Cover Reveal: The Younglings: Fire & Magic by Helena M. Craggs @h_craggs @lovebookstours @igbooktours

Synopsis

Protecting innocents in the mortal world is not a job to be taken lightly, and life for the Keepers is spiralling back to Crazyville. The Supernatural Council has their back, but it’s chaos out there.

Stranded spirits, rogue vampires and demons are bad enough, and now merciless witch hunters are stalking Millie.

Eve’s angelic blood is like a siren call—one a tenacious vampire tracker cannot ignore.

Are things for the Keepers about to turn messy?

It’s hard to know who’s the good guy and who’s the enemy.

Monsters don’t always have claws or fangs, and they’re not always in the shadows. Sometimes they hide in plain sight.

Can the Keepers protect their own?

Author Bio

Helena lives with her husband, three cats, chickens and two dogs in the beautiful hills of Yorkshire. She’s a sucker for crystals, Reiki and angels, and she’s a tad obsessed with witchcraft too.

Always an avid reader, she loves snuggling down with a good book and visiting faraway lands. But out of everything she reads, she has a weakness for the freedom that fantasy offers.

Fire & Magic is the second book in The Younglings series. We see the teenagers go through trials and tribulations, but ultimately, we witness their personal growth in handling relationships, both good and bad. The Younglings are becoming adults any parent would be proud of.

Book Review: The Blood Trials by N. E. Davenport #TheBloodTrials @Nia_Davenport @HarperVoyagerUK @RandomTTours

Synopsis

It’s all about blood.

Blood spilled long ago between the Republic of Mareen and the armies of the Blood Emperor, ending all blood magic.

Now there is peace in the Republic – but there is also a strict class system, misogyny, and racism. Her world is not perfect, but Ikenna survived in it. Until now.

With the murder of her grandfather, Ikenna spirals out of control. Though she is an initiate for the Republic’s deadly elite military force, Ikenna has a secret only her grandfather knew: she possesses the blood magic of the Republic’s enemies.

Ikenna throws herself into the gladiatorial war games at the heart of her martial world: trials that will lead her closer to his killers. Under the spotlight, she subjects herself to abuse from a society that does not value her, that cherishes lineage over talent – all while hiding gifts that, if revealed, would lead to execution or worse. Ikenna is willing to risk it all to find out who killed her grandfather…

So she can end them.

My Review

When we meet Ikenna (Kenna as likes to be called) she’s not in a great place. She’s still grieving after losing her grandfather who was the only family she had. She shared a special bond with her grandfather who taught her to become the warrior she was destined to be but also because he helped her to harness her blood gift. A gift that her grandfather told her must be kept a secret. Kenna’s coping mechanism to deal with her grief is to drown her sorrows in alcohol and brawling. When Kenna is told that her grandfather was murdered, this sparks a fire in her. So Kenna signs up to take part in the Praetorian Trials with her main focus to become a Praetorian, infiltrate their inner circle, find the person who murdered her grandfather and seek her own vengeance. But the Praetorian Trials are brutal and Kenna can only achieve her goal if she survives which includes being pitted against her fellow candidates. As Kenna starts her training and the candidates are whittled down a bigger picture emerges of what happened to her grandfather, who was involved and why. Can she survive the Praetorian Trials, fulfil her mission and harness her blood gift at the same time.

I loved the front cover of this book and this is what I imagined Kenna would look like. I have been looking forward to reading this book since I read the synopsis and it was an amazing read. The storyline is full of history, action, battle scenes and full of feelings. Kenna has to deal with her grief of losing her grandfather and at the same time she is learning who he is and how to manage her powers. The training scenes and the tasks that Kenna she has to go through are not only brutal but sometimes near impossible. I can honestly say that I don’t think I would have even survived the first task never mind the ones that came later. Although the tasks start off difficult but mild they then become even harder so that Kenna has to not only fulfil the task but also prove herself worthy of joining an elite group. At the same time there is the death board looming over her which tells her which of her fellow candidates are still part of the competition and those that have been eliminated. There were some scenes not for the faint hearted which for me included the scene where Kenna met the Accursed, who were very unsettling.

As a character I liked Kenna from the beginning. She is fiery, fearless, doesn’t hold back and is the first one to get involved in a fight or throw herself into the action. I love the fact that she says what she thinks and feels and doesn’t mince her words even if that means swearing. The chemistry between Kenna and Reid was very very intense and their scenes were very spicy which I loved.

