Review: Beneath the Sugar Sky by Seanan McGuire

beneaththesugarskyBeneath the Sugar Sky by Seanan McGuire

My Rating: 5/5 TARDISes

Series: Wayward Children #3

Date Published: January 9th, 2018

Publisher: Tor

Pages: 174 pages

Source: Purchased

Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

Synopsis: Beneath the Sugar Sky returns to Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children. At this magical boarding school, children who have experienced fantasy adventures are reintroduced to the “real” world.

Sumi died years before her prophesied daughter Rini could be born. Rini was born anyway, and now she’s trying to bring her mother back from a world without magic.

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This is a spoiler-free review, but may contain some spoilers for Every Heart a Doorway.

Beneath the Sugar Sky is yet another novel that is pure magic and further cements this series into my all-time favorites list. McGuire presents readers with an exquisitely crafted tale that dabbles in friendship, darkness, and nonsense and takes us on a captivating and powerful journey. Though the worlds are as fantastical as always, the multi-dimensional characters and relatable themes make this story incredibly easy to become absorbed in. McGuire expertly creates something that readers can easily relate to and builds up the world around them so that one is fully immersed in the enchantment of this fractured fairytale.

While this novel does return to the setting of the first, the story is structured in a much different way. We are taken from Eleanor West’s School for Wayward Children and travel through a variety of portal worlds that we have only heard of thus far. It is an adventure unlike any other with a beautiful and diverse cast of characters—both old and new. It is a wholly unique tale that combines fantasy with reality and celebrates our differences and the qualities that make us human. And, above all, it is about love, belonging, and the camaraderie that can form between an unlikely group of young heroes.

In this novel, we follow four kids from the School for Wayward Children—Cora, Nadya, Christopher, and Kade—and their unexpected guest, Rini. Every single character in this novel is absolutely brilliant and the friendship that binds them together, even more so. They fully accept each other for who they are and treat each other with equal amounts of respect. McGuire’s characters are always so lovable and I adore every second I get to spend with them. Time and time again, she is able to create fully fleshed out characters very quickly and fluidly, as these stories are quite short.

All of the novels in this series feature a huge amount of diversity and this one, in particular, demonstrates this extremely well. McGuire takes things such as sexuality, race, disabilities, gender identity, and size and folds them into the story. She does not highlight these qualities in a way where they clearly stand out compared to the rest of the plot. Instead, she treats them as pure, natural facts about her characters—it is just a part of who they are and that is all that matters. She does not make a big deal out of it, instead, showing how important it is to see people for who they are. We are all exactly who we were meant to be and nothing that makes us who we are is abnormal or should be a cause for discrimination. We are all equal. That is how she treats her characters and this is one of the many reasons why I love this series.

Through all the magic and nonsense and impossibilities, the humanity radiates from behind it all. It ties us so closely to the characters—the struggles and environments—despite the fantastical nature of the storyline. Adding in issues that run rampant in our society and take a toll on people—particularly younger people—allows readers to relate to each character and the obstacles they face. This also provides insight into the many problems that plague us and how everyone’s story is different. Every moment, this novel reminds us how important it is to be open-minded and, above all, that even though life carries each and everyone one of us through a unique journey, we all share one similarity that links us. We are still human.

The worlds that McGuire creates are utterly enchanting and easy to become a part of. They are so vividly described and I could always form a clear picture in my mind. For the first time, we are taken into multiple worlds, which was absolutely fascinating. In such a short period of time, she meticulously constructs them and seamlessly fits them into the adventure of the characters. These glimpses have left me dying to see more of each character’s individual world and hear their full backstories.

As always, McGuire’s writing is skillful and beautiful. The emotions that she evokes throughout the novel are palpable and her worlds are painstakingly created to the point of absolute solidity. She has the perfect voice for telling these types of narratives that are styled very much like modern fairytales. This voice of hers breathes life into every page, every element of the narrative itself.

