2.5 star, adult

Review: The Magicians by Lev Grossman

The Magicians #1

A thrilling and original coming-of-age novel for adults about a young man practicing magic in the real world.

Quentin Coldwater is brilliant but miserable. A senior in high school, he’s still secretly preoccupied with a series of fantasy novels he read as a child, set in a magical land called Fillory. Imagine his surprise when he finds himself unexpectedly admitted to a very secret, very exclusive college of magic in upstate New York, where he receives a thorough and rigorous education in the craft of modern sorcery.

He also discovers all the other things people learn in college: friendship, love, sex, booze, and boredom. Something is missing, though. Magic doesn’t bring Quentin the happiness and adventure he dreamed it would. After graduation he and his friends make a stunning discovery: Fillory is real. But the land of Quentin’s fantasies turns out to be much darker and more dangerous than he could have imagined. His childhood dream becomes a nightmare with a shocking truth at its heart.

At once psychologically piercing and magnificently absorbing, The Magicians boldly moves into uncharted literary territory, imagining magic as practiced by real people, with their capricious desires and volatile emotions. Lev Grossman creates an utterly original world in which good and evil aren’t black and white, love and sex aren’t simple or innocent, and power comes at a terrible price.



So close, yet so far. I would say that this story is a strong combination of The Chronicles of Narnia and Harry Potter. This was highly recommended to me by a friend, and while I can see why they enjoyed it, I just wish I enjoyed it more too. While the aforementioned series have more of a hopeful tone and a feel for adventure, The Magicians is much more of an “adult” and “realistic” version of those two worlds, where magic really doesn’t solve your problems, and where the world is much more sinister than just a villain like Lord Voldemort.

The Magicians revolves around our main character, Quentin, who is the classic brilliant but troubled student. He goes through 5 years of training at Hogwarts Brakebills to train as a magician before being thrust back into the adult “normal” world. Eventually he also discovers that his childhood books about crossing into Narnia Fillory are also real. I would say the first half of the book is like going through all of Hogwarts, and the second part is akin to The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe.

I wanted to like this, but I think the biggest factor for me was that I hated Quentin. I just couldn’t get over what a terrible person he was. Incredibly selfish and hedonistic, he often leads the people around him to destruction, all the while whining about it. It supposedly stems from a bit of an inferiority complex and some clinically undiagnosed depression? But I honestly could not empathize at all with him. I guess that would be the biggest gripe for me, sure he was brilliant at learning and knew he was. But the kind of person he was…I just couldn’t stand for it, and therefore never rooted for him at all.

Continue reading “Review: The Magicians by Lev Grossman”
1.5 star, YA

Review: A Vow So Bold and Deadly

Series: Cursebreakers #3

Face your fears, fight the battle.

Emberfall is crumbling fast, torn between those who believe Rhen is the rightful prince and those who are eager to begin a new era under Grey, the true heir. Grey has agreed to wait two months before attacking Emberfall, and in that time, Rhen has turned away from everyone—even Harper, as she desperately tries to help him find a path to peace.

Fight the battle, save the kingdom.

Meanwhile, Lia Mara struggles to rule Syhl Shallow with a gentler hand than her mother. But after enjoying decades of peace once magic was driven out of their lands, some of her subjects are angry Lia Mara has an enchanted prince and a magical scraver by her side. As Grey’s deadline draws nearer, Lia Mara questions if she can be the queen her country needs.

As the two kingdoms come closer to conflict, loyalties are tested, love is threatened, and a dangerous enemy returns, in this stunning conclusion to bestselling author Brigid Kemmerer’s Cursebreaker series.



I’m supremely conflicted about this one. A Vow So Bold and Deadly concludes the trilogy that has shot Brigid Kemmerer to amazing heights. Don’t get me wrong, I loved her prior works (particularly the contemporaries) but I’m not sure her fantasies have done it for me.

Here is why it just left me with a feeling of dissatisfaction and confusion.

