Arc Review: Last of the Talons by Sophie Kim

Title: Last of the Talons
Author: Sophie Kim
Genre: YA Fantasy
Publication Date: September 27th, 2022
Publisher: Entangled: Teen
Rating: ⭐⭐

Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for a complimentary earc to review! All opinions are my own.

“After the destruction of her entire Talon gang, eighteen-year-old Shin Lina—the Reaper of Sunpo—is forced to become a living, breathing weapon for the kingdom’s most-feared crime lord. All that keeps her from turning on her ruthless master is the life of her beloved little sister hanging in the balance. But the order to steal a priceless tapestry from a Dokkaebi temple incites not only the wrath of a legendary immortal, but the beginning of an unwinnable game…
Suddenly Lina finds herself in the dreamlike realm of the Dokkaebi, her fate in the hands of its cruel and captivating emperor. But she can win her life—if she kills him first.
Now a terrible game of life and death has begun, and even Lina’s swift, precise blade is no match for the magnetic Haneul Rui. Lina will have to use every weapon in her arsenal if she wants to outplay this cunning king and save her sister…all before the final grain of sand leaks out of the hourglass.
Because one way or another, she’ll take Rui’s heart.
Even if it means giving up her own.” (Goodreads)

Even though I liked the sound of the book, it just didn’t give me what I wanted unfortunately. I think that it had a lot to do with execution and maybe would have been better if it wasn’t bogged down by so many things happening.

The book is told from one point-of-view and it comes from Shin Lina. She is an assassin for a gang and must do their bidding if she wants her sister to stay in good health. It’s a lot of pressure on her but she will do anything to keep her safe. Yay for sister bonds! I’m always down for that, but her sister was very much only used for that sole purpose and I really wanted to see more between them.

Lina as an assassin wasn’t it for me. I have a hard time with teens having this job in general, but it makes it even harder when they are talked up as the “greatest” assassin ever and then they fall short and start screwing up. I get that everyone has their bad days but give me something to work with here. Don’t hype up someone if they can’t live up to the expectations.

The whole romance didn’t do anything for me and it’s a real shame because it does involve tropes that I do like. I do think that other books have done it better and this one was just average. It’s not bad per say but just not to my liking. I think that others will like it though so don’t take my words to heart especially if it sounds interesting to you.

The love interesting was kind of weird. He really lived off of her trying to kill him and I’m not really sure how to take it, haha.

I did really enjoy the world-building and seeing her find her way to the emperor. Mythology retellings are always fascinating to me and I will give this author props for that! It was well done.

Overall, this wasn’t for me but it could be for you. I had some issues with it and it ultimately led me to just not being able to vibe with the story.

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Arc Review: The Drowned Woods by Emily Lloyd-Jones

Title: The Drowned Woods
Author: Emily Lloyd-Jones
Genre: YA Fantasy / Retelling / Mythology
Publication Date: August 16th, 2022
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for a complimentary earc to review! All opinions are my own.

“Once upon a time, the kingdoms of Wales were rife with magic and conflict, and eighteen-year-old Mererid “Mer” is well-acquainted with both. She is the last living water diviner and has spent years running from the prince who bound her into his service. Under the prince’s orders, she located the wells of his enemies, and he poisoned them without her knowledge, causing hundreds of deaths. After discovering what he had done, Mer went to great lengths to disappear from his reach. Then Mer’s old handler returns with a proposition: use her powers to bring down the very prince that abused them both. The best way to do that is to destroy the magical well that keeps the prince’s lands safe. With a motley crew of allies, including a fae-cursed young man, the lady of thieves, and a corgi that may or may not be a spy, Mer may finally be able to steal precious freedom and peace for herself. After all, a person with a knife is one thing…but a person with a cause can topple kingdoms.” (Goodreads)

I enjoyed The Bone Houses and couldn’t wait to start the author’s latest book. The blurb mentioned a lot of cool aspects that could be found within the book and I was definitely more sold than before. Although I did like a lot of the book, there were things that were just bland and or didn’t grasp my attention as much as I had wanted.

