Category: fantasy

(WP) The End and the Beginning

The End and the Beginning

stand in the king’s throne room, beaten and bruised and coughing up blood. Spitefully,
you’re glad that your blood is staining his fine, expensive carpets. You should
regret all this, but you can’t, you don’t. He’s sitting on a high throne, and
your eldest daughter is weeping, clothed in silks and jewels.

how could you do this?” She cries, tears streaming down her cheeks. “You must
have known that it would turn out this way—”

The king’s voice is quiet, but she flinches anyway, cringing away from him.

Any last words before I destroy your home and take your daughter as my bride?”
He drawls, barely able to contain his laughter, and your fists clench.

               “You may
have defeated me and taken my child, but this will not stand,” You warn, a dark
undercurrent in your words. “You have to know that this is foolishness. You
cannot rule with hatred and fear.”

what, pray tell, does a man who makes clothes for a living know of ruling a
kingdom?” He has the audacity to laugh, and your daughter glares at him. But he’s
only got eyes for you, and you know he’s playing with you, as a cat does with a
mouse before killing it.

little,” You reply, smirking, knowing that your mouth is bright scarlet. “But I
do know that you’re not doing it correctly.”

goodbye to your father, Vivianne, send him to his grave with words of love and
kindness. And be grateful I allowed you a chance.”

               Vivi stands
up, descending the stairs and kneeling in front of you.

you know it isn’t too late, you could repent, you could go to the stocks for a
week or so. But at least you’d still be alive! Please, Papa—”

               “I won’t
take back what I’ve done, Vivianne. I cannot. What good is a man without his

               “To the
gods with your honor!” Vivi hisses, her green eyes going dark with rage and
desperation. “You cannot leave me to marry this monster of a man!”

doesn’t have to end this way, not for you.” You reply. “I’ve lived my life,
child. And you’re barely seventeen. Run, flee, the revolution will shelter you—”

in your last moments you are trying to turn my fiancé against me,” The king
says, voice dripping with disgust. He waves a guard forward, and your daughter
is torn from your arms, before you can so much as kiss her forehead.

               “I love
you, Vivianne.” You say softly, your eyes never leaving her. “I love you, and the
revolt is your legacy. Run, escape, do everything you can to make sure that the
people’s will will never die.”

begin to haul you out of the throne room, and you don’t make it easy for them;
you struggle the whole way, and the last thing you see and hear is a vicious,
violent scream, and your daughter goes up in flames that are sky blue.

king is devoured by the strange fire, and your daughter’s laughter echoes
through the room like an ominous portent.


(WP) An Audience

(WP) An Audience

especially children, knows that there are many different kinds of fey folk.

there are two types that are particularly prominent: tooth fairies, and their
larger, older counterpart, bone fairies. Tooth fairies take children’s teeth
and collect them, to be inspected like they were diamonds. And bone fairies….
Well, their job was more unpleasant. They took the bigger ones.

               It was
all to pay the tithe to the Dead Queen; she required human bones to work her
dark magic. And we’d all been born under the stifling yoke of her rule. Though
there were easily more of us, we didn’t dare revolt. We’d lose what little
rights we had. But, of course, that didn’t stop the whispers.

spread throughout the ranks, until it grew so large that our caste of fey
weren’t the only ones talking.

say that The Dead Queen is asking for still more offerings, and she’s about to
attempt something terrible…”

As if her fairies aren’t working overtime already. Give the poor things a break,
I say.”

She has spies everywhere! One word of dissent and she’ll sentence everyone to a
week without compensation.”


               I was
summoned to the Bone Palace, under the pretense of a grand feast. But I knew
better than to refuse such a boon from one of the fey monarchs, and so I had no
choice but to go.

mother fussed over me, laying out my best suit, leaving a sunflower in the
breast pocket; it shone like a bright beacon.

son, be careful. Make sure to remember your decorum and manners.” Her bright
violet eyes were dark with worry and warning. In other words, don’t piss off
the Queen. But that would prove easier said than done.


the moon rose, I set out to the graveyard, where a silent escort awaited. An ogre,
with dark gray, bumpy skin, a wicked pair of twisted, sharp horns, and eyes the
color of freshly tilled soil, smirked at me, showing off rows of sharp, broken

Lady Queen insisted you be escorted to her. For your own personal safety, of
course.” The monster grumbled. Without waiting for an answer, he gripped my arm
and stepped forward, and then we came to a spiraling set of stairs, leading
deep down into the earth. I’d never been in the Dead Queen’s dominion, not
directly, and sweat began to collect on the back of my neck.

