Book review | Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake

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rating-4-stars

Three Black Witches are born in a glen,

Sweet little triplets

Will never be friends.

 

Three Black Witches, all fair to be seen.

Two to devour,

And one to be queen (267).

After reading Anna Dressed in Blood, I could not resist trying another book by Kendare Blake. My opinion of Three Dark Crowns does not differ much from that of Anna Dressed in Blood. Both books are fast-paced, action-packed and in terms of reading level quite easy. They might be more suitable for the slightly younger young adults. Still it does not mean that Kendare Blake’s novels are not uncannily addictive for somewhat older readers as well. Also it makes this novel an excellent mother/teen daughter buddy read.

Three Dark Crowns is best described as a grim, original fairy tale (pun intended J). In every generation the reigning queen gives birth to triplets. Three sisters, raised separately and all heirs to the throne, have one year from the night of their sixteenth birthday to battle each other till only one remains. The one left standing will be queen. Each sister is said to have her own magic: Mirabella rules the elements, Katherine can survive the deadliest poisons and Arsinoe can make nature do her bidding.

I was immediately gripped by this dark, bewitching story and finished it in a day. I was almost late for a dinner with friends, because I could not put it down. Though some of the plot twists were predictable, such as Arsinoe’s discovery at the end of the novel, it did not make it a less thrilling read. Kendare Blake makes it hard to pick a side in this brutal world, since the reader gets insight into the thoughts of all three sisters.

Although the story is highly entertaining, Kendare Blake’s writing might lack depth for those who are no longer part of the young adult age group. The sisters are brought up with the notion that they will have to murder their sisters in order to be queen. You would expect the sisters to rebel in some way or at least question their fate. However only one of the sisters tries to escape this gruesome future and even she is quickly guided back to her initial path.

The expected publication date of One Dark Throne, the sequel to Three Dark Crowns, is September 19th 2017. Write it down in your diaries, people! I will. Despite it being a little too easy to read, I can’t wait spending another day in my PJs totally immersed in this book.

Blake, Kendare. Three Dark Crowns. New York: HarperTeen, 2016.

Book review | The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

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rating-5-stars

“I have stolen princesses back from sleeping barrow kings. I burned down the town of Trebon. I have spent the night with Felurian and left with both my sanity and my life. I was expelled from the University at a younger age than most people are allowed in. I tread paths by moonlight that others fear to speak of during day. I have talked to Gods, loved women, and written songs that make the minstrels weep. You may have heard of me” (53).

The quote above immediately convinced me to buy The Name of the Wind. This book did not let me down. From the moment I read the opening with “a silence of three parts” I was hooked (1). Not many fantasy books have left an impression on me as Patrick Rothfuss’ The Name of the Wind. If I could only use one word to describe this book ‘epic’ would do nicely. I read this book many years ago when it was just published. I recently reread it, since rumours about the third instalment of this series popped up and I wanted to refresh my memory.

The Name of the Wind is not just a book about a magician. It tells the life of Kvothe: from travelling with his family’s troupe to attending the University. The novel is focused on Kvothe’s music, studies, romances and search for a mysterious and evil group. Magic is only a small part of Kvothe’s world; still it is always subtly present. This book is well-thought-out, unpredictable and never boring. Things I hope will happen do happen, but often not in the way I expected.

What strikes me most in Patrick Rothfuss’ novels is the storytelling. The Name of the Wind is a story in a story. Kvothe himself is the narrator of the legend of Kvothe. When reading this book it is not hard to imagine yourself sitting at a campfire listening to this storyteller. It is the kind of story that gets you to tears, puts a smile on your face and leaves you feeling abandoned when you reach the last page.

Before you decide to pick up this book I must warn you: Patrick Rothfuss is without a doubt a slower writer than George R.R. Martin. The Name of the Wind was published in 2007. Its sequel The Wise Man’s Fear was published in 2011. I’ve been patiently waiting for the next part of the Kingkiller Chronicle. If this amount of time is needed to deliver an excellent book I don’t mind the wait. I am hoping for a release date soon though.

Rothfuss, Patrick. The Name of the Wind. London: Gollancz, 2007.

Book review | The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman

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rating-2-stars

“The being chased by hellhounds and blowing things up was a comparatively unimportant part of the job. Getting the books, now that was what really mattered to her. That was the whole point of the Library […] It was about finding unique works of fiction, and saving them in a place out of time and space” (16).

