It’s time for another exploration of my recent reads. I’ve been pretty spoiled by some of the books on this list–I rarely give out five star ratings on Goodreads, but there are some titles worthy of that honor in here.
Enjoy–and be sure to let me know what you’ve been reading lately in the comments!
This book has been on my radar for a LONG time–it was just a matter of getting to it. Well, I’m currently listening to it on audiobook and HOLY CRAP, HOW HAVE I BEEN MISSING OUT ON THIS? The subject matter isn’t one that immediately sucks me in (which is why it has taken so long to pick up), but dang. Once I got past the first few chapters, I was absolutely hooked. What strikes me about this book is the excellent characterization. It features a variety of characters and switches points of view constantly, but each voice is distinct. Each character is fully-realized, which makes them feel so real. Bardugo slowly unveils their stories, giving us hints and glimpses at their pasts and their ambitions with each page. It makes driving to work an absolute treat! I’m already dreading reaching the end of the audiobook, but I know I’ll be moving on to Crooked Kingdom straight away.
Gosh, WHY do I keep reading Dickerson’s books? I’ve read almost everything she’s published and, even though I don’t love her stories, they’re enjoyable. I love fairytale retellings, and Dickerson’s are subtle. After the mess that was this one, I think I might throw in the towel. Her stories are all formulaic, but the formula is definitely wearing thin. Dickerson’s protagonists are always beautiful, kind, compassionate, selfish, pious, and BORING. Her side characters have zero depth. It’s like watching paper dolls act on a puppet show stage, then fall into a puddle and crumble apart. I’m also almost insulted by how heavy-handed Dickerson is with her representation of Christianity. Female leads are always quoting scripture, praying, and longing to someday be rich enough to own a Bible translated into German. It’s as if Dickerson expects that, by making her women models of Christian femininity, that makes them good characters. Um, no.
I talked about Schwab’s first book in this series, A Darker Shade of Magic, a month ago. While I really enjoyed that book, I fell head-over-heels in love with this one. I think this might be because I listened to it on audiobook, which meant that my reading was slower and more deliberate. Schwab is excellent at world building–in the first book, she establishes the different Londons. In this book, Schwab takes a new turn. She expands the world of Red London through a magical tournament, which reminded me a lot of the Triwizard Tournament in Harry Potter. The tournament introduces the different empires and peoples, as well as expands on how magic functions and how each culture relates differently to it. Schwab also continued to establish her characters, who have nestled their way deep into my heart. Delilah Bard (who I found likable, but flighty and kind of annoying in the first book) is now making her way to my all-time favorite characters list. I’m eagerly waiting for my hold on the third book on audio to come through at the library so I can continue.