               Did she
know? She had spies everywhere, and fey of every court were on her side. After
all, it paid to be on the side of the winners, if not in money, then in other

staircase ended in a massive throne room, made of earth and stone, and the magic
was so heavy here I could taste it in the back of my throat.

Queen sat upon a throne made of bones, and judging by the size of them, they
were the bones of children. I pasted on a smile to disguise the bile rising in
my throat. For all I knew, I’d helped harvest those bones, once upon a time.

               She was
veiled, dressed in a full-skirted gown in a violet so dark it looked closer to black,
but I could see her bright white smile. It was made to look coy, inviting, but
there was an undercurrent of menace to it.

you for inviting me to your palace, my queen,” I murmured, head lowered, and
bowed. “What is it you would like to discuss?”

been hearing whispers,” She replied, not bothering with pretty words anymore. “Whispers
of an uprising…”

               I kept
my face neutral; as far as our kind went, I was young, but I knew how to keep
my feelings off of my face.

you know anything about that, Nathaniel?”


Finale by Stephanie Garber Review

Title: Finale

Author: Stephanie Garber

Age Group: Teen/Young Adult

Genre: Fantasy

Series: Caraval, book three

Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

               I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.

               The Caraval series has been one of my favorites of recent years, and when I put a hold on it, I was pleasantly surprised to realize that I had received my local library’s first copy. It’s been sitting in my library stack for a while, and if I’m being completely honest, I was putting it off because I just didn’t want it to be over! But Finale more than exceeded my expectations, and though I’m sad that it’s all done, it didn’t disappoint at all. Full of romance, aching tension, twists, turns, magic, and surprises, I loved Finale! I will never forget the Dragna sisters, and their dangerous, magical journey!

               Finale picks up where Legendary left off, with Tella and Scarlett racing against the clock to undo a terrible mistake. But in order to do so, they must ally with the most unexpected persons. With the destruction of their entire world imminent, the sisters must use every bit of their wits and cunning in order to save the people they love and each other. But forces out of their control are rising against them, and getting stronger every day. Will our heroines make it out of this quest alive?

               I won’t say too much about the plot; I don’t want to give it away for those who haven’t read it yet. But I will say that my sequel anxiety was unfounded entirely. It took a little bit for me to remember what was going on, but once I did, Finale grabbed me by the throat and didn’t let go until the final page. The pacing was breakneck and I read it in a day and a half. The twists and turns throughout the book practically gave me whiplash, and I was in turns gasping, crying, laughing, and nearly pulling my hair out. I was constantly thinking about it, even when I had to step away. I adored all of the characters, but Scarlett and Tella stole the show, and I loved them. And that ending! It made it all worth it. I loved the Caraval series so much, and I will never forget it. Finale was incredible, and I loved every single moment; I’m just so sad that it’s over now. The bottom line: Lush, seductive, and dark in the best kind of way, I loved Finale! I will never forget the Dragna sisters! Next on deck: With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo!

(WP) The Old Ones’ Return

(WP) The Old Ones’ Return

oceans held untold secrets, but the biggest and most well-known was that they
held The Old Ones fast, imprisoned at the bottom. And they were receding for the
first time since the war had ended. Some people took this as a sign that history
would repeat itself; others used it as an excuse to live it up like The Great

mother returned home from the market, bringing with her the scent of warm
sunlight and exotic spices. Her brow was wrinkled, and her mouth was pursed,
pressed into a thin line.

               I left
the table, my lessons forgotten. “Mother? What’s wrong?” I asked, as she put
her groceries on the counter to be put away.

didn’t answer for a moment, putting the food into the icebox. Her shoulders
were tense, and one fist was clenched into the fine sapphire cloth of her day

oceans are receding, Cassiopeia,” She said at last, each word breaking the
silence like glass. I was thankful that my siblings were playing in the living
room, none of them privy to our conversation.

might as well have told me that the world was about to end. Everyone knew that
it had been a close thing the first time; the gods who’d established our world
had exhausted their divinity locking up their parents, and thus faded to mere

But that was the thing about evil: defeating
it was only temporary, just as this fragile peace had been.

