Shuri by Nic Stone

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Pages: 272

Series: Shuri: A Black Panther Novel, Book 1

Genres: Middle Grade; Fantasy; Science Fiction; Young Adult; Adventure

Publication date: December 7, 2021


An original, upper-middle-grade series starring the break-out character from the Black Panther comics and films: T’Challa’s younger sister, Shuri! Crafted by New York Times bestselling author Nic Stone.

Shuri is a skilled martial artist, a genius, and a master of science and technology. But, she’s also a teenager. And a princess. This story follows Shuri as she sets out on a quest to save her homeland of Wakanda. For centuries, the Chieftain of Wakanda (the Black Panther) has gained his powers through the juices of the Heart-Shaped Herb. Much like Vibranium, the Heart-Shaped Herb is essential to the survival and prosperity of Wakanda. But something is wrong. The plants are dying. No matter what the people of Wakanda do, they can’t save them. And their supply is running short. It’s up to Shuri to travel from Wakanda in order to discover what is killing the Herb, and how she can save it, in the first volume of this all-new, original adventure.


The queen mother sighs. “Fine,” she says, and everyone seems to pull forward in their cushy seats as if that single word is a magnet.

“I won’t say much because it is not my place to speak for the king. But T’Challa has seen and done much during his relatively brief tenure as the ruler and protector of Wakanda, and I believe that, after making our borders as secure as possible, he intends to make our nation’s existence a bit less… secret.”

Chapter Two


I enjoyed my time in this world. I was excited when I stumbled across this read because I really enjoyed the Black Panther movie. Shuri was right away a character that I wanted to learn more about, so stumbling across this book was a work of fate. Sure I might have grown up as more of a DC girl, but even I can admit the MCU did wonders for reaching a broader audience and introducing characters to the world.

Looking at this story in itself, I really like what Stone did in expanding the reader’s understanding of Wakanda. As someone who hasn’t read the comic books – or even interacted with Marvel much more than by watching the MCU movies – Stone did a magnificent job at making Wakanda come to life. Her descriptions made it possible to bring Shuri’s lab into my mind’s eye, to feel like I was with her as she ran her tests and worked her “magic”. (Not real magic here – science. I note the difference here because there is real magic in the world.) And then Stone did a great job at expending the world outside of Wakanda when Shuri needed to venture outside her cozy little world to help save her kingdom.

While T’Challa being the Black Panther is a gripping main character to follow, I really enjoyed getting to see the “behind the scenes”, so to speak, of his kingdom. It’s clear that he cares for his little sister, but it’s equally clear that he – along with the rest of the world – underestimates her abilities. They may not mean to, but there’s a whole heck of a lot this girl can do when she puts her mind to it.



If I have one complaint about this story, it would be that the third person narration style makes it harder for me to jump in and out of this story. And even that’s not a real complaint. I’m sure if you’re the kind of person who reads 1 story at a time, this is a perfectly reasonable flow for the story. If you’re like me and juggle an average of 5 books at a time, it can be a little hard to get pulled back into this world.

Overall, I’d certainly recommend this story to anyone looking for a story about a teenage girl coming into her own. If you’re interested in the unexplained and the spectacular, Shuri’s genius and her ability to make sense of the world around her is inspiring.

Don’t knock the story for being considered “Middle Grade” or “Young Adult” in genre. This simply ties into the age of the main character of the story. In no way does this negate the severity of the stakes or undermines the brilliance of the characters.

Empire of Wild by Cherie Dimaline

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Pages: 300

Goodreads: Empire of Wild

Genres: Horror; Fantasy; Canada Cultural; Mystery; Thriller; Paranormal

Publication date: September 17, 2019


Broken-hearted Joan has been searching for her husband, Victor, for almost a year–ever since he went missing on the night they had their first serious argument. One terrible, hungover morning in a Walmart parking lot in a little town near Georgian Bay, she is drawn to a revival tent where the local Métis have been flocking to hear a charismatic preacher named Eugene Wolff. By the time she staggers into the tent, the service is over. But as she is about to leave, she hears an unmistakable voice.

