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October 2017

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I’m not going to lie. I chose this book because of the beautiful cover and I am not even a little bit ashamed of that.

Synopsis

Emi is the kamigakari. In a few short months, her life as a mortal will end and her new existence as the human host of a goddess will begin. Carefully hidden from those who would destroy her, she has prepared her mind, body, and soul to unite with the goddess-and not once has she doubted her chosen fate. Shiro is a yokai, a spirit of the earth, an enemy of the goddess Emi will soon host. Mystery shrouds his every move and his ruby eyes shine with cunning she can’t match and dares not trust. But she saved his life, and until his debt is paid, he is hers to command-whether she wants him or not. On the day they meet, everything Emi believes comes undone, swept away like snow upon the winter wind. For the first time, she wants to change her fate-but how can she erase a destiny already wrought in stone? Against the power of the gods, Shiro is her only hope… and hope is all she has left.

Plot

This novel has a very simple plot which is basically a search for an answer that Emi has which I can’t reveal without giving away a spoiler.
But for those of you who don’t mind a spoiler, please read on…

[spoiler]Emi learns that when Amaterasu descends she will destroy Emi. I told this to a friend and we were both pretty underwhelmed. Neither of us were surprised to learn this because I mean Amaterasu is a freaking GODDESS! Of course her power will be too great for Emi to contain! Also, having read Vessel, I just wasn’t surprised. The premise for Vessel is basically the same as this novel except that in Vessel the goddess fails to descend. [/spoiler]

Characters

Emi

Emi isn’t our typical bad ass heroine but she is no less interesting. In some ways she’s a bit more complex than the usual YA heroine. Emi is selfless and kind, patient and brave. At no point to I remember her being too stupid to live, although she was a bit too trusting of kami. But that was more due to her upbringing than anything else. She had been taught that kami were inherently good and yokai were inherently bad — [spoiler]to her detriment.[/spoiler]

Shiro

My favourite Shiro quote:

“Because you are more to me now. Because you keep secrets like a kami and I’m curious what you hide. Because you are lonely and scared and I don’t understand why. Because you trust me when you know you shouldn’t. Because I believe you when you say you will keep your word.”

Yumei

This guy is hardcore and utterly terrifying and I love him for it! He has definitley got the whole Blue and Orange Morality thing going for him. He just isn’t good or evil. He is there to help Shiro but at the same time he seems to want something in return. I must be the only one who wondered if Shiro and Yumei had some fling going on between them though. He was just so overly protective of Shiro, the kitsune, but he didn’t know him before the curse was placed on Shiro so maybe I’m just looking for some bisexual action where there isn’t any.

[spoiler] I had no problem with Yumei hurting Emi except for my usual problems with the main character being hurt because Yumei was never depicted as a love interest. [/spoiler]

I don’t understand the review I read where someone on GoodReads declared him her husband, but to each their own.

I am perfectly happy for Yumei to stay far, far away from me, though I do love him as a character.

[spoiler] What with him being the Tengu and ruling the other crows he is a bit like a mafia boss and I love that! [/spoiler]
Katsuo

My poor baby got stuck in a love triangle with our resident kistune. Personally I would choose Katsuo, because he is kind, loyal, and adorable. Plus he has no violent tendancies toward the main character.

Pacing

This was my main problem with this book. I started it in May and only finished it on the 13th of October 2017 because it was just so slow I just wanted something to happen at the beginning but I honestly don’t remember anything except for Emi finding the startling revelation in the manual. And I mean if you’re going to keep a secret from the kamigakari don’t leave it out in the open in the library where anyone can find it!

Final Thoughts

Red Winter was a good read and although there were some pacing problems, particularly at the beginning, I did enjoy myself. Emi was naive at the beginning and far too trusting of kami but she learned her lesson pretty quickly. Though nothing to do with the writing, I will say that the illustrations were very beautiful and that I enjoyed listening to the audio book.

I give this one THREE stars due to the pacing and boring Big Bad.

Before I read One Blood Ruby I will review the first book in the series by Melissa Marr — Seven Black Diamonds.

Synopsis

Lilywhite Abernathy is a criminal. Her father’s “unconventional” business has meant a life of tightly held secrets, concealed weaponry, and a strict code. But Lily’s crime isn’t being the daughter of a powerful mob boss. Her guilt lies in the other half of her DNA—the part that can coax ancient rumors from stones and summon fire with a thought. Lily is part fae, which is a crime in her world.

From the time before she was born, a war has been raging between humanity and fae. The Queen of Blood and Rage, ruler of both the Seelie and Unseelie courts, wants to avenge the tragic death of her heir—a death that was the fault of reckless humans.

Lily’s father has shielded her from the repercussions of her ancestry…until she is sent to the prestigious St. Columba’s school, straight into the arms of the Black Diamonds.

