Review: Court of Bitter Thorn by Kay L. Moody

I just finished reading book one in the Fae of Bitter Thorn series by Kay L. Moody and I need to talk to someone about it.

Have you read it? Did you love it? Tell me what you thought in the comments.

Haven’t read it yet? Maybe my review will convince you…

Title: Court of Bitter Thorn (Fae of Bitter Thorn #1)

Author: Kay L. Moody

Link: https://www.amazon.com/Court-Bitter-Thorn-Fae-Book-ebook/dp/B089KT96RF/

Rating: 4/5

Blurb

Faerie wasn’t supposed to be real.

Tricked by a fae prince, Elora is stuck in the Faerie realm far from her young sisters who depend on her for survival. Under the terms of her bargain, she can’t go home to the mortal world until Prince Brannick becomes the next High King.

Or until he’s taken out of the running…

Sabotaging Brannick’s chance at the crown will be much faster than helping him win. The fae prince may be charming, powerful, and wickedly handsome, but that won’t stop Elora from selling his secrets to the highest bidder.

By day, she uses her master sword skills to train the prince. By night, she conspires with a rival king in a nearby court whose plans could destroy half of Faerie.

Soon, lives are at stake that she never expected. She’ll have to choose who to save: her beloved sisters or half the inhabitants of Faerie.

The choice would be easy… if a certain prince weren’t digging his way into her heart.

Court of Bitter Thorn is Book 1 in The Fae of Bitter Thorn. Don’t miss the other books in this enchanting fantasy series!

Prequel: Heir of Bitter Thorn (available on author’s website)
Book 1: Court of Bitter Thorn
Book 2: Castle of Bitter Thorn
Book 3: Crown of Bitter Thorn
Book 4: Queen of Bitter Thorn


This is a fun, fast-paced YA romantic fantasy and a brilliant beginning to the Fae of Bitter Thorn series.


I read the prequel novella Heir of Bitter Thorn first, and I’d recommend it if you can, as there were quite a few hints in this book at the events of the prequel, things I really appreciated understanding (it’s free when you subscribe to the author’s email list, but it’s not essential reading).


I loved Elora and Brannick, the chemistry and slow burn were brilliantly done, and I can’t wait to see more of their relationship develop in the next three books. They were really well-written, three dimensional characters whose motivations and characteristics were revealed slowly throughout the story, making it really satisfying to watch them be uncovered bit by bit.


The world building was fantastic, the author included lots of classic faerie folklore, and the modern updates just added to the richness of the setting.
It was a quick, enchanting read and I’m excited to continue with the series!

Lyndsey

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Review: The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty

As epic fantasy novels go, it doesn’t get much better than The City of Brass! Set partly in ancient Cairo, it’s a richly diverse and beautifully descriptive novel, and even better, it’s the first in a series! The Kingdom of Copper is out now and The Empire of Gold is due in 2020!

TL;DR An Aladdin-esque fantasy with djinn warriors, elemental spirits and a smart, sassy con-woman. Nahri accidentally conjures a mysterious djinn warrior during a supposedly fake exorcism, and ends up being hunted by fire spirits across the Egyptian desert. When they escape into the legendary city of brass, Daevabad, Nahri discovers a history she never knew existed. One in which she and her ancestors are deeply entangled…

The City of Brass S A Chakraborty`
5 stars

Trying to make a living as a woman alone on the streets of Cairo isn’t easy, but Nahri has always survived on her wits. She uses her ability to read people, and a sort of ‘sixth sense’ for what ails them, to pray on the gullible, weak and desperate.

Nahri cons rich Ottoman nobles on the streets of Cairo, performing fake palm readings, healings and exorcisms. It’s all an elaborate performance to make money, until one day Nahri accidentally conjures a real djinn, who drags her across Egypt to a hidden, magical city. Her abilities make her a target and a spectacle, but her arrival in Daevabad, the city of brass, sparks more than just intrigue. Unrest has been building between the residents for centuries, and Nahri’s appearance might just light the fire of rebellion in them.

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The City of Brass focuses on three main characters whose lives and stories weave together to create a captivating and shocking depiction of life in Daevabad:

  • Nahri, the courageous, sceptical and self-sufficient con-woman, fighting for survival in the human world;
  • Dara, the centuries-old djinn warrior who is conjured by Nahri and escorts her to Daevabad to face her true destiny (and his own); and
  • Alizayd (Ali), the youngest son of the king, in training to be his elder brother’s ‘Qaid’ (captain of the royal guard).

