Category

Fantasy

Category

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

Note: I apologise in advance for use of any inappropriate GIFs. I couldn’t help myself. 

I haven’t updated this blog for a while now and for that I sincerley apologise. The Computer Science degree has been getting harder latley with all the maths, and I’ve been putting my writing ahead of my reading, so I haven’t had very much to blog about anyway. Anyway, on with the review…

Shadow and Bone is a book I’ve been meaning to read for a while now and as soon as I got a Kobo (yes, I have gone to the dark side of e-readers) I knew I had to read it. And 99p, it was impossible to pass up.

For those of you who don’t know what the hype is all about, here is a brief synopsis from Goodreads:

The Shadow Fold, a swathe of impenetrable darkness, crawling with monsters that feast on human flesh, is slowly destroying the once-great nation of Ravka.

Alina, a pale, lonely orphan, discovers a unique power that thrusts her into the lavish world of the kingdom’s magical elite—the Grisha. Could she be the key to unravelling the dark fabric of the Shadow Fold and setting Ravka free?

The Darkling, a creature of seductive charm and terrifying power, leader of the Grisha. If Alina is to fulfill her destiny, she must discover how to unlock her gift and face up to her dangerous attraction to him.

But what of Mal, Alina’s childhood best friend? As Alina contemplates her dazzling new future, why can’t she ever quite forget him

World Building 


For me, one of the best things about this book was the world building. Bardugo has taken a great amount of inspiration from Russia, as is clear on the cover. I know a number of people on goodreads.com were particularly annoyed that she may not have used Russia’s culture to its full potential. Russian names were used, and occasional Russian foods, and of course, kvas, a Russian drink. Some people will get hung up on the fact that the protagonist, Alina Starkov, should have been called Starkova because she is a girl. Admittedly, I also have a problem with this, but in the big scheme of things, it is but a minor annoyance. 
 
Now I talk about my favourite part. MAGIC! The country of Ravka have two armies, The First Army, which consists of humans, and The Second Army, which consists of the magical people known as the Grisha. Grisha power is known as the small science, because the word ‘magic’ is a negative connotation, much like the word ‘witch’ often is in other novels. The Grisha are categorised in smaller groups depending on their powers. There are three main groups: 

The Etherealki, The Order of the Summoners.

Taken from: http://emmyiskhaleesi.tumblr.com/

They are divided into Inferni, Squallers and Tidemakers. Summoners deal with the elements and by extension, even the Darkling and Alina are Summoners because of their powers over shadows and light. Summoners wear blue keta, with different coloured embroidery depending on which element they control.

The Fabrikators

Taken from: http://emmyiskhaleesi.tumblr.com/

 

They are divided into Durasts and Alkemi. (I’m not certain whether this is specified in the first book.)
Fabrikators build things. They are the tinkers and inventors, and they are often looked down upon by other Grisha becuase they are essentially the nerds of any high school. The Fabrikators wear purple kefta robes.

  Corporalki– the Order of the Living and the Dead. 

Taken from: http://emmyiskhaleesi.tumblr.com/

The subtypes are Heartrenders, and Healers. Heartrenders can slow the heart or squeeze the life out of someone by stopping their heart. Healers are self-explanatory. They heal. Coparalki wear red kefta robes.

The Darkling

The Darkling is a mysterious man with great power. He is second only to the King of Ravka himself, and head of the Second Army. He is the only one permitted to wear a black kefta.




I thought the idea of giving the different Grisha different coloured robes was an interesting idea. In doing so, the members of the Second Army became more of a high school, seperating themselves into different factions and cliques. The Summoners argued with the Coporalki and the Fabrikators mostly stuck to their metal. On the surface, it was quite entertaining, but there were still a few problems.

My major concern with it all was that we were not exposed to their powers enough. Every now and then we’d have a Heartrender stop someone’s heart, or a Fabrikator make something, but mostly we were simply told what they were capabale of. You would expect for a protagonist knew to the ways of the Small Science, they would actually teach her. And maybe although Alina had a magic teacher and a fighting instructor, I still think I would have liked to know more of what she and all the other characters were capable of. I wanted something beyond the surface of the basic cattiness of the different Orders, and more of actual teaching. Maybe if Alina hadn’t avoided all the other Summoners…

Characters were often identified by what colour kefta they wore, and we didn’t really get to know much about anyone save for a handful of characters. The only powers that were really shown were the powers of the Darkling, Genya, and of course, Alina. 
Another problem I had were all the names. Sometimes the author called them Materalki, and other times they were Fabrikators. Sometimes Summoners were called Etheralki, and I found the interchangeable names confusing. 

Some readers will complain about the vague “Russianess” of everything. Bardugo has taken liberties with the Russian culture and so even the words which may sound like Russian are not completely Russian, or are not translated properly. I saw a particularly furious review on Goodreads about the stereotypical use of a Chinese inspired trainer called Botkin. They seemed particularly outraged at his bad English,  or bad “Ravkan” or whatever the characters of this book speak, and his general blood-thirstiness because this a popular trope in fiction. Think, Atilla the Hun.

Plot

Alina Starkov’s world is turned upside down one day when she realises that she is accused of being a Sun Summoner. No such thing has ever existed before, so it is quite an unbelievable accusation, one that the Darkling himself puts to the test. And can I just say, through most of the novel, and maybe even into the sequel, I am Team Darkling?


Whisked away by the Darkling to be trained at the Little Palace (He’s really being quite modest!), Alina fears she will never see her best friend, Mal. Alina must destroy the Shadow Fold, and now that the weight of the whole country is on her shoulders, she finds herself longing for her old life when she was nothing more than a simple map maker. 

The plot Leigh Bardugo has employed is nothing overly original. Girl discovers latent power. Girl must overcome obstacles and deceptions in order to save the kingdom. But there’s nothing wrong with using a tried and tested method. The storyline itself may not be overly original, but the way Bardugo has written made the novel simply enticing. Sometimes I’m in Alina’s head and I can’t help but really feel for her, and yet other times I want to slap her and be like “Get your head in the game!”. 

