Category: library loans

Finding Dorothy by Elizabeth Letts Review

Title: Finding Dorothy

Author: Elizabeth Letts

Age Group: Adult

Genre: Historical Fiction

Series: Standalone

Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

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

               The Wizard of Oz is a facet of Americana, a gem in film, and I haven’t met a single person who doesn’t know of Dorothy Gale and her glittering ruby slippers. But I’m slightly embarrassed to say that I didn’t know much about the man behind Oz, the books or the movie, until now. This sparkling, beautiful gem of a novel captured my heart and bewitched my imagination, wrung my heart out until it was empty, then full again. It was like this book pulled back the curtain on one of Old Hollywood’s most beloved film, seen through the eyes of L. Frank Baum’s fierce, strong widow, Maud. One of the reasons that I love historical fiction so much, as a genre, is that it puts a fictional perspective on real events, and this book delivered in spades. I can’t wait to read more from Elizabeth Letts!

               Finding Dorothy tells the story of Maud Gage-Baum, the unsinkable widow of the visionary, Lyman Frank Baum, and her fierce determination to see her late husband’s vision brought to life. It begins in Hollywood, in 1939, with Maud meeting Judy Garland at 16; Maud was 76 when she met the starlet for the first time. But to say that this book is wholly about the movie production of The Wizard of Oz would be to do this whole book a disservice. Frank Baum’s legacy is but a small part of this book, for the focus of it is Maud. From her girlhood, to college, to her marriage to Frank, the book moves back and forth between 1939 and moments from Maud’s own past. I was immediately spellbound by the gorgeous prose, and my heart was stolen by Maud, her husband, and children, as well as other members of her family. I love how this book did justice to one of America’s best loved films, and how it also tied in the creator’s history. But Maud was, unapologetically, the star of this book, and I loved every moment of it. And that ending! It had me bawling like a baby, in the best kind of way. This book is like one of the best kinds of wish fulfillment; I loved the way that it talked about Old Hollywood and Judy Garland! One of my favorite parts of the novel was the way that it emphasized that iconic song ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’; that, for me, is what I remember Judy Garland most for. Honestly, I adored this book, and I loved the way that Letts researched every single detail. Finding Dorothy is about so much more than the magical land of Oz. It is just as much about the real people who helped inspire it, and come into being.

    I absolutely adored this book; it was a sweet reminder of how much I love historical fiction, and why. It was thoroughly researched and well written, and I adored the way that it put the spotlight on the woman behind the innovator and inventor, Lyman Frank Baum. I also really liked the way that his and Maud’s personalities complemented each other:  Maud with her feet firmly planted on the ground and in reality, ready to ground Frank whenever possible, and Frank constantly dreaming of a brighter future, of dreams that eventually culminated into the bestseller The Wizard of Oz. I also enjoyed the cast of characters that framed our lovely couple: Maud’s mother, Matilda, her sister Julia and her brother T.C., and her darling niece, Magdalena. And that ending! It was so perfect, and had me in joyous tears when I finished it last night. A beautiful, wonderful book as sparkling and promising as The Emerald City itself! The bottom line: Rich with historical detail and gorgeous prose, I loved Finding Dorothy! I can’t wait to read more of Elizabeth Lett’s work! Next on deck: Circe by Madeleine Miller!

https://literatureobsessed.blogspot.com/2019/04/finding-dorothy-by-elizabeth-letts.html

Bloodleaf by Crystal Smith Review

Title: Bloodleaf

Author: Crystal Smith

Age Group: Teen/Young Adult

Genre: Fantasy

Series: Bloodleaf, book one

Star Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

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

               I found Bloodleaf on a book recommendation list for the new books of January 2019, and I ordered it. It’s been sitting on my book stack for a while, and I recently had to start over entirely. But I chose not to take Bloodleaf back, as I had already started it and was invested. With Bloodleaf, debut author Crystal Smith pens a dark, surprising fantasy that evokes Grimm’s Fairy tales and classics, like The Lord of the Rings. It wasn’t perfect, there were some flaws, but overall, this was an amazing book, and I can’t wait to see what’s in store next for Aurelia, Conrad, and Zan!