As I read the last sentences of this book all I could think was wow, when can I read the next book. This book is the first in a duology and I cannot wait to see what awaits Kenna next.

If like me you enjoy the fantasy genre with a strong female character this is the book for you.

Author Bio

Nia “N.E.” Davenport is the Science Fiction/Fantasy author of The Blood Trials and its sequel (Harper Voyager). She attended the University of Southern California and studied Biological Sciences and Theatre Arts. She also has an M.A. in Secondary Education. She teaches English and Biology to amazing students. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys vacationing with her family, skiing, and being a huge foodie. She’s an advocate for diverse perspectives and protagonists in literature. You can find her on Twitter @nia davenport, or on Instagram @nia.davenport, where she talks about binge-worthy TV, killer movies, and great books. She lives in Texas with her husband and kids.

Book Review: The Balloon Thief by Aneesa Marufu #theballoonthief @AneesaMarufu @chickenhsebooks @ninadouglas

Synopsis

Burn the flame. Seek the night.

For Khadija, the only escape from her father’s arranged betrothal is the sky.

When she spots a rogue hot air balloon fighting against its ropes, she leaps at the chance for adventure. Khadija soon finds an unlikely ally in a poor glassmaker’s apprentice, Jacob.

But Jacob is a hāri, and Khadija a Ghadaean. The hāri are oppressed and restless – their infamous terrorist group, the Hāreef, have a new fearsome leader. And the ruling Ghadaeans are brutal in their repression.

Soon, a deadly revolution threatens their friendship and their world. The Hāreef use forbidden magic, summoning jinn – wicked spirits made of fire – to enact their revenge, forcing Jacob and Khadija to choose what kind of a world they want to save …

My Review

Khadija lives in Qasrah and is a Ghadaen making her very high up in the hierarchy structure of the place she calls homes. She was born into a society where women aren’t permitted to read or write and their only expectation in life is marriage. However, Khadija wants more than marriage. She wants to progress and learn. Her brother taught her how to read and she is a budding artist. When her father decides that it is time she was married and begins the search for a suitor, Khadija seizes an opportunity and escapes in a hot air balloon. When she lands unexpectedly she meets Jacob a Hari who tries to help her. The Hari are very lower down in the hierarchy, considered the lesser race and downtrodden. When Khadija saves Jacob from his master they both find themselves on the run and then Khadija’s path crosses with Darian. However, when members of the Hareef which consist of Hari members try to overthrow the hierarchy can Khadija and Jacob’s unlikely friendship survive especially when it transpires that Jacob may be involved with the Hareef.

When I was first sent the synopsis of this book I was fascinated. The synopsis promised a storyline filled with fantasy, a new world, adventure and friendship. By the end of the book that promise had been fulfilled.I read this book and listened to the audio book at the same time. This is the first time I’ve done this and thoroughly enjoyed it. This is Khadija’s story of finding freedom, breaking the norm, forging relationships through choice and not through status. But ultimately this is Khadija’s story of working out who she is and taking control of her own life. The world building was amazing and very immersive. At the same time it was easy to follow.

As characters Khadija and Jacob were fascinating. Although from different worlds, fate and a series of events brings them together. They are two very different people but at the same time they are very similar and are bound by one word: oppression. Khadija is expected to marry and based on society’s norms the only roles expected of her are wife and mother. Yet Khadija wants to learn and break free. For Jacob his birth as a Hari means that he will never be able to progress, be independent or be on equal footing with a Ghadaen. Both Khadija and Jacob are a little naïve as to what the other has personally experienced as they belong to different worlds. It’s only when they start to spend time together that they realise that they have a lot in common. When Khadija meets Darian there is definitely chemistry between them which I loved and it was the right amount for the storyline but also added another human aspect to the story.

Although this is a YA fantasy novel the author has done a brilliant job in intertwining themes of race, misogyny and discrimination which play a predominant part in the story. At the same time the author has created a beautiful story that draws on South Asian folklore and intertwines this within in story.

An epic YA fantasy that will transport you to a new world!

Author Bio

Aneesa Marufu lives in Manchester. When she isn’t running around after her toddler, she’s hunting for a new book to escape into. The Balloon Thief, her debut novel, was the winner of the KimberleyChambers Kickstart Prize in 2019. Follow Aneesa; t: @aneesamarufu / i: @aneesa.marufu

Book Review: The Mercenary by Johanna M Rae #TheMercenary #ZooloosBookTours @JohannaMRae @ZooloosBT

Synopsis

What if everything you thought you knew about society was wrong?

