Long before she was the terror of Wonderland, she was just a girl who wanted to fall in love.
Catherine may be one of the most desired girls in Wonderland, and a favorite of the unmarried King of Hearts, but her interests lie elsewhere. A talented baker, all she wants is to open a shop with her best friend. But according to her mother, such a goal is unthinkable for the young woman who could be the next queen.
Then Cath meets Jest, the handsome and mysterious court joker. For the first time, she feels the pull of true attraction. At the risk of offending the king and infuriating her parents, she and Jest enter into an intense, secret courtship. Cath is determined to define her own destiny and fall in love on her terms. But in a land thriving with magic, madness, and monsters, fate has other plans.
It’s rare for the actual writing to grab me quite like this. I was so immersed in Cath’s head. Every comparison sounded so natural, exactly the way that she would describe it or see things. The prose was top notch.
Some of the plot twists were a bit easy to figure out, but I think that worked to the book's benefit. Rather than shocking me when the truth came out, it built that suspense and yes, a little bit of dread as I waited for the truth to be revealed in all its monstrosity.
I have read very few negative-arc stories before, so I was very curious going into this one. Mainly because Marissa Meyer did such a good job getting me into Cath’s head, I almost didn’t realize what was happening. Until halfway through the book I suddenly jerked to attention and realized how selfish Cath was being. Looking back, I could trace the slow evolution all the way back to the beginning.
No good person in this story is completely good. And no bad person is completely bad. Even Jest (who next to Mary Ann was probably the most noble character in the story) has his undeniably selfish moments.
Jest and Cath are brilliantly contrasted to each other. We watch Jest struggle to overcome his selfish tendencies, even though he certainly slips up at times. Meanwhile, we watch Cath become more and more consumed with what she wants, what she thinks will make her happy. And when she is unable to get it, she blames those around her—some justly, but eventually more and more unjustly—for her unhappiness.
It balanced this all perfectly with my sympathy to Cath, hoping that the likable girl from chapter one would somehow open her eyes and avoid her inevitable end.
Was any of this Cath’s fault at all? Was it those who made her so miserable—her abusive parents, for starters? Or was it her own subtle selfishness? Heartless forced me to consider my own life and where I might be more like Cath than I’d like to think. A negative-arc story, while not always quite as enjoyable to read, has a unique power in that sense.
One more quick note before I move on is that this book brilliantly handles the topic of body-shaming and food-shaming. While it may not offer much of a happy ending for those who struggle with it, it does illustrate how hurtful these words (and other words) can be, an important and timeless thing to hear.
This is a negative-arc story, otherwise known as a tragedy. You have been warned. Please also note that while it is clean, this is also not an explicitly Christian book, although it does have healthy messages.
Heartless is a tragic tale, one that might prove too bitter to swallow. But if you stop and savor a while, you might be subjected to some interesting flavors you wouldn’t have encountered otherwise.
What if superhumans weren't considered heroes?
When Scarlett Marley is attacked by an illegal super with fire powers, she doesn’t get burned, but now she has a fire-like glow flickering in her eyes.
With superpowers criminalized, she has no choice but to turn herself over to the Superhuman Containment Facility, or risk hurting everyone she loves.
Her normal life seems lost forever, until she is selected to be one of the first to receive the experimental cure to destroy her powers. In exchange, she must first complete one mission:
Infiltrate and capture one of the largest gangs of supers in the remains of once-great Rapid City.
With the cure and all her future at stake, Scarlett is prepared to do whatever it takes to bring these criminals to justice so she can return to her family. But this gang and their leader, Rez, aren’t what everyone says, and Scarlett begins to question everything she was ever told about the SCF and the fire flowing in her veins.
The cure is her only hope for returning her life to what it was before, but is that life worth returning to after all?
On a not really positive or negative note, the book is very differently paced than what I was expecting. It is marketed to appeal to fans of the MCU films, and while it does, it is a much more slow and thoughtful ride. While a Marvel film can be very thoughtful, Ignite is much less focused on the action and more focused on inter-character relationships and what’s going on inside their heads.
