A Declaration of the Rights of Magicians – H.G. Parry [Books]

a declation on the rights

Genre: Historical Fantasy
Publisher: Orbit
Release Date: June 23rd, 2020

Rating: starstarstarstarstar

As you can see above, I’m trying something a little bit new with the reviews on the blog. Please do let me know what you think about it.

Thank you to Orbit for providing an ebook version of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

William Pitt and William Wilberforce are old friends, drawn together by their careers and enjoying the last years of their youth. But a trip to France, shortly before Pitt becomes Prime Minister, sees them encountering something strange and deadly. Meanwhile, Robespierre discovers his own magical abilities, and uses them to light a spark to France’s revolution. In Jamaica, Fina’s body starts to rebel against the potion that keeps her and other slaves unable to do anything but obey the men who run the plantations.

A Declaration of the Rights of Magicians is a book which covers the growing abolitionist movement in Great Britain, the French Revolution, and the slave uprisings in the Caribbean, with the addition of magic. In this world, the aristocrats are able to essentially use magic freely, as long as their form of magic isn’t too dangerous. The commoners, however, are tested when born, and if they are found to have magic, The Knights Templar – who oversee the use of magic – attach a bracelet to them, which alerts them and injures the wearer if magic is used.

Many of the main characters are dedicated to trying to eradicate this system, seeing it as unfair and cruel, while Wilberforce is particularly troubled by the treatment of slaves. There are many historical names that crop up during the course of the story, and it’s clear the research done for this novel is solid. Parry makes it feel like this book could have been lifted from 18th century. The way magic presented is interesting, but the majority of the book, admittedly, is taken over by dialogue and politics.

This book is politics heavy. It’s something I really liked, but I can imagine would put other readers off. I liked the discussions between the characters, the talks over morality and freedom and responsibility. There were still some tense action scenes too, but most of the big action was sort of shifted off-screen slightly, with the POV characters only taking small roles and not witnessing much of the actual action.

I really enjoyed the verbal exchanges between various characters, which at times felt like reading a dance or sword-fight, as characters untangled their words and tried to plot their next steps.

My only (minor) complaint was that the novel finished really abruptly, but I was very relieved to find out this was the first in a duology.

In a lot of ways, the book reminded me of Johnathan Strange & Mr Norrell, another book I really loved, with the time period and the weaving in of magic with actual historical events. But in A Declaration of the Rights of Magicians, the scope is wider, the story more sprawling, and it covers more aspects than Susanna Clarke’s novel.

I’ll be eagerly awaiting the sequel to this novel, and if you like Historical Fantasy with a heavy dose of dialogue and politics, definitely pick this one up.

Sangre: The Wrong Side of Tomorrow -Carlos Colon [Blackthorn Book Tours]

received_2714049208646313Blurb

The Story of a Reluctant, Undead Vigilante.

The harrowing saga of Nicky Negron’s tortured soul continues as the inner and outer demons shadowing Newark, New Jersey’s undead vigilante have no intention of letting him rest in peace.

Knowing his paranormal existence can only lead to complications, Nicky tries not to draw too much attention to himself. This becomes difficult as he learns that he has captured the interest of an unrelenting federal agent.

Suspected of being an assassin for a South American drug cartel, Nicky finds himself dealing with the exact kind of scrutiny he’s been trying to avoid since he was turned almost thirty years ago. It complicates matters even more when Nicky is confronted with another undead presence that is threatening to commit atrocities to the children of a friend Nicky had sworn to protect. This pits the foul-mouthed night stalker, Nicky Negron, against the most horrifying monsters – both the human and non-human variety.

An absolute rollercoaster of a novel, Sangre: The Wrong Side of Tomorrow delivers even more suspense, insight, laughs, and emotional wallop than its predecessor. Nicky is back! See you on the other side…

Review

Sangre: The Wrong Side of Tomorrow is the sequel to Colon’s Sangre: The Color of Dying. I hadn’t read the first book, but that really didn’t impact my enjoyment of The Wrong Side of Tomorrow. It very much read as a standalone novel, though has made me curious about the first book and what happens to Nicky when he originally gets turned.

The novel is told in two strands. The past, giving us glimpses into Nicky’s life as a teenager, his decaying relationship with his mother and his crush on a young woman who works at a nearby department store. But the main story is focused on the present, as Nicky comes up against the same vampire who killed and turned him, tries to enlist the help of a doctor researching vampires and intent on killing them, and facing off against an FBI Agent determined to pin recent killings on him.

