Adult Book Reviews by Genre: Fantasy

Girls of Paper and Fire
Natasha Ngan
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Every year one girl from the lowest caste in each of the 8 provinces is selected to be a Paper Girl - a concubine to the king. Usually, the girls choose to put themselves forth for the selection. But this year, there will be nine girls. Lei, the ninth, was ripped from her home by a General trying to curry favor with the King. And unlike the other paper girls, this was in no way a choice for her. As she learns more about her fellow Paper Girls and life in the palace, she becomes further disgusted with the caste systems and the concept of Paper Girls. And she'll do everything in her limited power to defy the king - even if it costs her her life.

Girls of Paper and Fire was awesome. I've been burned by heavily hyped diverse YA fantasy lately (Children of Blood and Bone, Mirage), but luckily for me, this one did not disappoint. The premise sounded fairly...gross for lack of a better word - a girl stripped from her home against her will to become a concubine to the king. You know there's going to be some unconsensual sex happening. And there was, but it was handled really well by the author. She takes a very sensitive issue and does not sensationalize it. In fact, its presented in such a way that women who have had similar experiences might find some solace in the book, which, if you read the Afterword, was clearly the author's intention.

Unlike some YA fantasy, this was a slowly paced book that was mostly about developing our main character. Lei really grew as a woman and a person throughout the course of the book. She stands up for her beliefs, herself, her body, even though it almost gets her killed. There's also romance, and its a slowly developed, realistic story of love in the worst of times. The worldbuilding was stunning - the setting was Malaysia inspired, and the formation of the three different castes and their traditions was well thought out and presented in such as way as to be simultaneously creepy and gorgeous. My two complaints are fairly minor: there were a few very predictable plot elements, and the writing occasionally leaned into too flowery territory. Otherwise, though, I loved it.

If you are looking for a feminist fantasy read with excellent worldbuilding and character development, you won't go wrong with Girls of Paper and Fire. 5 stars.

Reviewer's Name: Britt
Genres:
Lord of Chaos
Jordan, Robert
2 stars = Meh
Review:

While the first five novels in the Wheel of Time series were near masterpieces in their own right, the sixth entry is where the series begins to peter out a bit. Whereas the previous novels were compelling high fantasy adventures, this one seems to exist in more of the vein of a drama. Intense magical battles and high stakes plots to unravel are here replaced with the female characters prattling on about the color and feel of their dresses, or complaining about men with each other. Additionally, there is an enormous cast of characters to keep track of, which does tend to drag the novel down and make it more confusing than it needs to be. True, this was also a problem in the the first five novels, but compounded with the sometimes boring plot and mundane female characters it becomes a much more noticeable problem. Most of the novel is people sitting around postulating for power and talking. However, there are some things to be appreciative of, such as the political intrigue, chapters from the Forsaken point of view, and the return to Shadar Logoth, but these things just don't help the novel in the long run. I would recommend it to anyone who has read the previous five books.

Reviewer's Name: Peter C.
Awards:
Genres:
The Long Utopia
Pratchett, Terry
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

After the events that take place in The Long Mars , I was expecting the next book in the series, The Long Utopia, to be about the CEO of the Black Corporation and the settlement he established to help him live longer. Instead, I got a story that had little to no connection to the previous plots. That being said, at least there was a story with a projected conclusion instead of merely a series of random events that eventually led to the sudden destruction of some location (as had been the case up until now).

While I did appreciate some of the back-story for Joshua Valienté, there wasn’t anything in Joshua’s behavior or motivations in any of the previous books that indicated that he was even interested in learning about his past. I also was pleased that some of the “limitations” of this universe were brought back, or at least provided as a reminder to the reader. It honestly doesn’t make sense to me that these parallel worlds would have the kind of technology available to them without the use of iron. The fact that the material workarounds were never explained is probably the most frustrating part to me.

