Three book reviews: Raven Kin, Aster Wood, Lindorm Kingdom

So far this January, I’ve gobbled up three newly-released books, one of which was an advance reader copy. I wanted to share them with everybody!

The books in question:

three-books

Disclaimer: I totally shop books based on their covers. Notice how all these have rocking covers? Oh yeah.

First:

Aster Wood and the Blackburn Son (Book 3)
This is the third book in the series. It’s about a teen from Earth, except this is a dying Earth with poison rain and stuff. Aster stumbles across a weird gold-etched page in his grandmother’s attic, which turns out to be a teleporting link to another planet. As it turns out, there’s a bunch of these planets, all related because they share a crumpled space-time area called The Fold. Except a bunch of mages unbalanced the Fold and now all the worlds are dying. Cue Aster’s attempts to fix things in book 1 and 2. And now book 3:

My review: After the end of the previous book, when one of the characters was turned evil, we knew that Aster was going to spiral for a bit. And he does–the first few chapters are hard to read. I kept thinking that Aster badly needed a friend. Fortunately, he finds the other characters fairly soon. Somebody has enchanted the city of Stonemore, making all the people there laughing, singing members of a Disney movie–completely unable to defend against the army coming to wipe them out.

So Aster runs around, trying different things to save his friends and his sister. In this book, we learn more about the glowing white animals that have helped him before, and they’re totally awesome. We also run into some more characters from book 1, as well as learning some surprising new twists about the Corentien.

All in all, a solid addition to the series, and leaves you wishing the next book was already out. 🙂


Second:

Lindorm Kingdom

Summary: What if your freedom came through the one who was meant to destroy you?

The lindorm has more power in his dragon body than his human mind can reliably control. The strength that has kept him alive until now is growing into a liability. He’s running out of time to break his enchantment, and he doesn’t even know how to start.

As a teenage single mother, Linnea endures cruelty and indignities to maintain her independence in a culture that only values the strong. When she tries to save a vulnerable child, her persistence irritates the wrong people and her jealous stepmother offers Linnea to them as lindorm bait.

No one cares if Linnea will be an effective means to get past the dragon’s defenses, a strategic distraction, or simply its last meal.

Linnea and the lindorm are expected to eliminate one another, but these two have never been good at doing what’s expected of them.

My review: This is a hard book for me to review. On one hand, I’ve looked forward to reading it for a really long time, and it’s a great take on the fairytale about the girl who must wed the dragon.

On the other hand, the writing is … strange. The first third of the book is extremely hard to read, because all the dialogue is non-sequitur. There’s very little description for a long time, and there are at least 5 first-person perspective characters who we swap between very quickly. The book does improve, however, and the flow gets better as the story enters the fairy tale part.

I would have been happy had the book ended after Linnea frees the lindorm from his curse. After that, however, I had a hard time following the other characters and their political machinations. I had seen what I paid for, in essence. It was like we went immediately into stuff that would have been better left for book 2.

Linnea is a strong-minded heroine who bears the stigma of being raped and having a kid, yet her rapist “proved his innocence” by murdering her father (due to the kingdom’s twisted laws). So a lot of this book deals with her preoccupation with being raped by everything male, and her rapist’s preoccupation with raping her again. The lindorm, of course, is exempt from this–until his spell is lifted. Her story and the lindorm’s are the most fascinating plotlines.

There’s a bunch of other stuff going on with the prince needing to marry a princess from a neighboring kingdom to prevent war, and djinn, and fairies (?). But I personally didn’t find that as engaging as Linnea and the lindorm’s storylines.

This is all my personal impressions, understand! Other readers may enjoy the book far more than I did. I think fans of Anne Elizabeth Stengl, especially, will eat this book up. But it fell a little flat for me because of comprehension issues.


Third:

Raven Kin (The Blackfeather Chronicles Book 1)

Summary: Silas is the last of a rare species of alchemical creature, and he’s quite content in his role as his mistress’s favoured companion. Anwyn is kind, and in his eyes a goddess. What more could a griffin ask for?

Only all is not perfect in the city of Anfi, where unfortunates are considered chattel, and the shift from noble to slave can happen overnight. Mistresses, however kind, do not possess divine powers. And fate has other plans for Anwyn. Silas must learn all that there is about what it means to be raven kin. Pampered pets don’t live long when they’re left out in the cold.

The might of the Janian Empire is great, yet when Silas finds himself embarking on a desperate mission, he discovers that there are things greater even than an empire.

And empires crumble.

My review: I picked up this book’s sample primarily for the cover art. A raven-griffin? Haven’t seen one of those before.

A look at the sample proved that the writing is solid, the world building good–kind of a Roman Empire on the verge of collapse–told through the eyes of Silas, griffin of mysterious origins.

I bought the book and read the whole thing in one afternoon. The book reads like the Queen’s Thief books–like historical fiction that, oh wait, has magic in it. Silas is besotted with the human girl who raised him, and knows that no good can come of her illicit romance with a slave.

Younger and more sensitive readers can be assured that while sex and rape are discussed, it’s all through the distant, practical viewpoint of a griffin–discussing how men twist the mating act. It’s never on screen.

While this book wraps up its story nicely, I’m eager to read more books in the series! Alas for new books–one must wait so long for sequels.

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