Sunday, January 21, 2018

Haunting the Deep by Adriana Mather


I...hesitated to pick this one up. While I liked the previous book okay I wasn't too sure about what a sequel would really add to the story or if I really wanted to know what happened next. Still, I saw it the other day, right there in a library and decided, "Why not?" So, let's see how it went.

Samantha Mather is still living in Salem after the tense events that occurred between her and the Descendants in the fall. While Sam would like to forget all about what happened and magic altogether, it seems her own gifts won't leave her alone. She keeps getting strange dreams where she's aboard the Titanic itself the day before its fated demise and she's visited by spirits from the ship who seem oblivious to their fates. Sam and the Descendants must figure out what's going on or disaster might strike Salem once again.

Okay, going from something like the Salem Witch Trials to the sinking of the Titanic seems like a bit of a leap at first glance but apparently Mather, the author, has distant relations connected to both events (next book we'll probably hear her ancestors consisted of Jack the Ripper and Nazi Germany or whatever else would sound like a good story). There's also the fact that the Titanic being brought up at all in the story is because there a Titanic themed dance coming up. Okay, I've never been to Salem (I want to though) but I'm pretty sure that they don't have their high school dances and any other significant events ALL centered around historical tragedies (correct me if I'm wrong). The runner up idea for the dance was the Borgias Masquerade Ball. Really? Besides it just feels like a bit of a cheap excuse to bring the Titanic up at all.  The Witch Trials are a big part of Salem and it's history so it makes sense to use them as a them for your self-insert's whirlwind adventure. The Titanic  has nothing to do with Salem so...yeah...it's a stretch.

I wasn't too crazy about the character of Samantha in the first book but seeing as I'd had the impression that the love triangle would be over and she was no longer being victimized, I thought she might have improved a bit. And she did improve...just not as a character. While she's the same whiner she was from the first book and just as self-centered her simple talent of seeing ghosts has now escalated into godlike abilities where she travels through time, pulls objects out of her dreams, makes historical artifacts appear out of nowhere, has visions of the future and past, and can touch, hear, see and make out with ghosts. I honestly don't think I'm being harsh by saying this is too much! What this girl can do is way too crazy, illogical even by magic standards, and having her your self-insert protagonist just seems vain. The stuff she does transcends magic, logic, the paranormal and the normal-normal! It was too much for me.

The Descendants, the foes turned friends from the first book, have potential to be good additions to the story and, I'll admit, their bond is pretty well showcased in this book. However, their characters are never really allowed to grow and instead are lumped into stereotypes. Alice the Tactless, Susannah the Spineless, and Mary the One Who Eats. It's disappointing. Now, let's talk about the love triangle aspect that I really didn't like the first time around. The readers are given the impression that it is resolved toward the end of the first book so, for that I'm going to put up a spoiler warning so, if you want to skip it, just go down to the Final Verdict.

*SPOILER ALERT* At the end of How to Hang a Witch, Elijah, the ghost boyfriend apparently moves on and disappears, leaving Sam and Jaxon to be free to become a couple. But NOPE! Elijah couldn't move on because of love and Jaxon spends most of the book being jealous and bewitched so he and Sam can never end up together. I already don't really like Elijah as character and I certainly don't like that he's more wish-fulfillment genie than ghost in this story who does all the work so Sam doesn't have to and showers her with praise and sweets. But my biggest problem is that this book is insisting that Sam and Elijah are the OTP of this story. Sure they can touch and talk and kiss and crap but...um...HELLO!? He is no longer alive, his spirit has departed his body, he's kicked the bucket, he's deceased and moved onto another plane, he's spending eternity in a wooden case, he's passed on, he's left this world behind, he is an ex-person! He's dead!!! I'm sorry! I can't let this go. Sam even hints that she'll try to bring him back to life but, have you forgotten, that that was exactly what the villain from the last book was trying to do!? I don't cary if your magical, convenience fairy is the greatest thing in the world. This relationship, no matter how you look at it, is doomed! How can we honestly expect this to be a good thing!? It's not that I like her with Jaxon better, it's just that them being together makes sense because they're both alive! This is starting to really annoy me. *END OF SPOILERS*

Final Verdict
This book wasn't really any better than the first one...but then again I can't say it was worse than the first either. It's just more of the same. Mary Sue characters, illogical magic, convenience fairies ("ghosts")...these books are just not for me. If you liked the first one, you'll probably enjoy this just fine...just check it out at your local library.