Nicky is an interesting character. The vampirism in Sangre is fairly different to the type in most vampire novels. Nicky has a resistance to it, meaning he retains much of his humanity, and is all too aware of the monster he is, as much as he struggles against it. But Nicky puts this down to just being a vampire, when the flashbacks show us he wasn’t exactly a ‘good guy’ before he died either. He practically stalks his crush, leers over women, and sleeps with the wife of the supervisor who looked after him after his mother left.

Put simply, Nicky is a bit more complicated than just the brooding, moping type of vampire often found in teen fiction, and the strong, don’t-give-a-shit type found in some urban fantasties. It works really well, painting a picture of someone who feels, well, human.

The book is a good, enjoyable read, with plenty of action to keep the reader entertained. However, there were a couple of small things that bugged me.

Firstly, it feels too long. There was quite a bit of repetition, especially around the middle to end parts, and it felt like there was a lot that could have easily been cut without losing anything. We’re told over and over how Nicky is resistant, how Stacey is beautiful, that the doctor has injected herself with a serum, etc. The repetition made these sections feel like filler, relaying information the reader is already well aware of, and stretching the book out longer than needed. In some flashback scenes, too, it feels too much like we’re being told the same things, seeing the same scenes, with little added until later in the novel.

The other thing – and this is totally personal preference – was it felt like an overuse of exclamation marks, almost like trying to force a gasp from the reader. At times it got a little annoying, especially in the climax of the novel.

Overall, however, I really did enjoy this book, and found it to be a thoroughly fun ride. I’d recommend it if you like vampire focused urban fantasy, with an interesting anti-hero and lots of action.

Purchase on Amazon

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The Author

Born in Spanish Harlem and raised by Puerto Rican parents in the South Bronx, Carlos Colón drew attention from his high school teachers with his penchant for storytelling. Before long, they nicknamed him Hemingway. After graduating from CUNY’ s Herbert H. Lehman College, Carlos dabbled in screenwriting for a few years before settling into the insurance business. Several decades later, Carlos returned to the entertainment world when he formed the retro rock ‘n’ roll band, the Jersey Shore Roustabouts. After twelve successful years performing live and producing two albums, the band moved on after their farewell concert in 2018.

Prior to that, 2016 saw the release of Carlos’ first novel, “Sangre: The Color of Dying”. It was later that year named as one of the Top Ten novels written by a Latino author.  After receiving extraordinary praise from literary critics and the unexpected devotion of readers to his foul-mouthed, yet oddly endearing anti-hero, Nicky Negrón, Carlos knew he had little choice but to begin working on a sequel. In 2019, the follow up “Sangre: The Wrong Side of Tomorrow” was released and it received just as much praise as its predecessor. Readers are already hoping that there is a third installment in the works.

When not busy with his multiple projects, Carlos enjoys his private time living in the Jersey Shore area with Maria, his wife of 40 years, and their cat, Tuco.

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Venators: Magic Unleashed – Devri Walls [WriteReads Ultimate Blog Tour]

venatorsBlurb

From Goodreads:

Six years ago, Grey Malteer was attacked by creatures he thought couldn’t possibly exist. They repeated a word, calling him a name he’d never heard before…Venator. Since then, his life has been a hellhole of secrecy—hiding old pain alongside strange new abilities.

Rune Jenkins has an itch, as she calls it, but it’s more than that. It’s an anger that builds up like the inside of a boiler whenever she’s around anything remotely supernatural. The pressure is growing steadily worse and she can’t understand why. All she knows is—her control is slipping.

By order of an unknown council Grey and Rune are pulled through a portal in the St. Louis arch, landing them in an alternate dimension where creatures of myth and legend exist. A realm that calls them, Venators.

Made up of centuries old fae, vampires, werewolves, elves and succubi the council’s corrupt nature becomes obvious as they seek to wield the newly returned Venators as weapons. Wedged in an impossible position, Grey and Rune must decide their fate—do they go against the council’s wishes and help the innocents of this unforgiving land, or face the possibility of execution by the council.