The book is told from multiple point-of-views and I don’t know if it was worth it to have. I did like the past scenes that gave more information on the characters, but it meant less time with the main character Mer. I also wouldn’t saying that knowing more about them actually made me care about them. They kind of had their knack and that was that. When plot twists happened to the characters I can’t say that I felt any emotion towards them. I’m not saying they are bad characters because at times they were funny, but they didn’t keep me motivated.

The author does like animal sidekicks and there is one in this book who is a corgi. I like corgis but frankly, I thought the dead goat was better.

The prologue really pulls you in and is beautifully written. You feel for Mer and her situation and you want to know if she will ever get free from it all. I did like her for the most part but there wasn’t anything that made her stand out compared to other characters in the same genre. The prologue sets up nicely but there was pacing issues for me throughout the rest of the book. Nothing with the heist really happens until a bit after the halfway mark. There is more time talking about a past relationship than the relationship that is mentioned in the epilogue so I’m not really sure why it was mentioned since it felt insignificant. I could probably say that about other plot points as well.

Even though I had issues with the book, I still thought it was a good and quick read. It may not be memorable to me but it wasn’t terrible even if it may sound like that is how I felt, haha.

Overall, it was fine but just not entirely what I was expecting.

Arc Review: The Daughter of Doctor Moreau by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Title: The Daughter of Doctor Moreau
Author: Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Genre: Adult Fantasy / Retelling / Historical Fiction
Publication Date: July 19th, 2022
Publisher: Del Rey
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐✨

“Carlota Moreau: a young woman, growing up in a distant and luxuriant estate, safe from the conflict and strife of the Yucatán peninsula. The only daughter of either a genius, or a madman.

Montgomery Laughton: a melancholic overseer with a tragic past and a propensity for alcohol. An outcast who assists Dr. Moreau with his scientific experiments, which are financed by the Lizaldes, owners of magnificent haciendas and plentiful coffers.

The hybrids: the fruits of the Doctor’s labor, destined to blindly obey their creator and remain in the shadows. A motley group of part human, part animal monstrosities.

All of them living in a perfectly balanced and static world, which is jolted by the abrupt arrival of Eduardo Lizalde, the charming and careless son of Doctor Moreau’s patron, who will unwittingly begin a dangerous chain reaction.

For Moreau keeps secrets, Carlota has questions, and in the sweltering heat of the jungle, passions may ignite.” (Goodreads)

I am always down to read a book by this author! Her plots are always very unique and out there. In a good way, of course! Although this wasn’t a top hit for me, I still liked the world she created and learning who Carlota really was.

The book is told from two point-of-views, Carlota and Montgomery. Each one has a different take on religion and the world around them. I think that is why they pair so nicely together. Carlota is optimistic while Montgomery is realistic. I can’t say that I liked one more than the other. I felt for each character in different ways because each one has a different background and it comes to light on the pages. They both continue to make choices they deem are right and sometimes love can make us foolish.

There are other characters, some I liked more than others. It was interesting to feel more for the hybrids than humans but I guess that doesn’t take much when you look at our own world. Humans can suck sometimes. I do wish that there was more from the hybrids, especially more detail in the workings of Dr. Moreau. The reader only gets snippets here and there but nothing too wild really ever happens.

For me, the biggest letdowns were what I mentioned above and the romance. I knew who I wanted Carlota to end up with and even though that came true it was very much a side side plot and the ending just left me unsatisfied after them having a few great scenes together.

I can’t compare this to the original work since I haven’t read it but it does have more curious than anything to want to check it out.

Overall, this was a good read but it just needed a bit more in areas for me.

Book Review: The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea by Axie Oh

Title: The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea
Author: Axie Oh
Genre: YA Fantasy / Retelling / Romance
Publication Date: February 22nd, 2022
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐✨

“Deadly storms have ravaged Mina’s homeland for generations. Floods sweep away entire villages, while bloody wars are waged over the few remaining resources. Her people believe the Sea God, once their protector, now curses them with death and despair. In an attempt to appease him, each year a beautiful maiden is thrown into the sea to serve as the Sea God’s bride, in the hopes that one day the “true bride” will be chosen and end the suffering.

