Tarnished City by Vic James
*May contain spoilers–see my review of book one, Gilded Cage.*
First line: Jenner reined his horse to a halt, and it stamped and snorted in the long blue-black shadow of the trees.
Summary: In a modern day Great Britain the powerful are called Equals. They have magical powers called Skill. And the common people live their lives just as we do except for each person is required to serve 10 slave years during their lifetime. Many are sent to the slave towns to work in factories but the Hadley family are assigned to work at a home of an Equal. However, when Luke kills the Prime Minister he is condemned and sent to the dreaded prison island for a lifelong punishment. His sister Abigail is determined to rescue her brother. She escapes and tries to find the other rebels who are intent on bringing down the Equal regime and end the slave days. Revolution has begun in Great Britain and it will be a battle to the death.
Highlights: This series reminds me of the Hunger Games. There is lots of action and drama. The characters are really well established. I hate Whittam Jardine almost as much as President Snow. I was deeply saddened by several deaths in the story. I was completely shocked when they happened that I gasped and had to take a minute to recover from them. If a book can make you do that, you know that you are invested in it. I keep having complicated feelings about Silyean. He is an interesting character that I cannot decide if I want to trust or not. When I was nearing the end the whole story sped up and it was like a marathon. I had to finish it and was exhausted at the end. It was great! I cannot wait till the author releases the final book to find out how the story ends, if I can trust Silyean and see if the Hadley’s survive the revolution.
Lowlights: The magical powers of the Equal is called Skill. I felt like the word was over used at times. On several pages, the word is mentioned multiple times. As a reader of the series, we understand what they are doing. It does not have to be pointed out repeatedly.
FYI: Lots of violence.
The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden
First line: A girl rode a bay horse through a forest late at night.
Summary: Vasya has been cast out of her village as a witch. She does not want to spend her life behind a convent walls or trapped in a marriage. She wants freedom and adventure. With the help of the frost demon, Morozko, and her loyal horse, Solovey, she sets out on her own dressed as a boy. When she wanders into a burned village and discovers that bandits are raiding the countryside and stealing young girls she sets out to save the missing children. After her rescue mission, she gains the admiration of the Grand Prince of Moscow. With the help of her elder siblings, she keeps her gender hidden from the elite of Moscow. However, with the mysterious arrival of an unknown lord, Vasya starts to worry that the danger has worked its way into the courts of Grand Prince.
Highlights: Atmospheric. I can feel the cold of a Russian winter while reading the adventures of Vasya. Vasya is a wonderful heroine. She is not beautiful. She wants more out of life than the traditional trappings of her gender. I love the frost demon, Morozko. He is complicated and intriguing. I am glad that we got to see more of his relationship with Vasya. The writing is poetic and beautiful. I love that the author provides a glossary at the end to help the reader understand the terminology and characters. This one was filled with action and danger. I loved the first book and the second did not disappoint.
FYI: The second book in The Winternight Trilogy.
A Crown of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi
First Line: Vikram had spent enough time with bitterness that he knew how to twist and numb the feeling.
Summary: Gauri is a princess of Bharata. Vikram is the prince of Ujijain. Gauri is a prisoner of Ujijain and therefore a prisoner of Vikram. She has been banished from her kingdom and her throne by her evil brother. When Vikram enters her cell and proposes to free her in if she will travel with him to the Otherworld to enter the Tournament of Wishes she agrees in hopes of escaping and returning to her homeland. As they travel they encounter magical creatures and trials that will test them as they compete for a wish from the gods.
Highlights: The writing and imagery is beautiful. The detail is so colorful and enchanting. I love the cover.
Lowlights: With all the detail and characters it was easy to get lost. At times the story seemed to be shifting and didn’t seem to have a main climax. I expected more from the tournament. It was still fun but not nearly as good as the first book.
FYI: This is the second book in a series but I feel that it can be read as a standalone as well. People are mentioned and seen from the first but they do not alter it without knowing the previous book.