Have you read the book? What did you think? Comment below and share your thoughts. Please make sure to Follow Midnight Readings for instant updates. Have a book you'd like me to read or would like to make a recommendation? Contact me on goodreads at https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/65448711-michelle-beer

Next Time: I think I've got it....Colonel Mustard in the Stairway with Cyanid!

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

The Shadow Queen by C. J. Redwine



It's been a while since I've looked into the revised fairytale genre of YA. I've kinda missed it, so I've decided to dive back in with this book. This was a curious dive, I have to say. Certainly very thrilling, action-packed, detailed, and epic...so much so that, when you really look at it, it's not much of a Snow White story. Let's dive in.

Lorelai, forsaken princess of Ravenspire, has lived her life in hiding with her brother and her guardian after her kingdom was taken over by her evil stepmother/aunt, Irina. Fortunately, Lorelai has the gift of magic and must learn to harness her powers to save her oppressed people and bring down Irina once and for all. But when the Kol, king of the neighboring kingdom of Eldr, comes to Ravenspire in search for aid, Irina gives him an offer he can't refuse: kill Lorelai and bring Irina her heart. This is especially bad for Lorelai, seeing as Kol is a member of a race of creatures who can turn from human to dragon. But the queen's new huntsman is soon to discover that Lorelai is no easy target and it's his own heart that he needs to worry about in this venture.

Like I stated earlier, this story is pretty epic. It does a great job building suspense, has great action scenes, and some of the magic is cool too. Chases, escapes, fighting, with just the right amounts of violence and magic. Throw in just a pinch of romance and we've got potential for a great story here. But, that being said, there were some decisions that I thought were...questionable. Like I hinted before, there's not too much in here that makes it a Snow White retelling. It takes just the bare minimum and leaves out a lot of the big, defining details. There's no dwarves, no sleep, heck even the apple itself isn't in it. Yeah, there are apples in the book but one of the big, iconic details of the story, the one you even used for your frigging cover art is NOT featured in the source material. Might be a bit of a problem.

This book mostly sticks to the "girl starts rebellion" plot line that's exhaustingly common in YA and so, especially towards the third act, things started to get a bit repetitive. It really didn't help that the "huntsman's" thoughts were literally the same words over and over. There's also the fact that Lorelai makes a move against Irina, something big and scary tries to kill her, she escapes. Move, attack, escape, repeat. While it can get a bit tiring after awhile, the fact that Lorelai's moves are actually strategic helps and there is room for character development, so I'll give it that.

The characters in this book, as a whole, don't leave much of an impact. I kept getting Kol's dragon friends mixed up, Irina is little more than a cartoonishly over-the-top bad guy, and Kol and Lorelai themselves are pretty generic as far as leads go. That being said, I did applaud them for never going too whiny. Often when protagonists in these stories are faced with constant trials they have moments of "it's too hard" and "I can't do it!" Thankfully, this story just skips that stuff. Even when real loss comes into the story, Kol and Lorelai stay focused and become stronger for it so...kudos to that. Sadly, the only character I genuinely liked and I thought had the most personality isn't even in it very long and that was pretty disappointing.

Leading into my last point, this thing has some almost pointlessly dark moments. And I mean dark moments. Now, a dark moment here and there can be a good thing and drive the story along, so I have no problem with them. What I do have a problem with is when you have several moments like this and only once does it seem to have an impact on the characters. They also like to bring that one point up again, over and over, to make sure that we know it left an impact. Probably didn't have to go as far as it did just for the sake of saying "we went there" and didn't really have to hammer it into our heads like it did.

Final Verdict
As far as fairytale retellings go, I didn't hate this one...but it's probably not one of the best I've read either. Action is good, but the characters fall flat. It's fantastical but also pointlessly dark and, at times, repetitive. If these things probably aren't going to bother you and you just want a good fairytale based story, this one is fine. Go ahead and check it out but...maybe wait for it on paperback.