As I mentioned already, the stronger story in this book helped keep me invested in the characters, not only as they tried to figure out what was happening, but as they tried to determine how to stop it. Unfortunately, none of the consequences in this universe seem to hold any weight. Lobsang can “die,” but there are still plenty other versions of him around. The Next can be mostly exterminated, but then the next book just glosses over the attempted genocide. In the end, though, I can’t honestly tell you what the titular “Utopia” of this book was, and that’s disappointing.

A slightly above-average chapter in the Long Earth series, I give The Long Utopia 3.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin W.
The Long Mars
Pratchett, Terry
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

While the previous two entries in this series seemed to be disjointed in their writing styles, The Long Mars seemed to iron out some of these discrepancies . . . finally. In The Long Earth and The Long War , you could almost pinpoint the sections that Terry Pratchett wrote and the sections primarily written by Stephen Baxter. By The Long Mars, there are still a few moments of Terry Pratchett’s goofiness, but they are few and far between. Consequently, the narrative of The Long Mars seemed a lot more consistent than its predecessors.

Of course, this doesn’t necessarily mean that The Long Mars is absent of problems. While there was plenty of exploration of these parallel universes, the ones that were deemed necessary enough to describe didn’t add anything to the plot. In fact, I felt like this book could have been much shorter if these thought experiments that explored how parallel universes would function were cut out entirely. If these momentary breaks in the action were tied to critical moments or conflicts, then I could see their necessity. As they are right now, you could remove almost every one of them and still have the same basic story.

The scientist in me did like the broader examination of what to do with multiple universes, like easily visiting Mars. These concepts were touched on in the previous books, but now they felt a lot more fleshed out. Similarly, I felt like the characters were a lot more interesting, especially the dynamic between Sally and her father. Sure, there were probably a few too many plot lines to follow, but at least I cared about the characters now. I’m also not sure if the ending was supposed to mimic its predecessors, as that was one of my frustrations with The Long War: an almost identical ending to The Long Earth.

A significant improvement in the Long Earth series, I give The Long Mars 3.5 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin W.
Gwendy's Music Box
King, Stephen
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

While most people think of Stephen King's book as being scary, this book was more suspenseful than scary. It is the story of Gwendy, a 12 year old girl who decided to run the suicide stairs in her neighborhood to lose weight before school starts. She meets a man wearing a black hat at the top of the stairs. This man calls her over by name and gives her a specialw box that will give her chocolate and silver dollars. The box has buttons on top and Gwendy can control what may happen by pushing one of the buttons. Once she takes the box, good things start happening in Gwendy's life. Gwendy becomes obsessed with the box and keeps it with her until after college, when she comes home one day to see a familiar black hat in her apartment. The story moves quickly and keeps you interested throughout the phases of Gwendy's life. If you are interested in Stephen King books but don't want to read anything too scary, this is a great book to start with.

Reviewer's Name: Brenna C.
Awards:
Cover Image
Kagawa, Julie
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Every 10,000 years, an ancient dragon rises to give one mortal a wish (in exchange for their soul) and the world changes. Two characters, a kitsune-hybrid and a ninja, find themselves trying to keep the path to the dragon out of the hands of several interested and nefarious parties. Shadow of the Fox follows our heroes as they travel to and from different monasteries dodging monsters in their quest to protect ancient scrolls.

Shadow of the Fox was a ton of fun! It gave me Percy Jackson vibes, but was definitely for a slightly older audience and the mythology in this book was Japanese, which I found to be very cool. I liked both of the characters – the kitsune must hide her fox nature from her ninja travelling companion as he is a monster killer, and kitsune are a type of…if not monster, then non-human trickster. The ninja is trying to resist becoming possessed by the evil demon that occupies his sword. Their relationship is thus a bit fraught, but adds a really interesting dynamic. Their other travelling companion (a disgraced Samurai who spends most of the book amusingly drunk) provided some levity. Some of the mythology was completely new to me, which made for a engaging reading experience. I liked it enough that I read one of Kagawa’s other books, The Iron King, as well. If you enjoyed that one, you’ll likely like this – I found the formats to be similar, though I personally found the Japanese mythology more interesting than the fairies.

