The time has come. This is my last review post on Libri Draconis. It has been a brilliant few years, but as I’m starting my new role with UK Tor tomorrow, it is time to move on from reviewing. There will still be a few guest posts to come over the next few weeks, and the site will be online for the time being. I am so grateful to everyone who has taken the time to read mine – and my co-bloggers – posts over the last years, and I am very thankful to every publicist who has sent me books for review throughout my time reviewing. (And huge apologies for the books I have not managed to cover as this has come on rather suddenly, with a trip to Worldcon in between…) As always, these opinions are entirely my own.
A Magic Steeped in Poison by Judy I. Lin is a debut YA fantasy about tea magic. The first in a duology, I need book two STAT. It’s already out in the US – but the UK needs to wait until January 2023 for the second one, and you bet I’m debating with myself whether I can wait three months to have a matching set of paperbacks or whether I need to brave the wilds of Book Depository and get myself the hardcover now. As someone who has tea running through their veins (seriously, I’m a diabetic, it’s one of the few things I’m allowed to drink for pleasure), reading a book so steeped in love for the drink was wonderful. The way Judy I. Lin talks about tea, and food more generally, as well as the immersive world building, makes her love for Chinese culture and mythology shine through. The language is lyrical and permeated by thoughtful descriptions, political intrigue and strong characters. In short, a great story and an author to watch. I adored A Magic Steeped in Poison and highly recommend you pick this one up.
Firetide Coast by Claire McKenna is the conclusion to the Deepwater trilogy. I loved diving back into Arden’s world – these books are criminally underrated if you look at the amount of Goodreads ratings they have. If you are like me and like water, Gothic atmosphere and the occasional dash of romantic elements, then do check out this series. It’s a very solid read throughout, and I found Firetide Coast worked well to wrap up the story threads from the first two books and tie up the trilogy. These books are fast, compelling reads, and while they won’t be among my forever favourites, I really enjoy them and will reread them as comfort reads, especially now I have the whole series together. They’re just that tad creepy, with brooding love interests, a strong heroine and dashing conspiracy. And so much water – much of them takes place on boats, and you can just smell the seaside air come alive. Wonderful.
The Daughter of Doctor Moreau by Silvia Moreno-Garcia is inspired by H.G. Wells’ The Island of Doctor Moreau, but as usual with Silvia Moreno-Garcia, given a Mexican twist. I love how every single one of her books I have picked up are in an entirely different genre, with a completely different voice but each is a standout, quality novel. I don’t think there are any other authors writing right now that are as versatile as she is – and that makes her criminally underrated. The woman deserves a Hugo already. And The Daughter of Doctor Moreau is her best book to date, in my opinion. It takes the bare bones of Wells’ story, and turns them into a compelling novel about nuanced characters, written in brilliant prose. I thought Mexican Gothic was great, but this just really steps it up to another level. Carlota is one of my favourite determined heroines I’ve read all year in this gothic story of hybrids, scientific experiments and scheming – a book I highly recommend to all of you. I was supposed to review this for Grimdark Magazine before the Summer of Chaos (TM) happened, and I’m really sad that I ended up with just a short mini review here – but do keep your eyes peeled for my colleague’s full take on it over at Grimdark Magazine soon (because I couldn’t resist making sure we have someone covering this brilliance in my stead!).