A Curse So Dark and Lonely (ACSDAL #1) by Brigid Kemmerer

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ARC provided by Bloomsbury in exchange for an honest review.

“I am always surprised to discover that when the world seems darkest, there exists the greatest opportunity for light.”

A Curse So Dark and Lonely is a reimagining of Beauty and the Beast with a much darker theme. In this version, the Prince is forced to repeat the quest to find love over and over each season, while causing more and more bloodshed each time. But after three-hundred seasons, this season will officially be the very last one.

Harper – The Belle. Eighteen-years-old and from DC, before she is captured. But back home, she has a hard home life, living with her mother who has cancer and they can’t afford medical treatment, and a brother who is forced to pick up his father’s mantle to work for crime lords because he left his family in so much debt. Harper also has Cerebral Palsy, which I understand has very many different types on a spectrum, but she is high functioning. (Also, if you are an ownvoices reviewer, I would love to link your review and boost your voice on your feelings about the representation!) And besides Harper’s Cerebral Palsy representation, which is also at the heart of this book, her brother, Jake, is also queer and has the sweetest boyfriend, Noah, who is black.

Rhen – The Beast. But the dark themes I brought up above is that each season when a girl doesn’t fall in love with him, he turns into a different beast and kills whatever is in his way. And then a new season begins, and the curse starts all over again.

Grey – Rhen’s guard commander, and the only living person left at the castle with him. Not only is he a loyal friend to him, but he captures the girls and brings them back for him.

Lilith – The enchantress who has cast this spell on Rhen and his kingdom. I’ll be honest, this character very much reminded me of Ianthe from A Court of Thorns and Roses.

Freya – The shining star of the book, if I’m being honest. She has a child of her own but is also taking care of three of her sister’s children. I don’t know why I loved her so much, but she really was my favorite in the entire story. Give her a spin-off, please.

And these characters come together to set the stage and remake the story of Beauty and the Beast unlike any other. We get to see Harper decide if she wants to save a kingdom or her family and we get to see Rhen decide if he is worth saving. And even if this book was a little hard for me to get into at the start, I ended up really getting interested by the end.

There is a good discussion in this book about feeling responsible for things that you have no control over. Whether that be mistakes that your loved ones are making, deteriorating health of loved ones, or even just people doing bad things to you and the people you care about. Some things are really out of our control, and I liked the dissection of this in this book, because I think it is easy to feel responsible for things that sometimes really aren’t our faults.

“We are not always presented with the choices we want, but choices exist nonetheless.”

Overall, I didn’t love this or even enjoy it as much as I thought I would, but it did have a lot of things that I adore. Harper and Rhen do travel around his kingdom a lot, and I love me a good traveling story. Also, they frequent inns and taverns a lot, which is another thing that is so very much in my reading wheelhouse. But even though I completely understand that this is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast, I just couldn’t get over the abduction plotline and even begin to really root for the romance in this book. I will say though that I was really surprised this wasn’t a standalone, even though it totally can be read that way, but maybe I will love the next installment more!

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The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.

Content and trigger warnings for abduction, captivity, talk of cancer, loss of a loved one, murder, death, torture, abuse, a pedophile comment, attempted sexual assault, sexual assault (by Lilith), thoughts of suicide, and a lot of ableist speech (always in a negative light from the villain).

Buddy read with Julie, Amy, Chelsea, Jules, Jen, & Chelsea! ❤

The Queens of Innis Lear by Tessa Gratton

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“In Innis Lear it was believed that the reign of the last queen had been predicted by the stars–and had ended, too, because of them.”

This is a reimagining of Shakespeare’s King Lear unlike any reimagining I’ve ever read before. Tessa Gratton stays very true to the original play, and really makes a feminist statement on all the themes, but she made something so unique, so powerful, and so much its own thing. And every book I read from her ensures that she is becoming one of my favorite authors of all-time. From the themes she creates, to the lyrical writing she weaves, to the beautiful stories she creates, I five star everything by her. And The Queens of Innis Lear was no different, it is a masterpiece.

