dark fantasy

book review | Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo | Grisha Trilogy 3

ruin and rising leigh bardugo book coverAuthor: Leigh Bardugo
Title: Ruin and Rising
Series: Grisha Trilogy 3
Genre: Fantasy; Young Adult
Pages: 422
Rate: 5/5 | Goodreads

It’s nice when books are so enthralling. Finished the Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo with the book “Ruin and Rising” and it was great. Definitely among the best fantasy tales out there.

About the Book: To win against the Darkling Alina requires the third amplifier. It would change everything! Her power would be immense, she’d be the first Grisha to wield three, and… But to find it she needs to uncover long buried past, and untangle secrets that proved too much even for Darkling, hundreds of years old grisha, so unique in his power the title hardly fits. Besides, some secrets are buried for a reason. Alina has no idea how painful they can be.

My Opinion: Darkling is one of the best villains ever written. This book digs a lot into the past, so we get to know his too, of what he was, his childhood, and what could have nudged him onto the path he is on now. Yet my favorite remains Nikolay. I’ve read that the “King of Scars” is about him, so I assume I’ll need to read all of the books in Grisha world. As for the story itself, it was good, sometimes a bit slow, but otherwise – twisting, turning, and throwing surprises out and about.

A good book that finished the trilogy well, with my favorite kind of ending, one that covers a little bit of life after the war. I give it a 5 out of 5, and can greatly recommend it to those seeking not too complex a web in a fantasy, but one that’ll keep you captivated.

Categories: 5-5, Books: Everything, Books: Fantasy, dark fantasy | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

book review | Dead Jack and the Pandemonium Device by James Aquilone | Dead Jack 1

dead jack and the pandemonium device james aquilone book coverAuthor: James Aquilone
Title: Dead Jack and the Pandemonium Device
Series: Dead Jack 1
Genre: Horror Literature, Humor
Pages: 211
Rate: 5/5 | Goodreads

When I saw Dead Jack and the Pandemonium Device by James Aquilone book cover, I knew I’m going to like it. For the same reason I liked Skulduggery Pleasant books: noir vibe with a dead-man for a detective. Dark but simple humor with dirty streaks to it.

About the Book: Jack is a detective in Pandemonium, a realm between life, death, heaven, and hell. He’s pretty good at what he does, even though his partner, a homunculus who one day just moved into the empty cavern of Jack’s skull, would highly disagree: his plans are reckless, poorly thought out, and even deadly. Jack is also a zombie with a fairy dust addiction. According to him, that’s the only thing that keeps the flesh craving at bay. His partner doesn’t necessarily believe that either, but here Jack is. Out of dust, approaching a leprechaun for more. Except instead of dust he gets his ass roasted. And, let’s just say… Leprechaun meat is delicious.

My Opinion: The book consists out of small little mysteries, and one big one that drives the plot, gives back-story, world building, and background to people in Pandemonium, including Jack and his origins of being. There’s plenty of real fun and great things, like mermaids who want to eat you, and pixies who are a bit too big to be pixies, because their mothers were indeed pixies, but their father’s were human men, and nobody wants to ask HOW, nobody. And due to Jack not taking himself too seriously too, we get this great fast paced book full of dark and sometimes a bit vulgar humor, daring plans that somehow work, and heroes in the most unlikely places.

That was a great fun of a book, I can’t wait to put my hands on the second one. This one gets a 5 out of 5.

Categories: 5-5, Books: Everything, Books: Funny!, Books: Horror, Books: Supernatural, dark fantasy, Nosferatu Books, Paranormal, zombies | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

book review | The Crystal Shard by R.A. Salvatore | The Legend of Drizzt 4

crystal shard the legend of drizzt dark elf salvatore book coverAuthor: R.A. Salvatore
Title: The Crystal Shard
Series: The Legend of Drizzt 4
Genre: Fantasy; High Fantasy
Pages: 344
Rate: 4/5 | Goodreads

I keep craving classical fantasy, something like J.R.R. Tolkien, or Peter S. Beagle, or Frizt Leiber. I’d even happily read George R.R. Martin’s next book in the Song of Fire and Ice if it was out, but since it isn’t… I picked up another book by R.A. Salvatore, a fourth book in the Legend of Drizzt series in The Forgotten Realms. The Crystal Shard is the first book in the second trilogy in the Legend of Drizzt series, The Icewind Dales, and it was good, with a promise for better.

