Review of “Of Blood and Bone” (Chronicles of the One #2) by Nora Robertsp

Roberts, Nora. Of Blood and Bone. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2018.

Hardcover | $28.99 USD | ISBN-13: 978-1250122995 | 453 pages | Science Fiction/Paranormal

4 stars

After really enjoying the initial setup of Year One, I really liked seeing the further development of the characters and the world in Of Blood and Bone, especially focusing on the One of the series title, Fallon.

I enjoyed seeing Fallon coming into her own and mastering her gifts, and that for me was the best part of the book, as it allowed me to really get to know her, especially since the last book and the first part of this one got me invested in her unique family situation in the midst of the Doom.

The one weak spot, which seems to be the case for me with much of Roberts’ work, is the poor, somewhat sudden development of the romance between Fallon and Duncan. I can understand it in theory, given they do have some common ground, but it just felt out of place after spending so much time with Fallon during her training with Mallick, and I wished it focused just on her development. I also felt that the familial and romantic bonds in Fallon’s family were much more interesting, whether it be the magickal scenes between Fallon and her birth father, Max, the sweet moments at the beginning between her and Simon, the father who raised her, or the descriptions in both books of Lana’s love for both Max and Simon.

I really liked this one overall, even if it does suffer a bit from being a middle book, expanding on the story, but still feeling a little open-ended. I still feel it’s worth picking up if you enjoyed the first one.

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Review of “The Clockmaker’s Daughter” by Kate Morton

Morton, Kate. The Clockmaker’s Daughter. New York: Atria Books, 2018.

Hardcover | $28.00 USD | ISBN-13: 978-1451649390 | 485 pages | Historical Fiction

2.5 stars

Kate Morton is an author I enjoyed quite a bit in the past, but found myself having some difficulty getting into her last release, The Lake House. So, when I heard about The Clockmaker’s Daughter, I was interested in picking it up, but not overly eager to do so. And now that I have, I have mixed feelings.

Morton has a beautiful and evocative writing style that always gives me the sense that I’m actually in the places she describes, in this case a stately manor near the Thames. She also manages to capture the voice of the central historical character she’s writing about beautifully, in this case the spirit-character, Birdie. She has such a powerful voice, and even as I waited for it all to come together, I still found myself captivated by those chapters.

However, I did feel like it took a bit too long to come together, and I found myself a bit confused at times, what with all the skipping about through time. And despite there being quite a few characters in these different time periods the only one who really stood out aside from Birdie was Edward, due to the mystery being so focused on him. And while there are obvious connections between the time periods, the book falls into the common problem with multi-timeline stories where we don’t really spend enough time with anyone to see them develop or get attached to them, with a few exceptions.

In general, this wasn’t really for me, although it did have a lot of promise. That being said, I think it’s still worth giving it a shot after looking into the varying opinions on the book, especially if you’ve liked Kate Morton in the past, or are interested in complex, intricate stories.

Review of “The Dark Days Deceit” (Lady Helen #3) by Alison Goodman

Goodman, Alison. The Dark Days Deceit. New York: Viking Books for Young Readers, 2018.

Hardcover | $19.99 USD | ISBN-13: 978-0670785490 | 527 pages | Historical Fiction/Paranormal

4 stars

The Dark Days Deceit is a good book overall, but in terms of concluding the trilogy, it is definitely the weakest. However, in terms of the main arc of the series, it did accomplish most of what it needed to do.

To start off with the good points, I love seeing Helen’s growth as a character and really coming into her own as a Reclaimer. I love the growth of her relationships with Darby, attending Darby’s wedding to Quinn, and her aunt, especially as her aunt finds out about and comes to accept her unique destiny instead of continuing to try to mold her into a proper lady.

And while the reveal of the Grand Reclaimer was predictable, especially given the story’s setup of a romantic conflict, I did like the way Goodman both foreshadowed this reveal throughout the trilogy while also providing artful misdirection.

My one major complaint is that there was NO conclusion to the romantic tension between Helen and Carlston. I kept reading, hoping it would be addressed, but it wasn’t. Given the promotion of this series promising a “blend of Regency romance and with supernatural adventure,” I was disappointed that the supernatural elements all reached a fitting conclusion, but everything concerning the romance was left up in the air, robbing these amazing characters of their well-deserved happy ending.

However, I do still recommend this series for fans of Regency/paranormal mashups, given the sheer depth of the world, combining Regency history with well-thought out paranormal elements.

