YVO’S SHORTIES #125 – Muse Of Nightmares & Hope And Other Punchlines

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around a YA edition: two most anticipated books that both lived up to expectations for me. Muse Of Nightmares  by Laini Taylor is the duology conclusion and I once again fell in love with the wonderful wonderful prose. I have loved Julie Buxbaum‘s books in the past, and while Hope And Other Punchlines isn’t my favorite of the bunch, it’s still an excellent read and the 9/11 element is well handled.


Title: Muse Of Nightmares
(Strange The Dreamer #2)
Author: Laini Taylor
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Romance
First published: October 2nd 2018
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Finished reading: September 15th 2019
Pages: 528

“Wishes don’t just come true. They’re only the target you paint around what you want. You still have to hit the bull’s-eye yourself.”

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I admit I’ve been afraid to pick up my copy of Muse Of Nightmares… After being blown away by the first book of this duology, I was afraid it was going to be almost impossible for the sequel to live up to expectations. But I shouldn’t have doubted the power of Laini Taylor‘s absolutely gorgeous prose! Like with Strange The Dreamer, I was absolutely mesmerized by the words she uses to describe both the high fantasy world, its characters and the plot itself. Things can be said about the fact that not all that much seems to be happening considering its 500+ pages, although I did feel there was more going on in the sequel. But personally I didn’t really care as long as I was going to be able to keep lapping up those gorgeous sentences. Muse Of Nightmares proves that the writing and characters truly can make up for a plot that is slightly bland in places and this story blew me away. I mentioned the characters, and they are definitely one of the reasons this duology is on my list of all time favorites. Lazlo, Sarai and the others won over my hard so fast and my heart really went out for them. I love that a lot of the characters are not either good or bad, walking that grey area instead of simply being described as monsters. The worldbuilding of this high fantasy world is again beautifully done and set the right tone for this sequel. I would definitely suggest reading these in order, as Muse Of Nightmares picks up right where the first book ended and you won’t be able to appreciate the sequel without the character and plot development in Strange The Dreamer. Then again, if you don’t mind a slower and more character driven YA fantasy, you will want to spend time devouring the stunning prose in both books anyway.


Title: Hope And Other Punchlines
Author: Julie Buxbaum
Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance
First published: May 7th 2019 
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Finished reading: September 26th 2019
Pages: 311

“I’m so, so tired of always worrying about our world splitting into a before and an after again.”

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Julie Buxbaum is one of the select group of authors who can make me enjoy the contemporary romance genre. After loving her first two YA books, it’s easy to say that my expectations were sky high for Hope And Other Punchlines. It might have been the wrong time to pick up this title, or it might have been that my expectations were a tad unrealistic, because while there is no doubt that this story is an excellent read, it didn’t blow me away as I thought it would. There is a lot to love in Hope And Other Punchlines though. First up is the 9/11 element, an event that has made a huge impact on countless of lives and I could really appreciate how Julie Buxbaum incorporated this into the plot. While both the town and the Baby Hope photo are fictional, I do feel they represent the aftermath of 9/11 realistically and show us just how devastating the impact of this single event is even all those years later. Then we have the main characters Abbi, Noah and Jack. While I had certain issues with some actions in the beginning (blackmailing!!!), it is still quite easy for these three characters to win over your heart. The dynamics between geeky Noah, Jack and Abbi will grow into something absolutely adorable and they are definitely part of the reason this book works. Abbi (Baby Hope) is a very interesting character and she makes you think about the impact one little photo can have on both the life of those portrayed and on many others as it becomes a symbol of hope. I personally adored the camp scenes and I thought the story was well balanced in general. Lighter moments are contrasted with not only 9/11 details, but also other heavy themes as Alzheimer and cancer. I finished this story in no time at all and while I do admit it’s not my favorite Julie Buxbaum, I can definitely recommend it to any fan of the contemporary romance genre looking for a story that is both adorable and heartbreaking.


