The Witch’s Kiss Book Review

The Witch’s KissImage result for the witch's kiss

Author: Katharine & Elizabeth Corr
Publisher: HarperCollins
Pages: 424
Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

 

Synopsis from goodreads:

“Sixteeen-year-old Meredith is fed-up with her feuding family and feeling invisible at school – not to mention the witch magic that shoots out of her fingernails when she’s stressed. Then sweet, sensitive Jack comes into her life and she falls for him hard. The only problem is that he is periodically possessed by a destructive centuries-old curse. Meredith has lost her heart, but will she also lose her life? Or in true fairytale tradition, can true love’s kiss save the day?”

This book has been on my to-buy list for ages and I finally bought it the other day when I saw the entire trilogy in The Works for just eight pounds! In the mood for another fairy tale, I started it straight away and oh. My. Word. I loved it!!! It wasn’t anything like I was expecting and I was surprised with a modern day story of a girl who’s actually a witch and has to set out and defeat an evil wizard and the King of Hearts as they start to awaken, and an ancient oath and promise binds Merry to fulfil her duty.

But what I loved about this book straight away was the fairy tale-like imagery that is set right from the off, flicking between present and past as we learn about Merry’s ancestors and what they did that meant Merry was now involved with saving everyone. The writing was gorgeous and I was sucked into this story from the first page.

My favourite thing about The Witch’s Kiss were the characters because of how brilliant each and every single one was! We have Merry, a sixteen year old struggling witch; Leo, her older and amazingly supportive brother (I loved seeing a brother-sister relationship where they actually hung out and liked being around one another!); then a brilliant grandmother (a witch) with a distant daughter (also a witch). This mixed up family was so fun to read about and I loved their relationships between each other. And the antagonists! Oh my were they fantastic to read about. Jack was such a wonderful character to read about and Gwydion was brilliantly evil. It made for such a good story with these characters and how they each fell into place in this book, full of magic and adventure.

“Once upon a time – because that’s how all the best stories start, even the ones that lead to death and darkness and unhappy ever after.”

– Katharine & Elizabeth Corr, The Witch’s Kiss

With a great story comes some great plot twists so some spoilers will have to be mentioned! Look away now, you have been warned.

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How freaking ADORABLE is Jack? I felt so sorry for him, growing up away from his birth parents in fear of what Gwydion had set out for him, only to finally be learning the truth about who and what he is when the curse comes round the corner and bites him on the arse. My heart went out to this character each time he was made to hurt or kill someone against his will, the King of Hearts taking over his person.

But when Gwydion made Jack eat THE HEART OF THE GIRL HE LOVED?!

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WHY GWYDION WHYYYYYYY??!!?!?!?!

I was staring at the page in shock like I was not expecting that to happen!

So evil, so cruel. And it is literally the thing of hell.

Jack was such a poor soul and he deserved a better ending.

Which brings me onto the relationship between Merry and Jack and my conflicting feelings around this subject.

So Merry is talking to Jack every night, stopping him from stabbing people as the King of Hearts and fair enough, there probably would be a spark between them but the romance did feel almost a little forced, like both didn’t really have their hearts in it (pun intended – I know).

And the matter of the fact was that Jack had been asleep for 1500 years and so still wasn’t over the last girl he loved – Meredith, Merry’s ancestor (stay with me folks). He was still in love with this Meredith so I didn’t fully believe the romance blooming on his end, and maybe there wasn’t – maybe that kiss they shared was him trying to feel human again, to feel love again, and Merry is a sixteen year old girl, she probably loves the idea of a guy wanting to kiss her. And falls for him a little in the process.

So when true love’s kiss doesn’t work at the end, I was kinda upset at first but then a little relieved and happy with the outcome, because they weren’t in love and it made for a nicely satisfying ending for Jack who can now finally be at peace.

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Even though he deserved a much better ending with perhaps being properly reunited with his love and seeing Gwydion perish.

And besides, him and Merry weren’t in love and that’s what I actually quite liked about this book – there was a little romance, but it wasn’t true love and it was something I didn’t see coming. I’m glad for the unexpected twist and I can’t wait to see what happens to Merry now in the next book, though I would have loved to have seen more of Jack.

I have no idea where the sequel is going to go and I almost wish Jack and Gwydion hadn’t been killed off so quickly – they were brilliant characters and I wanted to see more of them.

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And speaking of killing characters, how shook was I when not only was Dan, Leo’s friend and accidental crush, was stabbed but then DIED?!

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AND BY THE KING OF HEARTS NO LESS!

I couldn’t believe they killed him off, knowing how much Leo liked him and was probably in love with him, and he didn’t even get a chance to tell him! It was all too much and totally unexpected.