               Aurelia is the princess of Renalt, the daughter of the late king. Unwanted, surrounded by spirits, and forbidden from using her powerful blood magic, she is forced to flee to the country of her betrothed after a brutal assassination attempt. Disguising herself as a common girl, she finds the happiness she’s never known in her old life. As she begins to actively hone her magical skills, Aurelia finds herself falling for a man that can’t rule at her side. But the ghosts that haunt her so completely refuse to leave her be, and she finds herself giving in, despite the prejudices she’s carried all her life. But she soon finds herself trapped in a web of deceit, evil, and magic that only she can stop. Will she be able to balance the weight of the crown and her newfound freedom?

               This book was such a pleasant surprise! I wasn’t sure what exactly to expect with Bloodleaf, but I really enjoyed it! I loved the way that it took the classic fantasy tropes and turned them on their heads. The pacing was breakneck, and I loved Aurelia’s voice. I also loved the way that the author paid homage to classic fairy tales, specifically Grimm’s fairy tales and The Goose Girl. I also really liked the worldbuilding and the magical system of the book. But what really won me over about this debut was the characters. Aurelia was the princess no one wanted, who was forced to grow from a meek, passive girl into a strong and powerful young woman who shamelessly fights for those she loves. Lisette, Conrad, Kate, Nathaniel, and Zan made really good foils for her. Zan, though, was my absolute favorite! I almost related to him more than even Aurelia. The ending—oh, my goodness, it was crazy! I was absolutely blown away. I can’t wait for the sequel! There were a lot of times when I had to go back and reread because there were so many different characters and places to remember, and some of the romance between Zan and Aurelia felt a little contrived. Nonetheless, Crystal Smith has created a fun, dark fantasy that left me reeling, and I’m so excited for what’s coming next! The bottom line: Dark, magical, and surprising, I loved Bloodleaf, and I’m so excited for the sequel! Next on deck: The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon!

https://literatureobsessed.blogspot.com/2019/04/bloodleaf-by-crystal-smith-review.html

Lovely War by Julie Berry Review

Title: Lovely War

Author: Julie Berry

Age Group: Teen/Young Adult

Genre: Historical Fiction/Fantasy

Series: Standalone

Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

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

               A few years ago, I tried reading one of Julie Berry’s most popular novels, The Passion of Dolssa. For personal reasons, I had to shelve it. However, when I heard that she was writing a brand-new book, this time revolving around World Wars I and II and the Greek gods, I was so intrigued! I reserved it at my local library and was lucky enough to receive the first copy. Brutal, beautiful, and totally unforgettable, I was completely blown away by this epic worthy of Homer himself! This book is definitely one of my favorites of 2019, if not of all time!

Braiding together two bittersweet love stories at the dawn of World Wars I and II, Lovely War is narrated by four of the Greek gods: the lovely Aphrodite, brutal Ares, musical Apollo, and the stoic Hades. After being caught with Ares yet again, her disgruntled husband, Hephaestus, demands that she be put on trial before the entire pantheon of Greek gods. Aphrodite, however, persuades him to listen to her privately. Showcasing her best work, she tells her husband about two love stories that she had a hand in creating, with the help of a few witnesses. What unfolds is two stories, told across time, as the Goddess of Love sets out to show her family her trade.

