Adult Fiction, Anthologies, Blog Tours, Book Review, Fantasy, Fiction

Blog Tour [Review]: Dead of Winter

Title: Dead of Winter
Edited by: Lindy Ryan
Publisher: Blackspot Books
Publication Date: January 26, 2021

Where to buy: AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | BOOK DEPOSITORY

Rating: 4 Stars

Thank you Jean BookNerd, Blackspot Books and for an opportunity to be a part of this blog tour.

Synopsis

Eight chilling tales to read under the Cold Moon.

A tinker’s son acquires a cursed soul.

A dying woman is haunted by her own reflection.

An uninvited presence haunts a Christmas seance.

A festive holiday turns macabre.

Despite the twinkling lights and steaming cocoa, the end of the year is the darkest time of the year—a season of short days, long nights, and cold skies. In this special anniversary anthology, the authors of Black Spot Books mix Ye Olde Yuletide hauntings with modern-day holiday horrors to weave a chilling new collection of dark winter tales. From frozen forests stalked by eerie Christmas ghosts to rotting gifts of winter malice, the spirits of Christmas come home for the holidays in the Dead of Winter.  

Praise for DEAD OF WINTER

“Readers looking for a wintry fright will appreciate a few gems [among] eight winter-themed tales of terror.” —Publishers Weekly

“Diverse, unexpected, and solid in characterization, plots, and evolution…horror fans will relish the creative results in [Dead of Winter] that delights with its original, thought-provoking creations and twists on holiday themes.” —D. Donavan, Midwest Book Review

“Editor Ryan’s selections perfectly fit the dark, gray, wintry mood that hits when cold weather has dragged on for too long. This anthology features eight short stories, each gripping, mind-bending, and truly creepy. Dead of Winter has something for every horror reader.” —Carrie Rasak, Booklist

Foreword by 2018 Bram Stoker Nominated Author Monique Snyman.
Edited by Lindy Ryan

Review

I have to say, anthologies are becoming a personal favorite of mine. Dead of Winter did not disappoint. You have an variety of different stories that take some winter favorites like Santa Claus and add a little bit of spice to it. Winter is no longer a quaint and quiet, but mysterious, dark and eerie. Dead of Winter brings a collection of stories together of nightmarish visions, scary winter nights and overall a pleasurable reading experience. We are brought back to the winter winter before electricity was invested, a winter that more feared than embraced. The anthology is edited perfectly, each story seamlessly intertwining in the next thrilling read.

One story that stood out the most to me was A Face Behind the Christmas Ball. This story took Santa Claus, a beloved magical being, and creates him into a scary nightmare to think. I enjoyed how that perspective was changed and written so well. Children are no longer jumping for joy at an encounter but are holding their blankets closer ta night. It is unique, thrilling and so enjoyable to read.

Overall, Dead of Night is a book I would highly recommend for folks who like to live on the edge and stray away from a more cozy winter read.

About the Authors

Lindy Ryan is an entrepreneur, award-winning professor, and publishing professional. In 2011, Ryan was part of the executive leadership team that founded Radiant Advisors, a business intelligence research and advisory firm, where Miller developed and launched the company’s editorial and research divisions, and later its data visualization practice, for clients that included 21st Century Fox Films, Fox Networks, Warner Bros., and Disney. She is the author of numerous papers and two textbooks – The Visual Imperative: Creating a Culture of Visual Discovery (Elsevier) and Visual Data Storytelling with Tableau (Pearson). She went on to teach at Rutgers University and Montclair State University, and remains a respected academic researcher. Now an accomplished publishing professional, Ryan currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA).

Ryan is an award-winning editor and author. Currently, she is collaborating as the lead author on a horror franchise project with a top veteran Hollywood director and an award-winning screenwriter. When she’s not immersed in books, Ryan is an avid historical researcher, with specific interest in nautical and maritime history, cryptozoology, and ancient civilizations. She is represented by Gandolfo Helin & Fountain Literary Management. She also writes clean, seasonal romance under the name Lindy Miller. Ryan currently resides in Juneau, Alaska where she enjoys hiking, crafting, and photography. She is a member of the Horror Writers Association.
FACEBOOK | INSTAGRAM | TWITTER | WEBSITE | GOODREADS

Monique Snyman‘s mind is a confusing bedlam of glitter and death, where candy-coated gore is found in abundance and homicidal unicorns thrive. Sorting out the mess in her head is particularly irksome before she’s ingested a specific amount of coffee, which is equal to half the recommended intake of water for humans per day. When she’s not playing referee to her imaginary friends or trying to overdose on caffeine, she’s doing something with words—be it writing, reading, or fixing all the words.

