Monday Minis

I have been remiss and missed last Monday to do a full review… I haven’t been reading as much as I would like so I had to skip one to have enough content – shame on me! Three very different books today, a YA fantasy, a horror novel and a queer historical story!

Thanks to the publishers and Netgalley for sending me eARCs of these titles. As usual, all opinions are my own.

The Gilded Cage is the second book in Lynette Noni’s The Prison Healer trilogy. The series follows Kiva as she navigates life outside of the prison that she has spent most of her childhood and youth in. After the cliffhanger revelations at the end of the first book, she has to grapple with the tensions between her rescuer prince and her revolutionary family. This series is textbook YA fantasy – fun, easy to read, entertaining, with a sprinkle of romance and betrayal. But it isn’t necessarily a series with a TON of substance (which isn’t only negative! It’s great escapism). Kiva is a survivor and used to relying only on herself, which leads to interesting issues in her relationships. I thought that this second book had leveled up from the first one, and it’s definitely an enjoyable series that I will finish when the last book is released. It also ends with a huge bang, so I am quite upset about the wait now… Good thing they’re coming in close succession.

Devolution by Max Brooks is an odd one. It is a collection of diary entries, interviews and snippets about a fictional Sasquatch massacre. It follows Kate and her small community as they are first cut off from the outside world and then fighting the Sasquatch tribe. While this is a fast paced story with an exciting premise, I have to admit that I was rather bored by it. I struggled to connect with the characters and ultimately didn’t care what happened to them. This was the kind of book I had to make myself read a few chapters every day, and it sadly didn’t work for me. This may be more due to who I am as a reader, so do check out a sample if you’re intrigued by the concept.

The Dangerous Kingdom of Love by Neil Blackmore follows Francis Bacon during the reign of James I. It presents both Bacon and James as gay men, and takes quite a bit of liberty with history as it is known. I really enjoyed Bacon’s dry wit – the story is told from his perspective, and loved the atmosphere of seventeenth century England. What I didn’t enjoy as much is the very modern tone the story took at times, which broke immersion for me. I feel like this might have worked better as a secondary world story rather than one rooted in history, where liberties with characters and language are easier to accept for me. It did feel at times as if the strong focus on Bacon was to the detriment of all the other character’s depth. It’s a fun read (and the audio is well done) but not one that is a must-read.

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