Review: Realms of Fae and Shadow

Hello fantasy fans, are you ready to discover your next favourite author?

I read the exclusive short story collection Realms of Fae and Shadow recently, and I loved the concept so much. A collection of short stories that all prequel a series of novels, to give you a taste of the stories before you commit to the full series (because, come on, who of us can give up on a series halfway through once we’ve started, even if we’re not loving it? Not me).

So if you’re a fae lover and you’re looking for a new series to get stuck into, keep reading for eight incredible options…

  1. Night Bringer by Stacey Trombley
  2. Heir of Bitter Thorn by Kay L. Moody
  3. Fae Bargains by Clarissa Gosling
  4. To Rule a Fae Throne by Tessonja Odette
  5. Exiling a Fae Queen by Joanna Reeder
  6. Crown of Darkness by Alison Ingleby
  7. Marked by Fae by Valia Lind
  8. The Wolf Gate by Hanna Sandvig

Night Bringer by Stacey Trombley

A terrible bargain.
An impossible choice.
Kill my soul mate or lose my life
.

This is #0.5 in Trombley’s Wicked Fae series, which currently has 4 published books and more to come.

Caelynn is from the Shadow Court, one of the weakest in the realm, but when she overhears her parents’ plan to send her to another court for an arranged marriage, she takes matters into her own hands. And that’s where things take a very dark and deadly turn.

This story has everything you could want – fae, a coming-of-age trial, one of the creepiest monsters I’ve ever read, a ball, soul mates. I could go on. I’m super intrigued by this set up for the full series, Caelynn’s magic is barely hinted at and I can’t wait to see the relationship between the two fated mates develop.

Heir of Bitter Thorn by Kay L. Moody

A mortal girl is tired of her bland existence.

When a dryad offers her the chance to rescue a fae prince from the clutches of an evil queen, Elora immediately agrees.

But Faery is full of more dangers than beauty. 

This is a prequel novella to the Fae of Bitter Thorn series, which has 4 full length novels plus another novella in between. The story has a brave heroine, an animal sidekick, twisted magic and lots of political intrigue.

The fourth and final book is coming out in September, so it’s the perfect time to dive into this series, ready for the conclusion.

Fae Bargains by Clarissa Gosling

Faerie punishments usually spell death.
⁣For Evan, it could offer freedom.⁣

The hero of this story reminded me of Cardan from The Cruel Prince – a young fae male with a good dose of cruelty (he enjoys feeding mortals to a boggart), but deep down he has a bigger heart than he lets on.

There’s only one full length novel in this series so far, but a sequel is coming in 2022, so it’s definitely one to stick on your TBR. I enjoyed this origin story of the Guardian of the Gates, and I’m intrigued to find out more about the relationship between the Huntsman, Prince Evan and his mother, Queen of the Moonlight Court in the Lost Princess of Starlight series.

To Rule a Fae Throne by Tessonja Odette

There are Fae far worse than me lurking in the woods…

King Aspen of the Autumn Court is sent to the the human realm to retrieve the names of the two human tributes that will be sent to marry fae royalty as part of a centuries old pact, called the Hundred Year Reaping. On his way home, he has an eye-opening exchange with a human woman in the woods.

This prequel novella tells the first meeting of Aspen and Evelyn, the main characters from the Fair Isle trilogy, from Aspen’s POV. The series is complete, so it’s ready to binge to your heart’s content.

I adored the gorgeous descriptive writing in this story, it was probably my favourite for writing style, I found myself wishing it was longer when I’d finished, which is always a good sign with a prequel!

Exiling a Fae Queen by Joanna Reeder

I’m the heir to the throne.
My birthright comes with a dark legacy.
But to save Faerie, I must betray my sister.

Aria is one half of a set of twins, two half-fae sisters who are both destined to rule the Raven Court as joint queens. Except she’s never spent a day learning the role or speaking with her subjects, unlike her sister Carys. Instead, she rides her water horse and hangs out with her best friend, Sterling.

When she finally decides to take an interest in the role she’s destined (or doomed) to take on when her father dies, she discovers that all is not as rosy as it seems on the surface in Faerie.

I was completely sucked into this story from the start. This was my favourite story for plot and characters, I loved Aria and the twists and turns just kept coming. There are 2 books and one other novella in this series so far, and I can’t wait to read them and find out what happened after THAT big twist!

Crown of Darkness by Alison Ingleby

I am darkness. But I dream of the light.

As the heir to the Unseelie throne, I have everything I could want. Apart from the one thing I long for—freedom.

Ciaran is deep-earth fae, prince of the Unseelie Court, and half human on his mother’s side. He battles with his conflicting humanity and resists the dark magic of his fae side, refusing to wear the crown his father had made for him that seems to sink it’s teeth further into him with every wear.

But trouble is brewing under the surface in the courts, and there’s a prophecy that could threaten both realms. Soon Ciaran may have to decide between the human side his mother would have wanted him to honour, and the fae side his father expects of the heir to the Unseelie throne.

This was the longest story in the collection, and I loved getting a more in depth look at the incredible world-building and the characters’s story arcs than in some of the shorter stories. It was great to see Ciaran’s growth and how his motivations changed over the course of events.

