The winds of change are blowing through Thebes. A devastating palace fire has killed the Eighteenth Dynasty’s royal family–with the exception of Nefertari, the niece of the reviled former queen, Nefertiti. The girl’s deceased family has been branded as heretical, and no one in Egypt will speak their names. Nefertari is pushed aside, an unimportant princess left to run wild in the palace. But this changes when she is taken under the wing of the Pharaoh’s aunt, then brought to the Temple of Hathor, where she is educated in a manner befitting a future queen.
Soon Nefertari catches the eye of the Crown Prince, and despite her family’s history, they fall in love and wish to marry. Yet all of Egypt opposes this union between the rising star of a new dynasty and the fading star of an old, heretical one. While political adversity sets the country on edge, Nefertari becomes the wife of Ramesses the Great. Destined to be the most powerful Pharaoh in Egypt, he is also the man who must confront the most famous exodus in history. (goodreads.com)
Ugh. I love Moran’s writing. Few people can write historical fiction that’s as engaging and vivid as Moran can. The extensive amount of research she does for each book is evident, but not in a I’M GOING TO SHOW YOU ALL MY RESEARCH sort of way that some authors have a tendency of falling into. With Moran you only get what’s necessary to paint the scene and to bring the world to life. She never bogs down her work with superfluous detail and with everything I’ve ever read by her she sucks me into the story and doesn’t let me go until the very end, leaving me out of breath and vaguely stunned.
Moran brings life to the past and makes these ancient people as relatable as anyone else, despite the fact that they’re inbred royalty. The inbreeding is mentioned a little bit toward the beginning, because, and someone can correct me if I’m wrong, Nefertari is a half sibling to Ramesses. Egyptians were really into bloodline purity to the point of siblings procreating. Pharaohs were descendants of gods and those lines need to be kept pure. Whatever they needed to tell themselves.
Anyway, Moran really makes you feel for Nefertari. She’s basically this shunned princess (the niece of the heretic ruler Akhenaton who tried to convert the Egyptians to monotheism by worshiping one god, Aten), grudgingly kept around because she’s in favor with Seti and that’s about it. She has people around her desperate to get her to maneuver politically in order to ensure not only her own survival, but to bring their own desires to fruition, and they just to happen to line up nicely with Nefertari. You see her, and Ramesses, make grievous errors in their judgment that have serious repercussions and it kills them that these things happen. Neither one of them are really game for political posturing, but both understand the necessity and neither want to do something rash just because they can. They’re both very self-aware in that regard and it humbles them even more.
I never want to come out of one of Moran’s books. Especially those about Egypt. The amount of love she has for history is so evident in the life she breathes into the past. Hell, Moran is such a fantastic writer that I’ve found myself reading books of hers pertaining to things I was never previously interested in. Well, I am now! Her dedication to preserving the past and her love for it are evident in her writing. She handles these ancient worlds with a kind of reverence that’s missing in some historical fiction. It’s why I can’t get enough of her work.
Okay. Before this totally turns into a gush fest. THE HERETIC QUEEN brings ancient Egypt to life and breaths life into historical figures whom we only know as drawings on rocks, nearly lost to the sands. Not only does she bring the technical aspect to her writing, but she gives these ancient people lives. Personalities. Experiences. She makes them human and reachable. I can’t get enough of it.
I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.
A burning vengeance.
Adrian sul’Han, known as Ash, is a trained healer with a powerful gift of magic—and a thirst for revenge. The son of the queen of the Fells, Ash is forced into hiding after a series of murders throws the queendom into chaos. Now Ash is closer than he’s ever been to killing the man responsible, the cruel king of Arden. As a healer, can Ash use his powers not to save a life but to take it?
A blood-based curse.
Abandoned at birth, Jenna Bandelow was told the mysterious magemark on the back of her neck would make her a target. But when the King’s Guard launches a relentless search for a girl with a mark like hers, Jenna assumes that it has more to do with her role as a saboteur than any birth-based curse. Though Jenna doesn’t know why she’s being hunted, she knows that she can’t get caught.
Destiny’s fiery hand.
Eventually, Ash’s and Jenna’s paths will collide in Arden. Thrown together by chance and joined by their hatred of the king, they will come to rescue each other in ways they cannot yet imagine. (goodreads.com)
Just as good as any book in the Seven Realms series, FLAMECASTER did not disappoint in the slightest. The Shattered Realms novels do stand on their own and can be read without having read the Seven Realms books but 1) why would you do that? And 2) you’re missing out on an incredibly well-rounded world.