Monique Snyman lives in Johannesburg, South Africa, with her husband and an adorable Chihuahua. She’s the author of MUTI NATION, a horror novel set in South Africa, and Bram Stoker Award® nominated novel, THE NIGHT WEAVER, which is the first installment in a dark fantasy series for young adults.
FACEBOOK | INSTAGRAM | TWITTER | WEBSITE | GOODREADS

Daniel Buell is working as a content creator and blogger. He is an author from New Jersey. His first debut short story is being published in DEAD OF WINTER anthology by Black Spot Books.
FACEBOOK | INSTAGRAM | GOODREADS

Laura Morrison lives in the Metro Detroit area. She has a B.S. in applied ecology and environmental science from Michigan Technological University. Before she was a writer and stay-at-home mom, she battled invasive species and researched turtles.
INSTAGRAM | TWITTER | WEBSITE | GOODREADS

Sam Hooker writes darkly humorous fantasy novels about thing like tyrannical despots and the masked scoundrels who tickle them without mercy. He knows all the best swear words, though he refuses to repeat them because he doesn’t want to attract goblins.
FACEBOOK | INSTAGRAM | TWITTER | WEBSITE | GOODREADS

Alcy Leyva is a Bronx-born writer, teacher, and pizza enthusiast. He graduated from Hunter College with a B.A. in English (Creative Writing) and an MFA in Fiction from The New School. He has been published in Popmatters, The Rumpus, Entropy Mag, and Quiet Lunch Magazine.
FACEBOOK | INSTAGRAM | TWITTER | WEBSITE | GOODREADS

Cassondra Windwalker is a poet and novelist writing full time from the coast of the Kenai Peninsula in Alaska. She is supported by a tolerant husband, three wandering offspring, a useless dog, and a zombie cat. Her hobbies include hiking, photography, and having other people’s demons over for tea.
FACEBOOK | INSTAGRAM | TWITTER | GOODREADS

Dalena Storm has lived in India, Japan, Germany, and on both coasts of the United States. She currently resides in a converted general store in the woods of Western Massachusetts with a rare Burmese temple cat, a purring black fluff-beast, a professor of magic, and an infant with an astonishing ability to resist sleep.
INSTAGRAM | TWITTER | WEBSITE | GOODREADS

N.J. Ember is a paranormal fiction author who loves to write stories about survival and triumph over adversity. Whether her characters are dealing with the paranormal or everyday life, she seeks to show that strength is not always about being superhuman or invulnerable. She enjoys anything with mystery, suspense and horror, so when she’s not writing you can find her watching shows like Orphan Black, Penny Dreadful and Sherlock.

She currently lives in Michigan with her grandpa and a forever growing collection of books and Funko Pop! figures.
FACEBOOK | INSTAGRAM | TWITTER | WEBSITE | GOODREADS

Tiffany Meuret is a writer of monsters and twisted fairy tales. Her publications include Shoreline of Infinity, Luna Station Quarterly, Ellipsis Zine, and others. When not reading or writing, she is usually binge watching comfortable sitcoms from her childhood or telling her kids to put on their shoes for the tenth time. She lives in sunny Arizona with her husband, two kids, two chihuahuas, gecko, and tortoise.FACEBOOK | INSTAGRAM | TWITTER | WEBSITE | GOODREADS

…and now for a Giveaway!!

Click the pic to enter the giveaway

Giveaway is open to International. | Must be 13+ to Enter

–  1 Winner will receive an Exclusive DEAD OF WINTER Storytellers BOX
– 1 Winner will receive a $20 Amazon Gift Card

Blog Tours, Fantasy, Legends, Myths & Fables, YA Paranormal, Young Adult Fiction

Blog Tour [ Review]: Sisters of the Moon

Author: Alexandra Weis
Publisher: Vesuvian Books

Release Date: September 22nd, 2020
Genre: Young Adult Paranormal Fantasy

*Thank you Vesuvian Books and Jean BookNerd Blog tours for providing a review copy and for the opportunity to be on this tour. *

Where to buy: AMAZON 

Rating 4/5 Stars

Synopsis

A monstrous fate will turn a girl into a legend.

