When Maren runs away from the threat of a forced marriage, the last place she expects to end up is the Malvagarian Palace, home to the enchanted gardens, a cursed prince, and a magical rose that traps her there. Crown Prince Briar isn’t pleased to be stuck with a troublesome guest, especially one as mischievous and curious as Maren. She, on the other hand, is determined to escape, but instead finds herself inconveniently falling in love with him. Despite her lack of beauty, feelings steadily blossom between her and the prince.
Their budding romance is soon threatened when sinister magic begins to eclipse the enchanted gardens, a darkness which quickly spreads not only to the kingdom, but to the king himself. In order to stop it, Briar and Maren will both be forced to make a heart-wrenching sacrifice, only to realize that the gardens’ requirements may prove too high a price.
Inspired by Beauty and the Beast
So as we all know, I’m a sucker for enchanted roses. I’d been wondering and wondering where Briar would fall in this series, torn between the Beast and some odd hybrid of Sleeping Beauty, but my first inclination was correct. I was so glad to see that back home Briar has a slightly different demeanor and personality, as he was rather drained and unpleasant in Reflection. Maren, however, I wasn’t sure I would like. From the beginning, her self esteem issues were a bit annoying, though understandable given her father never showed her love. It was frustrating that despite constantly saying that she was used to it her actions proved that she cared far too much about other’s opinions on her “beauty” or lack thereof. Despite this, I quite enjoyed her quips and how prepared she always was to get into both mischief and not let others tell her falsehoods. I could resonate quite soundly with doing all sorts of things like Maren, however, my interests were always nourished and encouraged by family, and when others would make me doubt myself, it generally made me even more determined to become better at whatever it was.
I love the personification of the garden, and quite enjoy how Maren and Briar dance around each other. While originally hard to really understand Briar, Maren’s good nature prevails and his character is revealed in how he deals with tragedy as well as his own issues with self doubt. I also loved the background characters of Maren’s childhood, and how completely dastardly the men in her life reveal themselves to be.
I was so glad to see Prince Drake and Prince Rhea again but we were left with a lot of baggage regarding them that was never resolved. I do hope to see them and a resolution in a future book, though I’m not sure we’d see them in the next book about Seren (Aiden’s sister from the first book in the series, Pathways). Seren was almost as nasty as Lavena in this book, so while I originally thought the next book would be about Princess Lavena (featured in Identity) it is unsurprising to know that the King Thrushbeard story will fall to Seren.
Star Rating: ✯✯✯✯✯
Freddie once told me that the Devil created all the fear in the world.
But then, the Devil once told me that it’s easier to forgive someone for scaring you than for making you cry.
The problem with River West Redding was that he’d done both to me.
The crooked-smiling liar River West Redding, who drove into Violet’s life one summer day and shook her world to pieces, is gone. Violet and Neely, River’s other brother, are left to worry—until they catch a two a.m. radio program about strange events in a distant mountain town. They take off in search of River but are always a step behind, finding instead frenzied towns, witch hunts, and a wind-whipped island with the thrum of something strange and dangerous just under the surface. It isn’t long before Violet begins to wonder if Neely, the one Redding brother she thought trustworthy, has been hiding a secret of his own . .
I’m so torn in what to say here. I love that we get an adventure, and there is so much up and down, but oh my goodness the ending is so openly ambiguous I can hardly stand it!
I love how these books take something from the past and meld it into the future, of how Violet feels as if she’s bound to repeat Freddie’s path in the past, but Violet is a very different person than the Freddie that we learn more about. I love all the characters, and in the end I was quite pleased with Violet’s choice, but I wish there was a more definitive (happy) ending, because there is so much left that could go wrong.
This book series is a whirlwind and I am not quite sure how to articulate all of my thoughts about it. I absolutely loved it and would highly recommend it. There are so many fantastic thriller/horror elements, and I definitely felt my fair share of H. P. Lovecraft vibes from this one, as well as a little bit of the uncertainty and ambiguity of V. C. Andrews.
Thank you, TikTok(BookTok). I absolutely loved these books.
