Hello readers! It’s time for another round of Mini Reviews, where I talk about some of the books I don’t write full length reviews for. This installment, let’s chat about four books: The Red Scrolls of Magic, Ink, Iron & Glass, Mist, Metal & Ash, and The Everlasting Rose. It has been a while since I did one of these, but with the craziness of the summer releases finally over (for the most part atleast), I finally have time to catch up on these reviews.
The Red Scrolls of Magic (The Eldest Curses #1) | Cassandra Clare
All Magnus Bane wanted was a vacation.
A lavish trip across Europe with Alec Lightwood, the Shadowhunter who, against all odds, is finally his boyfriend. It doesn’t seem like too much for the centuries-old High Warlock to ask for. But no sooner have they settled in Paris than an old friend arrives with news about a demon-worshipping cult called the Crimson Hand that is bent on causing chaos around the world. A cult that was apparently founded by Magnus himself. Years ago. As a joke.
Now Magnus and Alec must race across Europe to track down the Crimson Hand and its elusive new leader before the cult can cause any more damage. As if it wasn’t bad enough that their romantic getaway has been sidetracked, demons are now dogging their every step, and it is becoming harder to tell friend from foe. As their quest for answers becomes increasingly dire, Magnus and Alec have to trust each other more than ever—even if it means revealing the secrets they’ve both been keeping…. Goodreads
“It’s a classic love story. I hit on him at a party, he asked me out, then we fought an epic magical battle between good and evil side by side, and now we need a vacation.”
So this review is way overdue considering I read this book more than five months ago, but I promised myself I would review this no matter what since it was so adorable. Despite being a much more lighthearted read than Cassandra Clare’s usual works, the undercurrent of adventure and mystery remains. At this point, I will basically read anything she writes, but even I was really surprised at how much I enjoyed this story focusing on Magnus and Alec at the beginning of their relationship. The plot takes a backseat to the romance, but it is no less interesting for that. The cult plot, though it seemed to be something of a joke initially, was really fascinating.
We’re so used to Magnus’ sass, and it was wonderful to see another, more vulnerable side of him with Alec, a glimpse at the real Magnus beneath the witty facade. It was equally great to see Alec gain some confidence in himself. There is so much going on in this book, but the pacing is just right and allows for some great character development on both their parts. It was also lovely to meet some old friends again such as Aline, Helen, Lily, Raphael and more.
And that epilogue! I’m really excited to see where this plot with Ragnor Fell goes next! Overall, while I didn’t really enjoy all of the new characters introduced, The Red Scrolls of Magic was certainly an entertaining read and I couldn’t be happier that there are two more books of Alec and Magnus’ adventure yet to come.
Publishing Date: April 9th, 2019 (Margaret K. McElderry Books)
Ink, Iron, and Glass (Ink, Iron and Glass #1) | Gwendolyn Clare
Can she write a world gone wrong?
A certain pen, a certain book, and a certain person can craft entirely new worlds through a branch of science called scriptology. Elsa comes from one such world that was written into creation by her mother—a noted scriptologist.
But when her home is attacked and her mother abducted, Elsa must cross into the real world and use her own scriptology gifts to find her. In an alternative 19th-century Italy, Elsa finds a secret society of pazzerellones—young people with a gift for mechanics, alchemy or scriptology—and meets Leo, a gorgeous mechanist with a smart mouth and a tragic past. She recruits the help of these fellow geniuses just as an assassin arrives on their doorstep…Goodreads
I was really excited to read this book, since I found the concept of world books to be really intriguing. Unfortunately, it fell short, more in the department of character development over world-building.
The world of scriptology was really well thought out and it was really interesting to see Elsa and Porzia create these worlds out of nothing but words. Scriptology as a science is explained a lot, but the other two fields, mechanics and alchemy are not nearly so well explained and I would have loved to learn more about these. It is quite odd to note that, though this is set in 1800s Italy, the feel of a historical novel is barely present as the abilities and inventions of the pazzellerones largely overshadow everything. Really, apart from the political plot around Italian unification, this could have been set in any time period.