She turns, and there Victor is. The same face, the same eyes, the same hands. But his hair is short and he’s wearing a suit and he doesn’t recognize her at all. No, he insists, she’s the one suffering a delusion: he’s the Reverend Wolff and his only mission is to bring his people to Jesus. Except that, as Joan soon discovers, that’s not all the enigmatic Wolff is doing.

With only the help of Ajean, a foul-mouthed euchre shark with a knowledge of the old ways, and her odd, Johnny-Cash-loving, 12-year-old nephew Zeus, Joan has to find a way to remind the Reverend Wolff of who he really is. If he really is Victor. Her life, and the life of everyone she loves, depends upon it.


On these lands, in both the occupied places and those left to grow wild, alongside the community and the dwindling wildlife, there lives another creature. At night, he roamed the roads that connected Arcand to the larger town across the Bay where Native people were still unwelcome two centuries on. His name was spoken in the low tones saved for swear words and prayer. He was the threat from a hundred stories told by those old enough to remember the tales.

Broke Lent? The rogarou will come for you.

Slept with a married woman? Rogarou will find you.

Talked back to your mom in the heat of the moment? Don’t walk home. Rogarou will snatch you up.

Hit a woman under any circumstance? Rogarou will call you family, soon.

Shoot too many deer, so your freezer is overflowing but the heard thin? If I were you, I’d stay indoors at night. Rogarou knows by now.



This story was everything I wanted from it and more. Like I said in my April TBR post (here), be warned: this isn’t the best story to start while walking alone as a female with your dog after dark. My heart was pounding during the introduction of this story. Would I still recommend this story? Yes, absolutely. Would I recommend starting it at night? Sure, as long as you’re inside where it’s safe.

I will, however, have to recommend this story with the cavate that there is some minor animal abuse in it. While the scene in question is powerful and helps explain character thoughts and motivation in the story, it is horrifying it its intensity. If you’re not comfortable reading a story that contains animal abuse, this probably isn’t going to be the story for you.

Continue reading “Empire of Wild by Cherie Dimaline”

Dark, Witch & Creamy by H.Y. Hanna

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

Pages: 464

Series: Bewitched by Chocolate, Book 1

Genres: Mystery; Paranormal; Fantasy; Witches; Romance; Magic; Urban Fantasy

Publication date: January 30, 2017


Caitlyn’s world changes when she learns that she was found as an abandoned baby and adopted by her American family. Now, her search for answers takes her to the tiny English village of Tillyhenge where a man has been murdered by witchcraft – and where a mysterious shop selling enchanted chocolates is home to the “local witch”…

Soon Caitlyn finds herself fending off a toothless old vampire, rescuing an adorable kitten and meeting handsome aristocrat Lord James Fitzroy… not to mention discovering that she herself might have magical blood in her veins!

When she’s dragged into the murder investigation and realizes that dark magic is involved, Caitlyn is forced to choose. Can she embrace her witchy powers in time to solve the mystery and save those she loves?


“Hello? Earth to Caitlyn?”

She blinked and refocused on her cousin. “Sorry, what were you saying?”

“I was saying that it’s not just me. There are rumours going around here too. The locals agree that Tillyhenge has a reputation for being weird.”

“Weird? What do you mean, weird?”

“Like… the weather is always different there. It could be sunny everywhere else but when you get there, it’s grey and misty – or it’s raining all over the Cotswolds but completely dry in Tillyhenge… And if you’re driving, the GPS can’t find it, no matter how you give the directions. In fact, it doesn’t even show up on satellite images – they told me it’s just a green blur, as if there’s nothing there but forest!” Pomona shuddered. “Don’t you think that’s creepy?”

Chapter One


I’ll admit, this series isn’t the most well written. But it is an incredibly enjoyable read. The plot of all of these books is quite predictable, but in a fun way. Sure I wasn’t really shocked by what I read here, but I had fun watching things unfold along the way.

