Tag Archives: magic

Review of Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things (Dead Things #1), by Martina McAtee

I’m embarrassed to say that I’m not sure where I got my copy of Martina McAtee‘s Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things. I don’t think I bought it, so I either picked up as an Instafreebie or won it somewhere. If I won it from you or your blog, thank you.

Description from Goodreads:
17 year old Ember Denning has made an art of isolating herself. She prefers the dead. She spends her days skipping school in old cemeteries and her nights hiding from her alcoholic father at the funeral home where she works. When her own father dies, Ember learns her whole life is a lie. Standing in the cemetery that’s been her sanctuary, she’s threatened by the most beautiful boy she’s ever seen and rescued by two people who claim to be her family. They say she’s special, that she has a supernatural gift like them…they just don’t know exactly what it is.

They take her to a small Florida town, where Ember’s life takes a turn for the weird. She’s living with her reaper cousins, an orphaned werewolf pack, a faery and a human genius. Ember’s powers are growing stronger, morphing into something bigger than anything anybody anticipated. Ember has questions but nobody has answers. Nobody knows what she is. They only know her mysterious magical gift is trying to kill them and that beautiful dangerous boy from the cemetery may be the only thing standing between her and death.

As Ember’s talents are revealed so are the secrets her father hid and those in power who would seek to destroy her. What’s worse, saving Ember has put her cousins in danger and turned her friend’s lives upside down. Ember must learn to embrace her magic or risk losing the family she’s pieced together.

I have a really odd relationship with YA books. 9 times out of 10, I read them and dislike the book. But there’s that 10th one, the one I read that makes me wonder why I say I dislike the genre. (Then I read the next one, which I dislike, and the whole cycle starts again.) But that occasional YA book that I so enjoy is what keeps me coming back hoping the next one will be the good one, even if it’s usually not.

Well, Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things is the unicorn, the random and rare YA book that I truly enjoy. It was witty and funny and diverse. Not all the characters are white and there are both het and gay romances (even a poly among some side characters). It’s suspenseful and irreverent, playing with and making fun of YA characters and tropes, even as it used some of them.

The book could use a tad more copy editing (though it’s not too distracting, just the occasional double comma and such), it’s a little too long and ends on a bit of a cliffhanger, or at least doesn’t wrap up most of the threads. But it’s definitely one I’d recommend picking up and I look forward to more.

Review of Three Parts Dead (Craft Sequence #1), by Max Gladstone

I bought a copy of Three Parts Dead, by Max Gladstone.

Description from Goodreads:
A god has died, and it’s up to Tara, first-year associate in the international necromantic firm of Kelethres, Albrecht, and Ao, to bring Him back to life before His city falls apart.

Her client is Kos, recently deceased fire god of the city of Alt Coulumb. Without Him, the metropolis’s steam generators will shut down, its trains will cease running, and its four million citizens will riot.

Tara’s job: resurrect Kos before chaos sets in. Her only help: Abelard, a chain-smoking priest of the dead god, who’s having an understandable crisis of faith.

When Tara and Abelard discover that Kos was murdered, they have to make a case in Alt Coulumb’s courts–and their quest for the truth endangers their partnership, their lives, and Alt Coulumb’s slim hope of survival.

I enjoyed this, but didn’t love it. I adored Tara and Abelard. I thought quite a few of the quips were funny and the whole idea of wizard lawyers was interesting. I even liked a lot of the writing. But those parts of the writing I didn’t like almost ruined the book for me. Too often the prose becomes abstract and purple in an attempt to describe something happening on a magical plain or in some’s head or just magically in general and some of it is almost indecipherable. Similarly, things seemed to happen at breakneck speed with very little explanation, especially at the beginning.

All in all, this was a middle of the road read. But it was enough to tempt me to read more of Gladstone’s work.

Review of The Way of Shadows (Night Angel #1), by Brent Weeks

I bought a copy of The Way of Shadows, by Brent Weeks.

Description from Goodreads:
For Durzo Blint, assassination is an art-and he is the city’s most accomplished artist.

For Azoth, survival is precarious. Something you never take for granted. As a guild rat, he’s grown up in the slums, and learned to judge people quickly – and to take risks. Risks like apprenticing himself to Durzo Blint.

But to be accepted, Azoth must turn his back on his old life and embrace a new identity and name. As Kylar Stern, he must learn to navigate the assassins’ world of dangerous politics and strange magics – and cultivate a flair for death.

Having hit my 300-books-read in 2017 goal with 2 days to spare, I decided to splurge with a long book. The Way of Shadows is 659 pages long and fit the bill. Considering I bought it in October of 2014, I was confused about why I hadn’t read it before now. They I discovered (or rediscovered, because this is undoubtably why I set it aside and forgot about it) that it is the first in a SPINOFF series.

I cannot tell you how many times I’ve picked up a ‘book one,’ only to realize it’s not actually a first book at all, and I’m starting to get a little sensitive about it. I stuck with it though, since I’d already started it when I made this rediscovery. For those in the same boat, it’s readable. Though you certainly feel you’re missing some history.

Overall, I felt this was overly long but other wise pretty good (with one major exception). I liked the characters, the world, the writing, the magic system and the story. I’m interested in going back and picking the series up at the beginning and reading the rest of it. All good things.

Here’s my one BIG exception. I understand that throughout history the age of majority has not always been what it is today and that people often married a lot earlier than we do now, which means having sex earlier. I even understand that in certain parts of the world this is still happening. I’m not a prude about sex and I get that this book is meant to be gritty. But after the 11-year-old boy gets repeatedly raped (one of many), another uses sex as bait, 2 8-year-old prostitutes offer debasing sex acts, the 15-year-old’s sexy body is described in detail as she attempts to consummate her marriage, and the mere existence of child brothels as a practice, as well as several other vaguer references, I just started to feel a little contaminated and dirty. It was just constantly there. Never told in glorified, titillating detail, but always present. And that was just sex, there was of course the constant reality of violence and starvation too. It was too much for me.

Similarly, no female characters exist outside of their sex. They’re either prostitutes, mistresses, exceptional virgins, or being used for political bargaining chips. Epic fantasy has a long history of this, but it’s still aways disappointing to find.

Outside of that one biggy, I consider this a win and look forward to reading more of Weeks work.