Fantasy, New Adult Romance, Paranormal, Romance

My Review: A Kingdom of Shadow and Light (Fever #11): by Karen Marie Moning

Publish Date: February 23rd, 2021
Number of Pages: 496 Pages
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Genre(s): Fantasy, Paranormal Romance

***WARNING: This review contains spoilers of previous books in the series, so continue reading at your own risk! You’ve officially been warned!***

To see my review of book #1 – Darkfever – Click HERE

To see my review of book #2 – Bloodfever – Click HERE

To see my review of book #3 – Faefever – Click HERE

To see my review of book #4 – Dreamfever – Click HERE

To see my review of book #5 – Shadowfever – Click HERE

To see my review of book #6 – Iced – Click HERE

To see my review of book #7 – Burned – Click HERE

To see my review of book #8 – Feverborn – Click HERE

To see my review of book #9 – Feversong – Click HERE

To see my review of book #10 – High Voltage – Click HERE

To see my Fancast/Dreamcast for the whole series – Click HERE

Total Star Rating: 3.5 Stars

It’s always such a bittersweet moment when you get to the end of a book series that means a whole lot to you and one that you’ve been a big fan of ever since you started it. I haven’t been a fan of the Fever series for as long as some members of the fandom, but I can say that I know that pain that it’s all over; that feeling off being lost and like there’s no longer a presence in your life that you’ve grown used to. What do you do next? What do you read next? Is it better to reread the whole series again or to just begin a new one? This is what some may call a book hangover, and they’re just about as bad as an alcohol-infused one too.

A Kingdom of Shadow and Light was one of my most anticipated books of 2021 (the only others belong to Jennifer L. Armentrout and Sarah J. Maas), and I couldn’t wait to see how Karen Marie Moning was going to end her amazing series! As I kept with the books until the very end, all that’s happened in the story has come back into my mind of when I started book #1, Darkfever: Mac moving to Dublin, meeting Barrons, Darroc, The O’Bannion brothers, Fiona, The Shades, Dreamy Eyed Guy, The Gray Man and Woman, Rowena, the Sinsar-Dubh, the walls coming down, Mallucé, Dancer, the Nine, to Alina coming back to life, to Mac being possessed by the Sinsar-Dubh and eating Jo, and meeting the endgame characters like Dani, Christian, V’lane/Cruce, Ryodan, The Unseelie King, and of course Jericho Barrons. SO MUCH HAS HAPPENED. And now we’re here, it’s the final book….ugh, so many feels!

Upon reading it, either my excitement was getting the best of me or maybe it just wasn’t up to my expectations, but I found myself kind of bored with this book. All the chapters were delving into the minds of whoever’s chapter it was, but by the time I’d reached past page 100, and it felt like hardly anything actually happened… like their chapters were only their inner thoughts filled with recaps and all the questions they had of what was going on, or about sex. They all think about sex a lot, but I’m not really complaining about that since that’s kind of been the tone of the series for quite some time.

Honestly, there’s not a whole lot of things that happened within this book that I was looking forward to, but I go more into all that later on in my review, so I won’t bore you into reading it all twice. What I will show you is my final thoughts on some of the major characters throughout the whole series below:

Mackayla Lane:

What a character… I find it so funny when people gave up on the series too early because they read the first few chapters and decide they can’t stand her and don’t wish to keep reading on. I mean, how do you explain that the Mac at the very beginning and all that she goes through, how much she changes and how much she grows? You can’t, that person just really needs to keep reading and see all that happens for yourself. I see it though, Mackayla Lane wasn’t a great character in the beginning: imagine that stereotypical blonde, bubbly, Elle Woods-esque party girl and that’s all who she was. She’d never really faced any hardships and everything was mindless and easy for her, then the news of her sister’s death rocks her and her family’s whole world apart, but the thing that immediately makes her interesting is the dark vengeance she seeks while her parents stay broken and deep in grief. She’s been through the wringer, I loved how outspoken and strong she became when she (and us readers) got frustrated with V’Lane and Barrons both tugging her along and not sharing any information with her, her relationship with Dani, to her becoming the new Seelie Queen…She’s definitely up there with a lot of the great female heroines of these kinds of stories!

Jericho Barrons:

Karen Moning’s post on the “Moning’s Maniac’s” Facebook page really goes in depth with him as a character, probably more so than anyone else would possibly be able to, but it definitely sheds a whole lot of light of who he is as a character and where he comes from in his personality and overall demeanor when you first meet him. Like Mac, he felt like an incredibly cliché character: the tall, dark, handsome, and brooding masculine figure who’s a potential love interest for the main protagonist. He’s cynical and moody, a textbook example of an Alphahole, and others would say he was even somewhat abusive towards Mac with the mind games he played and the jealousy he showed with Mac and the potential with V’Lane, and he’s most likely someone who has a tragic backstory that left him believing he was too dark to ever find love again…While after reading this series and knowing that it’s kind of true, that doesn’t mean there’s not more to him. As you slowly learn more about him and his past, he becomes so much more fleshed out and three-dimensional. One good thing about him is that he never lost his edge, even as his relationship with Mac changes over the course of the story. He never becomes the dotting, weeping, soft and confessing his love kind of guy to Mac—not that there’s anything wrong with those guys—that’s not who Barrons is. He shows his true feelings through actions and gestures and letting Mac go off and make her own choices while still protecting her when absolutely necessary. He allows her to become a better version of herself, and (eventually) doesn’t alter situations to his liking. They aren’t the perfect couple, but they bring out the best in each other, they know how they both operate, and while it’s not the most romantic love story out in the world, there’s no denying that they’re kind of perfect for each other. I suspected he was the Unseelie King so many times throughout this series too, KMM does totally play with the idea several times, but part of me was still a little put down about the eventual reveal of what kind of creature he is exactly… I was just hoping for something more? Love the character Barrons: he’s a much more complex character than some give him credit for!

