A Curse so Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer is one of the best fairy tale retellings that I have read.
The writing demanded my attention from the first chapter and each chapter ends in a bit of a cliffhanger! I had to force myself to stop reading to go to bed. Harper is kidnapped but for reasons that are different from what she ever expected. She’s been kidnapped from Washington D.C. to help break a prince’s curse. Prince Rhen and his top guard, Grey, are the only two that know about the curse and the secret that Rhen is horrified about. Lilith cursed Rhen years ago and he’s turned into a violent monster every season since. Once he changes, he has no memory or control, and because of that he’s ending up killing the royal family, his family. Harper doesn’t like Rhen at first but she understands him better the more she gets to know him. Grey is an intimidating guard but a kind and caring soul. Each season, Rhen becomes a different creature but he’s always violent and ruthless. Harper helps Rhen and his kingdom by pretending to be a princess. A cruel ruler threatens to take over the kingdom and Harper and Rhen tell her that the princess’s father is sending reinforcements to stop her. Rhen, Harper and Grey continue to work together and become closer. This story is full of action, loyalty and bravery and ends in an intense surprise, 5 stars!
I love this cover!
Sea Witch, by Sarah Henning, opens as three young children play together and one ends up gravely injured. The story jumps to their teen years, the present time in this setting, when the Prince turns sixteen and the kingdom celebrates. Prince Nik and his best friend Evie dance and remember their third friend that is no longer with them. I like the alternating between the present time, and four years earlier around the time tragedy strikes, because it gives insight into the characters and their backgrounds and builds suspense. As the village prepares to celebrate, a young woman named Annamette appears. She confides in Evie her secrets and deepest wishes. This is where complications begin. With magic, royalty and the sea, problems brew and lives change drastically. Sea Witch is the beginning of transformation and the ending of innocence and freedom for Evie, 5 stars!
Thanks to NetGalley and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for the opportunity to read and review Grim Lovelies by Megan Shepherd!
Bringing a twist to the regular fairy tales, Grim Lovelies tells the story of the often forgotten side characters. Anouk is a servant of Mada Vittora’s household. Anouk is also an animal transformed into a human by the witch she serves. Mada Vittora keeps the pelts of all the animals she’s turned into humans, all to serve her. Anouk, Luc, Beau and Cricket are all trapped this way. Beau discovers the Mada’s body after she’s been killed, so he and Anouk flee to Cricket’s apartment and then the three of them are on the run. The three of them haven’t heard from Luc for quite some time. They run to another witch that’s the enemy of their Mada, hoping for help in staying human. Mada Zola helps them plot to steal a spell from the Royals and things just get more complicated from there. Loyalties are tested and stretched and a new beginning ends the book, 4 stars!
Thanks to Edelweiss for the opportunity to read and review The Blood Spell by C. J. Redwine, book four of the Ravenspire series. The books in this series are more companion books than sequels. Blue works with her father at the family store and she’s in the process of turning lead into gold with alchemy. Blue wants to help the homeless and poverty-stricken people in the kingdom with the gold she hopes to create. Kellan is next in line to rule the kingdom and he doesn’t enjoy the politics or having to watch his back constantly, but he does enjoy a bit of danger and fun. Dinah is losing her empire and needs money since her husband lost everything due to his gambling habit. She’s discovered that Blue is trying to make gold and Dinah wants Blue to work for her so she can claim everything Blue does. Blue’s life has been turned upside down because of Dinah’s actions, making Blue a Cinderella of sorts. Blue overhears Dinah talking loudly with someone she owes money too and she decides to help Dinah’s daughters, so they won’t be taken to pay off their family debt. Little does she know that Dinah planned for Blue to hear the conversation all along. Dinah’s manipulative nature and Blue’s integrity come to fisticuffs as the action and suspense rise. I enjoy Blue’s and Kellan’s relationship and how they’re both very stubborn. Princess Nessa is a young, extremely brave soul. The characters round out this fantasy and I enjoyed every minute reading this book, 5 stars!
The Traitor Prince by CJ Redwine. The third book in the Ravenspire series. Rahim, Javan’s unknown cousin, has been chosen to be a replacement for the true prince because he’s half royal. His father, Fariq, conceived Rahim with a peasant woman. Rahim is bitter and feels justified in taking the true prince’s place. Javan, the prince, has been away at school for the past ten years, working hard to meet his mother’s dying wish that he will graduate with honors. Javan is kidnapped and thrown in prison where he struggles to stay alive and tries to find a way to reach his father, the king. In the meantime, Rahim is trying to weasel his way into power. Javan finds trusted allies and he literally fights for survival. The prison warden throws everything she can at Javan to crush him. Javan discovers more about himself and about his country than he ever imagined. I love Sadja, her strength and abilities. I also rooted for Javan the whole time! Strong world building and characters make The Traitor Prince a very enjoyable read, 5 stars!
