The Ever After

The Ever After
The Omte Origins Book Three
Check of my Omte Origins reviews here
Written by Amanda Hocking
Fantasy, Magic, Paranormal, Romance
Published January 12th 2021
416 Pages
Thank you to Pan Macmillan Australia
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Welcome to a world in the shadow of our own, a fairytale land where the dangers are real. In The Ever After, the final book in the Omte Origins trilogy, Amanda Hocking creates an epic adventure in her much loved Trylle universe.

Ulla Tulin has lost a month of memories. Her journey to uncover her past led her to a mysterious sect and a man claiming to be her father. But Ulla's forgotten their reunion and fears something terrible happened. Determined to recall the truth, Ulla risks her life to battle the enchantments that bind her. And she finally opens the bridge to Alfheim, the lost First City.

Ulla knows this will unleash a tide of monstrous creatures upon the Earth. But she also knows she has no choice and must gather a Trylle army in time to face them. Or could her own buried heritage be the key to victory?

Ullaakuut Tulin has returned home, held captivate by the Ă„lvolk and although she scarcely remembers her ordeal, is experiencing the trauma of being tortured. Ulla, her friends and colleagues from the Merellä metropolis searched for the First City, a mythical city beyond the bridge that connects the realms between Ulla's world and those of the ancients. 

The Omte Origins series has been a whirlwind adventure, a gentle romance, unlikely and tentative friendships and alliances and I've loved every moment. The reader is first introduced to Ulla as a somewhat naive and unsuspecting young woman. She knows little about the world beyond her village and her kindness and inquisitive nature is completely endearing. Throughout the series, Ulla embarks on a journey to find her family, abandoned as an infant with an elderly couple to raise. Along the way, Ulla begins to rely upon her found family, namely Dagny and Pan and although is determined to search for her parents, it soon becomes apparent that all hell is on the verge of breaking loose and Ulla will find herself faced with impossible decisions, while struggling to remember her capture. 

One of my favourite aspects of the series are the reoccurring characters from series' set within the Trylle kingdoms, the series can be read as a standalone but the familiar faces are wonderful. Wendy and Finn from the original Trylle Trilogy and Bryn and Ridley from the brilliant Kanin Chronicles. Each series featuring strong and fearless female characters in positions of power and authority. Although each typically fall in love, these are heroines who don't need a male character to complete them, they're their own saviours. 

In the Omte Origins series, we hear more about the origins of the trolls and their Scandinavian heritage, their history tightly woven among the Viking folklore. The mythology and legends of children's fairytales coming to life was beautiful and I hope it might lead the way to future series' set within this magical world.

It's been quite a while since a series has captivated me so entirely and that's one of my favourite aspects of Amanda Hocking's writing. They're entertaining, mesmerising reads. Being back in the Trylle world was lovely and although the Omte Origins series features an entirely new community of troll, characters and storylines, it was comforting to be back in a world I was familiar with. The Ever After, the final Omte Origins instalment is wonderfully adventurous, a beautiful exploration of folklore and culture, of lost cities and found family.

The Iron King

The Iron King
Tenth Anniversary Special Edition
The Iron Fey Book One
Written by Julie Kagawa
Paranormal, Young Adult, Romance, Faeries
464 Pages
Published June 15th 2020
Thank you to Harlequin Australia
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My name is Meghan Chase.

In less than twenty four hours, I'll be sixteen. Countless stories, songs and poems have been written about this wonderful age, when a girl finds true love and the stars shine for her and the handsome prince carries her off into the sunset.

I don't think it will be that way for me.

Something has always felt slightly off in Meghan Chase's life, ever since her father disappeared when she was six. Ten years later, when her little brother also goes missing, Meghan learns the truth, she is the secret daughter of a mythical faery king and a pawn in a deadly war. Now Meghan will learn just how far she'll go to save someone she loves, to stop a mysterious evil no faery creature dare face and to find love with a young prince who might rather see her dead than let her touch his icy heart.

Enter a fantastical world of dangerous faeries, wicked princes and one half human girl who discovers her entire life is a lie. This special edition of The Iron King includes the bonus novella Winter's Passage and an exclusive excerpt from the new Iron Fey book, The Iron Raven.