TLDR: This is a really entertaining and action packed fantasy for fans of Percy Jackson and Kagawa’s other books. I loved it, and am excited to get my own copy! 5 stars.

Thanks to Harlequin Teen and Netgalley for the eARC, which I received in exchange for an unbiased review. Shadow of the Fox is available now!

Reviewer's Name: Britt
Ajax Penumbra 1969
Sloan, Robin
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

As I said in my review of Sourdough , I absolutely adored Robin Sloan's debut work, Mr. Penumbra's 24-hour Bookstore. Since Sourdough didn't necessarily sate my appetite, I found Ajax Penumbra 1969 to be a light snack that brought me back into the world created by Sloan. Acting as a bit of a short story/novella prequel to the first book, Ajax Penumbra 1969 still maintains the themes common in Sloan's work: mainly, the combination and juxtaposition of analog and digital technology. In this case, the reader just happens to come across this dichotomy in 1969.

Following the titular character from the first book, Ajax Penumbra 1969 gives the origins of this mysterious character as he searches for answers and eventually ends up in San Francisco at a little 24-hour bookstore. The following mystery and intrigue are what I would expect from such a story, but the inclusion of the budding technological aspects of the late 1960's helped to show that not only was this character finding his way to an eventual life filled with books, but technology's infancy already had much potential at this early stage of development.

It's a little difficult to say much about this short story/novella since it didn't even take a full two hours to listen to. At any rate, it's a fun little side story for those who had picked up Sloan's first work and fell in love with the ideas and characters presented therein. While not necessarily a book that most people would pick up and read without having already read Mr. Penumbra's 24-hour Bookstore, Ajax Penumbra 1969 is required reading for anyone like myself who has become enamored with Sloan's writing style over the last few years.

A fitting prequel to the events of Mr. Penumbra's 24-hour Bookstore, I give Ajax Penumbra 1969 4.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin W.
Peter Pan
Barrie, J. M.
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

I LOVED this book! Although it was written a long time ago by an unsuccessful playwright, J. M. Barrie perfectly captured the imagination and creativity of young children. The reason he was disliked in his time was because he never really grew out of his kid-self. Which, I think, I think is where the inspiration for Peter Pan came, “the boy who never grew up”.
But anyways, Wendy and her younger brothers are born into a family that struggles financially but are obsessed with appearing rich to their wealthy neighbors… a common trend, even today. But Wendy and her brothers are whisked into a world where imagination runs wild-- the land that is hidden in all children’s minds, the one that is different for every child, Neverland.
What I love about this book is the constant thread of hidden and discreet themes about humanity, ones that continue today. It also taps into a child’s world of freedom, imagination, and oppression from adults. One of the most heartbreaking chapters is at the very end, when Wendy grows up, forgets about Peter, and gets lost in the adult world. But she has a daughter, Jane, and Jane is a kid, so she can imagine and believe in Peter Pan. Naturally, Peter Pan never really hit it off in it’s time, because of the controversial thoughts, and the point of view from kids.

Reviewer's Name: Jordan T.
Cover Image
Revis, Beth
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Nedra wants nothing more than to become a medical alchemist (think magical doctor). When the opportunity arises for her to spend one year at the best alchemical school in the country, she jumps at it, even though she knows it means leaving her twin sister and her parents – perhaps forever. Nedra quickly jumps to the top of her class, but when a plague breaks out and starts killing commoners, Nedra finds herself out of the classroom and into the hospital. As she studies the plague, she realizes that it might not be entirely natural. Anyone around her could be responsible for its rise, even those that she trusts the most and she turns to a forbidden form of alchemy, necromancy, to try to find the answers.

