This is the first book in J. M. Kearl's second series, Allied Kingdoms Academy. Though the title denotes that this book would follow the traditional academy trope in YA books, but it is really a fantastic blend of Harry Potter, Throne of Glass, and a hint of teenage angst that manifests in the best way. For fans of Middle Grade fiction, this also reminds me of the Magisterium series from Cassandra Clare and Holly Black.
I absolutely enjoy the premise of this book - Vesteal is a princess with two fun friends and a dark secret. Her parents, the King and Queen, send her to a brand new academy comprised of students from the three kingdoms. What adventures await? What trouble could there be? As the description says, this work has talking cats, star crossed lovers, royalty, teenagers trained to fight, and action packed into every chapter!
The author melds interesting characters with subtle wordplay to create beautifully developed world building and fun action sequences. I loved Atticus and his cat network, he provided some fun sass to break the tension in some scenes. I feel like the action and story really picked up pace about 1/3 of the way through the book.
This book was a great read for me! If you enjoy Holly Black, Lauren Kate, or Sarah J. Maas, you will LOVE this book! I would definitely recommend this novel for anyone who loves magic, YA, and a great romance!
I found this to be a refreshing new release in YA fiction. I can't wait to see where the series takes these characters! Curse of Blood and Shadow is out on April 7th! Check out J. M. Kearl's other works on Amazon!
J.M. Kearl is on goodreads and her website is https://jmkearl.com/.
I received an ARC from the author for an honest review of this novel.
K. S. Marsden is an accomplished writer with three series under her belt. The Northern Witch series is Marsden's new YA series featuring Mark, an openly gay witch in training, who is navigating high school, boys, relationships, and his apprenticeship as a new witch. His Nana is an integral part of the series, delivering sassy lines and adding so much to the experience for the reader.
The first book in the series, Winter Trials, is a great introduction to the world and it's main cast of characters. We have Mark, one of two openly gay students at his high school. His Nanna, a witch and his mentor. An insanely hot new student at the school, along with several other people that interact with Mark. Winter Trials is a short read, but a great introductory work for this series. This is definitely a coming of age story about a boy in high school who happens to have magical powers.
Book 2 in the series is Awaken, which picks up where the first book left off with Mark still coming to understand his powers and what he is truly capable of. Again, this is a relatively short read, but a riveting story about love, loss, high school, and magic.
The Breaking is the third book in her The Northern Witch series, which follows Adam, a witch in training, as he learns the craft and navigates being a teenager. The world in which The Breaking takes place has an interesting blend of technology and magic, both work together. This is in contrast with many novels dealing with magic and technology where magic makes technology nonfunctional. This world is very much like our own with social media and cell phones. This book features intrigue, demons, deception, drama, love lost, love found, and, of course, teenage angst.
This series is perfect for fans of Jordan Hawk, Blair Babylon, and Nicole R. Taylor. I would absolutely recommend this book series for fans of LGBT/YA high school dramas and magical adventures!
All three books are available at most online retailers including Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and SmashWords. Check out K. S. Marsden's website as well: K. S. Marsden
Thank you to the author for sending me a copy of all three books in exchange for an honest review! Happy reading!
Set in Edwardian London, Chain of Gold, follows a cast of characters from all the Shadowhunter families you already know: Lightwood, Herondale, Fairchild, Blackthorn, Carstairs, etc. And a few you haven't heard about yet: Bridgestock, Townsend, Wentworth, etc. As with all of Cassandra Clare's novels, this is a wonderful romp through London with plenty of danger, intrigue, romance, twisting plot points, and more!
Really, I only had a minor criticism of the book, characters get confusing at the beginning, but it eventually clears up. It's a little weird that all the character traits, blue eyes/black hair/gold eyes/red hair, are all mixed up from the original Shadowhunter Series. I understand needing to describe people, but suddenly a Lightwood doesn't look like a Lightwood because in the years between Chain of Gold and the Mortal Instruments series many people have married each other and it's just a bit odd. Also, everyone is someone's cousin. I may have waited too long from reading the last Clockwork book, but I'm not sure. This is honestly a minor criticism. Around the first 1/4 of the book, I didn't care about who had which last name because the characters really grew into their own!
I'm really loving the use of characters who identify as LGBTQ, and the depth of these characters is honestly amazing! You love to see it! Since this book came out, I've seen some comments that Clare used too many characters that identified as lesbian, bi, or gay for the time period. I really don't think that criticism should be applied here, Cassandra Clare recently tweeted in response to comments about this issue saying that LGBTQ people existed in the time period, just because you haven't heard about them does not mean they did not exist. I absolutely understand where she is coming from and I have to agree. Persons who identified as a sexual orientation that does not conform to the society in which they live have been a part of humanity since the dawn of time. This isn't a new thing. The only thing new about it is that we, as humans, are much more aware and conscious of the free expression of love.
I appreciate the use of flashbacks to tell backstory; it helps with the continuity and ultimately enhances the narrative. My favorite character is probably Matthew, he reminds me a lot of Jace from The Mortal Instruments series. He's broody, sometimes distant, headstrong, and seems a bit careless. Definitely a guy I'd like to meet in Edwardian London!
Overall, this book is another exciting adventure by Cassandra Clare and I would encourage you to pick it up ASAP! If you have not read the Mortal Instruments Series or the Infernal Devices series, you can still read this book. You may miss a few of the jokes that reference earlier books, but it stands well on its own as a new series set in the Shadowhunter Universe!