“What does that mean?” I asked,
even though I very well knew what it meant.

“It means that The Old Ones are on
the verge of shattering their ocean beneath the waves. And if that happens…”

She didn’t need to finish. I hadn’t
been alive to see the devastation wrought by them the first time, but the proof
was everywhere: buildings decimated, people my mother’s age missing limbs, and
the most brutal of all: the death of our own father, one of the countless causalities
of the war.

“Of course, it isn’t for certain,”
She added, smiling weakly. “But it never hurts to be prepared. Perhaps we could

I smiled, biting back a bitter
laugh. She knew better to float that idea with me; it was too late anyway.

“I could ask some questions at the
temple,” I said, trying not to touch the inside of my wrist.

I’d known what I’d gotten into,
somewhat. But by the time I’d been branded in the gods’ name, in service to
them should they ever need to fight their parents’ reign again, I couldn’t tell
my mother what had happened. How could I, knowing what our father had gone to
battle for?

I wasn’t exactly a soldier, but
that didn’t mean that I couldn’t learn. And I had to do something to save my
family, to put gold and silver and jewelry in their pockets.

What was the price of my soul, in
exchange for their protection and happiness, however temporary?


(WP) Forgotten Gods

(WP) Forgotten Gods

               Once, I
was a being of unimaginable power. I was able to wield the very power of life,
of creation, like a weapon. The oceans rose at a mere flick of my fingers, and
storms stirred in my very blood. But that was so long ago, back when chaos
itself reigned the world.

               Now, I’m
a freaking cashier at Costco, getting screamed at by a middle-aged mom named
Karen over a damn coupon.

               Back in
the old days, a mere dirty look from me would be enough to make a mortal
crumble, literally.

afraid that your coupon has expired, ma’am,” I repeat, wishing that I could
snap my fingers and obliterate this terrible, awful woman. Is it my lunch break
yet? On days like today, I miss my former existence, and how my siblings and I
ruled the earth, and its elements. It’s a deep, throbbing ache that’s near
impossible to ignore, and I grit my teeth, trying not to let my annoyance show
on my face.

               “But it
says that I can buy one, get one free—” The woman insists, impatiently shaking her
bangs out of her face. Her kid is in the cart, sucking down a sugary liquid
that’s an unpleasant neon shade of green.

ma’am. Through yesterday,” I reply, feeling the plastic smile that I wear for this
underpaying job turn brittle, more like a grimace. “You came to shop a day too

               I feel
like a tape recorder, or one of those old-school voicemail machines, on repeat
until the end of time.

I’m saved from this awful woman by my boss, Roger, who, under any other
circumstance, is a douchebag. But I’ve never been happier to see the guy as he comes
up behind me and flicks my light off.

head to your lunch break, I’ll take care of her.” He smirks at me and winks,
and I don’t need to be told twice, absorbed in memories of the past.

               See, we
could have, and would have, kept our power, if we hadn’t gotten greedy. Never
mind that our power had been rooted in darkness, blood, and death. Gods we
were, but we’d forgotten about the humans we ruled, and their discontent. It
didn’t matter; does a human being think of the deaths of ants?

               But the
sparks of revolution fanned into a flame that consumed us all. The humans
tricked us into leaving our godly plane, trapping us in human vessels and killing
us. We were reborn in a modern age where we, and all of the other deities of
old, had long since been forgotten. And we had to make a living somehow.

               I feel especially
pathetic as I buy some hot soup and a dinner roll and take it to the breakroom.

               Once, I
split open the sky and made worlds of naught but air and a few droplets of
blood. My siblings and I were capable of creating life, and taking it, in an

everyone knows that even gods can fall from the sky.


(WP) The Goddess of Spring’s Victory

(WP) The Goddess of Spring’s Victory

Paris nudges me, as if to tell me to pay attention. “Our goddesses asked you a
question.” His handsome face is closed off, and his hand in mine sweats
profusely. But, ever a soldier, he does not allow anyone in the room, immortal
or otherwise, to read the emotions he must be feeling.