About the Book: An enthralled mage, ruled over by a demon he foolishly tried to summon now influences the minds of warring folk, and leads great armies towards the Icewind Dales, a place our dark elf Drizzt calls home. So, the moment he spots a sign of it in the horizon, he hurries to warn people. It’ll take a force of the whole united peoples to withstand this, but rulers are having hard time believing a word of a dark elf, especially since there’s no proof. They don’t wish to abandon their fishing boats and homes for an alliance that might not even be needed. And when they’ll have their proof, Drizzt fears it’ll be gravely too late.

My Opinion: The one point I took away is for the slightly forced sense of honor. While it’s a trait very common in classical fantasy, I find it bitterly annoying when people do what’s right, and not what’s logical. Still, the book was amazing! Full of great battles against barbarians, giants, orcs, mages, demons! And it ended with a note of a great adventure in the next one, so I’m really looking forwards to it.

A great book to satisfy that classic High Fantasy craving, a firm 4 out of 5 from me.

Categories: 4-5, Books: Everything, Books: Fantasy, dark fantasy, epic fantasy, Fantasy Books, high fantasy | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

book review | Exile by R.A. Salvatore | The Legend of Drizzt 2

exile the legend of drizzt forgotten realms r.a. salvatore book coverAuthor: R.A. Salvatore
Title: Exile
Series: The Legend of Drizzt 2
Genre: High Fantasy; Dark Fantasy
Pages: 343
Rate: 5/5 | Goodreads

Back in the days of MySpace, while I still had a VampireFreaks account too, if you asked anyone for book recommendations: high chances were you got R.A. Salvatore mentioned, with his Legend of Drizzt. Now that I’ve read the second one, Exile, I definitely see why.

About the Book: Drizzt roams the oppressing darkness of the Underdark, fighting for his survival and sanity. Both against monstrous beasts, and his own mind. All the while trying his best to stay a step ahead of the hunting parties his mother, now in great disfavor with her vile Spider Queen due to survival of Drizzt, keeps sending. She intends to right the wrongs and regain the favor of her goddess, else all might be lost. For such are the rules in the vicious homeland of the dark elves: Menzoberranzan.

My Opinion: This is a very unique, and yet very classic story. There’s so many new, never seen before things happening, the personalities spun, the hierarchy, the rule, the whole game, schemes, politics. But at the same time, pages are filled with battles, sword fights, and friendship that pushes characters out of their comfort zones, and against their own nature.

It’s a truly beautiful piece. I loved the emphasis on what predicaments like Drizzt’s, the utter loneliness, can do to the mind and the humanity side of a being. A strong 5 out of 5 from me.

Categories: 5-5, Books: Everything, Books: Fantasy, dark fantasy, Fantasy Books, high fantasy | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

tag | Vampire Protagonists

Summer to me is very much a vampire time. Autumn is too, so I basically spend half a year wanting to read vampire books, even if I don’t read all that many of them. Mostly because it’s a bit hard to find good ones that aren’t just fifteen books of cheesy series with vampires who are almost humans with high metabolism and tendency to drink blood, if you get my drift. So, in hopes to find more, here’s a little tag from me to you. If you’re reading this, you’re automatically tagged, okay? Link me in the comments below or tag me, basically just inform me any way you can, so I can fill out my TBR with bloodsuckers! (Q’s and A’s are separate to make it easier for you to copy/paste)

The Summer Vampire TBR Tag:

  1. The Pride – LGBTQIA+ vampire or at least a book containing them.
  2. The VoC – Vampire of Color, bonus points if main character!
  3. The Classiest – Classic-type trope vampires, the fear of garlic, sun, etc.
  4. The Unique – The least classic-type vampires, or otherwise unique bloodsuckers.
  5. The Human – The most human vampires, and why or how are they so.
  6. The Monster – The least human, monstrous vampires, why or how they’re so.
  7. Underloved – Vampires who deserve more love than they got!
  8. Overrated – Vampires who don’t deserve the love they got!
  9. Dracula – Favorite book about or with Dracula in it!
  10. Dead Crush – The vampire I had a crush on is…
  11. I, Vampire – If I was a vampire, I would…
  12. The Last – The last vampire book I’ve read is, and the vampire(s) in it…
  13. The First – The very first vampire book or book with a vampire I’ve read is…

The Summer Vampire TBR | My Answers:

  1. The Pride – LGBTQIA+ vampire or at least a book containing them.
    From the top of my head I can name three. First being Blackwood’s Farm by Anne Rice with its protagonist Tarquin Blackwood coming out as bi. Then there’s Parasite Life by Victoria Dalpe with protagonist falling in love with a girl, though sexuality is not specified there. And the third is Joely Sue Burkhart series of which I’ve read first three, Their Vampire Queen. The Queen in question is polyamorous and the dynamics are beautiful.
    1 LGBT vampires
  2. The VoC – Vampire of Color, bonus points if main character!
    I am deeply ashamed to say that I don’t recall any protagonists of color. But I know for certain there were VoC in both Vampire Chronicles by Anne Rice and in Sookie Stackhouse series by Charlaine Harris.
  3. The Classiest – Classic-type trope vampires, the fear of garlic, sun, etc.
    Hm, this one’s easy too. First would be Dr Greta Helsing series/trilogy by Vivian Shaw. Then, one of my favorite comedies, The Unattractive Vampire by Jim McDoniel. And, of course, Anno Dracula series by Kim Newman.
    3 the classiest
  4. The Unique – The least classic-type vampires, or otherwise unique bloodsuckers.
    The Gilded King by Josie Jaffrey, a very unique book in itself. Empire V by Victor Pelevin, a strange breed that feeds not just on blood, but also on a thing they call “bablos“, which seems to be the essence of… Well, money.
  5. The Human – The most human vampires, and why or how are they so.
    Chicagoland Vampires by Chloe Neil. Just a bunch of humans who are immortal and occasionally drink blood. Like, in between heavy meals because hey, vampire metabolism. Apparently.
  6. The Monster – The least human, monstrous vampires, why or how they’re so.
    The Strain trilogy by Guillermo del Toro. Not gonna lie, I’m not a fan of creatures like that, but the idea was pretty damn great.
  7. Underloved – Vampires who deserve more love than they got!
    Yulric Bile from An Unattractive Vampire by Jim McDoniel. That bastard was too evil to stay dead. But the mess he gets into would rival What We Do In the Shadows! It’s hilarious!
  8. Overrated – Vampires who don’t deserve the love they got!
    Edward Cullen from Twilight series. And then possibly Lestat. Chronicles are FULL of really great vampires, and this one just happens to set the tune for them all for no real reason. And those guys from The Fevre Dream by George R.R. Martin. I noticed it got hype recently, and I’m not quite sure why. The book is mighty damn dull.
  9. Dracula – Favorite book about or with Dracula in it!
    Night Prince series by Jeaniene Frost!
  10. Dead Crush – The vampire I had a crush on is…
    Other than Dracula, you mean? Eric Northman and Pam Swynford de Beaufort, I guess, from Sookie Stackhouse series by Charlaine Harris. And Cian Mac Cionaoith from Circle Trilogy by Nora Roberts. No I have no shame.
    0 dead vampire crush
  11. I, Vampire – If I was a vampire, I would…
    I’d do what Lestat’s mother did. Go roam the deepest jungles, caves, explore!
  12. The Last – The last vampire book I’ve read is, and the vampire(s) in it…
    Sadly The Strain Trilogy by Guillermo del Toro.
  13. The First – The very first vampire book or book with a vampire I’ve read is…
    Now that’s a hard question. Yes, I know I wrote it… Since I hated school readings, and so read Dracula sometime on my own later, I think it might really be Blackwood’s Farm by Anne Rice. Other than the mentions of vampire cities in Swords And Deviltry by Fritz Leiber books.
Categories: book facts, Books of Supernaturals, Books: Everything, Books: Fantasy, Books: Horror, Books: LGBT, Books: Other Fiction, Books: Romance, Books: Supernatural, dark fantasy, Historical Fiction Books, historical romance, LGBTQ+ Books, Nosferatu Books, paranormal romance, vampires | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

book review | The Fever King by Victoria Lee | Feverwake 1

the fever king victoria lee book cover lgbt fantasy young adultAuthor: Victoria Lee
Title: The Fever King
Series: Feverwake 1
Genre: Fantasy, LGBT literature
Pages: 375
Rate: 4/5 | Goodreads

This is a very strange and interesting tale I’ve just read. “The Fever King” by Victoria Lee is the first book in duology. And I am eagerly awaiting the second one.

About the Book: In this broken world magic comes as contagious virus. To most it’s a death sentence, for there is no cure, just experiments little to none can afford. And those who survive often wish they’d be dead anyway. For in the wake of magical virus taking over blocks before government contains it, it destroys communities, families. If you survive, you’re all alone, a thing called Witching, a weapon in the hands of an oppressive government in a brutal war, with no real power to help anyone in honest need.