The novel is imaginative—sugary sweet as the cover of the book with an undercurrent of sadness and longing. She fills it with adventure and magic while also weaving in the struggles people face in reality. Insecurities, fears, desire for acceptance—these and many more topics can be seen as the base for this story. This is what makes her stories feel so real—like we as readers could simply step through a door and instantly find ourselves exploring these breathtakingly beautiful worlds. They are each built up around us in such a detailed, multi-dimensional way that it is almost impossible for them and the characters to not take up residence in one’s mind. McGuire truly is an artist. If you have not begun this series yet, I highly urge you to give it a try.

5.0 TARDISes

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Reviews: It’s Funny Until Someone Loses an Eye by Kurt Luchs and The Last Time I’ll Write About You by Dawn Lanuza

itsfunnyuntilsomeonelosesaneyeIt’s Funny Until Someone Loses an Eye (Then It’s Really Funny) by Kurt Luchs

My Rating: 3/5 TARDISes

Series: Standalone

Date Published: November 1st, 2017

Publisher: Sagging Meniscus Press

Pages: 210 pages

Source: Netgalley

Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

Synopsis: Fiction. This collection of stories by Kurt Luchs pursues its comedic quarry with the ruthlessness of a pussycat trying to get out of a cardboard box. Luchs, who has written for august literary organs such as The Onion, The New Yorker, and McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, and even been published by some of them, is an inspired comic writer in the tradition of P.J. Wodehouse, S.J. Perelman, and Woody Allen, for whom not only the world but language itself is a source of constant delight. Even the hilarity he generates is not an end in itself; the convulsing diaphragms of his laughing readers are in his hands a remotely operated musical instrument bridging the woodwind and percussion sections.

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*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review*

This book is a collection of standalone outrageous and comical essays and stories. I love reading, watching, and listening to anything humorous. Comedy is important these days—we all need to be able to laugh with all the insanity going on around us! And I have an extremely random, sarcastic, and silly sense of humor. However, this collection actually ended up being a bit too random and bizarre even for me, which was a huge surprise. Don’t get me wrong, there were a number of funny stories in this compilation, but there were also plenty that I just didn’t find much humor in. Even the stories that did crack me up were not “laugh-out-loud” funny—they were just okay.

Unfortunately, I ended up feeling rather unsatisfied overall with this collection. I was eager to read it, and maybe I went in with higher expectations than I should have—this was my first experience with Luchs’ writing. Though it did get some laughs out of me, none of the stories really stood out to me, and even now, I can’t remember much of them. There were some parts that did connect with me and my cynical and silly style of humor, but I wish it had been a little bit more consistent all the way through. In the end, it was a bit slow to get through and not as memorable as I had hoped, but it still provided me with a bit of comedy.

3.0 TARDISes

thelasttimeillwriteaboutyouThe Last Time I’ll Write About You by Dawn Lanuza

My Rating: 3/5 TARDISes

Series: Standalone

Date Published: January 30th, 2018

Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing

Pages: 176 pages

Source: Netgalley

Links: Goodreads | Amazon

Synopsis: The Last Time I’ll Write About You is popular Filipino YA and romance writer Dawn Lanuza’s debut collection of poetry. Featuring beautiful, relatable poems about first love, this book is the perfect companion for anyone who has loved, lost, and emerged anew.

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*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review*

The main focus of this particular collection is love, relationships ending, and the power every human has to process the grief and recover from it. Lanuza’s words truly show the strength and skill we all have inside that allows us to build ourselves back up again after we break apart. She writes short and simple poems that she injects with more depth despite their size—and she has quite a beautiful style of writing.

However, there were only a handful of poems that really stood out among the rest for me. Other than that—while well written—many seemed too reminiscent of the typical poems written in this newly popular style of very short but powerful poetry. That style didn’t always work out in her favor.

I also feel as though I might not have gotten everything out of these poems that I should have. While I could recognize the emotion and power in Lanuza’s words, I couldn’t quite connect properly to many of the topics and themes that spoke on romantic love. I have very limited personal experience in that area, so it was hard to relate on that front.