While as I’ll mention below, sometimes that thoughtfulness took up a lot of page time, I can’t really blame it. The different characters and their motivations are so well thought out, it’s incredible. They react in unexpected ways that still make perfect sense with where they’re coming from.
Ares was my favorite character, hands down. While ultimately, the author decided he was not the right character to tell this story, I would have loved to see a version of this story from his perspective. His conflict with his father seems like it could be rife with potential.
The conflict with superhumans not being seen as “people” also has a lot of potential to become a powerful allegory for modern judgements and prejudices as well. It was unpacked very thoughtfully in this installment, and I’m looking forward to seeing how it unfolds.
Some of the scenes did get to feeling repetitive. There were quite a few scenes of them going for their “recess” at the compound. While these did become important at the end of the story, it took quite a few repetitions to get there. Other events did seem to have the same things happening over and over again.
We also spent a lot of time in Scarlett’s head. I get that we were supposed to, she’s the main character. But there was a lot of time where she was just thinking and nothing else was happening in the scene.
That is the one and only weakness I could find with this book—just a few too many “filler” scenes without much happening.
Ignite is a different installment in the superhero genre. One where perhaps we slow down and think more than rush into battle. And that’s okay.
Her tears grant wishes. Her next tear will end her life.
She didn’t ask to be the Wishtress.
Myrthe was born with the ability to turn her tears into wishes. But when a granted wish goes wrong, she is cursed: the next tear she sheds will kill her. She must travel to the Well to break the curse before it can claim her life—and before the king’s militairen find her. To survive the journey, Myrthe must harden her heart to keep herself from crying even a single tear.
He can stop time with a snap of his fingers.
Bastiaan’s powerful—and rare—Talent came in handy when he kidnapped the old king. Now the new king has a job for him: find the Wishtress and deliver her to the schloss. But Bastiaan needs a wish of his own. He gains Myrthe’s trust by promising to take her to the Well, but once he gets what he needs, he’ll turn her in. As long as his growing feelings for the girl with a stone heart don’t compromise him.
Their quest can end only one way: with her death.
Everyone seems to need a wish—the king, Myrthe’s cousin, the boy she thinks she loves. And they’re ready to bully, beg, and betray her for it. No one knows that to grant even one wish, Myrthe would pay with her life. And if she tells them about the curse . . . they’ll just kill her anyway.
This quite possibly was my most anticipated title of this year. It’s been three years since Romanov came out, two years since I read it for the first time, so I was beyond excited when Nadine announced a new book. As you can see, Wishtress doesn’t quite run in the same vein as Fawkes and Romanov, so I was curious to see what she would do with it.
It. Is. Amazing.
First off, can you tell me the last time you’ve seen a fantasy world built in Dutch/Norweigan culture? The fantasy world was wildly creative without being overwhelming to immerse myself in.
The allegory is just as strong in this novel as in her previous novels, and a very timely message. I related so much to her characters—particularly Bastiaan who’s just trying to protect Runt and do all the right things that somehow keep going wrong. It delivers a message about grace that we’ve probably heard a million times before—but in the lenses of this story, it’s something new and fresh and the true impact really hits home.
I binge read most of this on a Saturday evening. I could NOT stop reading. These characters never really got a break, did they? Every time I thought it was as bad as it was going to get . . .
Myrthe is a really interesting addition. Emotional women in fiction have gotten a bad rap, just because they have been really horribly written in the past. This book illustrated a little bit of that bad rap, that expectation to be strong and exactly what everyone else expects us to be. And then it showed us a heroine who rebelled against that, which is an incredibly empowering thing.
And Runt. Oh my goodness, Runt. If you do not love Runt . . . then I don’t even know what to say.
THAT ENDING. I mean, it’s satisfying, and it’s fun to imagine your own ending, but still . . . I really hope that means there’s a sequel in the works? Please?
