ARC REVIEW: The Weight of Our Sky by Hanna Alkaf

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Publication: 5th of February 2019

Reading this book was like taking a breath of fresh air. After I started, I couldn’t stop.

 

It was also the most emotionally involved I have been in a story for such a long time. From start till the end, I loved every single moment of it.

Maybe it’s because I am a Muslim, teenager, and South East Asian like Melati. That may make me a little biased. But honestly, I really think it’s just that good.

SYNOPSIS:

Hanna Alkaf

Salaam Reads / Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, Feb 5, 2019

Melati Ahmad looks like your typical movie-going, Beatles-obsessed sixteen-year-old. Unlike most other sixteen-year-olds though, Mel also believes that she harbors a djinninside her, one who threatens her with horrific images of her mother’s death unless she adheres to an elaborate ritual of counting and tapping to keep him satisfied.

A trip to the movies after school turns into a nightmare when the city erupts into violent race riots between the Chinese and the Malay. When gangsters come into the theater and hold movie-goers hostage, Mel, a Malay, is saved by a Chinese woman, but has to leave her best friend behind to die.

On their journey through town, Mel sees for herself the devastation caused by the riots. In her village, a neighbor tells her that her mother, a nurse, was called in to help with the many bodies piling up at the hospital. Mel must survive on her own, with the help of a few kind strangers, until she finds her mother. But the djinn in her mind threatens her ability to cope

This book… was just so good.

I started it with the intention of reading a book I probably would enjoy. I didn’t expect to come out of it a wreck of emotions.

THE HISTORY

The story takes place in 1960’s Malaysia, during the riot races. The tension between the Chinese and Malaysians are heating up and nowhere is safe.

The truth, I am ashamed to admit, is that I was unaware of such events until I read the synopsis for this book. So, this book truly was an eye opener for me.

MENTAL HEALTH

 

This was the most important part ,as well as the best part of this book.

Melati’s struggle was just so real and so heartbreaking that sometimes I just had to remind myself to take a break when reading.

Are you okay?” My eyes fly open. Saf is staring at me, brows furrowed with concern. I feel a sudden urge to tell her, to blurt out everything, all at once. No, Saf, I’m not okay. I haven’t been okay for a long time now. I’m constantly imagining my own mother’s death. I spend all with a demon in my head that only I can see or hear, and anytime I’m not doing that, I’m busy counting and tapping everything in sight just to shut him up. I’m really, really not okay. I’m so far from okay I don’t even remember what okay feels like anymore.”

The thing is, this isn’t something that only people in books go through. It is real. It’s happening everyday to teenagers and adults everywhere. There is no way to put a definite end to it , because in the end it depends on the person. However books bring more awareness to such issues, and the author does just that by giving the reader such a raw look into Melati’s mind.

RACISM

Being a Muslim teenager myself, especially one that wears the hijab, I have definitely had my share of racism. From people pretending I am invisible and don’t exist, to those who stare like I am an extinct species unearthed, I’ve had it all.

Also add that to the fact that I am Asian. Yeah, I know.

So reading the portrayal of racism in this book truly wasn’t entirely foreign to me. The hatred between the Chinese and Malaysians over the country that they both believe they have the right to live in peacefully , with the latter fighting for their country to belong to them only. The family that takes in Melati to stay with them during the riots were Chinese and their son, Frankie, is angry at the Malaysians for trying to push his people out.

The world is not black and white .People aren’t just good and others aren’t bad.

Sometimes people have been brought up and raised to believe in something and for them to believe otherwise is as if they are betraying themselves and their families, regardless of the morality. Therefore, the author doesn’t categorize each nationality into good and bad, but in some way gives us an insight as to how they may think, or certain events that may have happened to cause their actions.

RELIGION

THIS BOOK HAS GOOD MUSLIM REP!

Do you know how hard is to find YA books about Muslim teens, much less with good rep? Very.

Prayer meant asking God for his blessing and his forgiveness. Prayer meant thanking Him for everything he’d given us. And even I knew He’d given us so much.

THE WRITING

One of the things I am most in awe of, is the fact that this is the author’s debut novel. The writing was amazing! I cannot wait to read more of her work in the future.

IS THIS BOOK ON YOUR TBR? ARE YOU PLANNING ON READING IT? PLEASE TELL ME IN THE COMMENTS!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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More reasons to fall in love with Laini Taylor: Daughter-in-law of Smoke and Bone

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This book… was incredible! 

