective skills to ever become.

Gwen Frost might not be quite as kick-ass as Veronica Mars but she is snarky and in her own way endearing.

I was hooked from the start. Gwen Frost, aka. The Gypsy Girl, confronting one of the schools’ Mean Girls in a bathroom over a stolen bracelet. It turns out that Gwen has the gift of psychometrics – the ability to see the complete history of an object and strong feelings a person has had when touching the object. I’m not sure I’d see it so much as a gift per-say but I love that Gwen has turned it into a lucrative business opportunity.

And then from there things just got even better. We find out that Gwen has been enrolled in Mythos Academy six months ago after her mother died in a car accident. This is no ordinary school. The students who attend this prestigious school are the descendants of mythological warriors – Spartans, Vikings, Amazons and other incredible ancient races that many, including Gwen, only ever really thought of as made up story characters. When the most popular girl in school is found murdered in the library and an incredibly powerful artefact is stolen, Gwen wants answers.

I completely fell in love with this story. It’s quick and fun and interesting and is a mix-mash of so many things that I love. Quirky somewhat snarky heroine. Magical boarding school. Mythological creatures. Adorable and loveable grandmother. And a gorgeous strong and deadly leading male love interest – who in this particular book is in the form of Spartan Logan Quinn.

I adored the characters – from Gwen to Daphne to Logan and Nicodemus. The characters made this book the engaging and enjoyable read that I found it to be. The plot was brilliant. I think Veronica Mars herself would have had trouble solving this one and whilst Gwen isn’t quite up to Veronica’s standard, she’s got that same intelligent streak that overcomes the obvious until she finds out the truth.

For me this has been one of those reads where I am so glad I have a kindle and as soon as I finished I could instantly get the next book in the series with just a click of the mouse.

For anyone that likes a feisty heroine and a modern twist on mythological stories then I could not recommend this book highly enough. This has been one of my favourites of this year so far.

Purchase the novel from:

Amazon / Book Depository 


It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? #3

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is a weekly meme hosted by Book Journey. This is a great way to plan out your reading week and see what others are currently reading as well… you never know where that next “must read” book will come from!

What I Read Last Week?

This week was BUSY! Assignments for school are piling up and I just needed a break. Not much reading got done. But I did get to visit my niece – she’s five weeks old now and is incredible adorable. She loves to wiggle around when you’re holding her but thankfully I didn’t drop her. I’m not sure my brother, her father, would have been too happy with me if I did. But he did say babies bounce… I’m not so sure I believe him 😛

What I did read last week?

The Summoning by Kelley Armstrong
Touch of Frost by Jennifer Estep
Kiss of Frost by Jennifer Estep
The Dead Girls’ Dance by Rachel Caine

I only managed to write reviews for two of them… but the two Jennifer Estep books will have reviews up early this week. All four books I read this week are paranormal books.

What I Plan to Read This Week:

I have started reading Insurgent. I’m nearly done with it too – only around 20% left – and will probably finish it tonight just before bed. This is a great series! Really enjoying it.

I still need to finish reading Immortal City by Scott Speer. I left it in the car the other day when I had to take the car to get serviced and then have been without it since Wednesday! But don’t worry – car was returned with my copy of Immortal City save and sound.

This week I also plan to be reading Cinder by Marissa Meyer. I was fortunate to win a copy from Emlyn Chand as a part of the Fairy Tale giveaway hop. It looks fantastic!

My Morganville Monday will continue with the third book in the series, Midnight Alley. 

 

And some other book related news this week? I bought my mother a kindle for mother’s day. She’s thrilled. She’s wanted one for ages. She’s already started reading her first book on it and loves that I bought a case with a light in it so she can read in bed without disturbing my father. Now I just need some more books to suggest she reads… if only she liked paranormal books. Then I’d have wealth of suggestions 😛

Morganville Monday!: The Dead Girls’ Dance by Rachel Caine

After discussing this series with a friend the other day, I realized that I stopped after the first two (because that’s all that had been released at that stage). I want to get back into this series that many people I know rave about! So I’ve decided to read one Morganville Vampire book a week for the next twelve weeks! Morganville Mondays I shall call the days when I post my reviews!

