The Starless Sea

Books, Favourites, Pink in Ink

Erin Morgenstern

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Far beneath the surface of the earth, upon the shores of the Starless Sea, there is a labyrinthine collection of tunnels and rooms filled with stories. The entryways that lead to this sanctuary are often hidden, sometimes on forest floors, sometimes in private homes, sometimes in plain sight. But those who seek will find. Their doors have been waiting for them. Zachary Ezra Rawlins is searching for his door, though he does not know it. He follows a silent siren song, an inexplicable knowledge that he is meant for another place. When he discovers a mysterious book in the stacks of his campus library he begins to read, entranced by tales of lovelorn prisoners, lost cities, and nameless acolytes. Suddenly a turn of the page brings Zachary to a story from his own childhood impossibly written in this book that is older than he is. A bee, a key, and a sword emblazoned on the book lead Zachary to two people who will change the course of his life: Mirabel, a fierce, pink-haired painter, and Dorian, a handsome, barefoot man with shifting alliances. These strangers guide Zachary through masquerade party dances and whispered back room stories to the headquarters of a secret society where doorknobs hang from ribbons, and finally through a door conjured from paint to the place he has always yearned for. Amid twisting tunnels filled with books, gilded ballrooms, and wine-dark shores Zachary falls into an intoxicating world soaked in romance and mystery. But a battle is raging over the fate of this place and though there are those who would willingly sacrifice everything to protect it, there are just as many intent on its destruction. As Zachary, Mirabel, and Dorian venture deeper into the space and its histories and myths, searching for answers and each other, a timeless love story unspools, casting a spell of pirates, painters, lovers, liars, and ships that sail upon a Starless Sea

After ten years of waiting for fans of Erin Morngenstern’s hugely successful debut The Night Circus, we’re transported to another wonderfully fantastical world of magic doors, mythical libraries and legendary stories.

We follow Zachary Ezra, our protagonist. During his regular visit to the local library, he stumbles upon a book full of fantastical short stories that looks to be very old. As he flicks through this mysterious book of tales, the is a tale of romance involving what is called the starless sea in an underground world. But as he continues reading, he finds one that reads like a very unusual moment in his life. In perfect detail. Can he find out who wrote about this moment in his life? Will he find the starless sea?

I loved The Night Circus and became a die-hard fan of Morgenstern’s from its last page. So, when I saw she was finally coming out with another title, I was beyond excited!

As I began to read, I discovered why it took so long between publications. This book is impeccably crafted. Not only do we have a wonderful, beautiful and captivating main plot with excellent character-building, but we find that this is just book-inception. The short fairy tales are published inside the main story, giving it even more unique qualities. But these extra tales aren’t rushed, far from it. They are immersive in-and-of themselves. If she published a book with just the short tales, I’d be throwing my money everywhere!

I loved her descriptive writing of this world and the magical painted doors, I really felt I could see everything and just wanted, desperately, for someone to invent a way to travel to these fictional worlds, to hear, see and smell the surroundings.

Despite all that, I became a little annoyed at the amount of filler-words there were (more specifically the word ‘and’). I ended up skipping over these words so often because they really were over-used and took me away from the story. This AND this, AND this… it just got annoying.

But for a negative, it’s a pretty minor one which I can easily look past (literally) because the level of craftsmanship was staggering.

This really made me feel festive, for some reason. Maybe something to do with when I ordered it? I can’t recommend this more and Erin Morgenstern remains one of my all-time favourite authors.


Hardcover

498 pages

Published – 5th February 2020

Publishing Company – Doubleday Books

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Serpent & Dove

Audiobooks, Books, Pink in Ink

Shelby Mahurin

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Two years ago, Louise le Blanc fled her coven and took shelter in the city of Cesarine, forsaking all magic and living off whatever she could steal. There, witches like Lou are hunted. They are feared. And they are burned.           Sworn to the Church as a Chasseur, Reid Diggory has lived his life by one principle: thou shalt not suffer a witch to live. His path was never meant to cross with Lou’s, but a wicked stunt forces them into an impossible union—holy matrimony.          The war between witches and Church is an ancient one, and Lou’s most dangerous enemies bring a fate worse than fire. Unable to ignore her growing feelings, yet powerless to change what she is, a choice must be made.          And love makes fools of us all.

