Entries in demons (11)


Echoes of Understorey

So at first, this book was a bit jarring because it wasn't about Unar, the MC of the first book in the trilogy. But it appears that the setting (and secondary characters) are the only real constant with these books. The final book looks like it will be about yet another character.

Which is fine, especially since the MC of this book, Imeris, who was just a baby in Crossroads of Canopy, is a much more compelling character than Unar ever was. Where Unar was arrogant and self-righteous, Imeris is a practical, humble badass.

Everything about this book is so much stronger than the first. And since it follows a new MC, you can read Echoes of Understorey without having read Crossroads of Canopy and probably not be confused at all. Unar makes an appearance, as do many of the side characters from her journey. The familiarity is nice. But Imeris is a much stronger character, not just in terms of her abilities, but in terms of the author's craft.

Anyway, Imeris is out with one goal in mind: to kill the body-snatching sorceress who was at the root of Unar's problems in book one. A lot of stuff gets in Imeris's way, most notably being swept up in a historic Hunt called by the rulers of Canopy.

Imeris is quite possibly the best warrior alive in her world, but she is humble about it and just wants to do her duty to rid her world of the sorceress and then maybe take up farming like Unar has. Unlike Unar, Imeris doesn't want to be a legend at all, though she doesn't shun her legendary status once she achieves it. She uses it for good.

Like with the first book ending with Unar on a new, vastly different adventure, Imeris finds herself on the cusp of something new and exciting. The next book will focus on her brother Leaper, but I hope to see some of Imeris in her new role.

Anyway, the setting is superb, the action is excellent and the characters are all wonderful and well-crafted. Highly recommend checking this out!


Crossroads of Canopy

So this book has a society of people living in the tops of mountain-sized trees, so you know anything I have to say about it is going to be heavily skewed by my tree nerdiness.

The setting really is the best thing about the book, to be honest. It's richly imagined and described and I love the heck out of it. Of course I do! I want to live in Canopy forever and ever! Seriously though, trees that are MANY THOUSANDS OF FEET TALL!!!


And that's about all that's good about this book. There's not much in the way of plot and the main character is awful. There are some side characters that I like all right, but the story is from the POV of Unar who is naive and deeply selfish. And whoadang arrogant.

This is also one of those books where most of the problems can be solved by people just sitting down and actually talking to each other. When books derive most of their conflict from this, it really truly annoys me.

The third act picks up significantly and Unar finally realizes what a steaming turd she is. And then she's driven not by arrogance but despair, except that she's kind of mopey, which is a touch annoying.

Anyway, anyone who loves trees as much as I do will probably like this book just fine, you'll find the setting is enough to buoy you through the dull bits. Otherwise, probably give this book a pass.


Age of Legends trilogy

All right, so I finished reading the third book in this trilogy before I got the second book's review up here, so I'm just going to do them both at the same time. And you can pop over and see what I thought of the first book, Sea of Shadows, if you haven't already.

Book two is called Empire of Night and it was every bit as good as the first book. Fast-paced, full of monsters, still with an excellent cast of characters. It picks up immediately after the first book and continues to set up the action to come in the final book.

The twin sisters, Ash and Moria, set out with their friends on a mission from the emperor, trying to head off a war before it can start. The girls are separated again, Moria from all of her companions, and there are new, terrifying monsters for all of them to confront.

I thoroughly enjoyed the book, even if I still didn't relate to any of the characters. They're still well-crafted despite being takes on the teen archetypes you'd expect out of YA -- the jock, the nerd, the outcast. I guess I related most to the outcast, but he had the least amount of "screen time" out of the 5 major players in the book.

This book ends with the girls still separated, though Ash finds herself in the presence of Northerners who claim to have dragons.

The final book is Forest of Ruin and it's certainly my favourite of them all, and not just because it's got a dragon in it. Sort of.

There's plenty of action and more scheming, and the girls and their friends start accumulating some wins, even if they're tainted ones. The horrors are more horrifying and it's all just MORE. There's finally some proper romance, too. It's cute and not overdone and doesn't distract from the main plot. It helps to shore it up, if nothing else.

The ending was fulfilling and I was pleased to see that some of the characters I thought should die actually did. It felt like the right ending for the book, which is always nice to see. I read so many books where the foreshadowing points to one thing and the ending delivers something different. There was some redemption in it too, even if only a little.

Some spoilers now.

