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FLAME & SHADOW

From the The Dae Diaries series , Vol. 1

Full of action, this tale will keep readers turning pages, even if some details get lost in the shuffle.

Nevermore offers an urban fantasy novel full of political intrigue and non-stop thrills.

Envy Starr, the daughter of a daemon and a Las Vegas showgirl, is 20 years old—and she only has until midsummer before she either explodes (due to her nature as a Fire elemental) or fades into nonexistence. Envy is kidnapped by a daemon named Brennan who has his own plans for her: he has been hired to teach her to become a proper fae lady by Midsummer, at which point, he says, she’ll be able to survive and even fully embrace her element, becoming a full daemon (“At the moon’s apex, Fire will come, cleansing away your humanity and filling you. It’s like being reborn”). Hidden away from the world with only a few servants for help, Brennan and Envy become incredibly close—but just when she thinks she can trust him, she discovers that he has his own hidden agenda. Adding to her troubles are Amelda, a daemon queen who wants Envy dead; Silas, the long-lost daemon father who has his own plans for Envy and the power she holds; a potential war brewing between the fae and the humans; and more than a little pain and torture along the way. Envy can’t catch a break—who can she trust? The action is nonstop—readers will barely be able to take a breath. Envy (who refuses to give out her real name since true names have power) feels incredibly human despite her abilities, experiencing moments of vanity and weakness while maintaining an amusingly lousy attitude. The world Nevermore has created is expansive; unfortunately, some of the lore and political maneuvering can be hard to follow with so much going on. This book works as a stand-alone story, but with such a big world to play in there’s plenty to keep the series going.

Full of action, this tale will keep readers turning pages, even if some details get lost in the shuffle.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2023

ISBN: 9781509251810

Page Count: 364

Publisher: Wild Rose Press

Review Posted Online: Nov. 5, 2023

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FOURTH WING

From the Empyrean series , Vol. 1

Read this for the action-packed plot, not character development or worldbuilding.

On the orders of her mother, a woman goes to dragon-riding school.

Even though her mother is a general in Navarre’s army, 20-year-old Violet Sorrengail was raised by her father to follow his path as a scribe. After his death, though, Violet's mother shocks her by forcing her to enter the elite and deadly dragon rider academy at Basgiath War College. Most students die at the War College: during training sessions, at the hands of their classmates, or by the very dragons they hope to one day be paired with. From Day One, Violet is targeted by her classmates, some because they hate her mother, others because they think she’s too physically frail to succeed. She must survive a daily gauntlet of physical challenges and the deadly attacks of classmates, which she does with the help of secret knowledge handed down by her two older siblings, who'd been students there before her. Violet is at the mercy of the plot rather than being in charge of it, hurtling through one obstacle after another. As a result, the story is action-packed and fast-paced, but Violet is a strange mix of pure competence and total passivity, always managing to come out on the winning side. The book is categorized as romantasy, with Violet pulled between the comforting love she feels from her childhood best friend, Dain Aetos, and the incendiary attraction she feels for family enemy Xaden Riorson. However, the way Dain constantly undermines Violet's abilities and his lack of character development make this an unconvincing storyline. The plots and subplots aren’t well-integrated, with the first half purely focused on Violet’s training, followed by a brief detour for romance, and then a final focus on outside threats.

Read this for the action-packed plot, not character development or worldbuilding.

Pub Date: May 2, 2023

ISBN: 9781649374042

Page Count: 528

Publisher: Red Tower

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2024

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IRON FLAME

From the Empyrean series , Vol. 2

Unrelenting, and not in a good way.

A young Navarrian woman faces even greater challenges in her second year at dragon-riding school.

Violet Sorrengail did all the normal things one would do as a first-year student at Basgiath War College: made new friends, fell in love, and survived multiple assassination attempts. She was also the first rider to ever bond with two dragons: Tairn, a powerful black dragon with a distinguished battle history, and Andarna, a baby dragon too young to carry a rider. At the end of Fourth Wing (2023), Violet and her lover, Xaden Riorson, discovered that Navarre is under attack from wyvern, evil two-legged dragons, and venin, soulless monsters that harvest energy from the ground. Navarrians had always been told that these were monsters of legend and myth, not real creatures dangerously close to breaking through Navarre’s wards and attacking civilian populations. In this overly long sequel, Violet, Xaden, and their dragons are determined to find a way to protect Navarre, despite the fact that the army and government hid the truth about these creatures. Due to the machinations of several traitorous instructors at Basgiath, Xaden and Violet are separated for most of the book—he’s stationed at a distant outpost, leaving her to handle the treacherous, cutthroat world of the war college on her own. Violet is repeatedly threatened by her new vice commandant, a brutal man who wants to silence her. Although Violet and her dragons continue to model extreme bravery, the novel feels repetitive and more than a little sloppy, leaving obvious questions about the world unanswered. The book is full of action and just as full of plot holes, including scenes that are illogical or disconnected from the main narrative. Secondary characters are ignored until a scene requires them to assist Violet or to be killed in the endless violence that plagues their school.

Unrelenting, and not in a good way.

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2023

ISBN: 9781649374172

Page Count: 640

Publisher: Red Tower

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2024

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