Many believe that Shim Cheong, the most beautiful girl in the village—and the beloved of Mina’s older brother Joon—may be the legendary true bride. But on the night Cheong is to be sacrificed, Joon follows Cheong out to sea, even knowing that to interfere is a death sentence. To save her brother, Mina throws herself into the water in Cheong’s stead.

Swept away to the Spirit Realm, a magical city of lesser gods and mythical beasts, Mina seeks out the Sea God, only to find him caught in an enchanted sleep. With the help of a mysterious young man named Shin—as well as a motley crew of demons, gods and spirits—Mina sets out to wake the Sea God and bring an end to the killer storms once and for all.

But she doesn’t have much time: A human cannot live long in the land of the spirits. And there are those who would do anything to keep the Sea God from waking…” (Goodreads)

After reading the book I find the cover to be even more magical than before! The details of everything that fills the pages is amazing and I just want to stare at it all day. 😍

This is one of those reviews that is hard to right. The plot is easy to follow along with and get swept away in, but there is also so much depth to it all! I honestly didn’t think this book would make me cry but I did…multiple times. It’s actually what I needed after being in a slump.

The book is told from one point-of-view and it comes from Mina. Under some very unforeseen but selfless circumstances she finds herself beneath the sea and to the spirit realm where the Sea God resides. There is so much to say about Mina. She is brave, fearless, stands up for what she believes in, tries to follow her own path, and so much more! Even through harsh times she doesn’t give up and it is very admiring. It was also easy to relate to her when she talked about the gods not caring and wondering how they can be so cruel. As a Christian it’s hard not to think those same thoughts at times, especially when they world feels like it is in utter chaos. I just really felt that.

The other characters in the book may seem minor at times but I still couldn’t help but enjoy what they had to offer to the story. They were dealing with their own thoughts but still hung to the hope that Mina seemed to bring. Although, some made it harder on themselves and tried to resist, haha.

The romance was pure gold and I stand behind them 100%. I will die on a hill for them. I don’t care! From the first meeting between Mina and him I couldn’t help but sense something and I am so glad it went the way I was hoping but with such a big twist! Ugh, I loved the conversations between them and I probably have way too many quotes from this book saved on my kindle.

But seriously, the plot twists were wonderful and really had me reading on and wanting to finish the book as fast as I could.

Overall, I just adored this one. The more I think about it the more I want to just pick it up again. This author has a way with words and I will continue to pick up every book she writes. I’m glad that I preordered a signed copy with the goodies because now I am going to need every bookish goody I can find for this magical and inspiring book!

P.S. I know my review is kind of vague but I feel like it’s just better to go in knowing as little like I did!

Arc Review: Midnight in Everwood by M.A. Kuzniar

Title: Midnight in Everwood
Author: M.A. Kuzniar
Genre: YA Fantasy / Retelling
Publication Date: January 25th, 2022
Publisher: Harper 360, HQ
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for a complimentary earc to review! All opinions are my own.”

“There’s nothing Marietta Stelle loves more than ballet, but after Christmas, her dreams will be over as she is obligated to take her place in Edwardian society. While she is chafing against such suffocating traditions, a mysterious man purchases the neighbouring townhouse. Dr Drosselmeier is a charming but calculating figure who wins over the rest of the Stelle family with his enchanting toys and wondrous mechanisms.

When Drosselmeier constructs an elaborate set for Marietta’s final ballet performance, she discovers it carries a magic all of its own. On the stroke of midnight on Christmas Eve, she is transported to a snowy forest, where she encounters danger at every turn: ice giants, shadow goblins and the shrieking mist all lurk amidst the firs and frozen waterfalls and ice cliffs. After being rescued by the butterscotch-eyed captain of the king’s guard, she is escorted to the frozen sugar palace. At once, Marietta is enchanted by this glittering world of glamorous gowns, gingerbread houses, miniature reindeer and the most delicious confectionary.

