Title: The Witch Haven
Author: Sasha Peyton Smith
Genre(s): Young Adult Fiction, Fantasy, Witchcraft, Mystery
Gisselle's Rating: 3/5
I received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
DISCLAIMER: This review may contain spoilers for The Witch Haven.
I'll be perfectly honest, I stopped reading this book about halfway through. As I type, it's open on my Kindle and I am planning on finishing it for sure, but I've been trying to finish this book for two weeks now. I'll come back with edits to my review once I finish it.
I'll start with what I enjoyed so far. I love fantasy and magic and witches in my stories, and that's primarily what drew me into this story. I LOVE stories that focus on the gritty and grim side of magic and those that world it, and with this story's setting in early 1900s New York, there is plenty of grim and gritty to go around. Sasha Peyton Smith does a great job at illustrating the darkness in the city and in the emotions of our protagonist, Frances. The pacing of the beginning was incredibly well done, and the beginning packed a powerful punch (warning for distressing themes such as sexual assault and murder).
Unfortunately, the beginning is mostly where my enjoyment of the book has been limited to thus far. As the story progresses, the pacing becomes a little more erratic and uneven in compassion to the beginning. The introduction of characters such as Maxine and Lena felt half-executed and their development did not feel complete. As a result, I didn't find myself relating to anyone or really caring for them.
Additionally, it feels as though the author dances around a lot of great topics that are introduced but never fully explored. For example, the concept of feminism, especially during the early 1900s with the women's suffrage movement, is mentioned through the book in pieces, and Frances finds that even the fanatical world of magic was submissive to the world of men; she learns only what she can use to make her life as a housewife and lady easier, such as how to clean, sew, and arrange flowers with magic. Yet, for the first half of the book, that plot point felt like it was acknowledged, but never actually discussed it the confines of the characters' voices. There was even a mention of acknowledging the existence of transwomen and non-binary people in the academy, but there is no attempt at further exploration.
Also, maybe it'll get better in the second half of the book, but Finn having the ability to dream-walk and the revelation that he had been visiting Frances in her dreams felt more like a violation than anything romantic to me. He felt like an Edward Cullen archetype, just Irish and with magic. I just wasn't sure of him or his motives.
I'll continue reading to give this book a fair shot, but these are my thoughts after the first half of the book. The rest is still to be determined.
Title: Kingdom of the Wicked
Author: Kerri Maniscalco
Genre(s): Young Adult Fiction, Fantasy, Elements of Horror
Gisselle's Rating: 5/5
DISCLAIMER: This review may contain spoilers for Kingdom of the Wicked.
If you are a fan of witches, elements of fantasy and horror, magic, and forbidden romance, this book is most certainly for you.
Kerri Maniscalco's novel Kingdom of the Wicked tells the story of Emilia di Carlo, a woman living in Italy with her family. Emilia and her twin sister Vittoria are streghe -- witches that live among humans, but must hide their magical abilities in order to avoid prosecution and death. After Vittoria is missing from a family dinner one night, Emilia discovers her twin has been murdered, her corpse desecrated and her heart missing. Twisted by grief, Emilia vows to find her twin's murderer. She will stop at nothing in her quest for answers, even if it means turning to dark magic, a forbidden practice that she was warned all her life to stay away from, and teaming up with Wrath, a Prince of Hell and a creature of the Wicked.
Title: The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue
Author: V.E. Schwab
Genre: Adult Fiction, Historical Fantasy, Romance
Gisselle's Rating: 4.5/5
DISCLAIMER: This review may contain spoilers for The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue.
Once I began college, I fell off the wagon when it came to reading for pleasure. I enjoyed the analyzation process and literary criticism of my degree, but it had been a while since I read a book because I wanted to immerse myself in a different world. So when I picked up this book for the first time in February, I was expecting a battle with myself to keep disciplined and focused on the story, to try to get back to that same level of passion that I had towards reading in my youth. However, my preparations weren't really needed; V.E. Schwab's masterful storytelling and ability to grip and immerse me completely in her world drew me in without reservation. I remembered what it felt like to completely fall into a new setting and story that was not mine.
The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue depicts a devastating concept: a young woman makes a deal with an entity to be immortal, but at the ghastly price of being forgotten by everyone she encounters. On first assumption of the text's contents, I thought it was going to be about an immortal that would not be able to leave a mark on the world in the sense that perhaps she could not have children or could not become famous. I was not aware to the extent of the excruciating nature of Addie LaRue's reality, which was that she would not be remembered at all, leaving no memory of her presence even after she left someone's life for only a moment. However, all what Addie knows of her new life changes when she is introduced to Henry Strauss, a wandering soul that works in a local bookstore in New York City, and the first person to have remembered Addie since making her bargain.