Welcome to the second Morganville Monday – this week focusing on the second book of the series, The Dead Girls’ Dance

Book Review:

Title: The Dead Girls’ Dance (Morganville Vampires #2)
Author: Rachel Caine
Genre: Paranormal Romance, Contemporary, Vampires
Publisher: Penguin
Publication Date: January 2011 (first published 2007)
Pages: 380
Rating: 4 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
Claire has her share of challenges. Like being a genius in a school that favours beauty over brains; homicidal girls in her dorm, and finding out that her college town is overrun with the living dead. On the up side, she has a new boyfriend with a vampire-hunting dad. But when a local fraternity throws the Dead Girls’ Dance, hell is really going to break loose.

My Review:

After the intense cliffhanger in Glass Houses, I was thrilled that I had a copy of this book. I was almost running for the bookshelves to find out exactly what was going to happen next. This book surprised me in a lot of ways.

This book picks up directly where Glass Houses leaves us – the inhabitants of the Glass House are trying to deal with the fall out concening the little black books, the awful mayor’s daughter setting fire to Claire’s bedroom and the arrival of Shane’s dad motorcycle gang… the gang who have dedicated their lives to ridding the world of nasty vampires – starting with Michael Glass.

I was shocked with the events of this book. So much happened that I didn’t expect. And unlike a lot of books that surprise me – the events that blind sighted me made perfect sense with regards to the other happenings in the novel. They weren’t just thrown in to confuse the reader but rather you can see that they’re setting the rest of the series up to be one crazy but thrilling ride.

Claire is really starting to grow on me. She still is a little too impulsive but this time I felt she had more rationale behind her ill-thought out actions. The romance that’s blossoming between Claire and Shane is very sweet. I enjoy reading their interactions. Michael and Eve are brilliant too. I like them as a couple. The big surprise was how much I am starting to enjoy the vampire characters. The Light verses the Dark. But there is room for many shades of grey. This series has a lot more depth behind it than some others that I have read and I’m enjoying being drawn into the Morganville world.

I still find myself completely baffled by the evilness that is Monica. What a bitch! Like I said in my review for Glass Houses, I do enjoy that within this town that is ruled by the evil vampires, the person I find most vile and revolting is the human girl. She just… I think what I find so repugnant about her is that I can forgive the vampires for their violence and crimes against human nature because they’re not human and along with the change into the supernatural they lose their morals and whatnot. But Monica – she’s got not excuse. And she manages to poison all the people she has power over. The boys at the dance… I have to admit I got a bit blood thirsty for a minute when reading their part… maybe there’s a bit of Monica in myself… I hope not!

There were some great new characters introduced in this book – Sam and the two “Switzerland” detective. All three amused me and I can’t wait to read about them some more.

I liked this book more than the first in the series. Book three – Here I come!

Purchase the novel from:

Amazon / Book Depository 


Book Review: The Summoning by Kelley Armstrong

Title: The Summoning (Darkest Powers Trilogy #1)
Author: Kelley Armstrong
Genre: Paranormal Romance, Contemporary, 
Publisher: HarperCollins
Publication Date: July 2008
Pages: 390
Rating: 3.5 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
Chloe Saunders sees dead people. Yes, like in the films. The problem is, in real life saying you see ghosts gets you a one-way ticket to the psych ward. And at 15, all Chloe wants to do is fit in at school and maybe get a boy to notice her. But when a particularly violent ghost haunts her, she gets noticed for all the wrong reasons. Her seemingly crazed behaviour earns her a trip to Lyle House, a centre for disturbed teens.

At first Chloe is determined to keep her head down. But then her room mate disappears after confessing she has a poltergeist, and some of the other patients also seem to be manifesting paranormal behaviour. Could that be a coincidence? Or is Lyle House not quite what it seems…? Chloe realizes that if she doesn’t uncover the truth, she could be destined for a lifetime in a psychiatric hospital. Or could her fate be even worse…? Can she trust her fellow students, and does she dare reveal her dark secret?