The book is narrated by two characters, Grey and Nedra. Nedra was an enthralling character. The book follows her as circumstances get progressively more dire and she does what she has to do to survive and keep her twin sister alive. Her inevitable descent into darkness felt earned and real. Grey is Nedra’s classmate and love interest, and I didn’t mention him in the synopsis because he was entirely unnecessary to the book. I think he just served to give an outsider’s perspective on Nedra, but his chapters read as wholly superfluous to me. Perhaps he’ll have more of a role in the sequel?

The alchemy and necromancy themselves were quite cool, aside from the cruelty to rats. The cruelty is addressed and makes sense (one could argue that we use lab mice in a similar fashion), but might be upsetting to animal lovers. The first part of the book, while not fast paced, was still fun to read as we got to hang out with Nedra quite a bit in the hospital and learn about her craft and motivations. As she experiments more with necromancy, the book gets twisty and dark, and I really enjoyed the ending. There are also some fun political machinations and a revolution brewing in the background, all of which add to the immediacy of later plot points.

If you enjoyed a good villain origin story, such as Marie Lu’s The Young Elites, Tamora Pierce’s Tempests and Slaughter or the TV show Breaking Bad, you should give this book a read. I enjoyed it, and I think I’ll like the sequel even more when it comes out in a year or so. 3 stars.

Thanks to Razorbill and Netgalley for the eARC, which I received in exchange for an unbiased review. Give the Dark My Love will be available for purchase on 25 September, but you can put your copy on hold today!

Reviewer's Name: Britt
The Tales of Beedle the Bard
Rowling, J.K.
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

"The Tales of Beedle the Bard" is a collection of bedtime stories from the Wizarding World, with commentary from Albus Dumbledore in between. This book was amazing! I loved getting a new perspective of the Wizarding World, even after the end of the Harry Potter series. I also enjoyed getting to read the stories that were mentioned in the series, such as Babbitty Rabbitty and the Cackling Stump. It is like a little taste of Hogwarts that will make you homesick. Each story is captivating and full of J.K. Rowling's trademark wit.
I would recommend this to people who love Harry Potter and want to return to the Wizarding World one more time.
Grade: 12

Reviewer's Name: Gillian P.
The Way of Kings
Sanderson, Brandon
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

***THIS BOOK WAS RECEIVED FROM THE PUBLISHER***

I’ve only recently started reading Brandon Sanderson's books, but I’ve liked what I’ve read so far. I started out with Warbreaker , which was a relatively light fantasy novel when compared to the hefty tome that is The Way of Kings. While I loved the moderate pace that Warbreaker moved at, I instinctually knew that most “high fantasy” books are usually bogged down with exposition and world-building. The Way of Kings is certainly a “high fantasy,” which makes me wonder if perhaps Sanderson tried to do too much in this first volume of his newest series.

The Way of Kings follows about three main storylines but could have potentially gotten away with two of them, even if the one that could be easily cut—the Soulcaster theft storyline—had some of my favorite characters in it. I could also see the plotline being pared down to the one following Kaladin (who appears in each of the parts) since a lot of the “royal” plotline mostly just provided the world-building and exposition needed to ground the reality of the setting. In the end, this is just three books intertwined together to make one big book.

Perhaps because of its length, it took me the better part of eight months to finish reading The Way of Kings. Granted, I mostly only read it on my Kindle when I was flying somewhere, but I wasn’t necessarily drawn to keep reading once I returned home. All this being said, the magic system is well-developed, the world is creative and rich with details, and (most of) the characters are incredibly entertaining. Under different circumstances, I’d give my rating an additional half a star, but since reading it felt a bit more like work than entertainment, I’ll leave it where it is.

A creative “high fantasy” that perhaps bites off more than it can chew, I give The Way of Kings 4.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin
Genres:
The First Grave on the Right
Jones, Darynda
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

This book is the first of a 13 book series and it is FANTASTIC!!!!! It is hilarious, the characters are very well developed. The story line is very intriguing as well as entertaining. All around this book is a great mix of romance (beware it seems a little surprising how descriptive it is), supernatural and comedy!!