               I heard
it; I know I did. But I guess I’m still in shock; I’m bathed in the golden
light of Mount Olympus. When Paris told me that he’d discovered a way for us to
be together, I was certain that he was lying to me, until he revealed the
bushel of golden apples he planned to present to the goddesses.

about it, Anthea. If we give the apples to the most beautiful goddess, our mere
human trifles will be forgotten in their squabbles. Immortals don’t often think
about humans unless they’re directly involved.” Paris had said, over a hurried
meal of honeycomb, sweetened wine, fresh bread, and the rest of the fruit we’d

better way to please them?”

still not sure we haven’t made the wrong decision.

               “Who is
the most beautiful of us all, child?” The Queen of the Gods, Hera, addresses me
directly from her throne for the first time. She smiles beautifully, and a
brightly plumed peacock sits in her lap, adorned with a jeweled collar. “Answer
honestly, and you will be rewarded. You will be given a life with the man you
love, and servitude will be in your past.”

               It does
sound tempting; it sounds like we’re living the myths our culture has been
built upon. But even so, observing the array of beautiful goddesses before me,
I cannot name any of them as the most beautiful. Athena, Aphrodite, Hera

is the most beautiful,” I say, after another moment of thought. Of course, she
isn’t here; being autumn, she is in the Underworld, with her husband, Hades.

chorus of gasps meets my declaration, and Paris blinks; clearly, of all answers
he is expecting, it isn’t this one.

you quite sure of that, child?” Aphrodite asks, in a voice like bells, but her
bright, blue eyes narrow, and her full mouth purse as if she’s bitten into a
particularly sour lemon. “Beware the wrath of the gods. I can bless your love.”

               “And I
can make sure that you survive childbirth and fill your home with healthy,
hearty children,” Hera adds, smiling so widely that her eyes become mere slits.
I almost miss the heated look she throws the other goddess’s way, and Paris
holds my hand, squeezing it, his dark eyes urgent, as if begging me to
reconsider my decision.

all, our love hangs in the balance of whatever these all-powerful beings decide.

words hang in the air, honeyed and threatening all at once.

               But I
am soon saved from a response by thick whorls of dawn-pink smoke, and a young
woman steps out from it, clothed in a long, black gown that hugs her frame. The
skirt sparkles as if full of the night’s stars. A large pendant hangs around
her neck, the red jewel resting on her chest. Her hair is long, brown and
curly, and her eyes are a green that reminds me of the valleys I’ve seen from
my master’s windows.

believe the child has already made her decision in that regard,” Persephone
says, smiling at me. “And that means, ladies, that I’ve won.”


Kingsbane by Claire LeGrand Review

Title: Kingsbane

Author: Claire LeGrand

Age Group: Teen/Young Adult

Genre: Fantasy

Series: The Empirium Trilogy, book two

Star Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

               I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.

               Furyborn was one of my favorite books of 2018, so ever since, I’ve been eagerly looking forward to Kingsbane. And for the most part, the sequel lived up to my expectations, but there were definitely parts that fell short. Nonetheless, if I wasn’t fully invested before, I most certainly am now! Full of dark magic, secrets, lies, and romance, Kingsbane picks up where Furyborn left off, with both Rielle, and her daughter, Eliana, racing against time to stop a terrifying future that could save the world, or destroy it. The prophecy both young women chafe against is about to come to pass, and across the centuries they fight for their own agency, even if it means losing everything…

               I don’t want to say too much about the plot for the people reading who haven’t read it yet, but I will say that LeGrand has penned a worthy sequel to my favorite book in her body of work. As with all sequels, it took me a little bit to remember what was going on, but once I did, the pacing was breakneck and I couldn’t pull away. Even when I was doing something else, the book was always in my thoughts, and my mind was forever working to unravel Kingsbane’s secrets.

