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 want to start by saying the worldbuilding in this book is absolutely fantastic. We start off Below, with humans living underground to due to the dangers in the world above. The world Below has its own dangers, however, especially for those infected by magic and plague, destined to be sent out of the Below to fend for themselves away from community and safety. When Azzy’s brother is cast out, she follows, and so begins a journey across a dangerous wasteland. The differences between the two worlds are vast, as Azzy meets others with and affected by magic.
The different beings encountered in the Above are vivid and imaginative, and I loved the interactions Azzy had with those she met. Azzy is a really solid, strong character who carries the story and keeps the reader engaged. Throughout the journey, Azzy is joined by Kai, another person affected by magic. I don’t want to give too much away regarding his character, but again, the interactions between the pair are really enjoyable and sweet, though tense at times. (Which kind of sums up most of the book!)
There are plenty of twists throughout the book, moments to keep you gripped, and if you like dystopia with a heavy dose of fantasy, you’ll likely enjoy Marrow Charm.
I will admit, I felt a little let down by the ending. I love when a new series starts with plenty of questions, but a first book should also resolve some of those questions prior to leading into the next book. This ending just felt a touch too open ended and maybe a little rushed, with an element of almost trying to ‘force’ the reader into picking up the next one.
This was, however, my only real complaint about the book. Overall it was an enjoyable quest story, with interesting characters and a fascinating world. The relationships are painted in such a lovely way it’s hard not to lose yourself in wondering what will happen to these characters. I would recommend picking this up, but I’d suggest making sure you have book two to hand, ready to dive in straight away.
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.
I received this book to read and review as part of the BBNYA 2020 competition. All opinions are my own, unbiased and honest.
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