Rhen (as a whole)

Prince Rhen, the OG character from book 1 and fan favourite prince. Unpopular opinion, but I never loved him. Not even from book 1. He’s just meh to be honest. Just another spoiled prince who had to learn that he isn’t the centre of the universe and a girl helped save him from his demise. Great. But his personality needs some working on, especially as we went into book 2 where everything goes to hell with him. Like literally. I have no words for how angry I was at the choices he made, even in the name for his country and people. He chose wrong, gave into fear instead of mercy, the latter which I consider a strength. He was a spoiled prince who had no understanding of what he grew up with, the luxury at the expense of others, and while I do not fault him for being sheltered, I do fault him for the choices he continues to make from a standpoint like he is owed something from the world after all the suffering he endured with the evil enchantress who cursed him. That people must listen and love him, it’s practically expected because he is PRINCE.

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3.5 star, YA

ARC Review: The Iron Raven by Julie Kagawa

Series: The Iron Fey Evenfall #1

You may have heard of me…

Robin Goodfellow. Puck. Prankster, joker, raven, fool… King Oberon’s right-hand jester from A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The legends are many, but the truth will now be known as never before, as Puck finally tells his own story and faces a threat to the lands of Faery and the human world unlike any before.

With the Iron Queen Meghan Chase and her prince consort, Puck’s longtime rival Ash, and allies old and new by his side, Puck begins a fantastical and dangerous adventure not to be missed or forgotten.



***The Iron Raven comes out February 9, 2021***

Thank you Edelweiss and HarperCollins for this copy in exchange for an honest review.

All you old-timer fans out there, are you excited for the next instalment of the Iron Fey series? Because I sure am!

I was such a fan of Julie’s earliest series when it first came out, and while I was always solidly a Team Ash (sorry, not sorry), I loved Puck for the friend and caring guy he was. So here is his story and I’m super glad we get to see the world through his unique eyes.

The Iron Raven picks up some time after the events of the original Iron Fey series AND the Call of the Forgotten series, so you will definitely get spoilers from both. And while there are references to things that occurred in those series (and really big, mighty ones they were!), I don’t believe it’s absolutely necessary to have read all of them to get a good sense of this world from here.

Puck, also known as Robin Goodfellow, is still the trickster you know and heard of – made known by a certain human playwright, hmm? But he may not be exactly the lovable character you remember in the Iron Fey series. Something is going around, and the nastier, crueler side of Robin Goodfellow may be just simmering under the surface as he navigates with old allies and new friends alike in another mission to save the world from ending.

Also, why do the faeries seem to have endless ways to end the world?

Our new love interest Nyx is a girl I can stand behind. While she may not be Meghan Chase, the Iron Queen, she’s strong, capable, fierce and protective of those she cares for. Definitely someone who can go head-to-head with a faerie as old and worldly as Puck, even when he’s not on his absolute best behaviour (though I suppose, when is he really?).

With the same style of storytelling Julie is known for in her previous two trilogies, you can expect action (lots of athletic battling going on here), cute romantic moments (aww!) and an ending that will leave you thirsting for more.

While I enjoyed all of these things, plus the added feels from people and places I remember in her old series (the nostalgia is REAL), I did feel the story could’ve progressed faster at times, particularly the beginning. Once things started really going and I was really invested in the issue at hand, things just seem to get “resolved”, like we’re closing that particular story element and I found myself at the end of the book. With an ending that screamed for another page to exist after it!

But that is the only complaint I have because I thoroughly enjoyed being inside Robin Goodfellow’s head for once. Instead of being the comic relief kinda guy, we get to see what makes him tick, the old things he hadn’t let go of in his many years of existence, and the struggles he hides deep down by putting on a show with his witty tricks and banter.

If you love Puck, this is definitely a book for you. Because his inner monologue was the star of the show for me, and I love him all the more for it.

Overall Recommendation:

The Iron Raven is a great story for those just being introduced to the Nevernever and to those of us who really hit the nostalgia going down these familiar roads. A character not unfamiliar to most of us, this is Robin Goodfellow’s story and the kind of trouble he gets into with old friends (ahh, Meghan and Ash!) and new ones alike. With a budding new romance on the horizon for him and yet another end of the world prophecy he needs to deal with, Puck finds himself facing not only the external issues coming at him but some inner demons of his own he has not really purged in his years of existence. Fun, action-packed scenes and a crew of characters to root for, The Iron Raven feels like slipping on old slippers that we missed and loved.