I loved the characters, as well as their development; if I’m going to read a book, I have to engage with the characters, or nothing’s going to happen. I adored all of the characters, but Eliana, Rielle, Corien, Audric, Ludivine, and Simon were particular standouts. The pacing was breakneck, and the constant twists and turns had me gasping or screaming, either out of excitement or frustration. The flow of the events between Rielle and Eliana was smooth, though at times it was hard to keep up with all the different countries and customs. More than once, I had to refer to the map and appendix of the novel. However, this book was wonderful. For all its minor flaws, it was great. And that ending, though; my jaw hit the floor! I cannot wait for the last book! I can only hope that it’s going to answer all of the burning questions that Kingsbane has born. I can’t wait to see how this dark, feminist trilogy ends! The bottom line: Though at times a bit heavyhanded, and it was a bit difficult to keep up and keep everything straight, I really enjoyed Kingsbane, and I’m looking forward to the third book! Scary, romantic, and thrilling, I loved Kingsbane! Next on deck: My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing!

(IP) The Last Dragon

(WP) The Last Dragon

dragon sat sedate on the peak of the hill, listening intently. But all they
could hear was silence. They were alone, and they found no trace of their
brothers and sisters. The clans were gone.

               Was it
possible that they were the only one left of their great race? The thought of
being alone, truly alone on this green, lush planet, made them flap their
wings, walk in place. If they were feeling strong enough to use their voice,
they would scream, weep, or laugh. Despite their loss, they began to explore
their new home. Tall, leafy trees with heavy jewel-bright fruit, a rainbow of
stars and comets stitched in the fabric of the sky.

               It had
been a gorgeous place to land, at least.

wandered, their mind full of memories too painful and fresh to hide from, even
in the beauty of their surroundings. Fire, shrieks of agony, dragons rent to
pieces and cold, wicked laughter.

was a bright flare of hatred inside of the dragon, and upon confronting these memories,
it realized that the humans were at fault for the violence. They hadn’t warred
with the children of Earth for centuries. As their numbers had lessened, they’d
all become isolated, from one another and the outside world.

               It had
been something that they’d longed for since they’d had left behind egg years.
To see real humans, up close, had been a dream, a fire in their belly that hadn’t
gone out. Well, their wish had been granted, a price paid in the blood of their

dragon found themselves wondering if they’d somehow caused the deaths of their
loved ones. Had the humans sensed its longing, capitalized on it to shed ‘monster’
blood? It was all so foolish.

was the difference, in truth, between a human and a monster? Were they not the
same? Monsters came in all varieties. It was such a trite, human word. After
all, who determined what made a monster so?

Humans were so arrogant, so sure of
their own place in the world, never mind that all manner of creatures had
claimed the world before they so much as drew breath or opened their eyes.

But what good was vengeance,
retribution? The only result would be more spilled blood, and there was more
than enough of that to go around, for the dragon and the humans slain in the

But they couldn’t just give up,

Perhaps there was a better way to
go about things, even though they would never see their own like again.

After they were walking for some
time, the dragon came upon the beach, and beneath their clawed, long-toed feet,
they felt sand, smelled the salt in the air.

They couldn’t see hope now, but
that didn’t mean that it wasn’t there. Things would get better.

The pain would not disappear, but
it would recede with time.

At least the dragon had that. They
had life, and time, and a new home.

For now, that had to be enough.


Grim Lovelies by Megan Shepherd Review

Title: Grim Lovelies

Author: Megan Shepherd

Age Group: Teen/Young Adult

Genre: Fantasy

Series: Grim Lovelies, book one

Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

               I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.

               Grim Lovelies has been on my library loan list since it came out, so when I found it at my library, I took it home. It’s been sitting in my stack for a while, and once I realized I couldn’t renew it anymore, I pushed it to the top of the stack and began reading as soon as I was finished with America Was Hard to Find. Megan Shepherd is one of my favorite authors; I loved The Madman’s Daughter and The Cage series. I was so happy with this book. It was full of magic, mystery, seductive darkness and dangerous secrets, with Beasties, Goblins, Witches and Royals that stole my heart. I can’t wait for the sequel to come out in August! I daresay that this book is one of the strongest in the entirety of Shepherd’s body of work.