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ARC REVIEW: The Huntress – by Kate Quinn @fictionpubteam @HarperCollinsUK

Title: The Huntress
Author: Kate Quinn
Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery, Thriller
First published: February 26th 2019
Publisher: HarperCollins UK
Finished reading: September 30th 2019
Pages: 560

“It was pointless trying to find evil in a face. So often, evil sat invisible behind perfectly ordinary features.”

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by Netgalley and HarperCollins UK in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***


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I kept seeing glowing reviews about The Huntress ever since it was published earlier this year, so I was over the moon when my request for an ARC was actually approved. WWII historical fiction is one of my absolute favorite subgenres, so it is easy to say that between the glowing reviews and the bonus of a favorite genre I had extremely high expectations for this story. It’s the first time I read one of Kate Quinn‘s books (I have The Alice Network high on my TBR though), and I was definitely blown away by what I found. My expectations were more than met and I have found a new favorite story as well as author. Say hello to one of my 2019 top reads!

With its 560 pages, there is so much going on in The Huntress that I’m having a hard time figuring out where to start with my review. For lack of better ideas, I’ve decided to keep it simple and start with the historical setting. Due to the complexity of this story, we have three different storylines, POVs and thus three different historical settings to discuss… The one I found most striking was Nina’s POV, as we don’t often see a focus on the Russian side of the war, let alone learn more about female Russian pilots and everything related to their role in the war. We see Nina evolve as she grows up in inhospitable Siberia and wants to follow her dream to conquer the sky… The descriptions of the different places in Russia are simply fantastic, and the same goes for the incorporation of historical facts about the female pilot division and everything that relates to the Night Witches, the bombings and other things happening during the war. And I have to say that Nina’s POV alone already made me want to hand out the full 5 stars for this story.

To contrast this rather intense storyline, we have the milder POV set in postwar Boston with Jordan in the lead. This is a story of a young woman with a passion for photography, dreaming about a seemingly unreachable exciting life but instead being pushed to tie the knot with her boyfriend and take over her father’s business in the future. This storyline is also focused on family and has that whole ‘possibly evil’ stepmother vibe… It was really interesting to see both this storyline and Jordan’s character evolve over time and slowly merge with the third POV: Ian. Ian Graham is a British war correspondent who is determined to hunt down as many Nazi members as possible after the war with the help of his colleague Tony. Their journey starts in Austria as they decide to track down the infamous ‘huntress’, and here comes Nina in play as well as the only witness who saw the woman and survived.

At this point in the story we don’t know about Nina’s past yet, and it was fascinating to see how all different storylines slowly evolve as the hunt continues and brings them to different places and closer to the final so-called reckoning. I especially liked how we only learned about Nina’s past in small doses, absorbing those final details just before the story reaches its climax. The three different storylines and POVs are woven together in the most expert way and basically give you three different high quality stories to follow all wrapped together into one brilliant masterpiece. I’m not lying when I say that this is without doubt one of the best WWII inspired historical fiction stories I’ve read to this date, and I’m not taking those words lightly… The Huntress left me lost for words.

I don’t want to talk too much about the plot as I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but what I can say is that between the complex and rich plot, the writing, the different characters, historical references and settings, there is a lot to love in The Huntress. While the pace might be slower in points, the story also has moments of speed (especially in Nina’s POV) and you will have to prepare yourself for a healthy dose of surprises in the plot. The writing is simply beautiful and draws you right in, and I loved the use of foreign words here and there. The character development is also sublime, and I loved how the different storylines slowly came together until the full picture is finally revealed as you fit the last piece of the puzzle. Most of the characters are so easy to like as well, partly because of their flaws and realistic development, partly because of their charms. Especially Nina stood out for me (I loved her bluntness), but it was great to follow Ian and Jordan as well. Even the ‘huntress’ was a fascinating and well developed character, though of course she can never be called likeable.