I absolutely adored this book! Honestly, it felt as if it were written just for me. I wasn’t even in twenty pages and I was hooked. The pacing was breakneck, and I couldn’t put it down. I loved the premise of the novel—Greek gods having a family dispute! —and the different viewpoints from Aphrodite, Ares, Apollo, and Hades gave a great perspective on the events of the novel. Even more than the gods, though, I loved the humans that they watched over: James and Hazel, and Aubrey and Colette. I also adored the way that Berry adhered to historical accuracy; the notes at the back of the book and the acknowledgments fleshed out and answered any lingering questions I had about the historical details. I loved all of the characters and the gods that cupped their lives in their hands. The writing was beautiful, gorgeous, and raw. The horrors of both brutal world wars were a stark, sobering contrast to the glow of new love, against all odds. I was spellbound and horrified all at once. Meticulously researched, beautifully told, and wonderfully unique, I loved Lovely War, and it’s become one of my favorite books of the year, if not of all time! It was utterly wonderful, heartbreaking, and rewarding. The ending, for all involved, made all of the emotional investment worth it! Julie Berry has penned a modern classic in Lovely War! The bottom line: Rich, lush, beautiful and brutal, I loved every moment of Lovely War! One of my favorite books of 2019, if not of all time! Next on deck: Bloodleaf by Crystal Smith!

https://literatureobsessed.blogspot.com/2019/04/lovely-war-by-julie-berry-review.html

Two Can Keep a Secret by Karen M. McManus Revi…

Title: Two Can Keep a Secret

Author: Karen M. McManus

Age Group: Teen/Young Adult

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Series: Standalone

Star Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

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

               Before now, I haven’t read any of Karen M. McManus’s work. I’ve had an audiobook of her debut novel, One of Us is Lying, in my arsenal for a while now. When I saw her sophomore novel sitting on a shelf at my local library, the creepy cover and strange title caught my eye. It reminded me of that Pierces song that plays on the Pretty Little Liars credits! Creepy, dark, and shocking, I really enjoyed Two Can Keep a Secret, but there was also a lot of different threads that were confusing to me. Luckily, the ending was what saved the book for me; it was like a brutal punch to the gut! I can’t wait to listen to One of Us is Lying, and I can’t wait to see what this amazing author has in store next! This book was a bit overambitious, but it was an awesome read anyway! One of my favorite books of 2019 for sure!

               Echo Ridge is the essence of small-town America. But not everything is as picture-perfect in Echo Ridge as it seems. Twins Ellery and Ezra have to move to their mother’s hometown after an unfortunate accident that forces her to go to rehab. Living with a grandmother they’ve never known, Ellery, a true crime buff, knows that something is going on just under the surfaces of this town’s shiny veneer. When she meets Malcolm, the little brother of the man accused of murdering a missing girl, things grow even more complicated. But another woman disappears, and Ellery and Ezra are determined to unearth the town’s dangerous secrets. Even if it means risking their own lives…

               I really liked this book. For a mystery, though, it was a little too ambitious for me. There were three separate storylines happening throughout the novel, and it was really hard to keep track of all of the different characters and all of the events straight. There were times that I had to go back and make sure of what I was reading. Nonetheless, it was really enjoyable. Echo Ridge felt creepy and claustrophobic, and I constantly found myself wondering who the bad guy was. The pacing was good; I liked the way the viewpoint went back and forth between Ellery and Malcolm. Both of their voices were very distinct, but I think Ellery was my favorite, being a true crime buff myself. I liked all of the side characters, though they could’ve been fleshed out a little bit more for me. I also liked Ellery and Ezra’s family, particularly their mother and grandmother, and I loved how the history of Echo Ridge tied into their own personal pasts. The ending, though, was what really saved the book for me; it chilled my blood and I’m still thinking about it, nearly a week later. What a creepy, dark little book! The bottom line: Though it was a little overambitious for me, I really liked Two Can Keep a Secret, especially the ending, and I can’t wait for what Karen M. McManus has up her sleeve next! Next on deck: Lovely War by Julie Berry!

https://literatureobsessed.blogspot.com/2019/04/two-can-keep-secret-by-karen-m-mcmanus.html

