• Blog Tours

    Blog Tour: The Watchers – A.M. Shine

    Happy book birthday to A.M. Shine and The Watchers! Today’s my turn on the Head of Zeus blog tour for this creepy horror novel set in the forests of Galway – one of the most beautiful places I have ever visited, though of course my experience of the area was very different to the story told in this book…

    Many thanks to Lauren and Head of Zeus for the review copy and having me on the Blog tour, and superstar agent John for ensuring we all get to read this wonderful story.


    RELEASE DATE:
     14/10/2021

    STAR RATING: 4.5/5 ✶

    SUMMARY: This forest isn’t charted on any map. Every car breaks down at its treeline. Mina’s is no different. Left stranded, she is forced into the dark woodland only to find a woman shouting, urging Mina to run to a concrete bunker. As the door slams behind her, the building is besieged by screams.

    Mina finds herself in a room with a wall of glass, and an electric light that activates at nightfall, when the Watchers come above ground. These creatures emerge to observe their captive humans and terrible things happen to anyone who doesn’t reach the bunker in time.

    Afraid and trapped among strangers, Mina is desperate for answers. Who are the Watchers and why are these creatures keeping them imprisoned, keen to watch their every move? (from Head of Zeus)

    OPINIONS: I’ve gotten really into horror this year, and especially the kind of horror that creeps you out rather than splatters you with gore. And The Watchers is exactly that. Uncanny, thrilling and creepy. Set in the wonderful area of Galway in Ireland – which made me love the book from the get-go as I spent one of my favourite ever trips there – this story is very atmospheric, which adds so much to it. I adored the setting and premise, which are really characters in their own right. I would say that this is definitely one for readers who like to be scared a bit while reading and enjoy books on the creepier end of the spectrum. It’s not merely a suspenseful thriller – more of a slower paced story that might keep you up at night. It would not surprise me if this one will get nominated for all the awards next year.

    I don’t want to say too much about the story itself as knowing too much will take away from the effect, but the concept of the watchers is *chef’s kiss* and the characters slot into the narrative structure and the atmosphere perfectly. And the plot definitely did not go where I thought it would. So a very excellent book. I don’t often get actually creeped out by reading a story, and this did have that effect on me, which made me love it even more.

    It is a slightly slower paced story than many in the genre. This builds up tension more thoroughly in my opinion, focusing on the uncanny and the atmosphere rather than packing in as many events as possible. While this worked really well for me personally, I can see that this might put some readers off, so do check out a sample if that is something that tends to bother you.

    So a huge rec for all fans of horror and uncanny stories. Add The Watchers to your Goodreads here, and order a copy via Bookshop here (affiliate link).

  • Blog Tours,  Reviews,  Something Special

    Cheltenham Literary Festival: Grimwood – Nadia Shireen

    This is a somewhat special post. The Cheltenham Literature Festival is running from the 8-17 of October 2021 and has a fabulous programme full of interesting events around books and literature. To get the word out, Midas PR invited me and a whole bunch of other bloggers on a huge book tour to spotlight a surprise book from one of the authors featured at the festival! You can see the full schedule for week one of the tour up top – it’s a two week tour.

    I was sent the wonderful Grimwood by Nadia Shireen, who will be doing an in-person event at the festival on Saturday 9th of October, showing readers how she draws the characters from her book and doing a bit of a reading. You can get tickets for what is sure to be a very fun afternoon here. I loved the book so much and am already plotting how to get it into the hands of children I know.

    Many thanks to Sofia Saghir at Midas PR and Simon and Schuster for sending me a review copy. All opinions are my own.

    SUMMARY: Fox cub siblings Ted and Nancy are on the run from Princess Buttons, the scariest street cat in the Big City. They flee for Grimwood, expecting to find refuge in the peaceful countryside. Instead, they are met with thieving eagles, dramatic ducks, riotous rabbits and a whole host of unusual characters. Grimwood is… weird. But when Princess Buttons tracks them down, Nancy and Ted and the animals of Grimwood must unite in a mind-bending race against time… (from Simon and Schuster)

    OPINIONS: Grimwood is absolutely delightful. It is laugh-out-loud funny, adorable and just a fantastic children’s book. I devoured it in a single sitting and it massively improved both my day and my mood and I want to throw this at every single child I know. The story follows fox siblings Ted and Nancy who are sweet and charming, crafty and prone to mischief as they get themselves in and out of trouble. An unfortunate incident with resident mean cat Princess Buttons sees them running to Grimwood where they meet new friends and get into many new adventures – and ultimately have to face their enemy again.