Noam wakes up in the hospital, left among the dead, for he was supposed to be dead soon enough too. What are the chances someone from the slums would survive the magical fever anyway…

My Opinion: Let’s start with the bad things. First, the style. It’s a bit tough, at times even demanding. There were moments where I had to re-read entire pages, because something essential slipped by among minor details or got burdened with other things, or wasn’t described well enough to understand right away. Second bad thing, and I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I needed more world building here, some origin stories or whatever. Yes, I understand most these things can be answered in the second book, but that only means I’ll pick up second one feeling as confused as I was picking this one up. There’s way more good things though. For one, this is a very standard love story, but with very non-basic characters. Jewish, colored, gay or bi, they’re both amazing guys, and their tale is familiar from your regular white-and-straight YA fantasy romances, so this was funny and great, and I loved it. The whole magic thing was amazing too, nothing I’ve ever read before, and the book is worth being read for that alone. Truly, a unique piece of literature.

At times the lack of background, and the boldness of a brand new story reminded me of tales like Guns of Dawn. It’s just that that one was so thick it eventually told us everything, while this one has a second book coming up. I’ll still give it a strong 4 out of 5, and, as I said, will grab myself the second one as soon as it’s out.

Categories: 4-5, Books: Everything, Books: Fantasy, Books: LGBT, dark fantasy, Fantasy Books, LGBTQ+ Books, M/M Literature | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

book review | Homeland by R.A. Salvatore | The Legend of Drizzt 1

r.a. salvatore homeland dark elf trilogy drow book cover legend of drizztAuthor: R.A. Salvatore
Title: Homeland
Series: The Legend of Drizzt 1
Genre: High Fantasy, Dark Fantasy
Pages: 343
Rate: 5/5 | Goodreads

I wanted to read the whole tale of Dark Elf trilogy, the Forgotten Realmsthe Legend of Drizzt of which I’ve read the first, Homeland by R.A. Salvatore since I was a teenager. But back then getting books in English was so much harder than it is now. 

About the Book: Drows, the Dark Elves, live deep underground, scorning both the light and the surface dwellers. Their way is that of darkness, solid stone walls, battle and power. And for that they worship a Deity, Queen Spider, who grants them power and favors. Under her laws you can cross any boundaries or rules, as long as you execute it successfully.

Thus, House Do’Urden has decided to take a step up on the social power ladder and completely destroy another house. They’ve done such thorough job slaying anyone alive, that in the eyes of Queen Spider such a house ceased to exist, never been for all it matters. And House Do’Urden deserves only praise, no punishment. But during this battle a third boy was born, meant a sacrifice to the Queen Spider. Fate has deemed him survive that day, and many more. Drizzt grew up to be a strange Drow, making many of his family members wish they proceeded with the sacrifice…

My Opinion: This is the most unique, way ahead of it’s time piece of very dark high fantasy. I’m quite happy I’ve read it now, not earlier. This is a brutal realm of so very familiar elves who are so very different from everything we got to know from such places as Elder Scrolls or Lord of the Rings.

Their society is ruled by vicious people, priestesses, mages, high matrons and alike. Men are war pawns, soldiers, fodder, and means to get more daughters. A neighbor here can kill another, and if he succeeded, he’d get away with it, for such is law. A sister would attack a brother, and if he raised an arm to defend himself, he’d get killed or at least punished, for how dare he raise an arm against a drow female. There’s monsters, there’s darkness, and there’s blindness. And in this hell of a homeland, there’s the purple-eyed Drizzt, and I hope to read the rest of his tale, for it can only get better from here.

Truly, if you seek dark high fantasy, take these books, The Witcher saga has not prepared you for the bloodshed you’ll find here. I give it a 5 out of 5, solid, and am taking up a quest to get the next book asap.

Categories: 5-5, Books: Everything, Books: Fantasy, dark fantasy, Fantasy Books, high fantasy | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

diversity | “Dance in the Dark” by Megan Derr | Dance with the Devil 2

1Author: Megan Derr
Title: Dance in the Dark
Series: Dance with the Devil 2
Genre: Paranormal, LGBT Literature
Pages: 350
Rate: 4/5 | Goodreads

I’m not sure whether I liked this book because it was good, or because it was a cozy read. Either way, the book is not bad at all. Had a good vibe to it, so to speak.

About: Johnnie, a normal, had to grow up among supernaturals. After his family was slain by a blood crazed wife of a Dracula, the vampire followed tradition and adopted the child, raising him as his own in all but the vampirism. But not all liked it, even if it was what tradition demanded. And even Johnnie grew up to resent this position a little, for now he didn’t fit in either of the worlds. A human among vampires, never a vampire. No longer a Normal, so unable to live in that side of the world either.

So he does what he thinks will fit the situation best, and moves out of the Dracula’s estate, taking up supernatural cases in a shady part of town. All goes well and good until they start affecting his life more and more. And then one day a woman knocks on his door, asking to find her beloved. A man, who, Johnnie soon finds out, is no other, than his brother, Dracula’s heir. Soon to marry a noblewoman.