However, the message of strength through grief is something that I can apply to other parts of my life—such as a loved one passing away—and with that in mind, I felt the impact of her words slightly more. Though this particular collection did not blow me away, it still made for a fairly interesting read. I would recommend giving it a try and seeing if and how these poems speak to you.

3.0 TARDISes

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Reviews: Through the Eyes of a Lost Boy by Edward Bonner and Quiet Girl in a Noisy World by Debbie Tung

throughtheeyesofalostboyThrough the Eyes of a Lost Boy by Ed Bonner

My Rating: 3.5/5 TARDISes

Series: Standalone

Date Published: August 29th, 2017

Publisher: eTreasures Publishing LLC

Pages: 165 pages

Source: Netgalley

Links: Goodreads | Amazon

Synopsis: Dedicated to all who believe and imagine.

Collection of poetry about:

Love

Loss

Trauma and Pain

Healing

A journey through the eyes of a young boy to adulthood

The book introduces a new look of being exposed

Someone willing not to hide behind a tree

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*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review*

This was a decent collection of poetry. Edward Bonner has compiled poems that encompass every aspect of his life so far, from childhood up until his current age. Recently, I’ve been extremely interested in more personal poetry that chronicles various events in the writer’s life, and this was a fairly enjoyable one. It was intriguing to see Bonner reflect on all the aspects of his life that shaped him into who he is today. As the collection progresses, he picks apart and comes to term with many of his most intense emotions and the pain of a rough childhood.

You get the sense that Bonner is conveying an understanding that he has gathered through the years—he is finally able to properly comprehend and express the feelings he could not as a child. The collection as a whole truly makes you feel the incredible mental and emotional journey Bonner has gone through since he was a young boy, and that makes his words very poignant. Each poem flows into the next, giving it a very story-like quality. With a kind and intelligent voice, Bonner takes his readers on a ride that is both heartbreaking and heartwarming.

3.5 TARDISes

quietgirlinanoisyworldQuiet Girl in a Noisy World: An Introvert’s Story by Debbie Tung

My Rating: 4/5 TARDISes

Series: Standalone

Date Published: November 7th, 2017

Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing

Pages: 177 pages

Source: Netgalley

Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

Synopsis: Sweet, funny, and quietly poignant, Debbie Tung’s comics reveal the ups and downs of coming of age as an introvert.

This illustrated gift book of short comics illuminates author Debbie Tung’s experience as an introvert in an extrovert’s world. Presented in a loose narrative style that can be read front to back or dipped into at one’s leisure, the book spans three years of Debbie’s life, from the end of college to the present day. In these early years of adulthood, Debbie slowly but finally discovers there is a name for her lifelong need to be alone: she’s an introvert. 

The first half of the book traces Debbie’s final year in college: socializing with peers, dating, falling in love (with an extrovert!), moving in, getting married, meeting new people, and simply trying to fit in. The second half looks at her life after graduation: finding a job, learning to live with her new husband, trying to understand social obligations when it comes to the in-laws, and navigating office life. Ultimately, Quiet Girl sends a positive, pro-introvert message: our heroine learns to embrace her introversion and finds ways to thrive in the world while fulfilling her need for quiet.

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*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review*

This was a very humorous, adorably drawn, and highly relatable collections of vignettes on the struggles of growing up as an introvert in an extroverted world. The overall concepts and feelings are not anything new to comics and graphic novels, and in this way, it might come off as a little repetitive. At the same time, however, everything in this collection is made much more unique due to the focus on Tung’s own personal experiences as well as by her wonderful art style. Through each individual comic, we follow Tung in the years after college as she learns to navigate being an adult while also accommodating her introverted nature.

