A Dark New World (Wicked Saints – A Book Review)

Wicked Saints (Something Dark and Holy #1)
Author: Emily A. Duncan
Published: 2019

On Goodreads

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My Rating: Full boltFull boltFull boltFull bolt

Rated X because you won’t trust a single one of these people with your life unless you want to doom the world or yourself.

 

A girl named Nadya, who hears the whispers of the gods inside her head.

A prince surrounded by desperate suitors and deadly assassins.

A monster hidden behind pale, tortured eyes—and a smile that cuts like a knife.

Nadya has grown up in the monastery for most of her life, revering the gods, and she is the only known cleric that is able to communicate with all of them and not just the one she is bound to. After the monastery is attacked, she runs into a band of unexpected allies that seek to end the brutal war between Kalyazin and Tranavia, a god-fearing land and a godless one. With the high prince on their trail, it may seem tricky. But, the high prince is also trying to escape the suitors and assassins around him. A prophecy of dark magic and heresy that has been long known is put in motion and two countries may be in worse danger than this war never-ending.

 

I guess the perfect place to start with any review is stating right off the bat if you enjoyed or disliked a book, or at least that typically how I like to get started. To be honest, I’m not sure which direction I lean. Complex. That’s it. There was a lot of hype (mostly my own) about this book and it was even on the NYT bestsellers list for a while. This is one I’m going to want to reread later on. While the cover is completely mystifying and is really what attracted me—following the mini-blurb on the jacket inside the book—I really find that this story, this journey really stands next to those like LOTR (J. R. R. Tolkien), Mortal Engines (Phillip Reeve), and The Magicians (Lev Grossman). There is so much attention to not only detail but emotions.

War, religion, faith, and love are the strongest themes I came across while reading. The characters were always questioning everything as well as themselves, except for Rashid and Parijahan of course. Those two knew to the very point of their hearts what they wanted without a single drop of doubt. I truly loved those characters. Great for relief in intense moments and were proof that—in this book anyhow—there are people you can trust at face value because they’re upfront with everything with nothing to hide. Can’t guarantee anybody else in this book. LOL. Not even the main characters: Nadya, Serefin, and Malachiasz.

What is happening

This story was pretty dark. It had me questioning every page. I certainly didn’t trust any of the characters. Serefin is obviously an alcoholic which really bothered the heck out of me. Nearly every time his POV came up he was waking up with a nasty hangover. Each of these characters really struggled, and I get that they live in war-torn countries, but damn, they are messed the eff up. It was making me go crazy.

The cult-y touch with the blood magic versus what the gods of this world provide was epic though. That had me impressed. That, and the histories offered at the beginning of each chapter. So much depth!

Scarlet Reader

Giphy

 

Overall

I truly wish I had more excitement. There’s so much to talk about, but I don’t have any enthusiasm in me about it, which is a bummer. I think it’s just because so much was loaded into it that I was having a bit of trouble keeping up and catching on. Duncan really delved into her creation of a world whole-heartedly and it’s amazing. This isn’t a dislike review. Those are much more different. This is definitely a recommend for those who love fantasy and magic. Certainly, worth a shot.

 

Quotables:

“The was magic, it was power, it was mankind stepping out of the shadows and finding out the world had been kept in the dark by these gods.” (p. 50)

“Blood was not to be spilled for the sake of power. Magic was a divine appointment from the gods.” (p. 113)

“A boy made king of monsters for a kingdom of the damned.” (p. 346)

 

More to come soon…                                                                                                

  -K.

 

P.S. Song today? When the Darkness Comes by Grace Fulmer.

 

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What You Don’t Know About Fairy Tales (A Wild Swan: And Other Tales – A Book Review)

A Wild Swan: And Other Tales
Author: Michael Cunningham
Published: 2015

On Goodreads

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My Rating: Full boltFull boltFull boltFull boltHalf bolt

23/25

 

Most of us are safe.

If you’re not a delirious dream the gods are having, if your beauty doesn’t trouble the constellations, nobody’s going to cast a spell on you.

Fairy tales come with a twisted twist. Here come the classic stories we know with poison apples, a princess with incredibly long hair, a house made of gingerbread and gumdrops. But, these are thee moments nobody imagined. Lazy Jack prefers living in mom’s basement until he trades their precious cow for magic beans. It turns out it’s not always happily ever after with Snow White and her prince. A tiny, malformed man will go to great lengths to have a child of his own to take care of, even threaten the woman he helped make queen.

 

This book marks 23 out of 25 authors, from my New Year’s resolution, that I’ve never read from before. I get so swept away at the prospect of fairy tales and these ones piqued my curiosity.

 

I didn’t know what to expect with this book. It seems pretty bland and nothing special on the outside. I only just noticed that the font is braided hair on the cover which is *shiver* creepy. It was the and Other Tales that snagged my attention, and I certainly didn’t expect retelling of fairy tale. I’m so glad I read this book.

The illustrations of this book were amazing! I was blown away by them. Done in black and white, the art brought a unique visual to the stories. They’re intriguing and horrifying and beautiful.

