I hardly ever post mini reviews of novels. I prefer to dedicate a full post to each one. But things are getting ridiculous because it’s now November and there are books I read in August that I haven’t yet talked about on here. Not that it’s a big deal, but I like to post a review for every book I read so being this behind on reviews irks me. It makes me feel as if I’m not progressing with my reading goals, even if I am.
Although the stories I’ll discuss in this post are all fantasy, they are quite different from each other. The first is a Tor novella about a Wild Man of the woods whose life is upended when he receives a visit from an unassuming human. The second, a paranormal, historical fiction romance with some steampunk influence that’s inspired by the fairytale Sleeping Beauty. And the third is a middle-grade fantasy novel about the boyhood years of the famous wizard Merlin.
I enjoyed reading two of the three, but one was surprisingly boring. However, I’m glad to have read them all. Here’s what I thought of each.
Silver in the Wood by Emily Tesh
Greenhollow, book 1
There is a Wild Man who lives in the deep quiet of Greenhollow, and he listens to the wood. Tobias, tethered to the forest, does not dwell on his past life, but he lives a perfectly unremarkable existence with his cottage, his cat, and his dryads.
When Greenhollow Hall acquires a handsome, intensely curious new owner in Henry Silver, everything changes. Old secrets better left buried are dug up, and Tobias is forced to reckon with his troubled past—both the green magic of the woods, and the dark things that rest in its heart. (Goodreads)
Much as I enjoyed reading this story, I wasn’t as enchanted by it as many other readers were. I liked how atmospheric the story is and that it lulled me as I read, as if I were being told a bedtime story. There’s a dreamy quality to it, especially the setting, that I loved. I also liked that the story is told from Tobias’s perspective — the Wild Man of the forest. It tickled me that while he recovered from his injury at Silver’s manor, he listened to “old wives’ tales of himself.” I love it when that happens in a story (when characters hear stories about themselves), especially if the tales are much larger and grander than the truth, which is often the case.
However, the characters didn’t appeal to me much, except for Silver’s mom and we didn’t get enough of her, and neither did the story. In some spots, I thought it lagged and in others I wanted it to linger. It was a good read but not one I loved, and it’s since started to fade from my mind.
Overall: ★★★☆☆ ½
I think it’s worth checking out.
Buy | Borrow | Bypass
Paranormal; Romance; Historical Fiction; Steampunk
Steampunk Proper Romance, book 2
Doctor Isla Cooper is cursed. Literally. Each night, at the stroke of midnight she falls into a death-like sleep from which she cannot be awakened for six hours. To make it worse, the curse has an expiration date—after a year, it becomes permanent. And the year is almost up.
In a desperate attempt to find Malette—the witch who cursed her—Isla blackmails her way onto Daniel Pickett’s private airship bound for the Caribbean, only to discover she’s traveling with three illegal shapeshifters and the despicable Nigel Crowe, a government official determined to hunt down and exterminate every shapeshifter in England. Isla and Daniel must work together to keep the identities of the shapeshifters hidden while coming to terms with their own hidden secrets, and their blossoming attraction to each other.
Filled with suspense, intrigue, and plenty of romance, Kiss of the Spindle is steampunk Sleeping Beauty story. It is a race against the clock as Isla and Daniel try to hunt down the elusive Malette before Isla’s death-like sleep becomes permanent. (Goodreads)
I’m hooked on Allen’s Steampunk Proper Romance series. Omg! I listened to the first book — Beauty and the Clockwork Beast, which is described as Jane Eyre meets Beauty and the Beast and is exactly that — and was so taken by it that I had to get and listen to the second book. Now I’m hooked.
Kiss of the Spindle is inspired in part by the fairytale Sleeping Beauty. I loved how aspects of that fairytale is worked in to affect the protagonist and her relationships and complicate the plot in certain areas. It was an entertaining read, but not as strong as the first book, so it took some time for me to get into the story. But once I was hooked, I sped through it (well, I listened to it often but at the narrator’s reading pace). I thought Isla’s empath abilities were really cool and found it interesting how she used it to affect the shapeshifters so that things wouldn’t get too crazy on the airship. The airship was great too. I haven’t read many stories set on them.
The narrator did a good job, but I prefer the narrator for the first book, Saskia Maarleveld. It’s probably because I got used to her voice for the story and expected her to continue with this one, quite like how I expected the protagonist to be the same despite reading the synopsis (smh). Still, I enjoyed the story and look forward to reading (listening to) the next one.
I highly recommend this and the first book. I know I will read them again.
Buy | Borrow | Bypass
Merlin, book 1
A raging sea tosses a boy upon the shores of ancient Wales. Left for dead, he has no memory, no name, and no home. But it is his determination to find out who he is — to learn the truth about his mysterious powers — that leads him to a strange and enchanted land. And it is there he discovers that the fate of this land and his personal quest are strangely entwined.
He is destined to become the greatest wizard of all time — known to all as Merlin. (Goodreads)
I buddy-read this with Millie from Milliebot Reads. We decided to revisit it because we both read it as preteens and wanted to know if the story would still be appealing if reread today. It wasn’t.
It was so boring! We wanted to like it or at least see what about it appealed to us when we were younger, but, oh man! Reading this book was a chore. Merlin was unappealing, the plot dragged in certain areas, and the climax — the big battle, the supposedly most exciting part — was a disappointment that involved much talking and hardly any action. I ended up skimming sections as it got closer to the end. This one let me down because I thought it would be charming. I kept hoping it would get better, but nope.
I do remember that I didn’t like this book as much as the others when I first read the series and preferred the later books in the series. Whenever I reread it, I’d often start with the second book, The Seven Songs, so I’d like to try it to see if it’s any better. Unfortunately, after completing The Lost Years, I’m not hopeful that story will be any better since a major reason why this story is a bore is because Merlin narrates it. Not only did I not like him, his narration was bland and he tended to point out the most obvious things and hardly did anything. In the major battle, just about everything was resolved without his help. This was a frustrating, disappointing read. I hope it gets better.
A part of me is hoping the books get better as the story goes on.