As you might have guessed, there is a lot to love in The Huntress and I can highly highly recommend it to anyone who loves WWII historical fiction as much as I do. Between an unique, complex and rich plot, beautiful writing, fascinating characters, detailed descriptions that really make the historical settings come alive and a healthy dose of secrets and surprises, you will find yourself having a hard time picking what exactly your favorite element of this story is.


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YVO’S SHORTIES #124 – The Passengers & The Unbound

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around a new release and a backlist title, both my favorite authors. The Passengers by John Marrs turned out to be an absolutely brilliant read and one of my 2019 favorites… And while I was surprised that I didn’t enjoy The Unbound as much as the first book, it was without doubt still a solid read.


Title: The Passengers
Author: John Marrs

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: April 1st 2019
Publisher: Berkley
Finished reading: August 31st 2019
Pages: 416

“Nothing disappears any more,’ shrugged Cadman. ‘Everything is somewhere. All that’s private becomes public in the end.”


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I’ve been excited to read The Passengers ever since I first read that first raving review a while back… I couldn’t wait for my pre-order to arrive, but somehow I didn’t pick it up straight away when it did… I’m kicking myself now, because the reviews were absolutely right: this is an absolutely brilliant read. I’ve read his work in the past and I already knew I was going to like it, but The Passengers simply blew me away. What a read! The writing, the plot, the near-future setting, the twists, the characters… I loved it all, found myself to be glued to my seat and couldn’t stop reading until I discovered how it would all end. Some scenes are pretty brutal, but only show just how dire the situation the characters find themselves in is. The development of the near future is excellently done and I feel they give us a (terrifying) glimpse of what the future could be. I’m personally not sure if I would want driverless cars or having my whole life available online; and especially not after finishing The Passengers… Both plot and character development are well executed and there are so many secrets and twists involved that you will never guess what is going on or who is behind it all… I liked how this story was divided into three different parts, and the ending was satisfying. The Passengers is an absolutely brilliant book and hands down one of my favorites of 2019… If you haven’t read this one, you definitely should give it a go!


Title: The Unbound
(The Archived #2)
Author: Victoria Schwab

Genre: YA, Fantasy, Paranormal
First published: January 28th 2014
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Finished reading: September 1st 2019
Pages: 368

“Doubt is not a crime, Agatha. It is only a tool to test our faith. It can break us, but it can also make us stronger.”


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I decided to pick up the sequel of this series while memories of the first book were still fresh for a change… I loved The Archived and have been looking forward to dive into the world again. And while I have to say I didn’t enjoy The Unbound as much as the first book, I can’t deny it was still a solid book. The worldbuilding is still strong, the urban fantasy feeling with a paranormal touch right there and center, and I really like the idea of the Narrows, the Archived and the Keepers and Crew using doors to move around and do their job. The writing is of the same high quality I’ve become used to with Schwab‘s books, and it was really easy to keep turning those pages. My main issue is with the new direction of this story and the focus shifting towards the ‘real’ world, including a lot of private school scenes, cliches and even a love triangle. I get that Mac is a mess after what happened to her in the first book, but I wasn’t a fan of how her character behaved in the sequel. I also guessed the big plot twist really early on, which kind of put a damper on things… This is by no means a happy read and I did have some minor issues with this sequel, but overall it is still a very solid read. I’m definitely looking forward to see if she will write a third The Archived book!


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BLOG TOUR REVIEW: Blood Song – by Johana Gustawsson #blogtour #RandomThingsTours @Orendabooks @JoGustawsson @givemeawave @annecater

Hello and welcome to my stop of the Blood Song Random Things blog tour! A huge thanks to Anne Cater for inviting me to be part of this blog tour. The first two books of this series already blew me away recently, but Blood Song took it one step further and left me both shell shocked and with my mouth hanging wide open. Or in one word: FLABBERGASTED. Boy, this book hit me hard! Want to know why? Please join me while I share my thoughts!