From the hag witch of Hansel and Gretel to Snow White and her prince to a part prince part swan. This collection of tales took on many tales I don’t think many people would think to add sugar, spice and a crap-ton of chemical-X to. There were so many different POVs that haven’t been explored enough. Cunningham went up and beyond in exploring the lives of some of these characters that we never thought to go beyond the story with. It was fascinating and I was hooked. I never thought about how the hag witch of Hansel and Gretel came to live deep in the woods in a candy house. Not really. And the explanation of how idiotic Jack is for trading his cow for beans had me laughing so hard.

Love it

The tone of this book really captured my attention. It was sarcastic and bitter and humorous. I swear at times I could hear my one professor narrating in my head. There was NO FILTER. I figured that out pretty quickly too. I was laughing so much from the sarcasm, but as I tell many people, sarcasm is my first language. English came second. LOL.

More than this though, I was taken by how much I could compare to the world I live in as well as the parts that acted as a revelation. These tales weren’t just entertaining, but enlightening and dark and honest and relatable. There’s jealousy, heartbreak, the great human flaw of never being satisfied, fear, and pity. It was so unexpected and dark.

There are some tales I loved more than others such as:

Crazy Old Lady

Poisoned

Little Man

 

Overall

I’m really glad I read this. It was entertaining and even more, it was shocking. I didn’t expect this. This take on fairy tales was real and raw and dark. Definitely a keeper.

 

Quotables:

“Most of us can be counted on to manage our own undoings.” (Dis. Enchant., p. 3)

“It’s the solitude that slays you. Maybe because you’d expected ruin to arrive in a grander and more romantic form.” (Crazy Old Lady, p. 15)

“One of the reasons ordinary people are incapable of magic is simple dearth of conviction.” (Little Man, p. 66)

“Sometimes the fabric that separated us tears just enough for love to shine through. Sometimes thee tear is surprisingly small.” (Steadfast: Tin, p. 88)

 

More to come soon…

-K.

 

P.S. Song Today? Don’t Let Me Go by Raign.

 

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The Jungle Will Consume You (Heart of Darkness – A Book Review)

Heart of Darkness
Author: Joseph Conrad
Published: 1899

On Goodreads

Scarlet Reader - Heart of Darkness

My Rating: Full boltFull bolt

 

There is a taint of death, a flavor of morality in lies-which is exactly what I hate and detest in the world—what I want to forget.

Up the Congo River, follow Marlow on his journey. He meets Mr. Kurtz, an ivory trader who has a mysterious, godlike presence over the region and its inhabitants. During his journey, Marlow is obsessed with the man. Both intrigued and disgusted by him, Marlow is shown the darkness and despair that dwells within man in this jungle.


This review is going to be shorter than my usual ones and that because I didn’t really enjoy this one. There was nothing wrong with it, we just didn’t mesh. Sometimes the bookworm and the book just don’t work. This is one of those cases. I did finish it. I just can’t say that I enjoyed it.


The theme of the darkness that dwells inside humanity was really strong in this one. In the depth of the wild which draws out the beast even in men—a side that we often don’t like to think about or imagine that we have. You never see it until you’ve been pushed to limits you never knew existed. I mean, this is more than just button pushing. This is mind-breaking.

The style of the short story was poetic and dark and bridged on horror. Horror that lives in people that nobody knows about, not even that very person sometimes.  It was chilling and deep and read much like a journal. Though the story was short, it took me some time to get through it, like crawling through molasses, which I don’t like. It was detailed not so much visually, but philosophically, I felt. In some places, I was left in awe by Conrad’s words and in others I was falling asleep. It was a real push and pull.

Scarlet Reader - Gifer

The characters, Marlow and Kurtz, came across maniacal in their own way. Marlow was obsessive to a very scary level that made goosebumps crawl all over me. Right up until the end he was unable to even think about anything else unless it had to do with him. Kurtz came across as a very unstable individual. Narcissism became very dangerous in the form of this character. Everything circulated around him. Each felt incredibly drawn out which was another part of the reason I wasn’t fond of the story.

 

Overall

I enjoy diving into classics. There’s a wisdom in them that can and should be taken away from each of them. The lessons they teach or emphasize upon is so important. However, I didn’t enjoy this very much. I seriously struggled to get to the ending. The is one of those that is either eye-opening or it is just blah. I fell to the blah side.

 

Quotables:

“The fascination of the abomination—you know, imagine the growing regrets, the longing to escape, the powerless disgust, the surrender, the hate.” (p. 4)

 “The earth seemed unearthly. We are accustomed to look upon the shackled form of a conquered monster, but there—there you could look at a thing monstrous and free.” (p. 32)

 

More to come soon…

-K.

 

P.S. Song today? Absence of Fear by Jewel

 

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Just Look at the Flowers…(Flowers in the Attic – A Book Review)

Flowers in the Attic
Author: V.C. Andrews
Published: 1979

On Goodreads

FITA

My Rating: Full boltFull boltFull boltFull bolt

 

We should have cared. We should have been careful.

