Hello readers, and welcome to Mini Reviews, where I talk about some of the books I don’t write full length reviews for: whether due to lack of time, or simply because I don’t have enough to say for something longer. This installment, let’s chat about four books: The Iliad, The Fire Queen, The Dead Queens Club & A Curse So Dark and Lonely.
The Iliad | Gareth Hinds (ARC)
More than three thousand years ago, two armies faced each other in an epic battle that rewrote history and came to be known as the Trojan War … Goodreads
Thank you to NetGalley and Candlewick Press for providing me with an ARC!
Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey are long-time favourites of mine, and I have read many interpretations and adaptations of the story over the years. To see it depicted in graphic novel form was not something I’d even considered, but now that I have read this, I’m going to be looking for other such well-loved stories retold in this form. It’s quite something to see such a complex epic rendered with such simplicity and the illustrations are quite detailed too. Incorporating each warrior’s initial into their characters’ armour was a really good idea, and it helped to easily differentiate the Greeks and Trojans. Coming to the story itself, I was impressed with the amount of detail the author has managed to work into a graphic novel. The role of the gods in particular was very well portrayed, depicting how far they influenced the events of the war.
The only downside of this was the format of the copy provided. I had to enlarge it to be able to read the text, but this made the panels a little grainy and hard to decipher. Regardless, I really enjoyed reading my first graphic novel in a very long time and I can definitely see myself reading The Odyssey in a similar format.
Publishing Date: March 12th, 2019 (Candlewick Press)
The Fire Queen (The Hundredth Queen #2)| Emily R. King (ARC)
Though the tyrant rajah she was forced to marry is dead, Kalinda’s troubles are far from over. A warlord has invaded the imperial city, and now she’s in exile … Goodreads
Thank you to Netgalley and Skyscape for providing me with an ARC!
This particular book has been on my backlog for ages and I was finally able to get to it this week. Following the events of The Hundredth Queen, Kalinda and Deven search for the rajah’s son Ashwin – the only one who can release Kalinda from her duties to the kingdom, and clear the disgraced Deven of the charges of being a traitor. The prince has however made his way to the neighbouring kingdom of Janardan, seeking allies to drive out the rebels. Janardan is a land where unlike the Tarachand Empire, bhutas are not persecuted, but live like all others, serving the Sultan of the kingdom – all bhutas, except Burners who are hated and feared. Kalinda, now hiding several dangerous secrets and truths, finds herself in yet another deadly tournament – this time to defend her throne.
The world-building in this novel is absolutely beautiful, and through the events of the story, we get to learn more about the various kingdoms, the system of bhuta powers, along with the history behind it. The tournament and action scenes were well written and plot-wise, I like where the story is going.
On the downside, where I was impressed with Kalinda as a character in The Hundredth Queen, I am as disappointed this time around. For a main character, there is surprisingly little development in her personality and the full potential of the character, the possibilities her power holds is barely explored. Deven was not much better and his POVs were way too whiny. The plot also drags noticeably in parts, and it goes over a lot of the previous story more than necessary.
As a comparatively shorter novel, this is easily finished in one sitting. While I did not enjoy this as much as The Hundredth Queen, it is an imaginative story and it promises an exciting sequel that I hope to get around to reading very soon.
Publishing Date: September 26th, 2017 (Skyscape)
The Dead Queens Club | Hannah Capin
What do a future ambassador, an overly ambitious Francophile, a hospital-volunteering Girl Scout, the new girl from Cleveland, the junior cheer captain, and the vice president of the debate club have in common … Goodreads
The Dead Queens Club was a last-minute addition to my TBR from my list of maybes – and also not the best decision.
The Tudor Era has long been one of my favourites time periods and settings when it comes to historical fiction. The court of Henry VIII certainly did not lack for drama – which is why this parallel set in a modern-day high school works so well. There are so many historical facts woven into the narrative with a modern twist, like Henry’s leg injury, Anna’s necklace and more.
The humour is not bad and Henry as a character is perfect for the modern-day portrayal. It’s also nice how the six girls’ backstories tie into each other. Unfortunately that’s pretty much where my likes end. It was the protagonist that was the downside of this narrative. Annie Marck aka Cleves spends way too much time whining about her newspaper woes and how awful the editor is. The summary makes out Cleves to be some kind of investigator when they’re actually best friends. As for the whole murder plot, I found it impossible to take seriously, partly because I was too busy being annoyed with so many of the characters and the slow-moving plot. Overall, it wasn’t really my type, but not a horrible read either.
Publishing Date: January 29th, 2019 (Inkyard Press)
A Curse So Dark and Lonely (A Curse So Dark and Lonely #1) | Brigid Kemmerer
Fall in love, break the curse. It once seemed so easy to Prince Rhen, the heir to Emberfall. Cursed by a powerful enchantress to repeat the autumn of his eighteenth year over and over, he knew he could be saved if a girl fell for him. But that was before he learned that at the end of each autumn, he would turn into a vicious beast … Goodreads
When it comes to fairytale retellings, I’m usually very picky and not easily impressed, especially if it is one that is commonly retold. This was definitely one of the few exceptions, as it was such an unexpectedly fun read!
A Curse So Dark And Lonely is a Beauty and the Beast retelling with a darker twist on the tale. You know how the story goes, you know how it ends, but reading this feels like hearing it for the first time all over again – not an easy feat for such a classic fairytale. In this version, Rhen, the Crown Prince of Emberfall, is cursed by an evil sorceress to repeat the same season over and over again until he succeeds in his quest of finding love. At the end of the season, if he has failed, he turns into a monster and goes on a rampage. This has been the pattern for many, many seasons, but this is his last chance. But this time, his Belle is no swooning maiden but a modern-day girl from DC who is less than happy at being wrenched away from her struggling family to an enchanted castle.
I really loved the author’s previous book, Letters to the Lost, which is mainly why I had this on my TBR in the first place. There are definitely a lot of ACOTAR vibes throughout and the characters, particularly Harper were amazing. One of my favourite things was that we get both Beauty and Beast POVs. Seeing Emberfall through Rhen’s eyes definitely lends a rather unique perspective and understanding to the curse. I’m really hoping for a POV for Commander Grey in the next book, especially considering how it ended. While the ending was not all that shocking, it was definitely an interesting twist and I’m curious to see how this is going to work out in the sequel.
Publishing Date: January 29th, 2019 (Bloomsbury YA)
I’ll probably write a post like this once a month, maybe more, depending on my reading speed for that month. Let me know what you thought of it, and thanks for reading!