The characters on the other hand, were very hard to connect to. Elsa in particular, was just too perfect of a character, and after a while I found her more annoying than anything else. Several of the other characters lack a strong backstory, for example Elsa’s oldest friend from Veldana whom she mentions several times, but doesn’t give any more information as to why they don’t get along any more. The same goes for Leo, and while this might have been in order to add to the mystery, it was more frustrating than anything else.
The twist at the end was a bit of a surprise, but not really that shocking. However, I am curious to see how this will be resolved in the sequel. Overall, while I didn’t enjoy it as much as I hoped to, this is still worth a read for its unique concept.
Publishing Date: February 20th, 2018 (Imprint)
Mist, Metal, and Ash (Ink, Iron and Glass #1) | Gwendolyn Clare
In an alternate 19th-century Italy, Elsa has an incredible gift: she can craft new worlds with precise lines of script written in books. But political extremists have stolen the most dangerous book ever scribed―one that can rewrite the Earth itself.
Now Elsa must track down the friend who betrayed her and recover the book before its destructive power is unleashed. Can she handle the secrets she’ll uncover along the way―including the ones hiding in her own heart? Goodreads
With the edit book now in the hands of Leo’s political extremist family, Elsa and her friends race to retrieve the book by any means possible before the book is used to make catastrophic changes to the real world. On the other side, Leo is reunited with his family after making a deal to join them in return for allowing Elsa to go free. However, as he frantically searches for the edit book to smuggle it away somehow, he stumbles across some horrifying truths of his past, and learns of the extents his father and brother will go to achieve their goals.
Well, this sequel was a huge improvement from the first book. The pacing was way better, as was the character development, in particular for Porzia and Leo. Leo’s ‘betrayal’, in my opinion, was way too exaggerated, and everyone overreacted to a ridiculous extent. Considering how long they’ve all known him, they should really know better than to think Leo actually betrayed them.
The world building remains my favourite part of this series, and the talents of pazzellerones are truly fascinating. I really liked that the cast of heroes were split up for a large portion of this book, and each of them with their own important mission to fulfill in their quest to retrieve the edit book and stop Leo’s father and brother from using it to carry out their schemes. I’m not really sure how I feel about Casa basically going off the rails and taking over though, as it mainly felt like a way to ensure that our heroes would be on their own with no chance of help arriving.
This was a good ending to this series, if a little open ended, but I would definitely recommend this book!
Publishing Date: February 19th, 2019 (Imprint)
The Everlasting Rose (The Belles #2) | Dhonielle Clayton
In this sequel to the instant New York Times bestseller, Camille, her sister Edel, and her guard and new love Remy must race against time to find Princess Charlotte. Sophia’s Imperial forces will stop at nothing to keep the rebels from returning Charlotte to the castle and her rightful place as queen. With the help of an underground resistance movement called The Iron Ladies-a society that rejects beauty treatments entirely-and the backing of alternative newspaper The Spider’s Web, Camille uses her powers, her connections and her cunning to outwit her greatest nemesis, Sophia, and restore peace to Orleans… Goodreads
A decent sequel overall, even if I did get awfully frustrated with how naive Camille can be at times, something exacerbated by the fact that her’s is the only POV we get throughout. As with The Belles, the concept is definitely interesting and unique, but for me, the execution was lacking at times. The introduction of the Iron Ladies was a nice touch, but again, I got the feeling that this plotline is not being used to its full potential and the story holds possibility for a lot more depth, drama and suspense than it currently has. Character development wise, there was no change at all, and this book was very plot focussed. Still, it wasn’t a bad read and it ends in a rather interesting place with a lot of possibilities for what might happen in the finale.
Publishing Date: March 5th, 2019 (Freeform)
Have you read any of these books or do you plan to? I’d love to hear your thoughts on them!