Title: Blood Song
(Emily Roy & Alexis Castells #3)
Author: Johana Gustawsson
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: July 19th 2019
Publisher: Orenda Books
Finished reading: September 10th 2019
Pages: 300
(Originally written in French)

“We all see the world through our own lens, which is shaped by our past and our upbringing, our desires and our fears.”

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by Anne Cater and the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***

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I have lost count of the times the Emily Roy & Alexis Castells series has been recommended to me in the past, and with the first two books waiting impatiently on my shelves I thought joining the blog tour would be the perfect excuse to finally binge read all three books. And guess what? I have definitely joined #TeamRoyandCastells and #TeamJohana! I already reviewed Block 46 and Keeper recently, and now it is time to gush about book number three: Blood Song. I admit it doesn’t happen often, but every once in a while I come across a story that is able to blow me away to such extent that I find myself unable to put a coherent sentence on paper, let alone write a review that would do it justice. This is exactly what happened when I finished reading Blood Song. Not only did I find myself staring at that last page and unable to process what I just read, but the story also gave me one of the biggest book hangovers I’ve had in a long time. After being unable to read or blog for three days straight, I’ve now decided to sit down, get my thoughts on paper and hopefully start the road to recovery. Oh yes, such is the power of this book!

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: one of the reasons this series has quickly turned into one of my all time favorites is the fact that it represents a perfectly balanced combination two of my favorite genres: historical fiction and crime thriller. Both genres are combined in an expert and intricate way, making time fluid as you find yourself floating between the past and present. Johana Gustawsson is able to incorporate not only historical facts as well as the present situation, but also a variety of different settings that truly gives this series its international and timeless essence I’ve come to treasure. Not a small feat, as it is extremly hard to juggle so many different storylines without us readers getting lost along the way… But Johana Gustawsson not only makes it work, she turns this multilayered, complex and well crafted plot into a true masterpiece.

Block 46 and Keeper were already excellent reads, but the impossibe happened and Blood Song really took the essence of this series to the next level. The writing is simply sublime and the plot development of both past and present chapters is both thorough, intricate and well researched. On the one hand, we have the historical chapters set during a very difficult period in Spanish history: the Spanish Civil War and Franco’s dictatorship. I’ve always had a special interest in Spain and its history and I have actually studied the Spanish Civil War and its aftermath during Uni… And Johana Gustawsson does a fantastic job describing the atrocities committed against those against general Franco’s ideas and regime. Heartbreaking, appalling and horrifying: the historical chapters will both thoroughly unsettle you and chill you to the bone. Brutality, child abuse, families torn apart… All used to give a (sadly) extremely realistic view on a very dark chapter of Spanish history.

The present doesn’t give you much respite though, as we both have to deal with a shocking murder case involving the parents of a new favorite character of mine, Aliénor Lindbergh, and the heart-rending and moving topic involving parents struggling to conceive and IVF treatment. I applaude the author for being brave enough to tackle such a personal topic and using her personal experiences in general in her books. It truly makes the stories come alive and really took Blood Song to the next level for me. The murder case really hit me hard as I have grown really fond of Aliénor and it was heartbreaking to have that happening to her. That said, her development in this third books was on point and I loved meeting up with Emily, Alexis and the others again as well. Having a profiler and a true-crime writer as our main character duo gives this series a unique touch and it’s easy to say they are one of my favorite crime duos out there. Especially Alexis, but Emily as well will also experience development on a personal level, and some new details will definitely leave you astounded.