Star Rating: ✯✯✯✯✯
You stop fearing the Devil when you’re holding his hand…
Nothing much exciting rolls through Violet White’s sleepy, seaside town…until River West comes along. River rents the guesthouse behind Violet’s crumbling estate, and as eerie, grim things start to happen, Violet begins to wonder about the boy living in her backyard. Is River just a crooked-smiling liar with pretty eyes and a mysterious past? Or could he be something more? Violet’s grandmother always warned her about the Devil, but she never said he could be a dark-haired boy who takes naps in the sun, who likes coffee, who kisses you in a cemetery…who makes you want to kiss back. Violet’s already so knee-deep in love, she can’t see straight. And that’s just how River likes it.
A gothic thriller romance with shades of Stephen King and F. Scott Fitzgerald, set against a creepy summertime backdrop–a must-read for fans of Beautiful Creatures, The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer, and Anna Dressed in Blood.
This book was not at all what I expected it to be. It was light and airy but deep and gripping, like the breeze off water. There are haunting moments of past between Violet and those she has loved, and so many mysteries. The synopsis does nothing to prepare you for the whirlwind you’re about to jump into reading this book. So many twists and turns. Unlike many stories with absentee parents, this one actually makes it seem like, while still weird, it was normal for this family. From the beginning Violet’s oddness made me think she would be an unreliable narrator, and while in some ways parts were unreliable, they were for a completely understandable reason. The ending twist I really hadn’t expected and I quite enjoyed!
This is a great coming of age story, with a hint of that thriller in there. I definitely can see the F. Scott Fitzgerald vibes. There were also a lot of odd metaphors and older references which, while peculiar, really solidified the setting. I actually really loved the peculiar names some characters have, and the names themselves are such that the actual time period this is supposed to be in isn’t quite clear, but it’s a wonderful and addictive book all the same.
I actually bought this book and the sequel based on a booktok (TikTok section dedicated to books), though I can’t recall which video convinced me to do so. Keep sharing that book love with people, and if you have a recommendation that you’d like me to read or review, feel free to email me.
Star Rating: ✯✯✯✯✯
Princess Rheanna’s self-esteem shattered when her former fiancé unexpectedly ended their betrothal. Years later, the rejection continues to haunt her, and now that she’s faced with yet another unwanted political engagement, Rhea will do anything to avoid another heartache.
When a mysterious lure draws Rhea to an abandoned turret of the palace, she discovers a magic mirror and is shocked to find a snarky man trapped inside. Although she agrees to help break Drake’s curse, things quickly grow complicated, for not only does she begin to fall in love with him, but breaking a curse proves quite difficult when she herself feels trapped––by her own self-doubts.
Rhea and Drake’s relationship sets in motion a series of events that threaten both herself and her kingdom. As she seeks to unmask the evil within the palace and overcome the poisonous doubts consuming her mind, Rhea must make a difficult choice between the path she’s expected to walk and the man she’s forbidden to love. But the more time she spends with Drake, the less convinced she becomes that doing her duty will be worth the sacrifice it will cost her heart.
Inspired by “Snow White”
I didn’t think I was going to like this book. I didn’t really like Rhea because she has such poor self esteem and self worth, but the further into the story we got, while I didn’t resonate with her particular situation, it became apparent why she thought that way. What really drew me into this story was Drake, and his snark. This is a double redemption book, in which both protagonists need to learn and grow.
I really liked how much honour and duty to one’s kingdom and subjects played in this novel, especially because it would be something that, even as a third or fourth heir, you have to keep in mind if you were royal. I did think there were several plot twists that were noticeable far before Rhea discovered them, but given she was emotional and distraught it can be forgiven.
I’ve never encountered a retelling of Snow White that had this type of twist, and I quite loved it. I absolutely loved the ending, and I think that the couple is incredibly sweet and perfect together.
I definitely thought that the goblet was cursed, and I was somewhat sad that it was such a normal issue instead.
Star Rating: ✯✯✯✯✯
Anwen’s uncanny resemblance to Princess Lavena has been a curse since the moment she entered her service, as the spoiled princess has frequently used it to her advantage by forcing Anwen to switch places with her. But Princess Lavena’s latest scheme is her worst—and most dangerous—yet: compelling Anwen to take the princess’s place in her marriage to her loathed fiancé, Prince Liam.