Alina yearns for Mal and is ungrateful whilst she whines about not being treated well by other Grisha who are obviously jealous of her. This might annoy some readers but I find it quite understandable. At the end of the day, Alina is only human… figuratively speaking. After all, Alina is Grisha. 

Characters

There are only a few memorable characters in this novel, and on the surface I find that they are all very intriguing, but I do wish I had gotten to know some of them better. 

Alina 

Quote

“What are you smiling at?”
I whirled, peering into the gloom. The Darkling’s voice seemed to float out of the shadows. He walked down to the stream, crouching on the bank to splash water on his face and through his dark hair.
“Well?” he asked, looking up at me.
“Myself,” I admitted.
“Are you that funny?”
“I’m hilarious.”

 

Alina is feisty and intriguing. She isn’t a hardcore bad-ass, but I think that’s okay. I liked seeing her come into her power when she was training. She does have her whiney tendencies but I thought that was quite normal, and she did get over it after a while. There’s not a lot I can say about her without revealing spoilers but for the most part I’d have to say that Alina was an average heroine. I think she becomes stronger in the sequel but in this debut to the trilogy she is really just trying to find her place in the world. 


The Darkling

Quote

“The problem with wanting,” he whispered, his mouth trailing along my jaw until it hovered over my lips, “is that it makes us weak.”

 

Oh my gosh, what to say first about this guy? He is alluring, powerful, and an overall bad-ass. I loved almost everything about him, especially nearer to the beginning. He is the true power of Ravka, and boy does he know it. He thinks the king as a child, and detests the Royal family in general. I expected the twist that Bardugo wrote, and despite it all, or maybe because of it, I still loved him. Alina and the Darkling? I ship it! 

 
Maybe my biggest problem with him is that we don’t get to know much about him. I mean, sure, there is that awesome revelation, but the very fact that we never get to know his real name dehumanises him. Of course, it goes both ways. To know too much is to ruin that mysterious allure of his. 

 



Mal

Quote

“I don’t care if you danced naked on the roof of the Little Palace with him. I love you, Alina, even the part of you that loved him.”  

Oh Mal. He is like the anti-Darkling. He is completley human, but mind you, still very attractive. He even gained the attention of a blue robed Grisha near the beginning. He is Alina’s best friend, but he never really notices her in that way. Alina on the other hand has been crushing on Mal for ages, and I find it quite sad that he doesn’t seem to really notice her until he loses her.
In spite of this, Mal isn’t completely useless. He is a tracker in the First Army, and he can find just about anything. I can’t really say how he uses this gift becuase that would be a spoiler, but, yeah, Mal got skills. 
Despite this, I’m not really a huge fan of him. It’s not simply because he will never match up to the allure of the Darkling. It’s because as a human, I’m not sure he will ever understand Alina, now that she is Grisha. This pairing is completely eclipsed by the Alina/Darkling pairing.


I was going to give this one 4 stars because I love the Darkling and the revelation, and the Amplifiers, but Alina could have been a stronger character and the world building had something left to be desired. But I raced through this one and almost immediately bought the sequel, so I will give it 3 1/2 stars out of 5 🙂




First of all, I would like to sincerly apologise for not posting for a few weeks now. This is due to the fact that I have been participating in NaNoWriMo. For those of you who don’t know, once a year in the month of November, crazy writers like myself embark on a quest to write 50,000 words in one month. I didn’t “win” as I didn’t achieve this goal but on the bright side, I have 20,084 words more than when I started.

In any case, on with the review…

Endless Knight by Kresley Cole was an intriguing novel I couldn’t find myself letting go of. Thus, I read the entire book in the space of about 12 hours from 1pm to 1am, thankful to have something engaging to do on the train journey back to university.

Synopsis:

Evie has finally accepted that she is The Empress, one of 22 Major Arcana cards gifted with special powers. She finally knows what she was fated to do: win the game by killing the other cards. But she can’t do that. Doing so would mean losing herself, and the boy she loves. Now that Jack knows what she is, tensions rise as he struggles to accept her. But that isn’t half the problem.
Thanks to the apocalypse, zombified bagmen and crazed Major Arcana are out to kill Evie and her group. The worst card of them all? Death. He is an immortal knight who has a long history with the Empress, and he is very fascinated by Evie. Question is, does he want to seduce her, or kill her?

The Style

The narrative for Endless Knight was far more simplified than Poison Princess as we only get the story from Evie’s point of view. Although more limiting, I think it’s a good that Cole still found a way to keep my interest. On the whole, I don’t think there was as much action in this book as the last one in the series, but this did enable Cole to concentrate more on the relationships within the story. And lo and behold, I feel it is only fair to warn you that there is somewhat of a love triangle in the works here.

As in the last book, Jack speaks quite a bit in Cajun French and Evie often translates that to the readers. I can’t say that I find this a problem but I am aware that some reviewers found it irritating in Poison Princess. Personally I find it to be a necessary tool because being Cajun French is an essential part of who Jack is. I’ll talk a bit more about that at the Characterisation section though.
 

The Mythology

The novel revolves around the 22 Major Arcana, with Evie the MC being the Empress. As such she has power over plant life.

A bit like this, except Evie revives plants from her blood…

Shame Evie doesn’t get the cool dress. Also, these are from Sky High, a Disney movie.

This would be more awesome if not for the fact that the world was struck by a meteorite or something during “The Flash”, destroying most animals and plant life. The Game ends when only one Major Arcana is left standing, so in essence it’s some sort of crazed Hunger Games which the gods started with the entire world as the battlefield. Or at the very least, the idea of the gods is alluded to by Matthew, the Fool.

I have to give Cole a lot of respect for creating a myth this original. Whilst in the first book I thought that the whole post-apocalyptic scenario was just some sort of an excuse to get the two love interests together without adults or any kind of authority to stop them, the need for the catastrophic event is explained a bit. Every few centuries, the game starts and it only ends when there is only one card standing. The winner gets immortality… until the next game. Personally, I find that unfair, but I would never accuse the gods of being fair.