Ryodan:

I liked the mystery around Ryodan as we first met him in these books. He was one of the numbers Mac was to call if she was ever alone and in extreme danger, and just like Barrons, he was a total Alphahole. It’s weird, but I hate those kinds of characters and kind of love them at the same time? It’s complicated… but part of me really liked how much of an asshole this guy was at the beginning. I think it’s the antihero character trope that I like surrounding his arc, but he’s incredibly far from our typical Superman-like heroes. Despite their animosity towards each other for most of the books if not all, I really enjoyed the banter between him and Mac. Of course, she gets another alpha male who keeps her out of the loop, reminds her of the danger she’s in, while he’s secretly wondering what Barrons sees in her—c’mon, you know it’s true, especially when they first meet!) His relationship with Dani over the course of the series is… interesting to say the least. It’s certainly not the most orthodox love story in the world of literature, and it was funny/strange/curious to see how torn the fandom was about it ever since the potential for them to end up together started in book #6, Iced. Some would call it disturbing because an ancient being is lusting after and grooming a 14-year-old girl, but their story goes through so many twists and turns that you eventually get used to it? There’s a lot of factors that come into play with it, but what I can say is that once they ended up together I exhaled a deep sigh of relief and uttered “Finally…” I will say, it felt like he was a much different character in book #10, High Voltage, and it wasn’t necessarily a good thing. He felt so much more angsty and pining and moody than he usually is, and even listens to “Wrecking Ball” by Miley Cyrus with Dani in the car…there’s more than just that, but it just didn’t feel like a believable shift for him as a character, but that book is so random in general. No worries though, still like him as a character, and his conclusion in this final book is incredibly fitting ac

Dani O’Malley:

I did not really care for her for a good chunk of the series, specifically the first few books. A lot of other fans seemed to be so “TeamDani” or “TeamMega” and I was just not seeing it. To me she was just a bratty teenager who was the Robin to Mac’s Batman, but I will say when we make the startling discovery of her involvement of the murder of Mac’s sister in Shadowfever, I’ll admit that was when my interest began to pique. I was still not sold on her in Iced—the first book that focuses on her as the main protagonist—but she was still continuing to grow on me, but I began to like her once the whole storyline with her and her Jada alter ego came into play. I liked her a whole lot more towards the end of the Fever series, but based on my observation of her two books being my least favorite, I can also say that in my opinion, Dani was not meant to lead these books, that’s Mac. I say it would’ve been better off possibly to make a whole new series revolving around her, but the books work as a unit either way! I can say I didn’t see how Dani’s arc was going to end, I think the whole thing with the hunters is so random, but I like that she eventually ended up with Ryodan, even if the whole journey there was all over the place…

V’Lane/Cruce:

I knew there was something off about V’Lane from the very beginning… I didn’t know what exactly it was, but I knew his loyalty and what side he was on was definitely called into question ever since we met him in the very beginning. He was definitely a more well developed villain than most in a fantasy series, and KMM managed to add some real depth to him as the books still were being published by making him a character with deep daddy issues with the Unseelie King, yet ultimately turning him into a mirror copy of him too. The road to vengeance usually never ends well for the one to travel down its dark path, but Cruce kind of lost himself along the way and became the very thing he hates most in his existence, and that of course is his father. I’ll admit it was the most fun with him when he was still under the disguise of V’lane and there was some mind games/potential love interest with Mac in the first five books with Barrons as his competition. He was fun even past that phase of the whole series, and his mind games became even more sinister and insidious as he visited his enemies/victims in their dreams and delighted in their torment. Overall, he was a fun villain for the series, and it was great to see how he outsmarted Mac and the others over the course of the eleven books!

Christian Mackeltar:

I felt so bad for Christian throughout the whole series, he always seemed to get the short end of the stick with a lot of situations… not having a chance with Mac, getting sucked into another dimension, getting turned into an Unseelie Prince by Mac (on accident), plus probably more but those were the big ones. I understood his anger towards Mac and Barrons and his need to exact his form of justice, but I’m also relieved he didn’t go fully dark on us too and remained a good guy despite being turned into a bad guy’s body…I’m not sure if that makes sense, but I’m rolling with it! I liked him a lot, and I’m glad he gets his own HEA moment in this final book, LORD knows he deserves it!

Lor:

Once he became a more prominent character in book #7, Burned, I quickly grew to like him! Sure, he was a total manwhore, but at least he was upfront about it. Him and Jo had a rather nice dynamic when they were hooking up and I thought they’d make it until the very end, but then Mac freakin’ ate her! I hate when that happens… I wish Lor stayed more prominent in the series, but once his relationship with Jo met a brutal end, he kind of went back into the background, which is disappointing. I really hope KMM considers making a spinoff series with the Nine and he’s right at the forefront where he belongs!

Dancer:

He’s a really conflicting character because I really do like him, but if I can be an asshole for a second, this boy was kind of plot convenience for Dani and her eventual storyline with Ryodan. He was the younger love interest for Dani when she was 14 and Ryodan was wayyyyyyyyyyyy too old for her, and we met him in book #6, Iced, when Dani has distanced herself from Mac but still hunts unseelie fae to protect Dublin. He was adorable and kind of dorky, but him and Dani had a really cute dynamic. Part of me felt bad for him because lets be honest, Dani and Ryodan were obvious endgame since the idea was introduced to us, but so then the question was raised about what would happen to Dancer? Truth hit hard, because once his heart condition was revealed later, I knew he was a goner. I didn’t know when exactly, but no writer reveals a character has a serious medical condition like that and NOT kill them off at some point, but of course it’s after him and Dani make love for the first time…heartbreaking, absolutely heartbreaking. I liked him as a character, but I can’t ignore how his death was a catalyst to help push Dani and Ryodan to be together.

Kat McLaughlin:

I hate to say it, but I just don’t really have an opinion on her. She’s tough, she’s brave, but so are so many other characters… I just didn’t really see much from her that really set her apart other than how she was a great choice to become the new leader of the Sidhe-Seers once Rowena was gone. I found myself really bored with her chapters…

Rowena:

That bitch can choke.

What It’s About:

The official blurb:

MacKayla Lane faces the ultimate threat when war breaks out between the kingdoms of shadow and light, as the #1 New York Times bestselling Fever series races to an explosive revelation.

From the moment MacKayla Lane arrived in Dublin to hunt her sister’s murderer, she’s had to fight one dangerous battle after the next: to survive, to secure power, to keep her city safe, to protect the people she loves.