King Lear is a story about a king who is ready to give up his throne to his three daughters, but they must prove that they are worthy and devoted. But the sisters decide to take their destinies into their own hands, whether that means betrayal of the King or not. And we slowly get to see the king descend into madness. And, again, The Queens of Innis Lear sticks very close to this storyline, too.

Gaela – the oldest daughter – represents ambition. Is a military commander.

“I will wear the crown, and I will get it like a king. Not as a mother and wife, but as the firstborn child, as the strongest.”

Regan – the middle daughter – represents lust. Wants to be a mother.

“The crown of Innis Lear is not made of love […] it is made of dying stars, and lying mouths.”

Elia – the youngest daughter – represents duty. Loves the island of Lear more than anything.

“You’re not the sum of your birth and stars.”

And these three girls, and everyone they’ve ever been in contact with, have had their fate decided by the stars. And they learned this the hard way from their mother, who was destined to die once Gaela turned to sixteen. In this world, the stars are blamed for people’s actions, so that they don’t have to be responsible for the horrible things that happen.

But ultimately this is a story about three girls battling against the futures that their father and the stars have in store for them. These girls are more than the legacy’s that are expected of them. They are more than the sins committed for them and in their name. People with wombs are more than those wombs and the babies they are able to carry inside them. And people are always more than good and bad, because we are complex beings with complex thoughts and actions. Seriously, this the morally grey character book of your dreams.

There are many more characters who equally broke and warmed my heart; Ban, the fox of the forest, Morimaros, the king who has only known how to be king, Brona, the witch of my dreams, and so many more. This is a full cast of players, set up on a stage that they never asked for. And this book inserts flashbacks more perfectly than maybe any other book I’ve ever read. And it creates a storyline that is complete magic.

“Maybe all three of us are cursed. Maybe this is the end of the kingdom of Lear, and the island will become something new. Maybe we never did belong here after all.”

I also want to take a second to talk about the representation. It is heavily implied that Gaela is aroace, but the word is never used on page. And I feel like every side character was implied to be pan or bi. Also, all the princesses are people of color, said to be biracial (black and white).

Overall, I just loved this. I never wanted to put it down. From the beautiful writing, to the important themes, to the enthralling story, this was just a masterpiece. I will say that this very much reads true to an Adult Fantasy, and the writing can be a bit unforgiving at times, but it is so worth it.

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Content and trigger warnings for miscarrying, domestic abuse, thoughts of suicide, suicide, self-harm, grooming, murder, death, blood depictions, rituals, animal deaths, and war themes.

Buddy read with Riley, Amy, Caidyn, Alex, & Jules! ❤

The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker

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This was my pick for the September 2018 Book of the Month box!

“Looking back, it seemed to me I’d been trying to escape not just from the camp, but from Achilles’s story; and I’d failed. Because make no mistake, this was his story—his anger, his grief, his story. I was angry, I was grieving, but somehow that didn’t matter.”

Hi, my name is Melanie and 2018 has been the year that I constantly talk about my love for Greek mythos retellings. The Silence of the Girls is a feminist reimagining of Homer’s The Iliad, centering on the Trojan War, but is told in a completely different light than ever before. Yes, we get to see the Trojans and Greeks battle and Achilles be the hero the world knows and loves, but this tale is all about a voice that is never heard in other renditions.

Briseis is a woman that has lost everything; her family, her city, her freedom, but this story gives her an actual voice, unlike all the other tales, but also shows how much more she was able to lose after Achilles is at the gate of her city. This is a very brutal book. Major content and trigger warnings for graphic murder, slavery, pedophilia, cheating, war themes, loss of a loved one, a lot of detailed rape, suicide, self-harm, abuse, PTSD depictions, animal death, sacrificial rituals, the death of children and babies, and heavy war themes and battle depictions. Please use caution with this book and make sure you are in a safe and healthy mindset.

“Another successful raid, another city destroyed, men and boys killed, women and girls enslaved—all in all, a good day. And there was still the night to come.”