Review

I was absolutely delighted with this book. I have to admit, I am a complete sucker for fantasies which use a variety of different creatures, and that is something Magic Unleashed does really well, introducing us to a world where vampires, werewolves, succubi and others live side by side, and where Venators were once revered, Venators being humans powerful enough to withstand most the effects from the other types of beings.

The opening introduces us to the two main characters. Rune, desperately trying to take care of her twin brother, putting him first and herself second, and Grey, who brushed against the supernatural years before, and has been training himself and studying up on it ever since.

Through the eyes of these two characters, taken from their world into the world of the supernatural, we get introduced to the various other inhabitants, and witness the dangers threatening the Venators. They work their way through a fae forest and a pack of werewolves to reach the Council. All Grey wants is to be a hero, to save the innocent and protect those around him, while Rune just wants to be reunited with her brother.

I really liked the main characters. There’s an instant connection between them and the reader, giving us plenty of reasons to cheer them on and want to see them succeed. The idea of Venators is explained really well, without the story slowing down or stopping completely to convey exactly what it means to us. Instead it feels natural, just as the world Walls has created does.

And they don’t feel overpowered, despite their abilities. When they do come up against the supernatural creatures, they feel all too human and vulnerable, unsure and with no idea how to actually fight in the various situations they’re put in.

The novel is fast-paced and tightly packed, especially once the set-up is over and Grey and Rune leave our world. From there, we’re taken on a rollercoaster ride, leaving us to wonder what exactly will happen next to our two heroes.

The only thing I didn’t really like was the way it ended. It felt too unresolved. Of course, if a book is part of a series there has to be questions left unanswered, but for the first book in a series it felt like there was too much missing. The ending felt a little abrupt.

Despite this, Magic Unleashed is a really good introduction to this world and characters, and feels unique in the setting and the way various supernatural creatures are used. It’s definitely a series I can really see myself really getting into.

Devri Walls

devriDevri Walls is an international best selling author. She lives in Meridian, Idaho with her husband, two children and one adorable little mutt. Writing in all things fantasy, she would do just about anything for a working magic wand.

Mostly because she’s a walking disaster and a wand would be of enormous help…although she’d probably trip and break it. So, there’s that.

She graduated with a degree in theater and has studied vocal performance most of her life. She now teaches voice lessons when she’s not writing novels, cooking dinner, playing taxi, spending time with her amazingly supportive husband or trying to read.”

My question for Devri Walls: What’s your favourite part of the writing process?

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Slay My Love – Lee Colgin [Book Review]

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He couldn’t possibly be this lonely forever

It’s been a while since I read something that could be classed as Paranormal Romance, and Slay My Love was a great way to dip my toes back into the genre.

The new vampire in town is different than any the hunters have seen before, and Franklin is sent to investigate, on behalf of The Scourge. Gianni, a born vampire, realises he’s being followed, and rather than attack the hunter, he talks to him. So begins an unlikely friendship between enemies, forming the basis for a smouldering attraction between the two.

A lot of the paranormal stuff I’ve read in the past, even stuff that focuses on vampires, tended to introduce other creatures into the mix, especially werewolves/shifters and the like. Having the focus on just vampires in Slay My Love works really well, keeping the reader focused on these two characters. And they are great characters to read about, the duel POV used to good effect.

Although we get glimpses into both character’s heads, the tension is effective, some information held back, the writing cutting away from one character when it feels like we’re about to learn something we maybe shouldn’t. The writing itself ensures the reader never feels cheated by this, but more that we really are listening to two men, each with their own agenda, each battling their own inner demons as well as external ones, and each lying not just to each other, but to themselves.

The relationship between the two developed really well, and had me really hoping they would overcome any obstacles and remain together, despite the problems standing in their way. Gianni and Franklin were really enjoyable characters to read about, and their voices carried the story very well.

Colgin creates characters who are intriguing, broken, and lonely, and who manage to find comfort in each other, despite their differences. The story flowed well, the tension worked to keep me reading, and the action involved was gripping. Overall, if you’re a fan of paranormal romance, I really do recommend Slay My Love.