This title just blew up in the book world. I’m guilty for purchasing this purely because of the hype!

I’m noticing a trend where witch-themes are making a come-back in publishing and Ms. Mahurin chose a great time to have this published. Many of the YA-fantasy Royals have reignited this adoration.

Set in a some-what historical setting in France during the time of the witch-trials, this added a layer of romance and gothic feel. Louise le Blanc is a young witch, running away from her mother and her coven after years of mistreatment from them. When she is found by the Chasseur, Reid Diggory, she uses her magic to coerce the archbishop to wed the pair and wipe her true identity from knowledge to protect herself from the Chasseur and her mother.

Louise and Reid’s relationship goes from indifference and distrust to love ad romance. Though this was really well written, I don’t tend to enjoy this trope. However, as I said, this relationship development was really well written where it felt organic and not something the author is forcing.

The main plot-point took a good chunk of this book before we get to the climax. But, since this is a series of two books (with a promise of a third) I kind of expected this.

All in all, I did enjoy this. It was a good read but wasn’t something to write home about.

Have you read this book? What were your thoughts?


Hardcover

513 pages

Published – 3rd September 2019

Publishing Company – Harper Teen

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The Ocean at the End of the Lane

Books, Favourites, Pink in Ink

Neil Gaiman

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Sussex, England. A middle-aged man returns to his childhood home to attend a funeral. Although the house he lived in is long gone, he is drawn to the farm at the end of the road, where, when he was seven, he encountered a most remarkable girl, Lettie Hempstock, and her mother and grandmother. He hasn’t thought of Lettie in decades, and yet as he sits by the pond (a pond that she’d claimed was an ocean) behind the ramshackle old farmhouse, the unremembered past comes flooding back. And it is a past too strange, too frightening, too dangerous to have happened to anyone, let alone a small boy.          Forty years earlier, a man committed suicide in a stolen car at this farm at the end of the road. Like a fuse on a firework, his death lit a touchpaper and resonated in unimaginable ways. The darkness was unleashed, something scary and thoroughly incomprehensible to a little boy. And Lettie—magical, comforting, wise beyond her years—promised to protect him, no matter what.          A groundbreaking work from a master, The Ocean at the End of the Lane is told with a rare understanding of all that makes us human, and shows the power of stories to reveal and shelter us from the darkness inside and out. It is a stirring, terrifying, and elegiac fable as delicate as a butterfly’s wing and as menacing as a knife in the dark.

This book is so amazing. This edition is one of the most stunning on my shelves and sits pride-of-place with many of my other favourites!

Neil Gaiman is, for many, the king of paranormal, fantasy fiction. And, being the winner of the GoodReads Choice Awards in 2013, it’s become a timeless piece.

We follow the nameless boy through his early years of living with his single father. And when he brings home a lodger and asks the nameless boy to move into his older sisters room, everything changes.

On one of his wanderings around his hometown, he meets Lettie Hempstock, a girl who claims to have seen the moon being made and adamant that the pond on her estate is an ocean.

I was absolutely gripped from the start by this book. This was so lyrical and had some very thought provoking messages of life, death, friendship and memories. The overall message, to me, is a different take of reincarnation. That we simply let the earth and water heal our hurt bodies and gives it back when the time is right, that no one truly dies.

The illustrations by Elise Hurst are absolutely beautiful and really adds to the story, making the suspenseful, darker and more gothic. I adored that the illustration was done using simple line-shading and negative space, leaving you to imagine how the characters look.

All in all, I absolutely loved this tale and its messages. I would have to put this as a firm-favourite of mine and this edition is an absolute treasure.


Hardcover Illustrated Edition

336 pages

Published – 12 November 2019

Publishing Company – Headline

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A Court of Wings and Ruin

Audiobooks, Books, Pink in Ink

Sarah J. Maas

Rating: 3 out of 5.

A Court of Thorns and Roses #3


Looming war threatens all Feyre holds dear in the third volume of the #1 New York Times bestselling A Court of Thorns and Roses series. Feyre has returned to the Spring Court, determined to gather information on Tamlin’s manoeuvrings and the invading king threatening to bring Prythian to its knees. But to do so she must play a deadly game of deceit – and one slip may spell doom not only for Feyre, but for her world as well. As war bears down upon them all, Feyre must decide who to trust amongst the dazzling and lethal High Lords – and hunt for allies in unexpected places. In this thrilling third book in the #1 New York Times bestselling series from Sarah J. Maas, the earth will be painted red as mighty armies grapple for power over the one thing that could destroy them all.

