“Between Starfalls” is an epic fantasy with a robust world and a large cast of characters. Our main characters are part of a culture that reveres nature and sacred rituals (think elves) but is kind of anti-magic, even though several of their members have psionic abilities. They are a society often plagued by attacks by an enemy they know nothing about. When, Kameada, one of the main characters, is attacked before their Starfall celebration, she decides to take her adopted son up the mountain path alone, where a series of very convenient unfortunate events leads to legends becoming life, and repercussions that they never see coming. This book takes a while to get going, but once it does, you’re in for a treat.
This is pretty much "Saga" meets DnD with some super sassy, modern babes leading the charge. This whole bindup was just feral FUN honestly. I love me some unapologetically badass babes with strong friendships and swords. My only issue was that, at times, the story could be a bit disorienting with what was happening, the story arcs could have been tied together a bit better to where the story flowed. As it was, there were times where I thought I was missing a volume or something, which is impossible given the bindup.
First of all, I cannot recommend the audiobook narrated by the full cast nearly enough. It’s like one of those classic radio dramas and I am here for it! And now, for the book itself. “The Graveyard Book” is, I think, a book meant for children. But it starts with the murder of the main characters entire family when he’s just an infant, but he’s too excited by an open door and an awaiting adventure to notice. He ends up in the local graveyard where the resident ghosts and vampire (though I think it’s wonderful that Gaiman never uses that word, but we all know what he is) decide to protect and raise the child as their own. Each chapter is a little window into a year of Nobody Owens life as he grows and is taught by the different ghosts and the lessons he learns along the way. Because of this format, the adventure eventually ends before everything is wrapped up. Which is by design as we get the story mainly from a child, after all, but it could be a little frustrating at times.
“Pariah’s Lament” is a fantasy tale full of political intrigue and warfare, but perhaps the most interesting thing about this book is that it is part of a universe that is shared by several other authors all with individual stories to tell. I’ve read books with multiple authors before, and have heard of some romance books that are written by other authors in a shared universe, but this is the first time I came across such a thing in a traditional fantasy novel. We start our journey with a failed assassination attempt on the leader of a country, the Keeper to which one of our main characters is an advisor to. And while they are attempting to figure out who was behind the assassination attempt and all the machinations around that, we also get the story of a young woman, an outcast amongst her village, who is snatched away by an ancient race desperate for her help in preserving what is left of their people. These two groups need each other to survive, even if they don’t realize it until close to half way through the book…
I love a good, dark twist on classic fairy tales, and on that front, “Second Hand Curses” definitely delivered. Our main characters (Jack, Frank, and Marie) have formed a mercenary band that tackles the jobs that are deemed “morally grey” by the Narrative—which is this land’s more active god figure, swooping in to help princesses and good guys in danger. In this land, beings like the Blue Fairy are not good, where their boons are curses (usually barely in disguise) and our mercenary trio will not stand for that. So, tell me why then, when you have a story that sounds like it should be an exciting, twisty adventure that’s read by a group of great narrators, was I not having more fun?
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