    This is probably good to be read to kids five and up, and easy enough for young readers getting comfortable reading on their own to understand and read. It is highly illustrated throughout in black and white, which further enhances it and makes Grimwood a lovely packaged book. This is definitely one to watch and I can see Nadia Shireen being a major new children’s author for years to come.

    If you have children in your life in any way, they’ll probably enjoy this. I think it’s best suited for ages seven to nine, but grown-up me loved it too. You can experience the magic of Grimwood by adding it on Goodreads here or ordering it from Bookshop here (affiliate link).

  • Blog Tours

    Blog Tour: The Wisdom of Crowds – Joe Abercrombie

    Image

    ‘Tis blog tour time again! The Wisdom of Crowds is the final book in Joe Abercrombie’s The Age of Madness series, an epic Grimdark trilogy featuring revolution, betrayal and politicking. I’ve reviewed book two, The Trouble With Peace here, and was part of the readalong for the series in the leadup to the publication for this last volume (you can find my chunk of book one, A Little Hatred, here). So I was of course thrilled when Gollancz asked me to be part of the propaganda machine for this final installment and see what Leo, Savine, Rikke and co were up to. And don’t the three hardbacks look great together?!

    Many thanks to Will O’Mullane and Gollancz for the review copy. All opinions are my own.

    RELEASE DATE: 14/09/2021

    STAR RATING: 4/5 ✶

    SUMMARY: Some say that to change the world you must first burn it down. Now that belief will be tested in the crucible of revolution: the Breakers and Burners have seized the levers of power, the smoke of riots has replaced the smog of industry, and all must submit to the wisdom of crowds.

    With nothing left to lose, Citizen Brock is determined to become a new hero for the new age, while Citizeness Savine must turn her talents from profit to survival before she can claw her way to redemption. Orso will find that when the world is turned upside down, no one is lower than a monarch. And in the bloody North, Rikke and her fragile Protectorate are running out of allies… while Black Calder gathers his forces and plots his vengeance.

    The banks have fallen, the sun of the Union has been torn down, and in the darkness behind the scenes, the threads of the Weaver’s ruthless plan are slowly being drawn together… (from Gollancz)

    OPINIONS: Whelp, that was ending to a series, yes. I don’t think I’ve read a full series quite as grim as this one in a while! I’m actually surprised at the amount of characters that ended up making it to the finish line mostly intact, bodily or in regards to their dignity. I loved the amount of focus the book laid on Savine – she is my favourite bitch – such a complex character and one who gives zero fucks for what anyone else might want. She is ambitious and determined and will make this work her way. Just like the first two books, expect The Wisdom of Crowds to be fast-paced, action-packed and full of betrayal. The story definitely does not take any prisoners and will not go where you expect it to head.

    Consider this setting as similar to the eighteenth century. So still quite rustic in many ways – there are first instances of large-scale technology but still wars are fought largely by men running at each other with swords. Communication is slow, which means machinations need to be carefully planned and betrayal lays rife. And of course the setting is ideal for the spark of revolution to catch on quickly. This is really the big arc of these books. The seed of revolution to the aftermath. And all the steps in between, all the different layers of society affected by the changes brought about, the ones driving change, the ones swept up in it and the ones who suffer when people more important than them decide to change things.

    Joe Abercrombie does really well to zoom in and out of focus in his work – he doesn’t just show the perspective of one or two characters or one layer of society. Where his work really stands out is in sweeping scenes showing the impact of larger events on a whole city, a whole camp. This gives the story a really plastic character beyond just the machinations of a few elite members of society, which I really appreciate. The Wisdom of Crowds is a very good conclusion to the series set up in A Little Hatred and The Trouble With Peace. If you’re not opposed to Grimdark and you like your fantasy on the grittier end of things, I do recommend you give this trilogy a shot.

