Category: fantasy

Reign the Earth by A.C. Gaughen Review

Reign the Earth by A.C. Gaughen Review: undefined

(IP) Sin

She knelt on the floor, the bite of the cold stone seeping through the gauzy material of her dress like mist, her arms wrapped around her middle as if she were trying to hold herself together.

Her sobs were quiet, but in the cavernous chapel, they were amplified so that it felt as if she were surrounded by a chorus of herself. She wished that she could stop, but she hadn’t been able to stem her tears when she’d heard. She sat up and brushed her tears off of her face, then she bowed her head, moving so that her forehead touched the floor.

Even her reflection looked wretched, her face red and puffy from crying, her glittering tiara askew on her head, her ash-gray hair coming free from its elegant bun. She looked nothing like a princess, a future queen, an heir of the Crown. But she could do nothing to free herself from this; it was as good as ironclad, and before she realized what was happening, she was screaming, raising her head from her deferential position on the floor.

“Why have the gods damned me so?” She demanded of the empty room; if she was anything less than a lady, a royal, she would pound her fists into the stone until her skin cracked and bled. “I have always served you, and my family, to the best of my ability. And this is how I am to be repaid for my service? I won’t stand for it, I won’t!” Her fists were clenched, her eyes fixed on the ceiling, appealing to beings on a higher and more invisible plane.

She might have been born for the gods’ service, brought to life through her parents’ sacrifice, but no longer would she be just a doll, to be moved and used for everyone else’s pleasure and control. She deserved better than that, and if she was going to serve the gods, it would be by her own choice. For a few moments, there was only the sound of her own heavy breathing.

But then she looked up at the cold, gray stone walls and gasped. They were moving.

The skeletons were reaching their arms toward the circle in which the gods stood, their mouths yawning in silent shrieks, and then a cold, silver light began to spread outward from the circle. The girl began to crawl backward, away from the icy cold winds that lifted the train of her gown and sent it fluttering around her.

Of all the times that she’d come to the chapel for prayer, nothing like this had happened before. But then again, she’d never shown anything but devotion to her deities. Her heart pounded against her ribs, threatening to give out. Her hair finally freed itself from its binds at the nape of her neck, and soon there was a sheet of waves adding into all of the chaos.

“Do you expect a reward, you insolent child? If not for myself and my siblings, you would never have existed!” A deep voice boomed, shattering the silence like glass. She covered her eyes, blinded, and just as quickly as her anger flared, it faded, replaced by the feeling that she was about to be scolded, and by her gods. The beings she’d been created to serve.

A line of shining, tall beings began to emerge from the circle, disappearing from the stone walls of the temple. There was The Jade Oracle, Lady Gloriana, as well as her tigers, made from moonlight; Mauli, Lord Death, his huge bat wings shimmering with a rainbow of colors even in the dim light, his winged soldiers following silently in his wake, their bones clicking against the floor, and their children, every one of them blessed with the beauty of their mother, and the dark, forbidding aura of their father.

“You’re real?” The girl asked at last, and much to her surprise, Gloriana let out a sweet, tinkling laugh.

“But of course we’re real, you silly child! Who do you think gave your parents the blessing to bring you into this world? Did you really believe that all of our histories, all of our tales, were just stories?” The goddess sniffed, those green eyes boring into the girl. “I thought your parents taught you to hold the gods–your betters–in the highest esteem. Why, then, all of this protest?”

“You cannot escape your destiny, child, no matter how different you wish it were. And my beloved wife speaks true. If it weren’t for us, you wouldn’t be here.”

“I.. I meant no disrespect, my Lord and Lady. I only wish… I just wish that my choices were my own.”

“There is no such option for children conceived for the temple, and the gods.” Gloriana said quietly, her tone serious, though her eyes were full of silent sympathy that she could not express. “You must do what is asked of you.”

Lord Mauli stood beside his spouse, surrounded by his army of winged beings. “We gave you your life, and we can just as easily take it away, child. You may be royalty on this plane, but you are human nonetheless.”
**

(WP) A castaway is adrift on the open ocean. D…

Lost At Sea

(I made a small change and made the man into a woman instead. I hope you enjoy it, and any feedback would be greatly appreciated!)