Enchantee by Gita Trelease Review

Title: Enchantee

Author: Gita Trelease

Age Group: Teen/Young Adult

Genre: Historical Fiction/Fantasy

Series: Enchantee, book one

Star Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

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

               Enchantee has been one of my most anticipated books of 2019, and for the most part, it didn’t disappoint. I ordered it at my local library, and it’d been sitting at the top of my library stack for a while. As soon as I was finished with Superman, I dove in. It had all the things that I love in a novel. Magic, romance, revolution, intrigue, dark secrets, strong sibling bonds! I really enjoyed a lot of elements in this book, but there were some aspects that I wish had been fleshed out more. Nonetheless, this was a knockout series debut, and I can’t wait for the next book in the series! Gita Trelease is a new author to watch, and I can’t wait to see what’s up her sleeve!

               Camille Durbonne is a young woman who is trapped. After the brutal death of her parents from smallpox, she and her sister, Sophie, are left penniless. Their older brother, Alain, has become a drunkard. Despite his position as a soldier for the French crown, he spends all of his money gambling and drinking. With her dreams to be the first female printer nearly crushed, she is forced to use the forbidden magic passed down through her family to disguise herself as a wealthy baroness. Infiltrating the sparkling, dangerous world of Versailles and the wealthy royals and nobles that rule it, Camille must use all of her wits, the la magie she inherited from her mother, and find a way to save herself and her sister. But even with the sudden arrival of a man she may love, she discovers that everyone has something to hide, and no one can be trusted…

               This book was very good! I really enjoyed it. I’m such a sucker for historical fiction, and this story had elements of magic and fantasy thrown in! It made for an intoxicating debut. The pacing was breakneck, and I was spellbound by the very first page. The setting was gorgeous: Versailles! The period of The French Revolution is one of my favorite historical periods to study, and the prose was so lush and beautiful I felt like I was really there. I also adored the characters, especially Camille, Sophie, Lazare, and Seguin. I also really liked the intrigue and secrets that permeated the French court, seductive and frightening. The only thing that I wish had been better was the experience of Lazare, as a person of color, in that time period. I wish it had been fleshed out more. Nonetheless, with the breathtaking ending, I cannot wait for the next book in this beautiful, tense new series! I’m so excited to see what’s coming for Camille, Sophie, and Lazare! The bottom line: Beautiful, lush, and seductive, I loved Enchantee, and I can’t wait for what Gita Trelease is going to do next! Next on deck: Two Can Keep a Secret by Karen M. McManus!

https://literatureobsessed.blogspot.com/2019/04/enchantee-by-gita-trelease-review.html

Superman: Dawnbreaker by Matt de la Pena Revie…

Title: Superman: Dawnbreaker

Author: Matt de la Pena

Age Group: Teen/Young Adult

Genre: Action/Adventure

Series: DC Icons, book four

Star Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

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

               The DC Icons series has become one of my favorites within the last year, and I’ve been waiting to get my hands on the last one since last year. I reserved it at my library and didn’t have any more renewals on it, so I pushed it to the top of my stack as soon as I was finished with Love and Luck. DC is one of my favorite comic companies, and I was so excited when they announced a young adult series, focusing on some of DC’s brightest stars. This one was written by Matt de la Pena, and I’d like to note that I wasn’t aware of his sexual harassment allegations until after I borrowed the book. But Clark Kent is the focus of this story, and I loved the story of young Superman! It reminded me of why he is one of my favorite superheroes ever, and possibly one of the world’s. This one is probably my favorite of the whole bunch, aside from Catwoman. What a fantastic ending to one of my favorite series!