An enthusiastic comment of one of the employees of my local bookstore on a wrapper convinced me to buy this novel about a library that is a world on its own. The Invisible Library contains loads of books, magic and mystery. It sounds fascinating, doesn’t it? Unfortunately this book did not meet my expectations at all.

Irene works for the Library with a capital L. Her job is to collect books from alternate worlds and bring them safely to the Library. She and her assistant Kai go to an alternative London to retrieve a book. Sadly it is stolen before they arrive and their mission only seems to go downhill from there.

The Invisible Library seems to have all the ingredients for a good story: a courageous heroine, a handsome and mysterious man, a dangerous mission set in a Steampunk reality, an evil villain, supernatural creatures and of course magic. Still it somehow doesn’t work. While I did find the plot interesting enough, I was simply not captivated.

More importantly, much in the book puzzled me. I did not feel connected with the main character or any of the other characters for that matter. I had trouble grasping their emotions and thoughts. When the characters gave each other looks, I quite often did not know what it was meant to portray. Furthermore, I felt like I was frequently given explanations about this strange universe three chapters late if I got an explanation at all.

It could be Cogman’s writing style is not my cup of tea. The only reason I finished this book is, because I brought it with me on the train and didn’t have anything better to do. I found this quite a frustrating read. Has anyone of you tried this book?

Cogman, Genevieve. The Invisible Library. London: Tor, 2015.

Book review | A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas

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rating-5-stars

“I peered into the dark, gleaming interior of the can I’d opened: blue. […] I painted all day. And when the sun vanished, I painted all through the night” (507).

I love Sarah J. Maas’ storytelling. She paints this amazing world. A world I don’t want to live in, because let’s face it I’m not brave enough to survive in it. But it is a world that I love to dream about while safely tucked in my bed.

A Court of Mist and Fury might be my favourite book of 2016. Although I loved A Court of Thorns and Roses, Sarah J. Maas just seems to hit one right note after the other in the second novel of the series. To all of you who have not read A Court of Thorns and Roses yet, please beware this review contains spoilers. If you are looking for a spoiler-free review of the first instalment, check it out here.

A Court of Mist and Fury opens with Feyre trying to come to terms with what happened Under the Mountain where she made a deal with Rhysand to spend one week a month with him at his court, was forced to kill two High Fae, almost died and finally became High Fae herself. It is not a surprise that Feyre is not able to forgive herself for what happened. The Spring Court slowly seems to turn into a prison and the time she spends at Rhysand’s court is her only escape.

This short intro might convince you it is a quite dark novel, but to me this couldn’t be further from the truth which this quote perfectly demonstrates (my favourite quote of the book by the way and I guess everybody else’s fav too):

“To the people who look at the stars and wish […] To the stars who listen—and the dreams that are answered” (337).

Quite a few new characters are introduced in A Court of Mist and Fury. I absolutely love all the characters who form Feyre’s new family. Another treat is we learn a lot more about Rhysand. Who doesn’t love a tall, dark and mysterious guy? Feyre’s character development in this novel is amazing. She starts off as an insecure girl forced into the damsel role and transforms into one fierce woman who can defend herself and the people she loves. Tamlin is not as present in this book. Although I admit to liking Tamlin in A Court of Thorns and Roses, I almost despise him in A Court of Mist and Fury. When rereading the first book, all those flaws that are so evident in the second novel were already present in the first.

I don’t want to give anything (else) away, but what I will tell you is: if you haven’t already read this book, you definitely should. It is a book about self-discovery, friendship and true love. It is full of drama, funny scenes, ooh and aah moments and I literally clapped my hands after reading certain sections. Hence my most anticipated book of 2017 will be ACOTAR3!

Maas, Sarah J. A Court of Mist and Fury. London, Oxford, New York, New Delhi and Sydney: Bloomsbury Publishing, 2016.

Book review | Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany & Jack Thorne

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rating-3-stars

‘He really isn’t like his father at all is he?’ (22).

Arguably the most anticipated release of 2016. On the 31st of July, Harry’s birthday, every HP fan probably was either reading Harry Potter and the Cursed Child or trying to get hold of it. I am a big Harry Potter fan myself and got into the book as soon as it hit the doormat.

This eighth story is not a novel, but a play. It is set nineteen years after Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows. Although the script is called Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, the protagonist is Albus Severus Potter, Harry’s youngest child. We witness Albus’ awful first few years at Hogwarts. A school that he, unlike his father, hates. The play shows the difficult relationship between Harry and Albus.