The sea is like a giant, teeming mass, roiling from the storms that have passed through the area. Every time something brushes my leg, I jump, certain that something hungry will rise up from the dark depths and devour me for a meal. Not that I’d be very satisfying; my bones are sticking through my skin, my skin so red and raw that it hurts to even trying to stay afloat.

At best, I’d make a good appetizer. The thought brings the ghost of a laugh to my parched throat, and even that brings unbearable pain. I’m going to die out here, and I knew that, however distantly. Loving the ocean comes with its own set of risks. But I’d never expected to be thrown overboard by my own crew. All because I’d been caught with the cook’s assistant.

Who knew that pirates even cared about one’s sexuality? The entire situation was laughable. Well, it would be if I wasn’t on the brink of death.

The sun is still high in the sky, beating down on me with its harsh, stinging rays that feel worse than a jellyfish sting. I’m so weak, and it feels like I’ve been swimming for a lifetime. I know that I’m fading, even without the hallucinations. Sometimes I see her, glimmering in the salt mist like a fey from one of Da’s stories, smiling and slipping me a bit of dried fruit when the rest of the crew isn’t looking.

I miss her terribly; she was screaming when they threw me off, desperate to save me, but the others had held her back, holding her face and making her watch while I hit the water. The last thing I remember before the ocean took me away from the ship. Storms had followed shortly after, and it’s a miracle that I didn’t die then. They didn’t even give me food before they’d sacrificed me to the salty water.

It’s so, so tempting to give up, to give in and let the sea take me. I didn’t do anything wrong; I did nothing but find love in the middle of all of the other offerings that a life of freedom has given me. But I’m so very tired.

There’s a ripple in the water and I swim backward, barely able to keep afloat. Maybe it’s a whale, come to end this agony at last. My heart hammers against my ribs, though it seems to take more effort than normal to function.

But much to my surprise, I can see a thick, glittering fin, then a head pops up above the waves.

“I’ve been watching you for a while,” The creature says, its voice like waves crashing on the shore, its hooded eyes glimmering with something like amusement. “You like you need help.” Finally, it rises, and I realize, with a shock, that it’s a mermaid, her long, teal-colored hair covering her breasts, tail flipping in and out of the water lazily.

“How’d you guess?” I ask sarcastically, and she narrows her eyes. Then she tosses her head back and laughs, the sound silvery and sweet.

“What an amusing human you are. And pretty, too.”

“How kind of you to say,” I retort; surely she must be joking.

She swims in a circle around me, lips flat, brow furrowed thoughtfully.

“I have a proposition for you, sailor girl,” She murmurs, and she swims so close that I could brush the hair out of her eyes if I had any strength left.

“Would you care to hear it?” I’m dying. What do I have to lose, anyway? And besides, she’s probably a mirage. What could hurt to hear her out?

“Yes. What is it?”

Her eyes never leave mine, and she smiles, showing off gleaming white teeth, more like a shark’s than a normal human’s. She moves closer and before I realize what’s happening, her webbed, delicate hands are wrapped around my waist, pulling me against her, and I sigh; her skin against mine feels like pure relief.

“Would you like a second chance at life? Under the water, this time?”

Her eyes, an emerald green that reminds me of the Mediterranean Sea, bore into mine, waiting for my answer with bated breath. “I can help you, and you’ll be restored. But you have to come with me to my kingdom,"It takes but a moment to decide, and I nod.

"Yes. Yes, please.”

Faster than blinking, she leans in and kisses me, so soft and gentle I can’t help but wonder if I’m imagining all of this. But then she pulls me deep under the waves, tight against her body, and I go willingly, opening my mouth.

The last thing I see is the last of my air bubbling up to the sun-soaked surface.

(WP) A castaway is adrift on the open ocean. D…

Lost At Sea

(I made a small change and made the man into a woman instead. I hope you enjoy it, and any feedback would be greatly appreciated!)

The sea is like a giant, teeming mass, roiling from the storms that have passed through the area. Every time something brushes my leg, I jump, certain that something hungry will rise up from the dark depths and devour me for a meal. Not that I’d be very satisfying; my bones are sticking through my skin, my skin so red and raw that it hurts to even trying to stay afloat.