 

Blogtober Day 9: Vampires and Werewolves

Blogtober Day 9

Day One: Spooky TBR    /   Day Two: October Releases    /   Day Three: Bookish Autumn Bucket List    /   Day Four: Perfect Cosy Reading Nook    /   Day Five: Top 5 Disney Villains    /   Day Six: Strong Woman Horror Trope    /   Day Seven: Reading Snacks    /   Day Eight: 5 Autumn Reads

Challenge List – Anniek’s Library 

I could not do a post about my favourite vampires and werewolves without mentioning someone very special to me, someone who looks after and takes care of me and yes, is ensuring I actually get to spend my 30th birthday at Disneyland Paris. For those of you unaware, my lovely boyfriend is Jedi Werewolf, and yes he can be found on Twitter under that name so maybe go check out his twitter and follow, if you’re so inclined.

Okay! Favourite FICTIONAL vampires & werewolves! Though I must admit, most of these are from TV, rather than books – a lot from TV adapted from books – so this is less of a bookish post and more just an…excuse to include lots of pics. Enjoy!

The Hybrids

Yeah, I kind of love this messed up family. Klaus is a vampire/werewolf hybrid, who starts off as somewhat of a monster but like so many vampires out there, turns slowly klausinto an almost good guy, mainly because of the birth of his daughter, Hope. He tries so hard to do right by her, and to protect her, and it never works out well for him. By the end of The Originals, I was really sad to say goodbye to him most of all, despite loving the vast majority of the cast, including the other hybrid, Hayley, mother of Hope. I never got the whole Klaus/Caroline love, probably because I watched Originals then went back and watched Vampire Diaries, so maybe I did in the wrong order. THEN I read the books. And, after that, Legacies came out, and honestly, I freaking love that show. The continuation of hopeHope’s story is handled really well, and I love the exploration of the other characters around her, as well as the inclusion of others from both Vampire Diaries and Originals. Hope is a fantastic character, and though she’s technically a tribrid – vampire/werewolf/witch, I’m including her here along with her father. There is one vampire, however, I am so upset we don’t get to see more of in the show…

Vampires

Damon freaking Salvatore. Look, I don’t like the direction his character arc ended up damongoing, but he was always fun to watch on screen. He starts off complete bad guy, similar to Klaus, and only through Elena blah blah blah. Early seasons Damon was my favourite, he was like an antidote to his moody, brooding brother (don’t get me wrong – I love him too)  and I’ve loved Ian Somerhalder since I first watched Lost, so of course I was going to love Damon. How can you not? He’s tortured, and angry, and takes that out on the people he loves AND the mortals around him, not to mention he’s a big reason why a lot of events in Vampire Diaries went the way they did.

You could probably guess my next choice, but what’s not to love about a blond vampire viking in a Southern American town? Eric, like Damon, starts off as sort of a bad guy, but his arc makes more sense to ericme – he has a huge soft spot for Sookie, but his actions, no matter what he does, always make sense, and him and Pam are absolutely fantastic to watch on screen. Like Damon, some of his best moments come when he’s at his most vulnerable, and both actors deserve praise, IM-very-HO, for the way the characters are portrayed. Out of all the True Blood vampires, he’s by far my favourite, again adding something extra alongside the whiny, brooding Bill.

He’s not the only one in the family to play a vampire, either. Bill Skarsgård, before becoming the terrifying version romanof Pennywise, played Roman in Hemlock Grove, a series I have only recently actually started watching. And again, deeply tortured vampire, but Roman isn’t evil like some of the others. He’s a rich, entitled prick to start with, but he’s confused and lost and doesn’t know what he’s going half the time. Once more, his most vulnerable moments are his best ones, even if the character goes in some seriously questionable directions. Not my VERY favourite vampire (see previous entries) but definitely one I thoroughly enjoy watching.

More literary versions of vampires I adore are of course, both Lestat and Louis (yeah, there’s a film version, and I love it, but I still prefer the books) and Julian, in GRRM’s Fevre Dream. Another tortured, uncertain vampire, though he – more like Louis and Roman than the others – does his damndest to remain good and refrain from drinking human blood. Julian is convinced he has been sent to help the rest of his kind, and he tries so hard to do that. If you haven’t read the book yet, it’s definitely worth checking out. Hmm, tortured-possible-bad-boy definitely seems to be my type here, doesn’t it? I could mention Spike, but it’s just more of the same really…

Werewolves

Returning to Hemlock Grove and we have the absolutely fantastic wolf, Peter. Peter befriends Roman, and reveals his true nature to him, in what is possibly one of the best, petermost gory, most amazing werewolf transformation I have ever seen on screen. Once more, Peter is just a joy to watch, as he agonises over his nature and tries to prevent others discovering what he really is. If you’ve never seen it but want to check out the transformation, have a look on YouTube. Just make sure you’re not eating at the time.