    Add The Wisdom of Crowds to your Goodreads here, or order a copy from Bookshop here (affiliate link).

  • Blog Tours

    Blog Tour: The Winter Garden – Alexandra Bell

    Sometimes books surprise you. And The Winter Garden was one of those in the very best ways. I fell for this wonderful story within just a few pages, and devoured it so quickly. Think of this as Lady Trent mixed with fairy tale vibes and featuring an aromantic heroine. This is just such a delightful, cosy book that I want to shove into everyone’s hands.

    Massive thanks to Del Rey for sending me an ARC and having me join the blog tour. All opinions are my own.

    RELEASE DATE: 02/09/2021

    STAR RATING: 5/5 ✶

    SUMMARY: On the night her mother dies, 8-year-old Beatrice receives an invitation to the mysterious Winter Garden. A place of wonder and magic, filled with all manner of strange and spectacular flora and fauna, the garden is her solace every night for seven days. But when the garden disappears, and no one believes her story, Beatrice is left to wonder if it were truly real.

    Eighteen years later, on the eve of her wedding to a man her late father approved of but she does not love, Beatrice makes the decision to throw off the expectations of Victorian English society and search for the garden. But when both she and her closest friend, Rosa, receive invitations to compete to create spectacular pleasure gardens – with the prize being one wish from the last of the Winter Garden’s magic – she realises she may be closer to finding it than she ever imagined.

    Now all she has to do is win. (from Del Rey)

    OPINIONS: I love Beatrice. She is such an amazing leading character – not without flaws and struggles, but determined and real. She reminds me a lot of Isabella, Lady Trent from Marie Brennan’s The Natural History of Dragons – except instead of being motivated by dragons, Beatrice is motivated by her search for a magical garden full of wonders – the titular Winter Garden. She is explicitly written as aromantic and asexual – though far from cold or frigid. She loves her friends dearly and is determined to make her own way in the world. Rosa, the other PoV character in the story, is just as interesting and complex. She initially gets everything she dreams of – but soon learns that this might not be exactly what she thought it be like. A brilliant inventor of clockwork creatures, she finds herself in a loveless marriage with only her mechanical birds for protection. And she too is determined to carve out her own path.

    Enter the Winter Garden. While Beatrice had been hunting for it since childhood, Rosa only heard about it through Beatrice. But as both women settle into adulthood and their own struggles, they are invited to participate in a competition for a wish and have to decide how far they are willing to go for the ultimate prize. All in all, this is such a delightful and wholesome book – the perfect comfort read as the days are getting shorter and it is time to curl up under a blanket with a hot drink and a good book. I haven’t fallen so hard for a book in ages – and been so positively surprised. I’d gone into reading this with no expectations, as I asked for it forever ago and didn’t even read the blurb before I dove in last weekend and then just fell for it within a few pages and started recommending it to everyone who would listen. I even considered staying up very late to read it in a single sitting (I ended up managing half).

    So, very highly recommend this delightful book if you’re looking for some escapism, and like some whimsy in your stories. Add The Winter Garden to your Goodreads here, and order a copy from Bookshop here (affiliate link).

  • Blog Tours

    Blog Tour: Earthlings by Ray Star

    Happy Tuesday (and apologies for the lack of Monday Minis, the migraine demons got me…). Today, I’ve got a blog tour for you, for Earthlings: The Beginning by Ray Star. Thanks to Midas PR and Chronos Publishing for the review copy and for having me. All opinions are my own.

    RELEASE DATE: 12/08/2021

    STAR RATING: 3/5 ✶

    SUMMARY: Peridot has lived a sheltered life. Raised on a remote island off the coast of England by an over protective mother, Peri has never left the comfort of her home, or met another child before. Until the night of her thirteenth birthday, when a strange boy appears at her window, filthy and malnourished, claiming to have escaped captivity from the mainland.

