Short Reviews: The Darkest Part of the Forest + The City of Brass + Iced + Burned

I’ve finished a lot of books in the past few months, some I’ve wanted to give full-blown reviews for and others I’ve wanted to mention, or at least explain my ratings for them. That gave me an idea: let’s try some short reviews for a change!

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Title: 
The Darkest Part of the Forest
Author:
 Holly Black
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
Version: Paperback
Page Count: 331
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Synopsis: GoodReads
Notable Notables: POC love interest and LGBTQ characters
Recommended Readers: Fans of the author, fantasy, and fae stories
Rating: ★★★★★

 

Holly Black just keeps delivering for me. I wouldn’t say that this book is as good as The Cruel Prince, but I had a great time just the same. Hazel and Ben, my ginger darlings, were wonderful characters and siblings–the things they sacrificed and did for each other were so bittersweet, and the drama surrounding them showcased how in your head you can get, blaming yourself when the other person never actually blamed you at all. Likewise, I loved how Black subverted certain tropes with them, making Hazel the knight/hero character and Ben the hopeless romantic/love interest for faerie prince Severin.

Oh, Severin. I did not expect to be given a bisexual, horned faerie boy, and I’m in love. He’s so fae, and he and Ben are so cute yet dark at the same time. The mystery surrounding Severin and how he got trapped in the glass coffin was gripping alongside the mystery of what was going on with Hazel and her seven years of service to Faerie.

I do wish that the Alderking had been developed a little more because he sounds like the kind of fae antagonist I’d be all about, but I loved the other characters, politics, and plot of the book too much to fret about it.

Jack, a black changeling boy, was another unexpected joy, and he and Hazel are so good. So good.

What a fun, creepy, fantastic, magical standalone novel and a wonderful addition to my growing collection of fae books.

the-city-of-brass


Title: 
The City of Brass
Author:
 S. A. Chakraborty
Genre: Fantasy, Historical Fiction
Version: Hardback
Page Count: 533
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Synopsis: GoodReads
Notable Notables: Middle Eastern characters and culture, LGBTQ characters
Recommended Readers: Anyone tired of western-based fantasy worlds
Rating: ★★★☆☆

Oh, I wanted so badly to adore this one because it sounded like my brand. A smart, Egyptian con woman accidentally summoning a sly trickster djinn warrior who spirits her away to a hidden magical world? Yes, please!

Unfortunately, the world building turned out to be the strongest aspect of this novel, which is important but not all you need. Nahri and Dara, the djinn, start off having a caustic, combative relationship where they have to work together but don’t trust each other. After a chapter from another POV, I came back to Nahri and Dara, and suddenly they were amiable and kind of friends? They basically bonded off-screen, which was a huge mistake since so much of the book then leans heavily on their implied romantic yet forbidden relationship, but I never saw or understood how they suddenly got to that point or how Nahri came to trust and rely on him so much. Their relationship is what largely determined how the book ended which is another reason why I believe it needed to be written much better and stronger than it was.

Another problem was pacing. The book started off with a bang and then soon slowed to a crawl until the end. Most of that time was taken up with world-building and explaining all the different tribes of djinn and their histories with each other. Prince Alizayd’s chapters brightened these sections up with all the politics and well-intentioned but terrible decisions he was making, and I liked the twist with his brother, the crown prince, and his captain of the guard.

But Nahri wound up getting lost in the shuffle of all these actors, to the point where she seemed less and less like the bright, cunning woman I met at the start of the book. She became passive to the hand she was dealt, and I wasn’t a fan. Dara wound up not being much of a trickster at all, and I found him boring compared to Ali.

Overall, I didn’t hate The City of Brass, but I didn’t love it, either. The novel was a breath of fresh air in the fantasy genre which is incredibly saturated with western culture, folklore, and characters, but I do need Chakraborty’s characters to become more than they are here and to make more sense. Here’s hoping the sequel will deliver.

iced
Title: Iced
Author:
 Karen Marie Moning
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Paranormal Romance
Version: Hardback
Page Count: 512
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Synopsis: GoodReads
Notable Notables: You know… I really can’t say.
Recommended Readers: Hardcore fans of this author only
Rating: ★★☆☆☆

 

I should’ve know from the start this series had jumped the shark when I opened it up to see that every chapter began with a song lyric like this is fanfiction.net circa 2009. Especially when the author clearly had a very particular selection of songs/bands she was pulling from, which often had very little to do with the mood or point of the chapter.