The third instalment in the famous series by Sarah J. Maas.

With the first two being filled with suspense, anticipation and action, there was quite a high expectation from me.

We continue to follow Feyre after we were left with her returning to the Spring Court with Tamlin as a spy to gather as much information for the impending war with the High King. Her sisters struggle to accept and adjust to their new lives as fae and try to control their powers. And we see the relationship between Feyre, Rhysand and their Valerian family grow despite everything that is fighting against them.

Though, I still enjoyed this read, it wasn’t quite as unpredictable as the last. I found the writing to feel very determined to remain suspenseful and keep building, but it felt forced. There wasn’t as many erotic scenes as before, which I was very grateful for!

Maas’ descriptive writing is excellent, as usual and consistently shows her incredible imagination and creative writing. As we get to the stories end, I can’t deny that I both rolled my eyes and felt a pull at my heart-strings despite it turning into a trope-ending.

Though, I still continue to have an internal debate that this feels like more of a new-adult fantasy novel, I can’t deny that it was fun and packed-full of great characters, plots and descriptive writing. I would recommend this as something worth reading if you’re drawn to high-fantasy with dynamic storylines and a large cast of characters.


Hardcover

699 pages

Published – 2nd May 2017

Publishing Company – Bloomsbury Childrens


Audiobook

25h 9m

Published – 2nd May 2017

Publishing Company – Recorded Books

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A Court of Mist and Fury

Audiobooks, Books, Pink in Ink

Sarah J. Maas

Rating: 4 out of 5.

A Court of Thorns and Roses #2


Feyre survived Amarantha’s clutches to return to the Spring Court—but at a steep cost. Though she now has the powers of the High Fae, her heart remains human, and it can’t forget the terrible deeds she performed to save Tamlin’s people. Nor has Feyre forgotten her bargain with Rhysand, High Lord of the feared Night Court. As Feyre navigates its dark web of politics, passion, and dazzling power, a greater evil looms—and she might be key to stopping it. But only if she can harness her harrowing gifts, heal her fractured soul, and decide how she wishes to shape her future—and the future of a world torn apart.

The second phase of the ACOTAR series, we delve into the aftermath of Feyre’s trials to save Tamlin and Prythian.

After escaping to the spring court, Feyre is beginning to get lost in her memories and nightmares of the night she killed to save Tamlin and when she was killed. Which is understandable! As we progress through the first third of the book, we learn that Tamlin is also struggling with his memories and is determined to protect Feyre… At any cost. And as we find out that Feyre hasn’t only inherited life from all the court-leaders but also some of their gifts. Begging Tamlin to allow her to train and learn to control this power, she is refused and the expectations of being married to Tamlin in the Spring Court are too much for her human desire for freedom.

Rhysand, through the tattoo on Feyre after their bargain, feels her desperation to escape her new confines and offers his court of dreams as her safe-haven and to teach her to read, write and her power and how to control and harness it. But the more time they spend together, something begins between them.

As always, Maas’ ability to create these wonderfully imagined characters and the world that surrounds them is astounding. In every stage of these books, we learn more and more about the world, politics and traditions.

When my attention began to drift from the book, she instantly has something else to snap your attention back. It feels like she really was thorough with her edits on this to make sure it really was as good as it can be.

That said, I had the same issue with this as I did with the first instalment. That being the erotic scenes at so many points in this. Literally the first chapter is all erotic! Call me old-fashioned but I’ve never felt comfortable with these and they just make me cringe, so I skip through them. I tend to expect this in adult books but, as I said before, this is a YA fantasy that blurs the line between that and adult fiction. That said, I really did enjoy this, and this author has become a solid favourite in my books. I can’t wait to see what the final book has in store for me!


Hardcover

626 pages

Published – 3rd May 2016

Publishing Company – Bloomsbury USA Childrens


Audiobook

23h 17m

Published – 3rd May 2016

Publishing Company – Recorder Books

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A Court of Thorns and Roses

Audiobooks, Books, Pink in Ink

Sarah J. Maas

Rating: 4 out of 5.

