Monday, October 28, 2019

Fire and heist by Sarah Beth Durst

For centuries wyverns lived with humans in secret, easy to do when you have lost the ability to transform into your dragon shape.  With the coming out of wyverns some of them have become quite the celebrities, including Sky Hawkins and her family.  Being wyverns with a high social standing gave them wealth and power, and Sky was popular with wyverns and humans alike.  For wyverns your rank is decided by your skill and ability to commit heists, adding to the fabled dragon hoards that are so popular in fantasy novels and folk lore.  Leading your first heist is what introduces you to wyvern society and lets you join the ranks as an adult, but getting caught is very bad no matter how old you are.  When Sky's mother fails during and ambitious heist attempt and disappears Sky and her family are dropped to the bottom of the wyvern ranks and stripped of most of their wealth.

As Sky struggles to come to turns with the lose of her boyfriend, who dumped her as soon as her family's shame was announced, her whole family is struggling to come to terms with the lose of power, status, and family.  Determined to find out what happened to her mother, Sky starts researching her mother's last heist and making plans for a heist of her own.  Her first heist is going to be epic, even if it doesn't go as planned as her solo mission soon turns into leading a mixed crew of humans and wyverns.  On the night of the big heist Sky makes a startling discovery, and learns that not everything is as it seems. 

Fire and heist was am interesting read, bringing together elements of the classic fantasy novel with a coming of age story and a little twist of crime and mystery as well.  Sky and her family were easy to relate to and had little sparks that made them stand out as individuals, and the wyvern mythology that goes with them is pretty cool.  The pace of the novel was pretty good, though there was a short period where it seemed to drag a little - but that was most likely as a result of comparing it to the previous pace.  Urban fantasy is quite a unique niche, and a lot of authors struggle with balancing real world with mythology but Sarah Beth Durst does it seamlessly in Fire and heist.

If you are looking for a fun read with some well thought out mythology and great characters you can't really go wrong with Fire and heist.  The bonus is that if you like her writing style there are plenty of other books by Sarah Beth Durst to enjoy when you are done!

If you like this book then try:

Reviewed by Brilla

Friday, October 4, 2019

Sea witch by Sarah Henning

Evie is different from the other children in her village, not just because she is friends with the Prince, but also because she is a witch.  As a child Evie and her best friend Anna were inseparable, and where the two girls were the Prince was never far behind, a dear friend to both of them.  Everyone in the village expected the friendship to fade, for Evie to have the decency to fall back into her rightful place and let Nik find his place as the heir to the throne.  When Anna drowns instead of breaking Evie and Nik apart it seems to draw them closer together.  Neither of them thinks anything of it, but the villagers take every chance they can to remind Evie of her rightful place.

When a stranger rescues Nik after he nearly drowns Evie is startled not just by the quick flick of a tail as the stranger dives back into the water, but also by her resemblance to her lost friend Anna.  When the stranger reappears walking on two legs, the resemblance is so uncanny that Evie has trouble separating her memories of the friend she lost from the young woman in front of her.  Even though Annemette can do magic, something Anna would have shied away from, Evie feels an instant connection to her.  When Evie learns that Annemette has made a terrible bargain for her chance at love with Nik, Evie is determined to help her friend no matter what she has to do to help her.  As the deadline draws closer Evie becomes increasingly desperate, and pushes away her own chance at happiness to help her friend.  But Annemette is keeping secrets, and she is not the only one.

The little mermaid is a classic story that generations have loved - whether it is the more brutal version brought to us by Hans Christian Andersen, or the sappier more child friendly version brought to us by Disney.  Sea witch tells the story of a young witch hiding her powers from her village and the Prince she loves, mourning the lose of her best friend, and trying to learn the secrets of magic - an origin story to explain and develop the history that lead to the cruel sea witch that struck a terrible bargain with a young mermaid who fell in love with a Prince.  This is a story that can stand on it's own two feet, exploring characters and relationships that are real and engaging, a satisfying and consuming read with characters you can't help but like and loath as they each deserve.

As someone who has Scandinavian ancestry it was a real pleasure to find so many references to the culture, not only with names and place names, but with festival and other cultural names too.   Henning kept up the pace of the story, using the technique of having chapters that look backward to bring Annemette's story up to date rather than flitting back and forth between the two storylines - very effective for keeping some mystery and for keeping things moving forward.  There is a sequel called Sea witch rising which I am now very much looking forward to reading.

If you like this book then try:

Reviewed by Brilla