There are so many different elements in Blood Song, each already fascinating on its own, but all combined together they turn this story into one hell of a read. The detailed historical chapters filled with appalling and realistic facts about a dark period in Spanish history, the present day murders, the elements related to the fertility clinic, the personal development of the main characters, the current chapters set in Spain and Sweden… All woven together masterfully into an absolutely brilliant and harrowing story with an ending that will leave you flabbergasted. A big round of applause is also due for the translator David Warriner, who has given us the chance to meet Emily Roy and Alexis Castells and bring this fantastic series into our lives. Blood Song will always have a special place in my heart, and not just for bringing back memories of my time living in Madrid… It’s a book that was able to give me the biggest book hangover in a long time and without doubt a worthy addition to my list of 2019 favorites. Of course I cannot recommend both Blood Song and the rest of the series highly enough! This series is simply an absolute must-read.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Born in Marseille, France, and with a degree in Political Science, Johana Gustawsson
has worked as a journalist for the French and Spanish press and television. Her
critically acclaimed Roy & Castells series has won the Plume d’Argent, Balai de la
découverte, Balai d’Or and Prix Marseillais du Polar awards, and is now published
in nineteen countries. A TV adaptation is currently underway in a French, Swedish
and UK co-production. Johana lives in London with her Swedish husband and
their three sons. She drew on her own experience of fertility clinics and IVF to
write Blood Song and is happy to speak and write pieces about this.


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YVO’S SHORTIES #120 – Twisted & I Am Malala

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around a new 5 star favorite and another good read as well. I loved Thirteen when I read it a while back, and I think I might just love Twisted a tiny bit more. Steve Cavanagh is definitely one of my favorite new discoveries this year! And it took me years, but I finally managed to read I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai, and it was without doubt a very powerful memoir even though I failed to connect with it completely.


Title: Twisted
Author: Steve Cavanagh

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: January 24th 2019
Publisher: Orion
Finished reading: August 16th 2019 
Pages: 320

“This was what Paul lived for.

He just liked writing twists good enough to make the reader drop the goddamn book.

And there was one of the way.”


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I’ve had a copy of Twisted on my shelves for a few months, and after being blown away by Thirteen a little while back I was even more excited to finally read it. I didn’t think it was possible, but I think I loved Twisted even a tiny bit more than my first meeting with Eddie Flynn. This book knocked me out with a hammer and left me staring at the last page, trying to process what I had just read… Oh yes, this will definitely be on my list of favorites of 2019. And I can also say that Steve Cavanagh is one of my favorite newly discovered authors this year.

I don’t know how I should even start discussing my feelings, because it’s hard to explain the plot and story in general without giving away spoilers that could potentially ruin the fun. But let’s just say that both writing, pace, plot, characters and twists are top notch and definitely take Twisted to the next level. What I love about this book is that nothing is as it seems. You are told something and believe it is true, only for the next chapter to bulldozer over your newly discovered ‘facts’ and feeding you yet another lie instead. Which you will proceed lapping up greedily, desperately trying to get the full picture of it all as you are on a quest to discover the elusive truth. Lie after lie and twist after twist will mislead you up until the point that you even start doubting your own name and your sanity… Oh yes, Twisted will mess with your mind and it’s definitely the right title for this story. Clever, original, complex, brilliantly executed and hands down one of my favorite reads of the year.


Title: I Am Malala
Author: Malala Yousafzai

Genre: Non Fiction, Memoir
First published: November 1st 2012
Publisher: Hachette Book Group
Finished reading: August 17th 2019
Pages: 352

“When the whole world is silent, even one voice becomes powerful.”

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I’ve been meaning to pick up this memoir for a long long time now. I’m sure most have heard about Malala’s story in some way or the other, and this memoir makes for a very inspiring, powerful and heartbreaking story. I think I might have picked it up at the wrong time, because I somehow against expectations I failed to connect to the story… Especially the first half was a struggle for me; I think it has something to do with the sheer amount of different names, places and politics being involved. While it gives an excellent background and is a goldmine for information about Pakistan, I struggled to keep my attention to the story. But like I said, that might just have been that it wasn’t the right book at the right time for me. When you get to the second half and learn more about Malala’s personal story, both the events of her being shot for her beliefs and the aftermath, it was a lot easier to keep your attention with the story. Malala is without doubt both inspiring and extraordinary… And it is easy to understand why she is considered a symbol of peaceful protest in the world. I might end up rereading this one when I’m in the right mood to see if I react differently to it.