As a majorly introverted young adult myself, I had absolutely no trouble identifying with many of these situations and emotions. Tung portrays everything perfectly to the point where you feel like this book is written for and about you. The art is magnificent and enhances the reading experience and the message Tung is conveying. Overall, this is a very warm and touching book that sends a great message—it’s all right to be an introvert! This is a very heartwarming and funny read that I believe will be extremely easy for a lot of readers to connect with.

4.0 TARDISes

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Review: The Splendid Baron Submarine by Eric Bower

thesplendidbaronsubmarineThe Splendid Baron Submarine by Eric Bower

My Rating: 4.5/5 TARDISes

Series: The Bizarre Baron Inventions #2

Date Published: November 7th, 2017

Publisher: Amberjack Publishing

Pages: 244 pages

Source: Publisher

Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

Synopsis:Waldo “W.B.” Baron is back with another amazing adventure in another incredible invention! Pirate treasure? A clandestine meeting? A terribly rude monkey with personal boundary and hygiene issues? Two of those things sound like a dream come true to W.B, whose clever inventor parents are hired―by the Vice President!―to go on a super secret and intensely important treasure hunt to repay a national debt. If only it weren’t for that lousy, rude monkey, it would be the beginning of a perfect adventure. But at least it isn’t squirrels…

The treasure hunt gives the Baron family the opportunity to use their exceptional steam-powered submarine, freshly biggened and ready for adventure! But things are seldom straightforward for the eccentric Baron family, and this treasure hunt is no exception. W.B.’s trademark bad luck has him suffering monstrous marine misfortune and marauding monkey misery.

Can the Baron family embark on their newest adventure without the eggy and depressing Aunt Dorcas? Will the Barons find the treasure they seek? Will they save the country from financial ruin? Where does the monkey fit in, anyway? Do we like asking questions? Not really, but inside you’ll meet someone who likes asking questions and then answering them (despite his claims to the contrary, he really does like it).

Oh, did we mention the pirate’s curse?

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*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review*

This is a spoiler-free review.

After reading and thoroughly enjoy the previous novel, I had no idea that there were going to be any other books following it. So I’m sure you can imagine just how excited I was when this randomly showed up on my doorstep one day. And this new installment did not disappoint—it was equally as hilarious and entertaining as the first Baron adventure. In fact, this plotline is my favorite of the two. Just like the first one, this story is a madcap adventure with the significance of family, friendship, and love at its core.

I fell even more in love with the characters Bower has created for these stories. It is so wonderful to see the new dynamic between them—building on that of the first novel. Even with the many misunderstandings that happen between the members of the Baron family throughout the course of the novel, they still remain tightknit and incredibly loving. This creates an appealing warmth in the tone and atmosphere.

In this novel, the Baron family is approached by the Vice President of the United States, who sends them off on a new adventure—this time at the bottom of the ocean. They have been given the task of tracking down a lost pirate treasure, which will be used to help the government repay a national debt.

Traveling in their steam-powered submarine, W.B. and his family go through another overly complicated journey. We follow them as they run into an enormous amount of outlandish obstacles, many involving W.B.’s usual clumsiness and his feud with a rather mischievous little monkey. However, not all is as it seems. Unsavory forces are at work, and maybe the troubles of their nautical excursion are the least of their problems.

While this is obviously not a deep and thought-provoking read and the target audience is fairly young, it is still so much fun. The characters’ wacky antics and escapades will have you laughing out loud. It is absolutely impossible to read these stories without a smile on your face. I will admit, the humor is not for everyone—older readers may not be as captivated by the childlike nature of it. In addition to that, the events of the story are quite random and jumbled, which does not negatively impact the narrative by any means—it is very fitting for the plot. However, this format is not going to be everyone’s cup of tea.

On the other hand, it is perfect for children—and for some adults, it will entertain the inner child we all have. This is one of those stories that had me wishing it had been around when I was younger. The outlandish nature of the events of the plot is what makes this story so great. One must suspend their disbelief and go along with the far-fetched and preposterous aspects of Bower’s unique version of the past.