The matter of who’s good and who’s evil can be decided by the answer to a single question: Whose side are you on?

Now, as High Queen of the Fae, Mac faces her greatest challenge yet: ruling the very race she was born to hunt and kill – a race that wants her dead yesterday, so they can put a pure-blooded Fae queen on the throne.

But challenges with her subjects are the least of her concerns when an ancient, deadly foe resurfaces, changing not only the rules of the game but the very game itself, initiating a catastrophic sequence of events that have devastating consequences and leave Mac questioning everything she’s ever learned and everyone she’s ever loved. Now begins an epic battle between Mortal and Fae, Seelie and Unseelie, would-be kings and would-be queens, with possession of the Unseelie King’s virtually unlimited power and the fate of humanity at stake.

From the exquisite, deadly gardens of the High Queen’s court, to long-forgotten truths found in the Sacred Grove of Creation, from the erotic bed of her enigmatic, powerful lover to the darkest, seductive reaches of the Unseelie kingdom, Mac’s final journey takes her places no human has been before, and only one human could possibly survive…One who’s willing to sacrifice everything.

What I Liked:

  1. Christian Gets A Love Interest! First thing I can say about this is FINALLY! After getting the short end of the stick for basically the entire series, KMM finally threw him a freakin’ bone and allowed him a little bit of happiness to put an end to his whole overall story arc.
  2. Someone Becomes The New Unseelie King! Yes, the floating Shades-like power of the Unseelie King finally makes a decision on who is the best choice to take over, and when you find out it’s such a Duh! moment, like once it happens it’s like such an obvious choice; how did I never even think of that?! As long as you’ve known them in the series, they showed they are more than up to the task!
  3. More Mac & Barrons Romance! So RyodanxDani fans will be disappointed, but once again MacxBarrons are put in the center of this book’s plot even though KMM said their storyline is basically done—yeah, and this series was supposed to end on two separate occasions too—but honestly I’m not complaining because I really enjoy them and their dynamic. It’s changed dramatically since the earliest books and now Barrons even sits back and allows Mac to make her own major decisions and offers his reassurance whenever she needs it, plus reminds her that no matter what choices she makes, he’ll be by her side no matter what. It’s weird because I don’t think he actually ever says the words “I love you” out loud and in that order, but his own words and actions prove it and makes their relationship more deep and meaningful than most of the other relationships I’ve ever read!

What I Didn’t Like:

  1. The Attention on the Seelie Ice Princess… At this point in the series with it being book #11 and the final final book, why would there be so much emphasis on a character like this? I wasn’t sold on it unless KMM plans to maybe have it be a potential new spinoff series she’d work on in the future. She wasn’t a bad character by any means, but why should I care about her and the other Seelie Court royalty and not address other things that have been around in the books for much longer?
  2. Lacking Action… The first chunk of this book was boring. Just being blunt, but too much of it was just all about the introspective mindsets of most of the main characters, and by page 100 I’m like: “…Nothing has actually happened. All they’re doing is recapping everything that’s happened already…” I don’t like it when authors excessively do this… some people like in case it’s been awhile since they’ve read the books, but I know that most readers also usually do rereads before the new book releases, so a little recap is fine, but trust your readers have a better memory than what you’re giving them credit for.
  3. Where were the Old Earth Gods?… Literally nonexistent in this book…So what was the point of bringing them into the series in the previous book? Sure, the big baddie Balor was defeated and killed by Dani, but what about AOZ or the others? They were technically still alive to my knowledge, but just never showed up again? Really disappointed they didn’t make an appearance and have a badass battle amongst the Fae, who are their sworn enemies.
  4. Dani Captured… to add further disappointment to those who are really big fans of this relationship, Dani is captured and is basically separated from the whole group for the whole book! It becomes more significant when you realize why later on in the book, but this also made it so KMM didn’t give us some much needed interactions between her and Lor, her and Ryodan and Shazam, or even her and Kat, and I just find it disappointing we didn’t get these interactions in the book at all.

Conclusion:

Overall, It was a nice way to wrap up the whole dang series, but I feel like the author didn’t put attention in some the right storylines in order to make this book “great” instead of just “good.” I enjoyed the book, especially towards the end, but there was quite a few things left out that I can’t help but be disappointed that it didn’t happen. I kind of want to compare this book to Holly Black’s The Queen of Nothing from her The Folk of the Air trilogy because it has some similar issues: the romance between the two main characters is great and goes incredibly far, the heroine’s relationship with the villain is addressed and shows complexity from it’s timeline through the whole series, but a lot of the interesting side storylines just get pushed to the background or ignored entirely. Not enough factors made it into the final draft in order to make this book as satisfying as we wanted it to be.

I’m someone who only just recently got into this series, at least I got into it a lot later back in December 2019 when this series has been around since, like, 2006? I hope the readers that have been with these books since the very beginning fully enjoyed this final installment.

I can still say this is has been one of my favorite book series in recent memory; the first five books were the major highlight for me for their twisted ways of revealing backstory and lore, and how they’re more cohesive and jump off each other as a stronger unit than the books afterwards. They were more tightly packed and exciting, where the later books up until book #9, Feversong, felt like the author played around with her worldbuilding but couldn’t gain as good of a footing with the plot/major conflict of them as a whole. They’re still worth checking out, but I can’t deny it that there was something magical about the first five books.

Yet another series draws to a close, I’m a mix of emotions as these books have been a large part of my thoughts and interest ever since I started them. They’re for sure going to be taking up room on my personal shelf for quite some time, and I plan to do a huge reread sometime in the future, and I hope you readers have enjoyed the journey along with me and got plenty of entertainment with reading along with me & reading my emotionally driven reviews of each book along the way too.

Thanks for Reading!