My Review:

I love the concept of this novel. I’ve been a fan of Kelley Armstrong’s Women of the Otherworld series for a long time now and I have wondered what happens to the children when they don’t have someone incredible to introduce them into the magical and supernatural world. Those questions were answered in The Summoning. 

Chloe Saunders isn’t like other fifteen-year olds. Her mother died when she was younger and her dad is an absentee parent. Her housekeepers and aunt raised her. Oh – and she sees ghosts. After an incident in school, which resulted in Chloe accidentally assaulting a teacher, Chloe gets sent to Lyle House – an institution for troubled teens. Chloe tries to keep her head down and tell the doctor and other staff what they want to hear – that ghosts don’t exist and they were just a result of Chloe having schizophrenia. But after some strange happenings at Lyle House, Chloe isn’t too sure that ghosts don’t exist. There’s a ghost in the basement and her room-mate is plagued with a poltergeist. Add in a boy who claims to be a sorcerer and a couple of other slightly odd characters and Chloe starts to question if Lyle House is really all it appears to be…

I know I said it before but I want to say it again. I loved the concept of this story. The only problem was I found it a little lacking in execution. The cast of characters were interesting and I thought it brilliant the way they all came together. Kid who did odd things or claimed to see the unnatural – it makes perfect sense that they would be segregated from “normal” kids and placed in a psychiatric facility. The nurses served their roles well but I felt like even after reading the novel I barely knew them.

Chloe was a little bland for my liking – she only truly started to appeal to me as a character in the last fifty pages or so. I am looking forward to reading the next book in this series as I did really start to care about what happened to her but for the most part she was a little irritating. What I did like about Chloe was her interest in film and the way that when life got a little too difficult or scary, she’d imagine how she’d have her actors play the scene if it was a scene she was directing. I found that an adorable way of having the heroine face her fears and put herself into situations she didn’t want to be in and at the same time retain her timid persona.

There were times when I felt like this book dragged on a little. The middle part of this novel felt like it took forever. All the events in this book occur within a two-week time frame but it felt like a lot longer as every day and the routine of each day in Lyle House was mentioned. I do wonder if that was a way of trying to involve the reader and to try to show what things were like for Chloe and the other misfits but I got a little bored. Had I not been stuck on a train with no other reading material – I probably would have given up on this book and that would have been a shame.

The ending was fantastic. Whilst for the first part of the novel I really couldn’t care less if I kept reading or not, the ending had me hooked. I was devastated when it ended. I will definitely be reading the next book in this series.

Purchase the novel from:

Amazon / Book Depository 


Books Are Not Just For Reading….

I love searching the internet and seeing just what crazy and exciting things people come up with. Here are a few of the cool book-related things I’ve found this week:

This is gorgeous. I know I wouldn’t have the patience or talent to create it but I think it’s beautiful.

Books as plant a boxes?

Books as paintings?

Books as tiny self-contained dioramas?

Books as a staircase…

Anyone seen anything lately where a book is more than just for reading? 🙂

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? #2

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is a weekly meme hosted by Book Journey. This is a great way to plan out your reading week and see what others are currently reading as well… you never know where that next “must read” book will come from!

What I Read Last Week?

I read a lot again last week. I love how I can read a whole book in one day- they are between 200-300 pages. The perfect number 😀

Shooting Stars by Allison Rushby
Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta
A Season of Transformation by Jayne Fordham
Blood Song by Rhiannon Hart
Glass Houses by Rachel Caine

The first four of those are all by Australian Authors. I had two 5 stars reads (one of which I knew I’d have because I loved it years ago and another one which was a bit of a pleasant surprise).

What I Plan to Read This Week:

I definitely plan on reading Insurgent this week (or possibly next week. In the near future for sure!). I’m really excited because I loved the first in the series and a little nervous that this one won’t stack up. But hopeful!