I mean, I started it expecting a love story, which i got, but also this was so much more than that.

This book was about war and peace and colonialism and also about  loneliness , which is equally as important.

This book is about Karou an art student in the city of Prague. She draws monsters, gossips with her best friend and constantly has to avoid her ex. But that’s just the normal part of her life. The monsters she draws are real, and they raised her. She also happens to run errands collecting teeth for them. 

No Big Deal. 

But then Karou meets Akiva, an angel and they are both drawn to each other, a connection neither can explain. Karou begins to learn more about who she really is and the truth of her past

The best part of this book is the writing. Laini Taylor truly has a gift. She makes you fall in love with every single letter. I mean, I don’t think I would have loved this book as much if it hadn’t been for the incredible writing. Everything from the characters, who all just fit perfectly with each other ( Zuzana 😍) , to the world building, I could picture all of it happening in front of me, and the plot, were just so well done! 

I usually don’t have a good experience with binge reading a series, but I might just make an exception for this one.

Review: A Muse Of Nightmares ( Strange the Dreamer #2)

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“For an instant, at least, they seemed one and the same, as though all anguish exists in the same deep well, no matter what loss or misfortune leads us to it. We might be at odds, hate each other, and desired each others destruction, but in our despair, we are lost in the same darkness, breathing the same air as we choke on our grief.”

I honestly can’t think of the appropriate words to describe my feelings after reading this book. It is an absolute masterpiece. I don’t think that i have ever read a book that left me reeling, like this did. There are books that after i was finished i was left in shock by the plot twists and all the drama. This was not one of those books. After finishing it, i felt like i was in love. All i could think about was this book and how i never would be able to get over it. At some points I just wanted to go rip my heart out of my chest, because it is so full of emotions and feelings and other things i can’t even describe.
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This book starts right where Strange the Dreamer left off, with the fates of Sarai and the people of Weep being in the hands of Minya. If Lazlo wishes to be with Sarai, then he must be willing to let the people of Weep face Minya’s fury.
The first book, was mostly the story of Lazlo and Sarai and the world as they saw it. However, this book gives us a look into the lives of the other characters as well.
It ‘s a story of gods and humans, of love and hate, of hope and pain and family. But mostly, it was a story about love.
The love between siblings, the love between family and the love between two people. It was also a story about hate and pain and how it can consume you, like love, and make you capable of things you never thought possible.

“People are our safe places. I have one: a person who’s a home and a world to me.” 

I loved how Minya’s story was told. Not the one that we see through the eyes of Sarai and the others. But her story, told by her and through her mind. I honestly can’t imagine living in so much of fear as a child, and then at the age of five , going through what she did. She raised four children, not that much younger than she was. She had every right to be angry. However, it consumed her until it became a part of her. I really did feel for her and just wanted for her to find happiness in some way or another.
The writing in this is just incredible. It just flows . Its just so unique and pulls you in and never lets go until the end. Half of the reason that I loved this book was the writing. It was so beautiful and tragic and felt like i was reading poetry. I don’t think that anyone

writes like Laini Taylor does. It’s so unique and is an experience all on its own.

I really ashamed to admit that this wasn’t one of my most anticipated releases of the year. I decided to pick it up because-why not? I am so glad i did, because after finishing it, i am in an utter state of bliss. This book does leave room for a third installment and i really hope it happens!

Also, i just wanted to add some pictures of my gorgeous babies here:

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Ruby

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Minya

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Feral

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Sparrow

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Sarai

 

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Lazlo Strange

Go here to find out which godspawn you are!

Most Anticipated YA Releases of 2019

2018 has been a pretty good year so far for the YA genre. We have had amazing releases from debut authors as well as veterans. So many amazing books that we have read influenced by the world we live in today. Themes such as feminism, rape, sexual assault, mental health and suicide. Books like which we have never read before. Books that are more realistic and that we can relate to our own experience. Here are  some of my favourites so far. However 2019 is looking to be pretty good too. There seem to be so many amazing new releases from debut authors and additions to your favorite series and in some cases the end of  series.

So without further ado, here are some of my most anticipated releases of 2019:

THE WICKED KING by Holly Black

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Release date: January 8, 2019

Pre-Order: AmazonBook Depository,Barnes & Noble

Synopsis: After the jaw-dropping revelation that Oak is the heir to Faerie, Jude must keep her younger brother safe. To do so, she has bound the wicked king, Cardan, to her, and made herself the power behind the throne. Navigating the constantly shifting political alliances of Faerie would be difficult enough if Cardan were easy to control. But he does everything in his power to humiliate and undermine her even as his fascination with her remains undiminished.