Bound by an enchanted contract not to reveal the charade, Anwen is forced to go through with the masquerade and endure a marriage to a man who despises the woman he believes her to be. As time goes on, Anwen struggles not only to maintain her identity, but to fight her deepening feelings as she begins to fall in love with her new husband, a man who not only isn’t hers to keep, but who has no idea who she really is.
Inspired by “The Goose Girl”
Maybe Liam is a bit like Rosie, but this story was by far one of the best. There were constant stakes, and while you were rooting for Anwen you cannot help but think like her about her situation and how it might turn out. Liam loves stories and adventures, and while he might start off cold and fierce, he becomes oh so easy to love. The tension between Liam and Anwen is delicious, and I cannot recommend this sweet book enough. I look forward to reading the rest of the books in The Kingdom Chronicles and hope they continue to delight me more and more, as the ones I’ve read so far have done.
Star Rating: ✯✯✯✯✯
The Demon King. As Fjerda’s massive army prepares to invade, Nikolai Lantsov will summon every bit of his ingenuity and charm―and even the monster within―to win this fight. But a dark threat looms that cannot be defeated by a young king’s gift for the impossible.
The Stormwitch. Zoya Nazyalensky has lost too much to war. She saw her mentor die and her worst enemy resurrected, and she refuses to bury another friend. Now duty demands she embrace her powers to become the weapon her country needs. No matter the cost.
The Queen of Mourning. Deep undercover, Nina Zenik risks discovery and death as she wages war on Fjerda from inside its capital. But her desire for revenge may cost her country its chance at freedom and Nina the chance to heal her grieving heart.
King. General. Spy. Together they must find a way to forge a future in the darkness. Or watch a nation fall.
This book gave us a chance to see some old faces from previous novels in the Grishaverse as well as a deeper understanding of both Nikolai’s desires and intentions for the future and Zoya’s past, and how that influenced the demeanor she’s known for. Both Nikolai and Zoya have to fight who they are to get to who they want and need to become to help both their country and themselves.
Nina’s story truly begins in this book, and I absolutely adored the journey she takes. While there are some things I was left a bit sad about, overall, it is perfect and like nothing I ever would have imagined. There were many times that I had hoped, expected, wanted her to do the rash thing she was known for, but somehow, she managed to be a bit more cautious and the end result was glorious. I can’t help but wonder if she’ll ever get to be truly herself again, or at least tailored to be a bit more like what she had been naturally.
While the ending isn’t quite a cliffhanger, by now I somewhat expect these books to continue, and I look forward to what I imagine will be a continuation of the Grishaverse.
Star Rating: ✯✯✯✯✯
Rosie is fairly certain that there’s nothing wrong with putting a love spell on a foreign prince. At least she hopes there’s not, because such a drastic measure is necessary in order for her to ensure that the perfect fairy tale romance she’s dreamt about her entire life includes her own prince charming. As the heroine in her story, she won’t be deterred by well-meaning friends, royal betrothals, hungry dragons, or the intriguing guard who stands in her way.
Luckily, Rosie has access to an enchanted bakery and a recipe book of spells, one of which will ensure she’ll win the royal heart she desires. Unfortunately, no story is complete without a few obstacles, and Rosie’s comes in the form of a most formidable foe—a stoic guard whom Rosie may or may not be developing feelings for, one who is committed to thwarting her at every turn. But nothing will stand in the way of Rosie’s happily ever after. After all, what harm can a simple love spell do?
Inspired by “The Frog Prince”
Oh my goodness, this was by far one of the cutest books I’ve read in a long time. The story is written from the standpoint of Rosie, and while one might have thought that the book would follow the footsteps of the the first book in the Kingdom Chronicles (review here) the heroine is so different that the entire world seems different. She isn’t cautious and standoffish, shy, like Eileen, but bold and full of stories. As a fellow hopeless romantic, always lost in my mind, a book, my own characters and stories, I absolutely adored seeing things from Rosie’s perspective, especially all of the stories. While I did think a few things were too obvious, Rosie doesn’t really tend to consider things beyond if they went the way she wanted them to. While being a protagonist is fun, especially if you’re trying to become a main character in your own story, this book does a brilliant job of showing risk versus reward, and reminding the reader that whether or not you’ve thought through what may happen, there are always consequences to actions, and one must be ready to take them– good and bad.
