“Sorcery of Thorns” is one of those ultra-hyped books that I am always leery of reading, especially early on when all the book press is still going strong, but then my friends were doing a read along and, well, here we are. It’s been quite a while since I’ve read a standalone fantasy book, honestly I prefer series because then you get a better sense of the world and the characters the author has crafted populating such a world. But Rogerson has done a lovely job bringing Elisabeth, Nathaniel and Silas to life. Crafting a world where sorcery is tied to the necessary evil of binding yourself to a demon, and magical grimoires are living, breathing things with as peculiar of personalities as any other flesh and blood character. Rogerson leans hard into the metaphor of knowledge being power, and it being dangerous in the wrong hands—I loved that. The book is full of witty banter as well as these incredibly heart breaking moments… I really did enjoy this book! But was it worth all the hype? Mostly…
I don’t think I’ve read a true reverse harem book before, so “Hidden Magic” was a first for me. Set in a small town, Willow has always considered herself to be a freak, having to grow up too fast because of a mother who talks to herself and swears she’s a witch and their family is cursed. Willow is desperate to have some kind of normal life as she starts college at the local school, but Willow finds out very quickly that nothing will ever be “normal” for her. “Hidden Magic” is an incredibly fast read (maybe too fast?) and just as one question gets answered, a new and devastating mystery takes its place.
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.
“Black Girl Unlimited” is the ‘based on a true story’ life of the author herself, with a fantasy-magical realism overlay to everything, especially the traumatic parts. This book is devastating, but not in a bad way, but more in the way of a gifted girl, hating how she looks because she is a dark skinned black girl, believing she is an ugly beast because she isn’t lighter and doesn’t have ‘good hair’, kind of way. It’s heartbreaking to see how she views herself, not to mention watching her family’s struggle with racism, and Echo’s parents being drunks and addicted to cocaine. That’s not to say the book isn’t laced with hope, because it is! But the story is primarily focused on the young Echo and her struggle to survive in a world that has been stacked against her. There are some very heavy topics here alongside the systematic racism Echo faces, such as: drug abuse, sexual assault, and the rape of minors. All of these topics fit with the world Echo lives in, so they aren’t there just for shock value, but if those are sensitive topics for you, be forewarned. This book also happens to be my first foray into magical realism, so it’s very possible that I just don’t “get” certain things, but to me, the magic was more a metaphor then actually, well, magical.
The Black Flamingo follows Michael, a young half-Jamaican half-Greek Cyprian from boyhood to his coming of age in university. Michael struggles with never feeling Black enough, Greek enough, and that being gay is at odds with all these other parts of himself, all while wrestling with a father who never seems to want to see him, and a mother who doesn’t understand that Michael would rather play with Barbie’s then Ninja Turtles. Even with the story seeped in deep questions of identity, there were light moments of family love between Michael and his sister, the power of friendships, and even the sweetness of falling for a guy you never thought would see you in that way, and to have him like you back. Not to mention discovering your tribe—in the university Drag Society for Michael! This was my first verse novel ever, and I admit I was a bit worried going into it—I’ve shied away from verse before as I am not great at connecting with poetry and I had a hard time imagining I could really lose myself in an entire novel written in this format. Oh. My. Goodness. I’m ashamed it took me so long to give this format a try!
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