Set in San Francisco’s Chinatown in the 1880s, Li-Lin sees ghosts with her yin eyes. This supernatural gift is considered to be a curse by her father, a powerful Daoshi exorcist. Li-Lin honors her father, but embraces her gift in spite of his disapproval. Now widowed, Li-Lin must make her own way in the world, without the full support of her father. When a family friend tricks her into taking a trip into the spirit world and tries to trap her there, Li-Lin is forced to take action to protect her life. The friend seems to be working with a powerful sorcerer, and soon, her father and the entire town are threatened by an ancient evil. With the help of a spirit in the shape of an eyeball, Li-Lin must embrace her own strengths to save those she loves. Buffy the Vampire Slayer meets Kung Fu in this brilliant, vibrant debut.Set in San Francisco’s Chinatown in the 1880s, Li-Lin sees ghosts with her yin eyes. This supernatural gift is considered to be a curse by her father, a powerful Daoshi exorcist. Li-Lin honors her father, but embraces her gift in spite of his disapproval. Now widowed, Li-Lin must make her own way in the world, without the full support of her father. When a family friend tricks her into taking a trip into the spirit world and tries to trap her there, Li-Lin is forced to take action to protect her life. The friend seems to be working with a powerful sorcerer, and soon, her father and the entire town are threatened by an ancient evil. With the help of a spirit in the shape of an eyeball, Li-Lin must embrace her own strengths to save those she loves. Buffy the Vampire Slayer meets Kung Fu in this brilliant, vibrant debut.
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I love heist movies and adore clever criminals. I suspect many others like them too, or Robin Hood would not continue to be such a beloved tale. So when I read the blurb for Six of Crows and understood that it was a novel about a dangerous heist undertaken by six young, clever people, I knew I had to read it. The story is set in Ketterdam, a Scandinavian-flavor fantasy city complete with an active criminal element. Kaz Brekker is a criminal prodigy, and he has been asked to free a man from an impregnable prison. If he succeeds, he will be rich beyond his wildest dreams. And if he fails, he will likely be dead. Thankfully, Kaz is smart enough not to go it alone. Enter Nina, a girl with the magical power to stop someone’s heart; Inej, a gifted acrobat who goes by the name of the Wraith; Jesper, a skilled sharp-shooter with a gambling debt; Wylan, a demolitions expert with a highborn past; and Matthias, a convict in search of revenge. Together, they are the Six of Crows, and together, they are heading into trouble.
This is the first book of a new series, set in the same fantasy universe as Bardugo’s Grisha series. The magical elements of her other books are present here, but you do not have to read her other works before diving into this one. This book is darker in tone than her other titles, and the story focuses on action, not romance. The characters are all flawed, but in a way that makes them more likeable, more human. The pacing is fast, and the dialogue snappy. The story is told in the shifting points of view of the Crows themselves, in a style you more often see in epic fantasy. Yet, epic fantasy may have more than one story unfolding in the different points of view, and with Six of Crows, you have one continuous story told from many angles. I found the storytelling style to be original, but a little off-putting, at least to start. Once I knew enough about the characters, the fast flow of the story started me flipping the pages like mad. This is an excellent start to a new young adult series, one that can be enjoyed by adults as well.
Feyre may be only nineteen years old, but she is an experienced hunter and the only person keeping food on the table for her sisters and her father. Life is hard, and Feyre is angry over a great many things, including over how her sisters spend the money earns them and how her father seems unable to exert any effort to benefit his children. One particularly desparate day, Feyre’s anger is instrumental in her decision to shoot and kill a large wolf, even though she suspects the unusual animal may be one of the shapeshifting, immortal fae. And indeed, it turns out that the beast is one of the fae, for shortly afterwards, a large, clearly magical beast, arrives to escort Feyre back to the magical land of the fae to serve the fae as punishment for her crime.
Once she is in the land of the fae, Feyre learns that the beast who came to claim her is also a shapeshifter named Tamlin, and in his human form, he is incredibly handsome. Tamlin’s home is beautiful, but it is clear that a cloud of doom hangs over the place. Dangerous magical creatures are invading Tamlin’s land, and Tamlin is having a harder and harder time in driving them away. Yet, when Feyre tries to find out the problem, Tamlin and his friend Lucien give her half truths and riddles in answer to her questions. On the day of one of the faes’ great fesitivals, Feyre meets Rhys, and from his veiled comments and from the events of the evening, she begins to piece together the puzzle.
Feyre only begins to glimpse the real danger before the danger comes for her. Feyre finds herself in deadly peril, at the center of a magical power struggle. And surprisingly, Feyre may be the only one who can save Tamlin, Lucien, and even enigmatic Rhys.
I love Sarah J. Maas’ Throne of Glass series, which is clearly a young adult series. This new title is steamier and darker, and should be considered a New Adult title. Ms. Maas writes compelling characters, and creates tension that moves you quickly though the story. Feyre is a strong female character, and I enjoyed her adventure. The only negative comment I can make is that Feyre reminded me very much of Celaena Sardothien from her young adult series. Both characters are angry, strong-willed young women. However, I enjoyed the story so much that I don’t really care. Ms. Maas creates vibrant fantasy worlds filled with wonderfully realized people. A very enjoyable read, and I will certainly read the next book in this series on the day it comes out.
Aurora, daughter of Briar Rose, aka Sleeping Beauty, is a fairy-blessed child. According to the prophecy, Aurora is vital to bringing about the rein of the ogres that may mark the end of the world. Aurora and her brother, Jor, manage to stay hidden from the orgre queen for years, until one day, Jor is captureed. Aurora, desperate to free her brother, sets out, disguised as a boy, to raise an army to defeat the orge queen. Instead of an army, she finds an alley in a young man named Niklaas. Niklaas is battling with his own troubles; he is cursed to turn into a swan on his eighteenth birthday.
Told in alternating points of view, we see the story unfold through both Aurora’s and Niklaas’ eyes. Both struggle with their own burdens and fears, while trying to do the right thing to defeat the orge queen. The two are able to become friends before they understand the romantic attraction between them. Both are stubborn, independent, and determined not to suffer the pity of others. While the goal is to defeat the orge queen, in many ways this story is about two young people overcoming the barriers imposed by their own strong and contrary personalities.
While I very much liked the prose of this book, which was readable and filled with snappy dialogue, there were a couple of things I thought could have been done better. The prophecy of the rise of the orges was not strong enough to build up tension toward the end of the book. The motivations of the orge queen and her brother were not well enough explained. Still, I don’t review books I don’t like. This was a satisfying romance for the younger teen reader. Both Aurora and Niklaas were well developed characters, and it was a pleasure to read their story.