This, the first book in the series, does a pretty good job at setting the scene for the series that is to come. Set mostly in a small village in the British countryside, the characters are all up in each others’ business. And while I’d hate that being my actual life, I certainly love that atmosphere in the worlds I read about.

If you look at the rating I gave this story – just a measly 2.5/5 stars – it’s clear that this wasn’t even close to being one of my favourite reads. However, it did give me what I wanted out of the story. It was a cute little romance that took me out of the real world for a while. It’s not a masterpiece and it’s not a story I think I’ll ever find myself rereading for the plot. But it was enjoyable. And sometimes that’s all you need out of a story.

This book must have done something right to get me to pick up the next 6 books in the series. And read them all in the span of just a couple of weeks.


Continue reading “Dark, Witch & Creamy by H.Y. Hanna”

Stolen Shadow Bride by S.M. Gaither

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Pages: 183

Series: Stolen Brides of the Fae, Book 4

Genres: Fantasy; Romance; Fae; New Adult; Young Adult; Fairy Tales

Publication date: May 28, 2021


A desperate sister. A cold Fae prince. A dangerous trick, and a spark of passion that might set a fragile peace ablaze…
Sephia has always known that her younger sister was destined to wed the prince of the Sun Court.

Long ago, the human kingdom of Middlemage struck a bargain with the neighboring Fae that resulted in peace between them. As part of that bargain, one of the two ruling Fae courts lay claim to a human bride from each new generation. As long as anyone can remember, this is how it has been: The Fae come to take their bride on her eighteenth birthday, the humans allow one to be stolen away, and the peace continues.

Until now.

Until the Sun Prince comes for her sister, and Sephia does the unthinkable: She disguises herself with magic and goes to the altar in her sister’s place.

And she doesn’t intend for her marriage to end happily ever after.

But Sephia soon finds that all is not as it seems within the cruel and sparkling Court of the Sun. The king is sick. Strange shadows paint the halls of his palace, leaving death in their wake. The prince is desperate to find answers, whatever the cost. And Sephia is the wrong bride, but she may be the right woman to help the prince save his world—

That is, if they can somehow find a way to work together… while ignoring the forbidden passion igniting between them.


“It doesn’t please me for you to call me my prince,” he said.

She stiffened. “We aren’t yet wed. I can’t call you ‘husband’.”

“You could call me by my name.”

“Is your false name so different from me calling you ‘my prince’? At least the latter is true enough.”

Chapter Four


As this quote proves, Sephia is a strong willed main character – just how I like them. Sephia knew she was destined to do whatever she needed to in order to save her sister. No. Matter. What.

Marry the fae prince that her sister is destined to? Why of course. Trick the entire human country that she was raised in? No contest. Fight the evil that she didn’t know was plaguing the fae lands? If she must. Fall in love with the very creature she’d sworn to destroy? If she must….

I loved watching her navigate the fae courts. Sure she might have been raised a human princess, but Sephia truly wasn’t raised to conquer the fae lands. Her sister was the one destined to be married into the role, after all. But Sephia’s love for her sister is strong enough to persevere. To do the unthinkable and trick the fae into accepting her. She’s not the sister they thought they were getting, but she’s certainly the sister they needed. Even if they didn’t know it.

This story certainly lines up with the kind of book I find myself seeking out when I make trips to the book store. The fae are a weakness of mine, in case that isn’t obvious by the amount of fae stories I read, and a strong willed female lead is the icing on the top of the cake. The idea of the Sun and the Shadow courts and an ancient bargain between humans and the fae is the exact thing that pulls me in.

I truly did enjoy my time in this story. I wouldn’t be surprised if I found myself reading something else by Gaither and enjoyed it. While I don’t currently have anything by her on my TBR, there’s always tomorrow.