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ARC REVIEW: The Sixth Wicked Child – by J.D. Barker @jdbarker

Title: The Sixth Wicked Child
(4MK Thriller #3)
Author: J.D. Barker
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: August 27th 2019
Publisher: Hampton Creek Press
Finished reading: August 12th 2019
Pages: 560

“You can bury a bad thing, but those bad things have a tendency to claw their way back out of the dirt.”

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by Netgalley and Hampton Creek Press in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***

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!! Happy publication day !!

Hello, my name is Yvonne and I’m addicted to serial killer thrillers. Don’t ask me how, don’t ask me why, but every time I see the word serial killer mentioned in a blurb, my heart starts beating faster and I can’t help myself but to read the whole story as soon as possible. The more disturbing, twisted and gruesome the serial killer, the happier I end up feeling after I finish it… I’m not sure what that says about me and my (possibly?) disturbing mindset, but you won’t be able to stop me from getting my dose of serial killer thrillers like you can’t you keep me from my cheese or chocolate either. And addicted or not, there is no doubt that this trilogy is the crème de la crème when it comes to serial killer thrillers. Holy cow, what a read!

The first thing you have to know about this trilogy is that it’s an absolute must reading the three books in order, because you won’t be able to follow the story or get the references otherwise. Rather than three separate stories, we deal with one big plot devided into three parts and past information is crucial to keep following Sam Porter and Anson Bishop’s story and properly enjoy the ride. And with each book being more twisted and brilliant than the previous one, you will be in for a treat with all three if you haven’t started them yet. Exactly because this is such a fluid story divided into three parts, it is very hard to discuss the plot and character developments without giving away the plot twists of the previous two books while discussing The Sixth Wicked Child. I will keep it short to avoid spoilers, but if you haven’t read the first two books yet, I suggest you skip the rest of this review just to be on the safe side.

Remember those giant cliffhangers at the end of book one and two? The Sixth Wicked Child picks up right where the second story left, and starts with a bang at that. From the very first page, I found myself glued to my seat and I couldn’t help myself devouring those pages like there was no tomorrow. 560 pages might seem a bit long for a thriller, but trust me, you won’t find a boring minute in this brilliant final episode of the 4MK trilogy and you will enjoy every suspenseful minute of the ride. You thought the first two books were intense? Guess what, J.D. Barker found a way to take the intensity up a notch and make this third book the strongest 4MK yet. Disturbing, twisted, dark, hair-raising, shocking and one heck of a crazy ride: this series is not for the weak-hearted and it will include a healthy dose of graphic scenes, abuse and violence in general.

As for the characters… I’ve grown close to Sam Porter, Ansom Bishop and the others over time and I enjoyed seeing them develop in The Sixth Wicked Child. I love how this final book gives us the necessary background information of Ansom’s childhood and connects all the dots that were still missing. The main characters are basically all flawed, but described and developed in such a way that you cannot help yourself rooting for them and hoping everything will turn out to be okay in the end. The Sixth Wicked Child makes multiple references to the first two books, and it was great seeing everything connect and work towards the big finale. There will be a lot of twists and intense moments involved, and with the help of the diary and different POVs it’s easy to get the full scope of what is happening. Guessing those twists will be another matter though, and this story will definitely have a few plot twist bomb surprises for you in store. If you have a taste for dark and disturbing thrillers and haven’t had the chance to meet 4MK yet, I can highly suggest remedying that ASAP. Why? All of the above, but in short: this series is an absolute must-read for serial killer thriller fans. Go, go, GO!