On an island in Lake Obersee, where The Sisters of St. Gertrude abide, a destitute Moor named Durra arrives. Sold for taxes, she and her two companions tend to the nuns and their collection of cats. At night, she combs the library for details on the order, the remote island, and the beasts howling outside her window.

But when a prank reveals the sisters’ gruesome secret, Durra is forced to accept a new fate. Bestowed an unearthly power, she must choose between life as a nun or living among the monsters beyond the convent walls.

Her path is about to change the tide in the ultimate war. The war between good and evil.

Praise for SISTERS OF THE MOON

“Alexandrea Weis does an outstanding job of painting succinct, hard-hitting scenes that carry Durra from a new role in a convent to a more active position confronting supernatural forces and long-hidden truths that could change not just her life, but the world. Sisters of the Moon represents a fine example of the use of the novella form at its best. It creates a superior blend of action, mystery, and evolving protagonist dilemmas and growth that will keep readers on their toes and involved up to the story’s epilogue of unexpected lessons in survival and achievement. Highly recommended for those who like their supernatural mystery stories to embrace a sense of character growth where the fine line between good and evil proves more mercurial than most.” —D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review

“While a horror story on the surface, Sisters of the Moon is more than a simple tale of three young women sold to satisfy the debts of others who uncover a dark secret. It’s more than just a fresh take on the werewolf mythos or another banal story about the age-old battle between good and evil. Stunning in its imagery and richly detailed, Weis’s Sisters of the Moon blends history and religion into a tale of sisterhood and empowerment as delightfully slow-burning as it is sinister, smart, and not at all shy about probing the status quo of the treatment of women who challenge patriarchal systems–and who fight to defend what is right. Sisters of the Moon is the kind of supernatural gothic horror women readers in the genre have been waiting for.” —Seven Jane, The Nerd Daily  

Review

Sisters of the Moon takes us on the journey of Durra, Emily and Leida, three girls sold off to a convent for tax money. Durra and Emily are both slaves, while Leida was sold off due to a sexual act that was deemed unholy. Before I continue the review, I do want to mention some content warnings: there is mention of sex slavery, sexual abuse towards a child/minor and physical abuse. Please use discretion when reading if any of the above is a trigger or area of discomfort for you.

We start the story with Durra, Emily and Leida tied inside a boat awaiting their fate. All fear the possibility of death or a crueler punishment they have faced before. When they arrive to their destination, they realize they are being sold to work in a convent. But nothing is all as it seems and this convent is not like the ones many people know. There is something different, almost supernatural with the land surrounding the convent. But the girls are being treated much better than their previous homes and most of their weariness is blanketed by the hospitality and sense of protection they feel. But after a prank gone wrong, Durra must figure out what her next step will be – stay or risk everything and leave.

I haven’t read a paranormal fantasy in sometime, so this was both refreshing and intriguing. There is some religious presence to it that someone who doesn’t follow religion won’t be too off put by. Yes, there’s a convent, but it is nothing like the ones we have heard about. They have pictures and history of saints no one has heard of. Their convent also houses cats, which is peculiar given the notation that most Christians as Leida pointed out would have called a witch trial just seeing the sight of cats in a convent. In regards to the people in the convent, I admired how the convent was built by the women who have faced similar fates as Durra.

“I have no fear of monsters—I have known many in my life.”

This quote resonated the most because the girls, especially durra have less fear for the supernatural than the man who have put them through tortuous and unspeakable acts of abuse. The supernatural are seen as a walk in the park compared to the men Durra has encountered. Without spoiling much of the supernatural component, let’s just say it’s the howl that sucks me into this story. Speaking of Durra, she is such a brave and empowering character. She continues to show just how powerful she is and how much she did not let her past define her. Emily is full of spunk and sass and really brings levity to Durra’s more serious nature. Leida finishes that compliment by being the newest to this experience. She still has a sense of innocence that have been torn form both Durra and Emily through their lives as slaves. All characters were so well written and really worked well in the larger story. I couldn’t help but invested in all three journeys.

