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 Last Namsara, An Enchantment of Ravens, The Satapur Moonstone, and One of Us Is Lying.
The Last Namsara (Iskari #1) | Kristen Ciccarelli
In the beginning, there was the Namsara: the child of sky and spirit, who carried love and laughter wherever he went. But where there is light, there must be darkness—and so there was also the Iskari. The child of blood and moonlight. The destroyer. The death-bringer.
These are the legends that Asha, daughter of the king of Firgaard, has grown up learning in hushed whispers, drawn to the forbidden figures of the past. But it isn’t until she becomes the fiercest, most feared dragon slayer in the land that she takes on the role of the next Iskari—a lonely destiny that leaves her feeling more like a weapon than a girl.
Asha conquers each dragon and brings its head to the king, but no kill can free her from the shackles that await at home: her betrothal to the cruel commandant, a man who holds the truth about her nature in his palm. When she’s offered the chance to gain her freedom in exchange for the life of the most powerful dragon in Firgaard, she finds that there may be more truth to the ancient stories than she ever could have expected. With the help of a secret friend—a slave boy from her betrothed’s household—Asha must shed the layers of her Iskari bondage and open her heart to love, light, and a truth that has been kept from her. Goodreads
It was a real struggle for me to not DNF this one, and not even the audiobook helped. While the premise sounded really interesting, I found the execution to be rather lacking. The dragons and the old stories were the only parts I thought were interesting. There was a lot of lore surrounding the dragons and the ancient gods, and the intermediate stories were also a lot of fun. When it comes to the characters, it always felt like there was something missing, and they weren’t developed enough, which made it really hard to connect with any of them. The same goes for the world-building and the pacing certainly did not help. It took nearly 150 pages for anything exciting to happen, but the story did finally pick up the ending was…okay. I still saw a lot of plot holes and had way too many questions unanswered at the end.
Overall, this book didn’t really work for me, which I found quite surprising as dragons and magic are usually instant favourites for me. Anyway, after The Last Namsara, I don’t really feel very invested in the story, so I will probably not be continuing with the other books in the series.
Publishing Date: October 3rd, 2017 (HarperTeen)
An Enchantment of Ravens | Margaret Rogerson
Isobel is a prodigy portrait artist with a dangerous set of clients: the sinister fair folk, immortal creatures who cannot bake bread, weave cloth, or put a pen to paper without crumbling to dust. They crave human Craft with a terrible thirst, and Isobel’s paintings are highly prized. But when she receives her first royal patron—Rook, the autumn prince—she makes a terrible mistake. She paints mortal sorrow in his eyes—a weakness that could cost him his life.
Furious and devastated, Rook spirits her away to the autumnlands to stand trial for her crime. Waylaid by the Wild Hunt’s ghostly hounds, the tainted influence of the Alder King, and hideous monsters risen from barrow mounds, Isobel and Rook depend on one another for survival. Their alliance blossoms into trust, then love—and that love violates the fair folks’ ruthless laws. Now both of their lives are forfeit, unless Isobel can use her skill as an artist to fight the fairy courts. Because secretly, her Craft represents a threat the fair folk have never faced in all the millennia of their unchanging lives: for the first time, her portraits have the power to make them feel. Goodreads
Overall, not a bad read. The plot was quite interesting, if oddly familiar – probably because of ACOTAR, but it had many new aspects to it, such as the fae not being able to perform any kind of craft. The main reason why I didn’t like it as much as I could have was that I read Sorcery of Thorns first – and that was frankly, amazing, so this one felt like lacking in comparison. Otherwise, while it did have its downsides – the insta-love for one, and the not entirely believable sequence of events for another, the setting and world-building largely makes up for it and the world of the fae was beautifully depicted.
And for once, the fae were portrayed as they are meant to be – more traditional, how they were viewed before YA fantasy got a hold of them, showing the more malicious side of the creatures masked beneath a glamour of beauty. I also really liked the author’s writing style, which makes up for the somewhat slower pacing at times. This is definitely worth a read and I would recommend it!
Publishing Date: September 26th, 2017 (Margaret K. McElderry Books)
The Satapur Moonstone (Perveen Mistry #2) | Sujata Massey
India, 1922: It is rainy season in the lush, remote Sahyadri mountains, where the princely state of Satapur is tucked away. A curse seems to have fallen upon Satapur’s royal family, whose maharaja died of a sudden illness shortly before his teenage son was struck down in a tragic hunting accident. The state is now ruled by an agent of the British Raj on behalf of Satapur’s two maharanis, the dowager queen and her daughter-in-law.
The royal ladies are in a dispute over the education of the young crown prince, and a lawyer’s counsel is required. However, the maharanis live in purdah and do not speak to men. Just one person can help them: Perveen Mistry, Bombay’s only female lawyer. Perveen is determined to bring peace to the royal house and make a sound recommendation for the young prince’s future, but she arrives to find that the Satapur palace is full of cold-blooded power plays and ancient vendettas. Too late, she realizes she has walked into a trap. But whose? And how can she protect the royal children from the palace’s deadly curse? Goodreads
I really enjoyed this second installment in the series about the female lawyer Perveen Mistry and though this is fictional, it gives a great insight into life during that time period in the princely states. While this book did not feel as strong as the first one, possibly due to the drastically different setting, it instead reads more like an adventure novel – which is not entirely a bad thing. Sujata Massey does a wonderful job with the world-building – the culture and strict traditions, the remote Sahyadri mountains where the palace is located and more – and as the story progresses, it is easy for the reader to picture the events taking place.
Although this book had more action than I expected, it was a pleasant surprise. I enjoyed the various hints to the changing political situation in India and the start of a push for independence. The climax was very well done, and as a reader, I found it quite hard to solve the mystery and guess the culprit. Overall, this was a fun read and I’m really looking forward to the next book in this unique series.
Publishing Date: May 14th, 2019 (Soho Press Inc)
One of Us Is Lying (One of Us Is Lying #1) | Karen McManus
Pay close attention and you might solve this.
On Monday afternoon, five students at Bayview High walk into detention.
Bronwyn, the brain, is Yale-bound and never breaks a rule.
Addy, the beauty, is the picture-perfect homecoming princess.
Nate, the criminal, is already on probation for dealing.
Cooper, the athlete, is the all-star baseball pitcher.
And Simon, the outcast, is the creator of Bayview High’s notorious gossip app.
Only, Simon never makes it out of that classroom. Before the end of detention, Simon’s dead. And according to investigators, his death wasn’t an accident. On Monday, he died. But on Tuesday, he’d planned to post juicy reveals about all four of his high-profile classmates, which makes all four of them suspects in his murder. Or are they the perfect patsies for a killer who’s still on the loose? Everyone has secrets, right? What really matters is how far you would go to protect them. Goodreads
Everything a good mystery should be! I really enjoyed reading a proper “whodunnit” after so long. The multiple POVs provided a very good addition to the narrative. Personally, I did not guess who the guilty one was until about 60% through the book and it was by no means obvious. Everyone has something to hide, and with each chapter, a different character looks suspicious.
All the main characters are very well written, and I particularly liked Bronwyn’s and Addy’s arcs. We definitely need more mystery novels in the YA genre! The sequel is just a few weeks away and I can’t wait to read it!
Publishing Date: May 20th, 2017 (Delacorte Press)
Have you read any of these books or do you plan to? I’d love to hear your thoughts on them!