In true Monday Minis fashion, this is me catching up on reviews long overdue… As always, many thanks to the publicists for providing me with eARCs via NetGalley, and all opinions are entirely my own.
The Forever Sea by Joshua Phillip Johnson is a book that I struggled to connect with. Set in a world where there is an ocean made out of grass, on which ships propelled by magical hearthfires sail, this tells the story of Kindred, a young hearthfire keeper. Her grandmother, the Marchess, is a legendary hearthfire keeper herself and taught Kindred all she knows – and now she’s just found out that the Marchess supposedly killed herself by stepping into the sea. But Kindred is sure that there is more to the story, and that her grandmother is alive. And to find out more she is willing to risk everything and betray everyone – including her own crew. I loved the concept, but I found the characters unlikeable in a way that made me disconnect emotionally. I originally started reading this as an ebook as I was sent an eARC, and switched to audio after it had come out and I still hadn’t made much headway, but it still took me far too long to get through. I had to take long breaks in between reading this because while I did enjoy the story, it is the kind of writing that I soon feel like I’ve had enough of. It is a book that felt drawn out and slow to me, one that I just didn’t click with. The Forever Sea addresses a lot of very interesting ideas and topics – not least of all, the impact of finite resources on a society and climate change, but ultimately, while I can appreciate its good points, it wasn’t a book for me.
The Liar’s Knot by M.A. Carrick is the second book in the Rook & Rose series. Following up on The Mask of Mirrors, this continues Ren’s story as she infiltrates Naszrenian society and tangles with the masked vigilante known as the Rook. Despite loving Marie Brennan’s – one of the co-authors – Memoirs of Lady Trent, this story failed to captivate me in the same way. In theory, this should be exactly my cup of tea, as it has characters of dubious morality, great descriptions and a fair dose of betrayal and backstabbing, but in practice, I didn’t like the first book as much as I wanted to, and felt similarly about this second volume. Individually, I love Ren, Tess, Vargo and Grey, and think they are brilliant characters whom I would love to learn more about. But in combination, I’m just not invested. Perhaps it feels like there’s too much of a good thing, too many storylines that are individually interesting, because in some ways, it seems to me that the series is meandering along, unsure where it is heading. I don’t dislike it, and I will probably pick up the next book too because I can’t help myself, but for me these are solid three star reads.
A River Enchanted by Rebecca Ross is a wonderfully enchanting tale set on a Scotland-inspired island, the isle of Cadence. Split in East and West, with bad relations between the areas, inhabitants live in a medieval-ish society, though one where magic is real. Jack returns to the island after years of studying music on the mainland, hoping that his skills as a bard will help the heiress Adaira track down a series of missing children. It is a fairly slow-paced story, but one that nevertheless weaves its song around you and enchants the reader. I loved the characters, the honesty between them, and the lack of inhibition to confront hard topics. That really made this stand out for me. The story does go in a lot of unexpected directions towards the last third, and now I’m really keen to get my hands on the next book in the series. If you like mythical, atmospheric tales this one may be a good choice to pick up.