“Men are afraid of what they do not know, but women embrace it.”

A tale full of mystery and dark secrets, Sisters of the moon is an eerie novel that is perfect for the spooky season. It tackles the pain each girl has experienced and uses that pain to grow and embrace the unknown. Alexandra Weis beautifully creates a backdrop full of horror, intrigue and curiosity. This book is a page turner that will keep you on your toes, send shivers down your spine while you yearn for more pages to magically appear.

About The Author

Alexandrea Weis, RN-CS, PhD, is a multi-award-winning author of over twenty-seven novels, a screenwriter, ICU Nurse, and historian who was born and raised in the French Quarter of New Orleans. Having grown up in the motion picture industry as the daughter of a director, she learned to tell stories from a different perspective and began writing at the age of eight. Infusing the rich tapestry of her hometown into her novels, she believes that creating vivid characters makes a story moving and memorable. A member of the Horror Writers Association and International Thriller Writers Association, Weis writes mystery, suspense, thrillers, horror, crime fiction, and romance. She lives with her husband and pets in New Orleans where she is a permitted/certified wildlife rehabber with the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries and rescues orphaned and injured animals.

Author Links: Website | Twitter | Goodreads | Facebook | Instagram

And now for a Giveaway!!!

Click on the picture to enter the giveaway!!

1 Winner will receive the SISTERS OF THE MOON Storytellers BOX (Grim Reader Collection).Ends November 16th, 2020

Giveaway is open to International. | Must be 13+ to Enter

Link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/e849f7751945/

Blog Tours, Fantasy, Young Adult Fiction

Blog Tour [Review]: A Golden Fury

Click Here to check out the Blog Tour
Author: Samantha Cohoe
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Release Date: October 13th, 2020
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

*Thank you Wednesdays book for the opportunity to review and be part of the blog tour!*

Where to Buy: Amazon | Barnes & Noble  | Bookshop.org | Books-A-Million

Rating 3/5 Stars

Synopsis

Set in eighteenth century England, Samantha Cohoe’s debut novel, A GOLDEN FURY (Wednesday Books; October 13, 2020), follows a young alchemist as she tries to save the people she loves from the curse of the Philosopher’s Stone. The streets of London and Oxford come to life as this historical fantasy unravels. Weaving together an alluring story of magic and danger, Samantha’s debut has her heroine making messy decisions as she toes the line between good and evil while it becomes blurred.

Thea Hope longs to be an alchemist out of the shadow of her famous mother. The two of them are close to creating the legendary Philosopher’s Stone—whose properties include immortality and can turn any metal into gold—but just when the promise of the Stone’s riches is in their grasp, Thea’s mother destroys the Stone in a sudden fit of violent madness.

While combing through her mother’s notes, Thea learns that there’s a curse on the Stone that causes anyone who tries to make it to lose their sanity. With the threat of the French Revolution looming, Thea is sent to Oxford for her safety, to live with the father who doesn’t know she exists.

But in Oxford, there are alchemists after the Stone who don’t believe Thea’s warning about the curse—instead, they’ll stop at nothing to steal Thea’s knowledge of how to create the Stone. But Thea can only run for so long, and soon she will have to choose: create the Stone and sacrifice her sanity, or let the people she loves die.

A GOLDEN FURY and the curse of the Philosopher’s Stone will haunt you long after the final page.

*A Nerd Daily YA Debut to Watch Out for in 2020*

“Sharply written with a crackling, compassionately determined heroine, A Golden Fury is a vivid ride through eighteenth century Europe with darkness and dread creeping at its corners. Utterly enchanting.”

– Emily A. Duncan, New York Times bestselling author of Wicked Saints

“An engaging concoction of fantasy, romance, and historical fiction.” Booklist

“Cohoe situates the supernatural among the historical, referencing the French Revolution and the Enlightenment while…keeping a sense of urgency as Thea struggles with the magical, demonic pull of the Stone.”

Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

“The attention to detail in the story is excellent…. Thea herself is a confident lead with a strong voice. A solid fantasy to

flesh out the world of alchemy that most readers know only from ‘Harry Potter.'” School Library Journal

“Cohoe transmutes the legend of the Philosopher’s Stone into a dark, intoxicating tale of ambition, obsession, and sacrifice. Prepare for a magic that will consume you.”

