Writer Reading Report: A Deadly Education

A Deadly Education released on 29 September, 2020, and I could not be more excited to tell the world about it. (I received an ARC through NetGalley so I’ve been sitting on this for a bit.)

Below the description you’ll find a gushing review, but the TL;DR is this: this is GOBSMACKINGLY good and I hope it wins awards and becomes a huge epic series because it is made of familiar ideas twisted on their ears and so thumped hard they became AN ASTONISHING NEW THING.

A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik

(from the NetGalley description.)

I decided that Orion Lake needed to die after the second time he saved my life.

Everyone loves Orion Lake. Everyone else, that is. Far as I’m concerned, he can keep his flashy combat magic to himself. I’m not joining his pack of adoring fans.

I don’t need help surviving the Scholomance, even if they do. Forget the hordes of monsters and cursed artifacts, I’m probably the most dangerous thing in the place. Just give me a chance and I’ll level mountains and kill untold millions, make myself the dark queen of the world.

At least, that’s what the world expects me to do. Most of the other students in here would be delighted if Orion killed me like one more evil thing that’s crawled out of the drains. Sometimes I think they want me to turn into the evil witch they assume I am. The school itself certainly does.

But the Scholomance isn’t getting what it wants from me. And neither is Orion Lake. I may not be anyone’s idea of the shining hero, but I’m going to make it out of this place alive, and I’m not going to slaughter thousands to do it, either.

Although I’m giving serious consideration to just one.

I don’t think I have ever related to a protagonist so hard. Galadriel Higgins and her struggles to be herself and be a real human being kept me up past my bedtime and got me out of bed early two days running.

  1. This is a wizard school without teachers. It’s a death trap. Graduation is escape. (That isn’t a spoiler. It’s the PREMISE.)
  2. These are kids wrestling with big issues and growing up without the slightest bit of direct adult guidance, and the way they fumble through their relationships is raw and awkward
  3. The magic system is brilliantly self-contained and internally consistent and yet the way magic is woven into the story keeps it mysterious and uncontrollable and also a limited resource and a hazard–it’s EVERYTHING. I love the way its use and abuse and availability never stand in for any other kind of worldly power. Magic is just another whole axis of power & privilege added to the complexity of being human.

This had BETTER be the first of a series. It doesn’t end on a cliffhanger, but dangggggg, I want so much more of this world & these characters.

AAGGGHHHH I DON’T WANT TO WAIT ANOTHER YEAR OR MORE. But I will. I will do what I must. I will be patient. And I’ll re-read this a time or few before then. Just to visit these characters.

That’s it for this time. Until later, happy reading!

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!