Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie C. Dao

“An East Asian fantasy reimagining of The Evil Queen legend about one peasant girl’s quest to become Empress–and the darkness she must unleash to achieve her destiny.

Eighteen-year-old Xifeng is beautiful. The stars say she is destined for greatness, that she is meant to be Empress of Feng Lu. But only if she embraces the darkness within her. Growing up as a peasant in a forgotten village on the edge of the map, Xifeng longs to fulfill the destiny promised to her by her cruel aunt, the witch Guma, who has read the cards and seen glimmers of Xifeng’s majestic future. But is the price of the throne too high?

Because in order to achieve greatness, she must spurn the young man who loves her and exploit the callous magic that runs through her veins–sorcery fueled by eating the hearts of the recently killed. For the god who has sent her on this journey will not be satisfied until his power is absolute.”

-Synopsis taken from Goodreads

Hey guys! Meaghan here again with another review! This time I read Fairyloot’s October choice, Forest of a Thousand Lanterns, with my Discord channel’s book club!

“She would bloom where she was planted and let her roots close around the throats of her enemies.”

Stars (Out of 10): 7/10 Stars

Favorite Character: Gotta say Shiro, only character who didn’t seem super evil? (Oh and the Crown Prince, he was decent too)

Spoiler Free: Now I’m not going to say this is the best release of 2017, because it really wasn’t. But I will say that this was a very enjoyable read, and it’s still messing with me right now.

Xifeng is not an MC that you necessarily want to live up to, but she’s amazing because of that. She is strong and powerful yes, but she is also selfish, shallow, and to be honest, more than a little bit evil. Getting to be inside her brain was downright scary at points, but that just contributed to the uniqueness of this book. The book still wants you to support her, and this creates almost an inner battle within us. Do we support this women, ready to do anything to follow her destiny, or do we support those that try to bring her down?

But the characters was not the only thing this book had going for it. While I did find the plot predictable at points, and not necessarily the book’s strongest trait, I absolutely loved the world. While it could have been more developed, I really enjoyed a book that just seemed fully immersed in the world’s culture. It didn’t stop to explain every little thing, it just existed, and that made the story flow pretty well in my opinion.

Lastly, this book went super fast. The more simple level of writing, when compared to Laini Taylor’s Strange The Dreamer and Maggie Stiefvater’s All The Crooked Saints at least, fits well to the story, but also makes it not that difficult to digest, meaning I actually finished this quite quickly! Overall, in terms of language and writing style, it felt like just your average YA fantasy.

Careful! Spoilers beyond this point!

Continue reading

Advertisements

All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater

Here is a thing everyone wants: a miracle.
Here is a thing everyone fears: what it takes to get one.

Any visitor to Bicho Raro, Colorado is likely to find a landscape of dark saints, forbidden love, scientific dreams, miracle-mad owls, estranged affections, one or two orphans, and a sky full of watchful desert stars.

At the heart of this place you will find the Soria family, who all have the ability to perform unusual miracles. And at the heart of this family are three cousins longing to change its future: Beatriz, the girl without feelings, who wants only to be free to examine her thoughts; Daniel, the Saint of Bicho Raro, who performs miracles for everyone but himself; and Joaquin, who spends his nights running a renegade radio station under the name Diablo Diablo.

They are all looking for a miracle. But the miracles of Bicho Raro are never quite what you expect.”

-Synopsis taken from Goodreads

Hey guys! Meaghan here with another review! I picked All The Crooked Saints as the first book to read again after my mini slump, and I am so glad I did.

Also, the facebook article by Maggie on why she wrote ATCS, and what inspired me to pick up the book when I did

“This is a madhouse!”                                                                                                                                               “The world’s a madhouse. This is a place to heal it.”

Stars (Out of 10): 10/10 Stars

Favorite Character: I can honestly say that I felt for them all.

Spoiler Free: Some novels need 500 pages to make you like the cast of characters. Give Maggie Stiefvater 18, and you’ll be ready to put your life on the line for them. The way Maggie chose to use POV and focalization, when combined with the amazing metaphors used constantly, made the characters feel real and three dimensional from the start. For a tale as character-based as this one, this fact was integral to my enjoyment of it.

This is not an action novel, not a thriller. This is not the book that will keep you up until the late hours of the night, gripping pages and sweating bullets. You won’t zoom through each word and sentence and phrase as if you can’t get enough, as if you are racing to the end. This book is a slow one, and I have to say I loved it for it. The changes, the miracles, are not ones that should be expected to happen in an hour, a day, even a month. So yes this book was slow, with language that was meant to make you slow down rather than speed up. Yes this book, of 320 pages, took me more time to get through than books with much higher page count. But it fits the story, fits the meaning this book is trying to push. It forces you to stop and think about what you read, about the meaning Maggie is trying to get across. (And if you just can’t handle slow books, no matter how meaningful, than unfortunately I don’t believe this book is for you.)

I also have to admit that this is the book that made me fall in love with Maggie’s writing style. I’ve read/tried to read many of her books so far, and while they’ve always hooked me plot/character wise, the pace was often off putting. But taking my time with this one made me see all the hidden gems Maggie sticks into her writing. From lengthy metaphors that somehow explain perfectly what the story is trying to get across, to short lines here and there that make you stop and think, it shows how much attention to detail Maggie pays, and I cannot wait to read more of her books now.

One last thing that I loved about the book (at least, spoiler-free thing), was its level of immersion. When I was reading this book, nothing else existed. I was in Bicho Raro, seeing these people, experiencing all the emotions. Even inside the novel, mentions of other places on Earth were jarring, because while reading, it felt like Bicho Raro was all that there was, all that needed to be. The level of culture, lore, and backstory that this stand-alone had was something all stand-alones should strive for. The lacking part of most fantasy stand-alones did not exist here (which I consider to be lack of immersion, since there are less pages to develop an entire world in.)

I didn’t know what to expect from this book, and I’m still uncertain of how exactly it affected me, how it changed me. All I know is that it did.

“I was looking for a miracle, but I got a story instead, and sometimes those are the same thing.”

Careful! Spoilers beyond this point!

Continue reading