Reading a new Harry Potter story, was of course wonderfully nostalgic. Albus’ grim life at Hogwarts and his loneliness really got to me. The start of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child impressed me and got me excited for what was yet to come. However it went downhill from there. My expectations might have been too high. The story seems somewhat simple. It is easy to satisfy fans with appearances of well-known characters, such as Professor McGonagall and Draco Malfoy. Harry, Ron and Hermione are almost caricatures of their younger selves; Hermione is the smart and sensible one, Ron is the joker and Harry is still the hot head. The relationship between Harry and Albus is tense, but it is not entirely clear how this came to be and why they can’t fix it.

Although I am disappointed, I do realise it is written as a play. With the right special effects, the casted spells and wizard duels could be spectacular. Furthermore, the actors must make the characters come to life. The real magic of the Harry Potter series to me is the friendship between the main characters. If the actors are able to portray that on stage, I am positive this is going to be one awesome show.

Did I enjoy the story? Yes. Would I recommend it? Only to HP fans. Do I want to see a performance of the play? Hell yes. What did I learn from it? Do not mess with time!

Rowling J.K., Tiffany, John & Thorne, Jack. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. London: Little, Brown, 2016.

Book review | A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

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rating-4-stars

‘I knew I was headed down a path that would likely end in my mortal heart being left in pieces, and yet … And yet I couldn’t stop myself’ (221).

On an incredible amount of book blogs, I found reviews of Sarah J. Maas’ novels. The reviews of A Court of Thorns and Roses were written with such enthusiasm that I bought this book instead of the first installment of the Throne of Glass series.

A Court of Thorns and Roses is a variation on ‘Beauty and the Beast’, but fiercer, darker and more enchanting. Feyre hunts in order to provide food for her family. One night she kills an animal that is part of the Fairie Realms behind The Wall. When a stranger comes knocking at her family’s cabin, he tells her the price for killing the fairie animal is ‘a human life in exchange’ (37). In order to keep her family safe, she accepts his offer to live behind The Wall in a magical, strange and dangerous land.

The first page of the book instantly pulled me into Feyre’s world and I could barely stop reading. Luckily I had a few days off! So my advice: clear your schedule before even thinking of opening this book. A Court of Thorns and Roses is more on the adult side of young adult which I like. It contains romance, a huge inferiority complex, magical creatures, evil lurking and an action-packed ending. I however couldn’t give this book a five-star rating, because the second book in the series is even better and I do not have a six-star rating system.

Find out more on: www.sarahjmaas.com

Maas, Sarah J. A Court of Thorns and Roses. London, Oxford, New York, New Delhi and Sydney: Bloomsbury Publishing, 2015.

Book review | Uprooted by Naomi Novik

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rating-5-stars

Love, love, love this book! It took me under two days to finish it and I wanted to read it again at once. Thankfully I could control myself and wrote this book review instead. I have not been able to stop talking about this story and I am thrilled to share it with you.

A dark forest, a high tower, tons of magic and a young heroine taken prisoner by a mysterious wizard. Isn’t that just awesome and very much like a fairy tale? Although this story contains some elements of familiar fairy tales, such as Beauty and the Beast and Rapunzel, it is incredibly fresh and exciting.

I don’t want to spoil anything by giving you some kind of summary, so here is a quote from Uprooted that convinced me to read the book:

“Our Dragon doesn’t eat the girls he takes, no matter what stories they tell outside our valley. […] He takes a girl to his tower, and ten years later he lets her go, but by then she’s someone different” (3).

Where other writers might have devoted entire chapters on what readers most likely consider to be major events in the novel, Naomi Novik barely spends a paragraph on; it works though. Uprooted is fast paced and written in such a way that you can almost feel the magic. Novik’s storytelling makes it very easy to imagine a world where people battle a corrupted wood and find magic in everyday life. This dark wood does not only imprison characters in the story, it totally captures me. This book goes on my favourites-shelf without a doubt and I would recommend it to everyone who loves a magical story.

Nice detail: the metal ornament in the photograph was once the headboard of a four-poster bed my dad made and now decorates my parents’ garden as a frame for blossoming climbers. In the centre of the frame is a heart with my parents initials. A recycled happily-ever-after for their symbol of love. Too corny? Lol. Go and find out if Naomi Novik’s Uprooted is a happily-ever-after for you.

Want to know more about Naomi Novik? Check out her website: www.naominovik.com

Novik, Naomi. Uprooted. New York: Del Rey, (2015) 2016.