And last but not least . . . the cover! Isn't it gorgeous?
Wishtress is easily one of the best books I’ve read this year. It reminded me of what grace really is in a fresh new way. And plus, it’s just a good story, the way stories should be.
The task is simple: Don a disguise. Survive the labyrinth . . . Best the boys.
Every year for the past fifty-four years, the residents of Pinsbury Port have received a mysterious letter inviting all eligible-aged boys to compete for an esteemed scholarship to the all-male Stemwick University. The poorer residents look to see if their names are on the list. The wealthier look to see how likely their sons are to survive. And Rhen Tellur opens it to see if she can derive which substances the ink and parchment are created from, using her father’s microscope.
In the province of Caldon, where women train in wifely duties and men pursue collegiate education, sixteen-year-old Rhen Tellur wants nothing more than to become a scientist. As the poor of her seaside town fall prey to a deadly disease, she and her father work desperately to find a cure. But when her mum succumbs to it as well? Rhen decides to take the future into her own hands—through the annual all-male scholarship competition.
With her cousin, Seleni, by her side, the girls don disguises and enter Mr. Holm’s labyrinth, to best the boys and claim the scholarship prize. Except not everyone is ready for a girl who doesn’t know her place. And not everyone survives the deadly maze.
Welcome to the labyrinth.
To Best the Boys was, for me, a book of contradictions.
This was perhaps one of the first times that I had an aspect of a story that I liked and didn’t like at the same time. Ultimately, I think that’s a wonderful thing. This book authentically shared some ideas to think on and succeeded in getting me to think about it. So I’ll present my ideas below, but I highly encourage others to read it and see what conclusions you draw.
I was ecstatic to see sexism being dealt with in a Christian book. It was one of the things that drew me to it. I am in no way saying women are better than men or that all men are evil. Men and women are created as equal in Christ and there are good and bad examples in any gender. The fact is, while our world has come a long way, sexism is still a thing, and so many women are coming face to face with it every day. This book comes alongside girls and women who have been told they have no place to speak, that they are less than, and that they are only good for whatever they can do. I found it to be a relatable and beautiful thing.
You could tell that the author made an effort to not make all her men sexist jerks. Whether or not you like those characters will probably depend on your tastes, but the extra effort went a long way.
The third quarter of the book blew me away. The series of tests inside the maze—I couldn’t put it down!
It was also neat to see a female-empowering book that has to do with math and science. While I’m not a math and science girl myself, there are plenty of us who are, and the representation was much overdue.
Speaking of representation, a number of disabilities are included in the story—but the story isn’t really about them. (For instance, Rhen has dyslexia, but the whole book isn’t about her bemoaning her dyslexia and trying to get rid of it.) This approach helps to normalize disabilities and to show that those who have them are people just like everyone else.
The idea of "I belong to me" was an interesting one. I do believe it's something girls need to hear and is a healthy thing to learn. At first glance, I thought it unnecessarily left God out of the equation. Or did it? The idea of "I have value just because I'm me" automatically prompts the question of Who put that value there. This story never says God's name, but He's in there.
However, those aspects above had a side I wasn’t quite as sure about. Repeat: It made me think, which was wonderful! And I might change my opinions in a couple weeks or months or even years after more thought. Who knows? I feel like this book will stick with me.
I was reading along, enjoying the rare YA book where the female protagonist isn’t having romantic feelings for anyone, when WHAM. There Lute was. Don’t get me wrong. I like Lute and all, and I think he was probably necessary to show the “good man” representation of this issue, as well as to show that love/romance/marriage aren’t bad. But could he have done it without being in love with Rhen?
A little background. For me personally, I’m not in a book as much for a romance, and I had been really excited about the possibility of a heroine without romance. The back cover copy didn’t indicate a romance, so I got my hopes up. Nothing against Lute and Rhen’s romance, But I just thought this might have been a neat story to overthrow that trope.