When it becomes all too clear that someone close to Jude means to betray her, threatening her own life and the lives of everyone she loves, Jude must uncover the traitor and fight her own complicated feelings for Cardan to maintain control as a mortal in a Faerie world.

IF you haven’t read the Cruel Prince already, your’e missing out on a lot. Off the top of my head?  Bad ass protagonist, sexy love interest, deadly romance, amazing plot and so many secrets. What more could you ask? If you have read the Cruel Prince however, this book is the perfect sequel. Much better actually, more mystery, plot twists, secrets and the romance gets deadlier. AND THAT ENDING!!!.  This book is just so good. Go ahead and pre-order it now. You won’t regret it.

Check out my review here!

Sneak Peek!

THE GIRL KING by Mimi Yu

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Release date: January 8th

Pre-order: Amazon,Barnes & Noble,Indigo

Synopsis:

All hail the Girl King. 

Sisters Lu and Min have always understood their places as princesses of the Empire. Lu knows she is destined to become the dynasty’s first female ruler, while Min is resigned to a life in her shadow. Then their father declares their male cousin Set the heir instead—a betrayal that sends the sisters down two very different paths.

Determined to reclaim her birthright, Lu goes on the run. She needs an ally—and an army—if she is to succeed. Her quest leads her to Nokhai, the last surviving wolf shapeshifter. Nok wants to keep his identity secret, but finds himself forced into an uneasy alliance with the girl whose family killed everyone he ever loved…

Alone in the volatile court, Min’s hidden power awakens—a forbidden, deadly magic that could secure Set’s reign…or allow Min to claim the throne herself. But there can only be one Emperor, and the sisters’ greatest enemy could turn out to be each other.

I mean come on! All hail the Girl King? A Girl King? Wow. This looks amazing. This is the author’s debut novel and I really hope it is as good as it sounds. I am loving the number of Asian inspired fantasies coming out such as  The Poppy War by R.F Kaung which was also one of my favorites this year. I love politics and  betrayal in fantasy so this seems like a perfect fit.

WE HUNT THE FLAME by Hafsa Faizal

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Release date: May 14th

Pre- order: IndieBound,Book Depository ,AmazonBarnes & Noble , Indigo

Synopsis: 

People lived because she killed.
People died because he lived.

Zafira is the Hunter, disguising herself as a man when she braves the cursed forest of the Arz to feed her people. Nasir is the Prince of Death, assassinating those foolish enough to defy his autocratic father, the king. If Zafira was exposed as a girl, all of her achievements would be rejected; if Nasir displayed his compassion, his father would punish him in the most brutal of ways.

Both are legends in the kingdom of Arawiya—but neither wants to be.

War is brewing in Arawiya, and the Arz sweeps closer with each passing day, engulfing the land in shadow. When Zafira embarks on a quest to uncover a lost artifact that can restore magic to her suffering world and stop the Arz, Nasir is sent by the king on a similar mission: retrieve the artifact and kill the Hunter. But an ancient evil stirs as their journey unfolds—and the prize they seek may pose a threat greater than either can imagine

A fantasy based in Arabia! I haven’t read one of those in a long time. I really think this series has potential and could be the next Ember in the Ashes. This looks like another amazing debut for the YA genre. I can’t wait!

WICKED SAINTS by Emily A. Duncan

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Release date: April 2nd 

Pre-order:Amazon , Barnes & Noble

Synopsis: In this stunning Joan of Arc inspired debut, Nadya—a peasant girl who can speak to the gods—must find a way to work with a deadly adversary to turn the tide of the war and assassinate the mad king. When their scheme leads them straight to the royal family, Nadya must decide whether to trust the High Prince—her country’s enemy—or the boy with powers that may ignite something worse than the war they’re trying to end. 

A GOTHIC JOAN OF ARC?!? I am sold. I love dark, political books with magic and from the reviews that i have seen, this seems like one. This is also another debut book and looks like it could be a bestseller.

THE GILDED WOLVES by Roshani Chokshi

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Release date: January 15th

Pre-order: Amazon , IndieBound

Synopsis: Set in a darkly glamorous world The Gilded Wolves is full of mystery, decadence and dangerous but thrilling adventure.