Have you read the book? What did you think? Comment below and share your thoughts. Please make sure to Follow Midnight Readings for instant updates. Have a book you'd like me to read or would like to make a recommendation? Contact me on goodreads at https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/65448711-michelle-beer

Next Time: I've got a sinking feeling about this sequel....

Friday, January 12, 2018

The Iron Witch by Karen Mahoney



This little nugget here is a relic from the dark ages of the early 2010s...and it shows. In those dark times when all the stories were the same and nobody seemed to notice, stories like this one popped up all the time. Strangely, while some books actually tried to have something original or unique about them, this one could be a used in a case study about "How Not To Write A YA Novel." Let's begin.

Donna Underwood has a tragic past in which her father was killed by mysterious faery creatures and her mother was driven insane. Not only that, but the attack and her subsequent recovery at the hands of  "alchemists" (I am SO getting into that later), has left her arms permanently "disfigured" by beautiful, shiny, intricate filigree tattoos. If her "horrible disfigurement" wasn't enough to make Donna feel like a freak, getting homeschooled by alchemists and keeping secrets from her totally-in-one-sided-Ducky-love-with-her best friend Navin tips the scales. But soon she meets Xan, the sexy, mysterious, bad boy college drop-out whom she finds herself smitten with only to discover he might have a connection to the faeries that plague her hometown.

Now, here's what I just can't stand about these I-don't-give-a-crap-I'm-just-following-the-formula-to-get-rich stories: The concepts can be interesting if they'd been given more than the stupid formula to work with. A girl with super strength and iron power fighting faeries? This could be potential for a serious fantasy epic. But NOPE! We're stuck with a typical story about a forgettable, Lego-brick protagonist with no personality except moping and poor decisions whose life starts when he meets a man who is more than he seems and the ethnic third wheel stares on hopelessly as he's banished to the Friend Zone for all eternity. I mean it, there is nothing special about this book! Nothing at all. There's no heart, there's no originality, there's no real character in it. It just feels empty and you find yourself bored to tears by the end of chapter three.

The book, almost hilariously, makes all the mistakes that a book like this can make. This is exactly the kind of story that Awoken was making fun of. All of the characters are cardboard cut-outs of walking cliches. Donna has NO personality. All she does is complain. Now, granted, the stuff with her parents genuinely sucks, but moaning and groaning about her "freakish" tattoos? Those things are on the frigging cover, we know what they look like and, if someone had gone to my high school with their arms like that they wouldn't be considered a freak. They'd have been considered cool! You do realize that high schoolers think tattoos are cool, right? And even if she wants to wear the gloves to hide them, when people ask you about it, don't just refuse to answer and make yourself a victim like this dumb bimbo does. Just tell them you're a germaphobe or something! I swear, she is so cliched and borrowed that, when she shows her YA arm candy boyfriend her tattoos, I half-expected her to say, "This is the skin of a monster, Xan!"

Speaking of Xan, he has no personality either. He's just there to look pretty and make Donna look pretty too. He contributes next to nothing and is just there for Donna to hilariously moon over. Navin, the third wheel, is slightly more involved in that he's the damsel in distress for the story. Oh and since he's Indian, when Donna comes over to his house for dinner one night, of course they're having curry. Because what else would Indian-Americans eat for dinner!? That was really annoying. Throwing in the bullying cheerleader with the worst put-downs I've ever heard, a Dumbledore rip off and a Snape rip off, and a completely absent guardian and our cast of cliches is complete.

Now, let's talk about the alchemy part of this book, okay? The big "conflict" in this book, that being the big secret war going on that the Muggles of the world don't know about is faeries vs. alchemists. Alchemy is a really complex thing and a very interesting one. Using science and even mathematics to produce fantastical results like that of magic. In this book, however, it's just "real magic" as opposed to...whatever it is fake magic is supposed to be in this stupid world. They never really talk about what it is or what they do or how it works or...or anything! Donna is supposed to be learning about this stuff, but she just writes it off as "boring" and can't focus when they're actually talking about it because "I was too busy daydreaming about Xan's beautiful eyes." This was the point where I knew there was no legitimate hope for this book. Any potential that the inclusion of alchemy could have had is thrown out the window.