Characterisations

I like Jackson’s portrayal. I completely understand that he needs time to fully accept Evie. I wouldn’t have liked him if he had rejected Evie, but I don’t think it would have been believable for him to be completely comfortable with the situation the whole time.
Jackson is what he is and never once tries to be anything else. He is fierce, strong, but not invulnerable, and certainly not a white knight– though he seems to be the closest thing that Evie will get. He isn’t a dark knight either though. That role might be reserved for Death. Jack is protective of Evie and it seemed that he wasn’t entirely sure what to do when he realised that “his girl” was capable of kicking ass on her own. He seems a bit old-fashioned that way.
He screws up and he admits to that and tries to do better next time, a quality I admire. Having said that, WHY JACKSON, WHY?! I can’t reveal any spoilers, but secrets will be unveiled…

Evie is headstrong and powerful. She values the lives of others, which very well could be her undoing one day. Her relationship with Matthew for instance is one I find interesting. She saved him from drowning in Poison Princess and constantly defending him when the others complained that they would be better off without him because he didn’t pull his weight. She has compassion, which in the age after The Flash, the apocalypse that wiped everything everyone once knew, is rare.
She also has intelligence. I’m not saying that she’s the smartest protagonist I’ve read about, but she isn’t the sort to immediately cry when she’s in a tough situation, either. I think she’s a wonderful blend of girlishness and badassery. Except for maybe Evie from the Paranormalcy series by Kiersten White (She has a PINK taser!)

But perhaps one of the most interesting characters is Death. He has a hidden past that is slowly unveiled in the last half of the book (last two thirds?). I can’t say much without giving away spoilers, but I can definitley say that his relationship with the past Empresses have definitley been rather destructive. He was sort of like an onion. He had a lot layers. Cole peeled away his layers slowly, but I don’t think we have the full story yet. I’m sure he’ll have plenty to surprise us with in the sequel.
One thing I am glad about is that Cole was able to humanise him without making him look like a complete wimp. This was a problem I had with the Hades character in Aimee Carter’s The Goddess Test, Henry. He was mourning the loss of Persephone for centuries and he wanted to fade away, out of existence. Touching tragedy, but honestly, a real let down for me considering how epic I think a Hades figure should really be. And Cole’s Death is no different, except the fact that he’s a card, not a god.
Regardless, I found him to be a multifaceted character whose only real problem was the fact that I don’t think he had a legitimate enough reason for ever having loved The Empress to begin with. They guy gave up his heart too quickly to a woman who had been trying to kill him from the beginning. Did he really think that she would so easily forget?

There are a number of minor characters who certainly serve a purpose. I can’t get too much into them, but I can definitely say that I want to know more about them in the sequel. We’ve barely even scratched the surface with the likes of Finn and Selena and Cole spends a lot of the book tantalizing us with secrets about Matthew. For some reason he is indebted to Death, but we never know why. Le Sigh.

I rate this book 4/5 stars

I really want the sequel. WHY WON’T THEY GIVE ME THE SEQUEL LIKE NOW?!

There are several reasons why I enjoyed The Iron Traitor more than The Lost Prince. It’s darker, more suspenseful, and has better characterisations than TLP.
My biggest concern however was that the title was a dead giveaway and I suspect that Kagawa (or her publishers) did that on purpose to tease us. Either way, I think that the journey was more important than the ending.


Plot:
What is interesting about this sequel is that for once, it’s not really bad things happening to even. Of course that doesn’t mean it doesn’t affect him, we wouldn’t have a book.
Kierran, the Iron Prince, has disappeared and many people are in search of him — especially his parents, that iron Queen, and the once winter Prince, “touch me and I’ll kill you,” now iron Prince consort, “if you even think of moving from the spot are freeze is will feet to the floor of your room.” Okay, so he’s still sort of an ice-boy 😉

Annwyl is dying and Kierran seeks to find a way to stop her from Fading.As Kierran’s best friend and uncle, Ethan finds himself getting sucked into the world of fey once more to help a family member in stop all the while, Kenzie, his girlfriend, is dying from leukaemia. But with an eerie prophecy hanging over his head, Ethan fears the worst of Kierran.

Overall, I enjoyed the balance of action, romance, and even a bit of mystery. And when Ethan uses his brain, he is very badass!


Characters:
Ethan — a.k.a. “tough guy”; “Iron Prince” (by relation to Meghan). I like him — nay — I LOVE him 🙂 Ethan has a firm sense of loyalty. Whilst he isn’t the cleverest character, he isn’t as impulsive as Kierran. Having encountered the Good Neighbours as a child (he was kidnapped by Machina, iron King) he is very cautious around the fey.
As a boyfriend, Ethan can often be overbearing and overprotective, as he himself points out. This can be infuriating at times when he attempts to protect Kenzie when she claims she does not need protection, and he does do one or two things that are a bit stupid and may potentially ruin their relationship. This of course was a brilliantly thought out idea because in reality a lot of the problems are actually internal as opposed to external. This means of course that aside from the potential threat that the faeries could be, Ethan also has to worry about his relationships which are founded on trust, reliability, and of course love.
On the whole, Kagawa has represented the mind of a teenage boy quite well. In this book, Ethan comes out of that broodish/thugish/mystery boy shell. The walls of his placed around him come crumbling down and it’s all thanks to Kenzie. We get to see more of the person, as he is represented in multifaceted way. 

Kenzie– For some time in the first book I did wonder why Ethan was interested in her but of course it became quite apparent. Kenzie is one of the few people who isn’t afraid of Ethan. She strives to find the truth about him, to break him out of his shell so that he can actually try and interact with other human beings. Of course, she gets more than she bargained with when she discovers the world of the fey in the process, but through it all, she remained strong and defiant. She continues to do the same throughout The Iron Traitor, despite other people constantly trying to protect her due to her illness. She was definitely one of my favourite characters, strangely reminding me of Annabeth Chase from the Percy Jackson series because she is smart and resourceful. I also occasionally felt sorry for her when the boys were being stupid.

