It’s been a little bit since I re-entered R.M. Garino’s epic fantasy series, Chaos of Souls, but man, starting “Angels of Perdition” reminded me just how much I loved Garino’s writing. The immense world he’s crafted, and the complex political and familial intrigues he weaves into his stories, alongside some really wonderful action sequences, are just as well-crafted as I remember from the first book. This book is a chunky boy, but I never felt like it was undeserving of its length, like the author was unnecessarily waxing poetic. In fact, this book could have been another 50-100 pages longer and I wouldn’t have minded (and, in fact, would have welcomed it). But as this is the second book in the series, don’t read this review if you haven’t at least read the first book, as there are bound to be mild spoilers, but really, don’t let the size of these books keep you at arm’s length. This is a beautiful, epic NA fantasy that I still full-heartedly recommend to everyone and anyone who loves a good multiple POV, and intriguing fantasy series.
I am kicking myself over how long it took me to start this series, and I am so glad that I was able to discuss this book with a group of friends, all of us reading and racing toward the end together. “A Darker Shade of Magic” follows Kell, one of the last Antari, a type of magic wielder that can travel between the 4—now 3—different London’s. Kell’s London (Red) is vibrant and thriving, magic is embraced and enjoyed, Kell revered as the adopted brother to Prince Rhy (who is adorable and I love him). Whereas the other MC, Lila Bard, comes from Grey London, where magic has disappeared completely, and then there’s Creepy—I mean White London, whose ruthless rulers enslave magic and drink blood, as one does. The different London’s magic system, the sharp steel of Lila Bard paired with Kell’s steady cool made for an amazing first book in this trilogy, and while it’s a complete story, there are still so many mysteries left to uncover.
I was a big fan of Mafi’s narrative style in Furthermore, and I am so pleased that Whichwood follows a similar style, with a narrator retelling the story of these children almost like an omniscient reporter. It’s such a fun, and whimsical voice that I love seeing in her middle grade books. And while you don’t necessarily HAVE to read Furthermore before Whichwood, I would highly recommend you do as many of the characters from Furthermore make an appearance in Whichwood, making this book, often times, feel like a continuation of Alice’s story, just as much as Laylee’s. That being said, Laylee’s story is dark and tragic. When your main character is a thirteen year old girl, alone, washing the dead in all manner of decay, you have to expect this to be a darker story than Furthermore, even if that book also had its moments of fear and sadness. But Laylee’s story is… different, and that’s why I don’t think it’s truly a middle grade book.
I don’t even know where to really begin with this book because… Oh my lord, THIS BOOK! Be forewarned, this review won’t contain purposeful spoilers, but since it’s the last book in a trilogy, if you haven’t read the first two books then 1. You should go do that—immediately. And 2. This review may spoil some things from those books just because that’s the nature of this particular beast. I don’t usually fangirl in my book reviews, but when it comes to Hackett’s books, it’s really hard for me not to. Her stories are magical and full of adventure and twists and turns, her characters are endearing and complex, she gives you just enough sweetness before punching you in the gut, but then makes it up to you with fun character banter. “Ventus” pays off on all of the set up from the previous two books but with some of my favorite character arcs and redemptions of the whole series.
It may seem like a bad idea to read a book about a bio-chemical weapon that exhibits like a flu and prompts mass panic during an actual pandemic, but that’s what I did and it was a kind of interesting study in how reality and fiction can blur sometimes. In Myers novel, a bio-chemical is released in a small town, which appears to be done on purpose for "research". When these strange flu-like symptoms prompt the schools to close early, it sparks our main character’s father, who works at the lab that seems to be responsible, to flee with his teenage son and their next door neighbor and his teenage niece. The rest of the novel occurs over the course of 3 to 4 days as the group races from the quarantined zone—now without cell service and a military presence—to get to the family cabin and potential safety. This is an incredibly fast paced young adult, action romance with a unique twist on the “zombie” genre.
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