Continue reading “Stolen Shadow Bride by S.M. Gaither”

Stolen Mage Bride by Sylvia Mercedes

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

Pages: 170

Series: Stolen Brides of the Fae, Book 2

Genres: Fantasy; Romance; Fae; New Adult; Young Adult; Fairy Tales

Publication date: May 14, 2021


A brutal king. A gentle mage. A bond neither of them desires . . . nor has the strength to resist.

King Lodírhal has no choice—he must battle the human champion in single combat and save his people from slaughter.

Mage Dasyra also has no choice—she must serve her masters and channel the powerful magic in her soul for a chance to stop the deadly fae king.

But when they meet on the battlefield, these two adversaries discover they have bigger problems in store. For they are fated by the gods to be each other’s True Love . . . and the moment they lock eyes, the Fatebond awakens. Now all that matters is breaking the bond before it can be sealed for eternity.

Can these mortal enemies work together and survive the perilous journey to the Sundering Place? Or are the demands of fate—and the desires awakening in both their reluctant hearts—too powerful to be thwarted?

Stolen Brides of the Fae is a series of stand-alone short novels written by various romantic fantasy authors who share a passion for fantastical love stories.


“Take my advice then, Olorie. Don’t worry yourself about all your little green and growing things. Worry about that monster you’re bound to. Get yourself unbound and free before… before…” She bites her lip. One hand runs slowly along the swell of her belly, and her face momentarily softens into an expression I cannot name. “Before you find you don’t want to be free anymore.”

Chapter Eight


In a complete twist to the first story in this collection, these love interests can’t fight destiny. Love at first sight wasn’t something either party wanted, but making sure it doesn’t stick is something they can agree on. Stealing away in the middle of the night to sever their bond to each other didn’t end the way that either part expected, but it might just be what they needed.

This world gave me a taste of fighting against destiny, of trying to hate someone you’re meant to love. While journey stories aren’t always something I enjoy, I did enjoy this story.

I enjoyed the magic in this world, the way the fae barter and torment each other. I like the concept behind this story. I appreciated what Dasyra and Lodírhal brought to the story.


Continue reading “Stolen Mage Bride by Sylvia Mercedes”

Stolen Goblin Bride by Emma Hamm

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Pages: 118

Series: Stolen Brides of the Fae, Book 1

Genres: Fantasy; Romance; Fae; New Adult; Young Adult; Fairy Tales

Publication date: May 7, 2021


When a mortal girl steals a necklace from a Goblin, there will be a price to pay…

Esther knows the rules. Don’t talk to the goblins. Don’t look at the goblins. Above all else, don’t buy or trade with the goblins.

Then, one day before market, she sees a young rat faced boy selling a necklace that looks eerily like her mother’s, what’s a young girl to do? Of course she tries to buy it, but he won’t sell it to her. So she steals it because it’s her mother’s necklace.

Lux knows the rules. He’s a jeweler and he can sell his wares to those who want to faithfully buy them. Something doesn’t feel right about selling this particular piece to the beautiful young woman who immediately steals his heart. So he doesn’t.

But when he realizes the mortal girl stole from him, he’s forced to enact magic that can’t be unwritten. Stealing from a goblin always has a price.

Stolen Brides of the Fae is a series of stand-alone short novels written by various romantic fantasy authors who share a passion for fantastical love stories.


“There is no other way. I have to put a goblin curse on you, but the best I can do is give you time.”

“Time for what?”

His next uttered word sent a chill through her very bones. “To run, Esther of Woolwich. I can only give you time to run.”

Chapter Two


I enjoyed this story for its slow (for a short story, at least) romance. It’s not love at first sight or best friends to lovers. It’s two people finding themselves in a situation and realizing they can make it work for them if they want to.

Esther grew up knowing that the fae were dangerous and that she should avoid the goblin market. But that doesn’t mean she can stop herself from being drawn to its magnetic pull. Yet even still, Esther wasn’t wholly prepared for what her encounter with the goblins would bring.