Mine: The book had a nice A Wolf Among Us vibe to it. Supernaturals living separate from the Normals. Old fairy tales seeping into their current life. A slight re-telling of a Snow White, poisoned apples and mirrors included. And even if there was stalling, it was still cozy, and fun enough.

This might not be your next favorite book, but it’s definitely an interesting take on it. 4 out of 5 from me, and we’ll see what’s next.

Categories: 4-5, Books of Supernaturals, Books: Horror, Books: LGBT, Books: Supernatural, dark fantasy, LGBTQ+ Books, M/M Literature, urban fantasy, vampires | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

dracula | “Raising Hell” by John G. Hartness | Quincy Harker, Demon Hunter 1

1Author: John G. Hartness
Title: Raising Hell
Series: Quincy Harker, Demon Hunter 1
Genre: Vampires, Urban Fantasy
Pages: 110
Rate: 5/5 | Goodreads

I love re-tellings of Stoker’s Dracula, prequels, sequels, different perspectives. So I was very excited for what I found! A story of Quincy Harker, the son of Mina and Johnathan Harkers. That’s my this month’s Dracula book, for Dracula is indeed here.

About: Quincy is a demon hunter who calls Dracula his uncle, is on great “bail you out of jail time, and time again” terms, and is in general your long lost Winchester brother (10 points to your Hogwarts house if you get the reference) who gets his ass grated if he doesn’t visit the said uncle often enough.

This city of his has its share of supernatural junk all over the place. Not the least being the bar owning demon in cat’s body who can’t resist the urge to knock shit off the tables. But when someone starts killing off nephilims and draining their blood, well… That’s more of an evil shit a human would do. But why? Oh, and who?

giphy

Mine: I have not laughed so hard in a long time. Every joke, every other line out of Quincy’s mouth, is a killer. There’s a real nice familiar demonology here too, the encyclopedia-wiki friendly kind that we’re used to. None of that “let me rewrite it, so I’m unique” stuff. I love it, for I am real tired of the hundreds new ways a vampire is a vampire, if I’m being honest. The book itself is very short, real easy to read, and be sure, will teach you to cuss like a true demon hunter on a job.

Yep, happy little me is very happy. This one gets a strong 5 out of 5, and I will likely take the second one for the next month right away, even if something else was in the plans. We’ll see.

Categories: 5-5, Books of Occult, Books of Supernaturals, Books: Dracula, Books: Everything, Books: Supernatural, dark fantasy, Dracula: General, Nosferatu Books, Paranormal, urban fantasy | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

fantasy | “Season of Storms” by A. Sapkowski | Witcher Saga 0

9Author: Andrzej Sapkowski
Title: Season of Storms
Series: The Witcher Saga 0
Genre: Fantasy, Dark Fantasy
Pages: 419
Rate: 4/5 | Goodreads

I never expected to pick up another book from the Witcher Saga after I finished the original one. Author himself once claimed he has no intentions on writing more, unless he’d be very, very short of money. And only recently did I find out how little in truth he got from the whole game industry that bought his rights to these marvelous characters. Yet, all in all, I believe he wrote it, because he wanted to write it, all reasons aside.

About: We all get those streaks of bad luck sometimes. To Geralt they began when he was asked to put his swords in a locker for safe-keeping. And, of course, they went missing. It seems that all things that could go wrong – did go wrong. Here he ends up on a boat with crew who robbed a relentless, vengeful creature. There he killed a beast that turned out to be a genetic experiment by one of the oldest mages alive. Top it with a fool goetia practitioner, and you have a whole pot of horseshit at your hands. And while Dandelion is writing romantic ballads out of these troubles, and Geralt tracks his swords, a storm brews around them. For such is the season, of storms. And what is a witcher in such a season, without his swords?

Mine: I really missed this. I missed Geralt, his badass skill, inhuman abilities, ace level sarcasm, and his extreme love for every sorceress he ever lays eyes upon. I missed Dandelion’s attempts to bravery too, and all the possible jokes they told each other, including the “that time this beast barged in on Vesimir in the latrine” stuff. The book is marked as zero, a stand-alone, but I do really strongly suggest you read it after you’re done with them all. That way you won’t get spoilers, for there are plenty. And you’ll get to know what happened before, and after that whole ordeal with Ciri has began. It was very interesting.

So while there were some serious hiccups, I must say, if you’re as nostalgic for Witcher books as I was, you’ll like this one. I’m giving it a very strong 4 out of 5. Would happily add points for the song Dandelion put together at the end, and that one dwarf…

Categories: 4-5, Books: Everything, dark fantasy, Fantasy Books | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

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