Iced, I knew, would have some problems. But wow, was it yikes central. Dani, not Mac, is the focus now, and even though I loved Dani as a character in previous books, oh my God, reading from her point of view is as exhausting as Mac’s even though they are presented differently. Dani has provided Moning with another excuse to ramble on and on, providing nothing to the story, except now it’s in an even more juvenile, “I’m-so-tough” tone.

On top of that, I had to read constantly about Ryodan, an immortal whatever he is, and Christian, a human-turned-Unseelie Prince, lusting after a 14-year-old and yeah, no thanks. It literally doesn’t even matter how often they say they’re “looking at the woman she’s going to be,” Dani’s still 14 now, so DO! NOT! EVEN!!!!

Even without the gross pedo-thoughts, both Ryodan and Christian became unbearable characters. I even used to like Ryodan, but he was so annoying and childish with all his big-boy, machismo posturing like I’m rolling my eyes just remembering it.

Also, who the hell is Dancer and where did he come from? I smell ret-conning, lads.

Despite how long this book is, barely anything happens, and it’s clearly all groundwork for a Very Obvious Plot and excuse to extend the series even further. If you’re reading this series, don’t bother with this one and definitely don’t start here.

Burned-cover


Title: 
Burned
Author:
 Karen Marie Moning
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Paranormal Romance
Version: Hardback
Page Count: 475
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Synopsis: GoodReads
Notable Notables: Absolutely nothing
Recommended Readers: Literally no one
Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

 

First, what a godawful cover, but at least it accurately signifies how godawful this series became and what is truly the focus of it.

If I could give this book zero stars and have it count, I would. From the very first chapter–one that I had been looking forward to because it was from Jericho Barrons’ POV–I wanted to rip this piece of garbage to shreds. It’s truly impressive how authors can take a relationship that I was all about in previous books and then utterly destroy it and render it meaningless. Brava! Well done!

The main thing that got me through the first five books of the Fever series, other than the lore, was the banter and the “will they, won’t they” tension between Mac and Jericho, and here I find out that they actually did have sex when they first met, that Barrons pretty much pressured/forced her into it (oh, but Mac wanted it, so that’s okay), and then when she came to regret it in the morning (obviously), he then erased her memories of them having sex until she could “deal with them.” More like, so he didn’t have to shoulder the consequences but o k a y.

I hated this book, from start to finish. Everything that made Mac and Barrons work was gone: no banter, no intimacy, no chemistry. Mac was a shadow of her former self and ultimately useless and afraid, and I’m wondering where the hell all her character development went.

Funnily enough, this book was supposed to be about Dani, told from Dani’s POV, but I had to hear it from Mac instead. Why? Because Moning backpedaled frantically on the pedophilia vibes from Iced, making Ryodan and Christian out to be good guys all along, and then miraculously aging up Dani (now known as Jada), ensuring I got no payoff from reading through that drivel. Jada herself was so bland and annoying, her POV chapters were so incoherent, and it was so sad how often Moning used Mac as a mouthpiece to say how great Jada is, how kick-ass, how cool, but oh, it’s so sad how the old Dani is gone, but Jada, tho, right?

Honestly… Don’t try to manipulate me, as a reader or otherwise. You will fail.

Like Iced before it, barely anything happens in this book, and we’re clearly building up to Another Plot Involving Mac, oh boy. The climax we finally got to was laughably idiotic. I didn’t care from the start, but this book took such pains to never actually make me care, about anything.

Burned needs to be burned with fire. It certainly burned many loyal readers, myself no longer included.

Well, that’s all from me this time. How’s your reading life going? Have you loved or suffered through any of these, too? Let me know!

2 thoughts on “Short Reviews: The Darkest Part of the Forest + The City of Brass + Iced + Burned

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