The actual text of the novel itself is very easy to fall into and flows extremely well. Bower’s style is unquestionably a style that is appropriately accessible for the intended audience. He does a fantastic job of making the unbelievable believable—an essential part of this narrative. And at no point does it feel like it would be difficult for a child to understand or that it might make them lose interest. This book can be read as a standalone, though I personally feel that reading the series in order works a bit better.

Overall, this novel was equally as entertaining as the previous one, if not even more so. The Splendid Baron Submarine is a fast-paced and universally enjoyable read. Filled with hysterical surprises and humor that is just plain silly, this quirky tale is perfect for people of any age. This is a light and incredibly big-hearted series as a whole, and will undoubtedly pick up your spirits. I highly recommend this series to anyone looking for a warm and cheerful story or something amusing and wholesome for your child to read.

4.5 TARDISes

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Mini Review: Smoke & Mirrors by Michael Faudet

smokeandmirrorsSmoke & Mirrors by Michael Faudet

My Rating: 2.5/5 TARDISes

Series: Standalone

Date Published: November 14th, 2017

Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing

Pages: 240 pages

Source: Netgalley

Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

Synopsis: Smoke & Mirrors is the third book from internationally bestselling poet Michael Faudet, author of Bitter Sweet Love and Dirty Pretty Things—both finalists in the 2016 and 2015 Goodreads Readers Choice Awards.

Michael Faudet’s latest book takes the reader on an emotionally charged journey, exploring the joys of falling madly in love and the melancholy world of the brokenhearted. Beautifully captured in poetry, prose, and short stories, Faudet’s whimsical and sometimes erotic writing has captured the hearts and minds of thousands of readers from around the world.

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*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review*

Smoke & Mirrors was just one of those collections that did not click with me. The quality of writing and the messages being conveyed were not completely lost on me. The poems were generally comprehendible, and I was able to immerse myself in the work enough to get through to the end—but that was about it. At times, Faudet’s style was quite off-putting, and that caused a massive disconnect for me and blocked out any important ideas and themes. I found nothing really stood out, nothing touched me or had the impact that the author clearly intended his writing to have.

This collection as a whole does not seem like it would be easily accessible to a wide variety of readers. To me, these poems were not very poetic. The poems that had more of that proclaimed “whimsy” to them were the ones that I enjoyed the most. There were displays of love, heartbreak, happiness, and loss. These poems spoke to me—they were subjects I could connect to—and he phrased these topics in a beautiful way. Through the very beginning of this collected work, I felt much more engaged.

But then, many of the other poems in the next two thirds or so seemed very rough and graphic, taking away any lyrical aspects of the writing. Part way through the collection, the subject matter shifts abruptly into much more mature topics, which in itself is not an issue at all—poetry deals with all sorts of topics, from basic emotions to the more intimate aspects of life. The trouble I had was with the way he worded these things. I just found myself feeling uncomfortable, sometimes verging on disgusted. Again though, this is my personal opinion—definitely not a reflection of how everything comes across to every reader.

I read many positive reviews of Faudet’s work prior to picking this collection up, and I can see how his subject matter and use of language would appeal to some people. His subject matter and voice are, like most poets, very singular and attract different types of readers. This particularly came across as a very niche style—the way he portrays his thoughts and feelings is very unique and very direct. However, his writing was just not for me, and I don’t think I will be picking up any of his other collections in the future.

2.5 TARDISes

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Review: The Crown Jewel Mystery by Anna Elliot

thecrownjewelmysteryThe Crown Jewel Mystery by Anna Elliot

My Rating: 4/5 TARDISes

Series: Sherlock Holmes and Lucy James Mysteries #4

Date Published: June 1st, 2017

Publisher: Charles Veley

Pages: 100 pages

Source: Netgalley

Links: Goodreads | Amazon

Synopsis: A young American actress arrives in London hoping to learn her identity, just as Sherlock Holmes is closing in on a master criminal. Their worlds collide, and not even Holmes could have foreseen the impact!