While the sexism of Rhen’s teammates angered me, and rightfully so, sometimes she was just as mean back. I completely understand—when you’ve been forced to live with that your entire life, you do feel some ugly feelings and sometimes they spill out in ways you don’t want. But honestly, if she had just listened to what Lute was trying to say early in the story and let him explain things, she could have saved herself some trouble.
I would have liked to see her progress to having more respect for her teammates, male or female, because she knew what it felt like to be disrespected. But, on the other hand, the book leaves Rhen’s actions mostly to the interpretation of the reader, which is really cool. So honestly, maybe when I go back for a reread, I'll see subtle hints of where she completes that arc.
The disabilities in question do serve to normalize it—but otherwise, they don’t really affect the story. (Ben’s Down Syndrome does more than Rhen’s.) Especially in Rhen’s case—a point is made of her having dyslexia in the first couple chapters, but it doesn’t change the way she sees things at all throughout the book (that I saw). Some people may feel this crosses the line from normalizing a disability into just brushing it off. I personally think it could have been used a pinch more and could have had some really interesting effects on the plot.
I loved that third quarter, but it was wildly different in pace than the rest of the story. The first two quarters largely center on Rhen’s efforts to cure the disease and navigate society, as well as her plan to enter the labyrinth. Then the third quarter is explosive intense action. And then we’re back to the fourth quarter which is a lot of working on cures, putting pieces together, and more society parties.
*cringe* That makes it sound like I hated this book. I didn’t. I thought it was well-written and sensitively thought out. I’d give it five stars just based on how much it made me think. Truly, your opinion on this book is going to depend a lot on your background and personal preferences. This is mine.
To Best the Boys has made me think through a lot of things in a new light. And for that, it’s a complete success. I highly encourage everyone to read it and draw your own conclusions. Even if your conclusions are different than the author, the thinking time alone is worth its weight in gold.
Solve the clues. Face your fears. Survive the Trials.
All Alice Liddell wants is to escape her Normal life in Oxford and find the parents who abandoned her ten years ago. But she gets more than she bargained for when her older sister Charlotte is arrested for having the infamous Wonder Gene—the key to unlocking the curious Wonderland Reality.
Soon, Alice receives a rather cryptic invitation to play for Team Heart in this year’s annual—and often deadly—Wonderland Trials. Now she has less than twenty-four hours to find her way into Wonderland where nothing is impossible . . . or what it seems.
The stakes are raised when she discovers players go missing during the Trials each year. Will she and her team solve the clues and find the missing players? Or will betrayal and distrust win, leaving Alice alone in a world of her own? Follow the White Rabbit into this topsy-turvy fantasy where players become prey, a sip of the wrong tea might as well be poison, and a queen’s ways do not always lead one where they ought to go.
Alice was definitely a jog away from some of Sara Ella’s characters in the past. Some of the past heroines have had more stereotypical “girly” interests, and I had a hard time relating sometimes. Alice is a smart, strong girl with her own goals and her own ways of getting around to them.
Each of her teammates had unique personalities and vibes as well, and I was constantly wondering who was good and who was bad. She created strong dynamics for each of them, and it was neat to watch those all play out with other characters.
I would also like to take this moment to note that Chess Shire is AMAZING. In real life, he’d probably annoy the heck out of me, but on the page, perfection. I’m not normally into the romantic interests very much, so points are due here.
For context, I actually hated Disney’s Alice in Wonderland. Still do. I thought it was the dumbest creepiest thing I’d ever seen as a kid. The author did a great job of putting a special new spin on the story. I mean, a dystopian London? How cool is that? The trials had a neat “escape room” feel that I haven’t seen very often in books. And really, there’s just not that many Alice in Wonderland retellings out there.
As a very logical girl myself, it was a good reminder that sometimes the best things in life can’t be explained.
None. Oh, wait, I can think of one, um . . . WHERE IS BOOK TWO? WHEN IS IT COMING OUT? Inquiring minds would like to know.
The Wonderland Trials passed my trial and lived up to all the hype I’d imagined for it before it released. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to plunge down that nearby rabbit hole in search of the second book.