I’m really excited to read more in this series, which I really hope is coming soon! You can follow the author on Instagram @alisoningleby to be the first to know when this series will be released.

Marked by Fae by Valia Lind

They say nothing bad has ever come from reading a book. I guess it depends on the book…

This story was more paranormal/urban fantasy, with a half-witch, half-shifter MC attending a magical academy and learning to harness her growing powers. Avery finds a book that unlocks her abilities, dragging her into the middle of an ancient war and making her a target for all of Faery.

Marked by Fae is a prequel short story to The Fae Chronicles, which is set in the same world as Lind’s Hawthorne Chronicles and Thunderbird Academy series, but you can start with any of these series and enjoy them individually. There are 2 full length novels in the series so far, with more to come, so plenty to sink your teeth into if you love a vast world with all manner of fantasy and paranormal creature, not just fae.

The Wolf Gate by Hanna Sandvig

My…what big teeth you have!

Audrey is a pretty average teenage girl, living in Canada and having a boy trouble. Until she’s given a beautiful red cloak by her school’s librarian and takes a short cut through the woods to get home one night. Chased through a faerie portal by a mysterious wolf, she finds herself in the icy tundra of Faerie and on the run from the Unseelie Queen’s right-hand-wolf. Even worse than that, she’s accompanied by her ex-boyfriend whose secrets tore them apart – but can they find their way back together and escape their pursuers?

This story is a standalone retelling of Little Red Riding Hood, set in the same world as Sandvig’s Faerie Tale Romances series, all of which are sweet YA romantic fantasy retellings of well-known fairy tales. There’s currently one full length novel and two short stories (including this one, and one you can grab for free when you sign up for Sandvig’s newsletter!) in this series.

This one also gets extra points for inclusivity, as Audrey wears glasses and I’ve never read a fairy tale where the main character wore glasses (like me!), so I’m a big fan.


Hopefully you’ve added a few new series to your TBR and discovered a new-to-you author who’ll become an auto-buy. Let me know which of these stories sounds right up your alley! My favourites were Crown of Darkness, Exiling a Fae Queen and To Rule a Fae Throne. I can’t wait to jump into the rest of these series.

Lyndsey

x

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.

Lyndsey's Book Blog

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.

pink divider

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

x

 

Lyndsey's Book Blog 2.jpg

Review: Red Rising by Pierce Brown

I’d heard so many good things about the Red Rising Saga from other book bloggers and readers online, so when I saw it was on offer on Audible a few months ago, I had to buy it!

TL;DR Darrow is a Red, one of the miners living in a colony on Mars, tasked with the job of making the planet inhabitable for the rest of mankind when Earth dies. Treated as second class citizens by the ruling class, the Golds, there’s a rebellion slowly building beneath the surface, until a shock event thrusts Darrow into the centre of a revolution and exposes the dark secret that Mars may not be all that uninhabitable after all…

Red Rising by Pierce Brown

3.5 stars

Darrow lives in a slum, works in a mine and dreams of a future where Mars is safe and inhabitable for the millions of people left living on a dying Earth. He knows he won’t live long enough to see the day his and his fellow miners’ efforts come to fruition, and he’s OK with that. His kids, or his grandkids, or his great grandkids will enjoy the freedom and safety he works so hard for, day in, day out.

He’s pretty damn good at his job – the best, you might say – and well respected in his community. He’s also married to the love of his life, Eo, at the ripe old age of sixteen. Life under the surface is short and explosive (sometimes literally), so there’s no time to waste when it comes to true love.

Unfortunately though, things aren’t quite what they seem. (Are they ever?) The Golds, a race of “superior” humans that rules over the Reds and other colours, have been keeping a dark secret for decades – the surface has been inhabitable for years and is now covered with a stunning metropolis overflowing with wealth, decadence, and indulgence whilst the Reds suffer and struggle for survival in the mines.

But a rebellion has been brewing for a while, and the rebels believe they’ve found their front-man in Darrow. He’s not convinced though, until a series of shocking and heartbreaking events forces him to accept his new fate.

Disguised as a Gold (think the residents of the Capitol in The Hunger Games), he’s thrown into a competition that pits young members of the Gold caste against each other in a battle of mental and physical fortitude to select the next group of leaders. If he survives, he’ll never be the same again.

Lyndsey's Book Blog (4)

I enjoyed Red Rising, I gave it 3.5 stars, but I had incredibly high hopes after everything I’d heard and it didn’t quite meet them. I wonder whether I might have enjoyed the paperback more, but there was nothing I could pinpoint about the narrator that bothered me, I just can’t put my finger on why this didn’t do it for me like it did for so many others.

One of the reasons I think is because of the other books I was comparing it to, for me it had really strong similarities to The Hunger Games (the segregated castes and deadly competition) and Nevernight (the Ancient Roman influence), two of my absolute favourite books, and it wasn’t quite as good as those two, in my opinion. I still enjoyed it, and would consider continuing to read the rest of the series when I’m caught up on my TBR. Especially as so many people who’s tastes I share, and who’s opinions I respect recommend it.

Have you read Red Rising? Did you love it? Tell me if you think I should read book two!

Lyndsey

x

 

Lyndsey's Book Blog 2 (4).jpg