I love December and that panicked “omg I have so many books I need to review before next year” moment!
It’s lovely. Last week I confessed to 15 books I should’ve read by now but yet I haven’t. And I cried a bit. You cried a bit. We all agreed it’d be better just to eat ice cream and scream into the sun for a while. Which I DID, but I also pulled my socks up and actually cracked down and got reading!
Ergo, look! Time for some mini reviews of books I should’ve reviewed ages ago BUT BETTER LATE THAN NEVER. So I’m just going to throw a bunch of mini reviews together (linked to the longer reviews) and we can all eat some crackers and try to be functional.
Thank you to Netgalley and Edelweiss for the various approvals!
Oh wow this is a little bit like running face-first into a brick wall of EMOTIONS. It’s an #ownvocies and powerful story about a Haitian immigrant and it’s really gritty and powerful and the ENDING THOUGH. I’m glaring fiercely at myself for procrastinating this for so long because it’s grand, peoples. Get thee onto it.
THINGS TO LOVE!
- Huge emphasis on family! Not the exactly “nice” kind of family. Fabiola is immigrating to America but her mum gets caught up in a dention facility so Fabiola stays with her relatives. They’re kind of…into…bad stuff. And Fabiola is pretty innocent (she is the sweetest) and so while there’s friction between her + her cousins. They also really stand up for each other!
- AKA there’s SO many interesting and complex females in here. Which is so refreshing!
- Fabiola is just the most lovely and precious thing. I thought she might be so “nice” that she’d end up being passive. BUT SHE’S NOT. She’s complex and wants an education and a better life. She was very poor in Haiti and dreams of a good school and she falls for the sweetest pumpkin of a boy. Kasim is adorable.
- There’s SO much Haitian culture! I loved this!! I learnt a lot and I think it’s awesome that Fabiola incorporated her own culture into everyday life and was proud of it.
- I couldn’t stop reading. Hello there plot twists and intense levels of stress.
- It’s pretty dark. There’s lots of swearing and loan sharks and they live in a bad part of town and there’s drug cartels and people are beat up, etc. etc.
- At times the story felt like watching a trainwreck. I WAS VERY STRESSED. But in a good way! Because who wants to be chill anyway ha ha ha…
This book has given me the similar feeling of when you drop your toast jam side down. I am displeased. Literally every character was awful, a ton of the plot didn’t make sense, and the beginning was GREAT while the ending was a solid #NOPE.
WHAT WENT WRONG:
- The premise was great, but then it got illogical!?? Like we have this fantasy world with windmills that power the lights (NICE) to keep back the monsters in the dark (NICE) and we have twins Andreus and Carys who protect each other (NICE)…But then all the characters reactions to things were so random.
- Like in the first 3 chapters alone we get told Andreus “has a secret”…49248 times. I’m so over it. Then Carys makes drama scenes to stop people finding out Andreus secret, and she gets whipped for it. But what the heck?! You wouldn’t whip a monarch and princess. That’s asking the people to never respect her.
- It was being “edgy” but…illogically so. Eh.
- I didn’t even like Carys OR Andreus! Carys hates everything feminine because it’s “weak” (COULD U NOT) and Andreus is only interested in womanising everyone with two legs and skirt. He literally puts sex before EVERYTHING, and he’s so sexist the entire freaking book I wanted to put him in a frypan. If Carys isn’t submissive around him, he’s a raging misogynist jerk.
- Now these aren’t spoilers because they’re in the blurb, but this is literally the logic of the city:
KING: *is murdered*
COUNCIL: Oh no the next in line for the throne are twins!
COUNCIL: they must have a hugely dramatised contest to pick between them.
COUNCIL: even tho the king literally just died and was murdered
COUNCIL: but lmao we’re not investigating that
CARYS: actually I don’t want to be queen? so my brother can
COUNCIL: lmao no you still have to fight for it
CARYS: *sacrifices everything to protect her twin’s secret*
CARYS: *always there for her brother*
CARYS: *truest hufflepuff with a knife*
RANDOM PERSON: psst Andreus? Carys is maybe evil
ANDREUS: omfg you’re probably right
- What the heck.
- I mean there’s corruption of power and betrayal which I LIKE. And the writing was good and addictive, but it was so dumbly (and it didn’t need to be!) sexist and I kind of want Andreus to fall off a wall.
I have complicated feelings about this. I’m 50% of the opinion that it’s excellent with great ADHD (#ownvoices!) rep and it’s a girl too!! YAY for neurodivergent girls! But I’m also 50% disappointed because I felt some themes of “be yourself” were contradicted within the book and I didn’t like the ending.
- I LOVED the characters! Lily is really struggling with ADHD/dyslexia and her life is falling apart and then she meets Abelard who’s autistic and they’re so different but so cute together?! They relate through this super old book called The Love Letters of Abelard and Heloise and quote it to each other and NERDS.
- Love it.
- You can really tell how lovingly the ADHD rep is. I’ve read something online that said the author based Lily’s experiences off her own! However I admit the autism rep felt mostly built on stereotypes and Abelard was a bit shallowly done. I’m disappointed there, but he wasn’t the protagonist so I guess??
- I loved how it delved into the psychology and cause-and-effect of disabilities. Especially for Lily! And I love how she and Abelard NEVER wanted to change each other.
- Good parents. Massive YES.
- However I felt the book was conflicted about the “being yourself” line. I can’t say much because of spoilers! But it was for it, but at times seemed to be like “okay it sucks to change for others, but you still have to do it”…?? Maybe I misinterpreted. I mean sometimes you do, especially in this world, but I felt like Lily had to change while Abelard didn’t? Where is the fairness?
- Anyway ultimately it felt honest and true and it was a good story! It has a lot of heartfelt lines too…I just…eh, I’m not happy with the ending.
(I’m cheating for a second! This is actually a library book!)
This was dark and murderous and magical, so basically all of my favourite things.
It was so so good! Ahh! The characters were complex and the plot twist was mind blowing and the aesthetics (shh I can love the aesthetics) JUST TOOK MY HEART. Am a fan.
THINGS TO KNOW
- It’s set in a circus! Called Gomorrah (#IUnderstoodThatReference) and it’s like a carnival/city that always moves. And the detail and lusciousness of the writing just makes you dissolve onto the page. It was like being there.
- So many plot twists! I loved how it combined fantasy + murder mysteries + magicians. Sorina is an illusion worker, but her illusions are her “family” and they’re so real they have their own lives. WHICH IS NICE. But then they start getting murdered which…shouldn’t happen, so there’s that.
- OMG THE DIVERSITY. There’s people of all skin tones and abilities and disabilities. The love interest is asexual (I’m sooo thrilled with this!!) and Sorina is bisexual, I think, and she definitely has anxiety and panic attacks!
- Sorina is just so awesome though. She’s equal parts badass and imaginative and complex and loving. And she cries and it’s not like “ooh you’re so weak.” She’s the actual best.
- LUCA TOO THOUGH. He is the most vain and snarky cinnamon scone and terribly full of himself and wears outlandish vests. He’s a gossip worker + magical + an utter devious Slytherin. Their romance is the best. These two!! AHH!!!!!
- And the writing was A+ too. I mean of course. Sensory and emotional and beautiful.
- So much murder and mayhem. I…gah, this book just speaks to my soul. It is an actual literal “Cait Book” and you need it.