Lastly, the writing in this book is just not good. It's bad enough that it follows stupid trope characters and a boring rip-off idea, but this things is at least two-thirds fluff and one third plot. I'm serious, this thing actually forgets that it has a plot until page two hundred. And what do they do with it? Well, I don't think this counts as a spoiler because it's one the back friggin' cover but...Navin gets taken by faeries and Donna and Xan have to save him. Now, Donna has been living with trained, experienced alchemists for years now. Her aunt is one of them, her homeschool teacher is one of them, heck she even has an in with the archmaster himself. So, when she finds out her friend is kidnapped she...doesn't tell anyone, sneaks out at night, steals from her teacher, and tells nobody about what she's doing. Um...HELLO!? You could have had an army out to go and help you but NO! You just don't tell anybody for no good reason?! She doesn't even try! There is no reason she doesn't even attempt to get help from the Order. Sure, the more mature members of the Order might not have listened to her or cared about Navin but they'd want to know about FAERIES INVADING THE TOWN AT THE VERY LEAST! Even her aunt, who supposedly cares for her, would probably want to help out. But no. No, we just ignore the OBVIOUS HELP RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOU BECAUSE YOU WANT TO LOOK GOOD FOR YOUR BOYFRIEND! URGH! Throw in some really pointless diary entries that had no purpose whatsoever and yeah, consider me done.

Final Verdict
Yuck. Just yuck. There's nothing redeemable about this book. There's so little effort in it that I just can't stand it. The plot is almost nonexistent, the characters are beyond weak, and this thing is just waiting to be thrown in the Waste Bin Of Despair.

Have you read the book? What did you think? Comment below and share your thoughts. Please make sure to Follow Midnight Readings for instant updates. Have a book you'd like me to read or would like to make a recommendation? Contact me on goodreads at https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/65448711-michelle-beer

Next Time: Snow White and...the three dragons? Hm...I can get behind that.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Odd and True by Cat Winters



To start off with...the title fits. This was an odd read and yet true at the same time. While the interesting cover art and the blurb in the front cover promised something of a more adult Sister's Grimm type of tale, we instead got something of a mixed back between real and not real, fiction and non-fiction and, to put it in a word...odd. Let's dive in.

Odette and Trudchen Grey are sisters who have relied on each other heavily all through their rough childhood. When Tru was crippled by polio, Od would liven up their lives with tales of their mother's monster hunting escapades and gathering all the local tales of monsters and ghosts that lurk in the dark. When Od is sent away by their strict aunt, she comes back for true and they set off to find the infamous New Jersey Devil and embark on their own adventure. But the sisters' bond is put under serious strain by secrets and lies and Tru must decide what it is she believes in.

This story cuts back and forth between Tru's present and Od's past, weaving two plots together and filling us in as we go. Early in the book, Od is portrayed as being the believer in magic and superstition while Tru is the one who's become something of a skeptic but, as the story moves on the dynamic begins to change. Tru easily beings to be swept up into the world she'd given up on and starts believing Od's claims that they are more than they seem and that they have some divine destiny. However, as the book goes on, we learn that Od isn't an entirely trustworthy. As we learn about her past and where she'd been, it soon becomes clear that a lot of what she says is for Tru's sake. They were both pretty interesting characters and I enjoyed the two tales and the characters that went with them.

Now...for the downside. This book has a tendency to drag in places. I mean, it takes a very long time for anything of genuine substance to happen. While Od's story moves at a satisfying pace, Tru's isn't allowed to go anywhere for a long time and, mostly, that's because of Od. Od's insistence that she keep secrets from her sister, never give her a straight answer, and refuse to tell her the truth of what they're doing is what keeps Tru's side of the story stagnant for a long time. When character's stubbornly withhold information, rather than building tension, it just frustrates the reader. We know what Od is up to because of the chapters with her point of view but Tru is stuck in the dark, so her chapters barely move. There were times when I wanted Od to just grow up and tell Tru the truth so things can get moving but no! And it just leads up to a "Liar Revealed" cliche toward the end that I never enjoy seeing. However, Tru's reactions and her decisions towards the climax were a refreshing change so, there is that.