Star Rating: ✯✯✯✯✯
Eileen has never been interested in love. Ever since her father’s abandonment, she’s vowed to never experience such pain again. But the enchanted forest has different ideas. When the continuously shifting pathways lead her to a mysterious stranger, Eileen finds her promise to fiercely guard her heart increasingly difficult to keep.
One night when she becomes lost in a storm, the enchanted forest’s pathways lead her to the castle, home to the kingdom’s Dark Prince, where Eileen finds herself entangled in what many consider an opportunity but which Eileen believes to be a curse: competing for the Dark Prince’s hand through a series of tests that judge one’s royal worth. Eileen is neither royal nor interested in becoming a princess. But the mysterious stranger she met in the woods has his own reasons for helping her succeed, although the cost of his assistance may be too high: that of Eileen’s heart, the one thing she’s vowed never to give.
Inspired by “The Princess and the Pea” and “Rumpelstiltskin”
I started this book at random on the kindle, not remembering the description, having found another book I’d gotten 42% of the way through lackluster. I am so unbelievably happy I did! While there were definitely Princess and the Pea and Rumpelstiltskin vibes, I absolutely adored the Forest (perhaps because growing up I spent a lot of time buried inside one myself). The tranquility and need to escape really connected both of them, and I was curious to see how Eileen’s walls would be shattered or rebuilt. I absolutely loved the “cost” of things, and how she gave in, despite not knowing the man she met in the forest, and technically never having bargained or agreed to anything for help he freely gave her. The way he carefully spoke was brilliant, as was her attention to details as she ended up caught up trying to become a princess, even if she didn’t want to. I definitely felt some Ever After vibes during their meetings, given how outspoken she was when they were alone in the forest. Greatly enjoyed!
Star Rating: ✯✯✯✯✯
When you can’t beat the odds, change the game.
Kaz Brekker and his crew have just pulled off a heist so daring even they didn’t think they’d survive. But instead of divvying up a fat reward, they’re right back to fighting for their lives. Double-crossed and badly weakened, the crew is low on resources, allies, and hope. As powerful forces from around the world descend on Ketterdam to root out the secrets of the dangerous drug known as jurda parem, old rivals and new enemies emerge to challenge Kaz’s cunning and test the team’s fragile loyalties. A war will be waged on the city’s dark and twisting streets—a battle for revenge and redemption that will decide the fate of the Grisha world.
This wasn’t just one story but several all in one (which is likely why the book is so long!) Everytime you thought things might be resolved and fixed and finished you would find yourself noticing there is so much more left to the book, that can’t possibly be everything. Kaz continued to be amazing, and I loved how he would alter his thinking to make his new games/plans work.
I will not give away a key element of the end, but I was pleasantly surprised what everyone’s ending looked like- except for one bit that absolutely devastated me.
Good tie in, got to the point where you were curious what was happening with everyone. On to the next… King of Scars.
Star Rating: ✯✯✯✯✯
A convict with a thirst for revenge.
A sharpshooter who can’t walk away from a wager.
A runaway with a privileged past.
A spy known as the Wraith.
A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums.
A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes.
Six dangerous outcasts. One impossible heist. Kaz’s crew is the only thing that might stand between the world and destruction―if they don’t kill each other first.
Definitely more enjoyable than the original Grisha trilogy, but still found it somewhat hard to get into. Once all the main characters were established it was easier to care about them, but it was quite deep into the novel before you really got any insight into the characters and their backstories. I’ll take Kaz Brekker over Mal in the Grisha trilogy any day, but I also have a special love for Nina and Matthias. All in all, there were stakes, and everyone really grew by the end. I look forward to reading Crooked Kingdom and seeing what mischief the crew manage to get into (or out of).
Star Rating: ✯✯✯✯