Kierran– I don’t even know where to start with this guy. Oh, I know. Desperate. Kierran is desperate to save the love of his life, Annwyl, from Fading. As a summer fey exile, her destiny is to Fade away into nothingness, and her encounter with the Forgotten in the previous book has speeded up the process. In a race against time, the Iron Prince seeks to find a cure, but it will come at great cost. How far is he willing to go save the one he loves?
Now if you know about the Iron Prophecy already, you’ll know what’s to come and it’s all a matter of how and when. 
Kierran didn’t seem to have much of a personality to me in the previous book but Kagawa has given him more depth in this sequel. He comes across as generally loyal, and very intense. Though usually slow to anger, desperation has made him quick tempered and impulsive. In other words, he does stupid shit that will make you want to slap him, but you can still sort of sympathise. Sort of. Most of the time, I find myself asking “What the hell, Kierran?”

Cameo appearances– Characters from the original series do appear, and are generally more prominent than the previous book, which made me very happy 🙂 Seriously, seeing these characters again made me this happy:

As to be expected from a Julie Kagawa book, she hit me right where it hurts at the end. So I warn you, there will be pain. But really you’ll love it. And hate it. At the same time.

And once you are finished you can say “Julie Kagawa broke my heart… and it was awesome!”
I rate this book… 4/5 stars!

 I really wanted to like this book, I really did. Melissa Marr is one of my favourite authors. I love the Wicked Lovely Series — They Were Amazing. I Still Think about Them A Lot All of Them, Especially Niall, Irial and Leslie and everybody else, but let’s face it: those are my favourite three.
 
I like Melissa Marr’s writing because she usually portrays strong, independent women. Some of the characters in Wicked Lovely were cruel, and some of them were downright crazy, but I think the vast majority did have some sort of justification for the things they did — except for Bananach because she was bat-shit crazy.

Carnival of Souls was a book I was heavily anticipating and although it was rather adventurous, I think that it reminded me too much of Wicked Lovely in some ways, but it seemed to fail where WL succeeded.

Synopsis from Goodreads:

In a city of daimons, rigid class lines separate the powerful from the power-hungry. And at the heart of The City is the Carnival of Souls, where both murder and pleasure are offered up for sale. Once in a generation, the carnival hosts a deadly competition that allows every daimon a chance to join the ruling elite. Without the competition, Aya and Kaleb would both face bleak futures—if for different reasons. For each of them, fighting to the death is the only way to try to live.

All Mallory knows of The City is that her father—and every other witch there—fled it for a life in exile in the human world. Instead of a typical teenage life full of friends and maybe even a little romance, Mallory scans quiet streets for threats, hides herself away, and trains to be lethal. She knows it’s only a matter of time until a daimon finds her and her father, so she readies herself for the inevitable.While Mallory possesses little knowledge of The City, every inhabitant of The City knows of her. There are plans for Mallory, and soon she, too, will be drawn into the decadence and danger that is the Carnival of Souls.

 
World Building: 

The very first thing I have to wonder about this book is: What are daimons?
Marr is rather descriptive of her world and its characters, but it is never properly explained what these creatures are. With mentions of fur and claws, I envision creatures akin to werewolves, but I really can’t be sure. The word looks like Demons, but they don’t seem to be like the demons from shows like Supernatural and Charmed.
For some reason the witches and daimons hate each other. Daimons live in a place simply known as The City. Perhaps this is Marr’s way of trying to make the place sort of anonymous like she did with Huntsdale in WL (try as I might, I can’t figure out where Huntsdale is meant to be) to give it the impression of being a sort of ‘Every City’. I’m not sure. But I find that the history between the daimons and witches was somewhat obscure. The witches cursed the daimons so that Nature would consume The City and so witches who live in the The City only do so as slaves to the daimons. At the moment I’m not really getting an idea of who is good and who is evil, but I’ve come to expect that from Marr. The Dark Court wasn’t evil for instance, even though we were sort of led to believe that from book 1 in the WL series.

Narrative:

The book was written in the 3rd person, which is more or less what I expected from Marr. In the past I have found this way of story telling to be disengaging but Marr long ago rekindled my love for it. I now write most of my stories in 3rd person.
The novel follows 4 characters:

Mallory- the damsel
Aya- the psychobitch
Kaleb- the lower class bad boy
Belias- the upper class boy

Now, Mallory came across as “the main character” to me because a lot of things seemed to revolove around her. Unfortunately she was one of those characters who had things happening to her, but she never really overcame them.
Mallory has been growing up with her father most of her life (her mother had to leave), who is a witch. And because witches and daimons are sworn enemies, her father, Adam, teaches her how to fight. Which is kind of funny because she doesn’t do a lot of actual fighting. He claims to love her but he has a terrible way of showing it. Mallory didn’t stick out to me because overall, she was a weak character who could barely look after herself. Now, it wasn’t always her fault because of her father using his powers on her, but regardless, I didn’t really connect with her.

You may think I am being a tad harsh about describing Aya as a psychobitch but come one, she IS cold and callous. Of couse she does prove to have a conscience, but the very first scene showed her fighting a loved one for personal gain. She comes across as over the top and arrogant. Altogether, she is the complete opposite of Mallory. In time, she grew on me so I wouldn’t say that this character is a complete failure. I certainly like her better than Mallory. I am glad that Marr had a purpose when she gave Aya these charactersitics. Aya isn’t cruel for the sake of being cruel. She hides a secret that could be her undoing.
The romance between Aya and Belias was an interesting way of showing Aya’s softer side, which brings me to discussing The Upper Class Boy…
 
I can’t say I remember much about Belias. Like Mallory his arc consists of external forces causing conflict. The secret that Aya has been keeping with her all her life affects him greatly, and he soon finds that his life is no longer in his own hands.