After the death of their father, the Dollanganger kids move to Foxworth manor with their mother. There, the kids: Chris, Cathy, Carrie and Corrie are moved into a guest room where they’re hidden away with only an attic of fake flowers and fake dreams to run away to. Mother loved her kids, but her family’s fortune was at stake and if she had any hopes of getting it from her dying father, she can’t have children. So, for a little while, she didn’t. Days passed and then weeks and then months and even long, agonizing years.

The kids, in their cramped world of hopeless and depressing dreams; Cathy and Chris are growing, adult desires and needs stir within while the twins scarily remain the same while under the watchful eye of their evil, abusive grandmother, and of course God, because the Devil works in devious ways. The secrets of Foxworth deepen as the kids become one of them with no hope of ever being free, but of becoming one of their fake flowers they sprouted in their fake garden in the attic, always blooming and wilting with hopelessness.

Love…I put so much faith in it.

Truth…I kept believing it falls always from the lips of the one you love and trust the most.

Faith…it’s all bound up to love and trust.

Where does one end and the other start, and how do you tell when love is the blindest of all?

 

I’m still reeling from how messed up this book was. Pretty good, but hella messed up. On one hand, there was a lot that happened that I didn’t know about before reading this book. I didn’t realize just how abusive the grandmother was toward the Dolls and how much their mother neglected to the point that they didn’t exist to her. I also found that the book, in my opinion, was over-hyped because of one of the main points of the book involving incest. I was given the impression, before reading the book, that it was a lot  Still, I was surprised and completely disturbed by the events that took place.

 

The style of the book felt like a Jane Austen novel. Very detailed and longing and the language was beautiful, but this book would be like a dark and twisted and screwed up version of Jane Austen LOL. From Cathy’s cynic POV, the experience of being locked up in a small room by her heartless and God- fearing grandmother became claustrophobic and paranoia inducing.

FINTA

I really loved how Andrews kept up the story just within the small guest room and wide, dusty attic that was decorated to be like a garden. That’s not very big for a setting. In fact, it’s one of the smallest I’ve seen in a book, but I wasn’t driven to boredom at all! The story kept moving and emotion escalated higher and higher. I could envision what Cathy envisioned because being in this small place for a very long forever, she had to envision the other places she’s rather be instead of an attic. Her imagination was a powerful place. It is for any character. You can be anyone and anywhere in there. So creative and also anxiety-inducing. The place, even her imagination, felt like a prison.

 

The theme of flowers was heavy. There was so much meaning to the title and the idea of flowers. The Dolls as flowers, their fake garden in the attic, the way they were referenced through the seasons spent locked up. It was chilling, yet incredible. I was mesmerized. All the many different metaphors and comparisons were intriguing. Not going to lie, I was making an inside joke with myself in reference to The Walking Dead—Just look at the flowers, Dolls. I know, I’m not right in the head. Sometimes it happens. This book series isn’t right in the head either LOL.

FINTA

Each of the Dolls struggle and their fears and troubles increase the longer their locked away. Cathy grows vengeful and psychologically ill, believing they could be sinners. Chris, a young teen, begins questioning his feelings and desires and what they mean, especially with these feelings being directed toward Cathy. Corrie and Carrie, twins, are becoming more restless and malnourished, stunting their growth greatly. Each Doll is effected and I kept getting so worried and nervous. More than anything, I just wanted to set them free. Discomfort is the goal with this book, I believe, and it’s successful.

 

I think this is a great read. I can also see the difference between Andrews and her ghost writer. I read The Mirror Sisters last summer and was deflated because it was nothing like what people said it was. But, this was great! The language was intelligent and sharp compared to that trilogy. The story was haunting and more effed up than I imagined and The Mirror Sisters can’t hold a candle to it…well, except for the second book in the trilogy. I do have reviews up if you was to check them out.

The Mirror Sisters

Broken Glass

Shattered Memories

Currently I’m getting ready to begin Seeds of Yesterday and the horror and discomfort the book make me feel has been constant. Definitely give this series a shot. It’s disturbing down to the core and could shock the pudding out of you.

 

Quotables:

“There are some mothers you can’t love, for they don’t want you to love them.” (Corrine to Cathy, p. 23)

“Cathy, don’t just stand there and cry. A room is just a room. You’ll live in many rooms before you die…” (Corrine to Cathy, p. 35)

“And remember children, God sees everything! God will see what evil you do behind my back! And God will be the one to punish when I don’t!” (Grandma to the Dollanganger kids, p. 55)

“Love doesn’t always come when you want it to. Sometimes it just happens, despite your will.” (Corrine, p. 104)

“Love, it came unbidden. You couldn’t help who you fell in love with—cupid’s arrows were ill aimed.” (Cathy, p. 197)

“Hell was right here, where I was, shadowing me persistently, trying to do me in, and make me into what grandmother thought I was—the Devil’s issue.” (Cathy, p. 304)

 

more to come soon…

-K.

 

P.S. Song today? Free by Plumb

 

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