Review of “The Dark Days Pact” (Lady Helen #2) by Alison Goodman

Goodman, Alison. The Dark Days Pact. New York: Viking, 2017. 

Hardcover | $18.99 USD | ISBN-13: 978-0670785483 | 490 pages | Historical Fiction

5 stars

The Dark Days Pact is a truly great sequel. It picks up on all the promise of the first, and ups the stakes. Once again, Alison Goodman shows the depth of research she has done, crafting an entertaining world that ties in well with existing historical figures and events.

It was great to see Helen’s growth as a character as she began to come into her own as a Reclaimer, and how this plays into her relationships with the people around her. I like that she’s more independent and assertive about things in this regard, whereas in the prior book, she demonstrated a lot of uncertainty. While it’s understandable, given her state of mind at the time, it was nice to see that progression.

I was glad to see Darby back again, as the relationship between her and Helen was one of the highlights of the previous book and is just as much fun here, as well as Helen’s friendship with Delia as she brings her into the fold as an aide.

While I’m not usually into broody heroes, I truly loved Carlston and could empathize with what he was going through, with his mysterious illness. And I am curious to know what the growing bond between him and Helen means, especially as her relationship with the autocratic Duke of Selburn changes as well. I wouldn’t call it a love triangle in the traditional sense, so it is refreshing for YA lit, but there is enough tension there on both sides that I wonder how the new developments in this book will play out going into the next and final installment.

I think fans of well-researched historical fiction would love this book (and its predecessor), especially if they also like historical stories with a paranormal twist.

Review of “The Dark Days Club” (Lady Helen #1) by Alison Goodman

Goodman, Alison. The Dark Days Club. 2016. New York: Speak, 2017. 

Paperback | $10.99 USD | ISBN-13: 978-0142425091 | 524 pages | YA Historical/Paranormal Fiction

4.5 stars

I’m a huge fan of a well done historical/paranormal mash-up, and this one is one of the best I’ve read. Alison Goodman shows a clear enthusiasm for the Regency period with great attention to detail, while also not being afraid to have a little fun in interweaving the paranormal elements into the world of the Regency. While it did take a little while for the story to build up and the paranormal elements to come to the fore, when they did, it was wonderful.

Helen is a likable and intelligent heroine. While the issue of young women and their lack of options will be one that comes up frequently in historical fiction and romance, this one feels fresh through the added element of her having these powers putting her into contact with the Dark Days Club, and the way they might also take away her agency over her powers, as they did with her mother before her.

The supporting cast of characters are also fabulous. Lord Carlston has the potential to be a great romantic hero, as it shows that, unlike some of the more unscrupulous members of the Dark Days Club, he truly does care for her and want to give her the choice to join them or not. But given that their relationship has not progressed beyond that of friendship, and there remains issues to be resolved concerning the fate of his wife, I’m curious to know how that pans out in the future books. And Darby is one of those rare servant characters who truly has a good relationship with the person they work for, and I hope that, despite how circumstances were left at the end of the book, that we haven’t seen the last of her.

I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who loves a good genre-bending historical fiction book, or someone who is looking for a new twist on the familiar Regency romance genre.

Review of “The Collector of Dying Breaths” (Reincarnationist #6) by M.J. Rose

Rose, M.J. The Collector of Dying Breaths. New York: Atria Books, 2014. ISBN-13: 978-1-4516-2153-2. Hardcover List Price: $25.00. Paperback List Price: $16.00.

5 stars

This was a book I picked up by chance, not realizing it was part of a series, and despite my typical fanatical need to read in order, I dove in. And it ended up being amazing, with just enough information about the backstories of the characters (some of whom appear in previous installments, based on the synopses) that the reader doesn’t get lost, and is able to focus on what’s going on in the present story.

This is a book that combines all the elements I love into one book: rich historical detail, paranormal elements, lost and rekindled love, and of course, suspense. And these elements come together to form a narrative with a powerful message regarding death and immortality.

Of the two narratives within the story, I found myself more absorbed into the historical one following Rene le Florentin and his work in Catherine ‘de Medici’s court. I had heard rumors about her practice of witchcraft and that she was a formidable woman, and while that is a facet of her character, I like that Rose does not villainize her, but chooses to write from the perspective of someone who was one of her closest confidantes for years.

The modern narrative was not lacking, however. I like how the arcs fit so seamlessly together, with both arcs beginning and ending with death, as a way to present the over-arching message of the story.