This was a cute romance, and I adored this introduction to the series. While these stories can certainly be read in any order as they’re standalone stories, I enjoyed reading the first story in the collection and letting it take me from there.


Continue reading “Stolen Goblin Bride by Emma Hamm”

Bluebeard and the Outlaw by Tara Grayce

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Pages: 190

Series: A Villain’s Ever After, Book 3

Genres: Fantasy; Retelling; Romance; Fairy Tales; Young Adult; Novella

Publication date: August 27th, 2021


Marriage: the ultimate heist.

Robin of the Wood spends her days robbing from the rich to feed the poor. But she and her merry band of brothers never seem to get anywhere. The more she steals, the more the evil Lord Guy “Bluebeard” taxes the villagers.

When Robin discovers that Lord Guy plans to marry yet again, she conceives a plan for a final, big score. As Guy’s wife, she will have access to his wealth. The lord is notorious for killing his wives shortly after he marries them, but Robin has no plans to be dead wife number four.

The only problem is that Lord Guy is devastatingly handsome, brooding, and nothing at all what she expected. If she isn’t careful, she might just find that he steals her heart before she can rob his riches.

Bluebeard and the Outlaw is one of twelve short novels in A Villain’s Ever After, a collection of stand-alone stories featuring villainous twists on some of your favorite classic fairy tales. Read the series in any order for magical adventures . . . and fall in love with villains as you’ve never seen them before. Who said villains can’t have happily-ever-afters?


Perhaps you have heard the tale of the blue-bearded man and his murdered wives. Maybe you’ve wondered how a girl could be so foolish as to marry him. She must have been forced, you say. Or incredibly desperate.

Well, dear reader, I married him. But the legends don’t tell the whole story. I might have been a fool. But I was the most reckless kind of fool, who believes she is a daring hero with legends of her own to make.

Chapter One


I really enjoyed reading this story. I’ve noticed recently that I’m enjoying series of novellas by multiple authors more and more – A Villain’s Ever After being no exception. I love the way it introduces me to different worlds, different characters, different writing styles. It also helps me discover authors that I might not otherwise have stumbled across.

In fact, that’s the way I stumbled across Grayce’s works. Not through this story, like I thought going into this read, but through a different collection of novellas by multiple authors. While I thought “man, this writing style seems really familiar” multiple times while reading this story, it wasn’t until close to the very end that I realized exactly why this writing felt familiar. And that’s because I’d read Stolen Midsummer Bride back in July (review here).

In case it hasn’t been made obvious at this point, or if you’re new here, I truly love a good retelling. More often than not, I’ll look for a new retelling when I’m looking to pick up a story from a new author. That way I might not know how the writing style will be, but I’ll know what to expect from the story. Plus it gives me a chance to experience characters I know and love, even if their characteristics and temperaments might be different from usual.

Both the tale of Robinhood and the tale of Bluebeard aren’t tales that I’ve read many retellings for, so it was quite the treat to pick up this story that deals with both of them. I went into this story knowing the basic traits of both of these story, but not much more. And I was thrilled with what I managed to find.

Bluebeard and Robinhood are names that are pretty well known. Their stories are all but legend, their strengths and weaknesses known by the masses. But what if they were to tell the story themselves? What if you got to understand both sides of the coin, rather than just hear about the story from the victor? Sure these tales are often told as solo stories, but I adored the way the two tales were woven into each other. The way both parties can be considered the villain in the other’s tale.

This story shows me that I adore Grayce’s writing style and need to read more from her. Having stumbled across her writing twice now, there is no doubt in my mind that I’m going to enjoy her writing in her other works. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if I picked up her writing in the near future to read more from her….


Continue reading “Bluebeard and the Outlaw by Tara Grayce”

Stolen Midsummer Bride by Tara Grayce

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Pages: 193

Series: Stolen Brides of the Fae, Book 3

Genres: Fantasy; Romance; Fae; New Adult; Retelling; Fairy Tales

Publication date: May 21, 2021


Steal a bride. Save the library. Try not to die.