But all is not as it seems and Marietta is soon trapped in the sumptuous palace by the sadistic King Gelum, who claims her as his own. She is confined to a gilded prison with his other pets; Dellara, whose words are as sharp as her teeth, and Pirlipata, a princess from another land. Marietta must forge an alliance with the two women to carve a way free from this sugar-coated but treacherous world and back home to follow her dreams. Yet in a hedonistic world brimming with rebellion and a forbidden romance that risks everything, such a path will never be easy.” (Goodreads)

I’ve been wanting to read this one ever since I saw the cover. It’s really pretty and perfect for this time of year. I’ve actually never read a book by this author before but do have her Middle Grade series on my tbr. I’m a little sad to say that I didn’t love this one. It was good and unique as I have never read a retelling for the nutcracker before. I’m always curious to see what authors come up with when it comes to retellings. Even though since this one didn’t fully work out for me, I know that many will love the world that this author created.

The book is told from one point-of-view and it is from Marietta Stelle. She loves ballet and the enjoyment that comes from it. Her parents don’t want her to follow her dreams and would rather see her married off. Marietta is determined to live her life the way that she chooses.

I did like that Marietta stood up for herself even if it meant being disowned. No one should ever be forced to marry without their approval. The choice her parents picked out was also quite questionable but they didn’t care even when Marietta brought up her concerns. Her brother was the better of her family and I did like his character.

The book was slow for a good bit of the book but does pick up once she finds herself in another world. Although, the last half did feel a bit rushed especially when it came to her and another character. The new world was very interesting and I liked reading about it.

The only other thing about this book is that at times it can be pretty prosey and it can be a turn off for me.

Overall, this was a good book but I do wish I had loved it more.

Arc Review: Skin of the Sea by Natasha Bowen

Title: Skin of the Sea
Author: Natasha Bowen
Genre: YA Fantasy / Mythology / Retelling
Publication Date: November 9th, 2021
Publisher:  Random House Books for Young
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐✨

Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for an earc to review! All opinions are my own.

“A way to survive.
A way to serve.
A way to save.

Simi prayed to the gods, once. Now she serves them as Mami Wata–a mermaid–collecting the souls of those who die at sea and blessing their journeys back home.

But when a living boy is thrown overboard, Simi does the unthinkable–she saves his life, going against an ancient decree. And punishment awaits those who dare to defy it.

To protect the other Mami Wata, Simi must journey to the Supreme Creator to make amends. But something is amiss. There’s the boy she rescued, who knows more than he should. And something is shadowing Simi, something that would rather see her fail. . . .

Danger lurks at every turn, and as Simi draws closer, she must brave vengeful gods, treacherous lands, and legendary creatures. Because if she doesn’t, then she risks not only the fate of all Mami Wata, but also the world as she knows it.” (Goodreads)

One thing I enjoy about reading books like this one based on mythology or even historical events are that the author’s note is detailed. This author in particular told us the setting of the story and where it correlates with history, although this is fantasy. Because of that, she gives us more information on the mythology she is using as well. The author’s note really helped me put everything together and honestly made for a better read.

The author does have content warnings for this book so I will put them there: violence, enslavement, death, and suicide.

The book is told from one point-of-view and it comes from Simidele aka Simi. She is a Mami Wata or mermaid and helps the souls who die at sea pass on. I thought this was very interesting and liked how the first two chapters depicted her job and the feelings towards it. Simi also has flashbacks throughout the book as she tries to find out who she was before her transformation into what she is now. The flashbacks help to piece together her life and give us first hand knowledge as well. I always enjoy flashbacks or a past timeline and I thought it was done well.

If you are looking for a protagonist who is determined, caring, and strong, you will find all of these qualities in Simi. I could understand her choices, especially when it came to Kola.

The author does a fantastic job of creating a magical world and weaving in the mythology that had me intrigued from the beginning. I’m always down to learn more about other mythology I haven’t heard of before and this was no exception.