A Court of Thorns and Roses #1


Feyre’s survival rests upon her ability to hunt and kill – the forest where she lives is a cold, bleak place in the long winter months. So when she spots a deer in the forest being pursued by a wolf, she cannot resist fighting it for the flesh. But to do so, she must kill the predator and killing something so precious comes at a price …          Dragged to a magical kingdom for the murder of a faerie, Feyre discovers that her captor, his face obscured by a jewelled mask, is hiding far more than his piercing green eyes would suggest. Feyre’s presence at the court is closely guarded, and as she begins to learn why, her feelings for him turn from hostility to passion and the faerie lands become an even more dangerous place. Feyre must fight to break an ancient curse, or she will lose him forever.

This fictional fantasy screams Beauty and the Beast for me. Just by the plot alone, it doesn’t seem like a retelling, on first glance. Being that my favourite Disney movie when I was growing up, there was big shoes to fill!

I’ve read Maas’ most recent release (Crescent City-House of Earth and Blood) and was just blown away by the saturation of it. I had a book-hangover for a few days after and was desperate to read more of this series… but, alas, I have to wait. So what’s as good as the next book in a series? Another series from the same author!

I would say that this is on the very border of YA and closer to the New Adult category. There were a few erotic scenes that really push that boundary. But maybe this is what our young adults are reading these days!

Is it just me that is rather confused by the definition of Young Adult and New Adult?

Anyway, our protagonist, Feyre is of poor origins with the continual burden of getting food on her families table. She is a very stubborn woman with the raw determination to protect anyone she cares about and to not be confined by her human form.

Our antagonist, Tamlin, is a dashing High Lord in the Spring Court of Prythian. Unable to tell Feyre of his curse and is falling in love with her, he finds determination to protect her from the malevolent forces that have plagued him for years.

The plot was rather predictable, given that it’s very reminiscent of Beauty and the Beast, but was no less enjoyable! In fact, I just became more invested as it went on. With curses, faerie lands, the divide between human and faerie, the mysterious confines of Tamlin’s curse and the gut-twisting fetes that Feyre will go to prove her love.

I spent a while really deciding where I would put this in my ratings but settled on a four-star because it was a well-written novel and I really did enjoy every second but it wasn’t a solid favourite for me. There were a few moments where I rolled my eyes, those being the riddle that Feyre is given to save the fate of Prythian and, of course, the erotic scenes. I’m never one to find these scenes exciting, more cringey and uncomfortable. Especially when this is marketed for young adults and pushed that bar a bit too far across the border.

I mostly listened to the audiobook for this, narrated by Jennifer Ikeda, who did a fantastic job at portraying the characters and their emotions throughout the book.

I would recommend this, more to new adults who want to transition reading more adult fiction.


Hardcover

419 pages

Published – 5th May 2015

Publishing Company – Bloomsbury USA Childrens


Audiobook

16h 8m

Published – 1st February 2018

Publishing Company – Audible

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Burn Our Bodies Down

Audiobooks, Books, Pink in Ink

Rory Power

Rating: 3 out of 5.

From the author of the New York Times bestseller Wilder Girls comes a new twisty thriller about a girl whose past has always been a mystery—until she decides to return to her mother’s hometown . . . where history has a tendency to repeat itself.          Ever since Margot was born, it’s been just her and her mother. No answers to Margot’s questions about what came before. No history to hold on to. No relative to speak of. Just the two of them, stuck in their run-down apartment, struggling to get along.          But that’s not enough for Margot. She wants family. She wants a past. And she just found the key she needs to get it: A photograph, pointing her to a town called Phalene. Pointing her home. Only, when Margot gets there, it’s not what she bargained for.          Margot’s mother left for a reason. But was it to hide her past? Or was it to protect Margot from what’s still there?          The only thing Margot knows for sure is there’s poison in their family tree, and their roots are dug so deeply into Phalene that now that she’s there, she might never escape.

This is the first YA horror I’ve read. With more experience with horrors from Susan Hill and Laura Purcell, I kept my mind open to any and every possibility this would bring.

I’ve not read Rory Powers other popular title, Wilder Girls but is on that I hope to pick up soon.

