The Fiction Fox
A (short and belated) March Wrap-Up
I don’t have to explain to you why March was a complete chaos of a month, hence this wrap-up is bound to be a bit different, and possibly not up to par with usual. I’m going to keep this short, mostly because I don’t have the time or energy to write a longform one, but also because I didn’t enjoy the majority of the books I read the way I usually do. It’s probably not the books fault, so don’t judge them too harshly on it. I started 8 books, one of which I DNF-ed, and two of which I finished but can barely remember because my head was not in the game. Without further ado, let’s get into the books.
All the Wandering Light is the sequel to Even The Darkest Stars, a polar-fantasy duology which I read and loved last month. I appreciated how different the first book was from many a YA-fantasy, with its set-up surrounding a mountaineering expedition mixed with some fantasy elements. The second and final book only expanded on this world and added some depth to the story I didn’t know I needed. I mentioned in my February Wrap-Up how I wish fewer people would sleep on this duology, and book 2 only cemented that opinion further. Rating: 4.25/5 stars
2. The Boy and his Dog at the End of the World – C.A. Fletcher
The title is a basic plot-summary in itself: this is the postapocalyptic story of a boy who sets out on a journey across the wastelands after his beloved dog gets taken away by a raider, in order to get her back. I’m honestly an easy target when it comes to stories about the bond between a dog and its owner: I’ve had dogs all my life and pretty much adore them more than anything. I’m the kind of girl who is fine with human death and destruction in media, but as soon as a dog dies, I will put the book away, because I just can’t take that kind of sadness. That being said: I was disappointed by this book a little, as it just didn’t touch me the way I hoped it would. I really enjoyed the start and I liked our main characters voice and determination. It was about half way however, where the book began to lose its footing a bit. I can’t explain exactly what bothered me, as it would spoil a few major plot points. Safe to say: this book has two, possibly three, major twists, and I didn’t like any of them, nor the way they were handled. This is obviously a personal thing; I think this book will appeal to a lot of people, especially fellow dog-lovers out there. It has a lot of great ideas, and if the twists had been foreshadowed better or handled a bit differently they could have been quite powerful. If this has you interested, or if you just want some dog-boy-bravery-wholesomeness: you might still want to give this a try. Rating: 3/5 stars
3. Daughter from the Dark – Marina & Sergey Dyachencko
Based on the premise I had no idea what I was about to get into, but going off the recommendations of some reviewer I trust (mostly Matthew Sciarappa with this book) I was still intrigued. Late one night, fate brings together DJ Aspirin and ten-year-old Alyona. After he tries to save her from imminent danger, she ends up at his apartment and refuses to leave. But in the morning sinister doubts set in. Who is Alyona? A young con artist? A plant for a nefarious blackmailer? Or perhaps a long-lost daughter Aspirin never knew existed? Whoever she is, her arrival is followed by mysterious happenings; dark, barefoot strangers looking for her, a violin-piece develops magical properties and a stuffed animal might have murderous tendencies. This book is as weird and memorable as it sounds, but in the best way possible. If you enjoy magical realism or stories that feel a bit like dark modern fairytales, this might be the right fit for you. It’s set up reminded me a bit of Where The Forest Meets the Stars, which was my favourite book of last year. Don’t be mistaken however: this is more like it’s dark and sinister brother than its copy. Where the Forest Meets the Stars ultimately focusses on hope and light in the darkness, whereas Daughter from the Dark honours its title by focussing on that shadow-side instead. I personally enjoyed both, but if Where the Forest Meets the Stars was too sappy for you, this might be a good alternative. Rating: 4/5 stars
4. The Alchemists of Loom – Elise Kova
The Alchemists of Loom is the start of a steampunk fantasy series about an unlikely duo, teaming up to exact revenge and topple an empire. He; a member of the magically gifted high society known as The Dragons. She an engineer turned thief, out for their organs which hold great power. Together, an unlikely force to be reckoned with. This book enamoured me with it’s premise and phenomenal worldbuilding. The world of Loom is truly one that is unlike anything I’ve read before. Granted; I’m not at home in the world of steam-punk, but this felt like a very warm welcome. It was the world and magic-system that kept me speeding through this book, and only for that I thought it was worth my time. What kept it from being a 4 or 5-star read, was that I didn’t quite care for the characters, which felt very one-dimensional. The banter and looming enemy-to-lover-potential that was present from the start felt very predictable and a bit cringy to me, and often pulled me out of the story. I’m hoping the subsequent books develop the characters further, hopefully in some more surprising ways to make the series even better.
Rating: 3.5/5 stars
5. The Dragons of Nova – Elise Kova The sequel to The Alchemists of Loom. I felt in many ways the same about this as I did about its predecessor. Dragons of Nova expanded the already fantastic world and introduced us to the high society of The Dragons of Nova, which formed a great contrast to the slums of Loom we’ve gotten used to. I loved the worldbuilding and couldn’t get enough of the different people, cultures and unexpected forms of magic inhabiting it. I still didn’t care for the characters too much however, and because they play an even greater role in book 2, I ended up enjoying this novel a bit less than its predecessor. Rating: 3/5 stars
6. One Word Kill – Mark Lawrence
I picked up One Word Kill as a short and quick in-between-read, because my mind wasn’t up for longer books at the moment. What I got was so much more…. One Word Kill is honestly a masterpiece in short-fiction; it’s an epic in 200 pages. This is Dungeons and Dragons, childhood cancer, friendship, time travel and so much more, all wrapped up in a neat 200 pages. It contains every word that is necessary, and not a single one more. I can’t explain the respect I have for an author who’s able to do that, as “the art of deleting” is possibly the hardest thing in writing a good novel. What’s left is a concentrated, fast-paced story, that I devoured in one sitting. On a more personal note: this book hit a few of my personal checkboxes, but especially hit home on the childhood-cancer-bit. I cannot tell you how many books out there get it wrong, and it can utterly wreck my opinion on a book if this is the case. I don’t know if Mark Lawrence is speaking from experience here, or if he’s just managed to place himself perfectly in the mind of a teenage boy in the early nineties, but he got it right. The protagonists illness isn’t the focal point of the story, but it lingers in the background like an every present threat. At times it is all-consuming and at times it’s just a fact of life as you play a game of D&D with your friends. The almost casual way it’s interwoven, combined with these short matter-of-fact descriptions of Nicks experiences made this really hit home for me, to the point where I had to stop a few times to take a bit of distance. It’s funny how the unexpected books (the ones that aren’t primarily about cancer) sometimes hit me the hardest. Rating: 4.5/5 stars
7. Limited Wish – Mark Lawrence Sequel to One Word Kill. This is around the time where I started my work at the hospital, so I basically finished this book overwhelmed and tired at night when I got home. I read it, but could honestly tell you almost nothing about it. I may read it again, but I honestly don’t think I will. I enjoyed One World Kill but it felt very much like a stand-alone to me, and I’m perfectly happy if it stays that way in my book. No rating
8. Ninth House – Leigh Bardugo
Completely DNF-ed this one for now, as my head was not in the game and I have no idea what I’m reading at the moment. I was hoping this would give me some mental escape, but it’s not grabbing my attention in the first 40 pages, so I decided to keep it for a later time. no rating
That concludes my wrap-up for March 2020. I truly hope you’re all safe out there, and that you’re affected as little as possible by the current world events. Like I mentioned in my update: the next few weeks are going to be unpredictable. I might get a lot of reading and/or reviewing done, or none at all, or any combination thereof. If you want to see what I might read in April, check out my O.W.L.s TBR or follow me on Goodreads to stay up to date during the month. Until next time, happy reading and once again: stay safe.