Inspired by “The Little Mermaid,” Coral explores what it means to be human in a world where humanity often seems lost.
Coral has always been different, standing out from her mermaid sisters in a society where blending in is key. She fears she has been afflicted with the dreaded Disease said to be carried by humans: emotions. Her sister had the Disease, and Red Tide took her away. Will it come for Coral next?
Above the sea, Brooke has nothing left to give. Depression and anxiety have left her feeling isolated. Forgotten. The only thing she can rely on is the numbness she finds within the cool and comforting ocean waves. If only she weren’t stuck at a new group-therapy home that promises a second chance at life. But what’s the point of living if her soul is destined to bleed?
Merrick may be San Francisco’s golden boy, but he wants nothing more than to escape his controlling father. When his younger sister’s suicide attempt sends Merrick to his breaking point, escape becomes the only option. If he can find their mom, everything will be made right again—right?
When their worlds collide, all three will do whatever it takes to survive. But what—and who—must they leave behind for life to finally begin?
This is an odd book to try and review.
I had been considering reading this book for a good long while, but honestly got scared away by its trigger warning on Amazon. Years passed, and suddenly, I realized I was an adult who could stop reading if it gave me bad vibes. Story Embers also conveniently ran a book study on it right about that time.
With that in mind, I checked it out from my local library and dove in.
It’s a lot. I do not have triggers related to the subject matter in the book (which sounds very cold to say, but there it is), and there were a couple times I had to take some time to process after reading it. It doesn’t pull any punches. It is both tactful and frank about mental health and suicide, which is honestly refreshing.
But on the other hand, while we’re dealing with deep darkness, we also have this floofy beach romance going on. That’s the best way to describe it. I don’t normally fawn over romance, so after a while, I was ready for Coral and Merrick to just explain their feelings to each other. But it also illustrated really well what living with someone with mental illness is like.
Also, the pinkie promise scene is possibly the best romantic scene I’ve ever read. So.
A couple times, when it veered into floofy territory, I feared losing interest. I was still struggling to figure out what these three characters had to do with each other at all, and felt like I was trying to read three stories at once. But about halfway through the book, some clues get dropped that everything wasn’t as it seemed. It had me racing for theories and waiting to see the payoff. Yeah, none of my theories were right. Those twists alone would make me read it again. The ending doesn't go as anyone had planned, and forces the characters to acknowledge the hard places.
Plus, the settings are gorgeous. Crystal clear, the kind of read that immediately transports you into summer.
The trigger warning is not a joke. This is some deep, heavy stuff. I, as a reader who am ordinarily not triggered by any of the ones described, still needed to process some of the harder scenes.
(A couple that spring to mind off the top of my head was one where the protagonist walks in on the *non-graphic* aftermath of a suicide attempt, as well as a scene where a mentally ill character who has been generally encouraging is revealed to have gone back and committed suicide.)
So if you are triggered by anything of the type, you might want to find someone who can read it with you or just avoid the title for now.
Coral is a perfect beach read, as long as you’re looking for a book to dive into and not just dip your toes in, and as long as those trigger warnings aren’t a concern to you.
In a land where being the fairest maiden is a curse . . .
A young queen trying to stay alive until she comes of age to rule, and a prince turned into a pauper.
Queen Aurora of Mercia has spent her entire life deep in Inglewood Forest, hiding from Warwick’s Queen Margery, who seeks her demise. As the time draws near for Aurora to take the throne, she happens upon a handsome woodcutter. Although friendship with outsiders is forbidden and dangerous, she cannot stay away from the charming stranger.
Only two months away from completing his royal testing, Prince Kresten of Scania is ready to be finished with the poverty and hardships of being a woodcutter. When he meets a beautiful peasant woman, he doesn’t plan to fall in love, especially when he must soon leave and return to his homeland.