Kaleb is a bit of a rogue. He is a lower class daimon, which means that he has little rights, and he has to take on dangerous jobs to make ends meat. Like for many of the other competitors, the competition is Kaleb’s lifeline. If he wins, he can finally have a good life, not just for himself but for his packmate, Zevi. He and Zevi have been friends for quite some time and they take care of each other like brothers.
One of Kaleb’s dangerous jobs included going to the mortal realm to keep an eye out for Mallory. And of course, romance ensues 😉

Overall, I will say that I am disappointed with Carnival of Souls, but regardless, I couldn’t put the book down. I read this one in less than 24hrs and it was absoloutley absorbing. So despite my grumblings, Marr did something right, proving once again that she is a great writer. Unfortunatley, I didn’t like many of her character’s and I found that the deal that Kaleb made at the end was simply terrible. Once again, Mallory is left helpless to a fate she didn’t decide.

I rate this book 3 stars!
 
 

This review has been a long time coming. I think the book came out maybe 4 years ago? I only read it in July though, but I was too lazy to actually review it. Now I’m at university, scrounging for the time to do anything I actually want to, haha.

This book has layer upon layer of mystery.

 Kaylee Cavanaugh is a normal girl whose life comes crumbling down when she becomes possessed the urge to scream. when  we start the book, it isn’t her first time to scream. she had these episodes before but they get progressively worse.
Beautiful girls are dying around her, and Kaylee seeks to discover why.  Of course this could have dangerous consequences. No one will tell her what is happening , why it’s happening, and how it is happening.

 
 
Trailer:
 


Rachel Vincent brings something new to the myth of faeries.  There is intrigue, romance, and action. this novel mostly deals with Reapers and the Banshees, (mostly referred to as bean sidhe in this novel) but I do believe that there were mentions of demons and other creatures that live on another astral plane.

Now, let’s talk about the fun part : The Love Interest.

 From what I recall, Nash is the kind of guy who isn’t supposed to know of the existence of the main character.  So when he does notices Kaylee at a party, she is very smitten.  Nash turns out to know more about Kaylee’s secret than she does, but I won’t spoil about how he knows!
 I found myself comparing Nash to my ideal boyfriend, who is Seth from Melissa Marr’s “Wicked Lovely” series. Honestly, I could have a whole conversation about why Seth is the perfect boyfriend — but this is a review about “My Soul to Take” !  Nash isn’t quite Seth perfect but he is still rather understanding of a lot of things. He is kind and considerate but  I have to take a few brownie points because of the whole secret thing. And he’s almost a little too perfect. When will his skeletons come out of the closet?

 As far as the secret goes ,  Kaylee’s family should not have kept it from her. but I understand their logic — as infuriating as it was! Her father, was the worst culprit.  He made me so angry!
Another very good mystery, was the whole business of the reapers.  It reminded me  of Victoria Scott’s  “Dante Walker” series but without the idea of God and the devil. As the name suggests, Reapers take souls to the next place: be that heaven, hell or wherever. I’m sure Vincent will explain all that stuff later in the series.

Let’s talk about Kaylee as a person. She’s actually  a rather likeable character. I felt something, rather than being indifferent or wanting to kill her. She was an angsty teenager without being completely overwhelming about how suckish her life is. She had a mental breakdown prior to the beginning of this novel, leading her to being put on medication. I think Vincent handled her problem rather delicately. She wasn’t all depressed and sick of the world. Instead she found good friends to talk to, and admittedly, she did try to speak to her family, and I think she come across as a strong, independent character without being an asshole. She wasn’t full on Female Warrior, but she wasn’t a damsel in distress. I’d say she falls somewhere in the middle, if I have to make comparisons.

My major concern was the love interest, Nash. Although he is a lovely guy, I did find the relationship rather convenient and quite honestly, not particularly believable. Kaylee is one of those infuriating YA characters who doesn’t think she’s beautiful —a trend that MUST be bucked at some point, people!

I mean, look at this!:

“If Eastlake High School were the universe, I would be one of the moons circling Planet Emma, constantly hidden by her shadow, and glad to be there. Nash Hudson would be one of the stars: too bright to look at, too hot to touch and at the center of his own solar system.”


 So of course when the hot guy Nash seeks her attention, she has no idea why! This in itself isn’t my main concern, but the fact that their relationship started so quickly worries me. I am going to have completely unrealistic ideals in a relationship, haha!

I give the book 4/5 stars!


Please take a moment to enjoy the quotes below. I hope they don’t spoil things for you.

Good Quotes:    

“He was an arrogant little demon.”
“So what happened?” I asked.
“I punched him.”
For a moment, we stared at him in silence. “You punched the reaper?” I asked, and my hand fell from the strainer onto the edge of the sink.
“Yeah.” He chuckled at the memory, and his grin brought out one of my own.


“My aunt and overprivileged cousin only recognize two states of being: glitter and grunge. And if you weren’t glitter, well, that only left one other option.”

“…the dead have a way of becoming saints in the eyes of their survivors…”  

“…Weirdest. Tuesday. Ever”

“Why do you hang out with him?”
“We’re teammates.”
Ahhh. And if blood was thicker than water, then football, evidently, would congeal in one’s veins.”
  

Sorry it’s been so long since I’ve blogged. I’ve just started a Computer Science course at University, and YIKES! Fresher’s Week was intense. A rollercoaster of emotions including partying, fresher’s flue, and orientation lectures, haha!

So I finally got round to reading The Eternity Cure. I don’t usually buy books through Amazon but I’ve bought quite a number of things since getting my first Debit card.

 Allie is back and she’s fiercer than ever. Through all the trials and tribulations she faces- terrible jokes made by Jackal, cannibal mole men and of course, the demented Sarren- she gives it her all.

Sarren is batshit crazy– nothing different there I guess.

