Iron Cast by Destiny Soria. ★★★★1/2
I loved this book a lot more than I ever could have predicted. If you have any interest at all in a YA historical fantasy with a focus on female friendship, you should read this book.
Ada Navarra and Corinne Wells are best of friends who preform together at the Cast Iron nightclub in Boston, the year of 1919. But their performance is no usual routine, for Ada and Corinne are hemopaths – people who’s afflicted blood gives them magical abilities based on the arts. Ada can affect people’s emotions with her music and Corinne can use her poetry recital to craft illusions. But it’s not easy to be a hemopath in Boston of 1919. Performances have been outlawed and while the club still performs illegally, Ada and Corinne have been running cons to make ends meet. At the beginning of Iron Cast, Ada has been captured and imprisoned in one of the institutions designed to be the “humane” solution for the hemopath “problem.” But that’s only the start of the pair’s trouble.
The FaceFaker’s Game by Chandler J. Birch. ★★★★
As soon as I heard the words “fantasy heist,” I knew I wanted to read The Facefaker’s Game.
Ashes is an orphan scrapping a living in Burroughside, the poorest and most crime ridden area of the giant Victorian-esque city of Teranis. Then by coincidence he comes to the attention of Candlestick Jack: a master thief and Artificer, a magician who manipulates light to craft illusions. He offers Ashes a chance to be his student, but he wants his help with a grand scheme.
Memories of Ash by Intisar Khanani. ★★★★
Memories of Ash is a full, novel length sequel to the YA fantasy novella Sunbolt. In my review of Sunbolt, I noted that I was waiting to see where the sequels would take the series. Well it was worth the wait! Memories of Ash was even better than the first installment. It’s so much of what I want in a fantasy novel – a focus on adventure rather than romance, amazing world building, and a clever and kindhearted heroine.
While I suggest reading Sunbolt before Memories of Ash, you might be able to go into it without having read the novella. But why would you? Sunbolt is a lot of fun. Anyway, it was over two years since I’d read Sunbolt, and I didn’t find myself getting confused. Do note that there will be spoilers for the novella in the rest of this review.
Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo. ★★★★
There are two things I really love: fantasy settings and heist stories. So when it comes to fantasy heist stories, I’m obviously primed to enjoy them. And wow, has this series been great.
Crooked Kingdom is the sequel to Six of Crows, which you absolutely must read first. There’s really no way for me to avoid spoilers for the first book if I’m going to talk about the plot of this one, so be forewarned. If you aren’t familiar with the series, but a YA fantasy heist story sounds like it’d be your thing, go read Six of Crows.
The Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch. ★★★★
One of the very first reviews I wrote was for Scott Lynch’s The Republic of Thieves. Now it’s been a few years, I’m way more used to writing reviews, and, hey, I just reread The Republic of Thieves. And I feel like it’s time for a new review.
The Republic of Thieves is the third book in the Gentleman Bastards series, a fantasy series following intrepid conman Locke Lamora and his best friend Jean Tannen. The series starts with The Lies of Locke Lamora, and I suggest you read in order. The Republic of Thieves picks up where the last book left off, with Locke dying of a slow acting poison. It looks like this is the end for Locke, until a Bondsmagi makes him an offer. Every five years, the Bondsmagi hold a game, where two different fractions of the magi try to rig an election. If Locke agrees to work for them, they’ll cure him of the poison. Oh, and his rival? None other than Sabetha Belacoros, the only female Gentleman Bastard and the woman Locke fell in love with.
The Bullet-Catcher’s Daughter by Rod Duncan. ★★★1/2
I’ve had a bit of a hit or miss history with steampunk, but The Bullet-Catcher’s Daughter was certainly a hit. It’s a fast paced start to a series taking place in an alternate timeline where all new technology was outlawed by the all powerful Patent Office. With technology stagnant, societal mores stagnated as well. Thus to live independently, Elizabeth Barnabus has to pull of the greatest illusion of her life – by day she is herself, by night she is a fictional twin brother, who works as a private detective. When she takes a case involving a missing aristocrat, she suddenly finds herself in a world of trouble with the Patent Office on her tail.
The Sudden Appearance of Hope by Claire North. ★★★1/2
What is perfection? Is there such a thing as the perfect person? How do we arrive at our definition of such a thing?
Hope Arden is a young woman with a peculiar condition – no one can remember her. She can hold a conversation with someone, start to befriend them, but the next time they see her, they won’t remember ever having met her. In a world where she subsists on first impressions, Hope makes a living as a thief. If she’s caught by the police, all she has to do is wait for them to forget her. Then, during the course of a diamond heist, Hope manages to anger some powerful people, the ones behind this new hit app called Perfection, which helps you become “your most perfect self.” For the first time in her life, Hope is being chased. Even though those pursuing her can’t recall ever meeting her.