Meghan Chase is on the threshold of her sixteenth birthday, celebrating the milestone without her father who disappeared ten years ago. Her mother has since remarried and although Meghan cherishes her brother Ethan, her relationship with her stepfather is another story. Luckily she always has her best friend Robbie to depend on when her brother Ethan is captured and taken into the Faery Realm, replaced by a angry, destructive Changling. Of course Meghan's life isn't that simple when she learns that her best friend is actually Robin Goodfellow, a faery who has taken his position of watching over the almost sixteen year old very seriously. Danger is afoot my friends and Meghan is about to discover why you never bargain in the Faery Realm.

Meghan Chase is a wonderful young woman, intelligent and takes the Faery realm in her stride. Whether it's the trauma of her brother being taken or if she's incredibly adaptable, she's a young woman on a mission to retrieve her brother. 

The Faery Realm is an intricate society of segregated communities. Assisted by Grimalkin, an intelligent and machiavellian feline, Meghan discovers that she is the estranged daughter of the Summer Court King, a renowned and esteemed monarch, Meaghan becomes a commodity within the tentative alliance between the Summer and Winter Courts. Prince Ashallayn of the Summer Court is intrigued by Meghan's arrival and reluctantly agrees to assist her across the Nevernever to retrieve her brother in exchange for her freedom once Ethan has been rescued. 

The attraction between Meghan and Prince Ashallayn is smouldering, a Montague and Capulet romance between monarchs destined to reign and carry the burden of their respective kingdoms. Robin Goodfellow and Prince Ashallayn are adversaries, long before the emergence of the estranged Princess. The group dynamic is intensely exhilarating and along with feline companion Grimalkin, journey to find the Iron King who is believed to be holding Ethan.

The communities of the Nevernever are vibrant, intricate and terrifying, living amongst a beautifully imagined landscape of kingdoms, dark forests and antarctic environments. The Iron King is wonderfully atmospheric. The forest of the Nevernever is decaying, displacing many creatures and members of the isolated and ostracised faery communities. The Iron King absorbing the environment is symbolism for our urban cities, deforestation and a reminder of the importance of sustainability and environmentalism. 

The Iron King is a whirlwind adventure, a sizzling romance and an enchanting narrative of family and the ties that bind us.

Sword in the Stars

Sword in the Stars
Once & Future Book Two
Once & Future Review
Written by Amy Rose Capetta and Cori McCarthy
Space Opera, Fantasy, Historical, Retelling, LGBT
368 Pages
Publishing June 16th 2020
Thank you to Bloomsbury Australia
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Once and future collide when Ari, Merlin and the Knights of the Rainbow attempt to steal a magical chalice from Earth's medieval past in order to save humanity's future, irreparably entangling our spaceage heroes with the original King Arthur.

Ari plays a risky game of lies and chivalry and Merlin confronts his nemesis, his older self, while all the time they must preserve the time continuum to eventually return to their own future. When the Lady of the Lake interferes, Merlin and Ari realise how much their future has been manipulated by her exquisite machinations of the past. Nin offers a way to release King Arthur's spirit from Ari's body, to end the cruel cycle that keeps them all prisoner and allow them home. But at what cost?

This galaxy altering conclusion unravels the dark truth of Merlin's origins and inspires a new hope for the Once & Future universe.

Every generation, the legendary King Arthur is reawakened and for Ari Helix, she's the first female Arthur and destined to become the heroine that previous Arthurs have forsaken. After withstanding the onslaught from the Mercer Corporation, the group of unlikely companions are travelling back to the middle ages, when King Arthur was an adolescent boy courting the effervescent Guinevere in Camelot. It's imperative that the new residents of Camelot adhere to the original tale as they find themselves enacting the roles of Guinevere, the royal knights and Lancelot, King Arthur's champion, in order to pilfer the chalice and ensure that Arthur is placed upon the throne. 

Sword in the Stars is a brilliantly diverse and vivacious narrative exploring capitalism and genocide. In the world envisioned by A.R. Capetta and Cory McCarthy, the Arthurian legend blossoms and although Once & Future is a wonderfully entertaining read, Sword of the Stars is a fantastical adventure and superbly written finale. Journeying to the historic Camelot, our characters arrive in the midst of King Arthur courting Guinevere, the young King besotted with Gwen who is fatigued and heavily pregnant. Ari gallantly arrives on horseback, assuming the role of Lancelot, the King's champion and who was rumoured to have romanced Guinevere, befalling the young King and Kingdom. Merlin arrives in Camelot rapidly aging in reverse, he must avoid the senior and forbidding Merlin who exists in this world, Merlin being an advisor to a young Arthur. 