Mysterious, glamorous, and bound together in their mission but constantly at odds, Zephyr, Creed, Will, Roan, Violet, and Alkamy are a Sleeper cell of fae, planted in the human world to help destroy it from within. With covers as rock stars and celebrity children, the Black Diamonds carry out the queen’s war against humanity. And unbeknownst to Lilywhite, she’s been chosen to join them.

Now more than ever, Lily’s heritage puts her in peril, and even the romantic attention of the fae singer Creed Morrison isn’t enough to keep Lily from wanting to run back to the safer world of organized crime.

Melissa Marr returns to faery in a dramatic story of the precarious space between two worlds and the people who must thrive there

— Courtesy of GoodReads.com

Plot

Can we first please address the elephant in the room? A group of fey sleeper agents, hmm? Wow. It’s so strange how Melissa Marr and I have the exact same ideas. Now before you roll your eyes, hear me out. When I was 14 I wrote a story about a mermaid who attends human high school and her best friend who is admitted into a school for secret agents who hunt fey.  So not quite the same but very similar. But it doesn’t end there. Three of four years ago I wrote a story about half fey sleeper agents who protect the fey from the Paladins, a group of anti-fey secret agents.  Now leave a message below and let me know if any of you want to read THAT story.

Now back to the review at hand.

Marr promises us a story about fey sleeper agents but instead we get a lot of sitting around, a lot of talking and not very much action. For a bunch of eco-terrorists I thought they would, you know, be doing some terrorising. Instead we get some ridiculous insta-love story and another story about a fey girl getting married against her will. Which you know, I shouldn’t be so judgy about since I do a similar thing in my own book I’m writing, but the point is we’re promised one thing and given another. At least I’m honest from the beginning about my princess getting married against her will.

For a book about the daughter of a MOB boss there isn’t a lot of MOB activity happening here. Besides some kind of ball at the beginning with lots of sons and daughters of crime lords there really isn’t anything at all to do with actual criminal activity in this book.

Overall, added with the surprise ending, I have to say that if you want a book with tonnes of action, or you know just a book with fey eco-terrorists as promised in the synopsis then you should stay away from this book. But if you love romance and friendship this book just might be for you.

Point of View – POV/Characters

From the synopsis above you could easily mistake Lilywhite Abernathy as our only main character. But this book has EIGHT point of views. This includes our sleeper agents: Lilywhite, Creed, Violet, Alkamy, Zephyr and Roan, Will – as well as Elidh, the Crown Princess.

Personally I don’t like having more than 4 POVs, but perhaps I’m a bit biased because the book I’m writing has 4 POVs. But honestly I’ve tried reading both Game of Thrones, which has 7 POVs, and Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo, which of course has 6 Povs. The problem with having more than 2 POVs is that it becomes that much harder to remember who everyone is, and to grow a connection with them because the story becomes so thinned out.

I really wanted to love Mellisa Marr’s characters but I just couldn’t. Most of these POVs just weren’t necessary and many of them felt like filler chapters. If I had to be honest the only necesarry POV characters were Lilywhite, Elidh and MAYBE Zephyr since he was the leader of the Seven Black Diamonds.

Lilywhite: This character irks me. I like her, I do. But the part about her spouting the Abernathy rules really reminds me of Aisilnn from Marr’s other series, Wicked Lovely. You see Aislinn can see fae so to stay alive she reminds herself of these three rules to stay under the radar of the fae, which is exactly what Lilywhite seems to be doing. Another gripe I have with Lilywhite is how much of a Mary Sue she is. Her two major faults are that people love her almost instantly and she is overpowered. Most fey blood have at least one “affinity”, that is, a power over one of the four elements. But Lilywhite has power over ALL FOUR elements/affinities.

Elidh: I love Elidh. She is perhaps a bit too scared of her mother to question her, but she does genuinley want to change things. She wants to rule in a different manner to The Queen of Blood and Rage. Unlike Lilywhite not everyone loves her because of course being the heir apparant she has taken her brother’s rightful place as future King of the Seelie Court since the Seelie and Unseelie merged when Endellion, The Queen of Blood and Rage took over.

Zephyr: I feel kind of bad for this guy. As leader of the Seven Black Diamonds he has had to shoulder the burden all on his own. Lilywhite is supposed to be his partner in all things related to their terrorism, but she isn’t exactly willing. Perhaps it something to do with her introduction to the team.

Will and Roan: All I know about them is that they are in love with each other and one of them can’t tell his parents about their dating because they don’t like gay people. That, and the fact that Endellion chooses who marries whom so they’ll probably never be together forever.

Violet: She is an actress. That is all I remember about her.

Creed: The insta-love interest. Part time rock star, part time terrorist, part time student.

Final Thoughts

As much as there are many cliches I have to be honest that I loved reading this book. Melissa Marr’s writing style had me hooked and constantly wanting to know more. Of course I came out very frustrated and annoyed for all the reasons above but it’s important to note that for whatever reason I never at any point wanted to put this book down. It was so intriguing and I constantly wanted to know what would happen next.

I give Seven Black Diamonds THREE stars