A to Z Challenge Book Reviews

My Languishing TBR: R #AtoZChallenge2023 #Books #BookReviews

R is for Ruthless

Learn more about the challenge here.

I’m doing folklore and book review posts to reach and please a larger audience. Previous years have shown select interest in both and to minimise blogging throughout the year, I’m focusing my efforts on April.

Focusing on an A to Z of my TBR (to be read) list, each letter will have books starting with that letter on my list, a book I’ve read and reviewed (with the review!) and one of my books matching the letter with a link about more info about the book (I’ve published some new books, so take a look).

I chose the books this year quite randomly from my Goodreads Want to Read page. Some are quite creatively added to letters.

I know there were suggestions in last year’s Reflection post that I skip my TBR and just get on with the review, but I like knowing what I have left to read for each letter (and how far I’ve come with all the reading challenges I’ve done) so things are staying the same. Scroll down to the reviews if you’re not interested in what my TBR still contains. FYI, you might encounter issues with commenting if you don’t tick all the boxes marked as mandatory (especially the privacy one).

Let the fun begin!

If you’d rather check out my folklore post for today, go here.


About the Book I’ve Read

Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan

A girl who can speak to gods must save her people without destroying herself.

A prince in danger must decide who to trust.

A boy with a monstrous secret waits in the wings.

Together, they must assassinate the king and stop the war.

In a centuries-long war where beauty and brutality meet, their three paths entwine in a shadowy world of spilled blood and mysterious saints, where a forbidden romance threatens to tip the scales between dark and light. Wicked Saints is the thrilling start to Emily A. Duncan’s devastatingly Gothic Something Dark and Holy trilogy.

Check it out on Goodreads.

My Review

An intricate, compelling tale of clashing beliefs, war, and secrecy.

Nadya, on one side, falls in with allies to do what she believes is right – and goes through so much on her journey to succeed in her goal to get rid of the enemy king from being absolute in her beliefs, to doubting, to seeing proof that there is more… The journey she goes on to discover herself is visceral.

Serefin, on the other side, has to figure out his fate with his allies even as betrayal from every side threatens to accomplish the goal of so many: his death as the High Prince. Especially his father wants him dead. As he goes from having only one goal – surviving – to wanting to save his people, so much is revealed about his life and the bloody ways of his country.

This book reminded me a bit of the Age of Five by Trudi Canavan, Avatar: The Last Airbender (especially Serefin and Zuko), and some deliciously dark folklore I’ve read.

There’s a bit of romance and danger in it, with hints of something between Serefin and Kacper.

For me, this book combines compelling characters, intricate worldbuilding, the best elements of dark fantasy, and a bit of forbidden romance to make a book not easily put down.

5 unicorn star rating

Trigger warnings: war, blood magic, betrayal, filicide, religious fanatics.

About the Book I’ve Read

Ruthless Gods by Emily A. Duncan

Darkness never works alone…

Nadya doesn’t trust her magic anymore. Serefin is fighting off a voice in his head that doesn’t belong to him. Malachiasz is at war with who–and what–he’s become.

As their group is continually torn apart, the girl, the prince, and the monster find their fates irrevocably intertwined. They’re pieces on a board, being orchestrated by someone… or something. The voices that Serefin hears in the darkness, the ones that Nadya believes are her gods, the ones that Malachiasz is desperate to meet—those voices want a stake in the world, and they refuse to stay quiet any longer. 

Check it out on Goodreads.

My Review

Even darker and more convoluted than the last, but just as compelling.

I liked the use of several folklore creatures, especially the Rusalki, and how they became more monstrous the further Nadya and the others went. I also liked the vast forests they traversed.

This book’s so full of pain and grief that I had to stop reading at points just to breathe. It also has a sprinkling of swearing the previous book didn’t have.

The word “eldritch” (weird, uncanny) was used almost more than the word “blood”. The continuous differing POV (everyone except Rashid and Ostyia had a POV moment), felt off. Everything could have been told from Nadya and Serefin’s POV as before and nothing, truly, would have been lost in the story.

This one brushes close to horror, especially Malachaisz.

A good sequel – that shouldn’t be read before bedtime or you’ll never go to sleep.

4 unicorn star rating

Trigger warnings: war, blood magic, betrayal, fratricide, religious fanatics, swearing.

About the Book I’ve Read

Blessed Monsters by Emily A. Duncan

The girl, the monster, the prince, the queen.

They broke the world.

And some things can never be undone.

In Emily A. Duncan’s Blessed Monsters, they must unite once more to fight the dark chaos they’ve unleashed—but is it already too late?

The startling conclusion to the instant New York Times bestselling Something Dark and Holy trilogy. 

Check it out on Goodreads.

My Review

Malachaisz, the reason this trilogy works so well, stays intriguing and unpredictable to the end. He’s the reason this is horror, but also why it is still dark fantasy.

This time the multiple POVs worked, as much would have been lost without it.

Rashid’s magic is obviously the most powerful and despite what Pelageya said, he was as necessary to success as the other four.

I liked the intrigue hinted at in Nadya’s mother’s life and how it intersected with the Matriarch of the church.

One of the old gods being a giant spider is fitting.

Serefin and Kacper are so cute together. While Nadya and Malachaisz have an explosive relationship. And Ostyia and Katya are more subtle.

So much happened at such a fast pace, yet it worked. It made the denouement feel excruciatingly slow.

The various cults discovered beneath the devout veneer of Kalyazin was an interesting discovery. Magic working differently than before, a fun turn of events.

Pelageya reminds me so much of Baba Yaga in Slavic folklore.

I like to think that the choices they made created a stronger prison – as long as the whispers are ignored.

An explosive ending to the story – where all, truly, are monsters with human faces. And all the horror the reader has to go through pays off in the end.

4 unicorn star rating

Trigger warnings: war, blood magic, betrayal, monsters, religious fanatics, swearing, possession, death, throwing up blood.

My Book

The Realm of the Fae

I hope you enjoyed this. For more books I’ve read and reviewed, check out either my Pinterest board about reviews or my Goodreads profile. Alternatively, you can check out my reviews on BookBub. Have you read any of the books? Loved or hated any of them?

You can now support my time in producing book review posts (buying books, reading, writing reviews and everything else involved) by buying me a coffee. This can be a once-off thing, or you can buy me coffee again in the future at your discretion.

*FYI, my reviews are my honest opinion and if something bothers me, I tell it straight. How else will anything change? My opinions are based on being a voracious reader and book buyer, not an attack on the author.*

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