 Jackal was there too but strangely enough, this time he was my my favorite character. His history with Kanin is finally revealed 🙂 hehe. Personally I think it proves that you can be a monster even before you become a vampire.
 Some people criticize that Allie and Zeke are boring. This might be in part due to the trope of forbidden love and and their point of view on morality. Jackals is refreshing because he knows what he is and he likes what he is. He is a monster and never claims to be anything but a monster. Unlike Kanin he does not seek to better the world- Unless you count Jackal as king a form of peace. Spoiler alert: We discover his real name!

For some people this was a fairly slow read. . I rather liked the pacing, myself. Just because Allie is a vampire, does not mean that she can travel at the speed of lightning. There were many difficult choices for her to make along the way.  Allie is a bass on many levels.. not only can she holder only in fight against other great vampire, but constantly having to fight against her own demons. .and a twist of fate when she has to work with the one vampire she would rather kill. in order I find. her sire, . she does S anyway. Sure, working with Jackal is no walk in the park, but she manages it.

Now let’s talk about the villain for a minute. Julie, please, Julie, why?! . I read the Sarren parts to my sister . in a creepy voice. and she was officially creeped out– petrified even!  If a character is meant to be a reflection of the author, then I really don’t want to know what Sarren is supposed to reflect!

I mean, check these lines out:

Perhaps, I will pluck out both your eyes, then remove all your teeth, and make a necklace from them. Or maybe a wind chime. I do love wind chimes, don’t you, little bird?

He’s also always blathering on about music. In this book it was about a ‘final requim’. The only thing that will be final will be the end of his existence! He makes me so mad. But it was really disturbing how good I got my impression of him– like I must be crazy as well.

Is it even a spoiler to mention that Zeke returns? I mean seriously, it’s a given!

But seriously, the ending is devastating.
I tweeted the author Julie Kagawa about.my reaction to the end of the novel, which was basically me crying my eyes out– like, UGLY crying in the middle of the night. . do you   want to know her reaction? . she tweeted me: “Thanks, Your tears feed my Muse”. . it was awesome of her to reply, but MAN was that a creepy response 😛

Here it is in case you don’t believe me:

 
Got to love Julie though 😀
 
Anyway, I give The Eternity Cure 4/5 starts!
 
 

I posted this short story over on Movellas for a short story competition and now that the winner has been announced and it’s all over, I thought I’d post it on my blog for the rest of you to have a look and criticise it a bit. Try not to be too harsh, lol. 
This story occurs before my novel in progress, The Guardian Legacy, but it is not a direct prequel because it is from the perspective of a minor character. 
Here you go- Enjoy! 
Fear gripped his heart as Erin bolted upright, finally awake. The scream came out involuntarily, and it was a moment before he realised that it was coming from him. The sorrow of a bereaved father with ink black tears had done much to unnerve him. The dark, shadowy eyes had been a maelstrom of emotions; rage giving into hatred, laced with the bitterness of heartbreak. But it was a dream, and surely nothing more. Yet there was that unmistakeable sense of kinship, as if he had known the man. He had spoken indiscernible words, and roared silent screams: A dream with no sound.
            It was not long before someone knocked on the door and entered to help him. He expected a servant, but instead it was his dearest friend, Stefan. The rays of moonlight that dared enter through the drapes illuminated his stark white hair. His blue eyes twinkled with concern, and he ran to Erin’s bed and held him.
            “Ssh… What is the matter?” he asked.
            Erin was at a loss for words. He shook in Stefan’s embrace, a cold sweat passing through him. He attempted to speak but his words were nonsensical, his breaths sharp and shallow.
            “Okay, you are going to need to breathe. Come on. In. Out.” Stefan aided him in breathing exercises that had him feeling like a silly child afraid of the bogeyman. He could faintly hear the chugging of the train, and he had to remind himself that he was on his way to Stefan’s palace.
            When Erin was calmer he finally spoke. “I had a nightmare.”
            “That much I gathered. This is the second time tonight, Erin. Are you sure you are not being plagued by a Mara?”
            “How did you know it was the second time? I told David—”
            “To keep a secret from his prince?” Stefan asked. “Not a particularly well thought out plan.”
            Erin shrugged his shoulders, embarrassed but hoping to pass for uncaring. “I didn’t want you to worry.”
            “You’re my brother. Of course I’m going to worry, and rightly so.”
            Erin still liked that word. Brother. Not bound by blood, but rather by oath, the two were inseparable. Well, they had been as children. Now, as they were growing into their trades— Stefan, the prince and future king, and Erin, still seeking his trade— things had changed dramatically.
            “Good to know that the Prickly Prince still has emotions,” Erin said.
            “Prickly Prince? I suppose that is better than what the mortals call me.”         The number of mortal slaves in the kingdom of Terrahgonia was starting to exceed the number of Terrahgonians, and needless to say, they were not the prince’s biggest fans. “I would still feel better if you would see someone about this. Perhaps you should see a therapist, or some sort of healer if it is a Mara possession. I don’t think that Aten symbol you have outside your room is a particularly good ward against faeries.” It was no secret that Stefan had a disdain for religion in general.
            “Can I borrow your Dream Catcher?” Erin asked.
            “Of course. Try and get some sleep. I’ll be back in a moment.”
            When Stefan returned, he turned on the light switch and set up the Dream Catcher. He touched the centre with his index finger and black mist encased the dream catcher, and then evaporated.
            “Okay, it’s activated.”
            “You know, your shadow magic will disrupt with the symbol of Aten outside my door,” Erin stated.
            “Do you want the Dream Catcher or not?”
            Erin bit his lip nervously. “Yes. I’ll take down the symbol myself.” Having an argument over their religious differences this late would not do. “Thanks.”
            Erin reached his hand towards Stefan’s, but the prince flinched away before he could reach it.  
            “What’s wrong?”
            “When I held you earlier, I sensed something strange,” Stefan admitted. He let the words hang in the air for a moment until Erin became impatient.
            “Yes, and what was this strangeness?”
            “I’m not sure what it was. I felt an intrusive presence. It was all I could do not to knock you unconscious.” The fact that he could have threatened Stefan was a shock to Erin. Stefan had power most Terrahgonians could dream of. How could Erin have come close to overstepping his magical defences?
                        “That is very strange,” Erin finally agreed.
            “Don’t worry about it. I need to go do some meditation.” Stefan stood up and switched the light off. In the pale moonlight, he was but a darkened figure. A true Guardian of Darkness. “Sweet dreams.”