               Clark Kent has always known that he was different, and not just in a common adolescent way. He can run impossibly fast, heal from wounds almost instantly, and has the strength of several human men. But when he begins to hear rumors about people disappearing from Smallville, he and his best friend, Lana Lang, take it upon themselves to investigate. When a mysterious scientific experiment called Project Dawn comes to life, Clark must decide to turn away from his otherworldly powers, or embrace them, in hopes of saving those he loves…

               I really enjoyed this book! My personal opinion of Superman has changed throughout the years, but Dawnbreaker reminded me of how much I love Clark Kent. I loved the way that the author took the familiar superhero and gave him a brand-new spin. It felt like I was being introduced to him all over again. The pacing of this book was breakneck, and I was instantly spellbound. I also enjoyed the way the author used the narrative to address one of the hottest topics in our political climate right now: immigration! This book is probably my favorite of the series, aside from Soulstealer; it was so well-written and thoughtful. Clark’s journey from a misfit desperate to fit in to the boy who would become one of the world’s most iconic superheroes was fantastic! His character development was wonderful. I also enjoyed the little cameos that felt like Easter eggs for DC fans: Lex Luthor and Lana Lang! The Mankins family was also a great foil to the small-town folks of Smallville; I especially loved Bryan. I just wish that Lana had gotten more of a space in the narrative instead of a supporting role. And that ending! Oh, my goodness! It was amazing. This is bittersweet for me, because I had so much fun reading this series; I wish it wasn’t over! The bottom line: Thoughtful, action-packed, and bittersweet, I loved this take on a teenage Superman! Long live Clark Kent! Next on deck: Enchantee by Gita Trelease!

https://literatureobsessed.blogspot.com/2019/04/superman-dawnbreaker-by-matt-de-la-pena.html

Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid…

Title: Daisy Jones and the Six

Author: Taylor Jenkins Reid

Age Group: Adult

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Series: Standalone

Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

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

I’ve been hearing about Daisy Jones and the Six for months now, and on impulse, I ordered it from my local library. Much to my delighted surprise, I was lucky enough to receive my own library’s copy the same day it arrived! This book was unusual, but gritty, heartfelt, and deep; I loved it. The format initially threw me off; it was more like reading a dossier or a movie script rather than a novel. But honestly, once I got past that, I really enjoyed it. It was like the author used the implosion of the international musical sensation, Fleetwood Mac, and used it as inspiration for this raw, emotional novel, complete with original music and song lyrics! I was swept away by this novel, and I can’t wait to read more of Reid’s superstar work. Daisy and the Six has become one of my favorite books of 2019!

Daisy Jones and the Six took the world by storm when they debuted in the late 70s and early 80s. They were an international sensation, with the magnetic, sultry Daisy Jones headlining alongside Billy Dunne, a moody guitarist and songwriter. But at the height of their popularity, the band split and fractured. No one knows why… Until now. Going deep into each band member’s mind and psyche, the author uses documents and in-depth interviews to get the real story. Full of music, drugs, alcohol, and of course, rock and roll, we are given a front row seat to the band and their family members as they reveal what really happened the night of the final split.

This book was fantastic. I devoured it in a little under three days. There were nearly a hundred holds on it at my local library, so as soon as I was finished with The Afterward, I pushed it to the top of my stack. The format threw me off a little bit; I didn’t really know to expect, but it really fit the mood of the novel. It felt like I was reading a juicy celebrity tell-all, even though I knew that it was all fiction. It brought to mind one of my favorite eras of music: the 60s and 70s. It also reminded me of one of my favorite bands: Fleetwood Mac. The format meant the pacing was breakneck, and one of my favorite parts was that we got the view point of every single person involved: managers, band members, Daisy, Billy, and the rest of the band. It was so detailed, and it felt like I was really there! And that ending! Oh, my goodness, I didn’t expect it at all. This is my first time reading Taylor Jenkins Reid’s work, but I can promise it won’t be the last! This searing, sexy novel stole my heart and bewitched my imagination, and I loved every moment of it! The bottom line: Daisy Jones and the Six was a rich, exciting novel about one of my favorite musical eras: the 60s and 70s! Told in an interview and dossier style, I loved it! One of the best books of 2019! Next on deck: Love and Luck by Jenna Evans Welch!

https://literatureobsessed.blogspot.com/2019/04/daisy-jones-and-six-by-taylor-jenkins.html