At best, I’d make a good appetizer. The thought brings the ghost of a laugh to my parched throat, and even that brings unbearable pain. I’m going to die out here, and I knew that, however distantly. Loving the ocean comes with its own set of risks. But I’d never expected to be thrown overboard by my own crew. All because I’d been caught with the cook’s assistant.

Who knew that pirates even cared about one’s sexuality? The entire situation was laughable. Well, it would be if I wasn’t on the brink of death.

The sun is still high in the sky, beating down on me with its harsh, stinging rays that feel worse than a jellyfish sting. I’m so weak, and it feels like I’ve been swimming for a lifetime. I know that I’m fading, even without the hallucinations. Sometimes I see her, glimmering in the salt mist like a fey from one of Da’s stories, smiling and slipping me a bit of dried fruit when the rest of the crew isn’t looking.

I miss her terribly; she was screaming when they threw me off, desperate to save me, but the others had held her back, holding her face and making her watch while I hit the water. The last thing I remember before the ocean took me away from the ship. Storms had followed shortly after, and it’s a miracle that I didn’t die then. They didn’t even give me food before they’d sacrificed me to the salty water.

It’s so, so tempting to give up, to give in and let the sea take me. I didn’t do anything wrong; I did nothing but find love in the middle of all of the other offerings that a life of freedom has given me. But I’m so very tired.

There’s a ripple in the water and I swim backward, barely able to keep afloat. Maybe it’s a whale, come to end this agony at last. My heart hammers against my ribs, though it seems to take more effort than normal to function.

But much to my surprise, I can see a thick, glittering fin, then a head pops up above the waves.

“I’ve been watching you for a while,” The creature says, its voice like waves crashing on the shore, its hooded eyes glimmering with something like amusement. “You like you need help.” Finally, it rises, and I realize, with a shock, that it’s a mermaid, her long, teal-colored hair covering her breasts, tail flipping in and out of the water lazily.

“How’d you guess?” I ask sarcastically, and she narrows her eyes. Then she tosses her head back and laughs, the sound silvery and sweet.

“What an amusing human you are. And pretty, too.”

“How kind of you to say,” I retort; surely she must be joking.

She swims in a circle around me, lips flat, brow furrowed thoughtfully.

“I have a proposition for you, sailor girl,” She murmurs, and she swims so close that I could brush the hair out of her eyes if I had any strength left. 

“Would you care to hear it?” I’m dying. What do I have to lose, anyway? And besides, she’s probably a mirage. What could hurt to hear her out?

“Yes. What is it?”

Her eyes never leave mine, and she smiles, showing off gleaming white teeth, more like a shark’s than a normal human’s. She moves closer and before I realize what’s happening, her webbed, delicate hands are wrapped around my waist, pulling me against her, and I sigh; her skin against mine feels like pure relief.

“Would you like a second chance at life? Under the water, this time?”

 Her eyes, an emerald green that reminds me of the Mediterranean Sea, bore into mine, waiting for my answer with bated breath. 

“I can help you, and you’ll be restored. But you have to come with me to my kingdom,"It takes but a moment to decide, and I nod.

"Yes. Yes, please.”

Faster than blinking, she leans in and kisses me, so soft and gentle I can’t help but wonder if I’m imagining all of this. But then she pulls me deep under the waves, tight against her body, and I go willingly, opening my mouth.

The last thing I see is the last of my air bubbling up to the sun-soaked surface. 

Currently Reading: The Belles by @dhoniellecla…

Currently Reading: The Belles by @dhonielleclayton! Not my photo, just using for cover purposes!

Out of the Blue by Sophie Cameron Review

Out of the Blue by Sophie Cameron Review: undefined

A Small Terror (IP)

A laughing voice rings out from the shadows of the clearing, sending the fiery autumn leaves spinning in the wind.

“So this is who The Council has sent to attempt to defeat me? What a joke!” The guffaws continue, though it is accented by footfalls, closing in, drawing ever closer. “The great hero, armed with nothing but a hooded cloak and  a blade the size of a needle! This must be a jest.”

The hero, for her part, remains silent, holding his blade in front of her. The only acknowledgement that she’s even heard her opponent is a baring of teeth, more snarl than smile. There’s little more than a flowing of shadows along the clearing floor, and for the first time, the hooded mouse shows the first sign of impatience: she spins her blade and looks up, the hood falling backward, revealing a small head with silky pink ears and keen, bright eyes, the shiny red fur more reminiscent of a fox than a mouse.