Erin’s journey had been long, but luxurious. He had been given an entire coach to himself on the train, and although he and Stefan been a little late, it would never have left without them. As ward of the queen, Erin had known extravagance most of his life, and the day they arrived at the Stefan’s palace, he was unsurprised to see a woman in his bed, waiting to give him his heart’s desire. He supposed this was Stefan’s way of helping him forget his nightmares. He would have sweet dreams tonight.
            Erin could barely conceal his devilish smile. Stefan, you dog. His friend had done well this time. Her voluptuous figure was well exhibited in her intricately designed black lace dress. Her tanned skin and raven black hair was a stark contrast to his own pale skin and red hair. They were Yin and Yang.
            He didn’t say a word as he unbuttoned his shirt. He merely gazed into her dark eyes. Dark eyes and black tears. He shook his head. It had been a dream, nothing more. He did not wish to remember it but forgetting was not an easy task. The same nightmare had plagued him, on and off, for the past month— a nightmare of a man sobbing black tears. There had been other dreams too, but those had made more sense. They appeared to be memories of his early childhood. How it was that he could dream of such things remained unknown.
            “Here. Let me.”
            Erin was jarred out of his musings and wondering, as he realised that the woman was now in front of him, pulling on his shirt. He did nothing to resist her, wanting her sun kissed skin to be touching his. His lips met hers and a tremor rippled through his skin as images of a young girl in chains appeared in his mind’s eye, causing him to reel back. Then he saw that same girl looking healthier and a little older, doing target practice with throwing knives. She hit the targets every time: between eyes, the throat, the heart, and stomach. Mila Sharma was a trained assassin. And she was there to kill him.
            In that short kiss, Erin already knew a fair deal about his would-be-killer, but would it be enough to save him? He tried not to tremble at the revelation.
            “Now how is it that my brother was able to acquire such a ravishing beauty?” he asked. He reached out a hand to touch her hair, avoiding skin contact. She didn’t seem to notice.
            “Brother is it? He told me that but I did not understand the endearment.”
            “It is not a mere endearment,” he said. “It is truth.”
            “My humblest apologies. I did not mean to offend.” She lowered her head in suppliance.
            “You need not worry.” Erin lifted her chin and forced himself not to flinch as more memories came flooding. They were memories of vigorous training regimes. Mila had a huge arsenal of skills at her disposal and if the dagger beneath her dress was taken, she was fully capable of killing him with her bare hands.
            “Who said I was worrying?” she asked with a smile. “Come.” She pulled at his arm and he could not help but be drawn to her. There was also the necessity of getting a hold of that dagger before she did.  
            They landed roughly on the bed, with her on top. He cursed himself for allowing her the upper hand. Beautiful and deadly, he thought. What a brilliant combination. Perhaps another kiss… Erin gave into his dark cravings, meanwhile searching beneath her dress, on her right leg with his adventurous hand.
            “You seem rather… ravenous,” she mused.
            “Quite.”
            Her hand tightened on his wrist and he knew the dagger was close.
            “Perhaps something a little bit higher would be more to your liking.” She placed his other hand to her breast, yet still over her dress. His hand yearned to touch flesh but the repercussions of what disturbing knowledge he might gain from further contact made him hesitate. The one thing that spurred him onwards was the need for that dagger.
            How do I reply to such a question? he wondered. Her voice was so soft, so sultry that he might do anything that she asks. Almost as if it is coated in something more sinister. Her voice was charmed. He knew that now. If he remained weak-minded, he would do anything that she asked. Perhaps she will have me slit my own throat. Erin complied and cupped both hands over her breasts.
            No. I must not be weak. I must be strong and fierce. Like Stefan. Sometimes when he found himself in a tough situation, he would ask himself what his friend would do. When he needed strength, Stefan was always there, in one form or another. Right now, he knew the prince and future king would not be so weak as to comply with the demands of a seductress, whose only true promise would be the kiss of a dagger.
            “Perhaps I should be the one telling you what is to my liking.” Erin placed his hand back as it was, now scouring for the weapon, whilst distracting her with a heated kiss of desperation. He seized the dagger and quickly flipped the assassin so she was beneath him. The cold dagger was pressed against her throat within the blink of an eye, but she did not flinch. Instead she laughed.  “Are you seriously laughing at the man with the dagger right now?”
            “You think a little thing like that will keep you safe?” she asked. “It isn’t checkmate until one of us is dead.”
            “Fine. Are you volunteering?”
            “You don’t really want to kill me. I can see it in your eyes. I’m sure you believe that you are already a man, yet you are clearly still so naïve.”
            He pressed the dagger a little further; just enough to draw a few drops of blood.
            “You don’t know me.”
            “I know your kind,” she retorted. “Rich little things that think they own the world. I might have ended up like you myself, had I not ended up in slavery instead.”
            “I don’t care about your sob stories,” he growled. “Who sent you?”
            “Well, I can’t tell you that.”
            “You try my patience.” Erin pulled viciously at her midnight hair but he did not gage much a reaction, save for the clenching of her teeth.
            “Is that so? That can’t be the only thing you are impatient about?” Slowly, she reached out to stroke his face, touching his lips with her thumb. Simultaneously, she somehow managed to massage his most private of parts with her leg.
            “Stop,” he snapped.
            “But you don’t want me to.”
            “No. I don’t…” He could already feel something hazy come over him. There was no doubt about it— she was a Silver Tongue. Well, he was not quite as weak as she thought.
            Erin pulled her head back with her hair. “If you hypnotise me again, so help me, I will cut out your tongue.” She clenched her teeth at the threat, giving him a venomous glare.
            “My, my. Aren’t we assertive?” Erin hated how she taunted him even as he held a dagger at her throat. He knew he should just finish the job and get it done with. “I suppose this is the part where you kill me.”