This novella is the prequel to The Sherlock Holmes and Lucy James Mystery series. It takes place three days before the opening of The Last Moriarty.

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*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review*

This is a spoiler-free review.

Again, I have been pleasantly surprised by another installment of this series. This is only a short novella—a prequel to the main series—but it is just as thrilling and suspenseful as the full length novels. In fact, I think this is my favorite story so far; it is incredibly captivating and full of surprises that will keep readers on their toes. We are able to go back and take a look at the origins of our characters and what eventually brings them together. It does a wonderful job of further developing backstories and fleshing out many basic aspects of the general series plotline.

In this novella, we primarily follow the perspective of Lucy James, the intelligent, brave, and witty young woman who serves as the main character in the previous novel. Lucy and her friend, Johnny Rockefeller, have just arrived in London in pursuit of the answers that have been hidden from Lucy all her life—who her family is and who has been financially supporting her all through her early years. While following a major lead, the pair suddenly find themselves embroiled in a dangerous con, one with far more twists and turns than anyone can imagine.

I had such a great time reading this story. Though they do not actually meet at this point, it is interesting to see how close Lucy comes to meeting Sherlock. They each play a crucial part in solving this mystery and bringing about justice without even knowing the other’s involvement.

Once again, we get a vivid picture of what an incredibly clever and strong heroine Lucy is. She fits in fairly easily among these other well-known characters, which adds to the plausibility of the narrative when compared against the original stories. Lucy is a very well-developed, multi-dimensional character, who holds her own and makes a solid protagonist for these novels.

Occasionally, Lucy comes across as being just a little too perfect. I always feel that one of the main elements that makes Holmes so incredible is the portrayal of his flaws that remind you he is human. This is an extremely minor complaint though—one that does not negatively affect this novella at all. It is only a point that would add even more dimension to Lucy if used.

Really the main issue that I had is essentially the same one that I had with the previous novel—I still struggle with Lucy’s familial connection to Holmes. This is absolutely nothing that Elliot did wrong; I think she does a fantastic job of making the idea of their relationship realistic and believable. However, I personally am overly picky when it comes to adding elements that really stray far from the original story to a generally faithful retelling. And I admit, the more I read from this series, the more that aspect of the plot grows on me, which is a testament to how well Elliot weaves her characters into the world of these classic tales.

Overall, this novella is a fantastic addition to the Sherlock Holmes and Lucy James Mysteries series. It is a very fun, fast-paced read that also adds more dimension to the series as a whole. We are able to see what finally brought Lucy into the paths of Holmes and Watson, as well as an early picture of her astounding powers of deduction. Though I still do have a few personal issues reconciling the details of her link to the great detective, she is a skillfully crafted mirror of him, while also retaining those things that make her a unique character in her own right. I am loving this series so far and I cannot wait to continue on with it.

4.0 TARDISes

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Review: Robin Hood’s Dawn by Olivia Longueville and J.C. Plummer + Giveaway

Giveaway Open: If you would like to receive an e-book copy of Robin Hood’s Dawn, leave a comment below, let me know what your favorite retelling is if you have one, and provide a link to your Goodreads, Twitter, or an email address I can use to contact you!

Robins Hood's Dawn Book CoverRobin Hood’s Dawn by Olivia Longueville and J.C. Plummer

My Rating: 3.5/5 TARDISes

Series: The Robin Hood Trilogy #1

Date Published: January 16th, 2018

Publisher: Angevin World Publishing

Pages: 432 pages

Source: Publisher

Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

Synopsis: England, 1154-1194

A kingdom under assault.

A conspiracy born of anarchy.

A hero standing against tyranny.

Falsely convicted of a shocking crime, Robin Fitzooth, the Earl of Huntingdon, finds refuge in Sherwood Forest and becomes Robin Hood. 

Leading a band of men against the injustices of a malevolent sheriff and his henchmen, Robin begins to unravel a web of treachery threatening the English royal family.

