I’m going to keep this review as brief as humanly possible, not because I don’t have thoughts on the final book in the Looking Glass Wars, but because this book is impossible to talk about if you haven’t read the first two books (and really, why are you reading reviews for this if you haven’t read the other two books?). But in “ArchEnemy” Alyss finds herself ruling over a queendom still suffering from a lack of imagination as the effects of book two are still being felt. There are factions of dissent Alyss never knew existed in Wonderland, and her enemies are still out there, waiting, and closing in… This book is almost non-stop action, which is what I expected given how things ended in the last book and what needed to happen this time around. But I also thought, given this was the final book in the series, that a lot of character work would be done as well and, unfortunately, there wasn’t.
I LOVED Spin the Dawn, it was one of my favorite books when I first read it, which set up exceedingly high expectations for the sequel, I will admit. Unravel the Dusk starts off almost immediately from where its predecessor leaves off, with Maia trying to save her kingdom by ensuring the emperor marries Lady Sarnai, but of course Sarnai has other plans. When she runs off, Maia has to step into her shoes and hope no one notices, which isn’t even a good plan on paper given how widely different in temperament both these women are. When the emperor’s foes wage war in force again, it’s left to Maia to find a way to save her country, which becomes harder and harder as she loses her internal battle against the demon inside of her. Gone is the fun plot line from the first book where Maia learns to wield her magic scissors to weave garments worthy of the gods, and instead is replaced by demon magic that, I felt, got overly repetitive.
“Candlewick 13: Curse of the McRavens” is the whimsical story of Valor McRaven, a Sorcerer in hiding on an island nation full of “normal” witches. These witches despise Sorcerers, mainly due to the fact that the Grim Warlock has placed a spell over the nation to ensure that the Knight of Night can’t undue the dastardly plans that he’s trying to enact. Early in the story, Valor and his entire family are tossed into a sanatorium-like prison, where dark forces are constantly trying to get rid of Valor, all ahead of the unwinnable tournament that Valor has been selected to partake in. With the help of his adopted sister, Doomsy Gloomsy, and a group of misfits, Valor must accept his role as the leader of their coven, and stop the Grim Warlock before he can enact his plan for the terrible Thirteenth Hour. But first, Valor has to survive this tournament. It’s an exciting Middle Grade fantasy adventure for sure, but I struggled with the story.
Here we are, the fourth book into SJM’s epic YA fantasy, and this has consistently been one of those series that I’ve been… unsure about the whole time. I’m definitely in the minority with not really falling in love with this series from book one, but I kept giving it chances because people so adore Aelin and her court. In “Queen of Shadows”, Aelin has returned to Adarlan to free her cousin and find out what happened to those left behind as the King devolves into more and more atrocities against his people, and more demons inhabit the bodies of the soldiers. Told in parts, we follow not just Aelin, but get the perspective of several familiar characters: Chaol, Manon, and Dorian (poor Dorian…) to name a few. But we also get the POV of several new characters as well such as Lysandra and Elide, which partially accounts for the sheer size of this book, but it does not account for the reason why it took me so long to finish it.
Edi Nari just wants to be left to her own devices and continue her studies at the mage’s academy. But when her friends are brutally slain in front of her, she’s thrust into a mission to save her nation from the mad lich’s intent on unleashing the undead and destroying everyone, all at the behest of something far more powerful than the lich she works for, and those she has to face. “The Lich’s Thrall” is a dark fantasy adventure story that focuses on Edi’s journey from ostracized student, to a strong-willed sorceress that is capable of standing up for herself against all odds, and finally is given the answers to secrets her family has held on to for decades. Watching Edi go up against countless gruesome undead was exciting, namely for the uniqueness of the creatures she faced. I also appreciated that, come the end of the book, I didn’t feel like there were any questions left unanswered, even if I would have liked more of a character arc for Edi and some of the people she goes on her quest with.
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