Hello readers, and welcome to Mini Reviews, where I talk about some of the books I don’t write full length reviews for. This installment, let’s chat about: One for All, The Bombay Prince and Crown of Cinders.
One For All | Lillie Lainoff
Tania de Batz is most herself with a sword in her hand. Everyone in town thinks her near-constant dizziness makes her weak, nothing but “a sick girl”; even her mother is desperate to marry her off for security. But Tania wants to be strong, independent, a fencer like her father – a former Musketeer and her greatest champion.
Then Papa is brutally, mysteriously murdered. His dying wish? For Tania to attend finishing school. But L’Académie des Mariées, Tania realizes, is no finishing school. It’s a secret training ground for a new kind of Musketeer: women who are socialites on the surface, but strap daggers under their skirts, seduce men into giving up dangerous secrets, and protect France from downfall. And they don’t shy away from a swordfight.
With her newfound sisters at her side, Tania feels for the first time like she has a purpose, like she belongs. But then she meets Étienne, her first target in uncovering a potential assassination plot. He’s kind, charming, and breathlessly attractive – and he might have information about what really happened to her father. Torn between duty and dizzying emotion, Tania will have to lean on her friends, listen to her own body, and decide where her loyalties lie…or risk losing everything she’s ever wanted.
This debut novel is a fierce, whirlwind adventure about the depth of found family, the strength that goes beyond the body, and the determination it takes to fight for what you love.
This book was a last minute addition to my TBR after I saw a couple of great reviews for it. The concept of a gender-bent retelling of The Three Musketeers was so fascinating that I couldn’t help but pick it up. I liked that it wasn’t a full retelling per se, but rather a story inspired by it that puts an intriguing spin on the original.
Tania was a wonderful main character. She has been sidelined her whole life as ‘the sick girl’ due to a chronic health problem she suffers from, but at L’Academie, she feels accepted for the first time and finds a sense of purpose with her new sisters-in-arms. Tania’s arc was very well written and I thoroughly enjoyed following her journey as she works towards her dream of becoming a Musketeer, albeit in a very different way than she expected. The dynamic between the four girls was great and it was wonderful to see the bond of trust and friendship that develops between them as they grow into a strong team.
There was a lot of French dialogue added, which could have lent a more authentic feel to things, but the way it was used ended up being more annoying than anything. Words and phrases were often translated immediately within the same sentence, making it sound jarring, and in other places, where crucial words in a sentence were in French, there was no translation in sight. Having some knowledge of the language, I found this to be highly irritating. A few expressions or exclamations here and there would have been fine, but this didn’t do anything other than distract from the narrative.
The mystery aspect was an interesting thread and while it became a little predictable after a while, things came together rather well and I liked how the story ended. Overall, it was a very entertaining read and excellent for a debut novel. Highly recommended!
Publishing Date: March 8th, 2022 (Farrar, Strauss and Giroux)
The Bombay Prince (Perveen Mistry #3) | Sujata Massey
November, 1921. Edward VIII, Prince of Wales and future ruler of India, is arriving in Bombay to begin a four-month tour. The Indian subcontinent is chafing under British rule, and Bombay solicitor Perveen Mistry isn’t surprised when local unrest over the royal arrival spirals into riots. But she’s horrified by the death of Freny Cuttingmaster, an eighteen-year-old female Parsi student, who falls from a second-floor gallery just as the prince’s grand procession is passing by her college.
Freny had come for a legal consultation just days before her death, and what she confided makes Perveen suspicious that her death was not an accident. Perveen, who strongly identified with Freny – another young Parsi woman fighting hard against the confines of society’s rules and expectations—feels terribly guilty for failing to help her. Perveen steps forward to assist Freny’s family in the fraught dealings of the coroner’s inquest, and when Freny’s death is ruled a murder, Perveen knows she can’t rest until she sees justice done. But Bombay is erupting: as armed British secret service march the streets, rioters attack anyone with perceived British connections and desperate shopkeepers destroy their own wares so they will not be targets of racial violence. Can Perveen help a suffering family when her own is in danger?
The third installment in this series sees solicitor Perveen back in Bombay with a new mystery to solve as a young Parsi woman is murdered during a parade to welcome the visiting Prince of Wales. As always, the author’s descriptions of 1920s Bombay was quite impressive, especially in this book where tensions are higher than between the religious and cultural divides and the emerging freedom movement. The political unrest of the time has been marvellously portrayed and we can see its effects through Perveen’s eyes.
On the downside, this book did not feel as strong as the previous two and it seems to be something of a pattern in this series unfortunately. The pacing was a little choppy and much of the middle parts of the story seemed to be wandering from the main plot. The mystery angle was good and Perveen’s investigation was fun to follow and try to puzzle out who was responsible, but I felt that the reveal was not handled well and it was over all at once without much foreshadowing at all.
The Bombay Prince was an interesting read on the whole and a great addition to the series. However, I think I will wait until I’ve seen several reviews before deciding whether to pick up book 4 in the series next year or not. It’s quite rare to find books set in this particular time period in India, so if the premise interests you, I would highly recommend it!
Publishing Date: June 1st, 2021 (Soho Crime)
Crown of Cinders (Wings of Fury #2) | Emily R. King
Althea’s head is still spinning from her discovery that she’s Hera, daughter of Cronus, the terrible Titan king. After Althea failed to cast Cronus down into the deepest pit of Tartarus, the king calls upon his powerful allies, the elder Titans who reign supreme over the heavens, earth, and seas. To force Althea to surrender, the elder Titans rain down wrath upon the mortal world with earthquakes, famine, pestilence, hurricanes, and all manner of destruction. Lukas, Althea’s friend and confidant, hides her and her godly siblings, but they can’t run forever. She must recruit allies from the younger Titans before the afflicted mortals turn them into Cronus in exchange for peace.
Poseidon and Hades are also in hiding. Althea sets out to find her brothers, but hunting them down without getting caught and persuading them to stand against their all-powerful father will be next to impossible. Althea has a lot to learn about her newly restored crown and Titaness powers. She must divide heaven and earth to protect her mortal home and friends and unite her brothers and sisters in the war to end all wars.
Crown of Cinders picks up right after Wings of Fury as Althea and her siblings must look for allies among the younger Titans to go to war against their father Cronus. Though this is a retelling, I found it particularly interesting because it describes a time before the Olympians were the rulers and tells the story of how they became the Gods known in Greek mythology. There was also a lot of insight into the Titans themselves which another unique aspect of the book.
More familiar characters made an appearance in this book, finally introducing Poseidon and Hades. With all the children of Cronus free, powers restored and aware of their parentage and more importantly, accepting of their new abilities, they band together to fight him. The pacing was quite good, and there was plenty of action which kept the story constantly moving with hardly a boring moment.
I took a star off the rating because Zeus annoyed me to the point that I had to take a break from reading. He continued to act like a complete child, and a reckless one at that – which ok, is more or less sticking to mythology but it ruins the reading experience when you realize that despite Hera being the whole driving force of the story, nothing changes in the status quo despite it being a retelling. However, there is some room for a sequel so I’ll hold my rating at 4 stars. If that is actually supposed to be the ending of the series, I’m definitely dropping another star or two!
Overall, Crown of Cinders was an enjoyable read and I really hope there will be atleast one more book in this series!
Publishing Date: October 5th, 2021 (47 North)
Have you read any of these books or do you plan to? I’d love to hear your thoughts on them!