As shadowy forces gather to destroy the future of a nation, Robin faces deceit, betrayal, and the ravages of war as he defends his king, his country, his people, and the woman he loves from a conspiracy so diabolical, so unexpected, that the course of history hangs in the balance. 

From the mists of an ancient woodland, to lavish royal courts teeming with intrigue, to the exotic shores of the Holy Land – Robin Hood leads the fight in a battle between good and evil, justice and tyranny, the future and the past.

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*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review*

This is a spoiler-free review.

Though I am a massive fan of any and all retellings, this reading experience was a bit different than usual. I have not actually read any Robin Hood stories yet, so I went into this knowing far less about the original source material. Typically, I don’t read retellings when I have such a small amount of knowledge of the story it’s trying to retell. However, after reading the synopsis of this novel, I absolutely could not pass it up—and I am extremely glad that I didn’t, for multiple reasons.

First and foremost, I thoroughly enjoyed my general reading experience. This exciting story and its memorable cast of characters, this fictional adventure embedded in historical fact—it all works together beautifully to create a riveting and witty narrative. Second, it was interesting for me to essentially go in blind, not having any substantial frame of reference. While I have little to no ability to compare and contrast this retelling to anything else, I feel that I have a handle on the way it comes across on its own, without any preconceived ideas of how things should be. That gave me a personally unique perspective compared to what I’m used to when it comes to retellings.

In this novel, we follow Robin Fitzooth—Earl of Huntingdon and an experienced swordsman and archer—during the events leading up to and immediately follow his transformation into the Robin Hood we all know and love. A false murder conviction sends him to Sherwood Forest and into the role of a hero, fighting for justice over a corrupt force within a country at war, all while retaining his loyalty to the king and his own integrity. He risks everything to right the wrongs inflicted on the poor and innocent, and to combat an immoral group of men who are conspiring to destroy a kingdom and threaten to harm those closest to him.

I will go ahead and say now that being unfamiliar with the original stories did not dampen my enjoyment of this novel in any way whatsoever. In fact, I am now even more eager to read those classic tales. Longueville and Plummer give us a well-rounded view of the lives as well as the familial histories of our main characters. We not only experience the adventures of Robin Hood and his men, but also witness the events that brought them together, even reaching back through multiple generations. The comprehensive rendering of fictional events woven into historical ones allows for a deeper understanding of the time period, and subsequently a multi-dimensional narrative.

I have to admit, this ended up being a bit of a slow read for me. This was not at all a reflection of the writing or story quality—rather, it was just my own ability to immerse myself in the world and plot. The text itself flows very nicely and is consistently absorbing, particularly as the action picks up a few chapters into the novel. The world-building is vivid and captures the time period well. Longueville and Plummer clearly put a lot of time and effort into researching the history that sets the stage for this adventure to play out on, and their knowledge causes the story to be even more tangible.

One thing I am unsure of is how exactly Longueville and Plummer split up the task of writing, but nonetheless, I was very impressed with the seamlessness of the text. I didn’t notice any major shifts in the writing or storytelling style, which is no small feat in a dual author narrative. The pair demonstrate a great deal of skill and knowledge in both prose and history, and make for a strong literary duo.

Longueville and Plummer do a fantastic job building three-dimensional characters who are easy to either root for or hate, and are always memorable. The relationships between the characters are beautifully depicted as well, the love story between Robin and Marian being an outstanding example. I am particularly pleased with how they portrayed Marian—while Robin is very protective of her and desperate to save her, she remains very independent, strong, and brave in a horrible situation. Robin’s relationships with the members of his band are another major highlight of this novel.

Overall, I found this to be a solid and well-crafted fantasy. Though it took me a bit longer to get through, I did feel very engaged and invested all the way to the end. Both fans of Robin Hood’s adventures as well as readers new to these characters can easily find enjoyment in this novel. While things do not end in any sort of cliffhanger, I was still left wanting more. I’m eager to see where the story goes, so I will definitely be picking up the next two installments as they come out.

3.5 TARDISes

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