A paranormal thriller with elements of crime-mystery, we find ourselves in the small town of Phalene after Margot finds her mother has been keeping secrets; of her extended family, how Margot came to be, her father and her mothers own past.

Margot, a seventeen-year-old desperate for her mum, Jo, to notice her, care for her… love her. And after a particularly difficult argument, she went to a pawn shop to buy Jo a gift in apology. When she finds a small bible with a white cover and beautiful gold page-edges, she peers behind the cover to find it was her mothers, gifted by Margot’s grandmother that she never knew existed. A small inscription and an old picture that confirms that it’s definitely her mothers. She decides she has to run away from home to try and find this long-lost grandmother and unearth the truths of why her mother was hiding her from their past. But all is not as it seems. When she finds where her grandmother, Vera, lives she sees her farm is on fire and a girl is trapped in the path of the blaze. She goes to save her, moving this girl from the fires path and, once they’re safe, she sees that they look exactly the same. Every detail of this mysterious girl is a mirror of her own. But she’s never heard of her before.

The underlying theme seems to be of mistakes, forgiveness and understanding. Does it mean forgiveness when you understand or can you still not forgive.

Powers writing style flows well through the novel really using the written-word to create a lyrical piece. But I found that some of the narration needed more use of punctuation to help convey the inner-turmoil and emotion Margot was feeling.

That said, I was left asking myself what I’d do in the same situations and how I would feel if I found my lineage hiding history from me.

I do think that, for a YA paranormal thriller that it gave enough suspense and shock without overselling the plot.

I had fun reading this. Though it wasn’t great, or a favourite, it is a sold three-star read. I flew through it with ease and am quite excited to pick up Wilder Girls. If you want a soft-horror that will leave you able to sleep at night and look at the cover without recoiling in terror (…*cough* Stew! *cough*) then this might be worth your time to take a look at.


Hardcover

352 pages

Published – 7th July 2020

Publishing Company – Delacorte Press

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Sick Kids in Love

Audiobooks, Books, Favourites, Pink in Ink

Hannah Moskowitz

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Isabel has one rule: no dating.          It’s easier–          It’s safer–          It’s better–          –for the other person.          She’s got issues. She’s got secrets. She’s got rheumatoid arthritis.          But then she meets another sick kid.          He’s got a chronic illness Isabel’s never heard of, something she can’t even pronounce. He understands what it means to be sick. He understands her more than her healthy friends. He understands her more than her own father who’s a doctor.          He’s gorgeous, fun, and foul-mouthed. And totally into her.          Isabel has one rule: no dating.          It’s complicated–          It’s dangerous–          It’s never felt better–          –to consider breaking that rule for him.

October is a particularly important month for me because it’s Dysautonomia Awareness month. As I’ve said in my bio, I’m chronically ill with a list of sydromes, many of them under the umbrella diagnosis of Dysautonomia. To find out more about Dysautonomia and other chronic illness myths and thoughts, click the link below to my Advocacy page.

Now, lets get to the book-

Usually, for me, a life-changing book is a five-star read.

However, this is the first time I have read a book where main characters have chronic illness but DO NOT DIE!
Suffering from chronic illnesses is so lonely and isolating because if you don’t look sick, not many people care or care to understand. But this book is literally what my mind says every day! The representation of life with long-term chronic illness is spot-on for me and after some digging, found Hannah’s Instagram page and sees she also suffers with chronic illness.

Isabel was a character that I could understand fully with her life and struggles and the messages that this book gives the reader. It’s important to see that, for most of those suffering with chronic illnesses, suffer in silence because of fear that they will be ignored or told that their illness isn’t real (yes, that does actually happen). So creating an outlet for these discussions to be had is a great way to educate people that people can still suffer without a terminal diagnosis.

Similar to Isabel, she struggles every day to try and be like her friends and not let her diagnosis affect her life and keeps how she’s feeling from her father out of fear of being ignored.

Then she meets Sasha, a boy who also suffers from a rare disease who is trying to show her that her illness does not define her and that making adjustments so she doesn’t suffer more than necessary is OK too. And mobility aids!

I found that so much of the dialog between the main characters and their friends and family talk about topics and phrases that are harmful to those suffering with an illness and why it’s so hurtful to hear them. If there were more titles that spoke of chronic, invisible illness like this, we would live in a much more, respectful, unprejudiced world.