Jodie Fletcher’s world is rocked on its axis when she stumbles into the knowledge that shape shifters are real. Not only that, but they have their own parallel justice system, which is endorsed by governments worldwide.

Jodie is drowning in a world she no longer understands and to top it all off, there is a target on her back. 

The only thing it seems she can count on is the leopard-shifter who has taken it upon himself to protect her. 

With their connection deepening after each encounter, and danger ever present around them, decisions need to be made. 

Can they find a way to bridge the divide between their two worlds?

Buy Links

Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Mercenary-Therian-Secrets-Book-ebook/dp/B00EQ2N0AU

Amazon US – https://www.amazon.com/Mercenary-Therian-Secrets-Book-ebook/dp/B00EQ2N0AU

My Review

This book was definitely action packed from the outset and when we meet Jodie she has a lot on a plate. Her parents are away on holiday, she’s trying to hold down a full time job and at the same time she’s trying to look after her brother Luke whose relationship with his partner has broken down and he’s taken to drink. On returning home one night from work she encounters a leopard in the back garden. But Jodie isn’t scared and is actually fascinated by the leopard. But her encounter with the leopard is cut short when she tries to help her brother who has locked himself in the bathroom. Upon opening the bathroom a boar bursts through the house and Luke is nowhere to be seen. It’s at this point that Jodie becomes aware of shapeshifters, the fact that they are real and that her brother is one. She later finds out that the leopard she encountered is also a shapeshifter by the name of Danny. Once Jodie is introduced to the shifter world it is a world she cannot leave and where she will learn more not only about shifters but about her own heritage.

What I liked about this book is that it set the scene from the beginning and there was something eerie from the first page when we first meet Jodie. This is the first book in the series and the storyline has definitely set the scene for this new world that Jodie enters and what is to come next. The story was full of action, relationships and angst. When Jodie first realises that shifters exist she’s quite shocked. She’s still processing what she’s learned and at the same time she’s trying to deal with her brother, look after her nieces and come to turns with who she truly is. When Danny and Jodie meet there’s definitely an instant connection and a sense of familiarity because although she sees him in his shifter form she’s not scared at all. The more they get to know each other that connection intensifies and there were some spicy and very sweet moments that they shared. One of the parts in the book that I found quite powerful was when Jodie attends the shifter event that changes her life forever. I won’t say anymore to avoid spoilers but I could see from Jodie’s perspective that it was a horrifying experience and that she felt betrayed. It was what I would describe as a very emotional scene.

The ending of this book has set up the next book very nicely and I really can’t wait to find out what happens to Jodie, Danny, Luke and the rest of their friends next.

Author Bio

Author Johanna M Rae is a former fashion designer and married mother of three. She lives in Hamilton, NZ, with her family and two gorgeous ragdoll cats: Macchiato (Macky) and Smudge.

Balancing the needs of three sporty and musically inclined teenagers and her writing schedule doesn’t always leave much time for leisure, but in the quiet moments, Johanna can be found crocheting up a storm or nursing her caffeine addiction.

She is partway through writing a shapeshifter series called Therian Secrets. The first four books are available at Amazon and selected online retailers, while book five is due for release in 2021. Johanna also has an urban fantasy series called Immortal Trinity, currently consisting of two books. The third is due out in 2022. Johanna has also written a stand alone novel called Alpha Stray, which was her NaNoWriMo project; and two poetry collections. There are a few other stories in the works, which she plans to publish in the near future. Until then, there is coffee to be had…


Follow her at:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JohannaMRae/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/johanna.m.rae/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JohannaMRae

Website: www.johannamraeauthor.com

Book Review: The Disappearance of Emily by Elizabeth Pantley @Lovebookstours @Igbooktours

Synopsis

A magic mirror. An enchanted world. A mysterious missing mother. A suspicious package. An unexplained death. A community of strange, quirky people. A sassy cat and a hilarious, perpetually annoyed witch. Come visit Destiny Falls and escape to a great time.

…Hayden’s life was normal until she fell through a mirror and was thrust into an alternate, magical place. Destiny Falls is not on any map and is home to a family she never knew she had. The town is enchanted and charming, and the amazing mansion she lives in changes to meet the needs of the people who live there, including her! Every day she discovers a new enchantment.