I bought three YA Paranormal books this week. – Blue Bloods; The Summoning; Marked. They were on special and I couldn’t help myself. So I expect to get around to reading them VERY soon.

I also started reading Immortal City! I love angels and reality TV so I have rather big expectations.

There’s so much paranormal on my blog I think I need to mix it up with some more contemporary reviews. Expect to read and review The List by Siobhan Vivian this week.

 

I don’t expect to read all six of these books. But I like this weekly meme because it gives me some order to my massive to-read list. This way I can sort of maintain it.

Morganville Monday!: Glass Houses by Rachel Caine

After discussing this series with a friend the other day, I realized that I stopped after the first two (because that’s all that had been released at that stage). I want to get back into this series that many people I know rave about! So I’ve decided to read one Morganville Vampire book a week for the next twelve weeks! Morganville Mondays I shall call the days when I post my reviews!

Welcome to the first Morganville Monday – starting with the first book in the series, Glass Houses.

Book Review:

Title: Glass Houses (Morganville Vampires #1)
Author: Rachel Caine
Genre: Paranormal Romance, Contemporary, Vampires
Publisher: Penguin
Publication Date: January 2011 (first published 2006)
Pages: 372
Rating: 3.5 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
It’s a small college town filled with quirky characters. But when the sun goes down, the bad comes out. Because in Morganville, there is an evil that lurks in the darkest shadows—one that will spill out into the bright light of day.

Claire Danvers has had enough of her nightmarish dorm situation. The popular girls never let her forget just where she ranks on the school’s social scene: somewhere less than zero. And Claire really doesn’t have the right connections—to the undead who run the town.

When Claire heads off campus, the imposing old house where she finds a room may not be much better. Hew new roommates don’t show many signs of life. But they’ll have Claire’s back when the town’s deepest secrets come crawling out, hungry for fresh blood…

My Review:

This book surprised me from the start. I’m used to violence in the books that I read but generally in the paranormal variety all the blood and pain is caused by the supernatural beings. Not so in this case.

Main character Claire Danvers – super genius, starting college at 16 years of age and majoring in physics – is being bullied and assaulted by the First Daughter of Morganville, Monica Morell. Having her clothes stolen by Monica, face punched and otherwise violently attacked by her clan of evil followers, Claire decides that she HAS to move out of the college dorm. It’s either move out or start shopping around for a gravestone.

After finding a notice in the local classifeds, Claire leaves campus and arrives on the doorstep of 714 West Lot Street – The Glass House. There she meets three quirky and endearing roommates  who seem relatively normal. Except for the fact the little goth girl, Eve, believes in vampires.

Claire moves in and discovers that maybe Eve isn’t crazy and that Morganville isn’t all it appears to be.

As the first book in the series, I enjoyed this one. Yes, there’s a lot of ground work laid – probably to set up the next 11 books in the series – and there are some things that don’t make sense but it’s a good read. I enjoyed the inhabitants of the Glass House; Michael is gorgeous and tormented, Shane and his addiction to video games amused me and Eve is incredible in her own way. The only let down was Claire – she got a little irritating and she infuriated me with her inability to do what she was told. I don’t like a pushover but after all she’d been through and the enemy still at large she still leaves the house without an escort? And then after she gets assaulted again she does it some more? Oh Claire…. for someone who is so smart (and I know she is because one of the few things I know about Claire from this novel is that she likes to study. A LOT!) she sure can act rather stupid at times.

The vampires are fascinating. I love that they could hold an entire town hostage and  because of their mind-controlling ways there’s no one outside of city limits that has a clue. I love the idea of Protection and enforced donation.

This book has a lot to offer in terms of action, romance and supernatural nasties. I am looking forward to reading Dead Girl’s Dance later this week.