    Her mother insists that the ways of the world are to remain concealed until her sixteenth birthday, but she unveils why they live in hiding, the mainland isn’t safe for their kind – they are born of magick. Not magic from stories and fables, but real magick from the days of old. The power to control earth, air, fire, water and spirit; an Elemental.

    Peridot finds herself thrown into a world she wasn’t prepared for, caught amongst an ongoing battle between those trying to save humanity and the tyrants seeking to keep them enslaved. Struggling to command magickal abilities she doesn’t fully understand or know how to control. Her abilities may be the helping hand needed to save humanity from an awful way of life, but at what cost? (from Chronos Publishing)

    OPINIONS: There are a lot of interesting things about this story. For example, the opening chapter made me chuckle so hard, and I love myself a grand scale struggle of epic proportions, with ancient magic, healing powers and a cause greater than the individual. Peridot is your average YA heroine – sheltered upbringing, surprisingly powerful and thrown in the middle of a conflict and left to her own devices. The concept of having animals stand up to humans in light of the bad treatment they endured over centuries is unique, but ultimately lacks conviction. There are multiple parts where characters are e.g. scared witless of a chicken (including the opening scene) and the writing failed to convince me of the threat being real.

    And that is a general problem with this book. It reads as a draft, and would have needed some heavier editing – and a lot of what I struggled with really does come down to editorial choices. A main issue I had throughout is that the animals speak the same way humans do. And have the same sort of names that humans do. Which means, if you as a reader miss a small context marker at the beginning of a scene, you quite likely will not be able to tell whether there are humans or animals speaking, until you hit something particularly jarring. To me, that just does not make sense. If animals somehow did take over, there is no way they would be using the exact same syntax and naming conventions as the humans, and a clear distinction between animal and human characters would have improved my reading experience a lot.

    So, as a whole, this was quite a mixed bag for me. I can see potential in it, but I don’t think the book is at its best in this form. I’m not sure I’d want to pick up the sequels and keep reading the series.

    If you want to check out Earthlings for yourself, you can add it to your Goodreads here, and order a copy from Bookshop here (affiliate link). The author is planting a tree for every book sold which is super cool.

  • Blog Tours

    Blog Tour: The Hand of the Sun King – J.T. Greathouse

    Apparently I can’t review without the pressure of a blog tour this week… But hey, two blog tours make for content too. And there might be a special surprise in the works for tomorrow! But anyway. The Hand of the Sun King. Pretty straight-forward epic fantasy, fun, a hint of darkness. I’d say it’s pretty good. My colleague and friend James over at Grimdark Magazine reviewed this far earlier too and agreed – he’s even quoted on the back cover! Read his review here.

    Massive thanks to Will O’Mullane at Gollancz for having me on the tour and sending me a copy of the book for review. All opinions are my own.

    RELEASE DATE: 05/08/2021

    STAR RATING: 4/5 ✶

    SUMMARY: My name is Wen Alder. My name is Foolish Cur.

    All my life, I have been torn between two legacies: that of my father, whose roots trace back to the right hand of the Emperor. That of my mother’s family, who reject the oppressive Empire and embrace the resistance.

    I can choose between them – between protecting my family, or protecting my people – or I can search out a better path… a magical path, filled with secrets, unbound by empire or resistance, which could shake my world to its very foundation.

    But my search for freedom will entangle me in a war between the gods themselves… (from Gollancz)

    OPINIONS: I feel like The Hand of the Sun King is the kind of book that will be universally appealing to fantasy readers. This isn’t to say that it’s bland or anything, but if it were a food, I’d compare it to french fries – addictive, more-ish and enjoyed by pretty much everyone. It’s not something that I think will stand out for me in the long run, but it’s definitely something that I enjoyed and that I will recommend to friends, especially friends that are maybe newer to the genre or have a background of reading big name books rather than more diversely.

    The story is set in an Asian-ish world – and I use the term in a loose setting. If I had to try and localise it more, I’d say it’s probably inspired by some amalgamation of East Asia and then fictionalised. But The setting is more window-dressing than anything else. Most of all, The Hand of the Sun King is a fun story about the ups and downs of politics, about the machinations behind a throne and what happens to those trying to keep an emperor in power.

