Adult Books, Fiction Books

Sanctuary By V.V. James – ARC Review

Thank you to Gollancz and Netgalley for this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

I really loved the Dark Gifts trilogy so when I heard about this book I so excited to read it! And I really loved this book too!

IMG_3387

Rating: 4.5/5

Synopsis from Goodreads:

The small Connecticut town of Sanctuary is rocked by the death of its star quarterback.
Daniel’s death looked like an accident, but everyone knows his ex-girlfriend Harper is the daughter of a witch – and she was there when he died.
Then the rumours start. When Harper insists Dan was guilty of a terrible act, the town turns on her. So was his death an accident, revenge – or something even darker?
As accusations fly and secrets are revealed, paranoia grips the town, culminating in a trial that the whole world is watching . . .

This book had me hooked from the beginning and on the edge of my seat. I was up reading late into the night because I just needed to read one more chapter. It has a dark and foreboding atmosphere and it only gets darker as the story progresses. By the end it was pretty terrifying. Not in the horror sense but what happens in the story and just how eerily close it was to reality. I could see this happening in real life.

The story focuses on the lives of Sarah and Abigail, whose point of view we read, and their friends and children. We also get the point of view of Maggie who is the detective assigned to the case of Abigail’s son, Daniel, death. Sarah is a witch, in fact the only witch in her town, her daughter Harper, not having inherited her abilities. Abigail is one of Sarah’s closest friends and part of her coven. Yet when they find out about Daniel’s death, friendships are tested and nothing will ever be the same again between them.

Things quickly unravel and escalate and soon it has become a witch hunt and reading how things escalated so quickly was absolutely terrifying yet I couldn’t look away.
As the story progresses we realise that nothing is as black and white as it seems, everyone has secrets and these secrets threaten to turn all their lives upside down. The characters are complex and the more we learn about them the more we see how they aren’t entirely good. How they betray each other to save their own selves and the effect that grief has on each of them and how it changes them.

This book shows what can happen when people fear what they don’t understand. There’s mass hysteria, mob mentality which leads to hate crimes and violence. From Sarah’s point of view we see what it feels like to be different from everyone around you and never truly fit in but that people tolerate your presence as it also benefits them yet when something happens people instantly turn on you. We also see how it affects Harper, Sarah’s daughter, in school and how she resorts to going to a different town to feel safe and be around people who accept her.

Throughout the story we also see the characters teenage children and how their lives all intertwine, through them we see how awful victim blaming is, how when a woman is sexually assaulted it is so traumatic, yet the people who should protect her and support her blame her for what happens. Consent is also discussed and how prejudice and discrimination can affect those subjected to it. The fact that Daniel is a jock and popular means he is blameless and excuses are made for him despite evidence of his crimes being shown to Abigail. She still manages to blame someone else for it. I really loved how all of this was woven into the story, we see the effects of all of this and by the end the result is frightening.

I really loved this book, and if you love dark suspenseful stories then you will love this. The story is captivating and will keep you reading late into the night.

Adult Books, Fiction Books

The Girl King by Mimi Yu – Book Review

Thank you to Orion Publishing Group for sending me this via netgalley. All opinions are my own.

I was so excited to read this book as I kept hearing about it on social media but I sort of felt underwhelmed. It had some really great parts but I just didn’t love it like I thought I would.

image1

Rating: 3/5

Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

Sisters Lu and Min have always understood their places as princesses of the Empire. Lu knows she is destined to become the dynasty’s first female ruler, while Min is resigned to a life in her shadow. Then their father declares their male cousin Set the heir instead – a betrayal that sends the sisters down two very different paths.
Determined to reclaim her birthright, Lu goes on the run. She needs an ally – and an army – if she is to succeed. Her quest leads her to Nokhai, the last surviving wolf shapeshifter. Nok wants to keep his identity secret, but finds himself forced into an uneasy alliance with the girl whose family killed everyone he ever loved . . .
Alone in the volatile court, Min’s hidden power awakens – a forbidden, deadly magic that could secure Set’s reign . . . or allow Min to claim the throne herself. But there can only be one Emperor, and the sisters’ greatest enemy could turn out to be each other.

When I started reading the book I felt it was really slow and actually took me a while to get through the first half of the book but then it was a lot more fast paced near the end.
I think that my favourite part was the characters themselves, Lu and Min are sisters but are very different from each other. Lu is older brave, strong and smart. She is someone who holds onto her ideals no matter what life throws her way and knows that what her father did was unjust to Nok and his people. I also liked that she had to face her privilege as a princess and being sheltered from a lot of hardships that others her age have to go through.

Min on the other hand is quite naïve and coddled by her mother and I actually didn’t like her at all. She is spiteful, jealous and petty and has a weird skewed view on what a woman should be like. I was rolling my eyes at her all the time. Though as the story progresses she does go through some changes and discovers she has a magical power which made her more interesting and I do want to know more about what she will be capable of doing.

Lu and Nok travel together for majority of the book while Lu is in search of an army to take on Set and take back her throne and initially I really enjoyed their interactions and how they slowly developed a friendship despite having reasons to hate each other. The romance however felt underdeveloped and unnecessary. I felt they would have been better as friends and allies.

The main issue I had with the book was the plot, I felt that it dragged for majority of the book and I actually got bored. Only the ending felt more fast paced but then it felt rushed like everything happened at once.

Overall this book just wasn’t for me. I really wanted to love it especially as when I saw the title I fell in love but it just didn’t live up to expectations. But I do think that a lot of others will love this.