I also want to say that I just reread The Song of Achilles a couple weeks ago, and I’m not sure if that heightened or lowered my reading experience. I will say that Patroclus is a sweet angel in every retelling of The Iliad and that didn’t change in The Silence of the Girls. But Achilles? This book makes you truly dislike him and… I just wasn’t expecting it. This book really shows how the stories are always told from a man’s voice and view, and they are always something to be glorified. But Pat Barker gives a voice to the women who are just background noise in all then men’s stories, deemed unworthy.

This reading experience is so unique because the Greeks are hailed as the heroes the entire time, but in this book we get to see behind the heartbreak and devastation they cause on and off the battlefield. Meanwhile, women are just prizes of the war that they never asked to be a part of. And even though Briseis has it a better than a lot of the women taken and enslaved by the Greek, seen as nothing more than spoils of war, her pain is never subsided and never viewed as lesser. Yet, that doesn’t make seeing things from her perspective hurt less. This book truly is heartbreaking.

“Nobody wins a trophy and hides it at the back of a cupboard. You want it where it can be seen, so that other men will envy you.”

My favorite part of this book, as heartbreaking as it is, is how each generation of children (girls, boys, nonbinary) are learning and living in this broken cycle with these expectations and gender roles forced upon them. The cycle never stops; it is just continuously passed down. Yeah, this is a Greek retelling trying to make a statement, but the parallels to our world in 2018 are thought-provoking and leaves an even scarier statement.

And there is a big emphasis on how war will also be passed down from father to son, generation after generation, along with their prejudices, their hate, and their need for revenge. Again, it is never ending and will never be enough. The suffering will just continue and continue being passed down. Meanwhile, the pain and fear will never subside.

“Silence become a woman.”

Overall, I think this is a really important book and I feel very fortunate that I was able to read it. I’ve always loved reimaginings of Homer’s works, but I’ve never read one like this before. Again, this is a really hard book to read and it gets very dark at times. But it really shows how rape will always be about power, not lust. And how men that lust for that power are capable of the evilest of things. And how these men can already have immense power, but it still won’t be enough. How these men and be rich, how they can be good-looking, how they can be the hero of the story.


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Buddy read with Imi at Imi Reviews Books! ❤

Blanca y Roja by Anna-Marie McLemore

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ARC provided by Macmillan in exchange for an honest review.

“If I wanted to, I could believe it was our colors that decided Blanca would be the gentle sister, pure and obliging, and I would be the cruel one, wicked and difficult. She would be the blessed daughter, the one the swans would spare. And I would be the one the swans would take. But my sister saw our story ending another way.”

Blanca y Roja is the best retelling I’ve ever read in my entire life. The way Anna-Marie McLemore reimagined Snow-White and Rose-Red was perfection in every sense of the word. This story is so beautiful and is a bright shining star in 2018 literature, and now one of my favorite books of all-time. No one weaves words and magic like Anna-Marie, and no other book this year has impacted me the way Blanca y Roja has. Please, friends, pick this masterpiece up upon release.

“There will always be two daughters. But we will always take one back.”

This book stars two sisters, who were born into a family where each generation of women birth two girls, one of which gets taken away by swans after her fifteenth birthday. Many sisters form a rivalry, so that the swan will pick the other one, but these sisters want to trick the swans into not knowing which one to pick, therefore, hopefully picking neither. But this story follows four people, all feeling a little out of place in their own bodies; all for very different reasons.

Blanca – Light skinned, fair hair, soft, sweet, and doing everything in her power to make sure the swans never take her sister away.

Page – A transboy, who uses he/she and him/her pronouns, and currently hiding from her family who supports that she’s trans, but can’t understand why she would still like she/her pronouns.

“Him and her, I kinda like getting called both. It’s like all of me gets seen then. Doesn’t usually happen, though. Most people can’t get their head around boy and she at the same time, I guess.”

Roja – Dark skinned, hair so red it looks black, hard, angry, and doing everything in her power to make sure the swans never take her away.

Yearling – A boy who has a terrible home-life. He is constantly physically fighting with his cousin, being egged on by his entire family, and because of it he is suffering vision loss in his left eye. Content and trigger warnings for physical abuse. Yearling wants to escape his family, their last name, and a secret that he knows, and he goes into the woods wanting to be something else. And the woods listen.

“The day I went into the woods, it was the story that chose me.”