Reviewer's Name: Meg
Awards:
Genres:
Lake Silence
Bishop, Anne
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

This is the first book in another story arc that takes place in the world of "the others", laid out and told from a different perspective in the Meg and Simon series beginning with Written in Red. Lake Silence takes place in another town in the world of "the others" with a whole new cast of characters and problems to solve. Anne wrote this story from the view of an ordinary woman who has survived being married to a verbally abusive husband, the divorce and now the betrayal by the same dirt bag. As a consequence, this story has real human depth without all the self pity one would expect of such a perspective, and instead shows how the problems are handled from flexibility and strength, assisted by truly helpful friends, human and "other". The story is well told and I've re-read it several times waiting for the follow on book, Wild Country. I recommend this book as a story the reader can "sink into" and identify with from multiple points of view.

Reviewer's Name: Pauline E.
Genres:
Spinning Silver
Novik, Naomi
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

***THIS BOOK WAS RECEIVED FROM THE PUBLISHER***

About seven years ago, there seemed to be a renaissance of fairy tale retellings and reimagining that swept through popular culture. From television shows like Once Upon a Time and Grimm to movies like Snow White and the Huntsman (2012) and Mirror Mirror (2012) to the books of Melanie Dickerson, it seemed that wherever you turned, you could find someone’s different take on classic fairy tales. While perhaps a little outside this bubble of pop culture, Spinning Silver has the benefit of standing out in a field of genre books that seems to have cooled in recent years.

Based partially on the story of Rumpelstiltskin, author Naomi Novik has masterfully combined elements of Jewish and Russian folklore to reimagine this story from a somewhat more modern perspective while also maintaining its fairytale settings and tropes. If anything, her strong and independent female characters highlight how chauvinistic the original fairy tales seem when compared to the culture we’re living in today. I appreciated how smart the story is, taking the concept of “turning silver into gold” from a merely economical standpoint and turning it on its head by adding in fantastical elements more akin to alchemy.

While the point of view of this book jumped around from a few of the characters, I found the interconnectedness of their stories to be incredibly well done. I probably would have left out the old woman’s POV, since it didn’t add anything other than some unnecessary backstory, but other than that, each character’s storyline had its own tone, challenges, and uniqueness to make the entire plot a well-rounded affair. Writing the story in this way helped to humanize antagonists, provide the terror of poverty, and show plenty of character growth throughout the characters. Even the fact that the “simple” solution of the climax wasn’t the best solution for the characters speaks to the depth of thinking that went into this brilliant plot.

An intelligent and well-written fairy tale reimagining, I give Spinning Silver 4.5 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin M. Weilert
Awards:
The Long Earth
Pratchett, Terry and Baxter, Stephen
2 stars = Meh
Review:

Having read a few of Sir Terry Pratchett's books before, I am no stranger to the randomness of his writing style. Usually, he has some character or object that just doesn’t fit in a normal narrative, but he manages to work it in with an explanation that’s both natural and makes sense. However, this only works if Pratchett has control over the entire story. Unfortunately, as is the case in The Long Earth, the randomness that Pratchett brings to the table sticks out like a sore thumb from the rest of the mostly sci-fi story. For instance, does an artificial intelligence have to be a reincarnated Tibetan motorcycle repairman? If you want to take the story seriously, probably not.

In the end, this book seems to be mostly written by Stephen Baxter, with only a smattering of Pratchett’s charm thrown in occasionally for levity. I haven’t read any of Baxter’s other books, but I’m not sure if I’d want to, considering how The Long Earth was put together. First off, the entire book seems to be an exposition dump about “stepping,” which is the process wherein people can move from one parallel universe into another. None of the narratives seems dedicated to anything in particular. With no goal in mind, the story will often get distracted away from the main character during little vignettes that explore some of the potentials of the multiverse theory presented therein.

