Tag Archives: magic

Review Uprooted, by Naomi Novik

I borrowed and audio copy of Uprooted, bu Naomi Novik from the local library.

Description from Goodreads:

Agnieszka loves her valley home, her quiet village, the forests and the bright shining river. But the corrupted Wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies over her life.

Her people rely on the cold, driven wizard known only as the Dragon to keep its powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman handed over to serve him for ten years, a fate almost as terrible as falling to the Wood.

The next choosing is fast approaching, and Agnieszka is afraid. She knows—everyone knows—that the Dragon will take Kasia: beautiful, graceful, brave Kasia, all the things Agnieszka isn’t, and her dearest friend in the world. And there is no way to save her.

But Agnieszka fears the wrong things. For when the Dragon comes, it is not Kasia he will choose. 

Review:

This is a perfectly fine version of what it is. And what it is, is yet another YA book about a young farm girl (woodcutters daughter, but same difference in context) who is discovered to have magic (but somehow never noticed until a man shows up to tell her about it), is taken to be trained, turns out to be massively powerful and more morally upright that the city folk, and saves the day through determination, perseverance and her amazing goodness. 

Is Uprooted a quality version of this oft told tale? Yes, but is it still the same story I’ve read in dozens of books before this one? Also yes. As a result, I was pretty uninspired by the whole thing. Julia Emelin did a great job with the narration though.

Review of Geist (Book of the Order #1), by Philippa Ballantine

I was given an audible credit for a copy of Geist, by Philippa Ballantine.

Description from Goodreads:

Between the living and the dead is the Order of the Deacons, protectors of the Empire, guardians against possession, sentinels enlisted to ward off the malevolent haunting of the geists…

Among the most powerful of the Order is Sorcha, now thrust into partnership with the novice Deacon, Merrick Chambers. They have been dispatched to the isolated village of Ulrich to aide the Priory with a surge of violent geist activity. With them is Raed Rossin, Pretender to the throne that Sorcha is sworn to protect, and bearer of a terrible curse.

But what greets them in the strange settlement is something far more predatory and more horrifying than any mere haunting. And as she uncovers a tradition of twisted rituals passed down through the dark reaches of history, Sorcha will be forced to reconsider everything she thinks she knows.

And if she makes it out of Ulrich alive, what in Hell is she returning to? 

Review:

I was pleasantly surprised by this one. The cover* left me a bit nervous that it would be more YA than I was looking for, but Sorcha is in her 30s (late 30s, I even think), as is Raed. They were believable, capable adults. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate that. 

The world is an interesting one. There’s a mild romantic subplot (or two) and there’s some witty humor. I was a little less enamored with the plot than I was with everything surrounding it, but still a solid, enjoyable read. 

Lastly, I’m alway iffy about author-narrators. But, with the exception of some annoying swallowing sounds, Ballantine did an excellent job with the narration. 

*If I’m discussing the cover, I don’t know that a lion fits the description of the beast(as I understood it) and every time I look at it, I’m a bit thrown off. 

Review of Shades of Milk and Honey (Glamourist Histories #1), by Mary Robinette Kowal

I borrowed an audio copy of Mary Robinette Kowal‘s Shades of Milk and Honey through my local library.

Description from Goodreads:

Shades of Milk and Honey is an intimate portrait of Jane Ellsworth, a woman ahead of her time in a world where the manipulation of glamour is considered an essential skill for a lady of quality. But despite the prevalence of magic in everyday life, other aspects of Dorchester’s society are not that different: Jane and her sister Melody’s lives still revolve around vying for the attentions of eligible men. 

Jane resists this fate, and rightly so: while her skill with glamour is remarkable, it is her sister who is fair of face, and therefore wins the lion’s share of the attention. At the ripe old age of twenty-eight, Jane has resigned herself to being invisible forever. But when her family’s honor is threatened, she finds that she must push her skills to the limit in order to set things right–and, in the process, accidentally wanders into a love story of her own.

Review:

This is the third book in a row that I’ve finished disappointed in. I found it uninspiring. Yes, I see all the Jane Austen parallels. But they didn’t endear the book to me. I thought Jane was a bit of a doormat. She seemed smart, so I was bothered that she’d kept forgiving her sister Melody. The sister who was basically just jealous and manipulative. 

The fortune hunter aspect was blatantly obvious. Again, Jane was smart. How was I really to believe she didn’t see the situation for exactly what it was?

A whole presumed romance was set up and then a marriage proposal came from someone the reader hadn’t been given to feel invested in. (Was that meant to be a twist? It just felt hollow.) Basically, despite being told Jane’s feelings for one man for an entire book, the fact that another had feelings for her was supposed to be enough to make it magical. Bah. Boring. 

The actual magic in the book was pointless. It would have made more sense for them to simply be artist, painters maybe. It was just clutter in the plot. 

Lastly, I really wish the author hadn’t chosen to do the audio version herself. She did a fine job in the narration sections, but lord the dialogue was stiff. It was painful combination of being written without contractions and the stilted way Kowal read it. I almost gave up several times.