But something is amiss. Hayden gets an ominous warning from a strange woman, who promises to tell her the town secrets and give her a package – if she’ll meet her at the mysterious ferry that lacks a published destination. The ferry visit is cancelled, but the package is delivered. Once it arrives, someone turns up dead. Then the suspicious episodes start, too many to call them coincidences. She and her family are targeted and in danger.

Who or what is causing the chaos? All signs point to the mysterious disappearance of her mother – way back when Hayden was just two days old. Can she identify and eliminate the threat before another person in her life is stolen away? Can she learn more about the secrets kept for her lifetime? With the help of her sassy sidekick cat, and a host of new family and friends, Hayden finds herself surrounded with support as she solves the mystery of the death and learns secrets about herself.

My Review

The story picks up shortly after the events of Falling into Magic. When we catch up with Hayden she is now living in Destiny Falls and bonding with the family that she never knew she had. As Hayden is getting use to her new surroundings she meets Nakita, the ferry captain who gives her a cryptic message. Before Hayden can learn what the message means Nakita is found dead and she is given a box of documents. With a killer on the loose can Hayden find out who killed Nakita and why? The more Hayden delves into the box of papers she uncovers secrets left buried for many years. Will the documents help her to unearth what actually happened to her mother?

This is the second book in the Destiny Falls Mystery and Magic Series. Although this is the second book in the series it can be read as a standalone. Having not read the first book there was an explanation at the start of the book which brought the story up to date which did help me get up to speed with the story. However, I will definitely be reading the first book. I really enjoyed the storyline and it gave me Sabrina the teenage witch vibes which is still one of my favourite shows. I loved the interaction and bond between Hayden and her cat Latifa which was one of my favourite aspects of the book. Especially when Latifa chooses Hayden’s wardrobe and her attitude and sass. As a character I did like Hayden. She is trying her best to adjust to a new life but misses her old life too and so her feelings are conflicted. At the same time she is learning more about her family history and hoping to find out what happened to her mother. The historic room sounded amazing. It was written so descriptively that you would imagine being there. The book ended on a cliff hanger so I am intrigued to find out what happens next.

A book about mystery and magic!

Author Bio

Elizabeth Pantley is the internationally bestselling author of The No-Cry Sleep Solution and twelve other books for parents. Her books have been published in over twenty languages. She is also the author of the popular Destiny Falls Mystery and Magic book series. She lives in the Pacific Northwest, the beautiful inspiration for the Destiny Falls world.

Book Review: A Legacy of Storms and Starlight by Victoria J. Price @KellyALacey @lovebookstours @igbooktours

Synopsis

The first book in a breathtaking new fantasy series, A Legacy of Storms and Starlight is a captivating and addictive read, perfect for fans of Sarah J. Maas and Danielle L. Jensen.

Zylah Renfall is certain of two things: she will forever be on the run for the murder of a prince, and she somehow used magic to escape her own hanging.

Aided by a mysterious and infuriating Fae, Zylah dreams of a fresh start and a chance to explore her newly discovered Fae heritage. But her dreams are short-lived as the king’s men still hunt for her head. When she learns of a Fae uprising uniting to overthrow the same king who wants her dead, Zylah seizes her opportunity.

Take down the king, secure her freedom.

With just three months to prepare, Zylah’s future hangs in the balance. Despite the allure of her Fae trainer and the ruthless attempts on their lives, failure is not an option. For as long as the king lives, the Fae remain in the shadows and Zylah will never be free.

My Review

When we meet Zylah she is imprisoned awaiting execution. Prior to this she was working for the Royal Family and was due to leave to work with her father as an apothecary. However, her path changed when she was approached by Prince Jesper whose intentions towards Zylah were less that honourable and whilst defending herself she inadvertently causes the Prince’s death leading to King Arnir ordering her execution. On the day of her execution as the trap door opens Zylah starts to fall and finds herself in a forest. There she meets Holt, a fae who quickly recognises that Zylah is half fae and didn’t know. Holt becomes Zylah’s protector and takes her under his wing whilst she is on the run. Holt then introduces Zylah to the fae community who are trying to other throw King Arnir and joins the fight. Will Zylah and the fae defeat King Arnir?