— Nick Goodsell

Fantasy, New Adult Romance, Paranormal, Romance

My Review: Dreamfever (Fever #4): by Karen Marie Moning

Publish Date: October 26th, 2010 (First Published August 18th, 2009)
Number of Pages: 498 Pages
Publisher: Dell
Genre(s): Urban Fantasy, Paranormal Romance

***Warning!! This Review contains spoilers from the previous books in this series, so continue reading at your own risk! You’ve officially been warned!***

To see my review for book #1 – Darkfever – Click HERE

To see my review for book #2 – Bloodfever – Click HERE

To see my review for book #3 – Faefever – Click HERE

To see my Fancast/Dreamcast for the series – Click HERE

Total Star Rating: 4 Stars

Well feck me…we got another gem of a book in Karen Marie Moning’s Fever series that has pretty much become the main highlight of my book-related 2020. It’s filled with nail-biting antics and plenty of unpredictable danger, and Karen really masterfully drags it all out to the point of insanity, but one thing is certain: she knows how to drag you in and pique your interest!

Cliffhangers are also the author’s big thing, so if that’s not your cup of tea, this may not be the series for you…because I have to say: the cliffhanger ending of this book, much like the apocalyptic ending of the previous book, they seriously mess with your head and heart. I love it but ugggghhh do I hate it too!

The plot somehow continues to thicken even further into the storyline; the world gets richer and darker, the characters continue to grow and develop, the relationships either become stronger or burn to the ground, more myth and lore is explored, and you continue to ask yourself: “What can happen next?” along with “How can things get any worse?”

What It’s About:

So it happened…based off the ending Faefever, the walls have come down, and the worlds between us humans and the powerful Fae have fallen down and there’s no longer a barrier of protection. It’s pretty much the apocalypse up in this bitch…and the number of casualties are rapidly rising on a global scale!

Mac (Mackayla Lane) has been taken by the Lord Master, Darroc, and has been turned Pri-ya by being raped by the four Unseelie Princes–what a freakin’ way to end the last book with that chilling cliffhanger…

For those that don’t remember, being Pri-ya is when a human is turned into a sex-crazed drug addict and slave to the Fae whom they’d done the bump’n’grind with.

Dreamfever continues immediately following these events, and it’s looking pretty hopeless, but Mac luckily gets rescued by Jericho Barrons, who is doing all he can to bring Mac back to normal, and I do mean everything…with being Pri-ya, she’s forgotten who she is, who everyone else is, and all that’s been happening. In her crazed Fae-sexed-brainwashed mind, the only way she responds to any sort of mental progress is sex…yep, I’m not making this up.

Usually in romance novels, the characters talk about screwing each other’s brains out, but this was the first time I’d ever read where someone is trying to screw someone’s brain back in…talk about a criss-cross! One good thing about it is you get to see a side of Jericho Barrons you’ve never seen before, and thinking Mac won’t remember any of it, even reveals some interesting little tidbits.

Slight spoiler alert but not really…Mac gets back to normal, and within five minutes is back out on the streets kicking ass, taking names, and trying to figure out more answers for herself, because like we’ve all gotten so frustrated with in these books: no one tells her shit!

There’s a few big mysteries that rise up from the night the walls came tumbling down: who was the mysterious fourth prince whom Mac didn’t actually get to see as they all raped her? Where was Jericho for the four days it took him to rescue her? Where was V’lane?? Mac called his name thanks to the spell he gave her, and he never showed! It also added to the question of WHAT is Jericho Barrons? He was able to catch Dani when she was speeding through the Abbey, and not even the Fae can do that!

Without going too into the details of this book, I can say we get to see a couple things happen: What happened to Fiona, Derek O’Bannion, Inspector Jayne, Rowena and the other Sidhe-Seers in the Abbey, Darroc shocks us with some plot-altering confessions and backstory with the history of the Seelie and Unseelie Courts, you meet Ryodan, you enter the “Hall of Days,” you learn who Mac’s mother was, where Christian ended up, and even what “IYD” on Mac’s phone means!

In fact, I’m going to give a warning right now and organize all that happens in this book and the questions/answers it raises for my own peace of mind, so I say SPOILERS AHEAD, read at your own risk:

  1. Who was the fourth Unseelie Prince, and why couldn’t we see him?
  2. Eight Men break into the Abbey with Jericho and help break Mac out. Whatever they are, they are the same creature as Jericho (whatever that may be)
  3. We meet the 5 Highlanders from the authors other series: Drustan, Dageus, Christian, Cian and Christopher (a crossover!)
  4. Mac sneaks into Jericho’s mind and see more from his past: he’d slept with and killed a Seelie Princess (which has never been done before, and thus maybe explaining the tension between him and V’lane), and a dying child in his arms in the desert–who is it?
  5. Who’s the “Icy Blonde” in the restricted section of the Abbey library and why has Mac seen her in her dreams since her childhood? Also, why did V’lane hiss and disappear so quickly when Mac summoned him down there and disappeared for the rest of the book?
  6. Inspector Jayne and other officers have formed a rebel group of remaining humans with weapons and are trying to fight back against the Fae–especifically the Devilish Hunters who fly over Dublin.
  7. We learn Mac’s real mom’s name was Isla and that she was one of the best Sidhe-Seers and was a part of a secret coven within the massive group of women.
  8. The Old woman who called Mac “Alina”…simple mistake, or does this mean something else down the line?
  9. Mac and Jericho once again try to corner the Sinsar-Dubh, but it goes terribly wrong…also we learn Derek O’Bannion is the latest victim to be possessed by it, and the book has changed his body into some sort of chainsaw-like monster, and it’s actually pretty creepy!
  10. Fiona shows up and learns that Jericho still hasn’t told Mac something…”She still doesn’t know. Oh, Jericho! You never change, do you? You must be so afraid—-” and he throws a knife into her heart to shut her up…OF COURSE. But what were they talking about? What chance did Jericho have with Mac?
  11. Darroc kidnaps Mac’s parents from back home
  12. Mac ends up in the Hall of Days (Think Palace of Versailles with thousands of mirrors everywhere), and finds Christian, who’d been missing since the walls came down, stuck in another world that’s a desert. She discovers if she takes out the three stones in her pouch that they’ll be transported to other worlds, and feeds him Unseelie flesh when he’s dying, but he reacts strangely: his skin turns black with markings and his eyes turn amber…what is happening to him? Does it have to do with whatever spell had gone wrong on Halloween?
  13. Mac and Christian get separated during a jump, and he’s most likely not dead.
  14. Mac finally dials IYD on her phone when she’s alone, and a terribly dark beast shows up shortly afterwards, brutally killing any living thing that gets too close to her.
  15. Ryodan shows up and tells her Darroc had marked her like Jericho did, and tries to rescue her from the monster, but gets badly injured before the monster has him fall off a cliff right after Ryodan and Mac team up to kill it.
  16. Mac stands over the beast’s mutilated corpse and watches it transform into someone–or something–and the book ends with her screaming in agony…omigod, who/what was it???

