When people kept saying that this book was like Mulan meets Project Runway, I took it with a grain of salt. Usually those comparisons are loose, or the elements are there, but not in a significant way. That’s not the case with “Spin the Dawn”. Oh no! The Project Runway and Mulan elements were STRONG in this book, especially for the first half of the novel (and again toward the end but mainly early on). Was I mad about this? Absolutely not! I can’t remember the last YA fantasy I devoured the way I did this magical story of Maia, who dreams of being the Imperial Tailor but can’t because of her gender. Then, when a decree is called for a new Imperial Tailor, and all the great Masters of the land must participate in the competition, or send their son in their stead, Maia steps in for her ailing father, and war broken brother. Pretending to be a boy and fooling all the men she’s competing with turns out to be the easiest of the trials and dangers Maia had to face, which tells you already how exciting this book ended up being.
*sings* “Carry on my wayward son, there’ll be peace when you are done…” Good, now that I have summoned Supernatural fans worldwide, come, sit right here and let me tell you about this fabulous debut novel, “Resurrection Road.” We follow a mage with no memories from beyond 5 years ago, and two cousin hunters doing their thing, when one broken down car brings this trio, and their literal best dog in the world, together to find a missing friend. And, because we’ve got two hunters leading the search and rescue party, there’s many a detour along the way to put down ghosts, releasing them back into the Good Night where they can complete their journey. But not all the spirits and monsters this group encounter are what they seem, while others are exactly what they seem to be. All the while, through the hunting and searching, these three characters grow in incredible ways, from not being trusting of mages—and people in general—to trying to prove their worth not just as a hunter, but person, to deciding not to run from some mysterious past, but toward a grounded future. Honestly, there is a reason why I summoned you SPN fans here, and that’s because this book is for you!
Gaiman has always been hit or miss for me. Some of his books I love, some I don’t care for, so I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about Neverwhere, outside of the fact that there’s something deeply satisfying about holding the illustrated version—something about thick little hardcovers is just the best feeling. Anyway, Neverwhere is a not subtle in its message: the homeless are invisible to those who want to pretend the “problem” doesn’t exist—but make it magic that has a very Tim Burton feel, because this is Gaiman, after all. When Richard sees one of those who have fallen through the cracks—a citizen of London Below—and proceeds to help her, it sets off a chain of events that plunges him into London Below and makes him just as invisible to London Above, and his old life, as the rest of the characters in this novel. In which there a lot, all of which are unique and magical and so beautifully distinct from each other. I even loved Mr Vandemar and Mr Croup who are unequivocally terrible people, but they are written in such a creative way that I couldn’t help but love them just as much as Richard and our heroine Door, with her opal-colored eyes.
Any Alice in Wonderland fans who like the concept of retellings, but still want something wholly unique? “Labyrinth Lost” is that in spades! Meet Alex, a girl who believes magic is a curse and will do anything to avoid her Deathday and deny the magic in her blood. And, because this is a YA fantasy after all, her desire backfires when she takes steps to strip her magic away and instead banishes her family to a place of nightmares; where bruja’s and brujo’s are sent to be punished. Desperate to save her family, Alex ventures to Los Lagos to free them, meeting strange, nightmarish creatures, and those disguised only to appear like nightmares, on the journey. And, again because it’s YA, learning about herself, her magic, and the idea of family being home all at once. While this book has some mixed reviews, I have to say, I really, really enjoyed Cordova’s interpretation of witches, magic, and the ceremonies and gods that inhabit this world.
I love books that don’t take themselves too seriously, and from the title alone, I knew “Hold Me Closer, Necromancer” was one of those books. Add in chapter titles all based on classic rock lyrics? I’m in! Plus, after Gideon the Ninth, I was kind of itching for more necromancer-like fantasy reads. This particular NA fantasy follows Sam, plus a lot of other POV characters but mostly Sam, who is nothing special. He’s a college dropout working at a fast-food restaurant with his best friend, just kind of meandering through life without purpose or direction—we’ve all been there. Sam is an incredibly relatable character and the sarcastic 1st person narrative the author gives him really sells Sam as a character and makes you feel for him. Then, one day (as it always happens), Sam’s life is changed when he accidentally puts himself in the path of the most powerful necromancer in Seattle. Then, surprise! Sam learns the family secret that was kept from him pretty much since birth: Sam is also a necromancer. What follows is the traditional race to unlock his power and save his friends, and himself, before Douglas decides Sam is no longer worth the effort. Everything about this book sounds fun and has a cool twist on urban fantasy, and yet I never fell as hard for this story as I wanted.
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