I really would have liked to see more of Ronan and Ash, especially Ash since the plot in book one starts with her. I felt like her storyline wasn't fully realized and like her sister got far too much of the attention. While Armstrong paints Ash as being fine with being in her sister's shadows, it still would have been nice if Ash had been able to come out of it a little.

Ash played her role, yes. But I wanted to see her come out of it a little. I wanted to see more of her romance as well. I don't feel like the plot challenged her as much as it could have. While all of the characters grew and changed from the beginning, I feel like Ash had the least amount of development.

And the dragon had so much build up and then did absolutely nothing at all. It was disappointing, especially for someone like me who loves dragons so much. The author is known for expanding trilogies into series, so I'm hoping that's something that happens here. She's certainly got the set up to pull off more books.

As for the ending, I was pleased to see the manner in which Kitsune met his end. Both Kitsunes, actually. I'd pegged Gavril as being the major character most likely not to survive to the end of the trilogy. In a way, he didn't. It was also nice to see something redemptive in the way Alvar died, even if there was something self-serving in the way it happened.

The ending was a good one and Armstrong handled it masterfully. It's a great trilogy and I recommend it to anyone who enjoys dark epic fantasy! It's a YA novel, but this adult enjoyed it just fine.


Sea of Shadows

Kelley Armstrong is just finishing her stint as the KPL writer-in-residence, and I've been to most of the writing talks she's given. They've all be informative and I'm excited to apply what I've learned as a writer. It also helped introduce me to more of what Kelley writes.

I've always known her as an urban fantasy/werewolf-vampire writer, and that stuff is just not my jam. But then I discovered she's got so much more. The last talk she gave, she spoke about how she went from the idea stage to a first draft. It was excellent! Sea of Shadows was one of the books she used as an example. Hearing the inspiration (look up "forest of trees"), I knew I had to read this book.

And I did. In a day. And I interrupted reading the second book in the trilogy so that I could write this review. So, yes, I liked the book as much as I'd hoped I would.

The book is YA epic fantasy about twin sisters with rare gifts, tasked with soothing and battling spirits. Things go wrong quickly and the sisters are jolted out of the world they'd loved and known. There are monsters, a terrifying journey, and new friends made along the way. The world-building is top notch and the characters are well-actualized. I didn't relate to any of the characters, but none of them were necessarily unlikeable.

I burned through the first book and now I'm already nearly halfway through the second. I expect to finish the entire trilogy by the middle of next week. I definitely recommend it! It's just so well crafted.

I have taken the summer to concentrate on writing. I recently finished a draft of the first book in the Blueshift trilogy. I'm going to let it sit for a month before I do more revisions. I'm hoping to get it to beta readers by the end of the summer. In the meantime, I'm refilling my creative well with a lot of reading. I've read 2 books this week alone. So my blog will probably be a little busier than normal this month.


Shadow Blade

This book has mountains of potential with an excellent root story. It's urban fantasy with Egyptian mythology at its core, which was super cool to see. And while he's not Egyptian, Anansi has a delightful supporting role in the novel.

The novel is about Kira, a Shadowchaser who hunts down supernatural bad guys in Atlanta. She's uniquely talented among her fellow chasers. The story begins when she comes into possession of a magical dagger belonging to a 4000-year-old (semi-immortal) Nubian warrior named Khefar (who happens to have Anansi as a sidekick).

I'll be honest, the writing is subpar and I do not like Kira. At best, she becomes tolerable toward the end of the book. But she's just too irrationally angry at EVERYTHING and I just wasn't feeling her connection to other characters or the motivation given for her actions. She's a very tropey Strong Female Character (TM) and it just got exhausting. I nearly gave up on the book, but then the author introduced Khefar's POV.

I finished reading the story because of Khefar. I found him far more interesting and well-rounded than the main character.

Disliking the MC is only one of many problems I had with the book. There was entirely too much repetition of certain elements and absolutely none of others. I understand this is the first book in a trilogy and some questions will be answered later, but there were some basic things that just did not make sense to me. And then so many others that I got the first time but that were repeated almost every chapter.

The book read like it was written by a novice author. The story and supporting characters were good enough to keep me going. As an editor, I probably notice these sorts of errors more than other readers, so YMMV. But a quick review of the other two books in the series shows that the author never really levels up, at least not in regards to this series. Which is disappointing. I doubt I will read the other books.