What I Liked:

  1. Mac’s Character Development (Again)! I’ve mentioned this before, but it’s really apparent in this book how much Mac has changed since she’d first arrived in Dublin Ireland: she’s practically an entirely different person now!
  2. More Fae Backstory Revealed! Both V’lane and Darroc supply you with more Fae history with the Seelie Queen and the Unseelie King, and it adds so much more to the story on a mythological level. It raises the questions of how does it pertain to what’s happening now? Are the King and Queen big players who we haven’t met yet? Will they make an appearance at some point and if so, when?
  3. Dani O’Malley & Mac Lane Teaming Up! To our relief, one person Mac can for sure rely on is the young Sidhe-Seer Dani. Their bond continues to grow into a newfound sisterhood, and you can tell both of them desperately needed it. Mac literally went insane with how she can’t trust anyone, and it’s been hinted how Dani hasn’t a good upbringing at all, so I’m happy they both get this small victory to make the treacherous journey that much easier.
  4. Jericho’s Intensity! He continues to get so jealous over Mac and V’lane–which is hilarious–but you also get a surprisingly tender moment with the heartbreaking line: “You’re leaving me, Rainbow Girl.” He dances around completely naked to the “I Get Knocked Down” song, but then stays the infuriating ass that he is: he gives this gem of a quote: “We fucked, Ms. Lane. Even cockroaches fuck. They eat each other too.” We see so much more depth from him in this book as a character, and I’m glad we get more moments between him and Mac…I wouldn’t really call him a romantic guy, far from it, but I like how his enemies-to-lovers subplot has been handled, and the fact that it’s not a guaranteed happily-ever-after just adds to the anticipation.

What I Didn’t Like:

  1. Back to the Same Old Argument…Jericho rescues Mac at the very beginning and brings her back to reality, and I feel for her that she’d been through a lot and it’s all been weighing down on her: her sister’s murder, meeting her sister’s murderer, discovering the whole world of the Fae and how she’s a Sidhe-Seer, meeting Jericho Barrons and everyone else, no one telling her anything, finding out she was adopted…and I’m probably forgetting plenty of other things too, but to top it all off gets gang-bang raped by the four Unseelie Fae Princes…girl has a right to be pissed off…BUT her and Jericho just go back to the same old relationship they’d had ever since they’d met: mutual distrust with scorching sexual tension, often at odds and itching for a fight or fuck. I don’t know, I was hoping for a new-found respect or understanding between them. He continues to keep her in the dark on so many things, and she could be a little more grateful that he literally saved her life…I’m just frustrated and expected some more development in that aspect.
  2. Still Not Enough Answers…Okay Karen…girl, we need to talk…We are now four books in and we still don’t get almost any of the answers to the many questions we’ve got since the beginning.
  3. Dani O’Malley’s Perspective…We get a glimpse into the mind of Dani, which makes sense since I know later on in the series focus more on her and will have her narrate like Mac has been doing. That’s cool and all, but in all honesty I’m not too fond of Dani as a character yet and think she still needs some more development or maturity before she becomes so central. I’m sure she’s going to change much like Mac does and I’ll love her to death when that happens, but I’m defs not there yet.

Conclusion:

Overall, I loved the book despite how we yet again get the same results of only getting some answers but have added plenty more questions to everything that’s happening, and it being the fourth effing book in. I’m so torn by how well Karen slowly drags it all out in a way thats frustrating but still satisfying enough to keep you reading and find out what all the answers are.

Shadowfever is the next installment for this addicting Urban Fantasy series, and I’m told it’s going to supply a lot of answers and tie up a lot of the the many subplots, so think of it as being the finale of what is going to be “Phase 1”–like the MCU–of the series, and I am SO INCREDIBLY EXCITED AND CURIOUS TO SEE HOW IT ALL PLAYS OUT!

Thanks for Reading!

— Nick Goodsell

YA Fantasy, YA romance

My Review: The Wicked King (The Folk of the Air #2): by Holly Black

Publish Date: January 8th, 2019
Number of Pages: 322 Pages
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Genre(s): YA Fantasy, YA Romance

***Warning!!! This review may contain spoilers from the previous title, The Cruel Prince! Continue reading at your own risk, you’ve officially been warned!***

To see my full review for book #1 – The Cruel Prince – Click HERE

To see my Fancast/Dreamcast of the whole series – Click HERE

Total Star Rating: 4.5 Stars

After reading this little number, I have a few questions for our devious author, Holly Black… First one: How dare you? Second one: why are you doing this to us? why must you torture us with this book? this series? Seriously…this book is why I have trust issues!

If you loved the first title of this highly entertaining YA Fantasy trilogy, you’re in for a quite a surprise with this next title; you’ll somehow grow even more addicted to it because…oh my lord, the twists, the turns, the betrayals…oh, the betrayals! It might be too much for some of you more sensitive readers, I don’t know…maybe you won’t be as much of a mess as I was as I finished it, or maybe you’ll be worse off, who knows?

If you couldn’t guess by now, I seriously enjoyed this book, but not for the best of reasons…It’s just so wicked, so twisty, so addicting, so dangerous, so untrustworthy, so heart-wrenching, so diabolical, so steamy, and also so beautifully written; I am quickly becoming a huge fan of Holly Black, even as it becomes painfully more and more obvious and that she’s sadistic and loves to torture us all!

His mouth curls into a smile. His eyes shine with wicked intent. “Look at them all, your subjects. A shame not a one knows who their true ruler is.”