My only issue, I couldn’t get invested in the love story. I just couldn’t FEEL it, but it, to me, wasn’t the primary focus, more an added bonus.

If you or someone you know has long-term chronic illness, PLEASE READ THIS! It says what I wish I could say to people around me without coming across like a bitch…


Hardcover

300 pages

Published – 5th November 2019

Publishing Company – Entangled Teen

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The Gravity of Us

Books, Pink in Ink

Rainbow Rowell

Rating: 4 out of 5.

As a successful social media journalist with half a million followers, seventeen-year-old Cal is used to sharing his life online. But when his pilot father is selected for a highly publicized NASA mission to Mars, Cal and his family relocate from Brooklyn to Houston and are thrust into a media circus.          Amidst the chaos, Cal meets sensitive and mysterious Leon, another “Astrokid,” and finds himself falling head over heels—fast. As the frenzy around the mission grows, so does their connection. But when secrets about the program are uncovered, Cal must find a way to reveal the truth without hurting the people who have become most important to him.          Expertly capturing the thrill of first love and the self-doubt all teens feel, debut author Phil Stamper is a new talent to watch.

I really enjoyed this book. I had to remind myself that it wasn’t a TV show or a movie but a book! My imagination just soared with this author with its characters. I may be quite bias as a fellow nerd in science, physics, theoretical physics and basically everything NASA does so it didn’t take me long to be invested in the story, given we may be raising the Mars generations right now!

We follow our main character, Cal; a young teen who loves New York, journalism and old cassette tapes. But our antagonist, Leon, is the polar opposite: quiet, reserved, sporty and his family look perfect on TV.

As the book progresses, we see that appearances aren’t all they seem to be, and sparks begin to fly between Cal and Leon. I wasn’t completely invested in the romance, but it made every character more human and tangible.

The plot of this was interesting. I could see how the events that unfolded could actually happen. It left me a little shocked!

If you love science and space exploration with a focus on the astrokids (love that name) and the families, you’ll love this.


Hardcover

314 pages

Published – 4th February 2020

Publishing Company – Bloomsbury YA

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The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue

Books, Favourites, Pink in Ink

V E Schwab

Rating: 5 out of 5.

A Life No One Will Remember. A Story You Will Never Forget.          France, 1714: in a moment of desperation, a young woman makes a Faustian bargain to live forever and is cursed to be forgotten by everyone she meets.          Thus begins the extraordinary life of Addie LaRue, and a dazzling adventure that will play out across centuries and continents, across history and art, as a young woman learns how far she will go to leave her mark on the world.          But everything changes when, after nearly 300 years, Addie stumbles across a young man in a hidden bookstore and he remembers her name.

From the best-selling author, V. E. (Victoria) Schwab, comes a lyrical tale that has been anticipated by fans all over the world.

I only discovered Schwab this last year and she has rapidly become a favourite author that will send me swooning after every page. Known for her many series of fantastical fiction including A Darker Shade of Magic which won the hearts and souls of so many.

Combining fantasy, mythical, contemporary and historical fiction, I was surprised at how smooth and easy to follow this was.

We follow Adeline LaRue, or Addie, who, desperate to change her fate and explore the world, makes a deal with the darkness. But, after begging for freedom, she made a terrible error by not choosing her words wisely and everyone she ever meets will never remember her. Until she meets Henry, a lost employee of a quaint bookstore in New York who is the first and only (other than the dark) to remember her and give her the power to say her name.

Written so we follow Addie and Henry, we also follow their past, making it a captivating read. During the time-jumps to centuries past, it paints our history in a more realistic, less romanticised fashion giving it that little more believability.

This is a much slower and (for Schwab and her previous works,) a subtle plot leaving all the extra room for the emotional suspense this book provides of love, loss, grief, identity, loyalty, depression, suicidal thoughts and the trickery of war. Schwab has been very open that this single novel has been ten years in the making. As I was reading I couldn’t help but see the real-life turbulence of the mind reflect in the characters situations. I can see that this tale and Addie will resonate with so many and is a tale that will stay with me for another 300 years.


Hardcover

560 pages

Published – 6th October 2020

Publishing Company – Tor Books / Titan Books

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