And these four characters’ paths all cross with one another, and this becomes a story about self-discovery, unconditional love, and sacrifice. And two romances start, and they are both so equally breathtaking. All four of these characters are so expertly created that they all carved out little pieces of home in my heart. And they will live there forever.

Like I said above, this is a reimagining of Snow-White and Rose-Red, but this is Anna-Marie’s ownvoices, Latinx, queer, magical realism version. And it is everything. Everything. This book emphasizes respecting people’s gender and sexuality journeys, because gender and sexuality can both be so very fluid. This book proves how easy, but how important, it is to ask and respect everyone’s pronouns. This book highlights how we don’t have to be what our families, our communities, our world want us to be and that we can break broken and toxic cycles. This book shows how everyone will handle pain, grief, and trauma differently and that it’s okay. This book reminds us how powerful kindness can be and how the bonds of family, both blood and found, can change every story.

“That was the cruelest thing about the señora’s words, the truth it had left us: In my hands, the blue-eyed boy’s heart was currency enough to buy my survival. In Roja’s, it was worth nothing. And now she was the one who held it.”

And this book really is a love letter to the bonds of siblings. And not to make this review about me, but I’m very open about 1.) my brother being my best friend and 2.) me being very white passing. But my brother isn’t white passing in the slightest. Black hair, dark eyes, dark golden skin all year long. I’ve had long-term interactions with people who never knew I was Filipina until they saw my brother. And I will always acknowledge my privilege of my biraciality being white passing, but I will always love and honor my family’s culture and heritage. And like Blanca, I would give, do, and say anything to protect my little brother. Okay, I don’t want to get too sappy. But this book really is about loving all the parts of yourself; not just the physical ones that everyone can see at a glance, or the ones that everyone expect you to love. This book was perfect, but certain aspects of Blanca and certain aspects of Roja just really tugged at all my heartstrings.

“They had seen in me the softest, weakest part of my heart where I held my sister. They knew I would do anything, give up anything, if it meant my sister keeping her own body. And now they wanted me to prove it.”

Overall, no one writes and crafts like Anna-Marie McLemore. Every book I’ve read by her has rendered me speechless. I’ve never closed a book of hers that hasn’t left me with tears streaming down my face because of its beauty. Her words have healing powers, and her books remind me why reading is magical. And her author’s note is a five star read all on its own. I don’t know what the world did to deserve Anna-Marie McLemore, but we are all truly blessed to have her stories, and I’m forever grateful.

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The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.

Buddy read with May, Julianna, Courtney, Amy, & Jen! ❤

The Sisters of the Winter Wood by Rena Rossner

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ARC provided by Orbit in exchange for an honest review.

“Sometimes you know when you don’t belong, but you don’t know how to leave.”

This is one of the most atmospheric books I’ve ever read in my entire life. It was also able to evoke such a visceral reading experience from me. I never wanted to put this book down! And I knew that this was going to be heavy on the Russian folklore, but I had no idea that this was also a reimagining of Goblin Market by Christina Rossetti. And I swear, I don’t remember consuming any fruit while reading this, yet I am still completely under this book’s spell. And I for sure also recommend this to people who also love The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden and Uprooted by Naomi Novik!

“If you want to know the history of a town, read the gravestones in its cemetery.”

Not everyone is going to love this book. In fact, I bet a lot of people will DNF this one. But if you love this story, you’re going to be completely captivated from the first page and you’re never going to want this story to be over. Friends, I fell head over heels in love with this story.

The Sisters of the Winter Wood follows two Jewish sisters who live on the outskirts of a town, in a forest, with their mother and father. Their family feels rather isolated in Dubossary, (on the border of Moldova and Ukraine), but they make do the best that they can, always relying on each other. That is until one day the mother and father get called away and leave their precious daughters behind. Yet, before leaving, the mother tells them a secret that she has been keeping from them their entire lives. And this secret changes everything.

“We can’t fight our natures, even though we try. A bear will always be a bear, and a swan a swan. Everyone fights, malyshka; everyone questions their choices. Even people who love each other.”