    Wen Alder, or Foolish Cur, is an interesting character, torn between the two sides of his legacy. The story is told from his perspective, as something of an autobiography. While his father’s side gives him a path to the emperor, to traditional power, his mother’s side of the family is connected to the resistance, leading to a deep-seated schiism within the man. And within all of this, is a desire for magic. A great adventure, wrapped up in manipulation. I look forward to following his story in the upcoming installments of the series.

    Add The Hand of the Sun King to your Goodreads here, or order a copy from Bookshop here (affiliate link).

  • Blog Tours

    Blog Tour: A Winter War – Tim Leach

    I seem to be on a real military historical trip lately. I enjoyed A Winter War a lot, following Kai and his adventures in the Sarmatian army at war with the Roman Empire. Check out my fellow blogger’s posts on the tour as well!

    Many thanks to Avneet Bains and Head of Zeus for having me on the blog tour and sending me a review copy of A Winter War – as usual, all opinions are my own.

    RELEASE DATE: 05/08/2021

    STAR RATING: 4/5 ✶

    SUMMARY: AD173. The Danube has frozen. On its far banks gather the clans of Sarmatia. Winter-starved, life ebbing away on a barren plain of ice and snow, to survive they must cross the river’s frozen waters.

    There’s just one thing in their way.

    Petty feuds have been cast aside, six thousand heavy cavalry marshalled. Will it be enough? For across the ice lies the Roman Empire, and deployed in front of them, one of its legions. The Sarmatians are proud, cast as if from the ice itself. After decades of warfare they are the only tribe still fighting the Romans. They have broken legions in battle before. They will do so again.

    They charge.

    Sarmatian warrior Kai awakes on a bloodied battlefield, his only company the dead. The disgrace of his defeat compounded by his survival, Kai must now navigate a course between honour and shame, his people and the Empire, for Rome hasn’t finished with Kai or the Sarmatians yet. (from Head of Zeus)

    OPINIONS: A Winter War dives into a part of Ancient history that isn’t as well known. Set parallel to the later Roman Empire, the Sarmatians live on the other side of the river Danube, to the east. As a history nerd, I loved learning more about these people that are less discussed in both traditional history and historical fiction. But of course, this isn’t just a history text book. A Winter War is a compelling work of historical fiction set around military conflict between the Sarmatians and the Roman Empire and centred around the character of Kai, a Sarmatian warrior.

    The story is well written, fun and enjoyable. The slightly gloomy and cold setting is a great change to read in these days of sunshine and melting summer temperatures, especially if you’re like me and don’t deal well with the heat. Don’t expect a deep work of literature, but rather a fun, escapist read that will transport you back in time and captivate you in Kai’s world and struggles. I kind of wish there were more female characters, but then, that’s not the kind of book this is, or is trying to be. I think A Winter War is excellent at what it sets out to be, and is exactly what it sets out to be. Recommended for fans of military oriented historical fiction, traditional epic fantasy and generally all those who like to curl up with a good escapist read.

    Add A Winter War to your Goodreads here, or order a copy from Bookshop here (affiliate link).

  • Blog Tours

    Blog Tour: The Fort – Adrian Goldsworthy

    Aaaaaand another blog tour! I’m starting to feel like a tour guide for books – and I like the feeling. Today I’m taking you to Dacia, approximately where Romania is situated in the present day, to one of the later big expansions of the Roman Empire. The story of The Fort takes place, surprise, surprise, at a Roman fort and the people situated around it.

    Many thanks to Vicky Joss and Head of Zeus for inviting me on this blog tour and for sending me a review copy of The Fort. All opinions are my own.

    RELEASE DATE: 10/06/2021

    STAR RATING: 3.5/5 ✶

    SUMMARY: AD 105: DACIA

    The Dacian kingdom and Rome are at peace, but no one thinks that it will last. Sent to command an isolated fort beyond the Danube, centurion Flavius Ferox can sense that war is coming, but also knows that enemies may be closer to home.

