Review: The Defiant Heir by Melissa Caruso

5 stars.

The Defiant Heir cover (link to Goodreads)

I mentioned before that I was completely invested in the first book in this series, The Tethered Mage, from the beginning to the end. Caruso is a master of pacing. In this one, too, there’s never a moment where it failed to keep my attention.

But there were a few things it did even better than the first book.

  1. The problematic aspect in the first book is treated as problematic rather directly. I’m beginning to trust that a satisfying end to that whole situation can be achieved.
  2. KATHE. I won’t spoil anything, but holy cow, that’s an interesting character, and a VERY interesting love triangle.
  3. A deeper look into the magic of the world, which is weirder and cooler than I thought it would be.

This series is a lot of fun. I highly recommend it if you like fantasy with lots of court intrigue, weird magic systems, and romance.

Review: The Tethered Mage by Melissa Caruso

4 stars (I really liked it)

I was completely invested in this book from the first chapter on. The premise is that there’s a world where people with magic can lose control whenever they use it, especially some of the more powerful, and accidentally, like, burn down a town or something. So to keep everybody safe, mages are “tethered” to a “falconer,” someone who can release the power and stop it with a magic word. There’s more to it than that, but I don’t want to spoil anything.

It’s intriguing and romantic and exciting, and more. It was a really, really fun read.

Still, I constantly felt uneasy about the fact that the tethered mage in the book is an orphaned, fiery black teenage girl, and her accidental falconer is a white noble’s daughter. It seemed like it was trying to make statements about slavery, but at the same time, it was trying to make the main character (the noble’s daughter) relatable, which is hard to do when she’s essentially a slave owner. But, yeah, nobody wants whole towns destroyed accidentally, so this system might actually be necessary?

I had to wonder if discomfort at relating to the main character was part of the point, and I enjoyed the book enough to read book 2 (review coming in a few days).

Review: Giftchild by Janci Patterson

5 stars: It was amazing!

Giftchild cover (link to Goodreads)

Background: When we were in college, Janci and I were in a writing group together briefly. I knew as soon as I read her writing that she was going to be published someday, and I was right! Her debut is good, so maybe you’ll like it too (Chasing the Skip). Just don’t expect a romance.

I’ve been reading Janci’s books ever since. I got this one for Christmas 2017, but since I rarely have time to sit and read, I hadn’t picked it up yet. When I finally had a sick day, I burned through the whole book in less than 24 hours. I was completely hooked. I mean, this character is a MESS. She’s a teen, and she makes VERY BAD DECISIONS for what she thinks are VERY GOOD REASONS, and reading it felt a bit like watching a train wreck, but I couldn’t look away. It was utterly gripping and heartbreaking and deep. My favorite Janci book to date, in other words.

Do note that the main character’s goal is to get pregnant, which obviously involves sex, but it’s not shown on the page.

Review: Mirage by Somaiya Daud

4 stars: I really liked it.

Mirage cover (link to Goodreads)

This book surprised me. In some ways it feels familiar (court intrigue, forbidden romance, evil empire vs. rebellion), what’s really great about it is what it says about colonialism (the setting is based on historical Morocco) and the complex characters who fill the two starring roles. Maram is the cold, cruel princess, and Amani is her slave/body double. Despite the princess, the balls, etc., this is actually a space opera, not a fantasy. The story sizzles as Maram and Amani get gradually more familiar with one another and realize that things are not as simple as they seemed at first. The romance beween Maram and Amani’s fiance is well done also. I enjoyed the difficult decisions Amani was forced to make over the course of the book and the way the book made me think. Recommended.

Review: Obsidio by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

3 stars: I liked it.

Obsidio cover (link to Goodreads)

So . . . I love this series. This one had more of what I love, including fun teen romance, lots of sci-fi mayhem, impossible odds, and sky-high stakes. AIDEN continues to be creepy and chaotic neutral. I liked that our beloved heroes of previous books get time on the page in this final book. But . . .

And I know I’m alone in this judging by the 4.56 star rating over on Goodreads . . .

I’m tired of AIDEN being the deus ex machina in each of these books. He’s just so powerful and so willing to do what it takes, regardless of the cost, that it takes some of the power to save the day away from our other protagonists. And in this book, it became more of a problem. I’m not sure how the authors would have solved the incredible problems without AIDEN, though.