I did appreciate the amount of thought that went into the limitations and peculiarities of stepping between parallel Earths, but when that’s the only focus of the book, it tended to get repetitive. So often, I’d be listening to this audiobook and realize that there wasn’t much dialogue between these characters; they were mostly spewing out more explanation about the Long Earth in a series of expository dumps of information.

A book full of sci-fi exposition, I give The Long Earth 2.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin M. Weilert
Grace and Fury Cover
Banghart, Tracy
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Serina has aimed to be a Grace her whole life. In a world where women aren’t allowed to learn to read, becoming one of the heir’s paramours is pretty much as good as it gets – otherwise she’ll be relegated to a life of work in a factory. When she’s selected to go to the palace to be considered for a position as a Grace, she’s beyond thrilled and takes her younger sister Nomi along as a handmaiden. But neither Serina nor Nomi are prepared for the backstabbing political machinations at large in the palace, and soon both girls will find their world turned upside down.

This was sold to me as The Selection meets The Handmaid’s Tale, which sounded super intriguing as I enjoyed those books for very different reasons - guilty pleasure and biting social commentary respectively. And one of the girls does have an arc that very much meets that description. Interestingly, I didn’t really like her story. Most of that has to do with the fact that we’re told that the character is smart and rebellious, but we’re mostly just shown her swanning around the palace making stupid decisions. The other sister has an arc that’s more Beauty Queens meets The Hunger Games, and I really enjoyed that one. It was a much more unique story, and the character experienced a lot of growth.

Because the sisters’ paths diverge, I feel that it’s fairly safe to say that at least one of the two stories will appeal to most YA dystopia and fantasy readers. If you like your dystopia with a dose of feminism, you’ll enjoy this slightly derivative series opener. I liked it. 3 stars.

Thanks to Little, Brown and Netgalley for the eARC, which I received in exchange for an honest review. Grace and Fury will become available for purchase on 31 July, but you can put your copy on hold today!

Reviewer's Name: Britt
Kill the Farm Boy
Dawson, Delilah S. and Kevin Hearne
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

It took me a while to review this book because I couldn’t figure out exactly how to rate it. This novel is a pun filled fantasy adventure that pokes fun at the traditional fantasy quest. It involves magic, elves, a dark lord name Toby, sleeping maidens, a sand witch named Grinda, a talking goat named Gustave, fairies, a bunny bard named Argabella, a female warrior named Fia, a rogue name Poltro, and a harrowing danger filled quest to cure the dead-ness of a farm boy name Worstley, killed at the beginning of this book, that was destined to fulfill a great destiny …. or so we thought.

While at times this book was funny, I particularly enjoyed the details of how the world was described, for example when the enchanted castle and the maids were being described at the beginning of the book, particularly the last line. “There was also an abundance of portent swaddled about the place. Oodles of it. A surfeit, even. Something would go down there soon. But for now, the lady slept. And drooled a little, probably.” Or the dark lord’s constant obsession with cheese and crackers throughout the book.
Other times, I think the humor went over the top, which was not a particularly big selling point for me and leaves a somewhat sour taste in my mouth. For example, when our heroes arrive at the hut of the healer and Agrabella first wakes up after being healed. “In this case with her eyes shut, Argabella had to assume she was being licked across the face by a troll with gingivitis who’d recently partaken of fresh garlic and sardines and possibly eaten another, even sicker troll for breakfast. Her eyes burst open… She soon realized that this was because she was staring into someone’s extremely furry armpit” Or maybe it was the fact that books with tropes and puns are just not the type of books I am particularly drawn too or like. However, I do appreciate and like each of the character’s own inner dialogue as they wrestle with their feelings and other issues throughout their journey together. For example, when the warrior realizes she love’s the bunny bard, “She realized that even more than roses, even more than a proper set of armor, she wanted to be kind and generous and the whole range of happy adjectives to this truly unique woman for a long, long time.”