Basil, a rather scholarly fae, works as an assistant librarian at the Great Library of the Court of Knowledge. Lonely and unwilling to join the yearly Midsummer Revel to find a mate, Basil takes the advice of his talking horse companion and decides to steal a human bride instead.

But Basil never expected to find a human girl waiting for him, wanting to get snatched. Nor had he expected a girl like Meg, an illiterate farmgirl who has no use for books.

With the barrier with the Realm of Monsters wearing thin and the chaos of Midsummer Night about to descend, will this unlikely pair put aside their differences long enough to save the Great Library from destruction? And maybe find a spark of love along the way.


“Today, Lysander suggested I steal a human bride. Can you believe it?” Basil shook his head, staring at the ceiling. Why was he struggling to laugh the thought away? He should not find it intriguing.

“Actually, it isn’t a bad idea.” Buddy bobbed his head. “Get yourself a nice girl. Someone who can help you in the Great Library and provide a buffer from the antics of the Foolish Four. Besides, stealing a bride would raise your status, you know. Most fae take the easy route of joining the Revel or arranging a marriage nowadays. Your fellow librarians will be impressed if you steal a bride.”

Chapter 3


In case I haven’t already said it, this was a fun read. Meg gave up a lot to try and protect her family. She didn’t know what she was getting herself into, but she was willing to do it for her siblings. Basil had his heart broken in the past and never expected to find love again. Desperate times call for desperate measures and a stolen bride – right?

This story contained so much of what I love – libraries, the fae, fighting monsters, and saving the day. (I apologize for that but I’m not taking it back.) Meg and Basil might not have expected each other, but both knew what they’d need to survive and protect what they hold dear. The fae realm is twisted, the courts not always getting along or playing by the rules. It takes someone strong of heart and mind to be able to navigate the courts and not lose themself in the process.


Continue reading “Stolen Midsummer Bride by Tara Grayce”

Perfectly Played by Holly Kerr

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Pages: 370

Goodreads: Perfectly Played

Genre: Romance; Contemporary; Sports; Women’s Fiction; Adult

Publication date: April 30, 2019


Flower shop owner Flora waited years to get married but when it came down to the moment of reckoning, it all felt wrong. No flowers, no patient groom… no perfect love story waiting for her. And so she pulled up her wedding dress and ran out of the chapel—straight into the sweetest, saddest, tallest guy she’d ever seen.

Ex-ball player Dean thought a wedding was expected until an icy cold text to his best man let him know it wasn’t going to happen. Ever. Now there’s nothing to do but spend a few hours commiserating with the cute bride who ran out of her own wedding.

It is Las Vegas, after all.

One perfect night later, with strippers and syrup and drag queens, Flora and Dean go home alone, forgetting about last names and usernames and even old-school addresses. Maybe they can find love again, but not if they can’t find each other.

But love plays its own game, and the best happily ever afters always have a bit of serendipity involved. Will Flora and Dean’s love story be perfectly played?


“Why don’t you meet us after the show is over?” Clay suggests.

My stomach feels like it’d been thrown a life preserver, popping back up to the surface.

“Really?” M.K.’s face lights up.

“Sure. You’ll only be a couple of hours and we can get something to eat in the meantime.” Clay smiles at M.K. “We can meet you at what – eleven?”

Dean looks at me for agreement but I don’t know what to say. “I’m sorry I touched your beard earlier,” I blurt.

“I’m not,” he says.

“Make it midnight,” Ruthie says. “And find another friend for me.”

Chapter Three


This was a very cute story. I found myself flying through it and smiling at Flora and Dean’s antics. Sure there was some heavy miscommunication at times, but that’s what makes characters feel real. No love story is perfect from beginning to end, so it’s nice to have a touch of realism from time to time.

Being a Blue Jays girl myself, I adored the moments where baseball and the jays were brought up. It was a cute read and I look forward to reading more about this world.