The Wish Granter by C. J. Redwine is a fun and suspenseful retelling of Rumpelstiltskin!
Ari treats everything with humor and Thad is feeling the pressure from his granted wish. Thad has suddenly become king after he made a deal with the Wish Granter ensuring his sister will be taken care of. Little did he know that the Wish Granter always tricks and gets more out of the bargain than the people he makes deals with. Sebastian has been hired as the kingdom’s new weapons master. He’s grateful for this chance to better his life and get away from his violent father and to help his drug-addicted mother. Ari asks Sebastian to make weapons out of iron for her so she can protect Thad from the Wish Granter. Ari has also asked Sebastian to train her to use weapons to protect herself and her brother, through this the two of them become close friends. Teague discovers that Thad is working to get out of his contract, so Teague comes to collect Thad’s soul but he takes Ari prisoner instead. Sebastian braves everything that’s horribly traumatic and difficult for him, so he can get to Ari. Teague shares his background story with Ari and he tells her what his beautiful pipe is made of and it shocks her to the core. The author’s writing adds suspense, charm and intensity to the story. The Wishgranter is the second book in the Ravenspire series and it’s just as good as the first book, The Shadow Queen! 5 stars for this fairytale about Rumpelstiltskin!
Intelligent and creative retelling!
Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix by Julie C. Dao tells the story of Jade. Jade lives with and has been raised by the monks, being prepared to accept her rightful place as Empress. Jade is summoned to the Empire by soldiers and she meets Xifeng, the Empress that holds Jade’s fate in her hands. Xifeng is cruel and self-absorbed to the point that she’s the only person that matters. Jade makes saving the kingdom from Xifeng her mission and she’s sent on an adventure that takes her through the mythical stories she was raised on, learning how helpful the tales truly are. Julie C. Dao has created an interesting series, with the transformation of Xifeng, that I want to binge read so I can get the most out of everything the characters experience in both books. Intelligent writing, a mythical atmosphere and charming characters earn 5 stars!
Perfect mix of action, loyalty and humor.
The Shadow Queen by C. J. Redwine is the first book of the Ravenspire series. Lorelai’s mother, the Queen, died when Lorelai was very young. The King, Lorelai and her brother Leo suffered with sadness and nightmares. Lorelai’s and Leo’s maternal aunt, Irina, married the King and seemed to brighten and cheer everyone up until she decided she wanted power. Irina placed a spell over the King and Royal guards so they would do her bidding. Lorelai tried to use a spell against Irina but her father was killed and Leo and Lorelai ran away with Gabril, a Royal guard. Years later, Kol enters the story after being expelled from his school. He’s throwing a party and trying to keep his younger sister, Bryg, from drinking. Kol is called by his headmaster and assumes that he will be punished for being expelled. Instead, he’s told that his father, mother and older brother have been killed by ogres. Kol becomes King and fully responsible for his kingdom. Lorelai and Leo meet Kol and his friends when they help them out of an angry mob. Queen Irina hears rumors about the mob and the rescue and she becomes suspicious that maybe Lorelai and Leo might be alive. Kol seals a blood oath with the evil queen Irina. He has to bring the missing princess to her and then Irina will save Kol’s kingdom from the ogres in exchange. Kol has no idea that the princess is the one who saved him from the mob. The relationship between Kol and Lorelai grows more complicated as the story continues. The Shadow Queen is a fresh and wonderful retelling of the Snow White fairytale, full of action, loyalty and a dash of humor, 5 stars!
Snow White’s Mirror by Shonna Slayton is another wonderful fairytale creation! Shonna Slayton perfects historical fiction. Now she’s combining historical fiction with fantasy to create fun and intelligent fairytale stories. Billie has traveled with her uncle to secure her inheritance after her father’s death due to heart failure. She believes that her uncle is keeping things from her as well as gambling away her father’s estate. They stop at a mining town and meet cousin Lou. She oversees a mine with beautiful turquoise veins running through and she does all of the work by herself. Uncle Dale tells Billie that he’s searching for a special mirror that will grant wishes. Billie wants to help her ailing mother, so she wants to find the mirror also. The character pool grows to include Winn, an interesting local young man; Matron, a kind but questionable local businesswoman and Fremont, a relative with dwarfism that has also been missing for a while. Billie discovers more about cousin Lou and stumbles upon an odd window that seems somewhat like a mirror inside Lou’s shack. Billie’s life grows much more complicated than she ever thought it could. I love this book and highly recommend it to fairytale and historical fiction readers, 5 stars!