– Rosamund Hodge, New York Times bestselling author of Cruel Beauty and Bright Smoke, Cold Fire

“Steeped in mystery and magic, Samantha Cohoe’s A Golden Fury immerses readers in beautifully rendered world where magic and science mix, and where the intoxication of power can be deadly. Whip-smart Thea is a heroine readers will root for.” – Lisa Maxwell, New York Times bestselling author of The Last Magician

Review

Alchemy? A Philosopher’s Stone? A dark secret? A Golden Fury by Samantha Cohoe has all three and more. A magical read about a powerful curse and the girl who is trying to warn everyone and save them. This was a delightful read that felt a bit short in the excitement area.

Let’s begin with what I enjoyed…..

I think the author has the potential to create a creative storyline. This was shown at the very beginning of the novel. I enjoyed the backdrop of Thea and her mother’s story. Two alchemists close to creating the elusive Philosopher’s stone. But through the work, we also are introduced to the relationship between Thea and her mother and realize all is not glitz and glamor. Thea, desperately wants to leave the emotional abusive person her mother is. Her mother’s madness prompts Thea to find a solution to cure it, thus beginning Thea’s own journey into creating a Philosopher’s Stone of her own. Without spoiling anything, the story takes a dark turn and you begin to question which character Thea can truly trust. I enjoyed the mystery of figuring it all out.

 As you may have seen in my previous reviews, I am really driven by characters and Thea was another character I enjoyed. She was relatable in some way, was not perfect and was allowed to make and learn from her mistakes. The author did not disappoint in that part and I was very pleased with reading Thea’s character development. Thea’s focus toward her craft was a bit of a refresher from stories geared mostly toward a romantic partner or romance storyline.

I loved the focus on Alchemy. As a person who grew up watching Full Metal Alchemist, this part of the book intrigued me the most and was my second driving force to finishing it. I would be happy to see more works with this magic focus from the author.

Now on to the part I felt meh about….

While the first part of the book had a strong storyline, the last third of the book felt unfinished. You get a sprinkle of a romance that I would have liked to see develop earlier in the story and you are left with an average ending. To sum it up, the pacing felt a bit off and may have made an overall story with great potential fall just a little short. With that being said, was it terrible? Not at all. Would I still recommend? Of course! This book will have a fan base in anyone who loves magic mixed with a historical element.

Samantha Cohoe

About the Author

Samantha Cohoe writes historically-inspired young adult fantasy. She was raised in San Luis Obispo, California, where she enjoyed an idyllic childhood of beach trips, omnivorous reading, and writing stories brimming with adverbs. She currently lives in Denver with her family and divides her time among teaching Latin, mothering, writing, reading, and deleting adverbs. A Golden Fury is her debut novel.

Author Links: Instagram | Twitter

Fantasy, Legends, Myths & Fables, Young Adult Fiction

Inkyard Press 2020 Reads Tour: Night of the Dragon

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Title: Night of the Dragon
Author: Julie Kagawa
Publisher: Inkyard Press
Pages: 368
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
Release Date: March 31st, 2020

Where to Buy: Barnes and Noble |Amazon| IndieBound  |Books-A-Million

*Thank you Inkyard Press for the opportunity to be a part of this blog tour and for the review copy. The thoughts written are my own and have not been influenced by anyone*

Synopsis

All is lost.

To save everyone she loves from imminent death, kitsune shapeshifter Yumeko gave up the final piece of the Scroll of a Thousand Prayers. Now she and her ragtag band of companions must make one desperate final effort to stop the Master of Demons from using the scroll to call the Great Kami Dragon and make the wish that will plunge the empire into chaos.

Shadow clan assassin Kage Tatsumi has regained control of his body and agreed to a true deal with the devil—the demon inside him, Hakaimono. They will share his body and work with Yumeko to stop a madman, and to separate Hakaimono from Tatsumi and the cursed sword that trapped the demon for nearly a millennium.

But even with their combined skills and powers, this unlikely team of heroes knows the forces of evil may be impossible to overcome. And there is another player in the battle for the scroll, a player who has been watching, waiting for the right moment to pull strings that no one even realized existed…until now.