I only had a couple issues with the book and these may be solely based on my tastes. I wasn’t a big fan of the writing style and it did cause me to get through this one at a slower pace than usual. The writing can be quite lyrical and this is usually a hit or miss for me. I don’t think it takes away from the story in anyway because I did like the plot and characters. My other issue was the ending. If this is a standalone, as I have not seen anything otherwise, the ending is very open and it’s something I don’t like. It could be turned into a duology or series but I guess only time will tell on that one.

Overall, I like this one and thought it was a good debut.

Arc Review: Bright Ruined Things by Samantha Cohoe

Title: Bright Ruined Things
Author: Samantha Cohoe
Genre: YA Historical Fiction / Fantasy / Retelling
Publication Date: October 26th, 2021
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Rating: ⭐⭐

Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for an earc to review! All opinions are my own.

Forbidden magic, a family secret, and a night to reveal it all…

The only life Mae has ever known is on the island, living on the charity of the wealthy Prosper family who control the magic on the island and the spirits who inhabit it. Mae longs for magic of her own and to have a place among the Prosper family, where her best friend, Coco, will see her as an equal, and her crush, Miles, will finally see her. Now that she’s eighteen, Mae knows her time with the Prospers may soon come to an end.

But tonight is First Night, when the Prospers and their high-society friends return to the island to celebrate the night Lord Prosper first harnessed the island’s magic and started producing aether – a magical fuel source that has revolutionized the world. With everyone returning to the island, Mae finally has the chance to go after what she’s always wanted.

When the spirits start inexplicably dying, Mae starts to realize that things aren’t what they seem. And Ivo, the reclusive, mysterious heir to the Prosper magic, may hold all the answers – including a secret about Mae’s past that she doesn’t remember. As Mae and her friends begin to unravel the mysteries of the island, and the Prospers’ magic, Mae starts to question the truth of what her world was built on.

In this YA fantasy, Samantha Cohoe wonderfully mixes magic and an atmospheric setting into a fantastically immersive world, with characters you won’t be able to forget.” (Goodreads)

I like to give authors a second chance before completely writing them because sometimes their next book may impress. Sadly this wasn’t the case and things I didn’t like in her previous book are what kept me from enjoying this one too. I have come to terms with this just not being an author for me and that’s okay.

The setting of the book is an interesting one. It’s set on an island full of spirits and magic that are somehow centered around the family that lives there, the Prospers. The beginning of the book had me intrigued as Mae as an orphan and upon her father’s death the Prosper family agrees to raise her until she comes of age. There is a lot of mystery surrounding this family and so I read on.

I’m not going to lie, I had a very hard time connecting with the characters. Some are just not friendly and have their own motives. Others are just so mysterious that it’s hard to understand who they are. The only one you really get to know is the main character Mae. She was fine at times but also felt clueless as well. The development of the relationships was very meh and it just made the romance/love triangle not work for me.

The last half of the book was very action packed but so much was going on that it was hard to keep track of it all. Don’t get me wrong, action is good but it also needs to have a good pacing to go with it.

My last issue was the ending. Open-ended endings are the bane of my existence. Just spell it out for me. I don’t want to sit and speculate. I want to know if it is what I think it is. Show me the money!

Overall, this was okay. I did like the plot a bit more than her first standalone but it still wasn’t enough to wow me. It is what it is!

Arc Review: Stalking Shadows by Cyla Panin

Title: Stalking Shadows
Author: Cyla Panin
Genre: YA Fantasy / Retelling
Publication Date: September 14th, 2021
Publisher: Amulet Books
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for an earc to review! All opinions are my own.

A gothic YA fantasy debut about a young woman striving to break her sister’s curse and stop the killing in her small French town

Seventeen-year-old Marie mixes perfumes to sell on market day in her small eighteenth-century French town. She wants to make enough to save a dowry for her sister, Ama, in hopes of Ama marrying well and Marie living in the level of freedom afforded only to spinster aunts. But her perfumes are more than sweet scents in cheap, cut-glass bottles: A certain few are laced with death. Marie laces the perfume delicately—not with poison but with a hint of honeysuckle she’s trained her sister to respond to. Marie marks her victim, and Ama attacks. But she doesn’t attack as a girl. She kills as a beast.

