Give me magic, gadgets, monsters, zombies, everything that seems impossible, and throw in some tough chicks with swords. That's the stuff.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

4 YA Fantasy Reads

There's fantasy aplenty in these four YA reads. I'd put these in the older YA category. There's a fantasy with thieves and gods, the start of a trilogy where a girl discovers her magic, a werewolf romance, and a retelling of a popular tale from a woman's perspective.

Thief's Covenant by Ari Marmell

This is a YA fantasy, but what struck me is that it's not written like a lot of the current YA offerings. It's very close to an adult fantasy in style, just pared down and faster to read.

Widdershins is a thief. She had been a member of Society, a real rags to riches story. When she witnesses the horrific massacre of her friends, she escapes, melting into the criminal underworld of her youth. Years later old enemies try to snuff her out, making her re-examine her past. There's a complex pantheon of gods and I liked how that was used here, especially in terms of Widdershins unseen "friend."

The narrative bounces around in time as we learn about her past and present, but it wasn't hard to follow.

There is violence, no romance. I liked the characters and wish that there had been more time with some of them. That's what puts this one in the YA category, I think, that it is short. Very quick, but still tells the tale. I'll be checking out the next one.

Shadow & Bone (The Grisha Trilogy #1) by Leigh Bardugo

Once I started I had to finish it. Another that felt more like an adult fantasy than some of the typical YA offerings. If you liked Laini Taylor's Daughter of Smoke and Bone, I think you will like this one too.

The story is set in land reminiscent of a feudal tsarist Russia. Alina is a soldier secretly harboring feelings for her best friend Mal. Their regiment is about to make a dangerous crossing. Things go wrong, and to save her friend, Alina taps into a power she didn't know she had. This brings her to the attention of the Darkling, the leader of the Grisha or magic users. Suddenly she is in a whole new world as she learns how to use her powers.

I "got" Alina and I thought that her reactions were realistic. I thought the supporting characters were well done too. The magic was different and I liked the world.

There is some romance. Some people might cry "love triangle" but this did not feel like your typical triangle. For that to be the case, both love interests must be viable options at the same time (IMO). I liked the way the romance was handled.

There is a conclusion, but the story is not over yet.

Red by Kait Nolan

A YA paranormal romance that felt  a few steps closer to an adult romance than others I've read, although without any sex. Red had a good showing at DABWAHA this year, and it's easy to see why.

Elodie grew up thinking that her family is cursed, that soon she'll turn into a murderous beast and that her mother killed herself to escape this fate. Sawyer is a young werewolf reeling from his mother's death and unhappily transplanted to Tennessee with his scientist father.

This is a romance, so I think  we know where this is going. It was a lot of fun reading how Elodie and Sawyer deal with their respective secrets, their growing attraction, and with a threat to Elodie's life.

I didn't get any "Big Misunderstanding" moments here (my biggest peeve in romances). There was a very good reason why they didn't communicate certain important details.

There is also no triangle in case you were wondering. A quick, satisfying read.

Red is 50% off this month at Smashwords.

Scarlet by A.C. Gaughen

This is a fast paced retelling of Robin Hood from "Will" Scarlet's POV. Scarlet is a girl disguised as a boy, a thief, and has some big secrets that are eating her up. The usual suspects in any Robin Hood tale are here. The evil Sheriff is taxing the people to death and he has called in Thief Taker Lord Guy Gisbourne to capture Hood and his band.

The style is different. It's 1st person and written in Scarlet's dialect. It's consistent throughout book, but if you are REALLY picky about language style, read the sample first.

There are several good action sequences, romance and a bit of a triangle between Rob, "Little" John and Scarlet.

I wasn't really surprised by Scarlet's big reveal, but I still liked it.

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