In contrast to throwback Thursday, I’m using Fridays to look ahead to books I’m excited for. Today’s book, The Obsidian Tower by Melissa Caruso, is one I stumbled upon organically, and while I skipped it the first time I saw it, I came back later to check it out. AND I AM GLAD I DID. Expected Release: June 2, 2020
Why wait on this one?
It has magic, but dark magic, magic gone wrong. Instead of a life of prestige that Ryx should have had, her magic twists into a life-stealing shadow of what it should be. Death to everything she touches is enough of a character problem for her to deal with, but I’m sure things will only get worse for her from there. And I cannot wait.
The common plot of a kingdom in takeover, Ryx sounds like she’ll become the unlikely hero who can save her family and the kingdom entirely. This promises fights, and secrets uncovered, and probably plenty of schemes. I adore schemes.
Overall, the tone of this sounds darkly woven with intrigue and creative imagining of magic. I am really into the dark worlds of magic right now (always, really) and this sounds like it can perfectly satisfy a craving I didn’t even realize I had. 😍
Summary: The mage-marked granddaughter of a ruler of Vaskandar, Ryx was destined for power and prestige at the top of Vaskandran society. But her magic is broken; all she can do is uncontrollably drain the life from everything she touches, and Vaskandar has no place for a mage with unusable powers.
Then, one night, two terrible accidents befall her: Ryx accidentally kills a visiting dignitary in self-defense, activating a mysterious magical artifact sealed in an ancient tower in the heart of her family’s castle.
Ryx flees, seeking a solution to her deadly magic. She falls in with a group of unlikely magical experts investigating the disturbance in Vaskandar—and Ryx realizes that her family is in danger and her domain is at stake. She and her new colleagues must return to the family stronghold to take control of the artifact that everyone wants to claim—before it destroys the world.
This was a short read packed with so much. This is a great example of what can be done in ~100 pages. This is something you have to think about, and savor, and should not read passively.
Recommended: yes For a short read that packs a punch, for beautifully lyrical writing, for a story that emerges through clues and fog and whispers, for a surprisingly gorgeous depiction of a life through objects
Summary: With the heart of an Atwood tale and the visuals of a classic Asian period drama The Empress of Salt and Fortune is a tightly and lushly written narrative about empire, storytelling, and the anger of women. A young royal from the far north is sent south for a political marriage. Alone and sometimes reviled, she has only her servants on her side. This evocative debut chronicles her rise to power through the eyes of her handmaiden, at once feminist high fantasy and a thrilling indictment of monarchy.
Thoughts: Do not make the mistake of thinking that since this is just over 100 pages that it is sparse in detail or not much happens or you would not have time to learn the characters. We get all of that and more, and in such an elegant way, that it’s stunning to think how few times you actually need to turn the page.
Unlike Throwback Thursday, I’m using Fridays to look ahead to books publishing soon that I’m excited for! Today’s is The Empress of Salt and Fortune, by Nghi Vo. And oh my, does it have promise. Expected Release: March 24, 2020
Why wait on this one?
Magic. Throw magic into any book and I’m immediately more likely to want to read it.
Revenge. I’ve read Coriolanus and Foul is Fair, okay; I know the pitfalls of vengeance. And yet, I still delight in those who pursue it, for all their faults and failures.
Political intrigue. Sometimes tedious, but sometimes exquisite, I trust that Vo will weave me a tale of royalty that I will love like my Korean dramas.
Imperial Chinese themes. I love the cultural requirements, the physical setting, and the mindsets that come with it. Plus the usual character traits and growth that accompany it, like the loyalist who turns coat or the man who is but a figurehead for the woman truly controlling it all.
Summary: A young royal from the far north, is sent south for a political marriage in an empire reminiscent of imperial China. Her brothers are dead, her armies and their war mammoths long defeated and caged behind their borders. Alone and sometimes reviled, she must choose her allies carefully. Rabbit, a handmaiden, sold by her parents to the palace for the lack of five baskets of dye, befriends the emperor’s lonely new wife and gets more than she bargained for. At once feminist high fantasy and an indictment of monarchy, this evocative debut follows the rise of the empress In-yo, who has few resources and fewer friends. She’s a northern daughter in a mage-made summer exile, but she will bend history to her will and bring down her enemies, piece by piece.
Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan – ⭐⭐⭐ Decently entertaining, though mostly predictable and at times not that driving in action. I’ll probably pick up the second one, but not in a huge hurry. Oddly enough, the notes and acknowledgements at the back are what changed my mind on that.
Recommended: for a spare-time casual read For a decently entertaining story, for a read that you can read between other more enticing books (you won’t mind putting this one down for a bit)
Summary: Lei is a member of the Paper caste, the lowest and most persecuted class of people in Ikhara. She lives in a remote village with her father, where the decade-old trauma of watching her mother snatched by royal guards for an unknown fate still haunts her. Now, the guards are back and this time it’s Lei they’re after — the girl with the golden eyes whose rumored beauty has piqued the king’s interest. Over weeks of training in the opulent but oppressive palace, Lei and eight other girls learns the skills and charm that befit a king’s consort. There, she does the unthinkable — she falls in love. Her forbidden romance becomes enmeshed with an explosive plot that threatens her world’s entire way of life. Lei, still the wide-eyed country girl at heart, must decide how far she’s willing to go for justice and revenge.
Thoughts: I had high hopes for the world here, with the caste system on a range of human to demon, but I felt like it didn’t come into much detail besides the general plot point of the unfair system. I love the dedicated lore and explanation behind interesting world features like this, but I wanted more here. The plot itself was solidly meh for me, as it felt like not much actually happened. When things did happen, I was invested in seeing how they would play out, but it was also largely predictable so the motivation through suspense was missing.
I did my first cover roulette post a little while ago for Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, and it was so fun I wanted to do another! Luckily I found another popular series that has had many different editions made, and I wondered…
What other awesome covers have I missed?
Tonight’s featured book is Throne of Glass by Sarah J Maas, in homage to one of my favorite young adult fantasy series’ ever. Every book that’s come out has blown me away, and I’m putting off reading the last book because I don’t want it to end. For now, let’s take it back to the beginning and check out some alternate covers.
The Cover I Know
If this doesn’t scream “magic elvish assassin princess” I don’t know what does. It also definitely screams “READ ME, I’M AMAZING” ♥