    Many of the Brigantes under his command are former rebels and convicts, as likely to kill him as obey an order. And then there is Hadrian, the emperor’s cousin, and a man with plans of his own… (from Head of Zeus)

    OPINIONS: The Fort is exceedingly fun. It’s small-scale military drama woven into bigger politics with some strong characters. I picked this up without knowing too much about what to expect simply because I have been really enjoying the recent classically set novels like The Wolf Den (haha, Fab, you are slightly ridiculous given the title of this book) – this is actually more of a dad-book rather than a feminist one, so I was certainly in for a surprise. But not necessarily a bad one. Once I adjusted my expectations (aka Fab stops being upset at the lack of women in a Roman army) I really enjoyed myself and the story for what it is. Sometimes it is a good thing if I don’t pay too much attention to blurbs past the setting because I’m not sure I would have picked this up otherwise and I’d have deprived myself of a story I really enjoyed.

    The Fort is really fast paced and compelling. I consistently struggled to put it down at the intervals I gave myself – part of that is that I think I’m slowly getting my reading mojo back, but a large part is the writing in The Fort. I loved reading this action packed military novel, detailing the struggles at the Dacian border, with problems with traitors within the legion. The leading characters are strong, and I especially liked Claudia Enica, the Dacian queen. She stood out not only as a female warrior but through the respect that the Romans showed her, both in her own right and as the wife of Flavius Ferox. I appreciated that as one of the only women in the story she was presented as a character with agency rather than objectified which seems to be the case in this sort of novel all too often.

    It is clear that the author is an expert on the time period and the Roman army and has done his research. The Fort is excellently embedded in history without detail overwhelming the reader, which is the true art of writing historical novels. I am curious to see where the series goes next.

    If this has peaked your interest, you can add The Fort to your Goodreads here, and order a copy from Bookshop here (affiliate link).

    ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Adrian Goldsworthy has a doctorate from Oxford University. His first book, The Roman Army at War was recognised by John Keegan as an exceptionally impressive work, original in treatment and impressive in style. He has gone on to write several other books, including The Fall of the West, Caesar, In the Name of Rome, Cannae and Roman Warfare, which have sold more than a quarter of a million copies and been translated into more than a dozen languages. A full-time author, he regularly contributes to TV documentaries on Roman themes.

  • Blog Tours

    Blog Tour: The Wood Bee Queen – Edward Cox

    It’s release day for Ed Cox’s wonderful The Wood Bee Queen, and I’m thrilled to open the Gollancz blog tour for it. With a title this punny, how could I not love this book. Massive thanks for Will O’Mullane and Gollancz for having me and sending me a review copy. All opinions are my own.

    RELEASE DATE: 10/06/2021

    STAR RATING: 4/5 ✶

    SUMMARY: Somewhere in England, in a small town called Strange Ground by the Skea, Ebbie Wren is the last librarian and he’s about to lose his job. Estranged from his parents, unable to make connections with anyone except the old homeless lady who lives near the library, Ebbie isn’t quite sure what he’s supposed to do next. His only escape from reality is his deep interest in local folklore, but reality is far stranger than Ebbie can dream.

    On the other side of the sky and the sea, the Queen of House Wood Bee has been murdered. Her sister has made the first move in a long game, one which will lead her to greatness, yet risk destruction for the entire Realm. She needs the two magical stones Foresight and Hindsight for her power to be complete, but no one knows where they are. Although the sword recently stolen by Bek Rana, small time thief and not very good at it, might hold a clue to their location… and to stopping the chaos. But all Bek wants is to sell the sword and buy herself a better life. She’s not interested in being a hero, and neither is Ebbie.

    But someone is forcing their hand and playing for the heart of the Realm. Ebbie and Bek are destined to unite. They must find a way to stop the destruction of House Wood Bee, save the Realm, and just maybe save themselves in the process. All victories come at a price. The Oldungods are rising. And they are watching… (from Gollancz)

    OPINIONS: I think the best way to describe The Wood Bee Queen is to say that it’s a children’s fantasy adventure for adults. This does not mean that it’s a childish book or a story without depth, but that its form as a portal fantasy, coupled with a fairy-tale style world and its use of a deus ex machina plot device is most often found in that area. As I love both adult fantasy and children’s books, I thought this was a really cool concept and I really enjoyed my reading experience.