               Anouk is a Beastie, an animal who was turned into a human girl to do a Witch’s bidding. Despite loving her mistress, she longs to join the world of the Pretties, the humans that the Witches and Royals rule over. But her content existence is shattered when she discovers that Mada Vittoria has been brutally murdered. To add to this mess, one of her fellow Beasties, Luc, has disappeared. Forced to make a mad dash across Paris, Anouk and the others must race against the clock to retain their humanity. But more than one person has conspired to see Anouk lose, and she must discover the hidden power inside of herself in order to emerge from the trials unscathed, or she just might lose everything…

               This book was amazing! It was a seductive, dark fairy tale full of dangerous magic and secrets that had me shocked. The characters were my favorite; I fell in love with Anouk and her strange little family. The pacing was breakneck, and the prose was gorgeous; Shepherd’s writing and worldbuilding were unforgettable. But even more than that, I loved the tense, mad dash through a magical, dangerous Paris that I felt was just on the other side of our world. The twists and turns had me gasping, laughing and crying as the book went on. I’ve been waiting for something like Grim Lovelies my whole life. There wasn’t a character that I didn’t love, didn’t feel for in some way. I loved every crazy moment, and I wanted more. That ending! Oh, my goodness! I wish I had Midnight Beauties right now because two days later, I’m reeling! I won’t say anything about it, in case there are some readers that haven’t yet read it. All I can say is that I can’t wait for Midnight Beauties; there was nothing about this beautifully wrought fairy tale that I didn’t love. It’s probably my favorite of all of Megan Shepherd’s books, and I will never forget Anouk and her friends! This is one of my favorite books I’ve read recently, and I can’t wait until Midnight Beauties. The bottom line: Gorgeous, dark and dangerous, I loved Grim Lovelies! One of my favorites that I’ve read recently, and I can’t wait for the sequel! Next on deck: Girls With Sharp Sticks by Suzanne Young!

(WP) Ragnarok Now

32(WP) Ragnarok Now

You must’ve drunk too much during D&D night last night because when you finally get to sleep, you’re bombarded by strange dreams.


You and your party are walking down a wooded path, toward a clearing bathed in moonlight.

You can’t understand what everyone is saying; their words are muted as if you’ve all been dunked underwater. Your steps are especially slow as if the lot of you are walking through syrup.

You hear words coming out of your own mouth, though you don’t even feel your lips move.

“Allfather, maker, and master of all that is, we come to you with heavy hearts. Your children, the gods, control our actions. We seek to wage war against them.”

The clearing goes dark as if the clouds are hiding the eye of the silver moon.

 At the center of it all, there are gravestones, but they waver in and out of sight, all emblazoned with your party’s names.

The ground begins to rumble, and then part, beneath your feet, ominous blue light seeping out of the fissures. Your friends fall into the cracks, sealing them on the inside of the earth.


You wake up in a cold sweat, the ghost of the invocation still hovering on your lips. Your clothes stick to you, and your mouth feels like sand. You throw the sheet off of you and go to the kitchen, trying to calm the racing of your heart. You’re so rattled you don’t pay attention to how hard you’re walking. You get a glass of water from the tap and gulp it down, but the relief is temporary.

What are your friends going to say when you call them later, telling them that their weekly D&D session is canceled? You try to tell yourself that it was nothing but a dream, brought on by exhaustion and too much alcohol. But there was something about that ritual that felt real, and you can’t shake off your fear, no matter how many glasses of water you drink or breathing exercises you try.

You look at the digital clock on the microwave, squinting to see the numbers correctly. 3:52. It’s almost four o’clock in the morning, there’s no way that you can call your friends now. You force yourself to go back to bed, deciding to send a group text in the morning. You can get everyone together at breakfast and explain yourself then.


Morning dawns and everyone agrees to meet at the local diner a few blocks away. You still can’t shake the idea that the dream you had was not, in fact, a dream, but a vision. It has sat in your bones heavily, and you wait until everyone has gotten their meals to speak.

“I’m sorry, guys, but D&D has been canceled from now on,” you say, buying yourself some time by shoving a piece of bacon in your mouth.

Five different faces look up at you, blank with shock. Then they all speak at once.

“What? Why?!” “Oh, come on, Brayden, you can’t do that!” “I’ve been looking forward to it! Why are you doing this?”

“I had a dream that we were about to start Ragnarok and we all died. It was real. I saw your bodies disappear, the gravestones. I saw it all happen. I’m not risking your lives for a roleplaying game!”