Tag Archives: fantasy

Review of Best Served Cold, by Joe Abercrombie

I borrowed an audio copy of Joe Abercrombie‘s Best Served Cold from my local library.

Description from Goodreads:
Springtime in Styria. And that means war.

There have been nineteen years of blood. The ruthless Grand Duke Orso is locked in a vicious struggle with the squabbling League of Eight, and between them they have bled the land white. While armies march, heads roll and cities burn, behind the scenes bankers and priests and older, darker powers play a deadly game to choose who will be king.

War may be hell, but for Monza Murcatto, the Snake of Talins, the most feared and famous mercenary in Duke Orso’s employ, it’s a damn good way of making money too. Her victories have made her popular – a shade too popular for her employers’ taste. Betrayed, thrown down a mountain and left for dead, Murcatto’s reward is a broken body and a burning hunger for vengeance. Whatever the cost, seven men must die.

Her allies include Styria’s least reliable drunkard, Styria’s most treacherous poisoner, a mass-murderer obsessed with numbers and a Barbarian who just wants to do the right thing. Her enemies number the better half of the nation. And that’s all before the most dangerous man in the world is dispatched to hunt her down and finish the job Duke Orso started…

Springtime in Styria. And that means revenge.

Review:
I wasn’t thrilled with this, but I seriously suspect it’s just a style thing. The characters were pleasantly grey, some leaning more towards black even. The writing was good and the narrator (Michael Page) did a great job. I even liked how the author explored the pointlessness of revenge and randomness of death. Plus, that women had agency in the book. I see this far too rarely in fantasy. (I still think of this as fantasy, though there are almost no actual fantasy elements. That’s probably on me.)

However, I got bored with it. It’s a violent book (which I don’t have a problem with in general), but there were just so many descriptions of battles, fights, deaths, etc that it became a blur of sameness. Do I care that one person was drown and another stabbed? No, it’s all just another bloody death. And I’d say 2/3 of the book is just this.

Plus, I found the whole thing painfully predictable on the whole. You know from the very beginning no one is going to come to a good end. (And I don’t even consider that a spoiler, it’s so obvious). Yes, there was a character reveal or two I didn’t see coming. But in terms of plot, very easy to guess.

All in all, I finished this with a shrug and a “Meh.”

Review of The Hazel Wood, by Melissa Albert

I borrowed an audio copy of Melissa Albert‘s The Hazel Wood through Overdrive.

Description from Goodreads:
Seventeen-year-old Alice and her mother have spent most of Alice’s life on the road, always a step ahead of the uncanny bad luck biting at their heels. But when Alice’s grandmother, the reclusive author of a cult-classic book of pitch-dark fairy tales, dies alone on her estate, the Hazel Wood, Alice learns how bad her luck can really get: her mother is stolen away―by a figure who claims to come from the Hinterland, the cruel supernatural world where her grandmother’s stories are set. Alice’s only lead is the message her mother left behind: “Stay away from the Hazel Wood.”

Alice has long steered clear of her grandmother’s cultish fans. But now she has no choice but to ally with classmate Ellery Finch, a Hinterland superfan who may have his own reasons for wanting to help her. To retrieve her mother, Alice must venture first to the Hazel Wood, then into the world where her grandmother’s tales began―and where she might find out how her own story went so wrong.

Review:
I actually checked this out from the library thinking it was something else. Once I realized my mistake I was wary to start it; I’ve just been so jaded with YA books lately. But I’m happy to report this isn’t an angst-ridden, soppy mess. There’s no real romance and Alice moves through the story of her own volition. I did think it lagged a bit at times and she conveniently hooked up with the one person who knew everything she needed to learn and could/would fund her. But all in all I enjoyed it. There’s some appreciable diversity in the cast a happily ever after grounded in realistic struggles. I don’t regret listening to the story and I thought Rebecca Soler did a fine job with the narration.

Review of The Wrong Dead Guy (Another Coop Heist #2), by Richard Kadrey

I borrowed an audio copy of The Wrong Dead Guy, by Richard Kadrey, through Hoopla. I chose it because I also happen to have a physical copy of it sitting on my shelf. I figured, if I wasn’t going to get round to reading it anytime soon, I might as well listen to it. Two birds, one stone and all that.

Description from Goodreads:
In this fast paced sequel to The Everything Box—the second entry in Richard Kadrey’s comedic supernatural series—chaos ensues when Coop and the team at DOPS steal a not- quite-dead and very lovesick ancient Egyptian mummy wielding some terrifying magic

Coop, a master thief sort of gone legit, saved the world from an ancient doomsday device—heroism that earned him a gig working for the Department of Peculiar Science, a fearsome top secret government agency that polices the odd and strange. Now Woolrich, Coop’s boss at the DOPS, has Coop breaking into a traveling antiquities show to steal a sarcophagus containing the mummy of a powerful Egyptian wizard named Harkhuf. With the help of his pals Morty, Giselle, and a professor that’s half-cat, half-robotic octopus, Coop pulls off the heist without a hitch.

It’s not Coop’s fault that when DOPS opened the sarcophagus they didn’t find the mummy they were expecting. Well, it was the right mummy, but it wasn’t exactly dead—and now it’s escaped, using a type of magic the organization hasn’t encountered before. Being a boss, Woolrich blames his underling for the screw up and wants Coop to find the missing Harkhuf and make it right, pronto.

Digging into Harkhuf’s history, Coop thinks the mummy is hunting for an ancient magical manuscript that will help him bring his old lover back to life.

Which wouldn’t be so bad if she wasn’t a warrior sorceress hell-bent on conquering the world with her undead armies.

Coop would very much like to run from the oncoming chaos. It’s one thing to steal a mummy, but another to have to deal with head-hunting bureaucrats, down-on-their luck fortune tellers, undead mailroom clerks, and a rather unimpressed elephant. Unfortunately, there’s nowhere to run. If he wants the madness to stop, he’s going to have to suck it up and play hero one more time. But if Coop manages to save the world AGAIN, he’s definitely going to want a lot of answers. And a raise.

Review:
I thought this was ok. It was funny (as it was meant to be), but it felt like it went overboard into slapstick, almost stupid-funny. And stupid-funny isn’t really my cup of tea.

Also, I didn’t realize was a sequel when I picked the book up. I was able to follow it just fine—it basically stands alone—with the exception of any sort of character introductions. Maybe I’d have been more invested in them if I hadn’t had to figure out things like Jizelle being Coop’s girlfriend on my own. But honestly probably not. They were too busy being pithy to be relatable.

All in all, I’d call this a middle of the road read for me. I liked it well enough, but didn’t love it. Oliver Wyman did a fine job with the narration though.