This romance read is a little softer than what I typically find myself leaning towards, but I enjoyed my time in this world. Heck, I’ve found myself thinking about the secondary relationship between Clay and M.K. enough since I finished this story. Kerr must have done something right to have me wanting more – more of these characters, more of this world, and more of her writing.

Trigger warning: This story contains cases of emotional abuse. If you are not comfortable reading about this topic, this book is not the one for you.


Continue reading “Perfectly Played by Holly Kerr”

A Darkness Strange and Lovely by Susan Dennard

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Pages: 408

Series: Something Strange and Deadly, Book 2

Genres: Young Adult, Steampunk, Zombies, Paranormal, Historical Fiction, Romance, Horror, Supernatural

Publication date: July 23rd, 2013


With her brother dead and her mother insane, Eleanor Fitt is alone. Even the Spirit-Hunters—Joseph, Jie, and the handsome Daniel—have fled to Paris. So when Eleanor hears the vicious barking of hounds and sees haunting yellow eyes, she fears that the Dead, and the necromancer Marcus, are after her.

To escape, Eleanor boards a steamer bound for France. There she meets Oliver, a young man who claims to have known her brother. But Oliver harbors a dangerous secret involving necromancy and black magic that entices Eleanor beyond words. If she can resist him, she’ll be fine. But when she arrives in Paris, she finds that the Dead have taken over, and there’s a whole new evil lurking. And she is forced to make a deadly decision that will go against everything the Spirit-Hunters stand for.

In Paris, there’s a price for this darkness strange and lovely, and it may have Eleanor paying with her life.


When Jie’s letter came in the mail, I was so elated I forgot I had no hand.

“Oh, thank heavens!” I cried, reaching for the battered envelope in the postman’s grasp. “I’ve been waiting for this for over a…” I trailed off. My eyes locked on the postman’s horrified dace – and his eyes locked on my wrist.

Yet it was not the poor quality of my gray gown’s lace sleeve that prompted his expression but rather the bandaged stump poking out from beneath.

I yanked back my wrist, and the postman’s face erupted in red. “P-pardon me, Miss.” He thrust the letter at me.

“Of course,” I squeaked, snatching the letter with my left hand. Then I bolted from the post office into the Philadelphia morning.

Chapter One


I’m shocked that it took me as long as it did to read this story. I absolutely adored the first book in this series and was certain I’d pick the next one up almost right away. Yet it was almost a year later that I ended up picking this story up.

Dennard does an amazing job at making her characters feel real, of making the world jump off the page and come to life. This story takes place primarily in Paris, which is a huge shift from the first book. And Dennard does an absolutely fantastic job of making it feel like I’ve stumbled my way into Paris. I applaud her ability to make any setting feel like real life.

I also really enjoy the way Dennard continues to tease out the mechanics of the magic and necromancy of this world. Eleanor didn’t know anything about these things before this story began and I, for one, enjoy getting to learn about the world along with her. Of course it leads to mistake after mistake – many of which could have been avoided if only she had a little more care and caution – but that just makes the read even more enjoyable.

It seems that the further Eleanor goes into this darker side of her world, the less of the original, naïve girl she used to be exists. Of course that’s at least partially a good thing. There’s no way she would have survived the events in the first book if she hadn’t given up at least some of her naivety. Yet some of the decision she makes in the story show that she gave up more of herself than she might have meant to.

While I can enjoy a romance heavy story just as much as anyone, I liked the fact that this story was more personal character growth driven than romance based. Every moment between Eleanor and Daniel remains precious to me – and I would have love more of the two of them together – but this story wouldn’t have been the same if it had a heavier romance element to it.

Eleanor is discovering who she is as an individual – something society didn’t want her to ever find. Not to mention the fact that she’s tryin to understand the world that her brother had secretly been living in. Eleanor might not have liked what her brother was doing, but that doesn’t stop her from wanting the power and control for herself. Now she’s just got to try and remain herself – her true self – as she struggles to find balance.


Continue reading “A Darkness Strange and Lovely by Susan Dennard”