Overall I think this books was well written, and at times funny, it takes a traditional subject, fantasy quests, and turns it into something new entirely. While this book wasn’t for me particularly, I would recommend it for anyone who loves, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, The Princess Bride.
the movie Space Balls, or anything with wacky humor. This book comes out today so put a copy on your holds list! Thank you to Negalley and the publisher Del Rey for a free e-arc of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Reviewer's Name: Tawnie M.
Genres:
Animal Farm
Orwell, George
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Animal Farm is a dystopian novel about a farm overrun by the farm animals. The animals revolt and create their own hierarchy, which poses an overarching metaphor for humanity. Like many of Orwell’s books, this book exposes the flaws of mankind in an allegorical manner. I chose this book for its dystopian nature, and it did not disappoint. It is artful in its satire, and Orwell takes a clear stance on tyranny. This is among the best dystopian books I have read.
Reviewer Grade: 12

Reviewer's Name: Sabrina J
This Present Darkness
Peretti, Frank
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Back in high school, I had to read this book as part of my Religions class and thought it was pretty good. As I have been preparing for writing The Slumberealm Gambit, I decided to give This Present Darkness another read so I could recall how Frank E. Peretti combined the fantastical spirit world with the real world. For a book written in 1986, it’s aged surprisingly well, even if the demise of the newspaper and the rise of constant contact via cell phones would make this kind of book set in modern times a hard sell. Even so, I honestly wouldn’t mind if someone adapted this book into a movie, as the plot is thrilling and the action is top-notch.

Strangely enough, one of my qualms with this book is with its formatting and proofreading. There were a few missed typos, and the right-align text didn’t seem as professional as I would have hoped a widely-printed book would be. Regarding content, though, I wonder if the preacher side plot could have either been cut or enhanced so that it would have had the same intensity/focus as the newspaper main plot. Still, by the end of the book, the exciting conclusion is a result of all the pieces being put in place during the somewhat long buildup.

Some people may debate whether angels and demons are real, but this book certainly gives a fantastical look behind the curtain and imagines these beings in elaborate detail. The angels are all quietly patient, while the demons are gruesome and horrifying. The mixture of fantasy imagery and real-world situations is something I hope to soon accomplish in my own writing style, and this book merely reinforced how awesome it was when I read it for the first time more than a decade ago.

An action-filled and thrilling look behind the spiritual curtain, I give This Present Darkness 4.5 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin
Kill the Farm Boy
Hearne, Kevin and Dawson, Delilah
2 stars = Meh
Review:

Normally, I’d start off my review with a synopsis, but plot wasn’t exactly the point of this book, so I’m going to skip it. What you need to know is this: Kill the Farm boy is a satirical fantasy novel that skewers the “chosen one” white male narrative. Tonally, it’s as if Deadpool were your dungeon master and he had recently swallowed a thesaurus. If that appeals to you, you will love this book. If not, pass on it.

I had fairly mixed feelings – humor is subjective, and while I sometimes found it funny, I also found it grating at times. For example, there was a chapter about trolls that had me in stitches. But there was also an entire chapter about the group entering the Morningwood that had me rolling my eyes. A certain type of audience will absolutely love this one. I was not that audience, but I still, for the most part, appreciated it for what it was as I generally found the writing quality to be very high. There’s little character development, and the plot is just a vehicle for jokes, but again, those things aren’t the point.

This is definitely one of those books that will be very hit-or-miss for people, and while it was mostly a miss for me, it’s one that I think I’ll be recommending to a lot of patrons, particularly teens. If you like Mel Brooks or Monty Python, you’ll probably like this too (it would make a pretty funny movie).

Thanks to Del Rey and Netgalley for the eARC, which I received in exchange for an unbiased review. Kill the Farm Boy will be released on 24 July, but you can put your copy on hold today!

Reviewer's Name: Britt

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