ARC Review – Untethered Sky

Hello, everyone! After my teaser of the first lines of Untethered Sky this morning, I had to also drop this review today. 🙂 Anyone following me for a while probably knows by now that I am OBSESSED with the Green Bone Saga by Fonda Lee. It is one of my favorite series ever. So, I was incredibly excited to be granted an advanced copy of this new novella set in a completely different world. Let’s get to my *totally unbiased* thoughts on Lee’s most recent work!

From World Fantasy Award-winning author Fonda Lee comes Untethered Sky, an epic fantasy fable about the pursuit of obsession at all costs.

A Most Anticipated in 2023 Pick for Polygon | Book Riot | Paste Magazine

Ester’s family was torn apart when a manticore killed her mother and baby brother, leaving her with nothing but her father’s painful silence and a single, overwhelming need to kill the monsters that took her family.

Ester’s path leads her to the King’s Royal Mews, where the giant rocs of legend are flown to hunt manticores by their brave and dedicated ruhkers. Paired with a fledgling roc named Zahra, Ester finds purpose and acclaim by devoting herself to a calling that demands absolute sacrifice and a creature that will never return her love. The terrifying partnership between woman and roc leads Ester not only on the empire’s most dangerous manticore hunt, but on a journey of perseverance and acceptance.

***Thank you to tordotcom for providing a copy of the book via NetGalley. My review contains my honest thoughts about my reading experience.***

I loved everything about this novella, the characters, the story, the setting, and the writing. All of it. My only complaint is that I wanted more than a novella’s length to explore these characters and their world. I rarely want to annotate while reading, but I found myself itching to highlight so much of the beautiful and insightful prose. There’s just something so special about Lee’s voice. Her writing is somehow both matter of fact and emotionally evocative, which shines here just as much as it did in the Green Bone Saga.

The premise of the story is fairly simple but really, really cool. Ester’s family was murdered by a manticore, and she becomes obsessed with being a ruhker so that she can dedicate her life to killing the horrid, man-eating beasts. The book follows her journey of training her roc and becoming a successful ruhker until tragedy strikes and changes everything. Of course, there were plenty of moments that completely ripped my heart out, which seems to be Lee’s specialty as this point, and I was surprised by how much I came to care about these characters so quickly.

The rocs were so interesting, and the relationship between roc and ruhker was a fascinating one to examine. It allowed for the exploration of obsessive, one-sided love, as well as the process of accepting the loss of something, possibly everything, important to you. I was torn between loving the relationship between Ester and Zahra and being horrified by the brutality of Zahra being ripped away from her natural habitat and manipulated into servitude by the person claiming to love her. I wasn’t expecting so much nuance to be packed into such a tight story, but somehow Lee managed it.

Overall, this was a beautiful, quick story that fantasy fans will most likely enjoy. I would have loved to get even more of it, especially the world-building, but I have no complaints about what we did get. Therefore, I rate this one 5 out of 5 stars, which should come as no shock to anyone who knows how much I love Lee’s work.


ARC Review – The Foxglove King

Hello, everyone! Today I’m reviewing a book that’s received quite a bit of buzz recently, The Foxglove King by Hannah Whitten. It seems like most of my online reading friends have either read this one or are currently starting it. This book will be published on March 7, which I guess explains the activity as everyone scrambles to finish up their ARCs on time. lol.

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ALC Review – The Tyranny of Faith

Hello, everyone! Today I’m reviewing The Tyranny of Faith by Richard Swan, a sequel I’ve been looking forward to for a year. I loved the first book in this trilogy, The Justice of Kings, and couldn’t wait to get my hands on this follow-up. Luckily, I was able to snag an advanced copy of the audiobook. 🙂 The Tyranny of Faith is out everywhere tomorrow, February 14, 2023!

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ARC Review – The Sapphire Altar

Hello, everyone! It seems like it has been forever since I’ve written and posted a review. There have been so many annual wrap-ups, ‘best of’ lists, and New Year’s posts recently that there just hasn’t been much time for anything else. I’m looking forward to things slowing down again a bit now that the year is underway. Now let’s dive into my first review of 2023, The Sapphire Altar by David Dalglish.

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ARC Mini Review – External Forces

Hello, everyone! I’m slowly clearing out my backlog of ARCs from 2022. I’m not sure I’ll get to them all before the end of the year, but I’m going to try my best… The next one up is External Forces by Shannon Fay.

A mage for the British royals matches wits with a power-mad old foe in a beguiling novel of enchantments and daring by Shannon Fay, author of Innate Magic.

London, 1957. By crafting magical outfits for his friend, Princess Katherine, cloth mage Paul Gallagher is getting ahead. It’s not a seamless path. Not since the Virtuis Party came to power. The far-right faction is using criminals to create a protective barrier around England. The enchanted uniforms the prisoners wear may beget a demand for mages, but using luckless convicts as tools for warmongering reactionaries isn’t Paul’s dream for cloth magic.

His road to success takes an even darker turn when the unexpected death of a member of the royal family plunges the country into chaos. The Virtuis Party is rising, its mysterious puppet master is gaining control, and Paul and his allies are prepared to do anything to protect the princess, the throne, and ultimately, the soul of the country. That means falling back on the innate magic Paul dreads using again. It’s illegal, dangerous, and so potent it can raise the dead.

But as the fate of the entire nation hangs by a thread, dire times call for extreme magic.

***Thank you to 47North for providing a copy of the book via NetGalley. My review contains my honest thoughts about my reading experience.***

This was such an improvement compared to the first book, Innate Magic. I liked the first book, but its meandering plot felt like it was going nowhere for most of the story. External Forces, on the other hand, had a fairly tight and engaging main story with incredibly high stakes. There was quite a bit of action in this book, and the violence and torture were graphic enough to make me squirm in my seat while reading. The story also deepened the world-building and provided a lot of interesting information about the magic system that makes me excited to see what comes next for this series. The alternate 1950’s Britain was still a fun setting, and it allowed for the exploration of some timely topics, including queer and women’s rights and the fight against fascism growing under the guise of ‘safety.’ The characters, especially Paul, seemed much more mature in this book compared to the first. Paul felt less like the stereotypical bisexual man and more well-rounded. He had to grapple with severe challenges to his morals and handled all the crises with a surprising amount of grace. He still made plenty of reckless, selfish choices too, though. I guess he wouldn’t be Paul without them. lol. One thing I love about this series is that it centers a bisexual man who primarily pursues long term relationships with women (at least during the time we’re with him on the page). This representation is sorely lacking, and it was nice to get a story where the bi guy ends up with a woman even if the romance felt a bit forced at times. Most, if not all, of the bi male rep I’ve read has the bi man experiencing a bi awakening and choosing to pursue relationships with men. So, it was a nice change of pace to have Paul confident in his identity from the beginning and not shy away from relationships with women in an effort to make the story ‘more queer’ because bi men in love with a woman are just as queer as gold star gays. ***Steps off soap box.*** The only other qualm I had with this book was the large time gap since the first book. It felt like so much character growth happened during that time, and I was a little let down we didn’t get to see it on the page. Overall, I really enjoyed this story and am curious to see where it goes next. Therefore, I rate this book 4 out of 5 stars.

Audiobook Review – The Legend of Black Jack

Hello, everyone! Today I have another review. The author reached out and offered an audiobook copy of The Legend of Black Jack. I’ve never had a request that offered an audiobook before, and most of my audiobook listening is mood reading, which made it easy to slip into the line-up fairly quickly. So, I decided to accept the request even though I’m not currently open to review requests. It also didn’t hurt that I’ve seen some other bloggers rave about this book. 🙂

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