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ARC REVIEW: The First Girl Child – by Amy Harmon @amazonpub @aharmon_author

Title: The First Girl Child
Author: Amy Harmon
Genre: Fantasy, Romance
First published: August 20th 2019
Publisher: 47North
Finished reading: July 22nd 2019
Pages: 400

“I’ve come to believe that home is not a place. Home is inside of us. Home is the people we love. Home is what we strive for.”

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by Netgalley and 47North in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***

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I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I consider Amy Harmon to be one of my absolute  favorite authors and her stories never fail to blow me away. What makes her books stand out is that with each new title we get offered a completely unique story belonging to a wide variety of genres. There are not many authors who can pull off more than one genre, and Amy Harmon is able to do so with utter and total success. The First Girl Child has once again proven to me that she truly is a brilliant writer. I already fell in love with her 2019 historical fiction release, What The Wind Knows, earlier this year, and this new fantasy title is the second book to receive the full five star rating this year. Want to know why you should add The First Girl Child to your wishlist straight away?

This is already my sixth Amy Harmon book and my first time reading one of her fantasy stories (I’ve been meaning to read The Bird And The Sword for ages though), and I was completely blown away by it. I know already that The First Girl Child will stay with me for a long time… Its high fantasy world being one of the favorite places I’ve been lucky enough to visit so far this year. Oh yes, the worldbuilding in this story is absolutely brilliant. Using Norse mythology influences, Amy Harmon has created a new God and son of Odin named Saylok, and has shaped the fantasy world around his story. I loved the idea behind the star-shaped island of Saylok, with its different clans named after the different animals representing the children of Saylok. And the animals are not just for decoration, as the inhabitants of each clan bear a resemblance to their respective animal in both a physical way and through their customs. You will find many many references to the Nordic culture and myths as you are reading Bayr’s story, and this was personally a huge bonus for me as I have a weak spot for Norse mythology and Nordic culture in general.

While the different clans and the inner workings of life in Saylok might have that historical feel, The First Girl Child also gives us a proper dose of fantasy with the help of the magic of the Keepers and the Runes. The fact that we don’t know a lot about the history behind the Runes and its power, other than that it’s basically blood magic, only adds to the mystery around the Keepers and the role they play in protecting Saylok. The Keepers play a big role throughout the story, with the main character Bayr growing up with them, and Temple Hill was a fascinating backdrop for Bayr’s story in general. The plot is well constructed and is build around the curse his dying mother put on Saylok and all its inhabitants. No girls will be born from the day she voiced her curse and died, and Bayr will be Saylok’s only hope… With no further explanation about how he is supposed to save Saylok available straight away, I kept eagerly reading and I loved seeing the future slowly unravel. Years pass in a fluent way, and the pace is kept at a speed that will make you turn those pages like there is no tomorrow. The brilliant writing only adds to this feeling and gives The First Girl Child the high quality I’ve come to expect when it comes to Amy Harmon‘s books.

But this story is nothing without its characters. Bayr, Alba, Ghost, Dagmar… Those are only a few of the characters that will win over your heart and make you fall in love with this story. The main stars of The First Girl Child are Bayr and Alba, and I adored both their characters and their relationship together. The character development in general is brilliantly done and shows them evolving realistically over time. The fact that nobody but Dagmar knows about the curse gives the story an interesting twist, and that is not the only secret that is being kept from the other characters. Things slowly escalate as years pass without another girl child being born, and I had a fantastic time learning all about Bayr and Alba’s story. The First Girl Child ended with a bang and without doubt left me wanting for more… And I’ll keep my fingers crossed we’ll get to visit Saylok and its characters again some time in the future.

The worldbuilding, the Norse mythology influences, the characters and their development, the plot, the writing… Oh yes, there were plenty of reasons that made me give The First Girl Child the full five stars it deserves. I can highly recommend this story to anyone who loves a good fantasy story with characters you cannot help but fall in love with and a healthy dose of Nordic references. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed.


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