Liba – 17, devout, smart, stern, keeps to herself not letting anyone in. Starts to have feelings for a boy that has grown up right in their town, who is also Jewish. He also is kind, and caring, and protective, and comes from a good family.

Laya – 15, questioning, beautiful, graceful, and easily gains friends. Starts to have feelings for a boy that is new to town, that has come selling fruit with some other questionable young boys that are very prejudiced towards Jewish people.

And this switches points of view, back and forth, between two sisters. One sister’s point of view is standard format, yet the other sister’s point of view is told in verse! Again, very reminiscent of the way Goblin Market by Christina Rossetti is told. But surprisingly enough, I ended up loving Laya’s verse chapters more than the standard story telling.

I don’t want to give away anything about this book, because I truly think it is best to go into blind. So, I’m holding back that very big secret that Laya and Liba’s mother has hidden from them, but I will say that because of the secret, Liba says some very questionable things about her body in comparison to her sister’s body. I’ll mention it again in my trigger warnings at the very end of this review, but I will say that the only negative thing about this book, in my eyes, is Liba’s thoughts on her body. And I do understand that she is seventeen years old, and that even in 2018 society puts so many horrible body standards on us at every age and everywhere we look. But, it still always made me a little sad when I’d read about her not loving her body as much as her thinner sister’s. It’s truly the only real complaint I have about this novel, and please use caution because I think some of the things that Liba says and thinks about her “thicker” body and her “hunger” can be really potentially triggering.

But there are two different romances, between each sister and two boys they meet in town, where the sisters start to learn about their bodies and the feelings and reactions that their bodies are making them feel. This is for sure a book about two young girls both discovering their sexuality for the first time not feeling like they are forced to repress what they feel, since their family (and their religion, standards, and judgment) has left them alone.

“Death lives here. Death will always live here.”

And while the romances and these girls discovering things about themselves are for sure at the forefront of this story, a murder mystery is also going on in the background. And this book very much showcases what hate-mongering is and how scare-tactics can make people do unspeakable things. This book is heavily influenced by the pogroms of the early 1900s where many Jewish families and communities were murdered. And the author pulls this from her family’s real experiences.

And Rena Rossner’s writing completely moved me to feel every single emotion. This story is just crafted so expertly, in my opinion. And this author’s prose is on a tier above most. I feel like she captured this setting and atmosphere in a way that just feels like pure magic. And she seamlessly wove in all these homages that build such a perfect story. Also, this book has the best acknowledgments I’ve read in all of 2018. I thought I was going to be able to make it through the book without crying, and then I read the author’s heartfelt words talking about her family, her influences, and why she wrote this story. Friends, I don’t even have words. I also really appreciated the glossary with Hebrew words and pronunciations!

Ultimately though, this is a book about the bond of sisterhood and found family and doing whatever you can to support and help the people you love. Yet, this is also a story about realizing that you are worthy of love and deserving of all the unconditional love in the world.

“I get to choose what kind of strong I want to be.”

Overall, this is one of my favorite reads of 2018. Yet, I will say that this book does have a lot of things in my personal reading wheelhouse that I enjoy. It’s about learning that you deserve unconditional love and finding yourself among people who cannot accept you for who you are. It’s a book that had a forest setting, that is a reimagining of one of my favorite stories of all-time. It’s gorgeously written and tackles some really heartbreaking moments in our world’s history. I just loved this one, friends. And I hope if you pick it up, that you will love it as well.

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The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.

Content and trigger warnings for a lot of antisemitism (but always in a negative light and challenged), captivity, drugging, blood depiction, physical abuse, talk of past rape, talk of slavery, murder, torture, death, misogynistic comments and ideals, grey area consent (doing sexual things while one person is magically enthralled), some questionable body image/shaming comments and thoughts, and questionable thoughts about food and eating that could potentially be triggering.

Buddy read with Jules at JA Ironside & Michaela at Journey into Books! ❤

Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik

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ARC provided by Dey Rey in exchange for an honest review.

“Bring me the winter king, and I will make you a summer queen.”