The Afterward by E.K. Johnston Review

Title: The Afterward

Author: E.K. Johnston

Age Group: Teen/Young Adult

Genre: Fantasy

Series: Standalone

Star Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

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

               E.K. Johnston is one of my favorite authors, so when I heard that she was writing a brand-new book coming out in February, I ordered it from my local library. After I finished Archenemies, I pushed it right to the top of my stack; I renewed it once and didn’t want to have to return it without reading it. And this book… It’s probably one of the most unique in her entire body of work. It is an adventure story, told from two points in time and three points of view. It was full of brave, courageous female knights, a just queen, forbidden love, thievery, magic and mayhem, and I really enjoyed it! It wasn’t entirely perfect, but it is easily one of my favorite books of 2019. I’m almost wishing that it was a series, waiting for a sequel, so I don’t have to say goodbye to all the friends I’ve made!

               A group of female knights set out at the behest of a young prince, in hopes of eradicating an ancient, untold evil. After defeating the Old God and stopping his tyranny from spreading across the world, they return to their old lives. But the girls, save their leader, Sir Erris, are having troubles readjusting, particularly Kalanthe Ironheart, a knight-in-training burdened by debts and doubts and the futility of her future, and Olsa Rhetsdaughter, a ne’er do well thief who longs for freedom, in every sense of the world. But it turns out that even though they’ve finished their epic quest, other problems arise, and this time, it’s possible that more than hearts will be broken…

               I really enjoyed this book! I loved the way that it took the classic adventure trope and turned it on its head. I also really liked the format, and the way that the book went back and forth between the before, during the actual quest, and the after, where the women had to deal with the aftermath. This book has everything that I love in a fantasy novel: tough girls who take no prisoners and are strong and feminine at the same time, forbidden love, magic, war, (lady) knights, and strong friendships! It was a wonderful novel. The pacing was breakneck, and I loved the way that the different times were shown. I also adored Kalanthe and Osla’s distinct, authentic voices, and the way the narration was made more interesting by both of their perspectives. I’m also such a sucker for a good love story, and this book delivered several times over on that score! I loved the ending, too. The only thing that really bothered me was that several of the side characters weren’t sketched out very well, and there were so many to keep track of that I wish there had been a dramatis personae at the front of the book. It also got confusing when the time periods switched; but after rereading some passages, it got easier. Nonetheless, I really enjoyed The Afterward; it’s probably my favorite book in Johnston’s extensive body of work. Easily one of my favorite books of 2019! The bottom line: Rich, enchanting, funny and heartfelt, I loved The Afterward! Next on deck: Daisy Jones and The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid!

https://literatureobsessed.blogspot.com/2019/03/the-afterward-by-ek-johnston-review.html

Archenemies by Marissa Meyer Review

Title: Archenemies

Author: Marissa Meyer

Age Group: Teen/Young Adult

Genre: Science Fiction

Series: Renegades, book two

Star Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

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

               Renegades, the first book in this projected trilogy, was one of my favorite books of last year. I’d checked out Archenemies three different times, but was never able to read it before it went back to the library. I went to book club a few weeks ago and saw it sitting on the shelf, and I couldn’t resist! Archenemies is a great sequel, and though it took a little while for me to remember what was happening, I loved it. I can’t wait for Supernova! It wasn’t perfect, there were some things that had me confused and frustrated, but overall, Meyer did a really great job, and I can’t wait for the last book! I was absolutely blown away. Superheroes are one of my favorite classic tropes, and I loved Meyer’s dark, morally gray take on it. Aside from Heartless, the Renegades series has become my favorite series in Meyer’s repertoire.