This is the first book that I’ve read by this author and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The storyline and character development was brilliant. My intention was to read a few chapters on a Friday evening which quickly turned into one chapter after another and the book was read within 24 hours because I was invested in the story and the characters. The first meeting between Zylah and Holt was just perfect and from the outset it was clear that their bond was going to be strong. Their banter is so funny and their rules and conversations were so sweet. However, it becomes obvious that Zylah is suffering from PTSD and having flashbacks after what happened with Prince Jesper. Although Zylah doesn’t tell Holt what happened at the outset, Holt doesn’t push her for information. Rather there is an unsaid understanding between them that Zylah’s been through something horrific and will tell him when she’s ready. When Zylah meets Raif there is an instant attraction which then starts a love triangle between Zylah, Holt and Raif. When Zylah is introduced to the fae community she starts to learn more about herself and who she is. At the same time we learn more about the history between humans and the fae. After finishing the book I really wanted to try canna cake.

The twist at the end I wasn’t expecting but I can already tell the next book is going to be epic.

This is the first book in a new series and I am eager to read the next.

Author Bio

Victoria lives on England’s breathtaking south coast. She loves fairy tales, myths and legends, and grew up creating stories both in words and pictures. When she’s not writing you’ll find her exploring with her husband and their two dogs, searching for beautiful hidden places and secret picnic spots.

Book Review: Elladur – The Elder’s Legacy by Angie Delazi @AngieDelazi @lovebooksgroup #lovebookstours

Synopsis

It is a time of rising evil and reluctant heroes. A time of grit and fear.

A time to rise above what life has given and discover the hidden power resting in us all.

Liya’s life has become a whirlwind of unanswered questions. Her success in closing the gates should have been the end of her ordeal, but it was only the beginning. Forced into a world she struggles to understand, Liya must adapt if she has any hope of survival. Terrible threats loom on the horizon, lurking in the corners ever out of reach. An ancient evil has awakened and seeks the total domination of the entire world.

Elladur – The Elder’s Legacy is the thrilling sequel to the Elladur – The Awakening from Angie Delazi. Picking up right where the first left off, this rollercoaster tale is sure to enthrall and mystify readers. Grab your copy today and continue the adventure.

My Review

This book picks up shortly after the explosive events of Elladur-The Awakening with Liya now coming to the attention of the Dark King in the other world. The Dark King has one goal, to take over the world and it’s up to Liya to stop her. Whilst staying in Haydn’s Castle Liya disappears and finds herself in a training camp where she learns more about who she is and the power that she holds.

I read this book straight after I finished the first book in the series which helped me to follow the storyline and characters by jumping straight from book one to book two. This helped to keep the storyline and characters in focus as I read. There was more magic in this book and it’s clear that Liya’s magic has increased significantly and more people are now aware of the power that she possesses. Having read the first book I was hoping for more scenes between Liya and Haydn in this book and I wasn’t disappointed. I loved the scenes between them because it was clear they cared about each other so deeply. Like the first book, this book also included many characters but as Liya quickly learned it was difficult to know who she could trust as every character appeared to have their own agenda and an ulterior motive. One of my favourite aspects of this book was learning more about the Ancient Era, the artefacts and what the Elders had done all those years ago. As this book ended on a cliff hanger I am interested to see what happens next.

A brilliant second book in a new fantasy trilogy.

Author Bio

Angie Delazi – Writing has always been my passion. As a child, I loved the world of myths and legends and soon I became a fantasy and romance lover. But also the world of philosophy and great secrets have done it to me. I started writing my first stories when I was 13 and returned 8 years ago. I am also a booklover, with reading between 70-100 books yearly.

Book Review: Elladur – The Awakening by Angie Delazi @AngieDelazi @lovebooksgroup #lovebookstours

Synopsis

Magic – a legacy of the ancient era, created by genetic manipulation. For as long as Liya can remember, her magic has been a curse. Something to hide, something to despise. As king’s spy, she ventures out to uncover more about the political marriage of the hostile kingdom. Her nerves intensify when she realizes that her former lover, Haydn, is to be the future king of Dar’Angaar. With a war between the kingdom hanging in the balance, she and her best friend Ewan discover an ancient scroll from the long-lost kingdom of Elladur. It reveals a mysterious portal to another world, where eternal darkness and a king await his revenge.

Yet, at such a risk, who would do such a thing? The answer might be closer than she realizes.

This fantasy novel is the 1st book of the Elladur trilogy.

