I’m a big fan of Wells’s “Murderbot” series so I wanted to give her new fantasy book a try! But I went in knowing that “Witch King” is nothing like the Murderbot novellas, and I didn’t expect it to be, either. These are all new characters in a world very different then what I was used to, so of course I didn’t go in expecting the same humor and voice that I get with Murderbot. I think a lot of people kind of forget or don’t realize that when starting this book… Which is a dual timeline of our main character, a demon named Kai, and his witch bestie, Ziede as they try to uncover who abducted them, why, and the greater conspiracy around that—all while going back 60 years to see a young Kai as he becomes the demon and Witch King we see in the present chapters. This is a very ambitious fantasy world full of complicated political intrigue and warring factions and races all with their own kind of magical abilities and belief systems. The magic system felt vague from start to finish, however, and I think only one timeline truly delivered on the experience I was hoping for from Wells.
“Thrill Switch” is equal parts “Ready Player One” and “Silence of the Lambs” with a sprinkling of “Altered Carbon” for good measure. You have detective Ada Byron who has become an expert on Jazlin Switch, a notorious serial killer who managed to murder people in the real world by destroying their avatar in the virtual space known as the Holos. Ada has dedicated her life to studying Switch and becoming a cop all because Switch killed her father seven years ago. Now there’s a new killer out there copying Switch’s style, but are they really? Ada has to face her fears and stop more people from dying, but in order to do that she needs to team up with Holo “native” and FBI agent, Joon, and venture back into the Holos, a place she hasn’t been to since her father died. Worse yet, she may need Switch’s help in order to unravel the conspiracy this new killer is at the center of. Hawkin does an excellent job blending a virtual MMO style world with a real, vaguely dystopian Las Vegas in order to craft a violent and thrilling (heh) cat and mouse murder mystery. This was a fast-paced futuristic crime and mystery story, but was light on the procedural investigation aspect, so take that as you will.
I’m keeping this review short because there’s really not much to say beyond: I highly recommend all the Murderbot Diaries books. Read them, read them now. And 2. For these bots not being “alive” they sure do have a lot of feelings and I love that for them! The way they hate feeling things and get absolutely panicked whenever someone says the “relationship” word in any context I absolutely live for.
I have never read a YA fantasy novelette quite like “Spellraiser” and I mean that in the best way possible. It’s a familiar storyline: a rich prep school where those of lesser means are constantly bullied and looked down upon, except that there is a magical mystery underfoot. In the world of “Spellraiser” magic is an accepted thing, so there’s no real need for the characters to explain what’s happening to one another, which helps given the novelette’s unique styling—100 chapters of only one hundred words. In this world, spells are basically spirits that give the wielder—or the person being possessed—a wish-like attribute, be it beauty, strength, invincibility, or even the ability to read minds. The catch is, you have to release the spell every day or risk being completely consumed, and you can’t have more than 5 in you at a time or you will literally burn up. That’s not our main characters problem though. Her problem is that students keep dying mysteriously and she, as an outcast, keeps getting blamed for their deaths.
If you have spent any time looking at my reading history and book reviews, you know that I’m a big YA reader, and I also have a huge interest in reading thrillers and true crime (yeah it’s odd but whatever). So, of course, “Stalking Jack the Ripper” sounds like it should tick every single one of my boxes. Just ignore the fact that I was so late to start reading this. We have Audrey Rose, a young woman of wealth and society that leads a double life assisting her uncle in his morgue. She assists in autopsying the recent corpses that come to his lab, until a slew of horrific murders begins in the Whitechapel area, and the first victim of Jack the Ripper makes it to her uncle’s laboratory, with a startling connection to Audrey Rose’s family. It’s a race to discover who Jack is and put an end to these awful murders; and how could Audrey not win that race when the brilliant, Sherlock Holmes-like love interest is there to help? So, tell me then: why did I not like this book?
Just kidding, I’ll tell you.
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