Britannia Camelot is a lively and spirited community, intrigued by knight Lamarack. Lamarack is genderfluid, using they / them pronouns and polyamorous. They see the beauty of the Arthurian legend and Camelot and although the Britannia kingdom appears to be conservative, the community are surprisingly accepting and receptive of gender identities and sexuality through their fondness of the treasured Lamarack. Although Lamarack has adapted wonderfully, Jordan is seething and incredibly uncomfortable in her lavish garments. Masquerading as the gallant knight Lancelot and to conceal her gender, Ari binds her breasts. 

The Once & Future duology demolishes gender stereotypes and celebrates sexual and gender diversity throughout the narration of own voices authors. Simply superb! 

The Invisible Life of Addie Larue

contains sensitivities such as suicide, famine, wartime, neglect and emotional abuse. 

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue
V. E. Schwab
Historical Fiction, Paranormal, Romance, Adult
560 Pages
Published October 2020
Thank you to New South Books
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When Addie LaRue makes a pact with the devil, she trades her soul for immortality. But there's always a price, the devil takes away her place in the world, cursing her to be forgotten by everyone.

Addie flees her tiny hometown in 18th Century France, beginning a journey that takes her across the world, learning to live a life where no one remembers her and everything she owns is lost and broken. Existing only as a muse for artists throughout history, she learns to fall in love anew every single day.

Her only companion on this journey is her dark devil with hypnotic green eyes, who visits her each year on the anniversary of their deal. Alone in the world, Addie has no choice but to confront him, to understand him, maybe to beat him.

Until one day, in a second hand bookshop in Manhattan, Addie meets someone who remembers her. Suddenly thrust back into a real, normal life, Addie realises she can't escape her fate forever.

Adeline Larue leaves her legacy upon the world in glimpses, the twenty three year old woman defined by the constellations bestrewn across her nose. Her life begun at eventide of the seventeenth century in a small riverside community in France. Adeline dreams of the freedoms beyond the confines placed upon young women, choosing adventure, freedom and independence. 

Adeline is betrothed to a widower within the small town, losing his wife and now searching for a woman to care for his four children. Adeline's friends have long since married and created families of their own while Adeline discovered the beauty of her world. On the eve of her arranged marriage, Adeline prays to a higher being for escape, to abscond her small community and chase freedom into the wide unknown. Darkness responds to her distress, bargaining an agreement. Her freedom in exchange for her soul. Lucifer, the handsome stranger with piercing green eyes has granted Adeline with immortality, ensuring only he will remember her. 

The nonlinear narration fluctuates between Adeline's life as a young woman throughout Europe, enduring conflict, wartime, revolutions, lovers both male and female and famine and present New York City. Traversing three hundred years. Adeline is a remarkable young woman, the devastation and heartbreak she's endured throughout the centuries is entirely distressing. A lonely, isolated existence and although Adeline has influenced artists over various generations, no one will remember her beyond her immortalised constellation of freckles. 

The essence of The Invisible Life of Addie Larue is human interaction and the ability to leave our legacy upon the world. Throughout our lives, we imprint on one another and for the immortalised twenty three year old, her imprint remains in the creations of former lovers in galleries all over the world until she happens across Henry Strauss managing a small, independent bookstore in New York City. Henry lives on the fringe of society, preferring his own company although feeling thoroughly alone. 

Twenty eight year old Henry Strauss has endured addiction, loneliness, relationships and heartache, feeling directionless and unmotivated. Identifying as pansexual, both of Henry's long term relationships have ended in heartbreak and a series of unsatisfying sexual encounters followed. Henry's feelings of worthlessness is palpable. He experiences the world profoundly and throughout his narration, we discover the source of Henry's loneliness and distress, until he happens across Adeline. 

Adeline and Henry's relationship is one of companionship rather than a consuming romance, providing one another with a sense of solace and intimacy. They found one another through circumstance and become an aspect of their respective journeys. 

The writing is absolutely immaculate and breathtakingly envisioned. From the desperation of Adeline as a young woman burying her meagre possessions along the riverbank and praying to a higher power to rescue her from the small town monotony, the Seine during the revolution, wartime, Venice and London to present New York City. It's wonderfully atmospheric with a beauty and breadth rarely seen in literature, infatuating and categorically enchanting. 

The Invisible Life of Addie Larue is phenomenal, a masterpiece of modern literature. 

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