This book just had everything in I love about reading – awesome characters, fantastic relationships, grey characters and some evilness that gets defeated with magic… It wasn’t anything like I thought it would be but it was so much better! It’s onto the sequel next but I’m a little worried in case it doesn’t live up to this one now that Jack and Gwydion have gone! I’ll let you guys know.

Happy reading, bookworms! ♥

 

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Magic at Midnight Book Review

 

Image result for magic at midnight bookMagic at Midnight

Publisher: Snowy Wings Publishing
Pages: 476
Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

A book of 15 YA fairy tale retellings ranging from retellings of The Little Mermaid to The Goose Girl with lots and lots of magic! There are stories with princes and stories with vampires, there’s romance and friendship. Taking writing from fifteen different authors, there’s swoon-worthy descriptions and sweet slow-build romances.

 

 

 

Here’s the list of the stories with their authors and the ratings I’ve given for each:

CinderellA.I. by Lyssa Chiavari ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

A retelling of Cinderella but with Artificial Intelligence set in a park where animatrons have their own roles in a show each night. Maddie dreams of feeling alive and when she gets the chance to take on the role of Cinderella, her dreams start to come true. It was quite a cute story to start off this book and I liked the scene it set for the book.
Tresses & Erubescence by Amy McNulty ♥ ♥

A Rapunzel retelling where Zelda is stuck in an attack hidden from some vampires but with a strange ending… This wasn’t a favourite of mine and the ending wasn’t exactly what I was hoping for, but an interesting take on a classic.
Magic All Around by Jane Watson ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

A retelling of The Goblin and the Grocer; Greta is trying her hardest to fit in with the people around her with a heart-warming ending. There’s a cute romance and a very quaint setting – I liked this story based on a tale I haven’t heard of before!
Little Rue by T. Damon ♥ ♥ ♥

A Little Red Riding Hood retelling with two roommates, Eliza and Rue. Rue is desperate to find a job and gets lucky when she finds one advertised, but it’s not quite the job she was expecting… A modern take on the classical tale.
The Inventor’s Daughter by Selenia Paz ♥ ♥ ♥

Beauty and the Beast retelling but where the beast is quite different to the typical one we know and have read about before. It wasn’t what I was expecting but had a satisfying ending.
A Brackish Shore by Leigh Hellman ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

A re-imagining of the classical The Little Mermaid, but one where the main character is a side character in this tale. Gorgeous writing but with an ambiguous ending and a strange mix of magic and Seeing…
The Forest of Carterhaugh by Karissa Laurel ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

A retelling of Tam Lin where Janae is a girl living her life through a VR game. She has to defeat Queen Mab in order to bring back her friend and discovers a bit about herself along the way. I quite enjoyed this story, different to the others with a fantastical feel to it!
The Pitiless Prisoner of Hamelin by Mark C. King ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

The Pied Piper but with a twist where he has a lawyer to tell his side of the story and the motives behind the monstrosity he caused. It showed us this well-known character in a completely different light and I loved this story and its grey character!
The Goose Girl and the Artificial by K.M. Robinson ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

A retelling of The Goose Girl where a princess is trapped under a threat and a kingdom isn’t safe unless she can do something about it. A story about deception with a little romance thrown in.
Dance of Deception by Clara Kensie ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

The Twelve Dancing Princesses where girls with powers and unique abilities meet up secretly to dance each night, but then when someone finds out, things take a different turn…
The False Nightingale by Mary Fan ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

The Nightingale set in space with creatures from all over under the rule of a newly appointed Empress. It’s about ruling and friendships and finding what’s important in life.
Leo 6 by Melanie McFarlane ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

A retelling of Rumplestiltskin where Kjersi works underground far away from Earth on Leo 6. Suddenly there’s a push to find the elusive Painite rock and a ticket to Earth is the prize. But with a sick sister, Kjersi is working for more than just a new life for herself.
Solstice Spell by Clare Dugmore ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

A beautifully stunning tale with winter vibes, a retelling of The Nutcracker Prince as Clara Birch falls into a land of dolls. It was definitely a favourite of mine in this collection!
Morsel by Dorothy Dreyer ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

A retelling of Hansel and Gretel but with vampires and candy. Quite a random ending and it was over quite quickly, but I did like the writing and kinda wish it were a little longer with more of a cemented ending.
Wires and Blood by Madeehah Reza ♥ ♥

A retelling of Pinocchio taking place on Earth where Pin can’t decide where her place is in a world where humans are destroying the creations they made. A weird one to finish the book on, and not that enjoyable, but an interesting way to re-imagine a well-known fairy tale.