– Holly Black, “The Wicked King”

What It’s About:

This sequel starts five months after the events that took place in the previous title, The Cruel Prince, and here’s the quick recap of what’s all going down: Cardan had become King of Elfhame, but secretly has Jude controlling him behind the scenes until the one year and one day time limit ends. Jude also is on rocky terms with Madoc, Taryn is set to marry Locke (which is fine, they deserve each other *barf*), Oak is in hiding with Vivi after the shocking reveal that he was actually the true heir to the throne, Balekin is locked away for being a psychotic drama queen (or king?) for trying to steal the crown. Yep, so a lot happened, and it all will come into play as the story continues to develop.

There is a new threat to worry about: Orlagh, the Queen of the Undersea (And Nicasia’s mother), has decided to end her treaty with the fae folk and rule them all since she’s not too convinced about Cardan on the throne, and plans on a hostile takeover. All the other courts are coming together, also questioning Cardan and whether he’s a worthy king to follow.

What I Liked:

Our eyes meet, and something dangerous sparks.

He hates you, I remind myself.

“Kiss me again,” he says, drunk and foolish. “Kiss me until I am sick of it.”

I feel those words, feel them like a kick to the stomach. He sees my expression and laughs, a sound full of mockery. I can’t tell which of us he’s laughing at.

He hates you. Even if he wants you, he hates you.

Maybe he hates you the more for it.

After a moment, his eyes flutter closed. His voice falls to a whisper, as though he’s talking to himself. “If you’re the sickness, I suppose you can’t also be the cure.”

He drifts off to sleep, but I am wide awake.”

– Holly Black, “The Wicked King”
  1. The Banter and Sexual Tension Between Cardan & Jude! Easily my favorite part of this whole series. There’s never been quite a relationship in a book series like the one these two have, whether it’s YA Fantasy, Adult Fantasy, Romance, you name it. Both are anti-heroes, both morally-questionable, and both have done some less-than-stellar things towards each other and those around them. It’s obvious that they don’t want to trust each other, but as they are literally betrayed by everyone else as the story progresses, they slowly start to realize how they need to try with each other if they want be able to get what they both want. What is also so enthralling is how they both still refuse to admit or even accept their feelings for each other. They hate the other one for making them love each other; it’s so complex, unique, and so entertaining! Their dynamic was seriously so sexy to read, I couldn’t get enough! It’s weird, but I actually really like that both of them are willing to exploit each other, despite it being so flippin’ obvious that they’re both falling hardcore for each other, but neither wants to admit to themselves, and especially not to each other because nobody wants to give that sort of power over to the other. It’s so much fun to see how they play around each other like it’s some sort of chess game, but I’m not sure if they know what they want more: power or each other. Can they have both? It’s hard to say… Things get pretty intense and heated (AKA steamy) between them, and with how the book ends in such a dramatic cliffhanger, it makes for the third book to be all that much more anticipated to finally give us readers the final outcome of this magnificent enemies-to-lovers relationship comes to be. I absolutely have no idea, and I cannot wait!
  2. You Can’t Trust Anybody! Literally everyone is plotting behind each other’s back in this story, absolutely NO ONE is innocent. I swear, no book has ever matched up to the term “twists and turns” more than this title! Throughout the story, Jude is warned that someone close to her will betray her, and she slowly goes absolutely crazy trying to find out who it is. Mild Spoiler Alert but not really*** It’s actually, like, everyone. Everyone has ulterior motives, everyone has secrets, and everyone is willing to pull a Brutus and totally stab Caesar in order to get what they want…AND I absolutely love it! It’s so unpredictable and is like a literary thorn bush that protrudes everywhere and leaves you in so much pain wherever you go! Don’t even try and attempt to figure what may happen next, you won’t.
  3. That Cliffhanger Ending! It was something to behold…I can’t give too much away, but I can say that it makes you want to get that third book in your hands. ASAP. It’s pretty brutal to be honest, and I’m loving the theories I’m reading about it and whether people are justifying it or condemning it. I was shook, snatched bald, not okay after it, you name it! Oh Cardan Greenbriar…I don’t even know where to start!
  4. Continues to Have Dark/Morally Grey Characters! Besides the romance, another thing this book is about is power, much like a lot of Fantasy novels. It’s about power, and the vile things people will do in order to gain it. It makes this book stand out to look back and think about all the characters you meet in this series, and marvel at how morally gray they all are. Some are obviously more vile than others, but one thing Holly Black does so well is give us a glimpse of how their actions are justified. Maybe we don’t agree with them, but we can see where the character’s mind went in order for us to maybe understand where they are coming from…except maybe Taryn and Locke. They can choke.

What I Didn’t Like:

  1. How Short This Book Felt…I honestly don’t know if it’s because I cruised through this book in no time at all, or if it’s because it’s actually pretty short compared to other fantasy novels, but I wanted more! It felt like the story was over so much quicker, and it was shorter than the previous title (The Cruel Prince: 370 Pages, The Wicked King: 322 Pages), and I’m just a pouting, spoiled brat because I WANT MORE!!!

Conclusion:

The Folk in the Air series continues in the most devious, enchanting, and twisted of ways! Fans of the first book in the series will be absolutely ADDICTED when they read what goes on in this sequel; and while they may want to chuck this book across the room and scream at the frustration and angst that it causes, it also drives their need to keep reading and see what happens next, and make it feel more important than breathing, than eating. It’s like a drug you can’t get enough of! With the author’s beautiful prose, captivating cast of characters, and steamy romance weaved between the intricate and compelling plots; all that equates to the work of an evil genius… Holly Black, you are just so deliciously evil!

I have heard that for mortals, the feeling of falling in love is very like like the feeling of fear. Your heart beats fast. Your senses are heightened. You grow light-headed, maybe even dizzy. Is that right?

‘Jude,’ he said, running a hand up my calf. ‘Are you afraid of me?'”

– Holly Black, “The Wicked King”

Thanks for Reading!

— Nick Goodsell

YA Fantasy, YA romance

My Review: An Enchantment of Ravens: by Margaret Rogerson

Publish Date: September 26th, 2017
Number of Pages: 300 Pages
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Genre(s): YA Fantasy, Romance

To see my Fancast/Dreamcast of this book – Click HERE

Total Star Rating: 3.5 Stars

Not too bad for a debut novel!

Fantasy novels that star the Fae are always entertaining; whimsical with adventure, romance and danger work together and this title is a fun addition to read for anyone who love to read about them. It’s a sweeping adventure with a long journey with two characters who just can’t admit to each other their feelings towards each other.