“Why won’t you come over here and find out?” She speaks for the first time, eyes narrowed, sword thrust outward, almost as if to say, ‘Come and try to best me, I dare you’. Armor made of a combination of dark, tightly knitted thread and reinforced tree bark with hardened sap over it. The girl mouse isn’t sure how much protection it will provide, cobbled together as it was at the last minute, but she has been chosen, and she will not turn back, not until there is no other option.

She will fight for her people, her country, and the Council, even if it takes everything that she has to do so.

Finally, after what seems like an age, the other speaker emerges from the flora and fauna, still chortling merrily. “The Council has surely lost its wits. Not that it had much to begin with.” The mouse tenses, resisting the urge to grind her teeth in frustration. She’d had enough of this posturing, and she was most anxious to get started. Even if the very thought of facing this beast terrified her more than anything she’d ever faced.

“Can we get on with this, please? The Council told me a lot of things about you, but not that you were so vocal,” The mouse quips in return, leaning on her blade, trying to ignore the sensation of her heart racing inside of her chest, fluttering frantically at her throat.

The being laughed, at last stepping into the dying sunlight. The mouse grits her teeth to hold in a shocked gasp, and when it spreads its wings, it blocks the light, throwing the clearing into darkness. The beast grins, showing off a mouthful of long, pointed teeth that reminded her of needles. Its huge nostrils flare as it chuckles to itself again, blowing out a gust so powerful that the mouse is nearly knocked off of her feet.

A bat. Of all things, The Council had asked her to face off against a giant bat.

Why, exactly, had she agreed to this insanity again?

The thing that strikes her first about her opponent was the jeweled studs in its ears, the colors of blood and the night sky, naked of the jewelry the sky had lent it.

“Are you frightened, you little, tiny thing?” The bat asks, tilting its great head to the side, bringing its face right up next to hers. She barely manages to hold in her flinch. “What hope does a little insect such as yourself have against me? This is my territory, after all. Something I’m assuming The Council conveniently forgot to mention.”

“You’re lying!” She snarls back, puffing her chest and standing to her full height, which, granted, isn’t much. “The Council wouldn’t lie to me like that!”

“I wouldn’t be so sure, little mouse.” The bat sounds far from bored now; quite the opposite, and its eyes, glimmering in the black space like wet rubies, flash with something that the mouse can’t identify, and doesn’t like. “You’d be surprised what knowledge is held back from those who use a person’s duty and honor to serve their own ends.”

“What, pray tell, would you know about that, you great flapping beast? Look at you! You’re a wreck.”

Much to her opponent’s surprise, the bat laughed, a husky, rasping sound.

“Oh, my little spitfire, I know more about that than you think. I’ll answer your questions, if you’re willing to listen. What a little terror you are.”

The mouse frowned, all the fight leaving her body as quickly as it had come. So far, the bat had made no move to hurt her.

What would it hurt, then, hearing it out?

To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo Review

To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo Review: undefined

City Of Fallen Angels Book Review

Author: Cassandra Clare

Rating: 4/5

This re-read is actually starting to make me sad. My 14-year-old self is yelling at me for being so critical, but I can’t help but see the general averageness of the writing style. Which sucks because the story and the world are amazing, as well as the beautiful, loveable characters.

I’m going to get the negative out of the way and talk about how pointlessly angsty the Clary/Jace romance is. I understand why it happens in terms of the plot, but I got so bored of their back-and-forth events of “Jace wants to punish himself”. I dreaded their interactions, which upsets me because just because  they’re the main characters doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy the book – apart from the fact that they’re in every chapter

BUT the other romances in this book are beautiful and exciting to explore. Not only the romances, but the friendships too. I love seeing these perfectly formed characters interacting and thinking ‘wow that was such a Jace thing to say’ or ‘that was so Magnus’, and it’s probably unhealthy how much I feel like I know these characters…

Reading this book knowing that the series was originally just going to be a trilogy definitely changed things for me. Half of me felt that this book was just unnecessary… But putting that out of my mind, I did still enjoy it – a very readable and yet still exciting instalment.

Beth Holland’s review of The Coldest Girl in C…

Beth Holland’s review of The Coldest Girl in Coldtown: undefined