Writer Reading Report: Grave War

I received an ARC of Grave War through NetGalley. It releases on 24 November, 2020, and today’s post contains my no-spoiler review. below the book synopsis.

GraveWar by Kalayna Price

(from the NetGalley description)

Grave witch Alex Craft is getting pulled back into deadly fae politics in the thrilling new novel in the USA Today bestselling series.

Grave witch Alex Craft has forged an uneasy truce with the world of Faerie, but she’s still been trying to maintain at least some semblance of a normal life in the human world. So it’s safe to say that stepping up as the lead investigator for the Fae Investigation Bureau was not a career path she ever anticipated taking.

When an explosion at the Eternal Bloom threatens to upend the fae who make their home in our world, Alex finds herself in charge of the most far-reaching investigation she’s ever tackled. And it’s only her first week on the job. With the threats mounting and cut off from half her allies, Alex can’t wait on the sidelines and hope the fae’s conflicts stay contained within their borders.

I was excited to see this book pop up in my NetGalley because I love the way the author skews every trope just enough to make me smile. I didn’t realize it would be more than another juicy, wonderful chapter in Alex Craft’s complicated magical life. It’s a juicy complicated SERIES CONCLUSION.

Yes that’s right. Are you seeking a great urban fantasy series you know you’ll get to see through to the end? Here it is! The various plot lines could have used a wee bit more resolution than one book can possibly provide, but I like a little left to the imagination, and I was well pleased with how things turned out–pleased enough that I would pick up a follow-up series in a heartbeat.

The loveliest thing about this book is how effortless it was to read–there was the perfect amount recap that I didn’t feel lost (even though it’s been long time since I read the previous book) yet none of that information felt forced or slowed down the story. Plus in the end, everything comes together in a beautifully satisfying wrap-up that does NOT erases all possibility of future, new stories. It hit the perfect balance–for me. YMMV.

This is a no-spoiler review, so I am not going to hit plot specifics.

That’s it for this one. Until next time!

Writer Reading Report: A Killing Frost

I received an ARC of A Killing Frost through NetGalley. It released on 1st September, 2020, and I’m a bit late on reviewing it because I loved the book so much I had to go back & start the whole series over so I could read it twice. And for those concerned, this is a spoiler free review. First, the deets:

A Killing Frost by Seanan McGuire

(from the NetGalley description)

When October is informed that Simon Torquill—legally her father, due to Faerie’s archaic marriage traditions—must be invited to her wedding or risk the ceremony throwing the Kingdom in the Mists into political turmoil, she finds herself setting out on a quest she was not yet prepared to undertake for the sake of her future…. and the man who represents her family’s past.

Now, the gushing. I love this series & the character of Toby Daye so much it would have taken some kind of continental-shifting change to make me dislike a new installment, so it will come as no shock that I loved this book as much as I did all the others. Moreso, actually, because I have a soft spot for stories that happen in the quiet spaces between big, world-breaking events, and Killing Frost is that kind of tale. The stakes aare high, but they’re more personal than global.

No one coming into book 14 of a series needs me to tell them who’s who and what’s what, so instead I am just going to squee vaguely about the neat things.

  1. This book wraps up some longstanding series plot lines in a Most Satisfying Way, but it also braids in as many new ones as it ties off, so there’s clearly much much, MUCH more to come. More Toby, more family drama, more revelations about the nature and history of Faerie.
  2. Toby learns some life lessons that just might stick this time!
  3. There’s no happily-ever-after in this world, but things end on a high note for all the characters I care about, and for at least two others I never expected to like. So now I have Complicated Feelings about about some supporting cast, and suspicions about others.
  4. By binge-reading the series up to here, and seeing all the reveals & twists in close chronological order, I think I’ve finally spotted a few plot lines developing. (Look for Toby’s blind spots and assumptions, that’s all I’m saying) Right now I’m enjoying the fun of speculating about who’s going to step into the spotlight next. (and why!) Right or wrong, I know I’ll be entertained.

