Mini Review Monday #61

I’m sharing another instalment of my Mini Review Mondays, the most recent of which was last week. In case you haven’t seen any of my previous posts, I do ‘mini’ reviews of books that I’ve previously read and am now ready to share my full thoughts about.

First up, I’d like to talk about A River Enchanted by Rebecca Ross. Thank you so much to Harper Voyager for sending me an eARC in exchange for an honest review.

Enchantments run deep on the magical Isle of Cadence: gossip is carried by the wind, plaid shawls can be as strong as armour, and the smallest cut of a knife can instil fathomless fear. The capricious spirits that live there find mirth in the lives of the humans who call the land home, but that mischief turns to malevolence as girls begin to go missing.

Adaira, heiress of the east, knows the spirits only answer to a bard’s music, enticing them to return the missing girls. But there’s only one bard capable of drawing the spirits forth by song: her childhood enemy Jack Tamerlaine.

He hasn’t stepped foot on Cadence in ten long years, content to study music at the mainland university, but as Jack and Adaira reluctantly work together it becomes apparent the trouble with the spirits is far more sinister than first thought and an older, darker secret lurks beneath the surface, threatening to undo them all.

Publication Date: 3rd February

TW: violence, physical assault, kidnapping, raids, armed conflict, loss of a parent, death, grief, mention of stillbirths, loss of children, cutting

Goodreads | Waterstones

My Thoughts:

A River Enchanted was a mystical, sublime blend of fantasy, romance and mystery. 

A major part of what I loved about this book was the sheer atmosphere Ross created. This was like being whisked off into another land just for a little while. It’s completely immersive and captivating, allowing you to visualise Cadence and just surrender yourself to Ross’ prose. Her writing was almost melodic and languid in its beauty. I really enjoyed the slower pace of the story and how Ross allowed for moments for the story to just breathe. Her writing was just so delicate, soft and wondrous to behold, though the elements of darkness and horror were still vividly felt. This is a story that balances between light and shade, with plenty of intriguing twists and turns. They’re made all the more devastating precisely because the pacing also allowed for a lot of character work, fleshing out their backstories and romances in a way that felt like they built naturally. You come to hold these characters in your heart, only to be destroyed by the way fate intervenes and forces them apart. 

The central mystery of the missing girls is crafted into this tricksy political tale of family and the burden of ruling. I liked all the discussion and strategic manoeuvres, adding that hint of something darker brewing in the future. There’s also a really interesting exploration of grief and guilt that made me stop and think, particularly when reconsidering previous choices made by certain characters. Above all, I would say this book is about different forms of love from blood family, found family, platonic relationships and romantic relationships. It’s about trust and identity in a way that I really enjoyed. I also really, really loved the way Ross wove in elements of Scottish and Gaelic mythology. It was truly sublime and felt natural, with those aspects feeling like the whispers of magic just beyond mortal eyes. 

A River Enchanted is a wondrous adult fantasy that beautifully plays with atmosphere and an exploration of family in all its forms.

Next up, I’d like to talk about The Bone Spindle by Leslie Vedder. Thank you so much to Hachette Children’s Group for sending me an eARC in exchange for an honest review.

Filore, a treasure hunter with a knack for riddles, is busy running from her own deadly curse, when she pricks her finger on a spindle. Bound to the sleeping prince Briar Rose with the spindle’s magic – and chosen as the only person who can wake him – Fi is stuck with the prince’s ghost until she can break his ancient curse and save his kingdom.

She’s going to need a partner. A warrior huntswoman with an axe to grind (literally), Shane couldn’t care less about curses and ancient texts. But instead of riches, the two girls find trouble.

Dark magic, witch hunters, nightmarish beasts – and of course, curses – all stand in their way as Fi and Shane undertake the dangerous journey into a forgotten kingdom where the sleeping prince’s body waits.

Publication Date: 3rd February

TW: injuries, death of a friend, animal injury, abusive relationship, violence, blood, drowning

Goodreads | Waterstones

My Thoughts:

The Bone Spindle is a rip-roaring, thrilling and fast-paced retelling that I tore through. 