One thing Chima doesn’t skimp on is world-building. The world around the characters is just as rich and independent as the characters themselves, acting as its own entity. From there you get characters that have some semblance of roots in the older stories (if you’ve read them) and they’re built around the world, being a part of it as opposed to standing apart from it.
Chima tore my heart out at the very beginning of the book. Awful, awful woman. Not cool. Of course it’s the catalyst for the whole story but still. THERE WASN’T ANOTHER WAY??? Ugh. My soul hurt after that.
I’ve always liked the way Chima sprinkled in characters and didn’t have it be overwhelming. There’s a lot going on in FLAMECASTER and you get the story from multiple points of view, but never once was I ever confused about who was talking nor was I ever not able to juggle all of the characters in front of me. They’re all introduced and managed wonderfully, being sprinkled in in such a way that they all stick as opposed to being rushed with characters and it taking multiple reads to get them all straight.
Of course the ending was a total cliffhanger and I’m salivating for SHADOWCASTER. Must get my hands on it. God, I love this whole series. All of it. The world is fantastic, Chima’s written amazing characters, from the heroes and anti-heroes to the villains themselves, and the plot just sucks me in from the beginning. It was nothing reading the book and it wasn’t nearly long enough for my liking. Must get MOAR.
When Jocelyn and her best friend, Madge, arrive at the gates of Brookline sanatorium—fresh out of nursing school—they are eager and excited to start their new careers. But from their very first meeting with Brookline’s austere warden, they can tell their new boss will be . . . difficult. Then Jocelyn wakes up in her room one night to the sound of screaming, and she starts to wonder if the treatments in this asylum are entirely humane. But the warden has his eye on Jocelyn—and the treatment of patients should be the least of her concerns. (goodreads.com)
THE WARDEN, I think, is the creepiest out of all of the novellas Roux’s written within the ASYLUM world. Not only is it set within the asylum itself, but you get to interact with the warden himself in a very tangible way. He’s no longer a flashback or something seen out of the corner of an eye or whispered about in passing. He’s a living character in this snippet of a story and you get to see firsthand just how manipulative and insistent he is about his way of doing things and experimenting. You see how he plays with people and actively distorts their realities in order to achieve his ends. He’s more terrifying than any jump scares could offer.
Within a short number of pages you see how the characters spiral despite their best intentions and greatest efforts. Really no one’s any match for Warden Crawford. Once you’re in his web he’s got you and there’s no getting out.
Considering I just bought the book that has this complete set of novellas in it, I’d say THE WARDEN is an excellent addition to the spooky, creepy world of ASYLUM. It’s not overwhelming, it’s not about cheap scares. It’s far more insidious and will dig into the heart of a person’s fears and uncover it for all to see.
Eh. I figured why not? I get enough books all the time that I certainly have enough for a monthly haul post. So let’s get this started. I’m probably going to be missing some because I didn’t really start keeping track until last week and it doesn’t look like Goodreads logs when I change shelves on a book. Or I can’t go back that far. Not to mention I added a bunch of books earlier in the year. So consider this a “going forward” post because, uh, yeah.
Love me PaperBackSwap. If you’re not on that site you need to be. All but A CROWN OF WISHES came from there. SONG OF BLOOD & STONE and FOLLOWERS were actual swaps while SOUL SURVIVOR and KAREN MEMORY were purchases from their marketplace.
Roshani Chokshi was at Changing Hands in Tempe on Friday and while I couldn’t make it into the store to see her, I still ordered myself a personalized signed copy. Love that kind of service. If you’re interested in the audiobook version, here’s a link to a clip of it from MacmillanAudio.
I know not a lot of time has really passed since my last post, but I don’t usually go this long without posting.
I moved on the first so my books were packed for about a week and a half or so before that. In the interim I decided to catch up on some Wattpad reading (I was participating in the Wattpad Block Party which has a crazy posting schedule so it was a lot to keep up with) and the only bookshelf book I read was A CROWN OF WISHES. I’m part of that blog tour so watch for my post on the 21st.
My YAckers book club just chose FLAMECASTER by Cinda Williams Chima as our book for the month and I’ll start that tomorrow. But as of right now I don’t have any other books in the queue to review. Kind of empty at the moment. The good news, though, is that I finally finished setting up my office. Which means all of my books are unpacked and shelved and everything’s all pretty. So I’m ready to get back into the groove of things now. Yay! And yes. I’ll totally be postings photos of it soon. 🙂