I am nothing if not predictably unpunctual. Here’s the last bit of what I read up until the end of 2023. I literally finished The Six Deaths of The Saint at 11:45 PM
Bookshops and Bonedust by Travis Baldree
One of the first books I read in 2023 was Legends and Lattes, and I haven’t been able to get the warm cozy feeling it gave me out of my head, so when a prequel was announced, I was ecstatic. Of course, I wanted to see how Viv got to try coffee for the first time and give up her adventuring ways. I was not disappointed. The novel starts with Viv as a bright-eyed young Orc who has recently been stabbed in the leg in a battle. Her mercenary company leaves her in the small town of Murk to recover while they go off to fight a terrifying necromancer. Viv becomes bored out of her mind and soon stumbles across a dusty old bookshop and falls in love with books.
Baldree continues the trend of having amazing and amusing side characters. I particularly loved that the Ratkin character in L&L was meek and soft-spoken and the Ratkin character in B&B was a swearing firecracker! There is also a cute mini-owl bear creature and a re-animated skeleton who can’t seem to stop cleaning the shop. This book was just a cup of hot tea on a cold day. Baldree’s writing is the very definition of cozy and I can’t wait to read more. 5 Stars.
Thornhedge by T. Kingfisher
Toadling is a faerie. Well, she wasn’t born a faerie, she was born a human but was stolen by the fae immediately after birth and replaced with a faerie child. She has spent countless centuries guarding a tower and the thornhedge that surrounds it. She hasn’t spoken to anyone in centuries until an errant knight with an interest in mythology shows up to search for the tower. If any of this sounds familiar, it is because it is a retelling of Sleeping Beauty from the Fairy Godmother’s perspective, except something is seriously wrong with Princess Fayette. That kid is more messed up than any child in any horror movie ever made. She was a changeling after all. Eventually, her fairy powers start to show up as well as her burgeoning psychopathy and her parents beg Toadling to help them. Since nobody wants to kill the Princess, Toadling offers to put her into a deep and endless sleep. All of this is told in flashback to the knight who still has to see what is inside the tower for himself.
I was looking for novellas to complete my reading goal for the year and I knew I had a couple of T. Kingfisher ones saved on my Kindle. This one matched the mood I was in, so I gave it a shot, and I was surprised by how much I loved this book. This was my first T. Kingfisher book and I look forward to reading more. 4 Stars
The Six Deaths of The Saint by Alix E. Harrow
I may be the biggest fangirl of Alix E. Harrow in the Cannonball Read. The Ten Thousand Doors of January and Starling House were two of my most loved reads in 2023 and The Once and Future Witches was my favorite book I read in 2022, so it was CRIMINAL that I hadn’t gotten around to reading this short story!
The Saint of War appears to a poor servant girl and points her toward the path of becoming a great warrior. The girl becomes the fiercest warrior in the land and a great asset to the Prince. She intervenes in the punishment of a stableboy and he becomes her squire. She goes to war for the prince and has several visits from The Saint of War. I don’t want to give any more of the plot away because I truly feel this story benefits from going into it blind. Some people were complaining about the second-person perspective, but I found that to be an interesting narrative device. This story is an absolute gut punch and I loved every bit of it. 5 Stars.
And that’s it! I’m finally caught up on 2023 and only slightly behind for 2024. Because of my past year of reviewing for CBR, I have finally had the courage to set up a NetGalley account and have gotten approved for some ARCs. I love being a part of this fabulous community of book readers!