Spinning Silver is one of the best books I’ve read all year. I loved this story with every fiber of my being. And Naomi Novik is a master at storytelling and interweaving stories together. You all know that this is a very loose reimaging of Rumpelstiltskin but I’d say it’s more of an empowering tale of three girls, all on three different paths, all promised to three different men, while all being looked over by three different mothers. Three is such a constant theme in this book, too, and it really helps reinforce that this story feels like a tangible piece of magic in your hands while reading. This book is nothing short of a masterpiece.

“The real story isn’t half as pretty as the one you’ve heard.”

The Three Girls:
Wanda – a girl who has had to be strong, because it’s the only life she has ever known. Wanda has spent her short life taking care of her brothers and trying to please a father who is impossible to please. But that all changes once she is the only way to pay back his debts.
Irinushka – a girl who has been born into royalty but has never known love from her blood family. Irina is still determined to save her people, by any means necessary.
Miryem – a girl who will do whatever it takes to save her family. Miryem is strong, and relentless, and one of the very best characters I’ve ever read in my entire life. And she becomes one of the most feared moneylenders in her village, and she discovers that she awfully good at turning silver to gold. But she is not the only one that notices.

“That part of the old story turned out to be true: you have to be cruel to be a good moneylender. But I was ready to be as merciless.”

The Three Mothers:
A Passed Away Mother who continues to look after her children.
An Adoptive Mother who has unconditionally loved her child from the start.
A Birth Mother who wants nothing more than her child safe and happy.

“A robber who steals a knife and cuts himself cannot cry out against the woman who kept it sharp.”

The Three Marriages:
Filled with Hate because even in 2018 some men want to believe that they know what’s best for a woman, no matter the cost.
Filled with Fire because some people are born into a world without a chance, regardless of money, power, and privilege.
Filled with Cold because protecting the thing you love is sometimes something you’re willing to do anything for.

“…someone had climbed down and looked through our window: someone wearing strange boots with a long pointed toe.”

And these three girls, with their mothers, forced into their three marriages, all come together and create something so beautiful that I don’t even have words to express it. I will say that Miryem is for sure the main character. I will also say that we get to see a lot more points of view than these three girls and their betrothals. And the story is something that is so whimsical, so feminist, and nothing short of an honor to read.

Trigger and content warnings for hard scenes to read about loss of a parent, siblings, and death of children, for extreme parental physical abuse, brief mention of animal deaths, mention of past rape, sexual assault, alcoholism, torture, violence, murder, and use of the word Jew (not negatively, but it still didn’t feel good to read at times).

But one thing I did want to touch upon is how much Judaism plays such an integral role in this story. Miryem and her entire family are Jewish, and from the first to last page this plays a pivotal role in the story. I am not Jewish, but I still loved this inclusion so very much. Also, I’m adding “go to a Jewish wedding” onto my bucket list immediately. To my Jewish friends: please, invite me to your weddings.

Spinning Silver is such a love letter to found families everywhere, too. You guys know I love reading about found families, but all three girls in this book are the epitome of found families. Unconditional love is truly the strongest force in this universe, and not only does this book showcase that, it also celebrates that.

Overall, this just felt like a story that was single-handedly created for me. From the Staryks, to the Winter King, to the traveling between places, to the so very strong female cast, to the magic, to every single word on every single page. I swear, opening this book felt like magic and I never wanted to shut it. And I know I am being rather vague with my synopsis, but I truly believe that this book is probably best to go in not knowing much, and to just experience this otherworldly story firsthand. Without a doubt, this will make my “best of 2018” list and will forever have a place on my favorites of all-time shelf. Thank you so much, Naomi Novik, for a story I will cherish forever. And that last line will take my breath away every reread. Perfection.

“Because that’s what the story’s really about: getting out of paying your debts.”

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The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.

Heart of Iron by Ashley Poston

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ARC provided by the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

“Ana had never believed much in the Goddess. She only knew the origin story, as sweet as a bedtime lullaby. How, in a kingdom of shadows, the queen bore a daughter of light who chased the Dark away.”

