Iron Cast by Destiny Soria

Thank you to netgalley and Abrams Kids for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

This book is set in the 20s during the time of prohibition, but that’s not the only thing banned; people who have powers to manipulate people using art are also banned.

The biggest part of this book that I liked was the sisterhood. There was no girl on girl fighting for the sake of it, the 2 MCs were really close friends and loved each other and you could feel that throughout the whole book. They had really distinct personalities and I liked them as characters, however I felt like the book maybe should’ve been told from just one perspective because they all just rolled into one and it kind of felt like more of an omniscient narrator than separate character’s points of view in a way.

I also really loved the magic system, everything was related to art, some people could do magic with music, some with painting, some with poetry which I just found really cool. Though at times they would start to use their powers at moments where I just felt like it didn’t make sense to the situation, like surely someone would’ve stopped them before it actually took hold of them. Would it not be obvious to you that someone was Iron Cast if they started just randomly singing?

The world building could have done with some work. I found myself confused a fair amount of the time about just what was really going on. It felt a bit wooly at times and I think that was partly to do with the pacing which went from being really slow to really fast that I couldn’t really concentrate wholly on what was actually going on.

There was some really good points about racism and sexism that were brought up that are often swept under the carpet in historical fiction. Just because things were different doesn’t mean people were happy to just be treated like second rate citizens because of their gender or skin colour and this book was a reminder of that. Not only was one of the MCs facing difficulties in her life due to her magic but she was also black and whilst it is set in Boston where racism wasn’t nearly as bad as places in the south there was still a clear racial divide. It also raised some thoughts on the anti-Russian sentiments in the states, which not as strong as the narrative about racism against black people it was still there and mentioned.

I’d definitely be interested in what this author will come out with next as I can tell that she’s going to improve the more she writes.

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Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

How do you write a review of a book which means so much to you?

This book is all based around a heist made by 6 teenagers in order to get a sum of money beyond their wildest dreams. The problem is, despite these kids being incredibly sneaky the place they need to break into is like Alcatraz and is apparently impossible to break into.

The characters in this book meant so much to me. You have Inej who is POC and believes in her religion without embarrassment. Kaz is like the biggest bad boy around but he has such a troubled past and he continues to be a kingpin of the underworld even though he has no family left and has a limp. Nina is also POC and she takes no shit and is such a boss character and I just felt such a connection to her. There also some same sex flirtation and a bi/pan character. They’re so diverse but I felt like I could connect to all of them even if they had a different background to me. Normally when you have a book with multiple points of view you can find yourself leaning more towards other certain characters chapters and feel like you skip some character’s chapters to get to other but I didn’t have that problem with this. I enjoyed every characters POVs, even the characters I wasn’t as fond of.

At times there was some really smart twists that Bardugo had obviously spent a lot of time planning this book. Though I have to say I felt like I guessed them before they happened but I think that was probably just me, or really good foreshadowing. I watch a lot of TV with plots and twists, and obviously you know if you’ve been following me a while that I like fantasy novels so I feel like I’m actually pretty good at guessing what’s going to happen next, more than the average reader anyway.

This book read like a teenagers Ocean’s Eleven. Everything was so planned, down to even minute details that Kaz felt like Danny Ocean. Confusing even the people who were on his side because he was just always 2 steps ahead of everything else. And because of this I really felt like the pacing was really good.

One random thing I noted to myself when readig was that I absolutely adored the descriptions of Ketterdam. I felt like I could so vividly imagine it, like the leaning buildings and the dirt filled streets. It was like a movie in my mind at times.

I don’t know if I can bring myself to read Crooked Kingdom because I don’t think I’m ready for it. But I’m also dying to read it.

I don’t need to tell you to read this book because I’m sure it’s already on every single one of your TBRs since it’s been one of the most hyped up books in YA in the past couple year’s. But it’s hyped for a reason and I hope if you were umming and ahhing about whether to buy it that my review has swung you.

 

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Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Cordova

Thank you to Netgalley and Sourcebooks Fire for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

Oh my Goodness, so this was one of the first books I ever requested and was accepted for on NetGalley. I let it sit there for a while and then there was a lot of hype and I still hadn’t read it yet. Then I read it. I loved it so much. I’m white so, as I do with all novels that feature characters with a different racial background to me, I might say something wrong, if I have please let me know and I will endeavour to fix it!

So Alex is a young girl in a family of Brujas (latinx witches) and she is about to come of age and gain her full powers. Alex, however, doesn’t want to be a witch and so performs a spell at her Deathday party in attempt to rid herself of her powers, but it backfires and all her family are gone. She needs to go to the world of Limbo which isn’t quite death but isn’t life either to rescue them.

There is some really cool diversity in this because not only is it in a Latinx community, but the MCs best friend is Guyanese, a place I hadn’t really thought about in terms of the people who live there. Not only is she Guyanese but she’s also of Indian descent and learning about that led me to looking up Guyana and finding out that the population of Guyana are majority Indian descent and had I not read this book I never would have learned this, which I thought was super cool. And she’s a Hindu! Not only is there racial diversity but there’s also Bi representation which made me incredibly happy but god damn do we need more good bi representation. What I loved about it was that Alex is bi but its just a thing there’s no big reveal there’s no “coming out” she just is.

I loved the characters, they were so multifaceted. The MC starts off super bratty but through her journey she grows, she learns to accept people into her life and her secrets. Nova is very much your classic morally ambiguous guy who you don’t know much about but feel like he’s maybe a “good guy” and I found myself attracted to his character a bit. And then Rishi, the best friend is so loyal and wonderful and deserves the whole world.

The world was super fleshed out, there was good explanations of everything that was going on without taking you out of your immersion with long detail. I could imagine everything in Los Lagos with ease, the flying people, the River of Souls, everything. The writing was so well done at making you feel creeped out and nervous.

One little random thing I really liked was there was a few Spanish(?) sounding words and after they were written for the first time there was a little way to pronounce it and it made me so happy. I love when books have pronunciation guides. People always complain when there’s made up languages and names but I actually like it, it helps my immersion.

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