My Review

18 year old Liya is the youngest of the King’s spies and probably the most trusted by the King despite the fact that she is not from a noble background. When the King is informed about a pending political marriage between two warring kingdoms he sends Liya to find out the reasons behind the marriage. It just so happens that the groom is her former love Haydn. As Liya delves into the reason behind the marriage, reconnects with Haydn and helps him to recover a crystal from the Ancient Era she quickly realises that something else is hiding behind the proposed alliance which is more sinister and an even bigger threat to her king.

I really enjoyed the storyline. I liked that although the main storyline is pitched around a marriage alliance the story quickly opens up to explore secret alliances and agendas as well as magic. Liya is a brilliant female character. She is strong and fearless and is on equal footing with her male counterparts but the unique aspect about Liya is that she can wield a large amount of magic and power. There was definitely a spark between Liya and Haydn from the first point that they reconnected. I also loved the brother sister bond between Liya and Ewan. As for the battle scenes they were epic and were so descriptive it felt like you were in the thick of it with the characters.

A story about politics and magic!

Author Bio

Angie Delazi – Writing has always been my passion. As a child, I loved the world of myths and legends and soon I became a fantasy and romance lover. But also the world of philosophy and great secrets have done it to me. I started writing my first stories when I was 13 and returned 8 years ago. I am also a booklover, with reading between 70-100 books yearly.

Book Review: The Clockwork Girl by Anna Mazzola #TheClockworkGirl @Anna_Mazz @orionbooks

Synopsis

Paris, 1750.

In the midst of an icy winter, as birds fall frozen from the sky, chambermaid Madeleine Chastel arrives at the home of the city’s celebrated clockmaker and his clever, unworldly daughter.

Madeleine is hiding a dark past, and a dangerous purpose: to discover the truth of the clockmaker’s experiments and record his every move, in exchange for her own chance of freedom.

For as children quietly vanish from the Parisian streets, rumours are swirling that the clockmaker’s intricate mechanical creations, bejewelled birds and silver spiders, are more than they seem.

And soon Madeleine fears that she has stumbled upon an even greater conspiracy. One which might reach to the very heart of Versailles…

A intoxicating story of obsession, illusion and the price of freedom.

My Review

Madeline is tasked to spy on the household of Dr Reinhart, a famous clockmaker and his 17 year old daughter, Veronique. She is to find out what the Dr is working on and what is going on in his household. Is the Dr working on something dark? Madeline has a month to uncover the truth on what truly happens in the Reinhart household and uncover what he is working on. Is it simply another mechanical creation or something more sinister. In exchange Madeleine will receive a sum of money which she can use to start a new life with her nephew, away from her mother and the streets of Paris. At the same time children are disappearing but no one knows what forces are behind this. Will Madeline discover the truth and is it the truth that she is expecting.

I adored the storyline of this book and found myself flying through it. It was a bit slow to begin with but I think that added more atmosphere to what was going on and Madeleine’s background. It’s definitely a story that couldn’t be rushed. As the story progressed and the pace quickened I found myself racing ahead to see what would happen next. The brilliant thing about this story was that whilst reading there was this sense of unease and suspense as soon as Madeline started working in the household. There was a very creepy feeling that there was something going on that wasn’t obvious to outsiders or anyone that wasn’t part of the Dr’s inner circle. This definitely bought Paris in the 1700s to life. It was a different way of life for many people depending on their status at birth. I won’t say too much to avoid spoilers but the ending was one that I wasn’t expecting and that completely shocked me. There were a few clues as to where the story was going however the ending I could never have predicted.

As far as characters go it is hard not to feel sorry for Madeline. She comes from a very impoverished and difficult background, has a strained relationship with her mother and in some ways is downtrodden by her mother. One of my favourite parts in the book was when Madeline spoke up against her mother and told her how she truly felt, taking her power back. In contrast there is Veronique who is born into a privileged background but is lonely and has a difficult relationship with her father. She has no mother so looks to Madeline as not only a mother figure but also a friend.

A creepy and gothic read which will keep you guessing from the first page.

Author Bio

Anna is a writer of historical thrillers and Gothic fiction. Her novels explore the impact of crime and injustice.

Her third novel, The Clockwork Girl, set in Paris in 1750 and based partly on the story of the vanishing children of Paris, is out now.

Her debut novel, The Unseeing, is based on the life of a real woman called Sarah Gale who was convicted of aiding a murder in London in 1837. It won an Edgar Allan Poe Award in the US and was nominated for the Historical Writers’ Association’s Debut Crown in the UK.