As Queen Margery’s forces close in, Aurora finds herself in mortal danger. Kresten knows a future with Aurora is impossible, but he is desperate to save her and bring an end to the queen’s threat. To do so, he joins the ultimate battle against the evil queen, risking everything, including his chance at true love.
Both Aurora and Kresten are much more outgoing and open to people than I am. The skeptical side of me of course was thinking, “You just met each other and you’re telling each other all this? Especially after Aurora was almost killed by her aunt?” But it quickly quieted. The author did a fantastic job of taking character’s with very different personalities than mine and making me understand and like them despite that.
I also love that Aurora and Kresten think about each other. Yes, they’re cute and in love and everything. But they actually think about how their actions will affect each other—a rarity in romance.
I was warned before I started reading that the ending wasn’t as out-of-nowhere-awesome-plot-twist as Beholden. But this is still my favorite book in the series. While the ending wasn’t exactly unheard of for a Sleeping Beauty retelling, it was still a beautiful ending. If anyone ever tells you that tropes don’t work . . . Plus, it was just so satisfying to see all the threads from across the trilogy come to a close.
Besotted finishes out the trilogy with a sweet familiarity for fans of fairy tale retellings.
In a land where being the fairest maiden is a curse . . .
A princess rejected and hunted by her mother, and a prince who lives as a shunned outcast.
Princess Pearl flees for her life after her mother, Queen Margery, tries to have her killed during a hunting expedition. Pearl finds refuge on the Isle of Outcasts among criminals and misfits, disguising her face with a veil so no one recognizes her. She lives for the day when she can return to Warwick and rescue her sister, Ruby, from the queen’s clutches.
Amidst his royal testing on the Isle of Outcasts, Prince Mikkel of Scania has kept his identity a secret. Captured by a warring band of outcasts and condemned to die, he finds himself making friends with an intriguing but feisty young veiled woman. Intending to win her trust and gain her help to escape, he soon finds himself coerced to wed her.
Mikkel reluctantly agrees to the union to save his life, and Pearl hopes the marriage will provide protection for her and Ruby. But the queen is more determined to kill her daughter than either Pearl or Mikkel realizes and has a sinister reason neither expects—one that could rip their new love apart forever.
Pearl’s love for her sister really touched me. She was willing to risk everything to get Ruby back. As an older sister, I related a lot.
The misfits were a very interesting reimagining of the dwarves. I loved how they all hung together and worked together. It wouldn’t have been good for the rest of the book, but I’m almost sorry I didn’t get to see a little bit more of the Isle of Misfits. The worldbuilding of the tensions between the two groups was very interesting.
I have come to the conclusion that there is no perfect ratio of arguing in an enemies-to-lovers romance. I personally got a little tired of Pearl and Mikkel arguing in this one. It could have maybe been cut back by a couple scenes and not seemed as repetitive. As it was, it continued up to the climax and I wasn’t quite sure if they were ever going to get started on the climax mission.
They also seemed to fall in love very fast. Considering Mikkel was in jail, and Pearl was trying to use him for her devices, when things got lovey-dovey, I got a bit skeptical. Maybe I was supposed to. The book did awesome, though, in making them test those feelings of attraction later on in the book.
I also personally am not a huge fan of the “they are forced into marriage to save themselves” trope. Not to say it wasn't pulled off brilliantly here, just tends not to be my jam.
Out of the three Fairest Maidens, Beguiled wasn’t my top favorite. But don’t let it fool you—it’s still an amazing book and more than worthy of being read. After all, don’t judge a book by its cover. Or its review. Or . . . I think you get the idea.
In a land where being the fairest maiden is a curse . . .
A beautiful noblewoman with a terrible secret, and a prince subjected to slavery.
Upon the death of her wealthy father, Lady Gabriella is condemned to work in Warwick’s gem mine. As she struggles to survive the dangerous conditions, her kindness and beauty shine as brightly as the jewels the slaves excavate. While laboring, Gabriella plots how to avenge her father’s death and stop Queen Margery’s cruelty.