 

Purchase the novel from:

Amazon / Book Depository 


Book Review: Blood Song by Rhiannon Hart

Title: Blood Song
Author: Rhiannon Hart
Genre: Paranormal, Fantasy, Vampires, Romance 
Publisher: Random House Australia
Publication Date: September 2011
Pages: 304
Rating: 5 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
I wanted to turn but I was held captive by the song on the wind. I’m coming, I told the voices. Please, wait for me.

When her sister becomes betrothed to a prince in a northern nation, Zeraphina’s only consolations are that her loyal animal companions are by her side – and that her burning hunger to travel north is finally being sated.

Already her black hair and pale eyes mark her out as different, but now Zeraphina must be even more careful to keep her secret safe. Craving blood is not considered normal behaviour for anyone, let alone a princess. So when the king’s advisor, Rodden, seems to know more about her condition than she does, Zeraphina is determined to find out more.

Zeraphina must be willing to sacrifice everything if she’s to uncover the truth – but what if the truth is beyond her worst nightmares?

My Review:

From the first few pages – and you see that Zeraphina has a craving for blood – it would have been easy to dismiss this for yet another vampire story. But you’d be wrong. This book is so much more than that.

I loved it. I am surprised at how much I enjoyed this novel.

Zeraphina’s homeland is freezing to death. Their winters are getting colder and their people are starving. The only solution the Queen (Zeraphina’s mother) can find is to marry the heir to the throne off to a wealthy prince. Zeraphina’s sister, Lilith, is fine with the decision as she’s fallen in love with her wealthy groom-to-be. Only tragedy strikes when the prince is killed in a hunting accident.

And that’s where this story really starts. Broken hearted and in mourning, Lilith doesn’t want to marry anyone if she can’t have her true love. The country is still starving and the Queen needs to do something quickly so she arranges another wealthy groom to wed her eldest daughter and help pull her kingdom out of its financial turmoil. Zeraphina, content to spend her days with her loyal pets (an eagle and a cat) and practice her archery, is seemingly uninterested in the matters of the kingdom. Except when she starts to feel the urge to go north. She sees a Phantom with blue eyes trying to force her to go north and when the incorporeal spirit steals a piece of jewellery from the young princess, she knows she has to investigate. So she convinces her sister to marry the wealthy prince (who coincidently resides in the north) and together with their mother in tow, the princesses go north.

After a long journey, the royal family finally make their way to the kingdom of Lilith’s intended. Everything seems to be going perfectly – the Northern prince seems besotted with Lilith – but the King’s advisor is instantly suspicious of Zeraphina. Her colouring is different from her sister and her mother and Zeraphina is worried that her secret of desiring blood is going to be discovered…

I loved this book. I know I already said that but I really enjoyed it. The characters are interesting – Zeraphina’s sister and the Northern Prince + family are all a little flat and two-dimensional but in a way I didn’t mind that. It meant they were less distracting from the main story and the only one I was really interested – Zeraphina and the Lharmellians. I thought the creatures were fascinating and I loved the world that Ms. Hart created. You can have blood-sucking creatures that aren’t vampires!

Rodden (the king’s advisor) was my favourite character. I enjoyed how he was equal parts villain, hero and love interest. He perplexed Zeraphina and that amused me greatly. She deserved to be confused! Rodden is such an interesting character – he’s multi-faceted and there was so much about him and his past that I’m eager to find out. I hope the second book in the series delves into his background a little. And as much as I want  to know more about him, I liked being as clueless towards him as Zeraphina was. It added a little extra mystery and suspense to the novel.

The world that this book exists in is an interesting one. You start off in a fairly standard fantasy world – crumbling castles and princesses – and then we’re brought into a very different and exciting magical land. And unlike most magical lands that I’m acquainted with this one is toxic. I loved it. I thought it was new and original and intriguing.

There is so much I could (and want to) say but I’m trying to hold myself back from any huge plot revealing spoilers. I really enjoyed this novel. It started off a little slow for me and I wasn’t really into the story until we met Rodden – after that I was hooked. It’s an original story that has a lot which sets it apart from other fantasy vampire novels.

Purchase the novel from:

Amazon / Book Depository