Marking Ama’s victims controls the damage to keep suspicion at bay. But when a young boy turns up dead one morning, Marie is forced to acknowledge she might be losing control of Ama. And if she can’t control her, she’ll have to cure her. Marie knows the only place she’ll find the cure is in the mansion where Ama was cursed in the first place, home of Lord Sebastien LeClaire. But once she gets into the mansion, she discovers dark secrets hidden away—secrets of the curse, of Lord Sebastien . . . and of herself.” (Goodreads)

I wanted to love this one as in ways it had some Beauty and the Beast vibes although there was some genderbending. I did think it was a fun tale but there were just some aspects that lacked as well.

The book is told from the perspective of Marie. She tries to protect her sister as much as she can although it’s hard because she turns into a beast. I do think this was very interesting and had me kept reading to find out what would happen next. The plot veers onto a different path not short after and Marie is now working for the Lord who’s house may have cursed her sister in the first place.

I didn’t hate the direction the plot took but at the same time we are told from the beginning of the bond between the sisters, Marie and Ama. I know she was trying to fix the curse but she also just left her sister alone which kind of feels the opposite to what she was doing. Because of this change, there wasn’t much between Marie and Ama besides the beginning and then after around 50% or so. There is also another sibling bond between the Lord Sebastien and his younger brother. Marie takes advantage of this and claims she can help the poor boy who is terribly sick. It put Marie in a bad light for me. I understand what she was trying to do but putting a sick kid at risk is just as bad as what she is trying to stop in my opinion.

It was hard to connect with the characters on a deeper level since it felt like the story was more plot driven. Some characters lacked depth and some just felt thrown in to keep the book going. Sebastien and Marie had the most which makes sense since they had more page time.

The magic system wasn’t explained very well and I’m still confused why some had magic and were able to use it.

Overall, this was good but also just an average fantasy / retelling. I wish it had more depth for the characters and the magic.

Arc Review: Red Wolf by Rachel Vincent

Title: Red Wolf
Author: Rachel Vincent
Genre: YA Fantasy
Publication Date: July 20th, 2021
Publisher: HarperTeen
Rating: ⭐⭐✨

This high stakes, pacey reimagining of Little Red Riding Hood is perfect for fans of Stephanie Garber and Megan Spooner.

For as long as sixteen-year-old Adele can remember the village of Oakvale has been surrounding by the dark woods—a forest filled with terrible monsters that light cannot penetrate. Like every person who grows up in Oakvale she has been told to steer clear of the woods unless absolutely necessary.

But unlike her neighbors in Oakvale, Adele has a very good reason for going into the woods. Adele is one of a long line of guardians, women who are able to change into wolves and who are tasked with the job of protecting their village while never letting any of the villagers know of their existence.

But when following her calling means abandoning the person she loves, the future she imagined for herself, and her values she must decide how far she is willing to go to keep her neighbors safe.” (Goodreads)

I haven’t read a retelling for Little Red Riding Hood before and so I was looking forward to starting this one. Although there are certain things I did like about this one, there were still things I didn’t like that left me questioning a lot of what the main character did.

When it comes to the retelling aspect of the book, I thought it was unique. You can definitely see where it is similar to the original but the author does take creative liberty to make it her own and she does that well.

Adele is a character that I just couldn’t get behind when it came to her actions. She was set in her ways and didn’t want to listen to others opinions about situations that would cause harm to her loved ones or even the village. It felt like she didn’t take her job seriously and cared more for those she should be killing than the ones she was meant to protect, aka the village she lived in.

I also didn’t care for the love triangle that she found herself in. Grainger was very controlling and Max was a bit to enamored by Adele’s abilities to where it was borderline creepy. Sure, he knew about them coming from a family who also has guardians but it still was odd. Adele also turns on one rather quickly and basically does what her mother did but berates her mother for the choice she chose.