It’s simple, but effective, and is surprisingly a standalone novel, which is so rare for any sort of Fantasy-genre piece of literature, especially one so short. Nonetheless, It was a nice change of pace and a simple, lighthearted, feel good, fairytale-like quick read that could be read in one sitting.

I had some doubts going into this title, basically because it has some mixed reviews on Goodreads, and the fact that I have so many more books I need to read. One of my new coworkers at my new location at work (Same company, but different location) recommended I try it, plus the reviews for the authors latest book, Sorcery of Thorns, have been absolutely glowing, so a part of me felt like I should open this one up and give it a chance, because if I read it after her other title, there’s no way I’d like it.

Also, Charlie Bowater is such an amazing digital artist! She’s one of my all time favs and is the cover artist for this title and plenty others! Seriously, check out her stuff and enjoy! (Link on her name is towards her site!)

What It’s About:

This story stars a young woman, Isobel, who is a master painter for the Fae (this book terms them as the fair folk). Her works always impress her clientele, who can’t produce their own craft, so they seek out humans to cut a deal with. Give them something, and in return they will reward one with some sort of enchantment: to make them more attractive, to make them live longer, or to help their crops for a long dry season.

One day, the Fae Prince of the Autumn Court, Rook, returns to the mortal lands after a long hiatus, and visits her in her home and has Isobel commission a portrait for him. She winds up painting human emotion within her piece; making him appear sad and lonely, and a week later comes back in a rage. To the other fair folk, he now looks weak so she must come back to the Autumn court with him to be put on trial for her offense. Part of her is terrified, but another part of her is excited to leave her town of Whimsy, a land stuck in permanent summer. What must it be like to go to the other courts and see what winter, spring, or autumn for the first time ever?

Along their journey, so many unexpected things happen; they’re both in for more than they’d ever imagined, secrets come to light, but most important of all, Rook and Isobel discover an emotion towards each other that is extremely forbidden…Love. The problem is, Fae and humans can’t be in love by law of faerie kind, and is punishable by death.

What I Liked:

  1. Prince Rook! Rook was freakin’ adorable! He wins the MVP award of being my favorite character in the whole book. He’s the Prince of the Autumn court and he takes Isobel to put her on trial for her (accurate) painting of him, and along the way on their journey, they end up secretly falling in love with each other without the other knowing, and something about these brooding, snarky, intense guys in fantasy novels and how they act around the girl they fall for is my undoing…it’s so sweet to see their entire personality change, they show a rare smile only meant for that person…god, i’m such a hopeless romantic…Also, his inability to understand sarcasm or metaphors was a huge highlight! It was like Drax in Guardians of the Galaxy, and how he takes every spoken word literally. It was like he had some sort of version of autism (or it’s just because he’s high fae), but it was so adorable, and added so much to his character!
  2. It’s A Standalone Novel! It seems for a lot of fantasy series now a days, it’s all series, and that’s totally cool! But sometimes it’s hard for us to be able to commit to so many at once, and sometimes it’s a nice change of pace to read a single story, which is so rare now. It’s a short, quick read that is a nice little bridge to read between major book series.
  3. Same Old Fae Lore, But Still Felt Original! So, after reading this book, I’m starting to see a pattern with a lot of Fae fiction that’s created out there: there’s the ability to not tell a lie, the seasonal courts, the weakness to iron, the hindrance towards humans, the strength of true-name, it’s nice that it stays consistent
  4. The Developing Romance! It felt like a bit of Insta-love, which is so played out, but one thing I really got into was the romance that built between Isobel and Rook. They had some fun chemistry, a lot of hilarious banter, but even just reading the author’s prose, I felt the unrequited love burn between them and really enjoyed it.

What I Didn’t Like:

  1. The Climax/ Ending…The entire set up of the book was spectacularly done; the build up was so incredibly entertaining, the banter between Rook and Isobel was stellar, but the climax and ending felt so rushed, so anti-climatic. It felt like I was back in 8th Grade reading the Twilight series underneath my covers so no one would see me with how the final confrontation is actually avoided rather than given to us in some epic way we’d hope for. The book also needed maybe 50 to 100 more pages of content and I think it would have been so much more successful. It was like all of Season 8 of Game of Thrones compared to the whole rest of the show, but of course, on a much smaller scale!
  2. It Needs more Danger!…Like Caraval, this book has a lighter tone and it’s more fun, whimsical, and fairytale-like, and that’s all fine and dandy, but there were parts where I wish more action, more drama, and higher stakes to add more to the story! It was slower paced, which was fine and acceptable, but I can’t read all books that are like that!

Conclusion:

Overall, this was an impressive debut from Margaret Rogerson! She has a specific voice in her prose; tons of metaphors and similes, which is a turn off to some readers, but worked rather well for this kind of story. If this is her first published work, I can’t wait to see what else she comes out with!

It was a fun read, but I still wanted more: It needed more magic, more danger, more development of characters besides the two protagonists, more relationships beyond the main romance, more unpredictability, more political intrigue (which is ironic coming from me).

I recommend this title to anyone looking for a lighthearted, romantic fairytale-like story, or for anyone who loves to read fiction that stars the Fae, or anyone who needs a break from the trilogies or the 4+ book series and wants to read a fun, standalone title!

Thanks for Reading!

— Nick Goodsell

YA Fantasy

My Review: The Cruel Prince (The Folk of the Air #1): by Holly Black

Publish Date: January 2nd, 2018
Number of Pages: 370 Pages
Publisher: Brown Books for Young Readers
Genre(s): YA Fantasy

Total Star Rating: 4.25 Stars

I had incredibly little expectations for this title when I picked it up only a couple of months after it’s initial release date. The cover instantly drew me in; I’ve said it before, but YA books have been getting the golden treatment in terms of cover designs. Prior to it, I’d heard very little about Holly Black as an author, and any of the previous work she’s released before this title. She’d done other stories like the Modern Faerie Tales trilogy, The Magisterium series with Cassandra Clare (Bestselling author of the Mortal Instruments Series who’s also her BFF), but none had gotten my attention quite like The Cruel Prince.