The ending of the book was also a bit disconcerting. What the book builds up and what ultimately happens don't really mix together. However, I will say that it was certainly a thrilling climax. I was definitely invested. I liked what they ended up doing in tying up all the loose ends. As a standalone book, I liked what they did to tie everything together while leaving room, if not for sequels, but for spin-offs. I'd like to see what the past and also the future that this book sets up. I wouldn't mind reading more...as long as the plot is a bit more concrete and the pacing is a bit quicker.

Final Verdict
If this review felt a little all over the place...that's because this book felt all over the place. Still, it had good characters, some good ideas even if they weren't executed as well as they could have, interesting plot twists and a fairly satisfying conclusion. Bottom line, if it sounds like something you'd like, check it out...but maybe wait for it on paperback.

Have you read the book? What did you think? Comment below and share your thoughts. Please make sure to Follow Midnight Readings for instant updates. Have a book you'd like me to read or would like to make a recommendation? Contact me on goodreads at https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/65448711-michelle-beer

Next Time: Oh no! I'm disfigured by beautiful, elegant tattoos that can be easily hidden. Poor me....

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman



Pratchett and Gaiman are both authors whose works I've been interested in for some time now and want to become more acquainted with. When I found a book that both of them wrote together, I just had to check it out. I'm very happy to say, my expectations were met in spades. This cheeky book of the apocalypse is just what I needed and I'm sure others would enjoy. Let's begin.

Crowley is a demon and Aziraphale is an angel and both of them have been living in the human world and, to their surprise as much as anyone else's, they've rather come to like it. So when the time comes for the Apocalypse to begin and the Antichrist comes to earth, they do what they can to try and prevent it, lest Aziraphale loses his beloved bookshop and Crowley his classic car.  But the forces of oncoming doom cannot be stopped forever, especially after the duo learns that they'd spent eleven years with the wrong Antichrist and the real one is wondering around and English suburb called Tadfield. The Horsemen are drawing nigh, supernatural events are taking place, and the nice and accurate prophecies of Agnes Nutter, witch are about to come to pass.

For a book about the end of days, I have to say this is one of the most hilarious books I've ever read. It's that dry, cheeky British humor that I just love from beginning to end. While Crowley and Aziraphale are the shining stars of the story, the entire cast is just fantastic. There's the Witchhunter Sargent and the Witchhunter Private, Newton Pulsifer, descendant of Thou-Shalt-Not-Commit-Adultary Pulsifer, who burned Agnes Nutter herself, causing her to explode. The Four lesser-known Horsemen of the Apocalypse; Grievous Bodily Harm, Cruelty To Animals, Things Not Working Properly Even After You've Given Them A Good Thumping and Really Cool People. You see what I'm talking about? This witty almost nonchalant approach to the end of days is just a riot and I loved every bit of it.

As one might have expected from two of the most popular British writers ever, the writing is just perfect. The voices of the two blend perfectly together in the story. Gaiman's fantastical yet dark elements blend wonderfully with Pratchett's unbridled imagination. They take these seemingly horrific events taking place during the end of days and make them comical.  The characterizations of the Horsemen of the Apocalypse was probably my favorite detail. The writing on them was just fantastic and, for two authors who are known for writing particularly awesome characterizations of Death, this version most certainly doesn't disappoint. He might have been my favorite part.

Even the Antichrist in this story isn't some terrible being or unholy force to oppose...he's an eleven year old boy. As such, you can kind of follow his thinking. When he beings thinking about the end of the world, he thinks of it like a kid would. That dead whales and pollution are the worst possible things ever and the world should just start over. He thinks and acts very much like a kid, a relatable kid, and so you don't get mad at him when his thoughts are what's going to cause the world to end. Humanity is a big theme in the book, exploring the good and the bad and what it means to live in the world. When he comes to a conclusion about what he wants to do, I won't spoil anything, but I liked where they ended up going. Everything falls into place and I thought it was fantastic.