The plot at times was intriguing but I did get tired of all the marriage and bearing children talk. It took up too much space where I think it would have been better to see Adele become more adept with her abilities. I also felt like the beginning of the book was rushed through to get to the point of her turning into a guardian which took away most of the mystery. There were some good plot twists but one I saw from the beginning and couldn’t help but think, “What an idiot you are, Adele.”

Overall, it was okay but for a unique retelling it was good which is why I bumped it to a 2.5 instead of just a 2. I’m sure others will enjoy it more than me but I just couldn’t get behind Adele and when you don’t like the main character that much it makes it hard to fully enjoy the book.

Book Review: For the Wolf (Wilderwood #1) by Hannah Whitten

Title: For the Wolf (Wilderwood #1)
Author: Hannah Whitten
Genre: Adult Fantasy / Retelling
Publication Date: June 1st, 2021
Publisher: Orbit Books
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Thank you to the publisher for sending me out a finished copy to review! All opinions are my own.

The first daughter is for the Throne.
The second daughter is for the Wolf.

For fans of Uprooted and The Bear and the Nightingale comes a dark fantasy novel about a young woman who must be sacrificed to the legendary Wolf of the Wood to save her kingdom. But not all legends are true, and the Wolf isn’t the only danger lurking in the Wilderwood.

As the only Second Daughter born in centuries, Red has one purpose-to be sacrificed to the Wolf in the Wood in the hope he’ll return the world’s captured gods.

Red is almost relieved to go. Plagued by a dangerous power she can’t control, at least she knows that in the Wilderwood, she can’t hurt those she loves. Again.

But the legends lie. The Wolf is a man, not a monster. Her magic is a calling, not a curse. And if she doesn’t learn how to use it, the monsters the gods have become will swallow the Wilderwood-and her world-whole.” (Goodreads)

Red is one of two sisters and she is to be sacrificed to the Wolf while her sister gets the throne. This is such an intriguing premise for a plot and it definitely help up to my expectations for a lot of the book.

In the beginning we are introduced to Red and she is getting ready to be sacrificed. There is bits here and there that explain to an extent what it means to be a sacrifice and as to why they do it. I also like that the author doesn’t just give us all the information at once and you must continue reading on to truly understand what happens/happened to those that have went before Red.

The book is told from the perspective of Red and her sister Neve. I’m glad that it is written this way since they each have their paths as well as being in different places for a majority of the book. It keeps the tension as you switch between each one with plot twists ending some of their chapters. I also enjoyed this because I do adore sister bonds. You can tell how much Neve wants to help her sister and will do anything to bring her home. Red is also the same way but has left home to protect her sister. It’s easy to understand the sisters actions even if some of them bring chaos.

The Wolf isn’t what I was expecting at all. He is broody and wants to be the one that carries all of the burdens. He is closed off but definitely a sweet cinnamon roll inside. Their relationship is a very slow one with not much really happening between them until farther into the book. It is very much enemies-to-lovers as they didn’t choose this life. They learn to make sacrifices for one another as well as learning to let people in. I will say that the romance was my least favorite part but it did still have me smiling a couple of times.

There are other characters that are involved with the plot but it’s better if you go in blind for them. I honestly wasn’t expecting some to have as big of roles as they did. It made the plot twists that much sweeter! I didn’t guess anything right and it had me wanting to pick up the book whenever I had to step away for a bit.

While reading through it gave me Uprooted, Beauty and the Beast, and Frozen 2 vibes but obviously its a lot darker. The woods was a mix between the first and third of those mentioned and I loved learning about the intricacies of it. I still think there will be more to explain with the Wilderwood in the next book since there is some unfinished business. I’m sure we will also see Red and the Wolf hone in more to their powers as well.

Overall, this was an enjoyable read and I’m so glad I have been able to read it now. I am looking forward to the sequel as the ending had me gasping. I seriously need to know what will happen next.