    The Wood Bee Queen is humorous, compelling and entertaining. The story is quite fast-paced and keeps up tension throughout. I think what might make this a make-or-break kind of book is the use of a deus ex machina device that explains things to the characters and leads them on their journey – enjoyment of the story is hinged on being able to go with it and accept a magical guiding hand. The plot as a whole isn’t anything new – it’s a fairly straight forward quest – but its packaging in a detailed and imaginative world makes it stand out.

    I really enjoyed the characters – Ebbie Wren, small-town librarian in his late twenties who doesn’t know what to do with himself is far too relatable for comfort. Bek Rana is a badass snarky thief and I fell for her very quickly. And Mai, whose death is the catalyst for the story, never appears herself, but oversees the events through her memory. Simply wonderful. Another thing I appreciated about this book is that there is NO ROMANCE. It’s just a story, a quest, with found family elements and friendship. So good to read a book that focuses on those elements rather than romantic ones for a change.

    Add The Wood Bee Queen to your Goodreads here, and order a copy via Bookshop here (affiliate link).

  • Blog Tours

    Blog Tour: The Blacktongue Thief – Christopher Buehlman

    Hello and welcome on another blog tour! Today, I’m featuring the fun and exciting The Blacktongue Thief by Christopher Buehlman, out tomorrow from Gollancz. This is the rare unicorn – a Grimdark book that isn’t grim at all. It has a fantastic voice that pulls it all together and made me really enjoy it! As a friend put it: the voice is great, reminiscent of K.J. Parker and has echoes of Terry Pratchett… And if that’s not an endorsement, I don’t know what is. Also, go check out some of the other wonderful bloggers that they recruited for this tour, that’s a stellar lineup!

    Big thank you to Will O’Mullane and Gollancz for having me on the tour and sending me a copy for review.

    RELEASE DATE: 27/05/2021

    STAR RATING: 4/5 ✶

    SUMMARY: Kinch Na Shannack owes the Takers Guild a small fortune for his education as a thief, which includes (but is not limited to) lock-picking, knife-fighting, wall-scaling, fall-breaking, lie-weaving, trap-making, plus a few small magics. His debt has driven him to lie in wait by the old forest road, planning to rob the next traveler that crosses his path.

    But today, Kinch Na Shannack has picked the wrong mark.

    Galva is a knight, a survivor of the brutal goblin wars, and handmaiden of the goddess of death. She is searching for her queen, missing since a distant northern city fell to giants.

    Unsuccessful in his robbery and lucky to escape with his life, Kinch now finds his fate entangled with Galva’s. Common enemies and uncommon dangers force thief and knight on an epic journey where goblins hunger for human flesh, krakens hunt in dark waters, and honor is a luxury few can afford. (from Gollancz)

    OPINIONS: This book was SO MUCH FUN! I loved my reading experience – I really did not expect this to have a voice this distinctive and entertaining going in. This has all of the elements of Grimdark but is not actually grim to read – you have the hallmark morally shady characters, unhospitable world and political issues that don’t really end well for anyone, but you’ll have a blast while reading about them. I cannot emphasize this enough.

    The Blacktongue Thief is a fast-paced story full of interesting lore, weird magic and lots and lots of tattoos. I already want to start rereading it for all the things I might have missed on my first read. And I mean, the book starts with the lines “I was about to die. Worse, I was about to die with bastards.” Kinch is a great narrator, self-aware, sarcastic and dry-witted. (Though he is the only first person narrator, so this will not work for r/fantasy bingo hard more, I’m afraid. But it has chapter titles!) Honestly, it seems like most pages have some sort of quote that stands out. I am looking forward to people making art with all the fun quotes! Also blind cat <3

    Basically, think the wit of Pratchett (though of course no one can live up to the master) combined with Mike Shackle’s dark and murky morality and compelling characters. Really, just a delight, and one I know I will be rereading again – and I have already started throwing it at friends. Add The Blacktongue Thief to your Goodreads here, and order a copy from Bookshop here (affiliate link).