Hello, hello! I don’t know about you, but I’m still slightly shocked that we’re already in December! Just where has this year gone?? Thankfully, after October being a bit of a let down, November ended up being filled with books that are sure to make my top reads of the year, something that made narrowing down this post incredibly hard, but somehow I managed to pick a top 3. These books are all incredibly different from each other, one an epic fantasy set in an African inspired world that completely blew me away, one a genre bending gothic read that was incredibly seductive and the last a sequel to one of my favourite reads of last year filled with hi jinks, magic and romance. All of these books were incredible in their own way and, as usual, I have linked to my reviews, as well as included some of my, hopefully, spoiler free quotes.
The Omehi people have been fighting an unwinnable fight for almost two hundred years. Their society has been built around war and only war. The lucky ones are born gifted. One in every two thousand women has the power to call down dragons. One in every hundred men is able to magically transform himself into a bigger, stronger, faster killing machine.
Everyone else is fodder, destined to fight and die in the endless war. Young, gift-less Tau knows all this, but he has a plan of escape. He’s going to get himself injured, get out early, and settle down to marriage, children, and land. Only, he doesn’t get the chance. Those closest to him are brutally murdered, and his grief swiftly turns to anger. Fixated on revenge, Tau dedicates himself to an unthinkable path. He’ll become the greatest swordsman to ever live, a man willing to die a hundred thousand times for the chance to kill the three who betrayed him.
“And, like that, there was no going back. A Dragon had been called and someone would have to die.”
“The wars you’ll wage aren’t decided when you fight them. They’re decided before that, by the extent of your effort and the substance of your sacrifices. They are decided by the choices you make every single day. So ask yourself: ‘how powerful do I choose to be?”
“I’m no hero.” “You are to the Lessers. You are to the people who still fight for us.” “I am no hero.” Tsiora made her voice hard. “Then be a weapon.”
“every fight was a rush. It was the purity of it, the honesty. When Tau sparred, it was just him and his opponent. All that mattered was experience, skill, determination, and will. The rest of the world slipped away, leaving only the next move, the next counter, the next attack, the next victory.”
When Ann Stilwell arrives in New York City, she expects to spend her summer working as a curatorial associate at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Instead, she finds herself assigned to The Cloisters, a gothic museum and garden renowned for its medieval art collection and its group of enigmatic researchers studying the history of divination.
Desperate to escape her painful past, Ann is happy to indulge the researchers’ more outlandish theories about the history of fortune telling. But what begins as academic curiosity quickly turns into obsession when Ann discovers a hidden 15th-century deck of tarot cards that might hold the key to predicting the future. When the dangerous game of power, seduction, and ambition at The Cloisters turns deadly, Ann becomes locked in a race for answers as the line between the arcane and the modern blurs.
“It’s an incredible place – the city, The Cloisters. Just don’t let it wear you down. Make it sharpen you instead.”
“New York had shown me how hungry I was. Hungry for joy and risk, hungry to admit, aloud to everyone around me, my ambitions. Hungry to realise them.”
“Nothing, I knew, was as powerful as curiosity. I had always considered it more powerful than lust. After all, wasn’t that why Adam bit into the apple? Because he was curious? Because he needed to know?”
“If I had often been told that there was nothing new left in the Renaissance to study, then this certainly felt new. Not only new, but arcane and delightfully mysterious. And, although it was an idea that under other circumstances I might have been inclined to dismiss, here, I could feel myself being seduced. That, for once, the thing that academic researchers had stripped of its magic was about to have it’s magic restored.“
The most interesting things in Maud Blyth’s life have happened to her brother Robin, but she’s ready to join any cause, especially if it involves magical secrets that may threaten the whole of the British Isles. Bound for New York on the R.M.S. Lyric, she’s ready for an adventure.
What she actually finds is a dead body, a disrespectful parrot, and a beautiful stranger in Violet Debenham, who is everything—a magician, an actress, a scandal—Maud has been trained to fear and has learned to desire. Surrounded by the open sea and a ship full of loathsome, aristocratic suspects, they must solve a murder and untangle a conspiracy that began generations before them.
A REstless Truth
“She felt a ludicrous pang of disappointment. Firstly, that she had squeaked. Secondly, that she hadn’t seized the opportunity to say Fuck. She’d never been game enough on any lesser occasion, and surely this was the most obscenity-deserving situation she would ever find herself in.”
“The open door of wonder was a motive that she could keep tucked away for herself. This would cost no money and demanded no investment of emotion, and Maud Blyth – for all she was young and painfully naive – captured attention like the once upon a time of a fairy tale. Violet wanted, quite simply, to see what would happen next.”
“He’d never understand. He wasn’t born a girl, let alone one of five. He’d never grown out of childhood felling himself get taller and taller as the life expected of him grew smaller and smaller, until he could barely breathe for the confines of it.”
“There was so much magic in the world, hidden in crevices and kept necessarily secret. Every small piece Maud saw, every new thing she learned, was a wonder. And she wanted all of it. She wanted to open her mouth and drink down the sweet and the fizz and the cream and the bitter; to poke her fingers into all the crevices she was offered.”