Win copy of A House of Flame and Shadow

Reviews: Lauren O’Connor-May


Ali Hazelwood

Little Brown

Ali Hazelwood has branched out in this latest offering but, fear not, the romantic female lead is still a shameless nerd – this time of the IT variety.

Hazelwood made a pen name for herself by writing spicy science romances, and in this book, the unfortunately-named heroine, Misery, also happens to be a vampire.

Nevertheless, I wouldn’t call this genre-bending book a fantasy or horror. The vampyres, as the book calls them, are a human sub-species that have evolved beyond the messy need to chew food – so they drink blood instead – from blood banks, that are always remarkably full (okay maybe this is a fantasy).

We meet Misery when she is marrying her Were, as in wolf, groom for a peace treaty marriage but we learn that there is also a mystery afoot. Misery’s only friend, Selena, is missing and Misery has been searching for her for months.

No one else is looking for Selena because the orphaned girl has no other friends or relatives, due to her isolated childhood as the arranged friend of Misery, who spent 10 of her formative years as the Collateral, or peace treaty hostage, in the human district. Selena was selected to live with the lonely hostage vampyre because apparently, Misery needs company.

All these mystery, sci-fi, fantasy, romance shenanigans seemingly take place in our modern world, complete with video-calling and CCTV.

My only dislike with this book was that the attempted witty dialogue fell flat. It was also kinda gross but to each their own.

House of Flame and Shadow

Sarah J. Maas


This is my first foray into Sarah J Maas and before fans lynch me for reviewing an author several sequels in, let me add that was an accident. Maas-virgin me did not know I was starting midway.

Thankfully, booktuber Cari Can Read has done video synopses on the first two novels. After two more-than-two-hour-long videos, I was got caught up on the Crescent City series, only to discover that this book crosses over into the Court of Thorns and Roses (Acotar) series.

A wiki fandom crash course later and I could finally start reading this book, which is full of action, gore, heartache, and spice. It is soap opera meets action thriller, with a plot so complicated you could fit fat novels through the holes.

Everyone in the books are sexy, powerful and have deep emotional battles to fuel the overarching slave rebels against master, twist-riddled plot.

What I did find interesting was the blend of magic and tech. While Acotar’s world is medieval, Crescent City’s is modern – with angels and fae firing guns, hacking emails and taking selfies.

I did have a quick chuckle when the lead character Bryce – who, per fantasy staple, starts as a nobody but spends the rest of the novels coming to realise that she is actually the most powerful of all – tries to explain what cellphones are to her medieval captors.

What I didn’t like was that most of the characters behaved like horny, petulant teenagers, even though some of them were supposed to be hundreds, if not thousands, of years old.

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