 

So there’s something for everyone! There are a range of fairy tales that have been re-imagined with YA characters. There’s quite a lot of android/robot-themed stories which got a bit old after three stories with these in, and there were a couple of vampire stories too. I would have liked to see a bit more LGBT representation in this book and some more with the guys as main characters maybe! But it was a really good idea for a book and I liked how different the stories and writing was between each story. It’s a great book to pick up and put down whenever – I tended to read one story per night which worked well and I enjoyed them more with a break in between. Of course you’re not going to love them all, but where one isn’t your cup of tea, it’s someone else’s! Definitely pick up this book if you love fairy tales and retellings and want to discover some new authors!

The Sisters of the Winter Wood Book Review

The Sisters of the Winter WoodImage result for the sisters of the winter wood

Author: Rena Rossner
Publisher: Orbit
Pages: 464
Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥

Synopsis from goodreads:

“Raised in a small village surrounded by vast forests, Liba and Laya have lived a peaceful sheltered life – even if they’ve heard of troubling times for Jews elsewhere. When their parents travel to visit their dying grandfather, the sisters are left behind in their home in the woods.

But before they leave, Liba discovers the secret that their Tati can transform into a bear, and their Mami into a swan. Perhaps, Liba realizes, the old fairy tales are true. She must guard this secret carefully, even from her beloved sister.

Soon a troupe of mysterious men appear in town and Laya falls under their spell-despite their mother’s warning to be wary of strangers. And these are not the only dangers lurking in the woods…

The sisters will need each other if they are to become the women they need to be – and save their people from the dark forces that draw closer.”

I actually won a proof copy of this book at YALC this year which I was delighted about! It sounded like such an intriguing book to get lost in and my MY is the cover gorgeous! It’s a book inspired by the Goblin Market by Christina Rossetti and steeped in Jewish history and the pogroms they faced. It’s also a book with some sisterly love and just how far you’d go for your sister.

So the premise was super interesting and I was ready to get lost in a fairy tale – girls turning into bears and swans? Yes please! I was liking the beginning though there was a lot of new language to get used to which involved a lot of flicking to the glossary at the back of the book which actually took up a lot of time. It would have been much appreciated for a little footnote with the translation of the Hebrew/Yiddish word at the bottom for easy reading! I got used to it after a while and I did learn a few new words (which I’ll probably forget soon no doubt!) and it added to the atmosphere and history portrayed in the book.

The next thing I noticed was the contrast between the two sisters which was evident with their chapter writing styles. I loved flicking between Liba’s prose to Laya’s more dramatic poetic form – it was really fun to read! Though I soon discovered that I did not in fact like Laya much at all.

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I found her super annoying after a bit and felt sorry for Liba who kept and kept risking everything for her sister who just seemed ungrateful and indifferent in return. She caused a lot of trouble and didn’t even seem that sorry for it in the end.

One thing this book has is insta-love not once but TWICE and I guess I can kind of understand since they are quite sheltered and probably never seen males much before so when one looks their way, they fall hard. However it felt a little bit more natural for Liba but Laya – she’s only fifteen and acts like she knows it all! She runs after the first guy who smiles at her and lol look how that turned out. No spoilers, but it’s kinda funny and karma-y.

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I guess this book had a bit of a coming-of-age feel because the parents clear off pretty early on and leave the two sisters on there own, so they really have to grow up and look after themselves/each other. And without the parents there, of course there’s going to be romance.

So I really liked the writing style of this book and the premise, but the problem I had with this book was the fact that nothing really… happened. Yes there’s the romance and the fact that they’re turning into creatures and having to deal with this but there’s a lot of just build up to… nothing?

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Erm is that the end? So the one’s a bear and the other is a swan but there’s nothing more? Laya gets into some trouble and that’s it?

Well.

I enjoyed the contrasting writing styles, the sisterly affection and the whole concept for the book but the execution, not so much. I just feel like this book could have been so much more with some real drama and action to get you racing towards the end, but whilst I was happily reading through the story, it had a lukewarm ending. I turned the next page and that was it and thought, oh. Okay that’s the end. Not really the emotion-provoking ending I was hoping for. A bit underwhelming.

I did really like the author’s note at the end about the history for Jewish people and how she tried to weave in some of that into her book with the pogroms they faced. However I think this could have been pushed a bit more into the book to emphasise this – it felt like it was trying to go somewhere but didn’t quite hit the mark.

This book is out later this month, September 25th and I totally recommend if you like some history interwoven with fantasy and fairy tale, and like I’ve said, I loved the writing style. It just didn’t really do anything for me and left me a bit disheartened!