Heart of Iron had all the potential in the world to be my new favorite book. Basically, it’s a new and unique Anastasia retelling but set in space with a crew of outlaws who end up entwined in secrets and mysteries! We follow four points of view:

Ana – Our true main character, who is on a mission to find a new robot body for D09. Also, she’s a PoC!
D09 – A Robot who is in desperate need of a new memory core and keeps malfunctioning.
Robb – The next biggest character, whose brother is going to be Emperor, but he is too busy searching for his father that was pronounced dead seven years ago. Robb is also a PoC and queer!
Jax – The pilot of the crew he and Ana travel with. He is a different race than human, and his ancestors had the power to see the future in the stars. And he is also queer! Jax is EASILY my favorite character in this entire book.

Ana and Robb’s paths cross, because they are both after the same coordinates. Robb wants them in hopes of finding out what happened to his father seven years ago, when a rebellion happened that set fire to the royal family and left them all for dead, even though they never found the body of the young princess. Ana wants them in hopes of finding a new body for D09, the robot she is in love with, even though he can’t process or feel feelings, and she will jeopardize her crew’s other missions to try, because it is almost impossible for Ana to find a new body or parts.

Robots in this world were created to treat the infected people of a plague twenty years ago, but as I stated above, seven years ago a rebellion happened and now the only robots that people trust are the ones that are “hived” or mind controlled as the Iron Kingdom army, and they are called Messiers.

Meanwhile, back in Nevaeh, where many of the other royal families reside, Robb’s brother, Erik, is about to be anointed Emperor. The crown is said to be made of the Goddess’ heart, and only the worthy can wear it without it immediately rusting. And by worthy, I mean only the Armorov bloodline can, but they all died in the fire seven years ago.

“All stories are built from the bones of something true. You are the daughter of iron and stars. You are the symbol of hope in a time when light only shines from things that burn.”

If you guys have seen Anastasia before, you probably can guess how this plays out. But overall, I do think the story is pretty good. Also, there are some 5/5 twists at the end of this book. Sadly, the four points of view switch constantly, with very little pages or substance per chapter, and it made for such a disjointed read. I’m not sure if this is just the new trend with YA Sci-Fi, but I felt the very same when I read Zenith. It completely ruined the reading experience for me, and I had such a hard time connecting to the characters and to their relationships.

Ana and D09’s relationship was just too much for me in the first half. I didn’t enjoy it at all, and it had nothing to do with him being a robot, it was that he was a robot that didn’t feel things. I would have so much preferred them to just have a friendship. I’m not entirely sure, I just really wasn’t feeling their love story from the start, but I do have high hopes if we do get another book in this world!

Robb and Jax’s sexuality is never stated on page, but they are for sure queer. They are probably both gay, but my pansexual self never wants to erase any sexuality. But I loved these character’s representation and their story lines were for sure the strongest in the entire book. Oh, and their banter and jokes with each other was so freakin’ pure and wonderful. And, I’ll be over here melting into a puddle on the ground and swooning forever, bye.

I will say that there was a somewhat triggering comment made in passing about how Robb was in a relationship with a boy that ended up killing himself, yet it wasn’t very clear. Regardless it made me a little uncomfortable, and I think it’s important to note and use caution going in. Trigger/Content warnings for mention of suicide, abuse, and death.

As for more sexual representation, the captain of the ship, Ana’s adoptive mother, is a lesbian and married to another woman. Like, this book brings the sexual representation, and I’m living for it. And two main characters of color was also such a blessing.

This book does have a major theme spotlighting the importance of found families, and for that I am so very thankful. This book helps solidify that blood is just blood, but people who unconditionally love and accept you will always be family. I did love this constant theme and the many mentions, and for that I was so happy and grateful.

Overall, this is a super fast paced story, that is very easy to get through. And even though I didn’t love it, and maybe even felt a little disappointment, because I had such high hopes, I still enjoyed it. Also, there is a lot of good in this book, that I’m very thankful for. Also, Ashley Poston seems like such a sweetheart, and after reading this and Geekerella, I will continue to read everything else she writes! Which will hopefully be a sequel to this, because this ending is cruel, and I need answers!

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The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.

Buddy read with Elise! ❤


MORE INFORMATION HERE & HERE!

(The pre-order IS International — but HEART OF IRON itself is only available in the US, so it’s only available through international companies such as Amazon (or an independent bookstore that is willing to ship to you!)