By following these three through the novel, we get to see events from every angle and understand the actions and motivations of both the ruling class and the rebellious civilians, which is crucial in a novel of such rich culture and history. If we only saw Nahri’s perspective – as with many portal fantasies where we experience the new, thrilling world alongside the protagonist – we’d miss out on a lot of the finer details and political intricacies of Chakraborty’s world.

I absolutely loved being immersed in the Middle Eastern culture that inspired the story, I haven’t read many novels set in Africa or Arabia and it was really refreshing to find a fantasy story that wasn’t based in Europe or America. I’ve recently read An Ember in the Ashes, and have Children of Blood and Bone and Rebel of the Sands on my TBR, so it’s amazing to see more diverse characters and stories from different cultures being published. Chakraborty does a phenomenal job of creating an imaginative and stunning backdrop, mingling history and fantasy, and a compelling story that combines themes of family, loyalty, politics, love and revenge.

If you’re bored of the usual fantasy settings (dark forests and magic schools still have their place, but it’s nice to try something new every now and then) then you can’t go wrong with The City of Brass. Pick it up if you love a brave, morally-grey female protagonist and a lush magical world with more history than you could shake a wand at.

I’m currently listening to The Kingdom of Copper on audio book, and loving it. Can’t wait for the third and final book to come out next year!

Lyndsey

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Review: Escaping from Houdini by Kerri Maniscalco

Excuse me while I do a happy dance, because this isn’t the final book in the series! I was absolutely expecting the series to come to an end at the conclusion of Escaping from Houdini, but I was wrong. According to Goodreads, book four will be the last, so we’re getting one more instalment, people!

Check out my review of Hunting Prince Dracula to find out what I thought of the previous two books in the series (I realised I never reviewed Stalking Jack the Ripper whilst writing my review for book two, but you can see how many stars I gave it!).

Also, spoilers ahead for books one and two, so stop right here if you haven’t read them yet. Seriously, don’t read any further.

You rebel.

TL;DR Audrey Rose and Thomas jump on a cruise liner to New York and their next case, but as per usual, murder and mystery follow them at every step. Entertained each evening by the Moonlight Carnival, guests begin dropping like flies in increasingly gruesome and theatrical ways. Can Wadsworth and Cresswell solve the murders before the killer’s grand finale?

Escaping from Houdini

4.5 stars

This book had one of my biggest pet peeve tropes as a central plot point, but as you can see, that didn’t stop me loving it. (I won’t say which trope for spoilers’ sake, but if you feel the same, let me know in the comments!)

It starts off with Audrey Rose and Thomas completely smitten with each other, looking forward to a pleasant transatlantic cruise, chaperoned by Audrey’s uncle Dr. Jonathan Wadsworth and Mrs Harvey (and her notorious “travelling tonic”). Well, if you’ve been paying attention to this series so far, you won’t be surprised to hear that almost immediately people start being murdered.

Entertaining the guests every evening on board the ship is the Moonlight Carnival, a rag tag crew of contortionists, cartomancers, knife-throwers and fire-eaters, lead by a mysterious, masked man who calls himself Mephistopheles. If you weren’t lucky enough to read Faust at school, Mephistopheles is the name of the devil in the classic German novel. The ringmaster is a charming, manipulative and arrogant man with designs on our Audrey Rose, much to Thomas’s chagrin.

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Only one member of the carnival doesn’t wear a mask at all times, and that’s the eponymous Harry Houdini. Unlike the rest of the performers who all seem to be hiding from someone or something, Houdini comes across as a fame-hungry young man. Does that make him a murderer, though? Or could one of his travelling carnival companions be hiding a dark past behind their glittery facade?

Like in the previous books, the stakes are pretty high for our leading lady, drawing her family and friends into the heart of the danger yet again. But none more so than herself, and in the end Audrey Rose goes through something that will change her forever.

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I loved this book. I whipped through it at breakneck speed and it’s my new favourite of the series (I know I said that about Hunting Prince Dracula, because boarding school setting! But that’s been trumped by cruise ship setting. Sorry not sorry). Book four, you’ve got a lot to live up to!

I gave Escaping from Houdini 4.5 stars, there’s room for improvement – that flipping annoying trope, to be precise – but it’s such an enjoyable romp on the high seas. I still love Audrey Rose, she’s not perfect, but who of us is? And Thomas is just a dreamboat, flirting shamelessly with her one minute, and telling her he’ll never hold her back the next.

If you’ve enjoyed books one and two, or you’re just a fan of YA historical fiction, you’ll love this book. It’s full of illusions, romance, murder and kissing. What more could you want?

 

Lyndsey

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