            Her eyes were remorseless and vacant. Does she want me to kill her?
            “Not if I don’t have to. If I release you, do you swear not to kill me?” Her only response was a cold laughter. “I don’t want to kill you, so you must swear it.”
            “Kill me,” she whispered. “I’d happily embrace death.” This threw him off, and it was just enough time for the woman to grab his hand and shove the dagger through her heart.
            Erin gasped in shock and before he knew it, he was yelling her name. “Mila! Mila!” He shook her even as she lay limp on the blood covered bed. His hands trembled in astonishment. What kind of assassin took her own life like that?
            Just as he was about to get out of the bed, her hand caught his wrist and she whispered, “Boo!”
            Mila was on top of him before he could comprehend what was happening. He landed hard on the marble floor and she pulled the dagger from her chest before making a swipe for his throat. He rolled away just in time and tried to kick her legs from under her as she stood up. Mila jumped at the last moment. Erin attempted to get to his feet but she kicked him in the chest, causing him to stumble back to the ground. She was on top of him in an instant, punching him in the jaw. When she appeared satisfied, she held the dagger at his throat.
            “Checkmate.”
            “Please. You don’t have to do this,” he begged. Her dark eyes were emotionless. “I know you carry a great burden, and I know you’re not as heartless as you believe yourself to be. Please. All I ask for is mercy.”
            “You know nothing of my burden, of my pain.” That is where she was wrong. As she had assaulted him, so too had the memories of her life. Mila was cursed never to die. What had once been a blessing of sorts was now a torment.        “I know that what the kitsune did to you was awful, and that you feel betrayed.” Genuine shock flashed through her face.
            “How could you—?”
            “I don’t know, but I know that killing me will not help you achieve your goal. Please. Let me go, tell me who sent you, and I will owe you a debt.”
            “How will I know that you will not simply betray me?” She asked.
            “I am a man of my word,” he said.
            “Forgive me if I seem hesitant to believe you.” Her voice was slow but pronounced, and the sneer on her face made him believe as though this was the end. She would finish him, here and now. “Still… You might be of some use to me.”
Erin’s heart sweltered at the prospect of being permitted to live. Still, he was not certain why she had had a sudden change of heart.
“I’ll do anything,” he responded quickly.
She nodded her assent. “I shall make a blood oath with you. I will spare you life and tell you who sent me after you, and you shall owe me three favours.”
            “Three?” he asked, astonished.
            “Well, I suppose your life is worth more than one simple favour. You are within your rights to refuse, of course.” Of course, if he did that she would surely kill him.
            “Fine. I will do as you wish.”
            “And if you do not, your life will be forfeit,” she warned. “I advise that you keep this meeting between us a secret.”
            “My brother hired you as a prostitute. How secretive can that be?”
            “You know what I mean. But now that you mention it, I suppose it would be somewhat suspicious if we don’t do the deed.”
            Erin was not certain how she could think of such things so soon. He wanted to be as far away from her possible, yet at the same time, he was strangely aroused. 
            “Would you like to word the oath yourself?” she asked. He nodded in response and spoke the words that would seal his fate.
            “I, Erin of House Arnette swear to pay you three favours in return for my life and the knowledge of whom you were sent by.”
            Mila took his hand and cut his palm with the blade, and did the same to her own.
            “By blood we seal this oath, and by the power of the Shrouded god may this man be cast down if he breaks it.” 
            “I do not believe in the Shrouded god,” he interjected.
            “Yet you believe in Aten. How can there be shadows without light?” There was no answer to that.
            The shadows around them began to move and weave together, slithering in front of them. A dark swirling vortex appeared beneath them and Mila held out her hand so that drops of her blood poured into it. She moved Erin’s hand so that his blood dripped into the menacing funnel.
            Shadows began to coil around each of their hands and pain surged through Erin’s arm. Just as suddenly as the shadows had appeared, the funnel closed and the shadows dispersed back into their respective places. Erin found that his hand was healed, but Mila’s was not. He inspected it more closely.
            “The Shrouded god favours you,” she stated as she gazed at his hand. “He heals you but not me.” She touched her chest where blood still lingered from the self-mutilation. “You have a gift, Erin.”
            “And what might that be?”
            “You know things others cannot. Tell me, what did you see when you touched me?”
            Erin wanted to keep that knowledge to himself. Knowledge was power, after all. “I don’t have to tell you anything.”
            Mila pursed her lips and he was afraid that she might break the oath. Can she die if she did that?
             “In time I am sure you will grow into your power.” She said. “You have more than you know.”
            What could she possibly know about me?
             For many years, Erin had been ridiculed as the powerless boy in a world filled with magic. He had grown up in the shadow of his friend, Stefan. To think that he might be gaining a power of his own, at last, was nothing short of a miracle.
            “You’re playing mind games so I’ll tell you what I saw,” he snapped.
            “So you did see something,” Mila mused. She allowed herself to smile, but it was small and her eyes were still dispassionate. “You could be a Clairvoyant.” She walked closer to him. “A very powerful one indeed. I sense that your ka is strong.” That could not be right. Erin knew he had a weak mystical spirit— far too weak for even the smallest of magicks.
            “Is that why you didn’t kill me? Because I could be useful to you?”
            She closed the gap between them, and then she was stroking his coppery hair with her fingers. “That is perhaps the smartest observation you have made so far.”
            “What do you want from me?”
            “You shall know, in time.” She pushed him back on the bed and he lost his balance, landing on the soft, silken sheets. She removed her dress and beneath it was another laced attire. Black lingerie with various weapons attached to her body. Weapons she could have used but had decided against utilising. “For now, how about we simply enjoy each other’s company?” Before he could protest, her lips were crushed against his and he forgot what there was to complain about.