Prince Vilmar of Scania enslaves himself in Warwick’s gem mine as part of a royal test to prove himself the most worthy of three brothers to become the king’s successor. Amidst the hardships, he doesn’t anticipate his growing compassion for the other slaves, especially tenderhearted Gabriella.
As the annual summer ball looms nearer, Gabriella sets into motion her plan to end Queen Margery’s evil. When Vilmar learns of Gabriella’s intentions, he resolves to come to her aid and fight against Warwick’s queen. But doing so may require him to give up his chance of becoming Scania’s next king, perhaps even cost him his life.
This is a very different and unique Cinderella retelling. I had an extremely vague idea of the twist from my sister reading it, but when it came around, I was still surprised. It became kind of a game to pick out the Cinderella elements in this story. And I was definitely turning pages to figure out if it would end like a Cinderella story . . . or not. (Or have some twist that I could have never seen coming.)
Another thing I really loved about it was how Gabriella and Vilmar sacrificed for each other. In a lot of romance plots, especially in young adult fiction, the couple don’t do anything for each other. They simply kiss a few times, flirt ALL the time, and declare it a love story. It was nice to see two leads who, while they had their own struggles, were kind to the people around them and to each other.
On the topic of those struggles—those were strong and relatable as well. Gabriella’s need for revenge was an interesting quality to hand to a Cinderella character. Vilmar’s struggle to best his brother as well also packed the emotional punch needed. The author did a good job making me feel the emotions, even if their emotional responses weren’t quite the same as mine would be.
But who will truly become king? And how much is this like a Cinderella story? You’ll have to read to find out.
Alright. It is finally time for me to ramble about one of my most anticipated reads of 2021!
Peter Pan has crash-landed back on Neverland. But this is not the island he remembers.
Desperate to rescue Claire and the fractured Lost Boys, Peter must unravel what truly tore his dreamland apart. But with each step, he is haunted by more of his own broken memories. Not even Pan himself is what he seems.
Claire Kenton is chained to a pirate ship, watching the wreckage of Neverland rocked by tempests. When she finally finds her brother, Connor is every bit as shattered as the island. Claire may have pixie dust flowing in her veins—but the light of Neverland is flickering dangerously close to going out forever.
To rescue Neverland from the inescapable shadow, the boy who never grew up and the girl who grew up too fast will have to sacrifice the only thing they have left: each other.
Where. Do. I. Begin?
I’ll try to do this as spoiler-free as possible.
If you had any inkling of disliking the characters in the first installment, worry no more! The characters face the darkness each one of them has lurking in their past . . . sometimes darkness that they caused. I loved seeing how it emphasized responsibility for our own actions. The character arcs close out beautifully (and sometimes brutally) leaving us with a whole host of heroes. (Or villains who are even worse than before . . . )
The new characters that were added shone and each lent their unique presence to the story.
I could not put this book down. Truly. I read it all the first day I got it and then went back and read it again.
The world of Neverland is so unique and beautifully developed. I could see it all in my mind and loved all the different elements that made it so.
It’s no secret that Claire does find her brother Connor. And that he’s nothing like she remembered. His story was one of my favorite bits of the entire book. The development of his struggle with his shadow, his fall to villainy, and his battle against his hurt—oh my goodness.
The message in this book was exactly what I needed to hear. It illustrates crystal clear the light in darkness, that we are more than our shadows. The characters do struggle, and their struggles don’t necessarily end when all seems to be going right. But that’s life. And there is light—both in this novel and in real life.
Occasionally, the descriptions contained a lot of adjectives. Maybe they could have been improved by showing a bit more instead of the multiple descriptors, maybe not. It wasn’t enough to jerk me out of the plot, however, and did nothing to slow the story down.
Shadow did not disappoint. It was all I was hoping for and more. Definitely one of my favorite reads from this year, and an especially timely encouragement to me. I highly recommend it. Like I said above—there’s light, and this novel carries it from Neverland to the real world and back again.
Hi there! Rachel again. Check out this section for book reviews and cover reveals of some of my favorites!