I received this book to read and review as part of the BBNYA 2020 competition and/or the BBNYA tours organised by the @The_WriteReads tours team. All opinions are my own, unbiased and honest.
About the Author
Kristin Jacques is an author from small town New England. She grew up in the sticks, surrounded by river wildlife, and various swamp inhabitants. Somehow she managed to keep all her toes despite a run in with a snapper or two.
She lives with her husband and sons in another small New England town. She is mighty attached to them.
When not writing, she is likely reading, watching a terrific B-Horror flick, or further spoiling the family cats. Sometimes she has blue hair.
About the Book
Azure ‘Azzy’ Brimvine lives in a world decimated by magic, where humans have retreated underground from the overwhelming dangers of the surface. But Below is no safer than Above.
Magic borne plagues continue to eat away at the remaining human cities, a sickness that doesn’t merely kill, but creates aberrations from the stricken: people twisted by magic into something dark, dangerous, and powerful. It is an existence of fear and constant dread. When Azzy’s brother, Armin, is infected and cast out into the Above, she sets out after him, determined to be there for him no matter what he becomes.
The world Above is full of monsters, both wild and cunning, some more human than Azzy was led to believe. Armin is captured and bound for the Auction block of Avergard, a ruthless city of inhuman lords and twisted creatures. To reach him, Azzy must brave the perils of the Above and the chaotic life forms created by the Gate. To reach him, she must find allies and forge new bonds in this broken world.
And Azzy must reach him, before Armin’s new power is used to open the Gate once more.
I was so happy when this book made the final round! I had read the 10k excerpt and was HOOKED, and I would have definitely bought the book had it not made it through. Luckily, it did and it definitely did not disappoint. Azzy lives in the Below. After the world above was decimated by magic, humans created a new one ‘below’, but the below has it’s dangers too. A magic plague is spreading killing everyone in it’s path and it’s not long before Azzy’s family is brought into the spotlight and accused of magic. After Armin, her brother, is accused of magic and sentenced to exile to the above, a dangerous place filled with multiple creatures that can kill you, Azzy knows she has to follow and try and rescue him from his fate. But just as she finds him, something happens that rips them apart and sets them on very different journeys. Armin has to try and not give in to his magic, knowing that it is turning him into something else, but Azzy may have to learn to accept hers if she is to make it through the journey ahead alive.
The story is told from the perspectives of Azzy and Armin (in the second part). Azzy is incredibly strong and resilient, she has had to look after her brother after her mother died and tried to control his ‘night terrors’ which would have given him away as ‘magical.’ She has ventured to the above on numerous occasions to get supplies for her guardian Bixby who is the towns healer, so she knows the dangers of the above more than any and knows that her sweet brother Armin could not survive up there alone. She is a great perspective to read from, she is both desperate to find her brother and also wants to find out about her ‘power’. Armin’s chapters come in towards the second half of the book and show the darker side of the above, where magical creatures are traded to the highest bidder. He is unsure of himself and what he is turning into, and he is missing the strength that he had when Azzy was by his side. There are a multitude of side characters, pretty much all of whom further the plot in some way, one of my favourites being Kai the wolf who travels with Azzy as she tries to find Armin.
The world of Marrow Charm was wondrously imagined. We start the book in the below, a world built out of necessity after a magical plague made the world above dangerous to humans. Unfortunately, life there isn’t easy and is even worse for those who have magic. Over the years a magic borne plague has worked it’s way through the human cities, slowly but surely killing off the human population. The Above isn’t much better, filled with magical creatures, most of which are more likely to kill you, including massive spider like creatures:
wolves, merpeople, witches… basically every fantasy kind of creature. But there are also humans, huge cities where humans have learned to live with and have control over the magical creatures of the above, and it’s here that Azzy finds out exactly what will happen to Armin.
The plot flows really well, and is fast paced. There are no lulls, no info-dumps, the author introduces us to the world and the magical creatures that inhabit it in really natural moments. There were a lot of plot points, and at parts I thought maybe it wouldn’t tie together, but it does brilliantly and leaves you with an ending that has you grabbing for book two. Filled with plot twists, some fairly predictable but others that definitely had me gasping out loud, Jacques does a brilliant job bringing her world to life and I got far too invested in the characters outcomes.
There is a romance arc in this book… one that I loved and it does play a rather large part of the plot. I really enjoyed seeing the relationship develop over the pages, it felt really natural to the story line and I an incredibly excited to see how it develops in the second book. But this book is about familial love. Azzy would travel to the ends of the earth to protect Armin, and their guardian Bixby would do anything to protect the two people he views as his own family.
A really fun and fast paced fantasy, with a truly unique world and magic system. I’ve already treated myself to the second book and will be picking it up asap, especially after the shocking and cliff hanger ending of book one. An easy 4 stars and big thank you to BBNYA and The Write Reads for having me on the blog tour.
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