               Archenemies picks up where Renegades left off, with Nova finally infiltrating the Renegades and waiting for an opportunity to destroy them from the inside. But things swiftly become even more complicated as she struggles to hide her true identity. Even worse, her loyalties are muddled the longer she stays with the heroes, and with Adrian, the boy she is undeniably attracted to. When a deadly new weapon being created to neutralize prodigy’s powers, Nova must decide where she truly stands, with her family, the Anarchists, or with the heroes, the Renegades. For war is coming once again, and everyone has something to hide…

               This book was amazing! Sequels always freak me out, to be honest. All too often, they don’t live up to the hype. Though there were some slight issues at times, I really enjoyed it overall. The prose was sharp and cutting, the pacing breakneck; I especially loved the moral dilemmas that were happening throughout the book, and not just for Nova. I loved the way Meyer ratcheted up the tension throughout the novel. It took me a little while to remember what was happening, but it was really easy to get caught up as the story went on. The romantic tension between Nova and Adrian had me absolutely riveted. All the slow burn feels! I also enjoyed all of the characters, but especially the Anarchists and Renegades. And that ending! Oh my God! How am I supposed to wait until November for Supernova?! I am dying here. What an amazing sequel, and I can’t wait for the last book in this dark, thought-provoking trilogy! The bottom line: Thought-provoking, shocking, and action-packed, I loved Archenemies, and I can’t wait for Supernova! Next on deck: The Afterward by E.K. Johnston!

  https://literatureobsessed.blogspot.com/2019/03/title-archenemies-author-marissa-meyer.html

Damsel by Elana K. Arnold Review

Title: Damsel

Author: Elana K. Arnold

Age Group: Teen/Young Adult

Genre: Fantasy

Series: Standalone

Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

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

               Happy International Women’s Day, everyone! I was browsing the shelves at my local library, and I had to return Damsel before I could read it the first time. When I saw it sitting on the shelf of the other library I frequent, I snatched it up. Honestly, what got me at first was its beautiful, gorgeous cover. But the story inside ripped me apart, put me back together, and had me roaring with triumph and rage. With gorgeous, lush prose, a premise that tipped a familiar fairy tale onto its head, and wonderful characters, I will never forget Damsel! One of my favorite books of 2018, hands down! A triumph of heart, audacity, and horror, all juxtaposed together! Elana K. Arnold has outdone herself with this book.

               You think you know the tale of Sleeping Beauty. A prince, a sleeping damsel, and a dragon. But in Prince Emory’s world, a prince can only become king after he’s slain a dragon and rescued the damsel imprisoned by the creature. He rescues a beautiful damsel, who he names Ama and has no memory of her life before being the dragon’s captive. Everything is as it should be… Or so it seems. When Ama discovers that art, thinking, and being anything but a wife and mother are barred to her, she begins to question everything she thought she knew. There are fiery secrets to be uncovered by the lost young woman, and she soon discovers that nothing is as it seems to be…

               I just finished this book last night and I’m still reeling. It was brutal, beautiful, unapologetically feminist, fierce and thought-provoking, and I loved every moment of it. That isn’t to say, of course, that there weren’t times when I was so emotionally overwhelmed that I had to put the book down and do something else. By all means, this book was not easy to get through. It had violence of every sort, but I think by doing so, Arnold was paying homage to the original fairy tale. I am, still, absolutely blown over. The writing was beautiful, and the pacing was breakneck; even when I wasn’t reading, it was still heavy on my mind. I read through half of it the first day I started, and I broke the second half over two days, as I’ve been busy with personal issues. I finished it last night in the tub and was blown away, in the best way! I loved Ama, and her character development from a lost, confused girl into a confident and self-assured young woman. Emory, Pawlin, the queen mother, Tillie, and Alyss helped provide great foils to her. I loved the way that this book called out misogyny and sexism, and talked about consent and agency. And that ending! I’m still thinking about it. Arnold did a fantastic job. The only thing I would say would be to be cautious and give this to older teens, as the violence gets a big focus throughout the book. Nonetheless, this book is definitely one of my recent favorites. Absolutely phenomenal! The bottom line: Dark, gorgeous, and surprising, I loved Damsel, especially the surprising ending! What an amazing book, especially considering the political climate we’re living in currently. Next on deck: Archenemies by Marissa Meyer!

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