Review

Quick note: This is the third book in the series. I will try to make my review spoiler free for book 3, but may have some spoilers form book 1 & 2.
When you read a good series, you just know it. Julie Kagawa has left my heart and soul shattered in so many good ways with night of the Dragon. But I wasn’t surprised by my reactions, because Julie has been doing a spectacular job since book one. The writing in Night of the Dragon continued to blow my mind. Julie continues the story with vivid descriptions, magical scenes, and heartbreaking moments.

Night of the Dragon, like the two before it, captivated me form the very first chapter. I wanted to know what happened after Yumeko made a sacrifice [not of her life] to save those she loves. Night of the Dragon continues the story where we meet our Yumeko and her crew preparing to stop the Master of Demons from using the scroll and unleashing an evil that will put the entire empire in chaos. Night of the Dragon is a great conclusion of Fox shifting Yumeko and her companion’s epic journey.

In regards to the characters, I really enjoyed seeing Yumeko’s character through each story, especially in this last book. Yumeko began as a naive girl, and developing into a powerful warrior. She learned so much in her journey and used that to grow better and stronger. Julie Kagawa showed this transformation so masterfully. It didn’t feel rushed, or half baked. I truly enjoyed seeing that development happen gradually rather than happen all at once. Yumekop’s character development was also not something she did on her own. Julie also created such great supporting characters that not only added to Yumeko’s development but also developed drastically in their own skin. Overall, character development was on point and you couldn’t help but root for Yumeko and her companions.

The plot was amazing, powerful and full of action. Julie made a page turning adventure with Night of the Dragon. I was fully invested in ending this series form the first chapter. Was it hard to see Yumeko’s journey end? Of course! But the plot was created in a way where the ending felt okay. It was an impossible task Yumeko and her companions were given [prevent a world where their lives would be forever in danger], but by the end you didn’t doubt the story or the characters. You rooted and cried for them. You held onto the ending feel a piece of your heart missing but knowing that the entirely story was phenomenal at every interaction and every scene of action. You yelled in joy when Yumeko was finally able to accept herself fully. Did I get a book hangover? Of course! Even the best written endings can leave your heart torn and feeling like you need a vacation from reading. It was worth it though.

The Shadow of the Fox trilogy is a trilogy you should pick up. Julie Kagawa continues to amaze me with her masterful storytelling. Night of the Dragon has action, romance, friendship and heart-tugging moments all wrapped into a beautiful story. I highly recommend it!

Julie Kagawa_Hires2017

About the Author

Julie Kagawa, the New York Times bestselling author of the Iron Fey, Blood of Eden, Talon, and Shadow of the Fox series was born in Sacramento, California. But nothing exciting really happened to her there. So, at the age of nine she and her family moved to Hawaii, which she soon discovered was inhabited by large carnivorous insects, colonies of house geckos, and frequent hurricanes. She spent much of her time in the ocean, when she wasn’t getting chased out of it by reef sharks, jellyfish, and the odd eel.

When not swimming for her life, Julie immersed herself in books, often to the chagrin of her school teachers, who would find she hid novels behind her Math textbooks during class. Her love of reading led her to pen some very dark and gruesome stories, complete with colored illustrations, to shock her hapless teachers. The gory tales faded with time, but the passion for writing remained, long after she graduated and was supposed to get a real job.

To pay the rent, Julie worked in different bookstores over the years, but discovered the managers frowned upon her reading the books she was supposed to be shelving. So she turned to her other passion: training animals. She worked as a professional dogtrainer for several years, dodging Chihuahua bites and overly enthusiastic Labradors, until her first book sold and she stopped training to write full time.

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

 

Fairy Stories, Fantasy, Young Adult Fiction

Book Review: The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

cruel prince

Title: The Cruel Prince
Author: Holly Black
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Pages: 370
Release Date: January 2nd, 2018

Where to Buy: Barnes and Noble |AmazonThe Lit Bar  |The Strand

Synopsis

Of course I want to be like them. They’re beautiful as blades forged in some divine fire. They will live forever.

And Cardan is even more beautiful than the rest. I hate him more than all the others. I hate him so much that sometimes when I look at him, I can hardly breathe.

Jude was seven when her parents were murdered and she and her two sisters were stolen away to live in the treacherous High Court of Faerie. Ten years later, Jude wants nothing more than to belong there, despite her mortality. But many of the fey despise humans. Especially Prince Cardan, the youngest and wickedest son of the High King.