Final Verdict
Just wonderful! Absolutely loved it. I can't wait to read more books from Pratchett and Gaiman, I adored the characters and that wonderful humor, and so this book is going straight onto the Shelf of Recommendation!

Have you read the book? What did you think? Comment below and share your thoughts. Please make sure to Follow Midnight Readings for instant updates. Have a book you'd like me to read or would like to make a recommendation? Contact me on goodreads at https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/65448711-michelle-beer

Next Time: The tragic tales of the Sisters Grey

Sunday, December 31, 2017

The Crown's Game by Evelyn Skye



Royalty sure does like its games, doesn't it? But unlike another fantasy story with a similar title, this book goes more the historical fiction route, taking place in the Russian Empire in the time of Tsar Alexander I in 1825. Let's see how history looks when there's a bit of magic added to it.

Vika and Nikolai are the only two enchanters left in Russia. Each has extraordinary abilities which the tsar thinks might be very useful to the Empire, especially with the threats of the Ottomans and Kazakhs looming on the horizon. However, only one of them may be granted the title of Imperial Enchanter and advisor to the tsar. The other must die. To decide which of them will inherit the title, the tsar begins the Crown's Game, in which both enchanters are to display their power and imagination in grand feats to amaze the citizens of St. Petersburg and spell doom for their opponent. But things when complicated when the tsesarevich, who happens to be Nikolai's best friend, starts to fall for the beautiful Vika...and so does Nikolai.

The good thing about this book is that they manage to take a familiar situation and play it straight. As I hinted earlier, a lot of stories are taking the "game of life and death" route. Game of Thrones, The Hunger Games, even Ender's Game all use this idea to the point where it's become something of a gimmick. So, if you're going to go with this idea then do what this book does and take it in a direction we haven't seen before. I admit there were times when I honestly didn't see something coming. While the situations are familiar, this story takes things in a new direction and I appreciated that.

The characters of both Nikolai and Vika are well done. They each have likable personalities but they both have flaws too. Nikolai's an orphan who came from nothing and is kind to both those better and less than him, but he's prone to lying to everyone around him to keep himself safe. Vika is optimistic and imaginative but her sheltered life has left her a bit naive. You understand these characters and you like them both and want them to succeed, so throwing them into a situation where one of them could die invests the reader into wanting to see them both come out of their situation okay, even if you know they're not. The tsesarevich, Pasha, is another main player in this story and another fun character. He sneaks away from his guards and goes out drinking, but he has a loving heart and he cares about his country that he will one day rule. The overall cast is good and shies away from stereotypes, which I greatly appreciated.

Now, let's have a little chat about the magic in this book, shall we? Each member of the game has five turns to create spectacular feats in celebration of Pasha's birthday while keeping the fact that what they're doing is magic a secret from the general public. Now, that seems like a simple enough detail...until you make islands appear overnight and hallucinogenic benches. I'm sorry, but even human denial has its limits. There's no way that some of these things can be reasoned to exist, especially in 1825! Things that would take years to accomplish are done in a blink of an eye and nobody suspects anything? I found that little detail a bit much to swallow. That being said, the magic is impressive by both enchanters and it certainly made things fun to read about. I just think that it could have been a bit more subtle, especially if they're supposed to be hiding these things from the masses.

The drama comes together in a climax that's...probably not as epic as I would have liked it. There are certain things I didn't like such as Pasha's attitude toward the end of the book and the situation involving a moving corpse. But while the climax wasn't the big, fantastical affair I'd thought it would be but I was satisfied with the conclusion anyway. When a book gives you two good characters in a battle to the death, the resolution can sometimes come in the form of a cop-out. Thankfully, this book avoids that, but doesn't leave the reader in complete despair either. All in all, I think it was handled pretty decently to leave readers satisfied as well as hopeful.

Final Verdict
Overall, I'd say that this book is pretty good. It was its own story and followed its own path, had plenty of intrigue and magic and I think anyone picking it up out of curiosity will enjoy it. I'd say it's worth your money at your local bookstore.