I love a good fairy-tale retelling and Vedder has crafted a great one here. Essentially, this is a gender flipped Sleeping Beauty that also features a key sapphic relationship. It’s just an incredibly fun read, with plenty of hijinks and adventures to follow along. I loved Fi and Shane’s differing approaches to treasure hunting, with both of their skill sets meshing together really well. There’s a real sense of joy at the wonder of history, shown through their quests for historical artefacts.

I loved how Vedder never really relented in terms of pacing and action. Every scene helped move the plot forward and there was always an undercurrent of danger lurking, even in a dance scene. This made it a very fast and entertaining read that could easily be devoured in one sitting. That being said, I just wanted to spend even more time with these characters. I loved their distinctive voices and how snarky their narrations were at times. The inclusion of Briar Rose’s narration was also really interesting and gave a bit more nuance to what we might be expecting from the seemingly hapless victim. His and Fi’s connection was heart-achingly sweet, though there’s plenty of room for some of it to be explored in the sequel. 

A special shoutout has to go to Shane, who was easily my favourite character. She was brave, bold and determined in her willingness to stick by Fi. Their relationship really cemented my love for this book as although it was platonic, you know they’d go to ends of the earth for each other. 

The Bone Spindle is an entertaining, action-packed retelling that shines brightest in its characterisation.

Finally, I’d like to delve into The Atlas Six by Olivie Blake. Thank you to Tor UK for sending me an eARC in exchange for an honest review.

The Alexandrian Society is a secret society of magical academicians, the best in the world. Their members are caretakers of lost knowledge from the greatest civilizations of antiquity. And those who earn a place among their number will secure a life of wealth, power, and prestige beyond their wildest dreams. Each decade, the world’s six most uniquely talented magicians are selected for initiation – and here are the chosen few…

– Libby Rhodes and Nicolas Ferrer de Varona: inseparable enemies, cosmologists who can control matter with their minds.
– Reina Mori: a naturalist who can speak the language of life itself.
– Parisa Kamali: a mind reader whose powers of seduction are unmatched.
– Tristan Caine: the son of a crime kingpin who can see the secrets of the universe.
– Callum Nova: an insanely rich pretty boy who could bring about the end of the world. He need only ask.

When the candidates are recruited by the mysterious Atlas Blakely, they are told they must spend one year together to qualify for initiation. During this time, they will be permitted access to the Society’s archives and judged on their contributions to arcane areas of knowledge. Five, they are told, will be initiated. One will be eliminated. If they can prove themselves to be the best, they will survive. Most of them.

Publication Date: 3rd March

TW: psychological trauma, blood, death of a parent, mass-shooting, death of a loved one , drug use, anxiety, kidnapping, suicide and suicidal thoughts, emotional/mental abuse, manipulation, blood, gambling, cheating, degenerative disease, sacrifice 

Goodreads | Waterstones

My Thoughts:

The Atlas Six is a book that lives up to the hype. It’s magical, devious and tinged with darkness. 

It is no secret that I adore Dark Academia and The Atlas Six has been on my radar for a while, so imagine my delight when they announce it will be traditionally published and I manage to snag an eARC. I went in with very high expectations and I am thrilled to say it lived up to them. 

The entire setting and premise of this book is so cleverly done. I really enjoyed trying to work out all of the secrets and with the constant changing of narrative voice, I was thrown for a loop several times. It is a place shrouded in mystery and layers upon layers of hidden truths. This made for a fascinating reading experience, as you try to piece together everything before the characters do. 

Speaking of the characters, I was intrigued by them all. They’re viciously ambitious and willing to do anything to get ahead. The entire book is a masterclass in manipulation and betrayal, with alliances being formed and broken and plenty of backstabbing. It was like a complex chess game, with every player hiding something about their motivations or true extents of their powers. Blake’s magic system was so original and fun to read about, with these powers just being absolutely fascinating and brilliantly described. The variety and the way they interacted with different scientific fields allowed for that blend of reality and fantasy in a way that blew my mind. 

All of this creates such tension and atmosphere that only builds. As it drew nearer to the conclusion, I found myself unwilling to turn the page as I didn’t want to let go of this world. The ending was so well-executed and leaves a lot of mesmerising potential open to be explored in the next book. It’s the type of ending that genuinely leaves you wanting more immediately. 

The Atlas Six is a loaded gun of a book, ready to blow you away with its originality and thrilling twists.

4 thoughts on “Mini Review Monday #61

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