I think it was also the many comparisons to Sarah J. Maas’s “A Court of Thorns and Roses” series all over social media that made me even take note of it to be completely honest. At the time, I’d just begun to read that series, fall in love with it after reading the second title, A Court of Mist and Fury (SJM’s best book written to this time, don’t even try and fight me on it!), so I thought to myself, why not?, and gave it a shot.

What It’s About:

At the young age of seven, Jude Duarte witnessed her parents get murdered. She and her two sisters, Taryn and Vivienne, lived peacefully in our world until one day when a magical being arrives and completely changes their lives. General Madoc, who it turned out was actually Vivienne’s biological father, kills their parents and frisks them all away to live with him in the secret, magical realm of Faerie. 10 years later, twin sisters Jude and Taryn have grown to love their new home despite being mortal, and obediently follow the rules in order to stay. Vivi, who is actually half-fae, is the total opposite and doesn’t want to a part of this world.

Elfhame, the setting of Holly Black’s “The Folk of the Air” Series, Image courtesy of the fandom’s wiki page

Being Mortal, the twins are seen as lower-born, or less desirable amongst some of the fae, and the only way they (or any human) can stay in the realm into adulthood is if they marry someone fae, or be able to show a truly impressive skill. Taryn chooses the marriage option, but Jude decides to enter a tournament to show off her skill in combat in order to become a become a knight for the royal family.

I want to win. I do not yearn to be their equal. In my heart, I yearn to best them.”

– Holly Black, “The Cruel Prince”

The three sisters attend a ball at the Palace for the King, who has announced that he will soon appoint a successor amongst his six sons for the crown. It is there that you meet another VERY interesting character, Prince Cardan Greenbriar, the youngest but most vicious of the royals. Along with his little posse of noble-born fae, their goal seems to be to torment the twins during their schooling lessons. Jude and Cardan go back and forth in their torture; he even tries to drown her in order to get her to not compete in the tournament, but is saved by her sister. Jude and Cardan’s hatred for each other is a strong driving point of the story, that also takes a twist that no one would wholly see coming.

One night, Jude returns home to be told that theres a prince waiting for her in the parlor. It’s not Prince Cardan, but one of his older brothers, Prince Dain, much to her surprise. They cut a deal, and from there on, Jude becomes a part of all the palace intrigue and learns more about the lies and deception that go on behind closed doors, and discovers a shocking secret, along with a plot, that could change everything. She must be able to stand amongst those most dangerous in order to not only save herself, or her sisters, but all of Faerie itself.

Instead of being afraid, I will become something to fear.”

– Holly Black, “The Cruel Prince”

What I Liked:

  1. The Complexity of the Characters! In this story, there’s no line of good versus evil; it’s not black and white and easy to distinguish. Every character is not entirely likeable or unlikeable, and they all have a dark side and does things that are below the belt, despicable, whatever nasty word you can use to describe it. It was refreshing to see a heroine in Jude, who wasn’t afraid to lie, cheat and steal in order to gain an advantage; even better was when she found herself enjoying it. This world doesn’t create Disney Princesses darling; you’ve got to have some claws in order to gain power and influence.
  2. Fae Mythology! I am by no means an expert when it comes to Faerie folklore, but according to others, Holly Black really did her research on the matter and successfully integrated a lot of myth and legends into her story in order for it be considered an accurate portrayal. The Fae are supernatural beings that can come in all shapes and sizes and is the broad term to tie together many species: Elves, Pixies, Leprechauns, Dwarves, Gnomes, Dryads, etc. Basically, imagine every fairytale you’ve ever read from your childhood to now, and any magical being that appears is considered fae. They’ve been around for such a long time (Even Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream had them), and lived in harmony amongst mortals until Christianity drove a wedge between them (first of all, hmmm……second of all, thats what I think I read…experts can feel free to call me out if that’s inaccurate). They are more in tune with nature, they cannot tell a lie, they are more malevolent than humans, are tricksters, and for some reason have a weakness to iron.
  3. The Climax! Yowza…what a way to wrap it all together, not to mention, what a creative way to integrate this story into the next. Holly Black knows how to torture her readers!
  4. Holly Black’s Prose! Her writing style is simply gorgeous; it seams effortlessly together, and the way she can form words…it all just comes together so magnificently. It’s just perfect. I want to know her secrets.
  5. The Tiny sprinkle of Romance! Yes fam, amongst all the lies, the deceit, the bitter betrayals, the side-changing, there is a little bit of romance alongside all the rest of the story, much to my satisfaction. The only question is: Is it genuine, or is it simply manipulated in order to gain an edge? And by edge, yes, I mean the edge of a sharp knife against a delicate throat, ready to test a theory (*wink*wink*) to those that read have already it), or ready to slash at any second, sending blood spraying like a popped open bottle of champagne.

What I Didn’t Like:

  1. The Beginning Felt Rushed and Undervalued…To me, the beginning of the story went by so fast with its initial set up, it almost feels like it was pointless to include it if it meant so little to the overall story. It’s something that’s supposed to be an incredibly traumatic & grieving experience, something that changes a being (magical or mortal), and it felt like it was over before we knew it without any of the characters actually being all that affected by it. Even more strange, there was absolutely no need for revenge or justice amongst them because of it; it simply happened, and everyone moved on (except for me, I guess…)

Conclusion:

This book overall is nothing thats too new or innovative when it comes to what we’ve seen in YA Fantasy before, but that doesn’t make it any less of an entertaining read. It’s addicting because of the author’s beautiful prose, her characterization and their development, and the many twists and turns you take within the pages as the reader; it’s like being caught in a web of vines deep in the forest, and no one is around to hear you scream. It leaves you with excitement, it leaves you in torment, but ultimately it leaves you wanting more, which is what any author should want.

There are some similarities to the popular “A Court of Thorns and Roses” series by my queen Sarah J. Maas that I mentioned earlier, but that’s purely from looking at it from it’s initial aesthetic before actually reading what Holly Black has created for us. Both are great additions to the YA Fantasy genre, and it can go down as me saying that it’s guaranteed that this series will go down as one of the Greats.

Thanks for Reading!

— Nick Goodsell