TL;DR: THIS BOOK ROCKS AND I CANNOT WAIT TO SEE WHERE IT ALL GOES IN THE NEXT INSTALLMENT.

That’s it for this post. Until next time!

Writer Reading Report: Battle Ground

Battle Ground releases on 29 September, 2020. I received an ARC through NetGalley and I aim for non-spoiler reviews, but read at your own risk.

(from the NetGalley description)

THINGS ARE ABOUT TO GET SERIOUS FOR HARRY DRESDEN, CHICAGO’S ONLY PROFESSIONAL WIZARD, in the next entry in the #1 New York Times bestselling Dresden Files.

Harry has faced terrible odds before. He has a long history of fighting enemies above his weight class. The Red Court of vampires. The fallen angels of the Order of the Blackened Denarius. The Outsiders.

But this time it’s different. A being more powerful and dangerous on an order of magnitude beyond what the world has seen in a millennium is coming. And she’s bringing an army. The Last Titan has declared war on the city of Chicago, and has come to subjugate humanity, obliterating any who stand in her way. 

Harry’s mission is simple but impossible: Save the city by killing a Titan. And the attempt will change Harry’s life, Chicago, and the mortal world forever.

I enjoyed the previous volume in this series despite its lack of a truly satisfying ending, which says good things about Jim Butcher’s skill in the art of spinning out a narrative. The mix of humor, conflict, magic, and mystery always keeps me coming back for more.

I enjoyed Battle Ground too, but again it was a liking despite elements.

I knew Battle Ground would hold a lot of action. I knew conflicts of duty, honor and heart-ties would multiply, and decisions would come home to roost. I knew all those things going in, and it was still a grueling read. A GOOD read, but a hard one.

No one coming into book 16 needs me to tell them what’s good about this series. So. Below, the things that stuck out to me as memorable.

  1. There were no breathers beyond a paragraph or or two of character interplay between epic fights and interpersonal demolition derbies. There just wasn’t page space for narrative relaxation or much of the typical Dresden banter. The whole book takes place over a single night of nonstop end-of-the-world battling. The stakes are sky-high, the forward momentum is relentless, and the tone is… blood-drenched.
  2. Character Development? I didn’t see much, but I didn’t expect much. There are big revelations, uncomfortable epiphanies, and questionable choices, all the juicy, twisty goodness that makes Dresden a wonderful train wreck of a character to follow, but nuance took a back seat to plot raveling.
    That blood-drenched tone I mentioned? I don’t see it lightening up any time soon. This book is the beginning of the end, the rise into the big, bad boss resolution of the whole series, which looks like a war to end All Of Time And Space.
    That means there’s some hard moral work for Harry Dresden ahead, and after his performance in Battle Ground, I am not sure he’s up to the task. That’s disappointment enough to pull my liking for the book down a bit.
    I’m sure I’m meant to feel doubt, but the ambiguity never develops. Will Harry turn to the light or the dark? Will he make the selfless decision when it comes down to the wire? Battle Ground leaves that answer thoroughly up in the air yet again, and not in a way that felt character-driven.
  3. My last impression concerns the “redemptive power of a child” trope. The larger story arc has already headed far down that road. Now, I love reading and writing about family bonds, and I am all-in on the ineffable wonder of love, but, um. It isn’t up to bearing the weight of so much narrative. I reserve judgment until the series is finished, but Harry’s relationship with his daughter makes me uneasy. It’s precious but feels…awfully pat.

Battle Ground is everything Harry Dresden turned up to eleven, the good parts and the problematic ones both. And with all the the virtues and vices of protagonist and plot are cranked up past maximum volume, some of the things I like about the music got lost in the noise.

(All that said, I CANNOT WAIT TO SEE WHAT HAPPENS NEXT)

That’s it for this one. Until next time!