And staying with TV, and returning to True Blood, I really do have to mention Alcide. The alcideatypical alpha male, he will do anything to protect his loved ones and his pack, and I was actually upset when the romance between him and Sookie didn’t continue in the series. But Alcide is amazing and yes I actually really struggled to find a picture of him with his top on.

From the book world, Richard, in the Anita Blake series. I loved Richard from the moment we met him – in some ways, he is a lot like Alcide, and though I haven’t read the books in years, he’s definitely a character that really sticks with me.

And who can forget, another tortured boy, though like the other wolves on this list he’s firmly in the ‘good guy’ category. My top favourite werewolf of all time, because I just freaking adored the character when reading the books – Remus Lupin. The legend that is, the wonderful, kind hearted DADA teacher who is forced out by the prejudice of the wizarding community, and a character who deserved way more time than we got in either the books or films. Remus, without a doubt, will always have a special place in my heart.

I am always looking for more vampire and werewolf book recs, so if you have any, please do let me know! And who are some of your favourites? Do you agree with these choices, or any of them make you think, “Ah, no, nope, not at all”?

Blogtober Day 8: Five Autumn Reads

Blogtober Day 8

Day One: Spooky TBR    /   Day Two: October Releases    /   Day Three: Bookish Autumn Bucket List    /   Day Four: Perfect Cosy Reading Nook    /   Day Five: Top 5 Disney Villains    /   Day Six: Strong Woman Horror Trope    /   Day Seven: Reading Snacks

Challenge List – Anniek’s Library 

I love Autumn. I love the nights drawing in, the heating going on, the actually being able to get comfy because it’s not stupidly hot anymore feeling. Halloween approaches, followed by Bonfire Night, my birthday a week later and Christmas is just around the corner. In short, Autumn is amazing, and here are 5 books I think are great for this most wonderful season.

Under My Hat

under my hatOkay so I haven’t actually finished this yet, but so far this witchy anthology is proving to be a great start to the autumn season. It covers various kinds of witches, with each story presenting a unique and different view, and the authors involved are fantastic. Definitely well worth a read.

Harry Potter & The Prisoner of Azkaban

hppoaThis book makes me think of Halloween more than any of the others, maybe because so much of it is about revealing Harry’s past, and it’s when the books start to take a darker  turn. Perfect for longer nights. FUN FACT: The second or third time I was reading this, I was in bed, curled up, when I got to the part where the dementors came onto the train and all the lights went out. And…all the lights went out. In my house. As they appeared. I legged it downstairs so fast to find my parents. Just a normal power-cut, but yeah, it was kind of freaky.

The Near Witch

the near witchMy Review

This atmospheric novel feels like a fantastic autumn read, with descriptions that will make you glad to be huddled down in your blanket. Schwab has quickly become one of my favourite authors, and if you haven’t read it already, now seems like the perfect time to pick up The Near Witch, full of creepy imagery, a compelling cast, and haunting prose.

The Cruel Prince

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I really loved this book, and something about fae and the world they inhabit makes me think of autumn, or at least the tail-end of summer, the in-between time as one season changes to the next. It’s another book with fantastic imagery and absolutely compelling characters, and a story to keep you riveted. And the last of the trilogy is out next month, so this seems like a perfect time to read The Cruel Prince and book 2, The Wicked King.

‘Salem’s Lot

salems lotI couldn’t do an autumn books list without including at least one Stephen King. King was the author who first got me into horror, and along with JK Rowling and Anne Rice, inspired me to start writing. Almost any SK book could be included on this list, but I went for ‘Salem’s Lot partly because it was one of the first King books I ever read, and I read it before I ever read Dracula. Which means I read it a long time ago, but I do remember it being eerie, sparking a lifelong search for books that would scare me. And it was one of my first exposures to vampires AS EVIL. I was a vampire obsessed teen, but until ‘Salem’s Lot, I’d only really read Buffy and a couple of Anne Rice books, both of which had vampires with the potential to be good, not just villains. And I remember staring out of my bedroom window at night, after putting the book down, and paying particular attention to the shadows outside.

Any books you think are perfect for autumn? Any recommendations for me to check out? Let me know in the comments!