To win a place at the Court, she must defy him–and face the consequences.

As Jude becomes more deeply embroiled in palace intrigues and deceptions, she discovers her own capacity for trickery and bloodshed. But as betrayal threatens to drown the Courts of Faerie in violence, Jude will need to risk her life in a dangerous alliance to save her sisters, and Faerie itself.

Review

It has been weeks since I’ve read The Cruel Prince, but it is still whirling in my head and I have to talk about it. Before I begin, I do want to mention that there may be small spoilers throughout my review. This book was a wild adventure that I was only half prepared for. There were so many parts that gave me joy while other parts where I wanted to fling the book at Cardan if he were real. Jude Duarte, a human in Eflhame, was taken along with her sisters by her older sister Vivi’s father after he slaughtered her parents. She lives a human among the fae for what she believes will be the rest of her her. Fast forward to ten years, Jude now a teen must continue to face living in Elfhame and all that comes with being an outsider.

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Jude and her family
From the beginning, it is evident that Jude has a complicated family dynamic. She resides with her twin Taryn, her sister Vivienne, Vivienne’s father Madoc, his wife Oriana and their younger brother Oak. The sister and Madoc do not have the best relationship since it all began in bloodshed, but he has become their caretaker and has been teaching Jude to be a powerful fighter. Oriana keeps Oak away from Jude, for what looks like his protection. Honestly, I think it was more for Jude’s protection since she is easily susceptible to Oak’s glamour. Family dysfunction and all, Jude does hold some respect for Madoc because of his standing in Elfhame, a standing that ultimately she takes full advantage of.

Although a twin, Jude and Taryn cannot more different. Jude is resilient and won’t back away from a fight. She accepts the fact that she is not like the others and does her best to live a normal-ish life. Taryn, however, is all about fitting in and finding her permanent place in Elfhame, even if it means going against her sister. Essentially Taryn is the rule follower if it benefits her.  During the story, Taryn’s actions were frustrating and though I understood her logic, I did not appreciate her lack of loyalty to her own family. Then again, in the family, loyalty is not as thick as blood as one would soon realize.

Jude, and Cardan’s Friends
Wow, just wow. Jude suffered a lot through the hands of both Cardan and his friends. They made sure Jude understood she was inferior to her and would do anything to show just how human she was. From glamouring Jude to do embarrassing acts to almost drowning her, there was no chill in that friend group. In terms of the worst friend, I would have to say Locke took that prize. Although Valerian her very existence, Locke manipulated her and played with her heart , which is something Jude wouldn’t take lightly. Overall, Cardan’s friend like himself were pretty terrible fae.

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Jude and Cardan
I could go on and on about Jude and Cardan. First, I want to acknowledge that although I am enjoying this relationship development, I can also see that their entire relationship is pretty problematic. With that being said, I was speechless with everything between these two but not surprised. Something about Cardan’s action reminds me of those young boys who would pick on the girls they liked. Add that he is a fae prince, he was doing everything in his power to make Jude miserable, while also secretly wanting her. I know, it’s odd, but it worked for these two. Jude was a challenge for him and it wasn’t something Cardan was accustomed to. Jude’s interactions with Cardan showed just how strong and powerful she was. She didn’t care about his title, because anyone who got in the way of her goals was to be taken down. Did I expect that the two would change their tunes, no. Boy, was I happy to be surprised by this. The tension between them was so thick you can cut through it with a knife. They are dysfunctional and from far away seem like the least likely match, but they somehow compliment each other.

Jude and Cardan need each other to fulfill their goals so it was bound to happen. I am excited to see where their relationship leads them in the next book. So far, I am intrigued. Jude’s determination and fight makes her so relatable to anyone who has had to work twice as hard to achieve something or to be respected. Cardan’s almost carefree nature adds levity and humor to otherwise cruel nature. Separately I love the two characters, together they are a force to be reckoned with.

Final thoughts
Holly Black has created a world that is full of beauty, magic and terrible secrets. Each description leads my imagination to a place where I can imagine myself being a human in a strange land. Each character development was executed in ways that without one, the story wouldn’t read as good. Holly has a way with words, a way with creating a backdrop that oozes fantasy and mischief, and characters that you love to hate and hate to love.