Have you read the book? What did you think? Comment below and share your thoughts. Please make sure to Follow Midnight Readings for instant updates. Have a book you'd like me to read or would like to make a recommendation? Contact me on goodreads at https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/65448711-michelle-beer

Next Time: British humor, two fantastic authors, and the end of the world. Sounds like fun.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Strange The Dreamer by Laini Taylor



Happy Boxing Day, everyone! I hope you've had a good Christmas and since I spent some of mine finishing up this little, 500-page nugget, I know I had a great one! I've had this books praises sung to me most of the year and I've finally gotten around to it. Thank goodness for that because this was just fantastic! Let's start.

Lazlo Strange is a dreamer. That is, his mind is full of impossible dreams, fairy tales, and stories he's read while living in the vast library of Zosma after growing up an orphan in a monastery. His favorite stories are of the Unseen City, whose name was stolen some years ago and is now only known as Weep. When an army of warriors, lead by a man known as Godslayer, from that city come looking for the sharpest minds to help them with a problem, Lazlo is decidedly uninvited. But Lazlo refuses to give up on his dream and journeys forth to see the city of his dreams, where he beholds an otherworldly citadel in the sky and the mysterious beings that dwell within.

Wow. Just wow. That's all I could say after I finished this thing. The writing is just superb. You are quickly invested in these characters, you see the vivid images in your mind's eye, you feel the pull of tension and dread that weighs in the atmosphere...it's just fantastic! Lazlo Strange is the kind of bookworm character that other bookworm characters try to be, but don't necessarily succeed at being. His wild imagination and respectful eagerness to witness the world of his imaginings come to life is something anyone with impossible dreams can understand and relate to. He's remarkably humble, happy to see good things happen to other people and thinking nothing of any lost credit he could have had. When he sees the chance to reach his dreams slipping away from him, you feel for him. I even found myself yelling at the book, saying, "You can do it, Lazlo! Go get your dream! What are you waiting for!?" That's how invested I got. It has been some time since I actually yelled at a book...in a good way. Kudos for that.

The other characters in the book are just as good as he his. Thyon Nero, a nobleman who can create gold, serves as a very interesting type of rival character. Most rivals are pretty shallow characters, bullies or downright nasty people and are generally unsympathetic. Nero, however, is an interesting mix. He's not a heartless bully, though, granted, they don't make him the nicest guy either. He's complex and you can understand his bitterness toward Lazlo. Eril-Fane, the Godslayer, also has a very tragic story and you feel the weight that constantly presses on this guy. He's a leader who constantly has to hide the fact that he feels lost. But the other big characters are those of Sarai and the Mesarthim, the powerful, magical beings that watch over Weep. There's a deeply complex history between them and Weep, leaving them caught in a purgatory of past sins and present fears. Each of them has a unique power as well that reflects their personalities, which was a fun detail and told us a lot about them without actually saying anything, which was really clever.

The mythology and set-up of this world is absolutely wonderful. It's vivid and imaginative and filled with dreams and reality. Some of these are ideas you just want to kick yourself for not thinking of first. Roads made of lapis lazuli, pink blood candy that makes you immortal, mythical creatures, wingsmiths...it's all just so gloriously put together and I just loved dreaming these dreams right along with Lazlo. The wonder and spectacle that the book builds up gives us hope along with Lazlo and I just loved it. It opens the mind to limitless possibilities that fantasy gives us, reminding us why we love it so. A book that reminds one how it feels to be a reader, or a dreamer, is one that will stick with you for quite a long time.

Final Verdict
Ladies and gents, we have a winner! I just loved this book! The characters are amazing, the writing is spectacular, the story was thrilling and complex...just read it! Seriously, read it. True praise be unto this book as it takes its place upon the Shelf of Recommendation!

Have you read the book? What did you think? Comment below and share your thoughts. Please make sure to Follow Midnight Readings for instant updates. Have a book you'd like me to read or would like to make a recommendation? Contact me on goodreads at https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/65448711-michelle-beer

Next Time: In Soviet Russia, game plays you!...urgh, I'm sorry. I'm never saying that again...