Review: Wanted by Betsy Schow

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Rexi Hood has a problem. As the perpetual sidekick in the fairy tales, she’s destined to be Forgotten. Her name will be wiped away and no one in Story will remember her. Rexi is determined to be more than a sidekick, however. She’s the daughter of Robin Hood and an outlaw. All it will take is a devious plan- and a whole lot of luck- but maybe Rexi can avoid being Forgotten.

WANTED is the second book in the Spelled series and I highly recommend reading SPELLED first. The events in WANTED strongly depend on the reader understanding the ongoing story threads as well as the character development already established. In fact, I wish Betsy Schow would have given us a short recap of the past events as it took me a while to reorient myself to the intriguing world she has crafted.

I really wanted to like Rexi as her underdog role appeals to me. I cheered her desire to become the hero of her own story, rather than disappearing from all memory as a forgotten sidekick. Unfortunately, WANTED seemed overly convoluted at times as the story twisted and turned, and then twisted and turned yet again. To further confuse things, Rexi’s own identity becomes dangerously entwined with Dorothea’s and it became difficult to distinguish what in the world was going on.

I finished WANTED with mixed feelings. The ending, although somewhat abrupt and unexpected, leaves me hopeful about the third book in the Spelled series. There are elements of WANTED that reminded me of the magic in SPELLED that first enchanted me and I’m hopeful Betsy Schow can rekindle those aspects in the third book.

Review: An Import of Intrigue by Marshall Ryan Maresca

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A murder has been committed, but the clues seem to be more red herrings than helpful. Inspector Third Class in the Constabulary, Satrine Rainey, and her partner, Inspector Minox Welling, will have to sort through the various cultural differences to determine who the murderer is. Meanwhile, Minox is struggling with his uncircled mage abilities and may be more hindrance than help. Can Satrine and Minox uncover the real murderer before the tensions in the Little East neighborhood explode past their breaking point?

AN IMPORT OF INTRIGUE is the second book in The Maradaine Constabulary series and is probably best appreciated in the context of the series. Marshall Ryan Maresca now has several books set in this fantasy world as there is another series, Maradaine, with yet a third series soon to launch.  Each book adds another element to the overall world building and so far I’ve enjoyed them all.  I have to admit that The Maradaine Constabulary series is my favorite of the two series as I love the detective aspect.

Marshall Ryan Maresca takes AN IMPORT OF INTRIGUE in an interesting direction. We’ve had glimpses of the various cultures that inhabit his fantasy world but AN IMPORT OF INTRIGUE gives us a hard and close look at the differences and tensions steaming under the surface.  The plot is a timely one, considering today’s current political tensions, and I like how Marshall Ryan Maresca doesn’t sugarcoat the prejudices and ignorance that can exist.

Minox is my favorite character out of all of Marshall Ryan Maresca’s books to date. Minox struggles quite a bit in AN IMPORT OF INTRIGUE as his powers, coupled with his family’s history of mental health issues (although they aren’t identified as such in this fantasy world) are starting to become problematic for him. I’m curious to see how Marshall Ryan Maresca is going to continue to develop this plot, especially considering some of the revelations we learn.

And Satrine… if you ever wondered how Satrine had the skills and grit to enter the Constabulary the way she did, AN IMPORT OF INTRIGUE will answer those questions. I love the glimpses we get into Satrine’s past although I now have many more questions as well.

Marshall Ryan Maresca continues to impress me with each new book. I’ve fallen in love with the world of Maradaine and I look forward to seeing what we’ll learn from the new series. Highly recommended!

Review: Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine

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Print books are a black market commodity as the Library provides all the knowledge anyone needs in the Codex. Jess Brightwell has always cherished books, even as his family is part of the black market that smuggles and sells print books to the highest bidders. Unfortunately, Jess holds little interest in following the family business so his father offers him an ultimatum- Jess is to gain admittance to the Library and become an internal asset to the family. Jess has always loved the mystery of the Great Library but he’s about to discover some secrets that have remained hidden for years. What happens when knowledge holds absolute power over the people?

The world building in INK AND BONE is outstanding! Rachel Caine crafts a dark, richly layered world full of political machinations, war, and even the oh so mysterious alchemy that underpins the Library. The scenes with the automaton lions (and other creatures) are spooky. However, it’s the ink-lickers and burners who truly horrified me and solidified the eeriness of a world where physical books are a rarity.

Rachel Caine does a beautiful job with character development in INK AND BONE. Jess is an interesting main character and his love for books permeates every action he takes. However, he recognizes that there is a line between the love of books and the love for human life- a line that the Library doesn’t appear to recognize. I particularly love the glimpses we get into the lives of Jess’ fellow classmates although I have to admit that Scholar Christopher Wolfe’s story intrigues me the most.

INK AND BONE is the first book in The Great Library series and oh my, am I hooked! I’m always a sucker for books about books and it only gets better when the author is none other than the wonderful Rachel Caine. If you love fantasy or dystopian young adult novels, don’t hesitate to give INK AND BONE a try. The deeper themes set INK AND BONE apart from many of the other books in the genre and make it a highly recommended read!