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Book Review: The Devil You Know, by Kit Rocha

I borrowed a copy of Kit Rocha‘s The Devil You Know from the local library. I reviewed Deal With the Devil,  book one of the Mercenary Librarians series, last year.

the devil you know kit rocha

Maya has had a price on her head from the day she escaped the TechCorps. Genetically engineered for genius and trained for revolution, there’s only one thing she can’t do—forget.

Gray has finally broken free of the Protectorate, but he can’t escape the time bomb in his head. His body is rejecting his modifications, and his months are numbered.

When Maya’s team uncovers an operation trading in genetically enhanced children, she’ll do anything to stop them. Even risk falling back into the hands of the TechCorps.

And Gray has found a purpose for his final days: keeping Maya safe.

my review

I’m having difficulty deciding how I feel about this book. By the end, things picked up and I finished the book invested and looking forward to seeing what happens next. But, honestly, I was pretty bored for the first half of the book, when Maya and Gray mooned around in the warehouse and Nina, Knox, and everyone else went off and did hero stuff off-page. I realize that Maya and Gray were meant to the the main characters. But it felt like the book was focused on the wrong couple, since one was off doing something exciting and the other…well, just wasn’t. On top of that, I didn’t really feel Maya and Gray’s connection. I know some of it was established in book one, but it just felt plopped in the readers lap here.

Having said all of that, I really liked all of the characters and how much they care for one another. They’re also admirably diverse too, which I love. Plus, the post-apocalyptic world is really interesting, I really understood why they called themselves librarians far more clearly here than in book one, and the writing style is a pleasure to read.

All in all, not a 100% winner, but I’ll be back for book three when it comes out next year.

the devil you know photo


Other Reviews:

Review: The Devil You Know – Kit Rocha

Review: The Devil You Know by Kit Rocha

Singing Hills Cycle titles

Book Reviews: The Empress of Salt and Fortune & When the Tiger Came Down the Mountain, by Nghi Vo

It’s become my habit to listen to audio books whenever I have chores to do or a tedious online task to perform. Today I borrowed copies of Nghi Vo’s The Empress of Salt and Fortune and When the Tiger Came Down the Mountain from my local library.

the empress of salt and Fortune

A young royal from the far north is sent south for a political marriage in an empire reminiscent of imperial China. Her brothers are dead, her armies and their war mammoths long defeated and caged behind their borders. Alone and sometimes reviled, she must choose her allies carefully.

Rabbit, a handmaiden, sold by her parents to the palace for the lack of five baskets of dye, befriends the emperor’s lonely new wife and gets more than she bargained for.

At once feminist high fantasy and an indictment of monarchy, this evocative debut follows the rise of the empress In-yo, who has few resources and fewer friends. She’s a northern daughter in a mage-made summer exile, but she will bend history to her will and bring down her enemies, piece by piece.

my review

Oh, I loved this. It starts out slow and the reader is left wondering why they’re being told the seemingly random story. But it all comes together marvelously in the end. While it’s true that women in aristocracies were often denied open power, to assume and accept that they were therefore powerless is to uncritically accept a falsehood simply by virtue of how often it’s been repeated. I love how Vo plays with that here. I love how In-yo plays with it, for that matter.

I did sometime miss the transition from the current time of the story, where Rabbit is telling her story, to the past or the story she’s telling (or if we’re being given the writings she referenced at one point). But that is a small matter in the larger scheme of things.

Lastly, the narrator did a marvelous job.


When the Tiger Came Down the Mountain

The cleric Chih finds themself and their companions at the mercy of a band of fierce tigers who ache with hunger. To stay alive until the mammoths can save them, Chih must unwind the intricate, layered story of the tiger and her scholar lover—a woman of courage, intelligence, and beauty—and discover how truth can survive becoming history.

my review

I admit I didn’t love this book quite as much as I did The Empress of Salt and Fortune, but it is still a marvelously well done story. I love the way Vo tells the same story from two perspectives, each fundamentally anchored in ostensibly the same events but interpreted in drastically different ways. But you also never lose sight of the fact that they’re discussing what might be a myth, something has certainly moved into the realm of the mythological. This along side the heightened tension of the current danger to the cleric from the tigers countered well. All in all, I’ll be looking for more of Vo’s work and would happily listen to another book narrated by Kay.

Singing Hills Cycle


Other Reviews:

[Book Review] The Singing Hills Cycle Series (2)

Mini Reviews: The Singing Hills Cycle by Nghi Vo // Stunning Novellas that Contain Stories Within Stories

The Singing Hills Cycle 1 & 2

the border keeper

Book Review: The Border Keeper, by Kerstin Hall

I borrowed a copy of Kerstin Hall‘s The Border Keeper from the local library.
the border keeper

She lived where the railway tracks met the saltpan, on the Ahri side of the shadowline. In the old days, when people still talked about her, she was known as the end-of-the-line woman.

Vasethe, a man with a troubled past, comes to seek a favor from a woman who is not what she seems, and must enter the nine hundred and ninety-nine realms of Mkalis, the world of spirits, where gods and demons wage endless war.

The Border Keeper spins wonders both epic—the Byzantine bureaucracy of hundreds of demon realms, impossible oceans, hidden fortresses—and devastatingly personal—a spear flung straight, the profound terror and power of motherhood. What Vasethe discovers in Mkalis threatens to bring his own secrets into light and throw both worlds into chaos.

my review

Really marvelous. Spare in language, but rich in content. Circular in a really satisfying way. And have you seen that cover? So many little details that mean nothing until you read the book and realize they mean a lot. I would have been happy with it as a stand-alone. But now that I know there is a sequel coming out I’ll be waiting impatiently.

the border keeper