Her second novel, The Story Keeper, follows a folklorist’s assistant as she searches out dark fairytales and stolen girls on the Isle of Skye in 1857. The Story Keeper  was nominated for the Highland Book Prize.

Her fourth novel is a ghost story set in Fascist Italy.

As well as novels, Anna writes short stories. She is an accomplished public speaker and regularly speaks at and chairs literary events.

Anna is also a human rights and criminal justice solicitor, working with victims of crime. She lives in Camberwell, South London, with her family, a snake, a lizard and a cat.

Book Review: The Embroidered Book by Kate Heartfield #theembroideredbook @kateheartfield @fictionpubteam @HarperVoyagerUK @RandomTTours

Synopsis

‘Power is not something you are given. Power is something you take. When you are a woman, it is a little more difficult, that’s all’

1768, Charlotte, daughter of the Habsburg Empress, arrives in Naples to marry a man she has never met. Her sister Antoine is sent to France, and in the mirrored corridors of Versailles they rename her Marie Antoinette.

The sisters are alone, but they are not powerless. When they were only children, they discovered a book of spells – spells that work, with dark and unpredictable consequences.

In a time of vicious court politics, of discovery and dizzying change, they use the book to take control of their lives.

But every spell requires a sacrifice. And as love between the sisters turns to rivalry, they will send Europe spiralling into revolution.

My Review

When the book starts we are introduced to Maria Theresa the Empress of Habsburg and her children. The Empress is only concerned with building alliances through her children’s marriages than their happiness. Out of all her children she considers her daughter Charlotte a bad influence on her sister Antoine and tries to keep them apart but despite this the sisters are very close and have a very strong bond. It transpires that the lives of both Charlotte and Antoine are entwined with the life of their older sister Josepha. Josepha is due to be wed to the King of Naples and Charlotte to Louis the heir to the throne of France. However, when Josepha dies, the paths and destinies of Charlotte and Antoine change in a blink of an eye when the Empress decrees that Charlotte will take Josepha’s place in Naples and Antoine will take Charlotte’s place in France. From the outset it is made clear that there is something magical about Charlotte and Antoine and that magic runs through their veins. Their prized possession is a book of spells which they discovered as children and they use the spells contained within it and when older create spells of their own.

The lives of both Charlotte and Antoine were fascinating. Charlotte marries and quickly realises that her husbands is not a nice man or a man she could love. As such Charlotte decides that the quicker she gives birth to an heir the quicker she will obtain a seat on the council of Naples and have the power to make and influence decisions that affect the country and its residents. Antoine is also married at a very young age and is happier in her marriage to Louis but they are more like friends that husband and wife. It was hard not to feel sad for Antoine when she is getting ready to leave for France and realises she can’t take anything with her. Before she crosses to France she has to part with anything that relates to her previous life including parting with her clothes. She is stripped of her name and is reborn Marie Antoinette to make her truly French.

Once established both Charlotte and Antoinette come into their own becoming the female leaders of their respective countries at times having more influence over decisions than their husbands. Both are very ambitious and as they grow older you can definitely see them showing the same traits showed by their mother despite them thinking they have very little in common with her. At the same time their ambition also brings the sisters into conflict. Essentially this is a book about female leaders and the power they held. As a reader I did wonder what would have become of Charlotte and Antoinette had Josepha not died. History would definitely have been a little different. Reading this book did prompt me to read more about the characters and learn more about them.

I’ve been looking forward to reading this book as soon as I saw it advertised because it looked intriguing and included two of my favourite genres: history and fantasy. When the book arrived I was a little intimidated as it’s quite a chunk of a book. However, when I opened the book I realised that the font was quite big and the chapters were small and in bite sized chunks. So once I started to read I found myself flying through the book. The theme of magic running throughout the book was fascinating and I loved how the sisters used portrait magic to communicate. This is a richly written book that whisked me away to Naples and France in the 1700s.

One aspect of this book that I really liked was the list of character at the start which was categorised by the family that they belonged to, together with who they were. As this story features a lot of characters I found his really helpful to refer to at any point that I was lost and used this as a quick reference guide.

A book about history, politics and magic!

Author Bio

Kate Heartfield is the author of The Embroidered Book, a historical fantasy novel out in February 2022. Her debut novel won Canada’s Aurora Award, and her novellas, stories and games have been shortlisted for the Nebula, Locus, Crawford, Sunburst and Aurora awards. A former journalist, Kate lives near Ottawa, Canada.