Paris, 1889: The world is on the cusp of industry and power, and the Exposition Universelle has breathed new life into the streets and dredged up ancient secrets. In this city, no one keeps tabs on secrets better than treasure-hunter and wealthy hotelier, Séverin Montagnet-Alarie. But when the all-powerful society, the Order of Babel, seeks him out for help, Séverin is offered a treasure that he never imagined: his true inheritance. To find the ancient artifact the Order seeks, Séverin will need help from a band of experts:

An engineer with a debt to pay. A historian who can’t yet go home. A dancer with a sinister past. And a brother in all but blood, who might care too much.

Together, they’ll have to use their wits and knowledge to hunt the artifact through the dark and glittering heart of Paris. What they find might change the world, but only if they can stay alive.

A dark paris with gangs. A gang that reminds me of one of my favorite books ever: Six of Crows ( if you haven’t read that yet, please go do that now). Actually i am getting major Six of Crows vibes from this and that can only mean good things. Definite pre- order.

Sneak Peek!

NINTH HOUSE ( ALEX STERN #1) by Leigh Bardugo

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Release date: June 4th

Pre order: Book Depository

Synopsis: The new series centers on Alex Stern, a 20-year-old California high school dropout with a criminal past who is mysteriously offered a second chance as a Yale University freshman. Ninth House, the first book, follows Stern’s freshman year, where she is charged with monitoring Yale’s secret societies, who engage in sinister occult activities.
Leigh Bardugo writes a book. I read it. That simple. You should definitley pre order this one.

ON THE COME UP by Angie Thomas

 

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Release date: February 5th
Pre order: Amazon , Book Depository
Synopsis:  Sixteen-year-old Bri wants to be one of the greatest rappers of all time. Or at least make it out of her neighborhood one day. As the daughter of an underground rap legend who died before he hit big, Bri’s got big shoes to fill. But now that her mom has unexpectedly lost her job, food banks and shutoff notices are as much a part of Bri’s life as beats and rhymes. With bills piling up and homelessness staring her family down, Bri no longer just wants to make it—she has to make it.
After the masterpiece that was The Hate You Give, Angie Thomas can do no wrong in my eyes. This sounds amazing and I cant’t wait to read it.

THE TIGER AT MIDNIGHT by Swati Teerdhala

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Release date: April 23rd

Pre order : Amazon

Synopsis: Esha is a legend, but no one knows. It’s only in the shadows that she moonlights as the Viper, the rebels’ highly skilled assassin. She’s devoted her life to avenging what she lost in the royal coup, and now she’s been tasked with her most important mission to date: taking down the ruthless General Hotha.

Kunal has been a soldier since childhood, training morning and night to uphold the power of King Vardaan. His uncle, the general, has ensured that Kunal never strays from the path—even as a part of Kunal longs to join the outside world, which has been growing only more volatile.

Then Esha’s and Kunal’s paths cross—and an unimaginable chain of events unfolds. Both the Viper and the soldier think they’re calling the shots, but they’re not the only players moving the pieces. As the bonds that hold their land in order break down and the sins of the past meet the promise of a new future, both rebel and soldier must make unforgivable choices.

This was one that i really enjoyed reading ( check out my review ). Such a great blend of fantasy, romance and politics. Also it is a pretty good debut and i can’t wait to read the sequel.

Sneak Peak!

KING OF SCARS by Leigh Bardugo

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Release date: January 29th

Pre order : Amazon

Synopsis: Nikolai Lantsov has always had a gift for the impossible. No one knows what he endured in his country’s bloody civil war—and he intends to keep it that way. Now, as enemies gather at his weakened borders, the young king must find a way to refill Ravka’s coffers, forge new alliances, and stop a rising threat to the once-great Grisha Army.

Yet with every day a dark magic within him grows stronger, threatening to destroy all he has built. With the help of a young monk and a legendary Grisha Squaller, Nikolai will journey to the places in Ravka where the deepest magic survives to vanquish the terrible legacy inside him. He will risk everything to save his country and himself. But some secrets aren’t meant to stay buried—and some wounds aren’t meant to heal.

Those of you who have read the Shadow and Bone trilogy, this is probably the best thing that ever happened to you. I, however am yet to read it. But i have heard so much about Nikolai and i love a sexy, witty male protagonist, so i will definitely pick this one up!

 

These are my top most anticipated releases of 2019, you can check my other anticipated reads here.

Is the wait for any of the books listed slowly killing you as well? Are there any other books that you can’t wait to read in 2019? Tell me about it in the comments!

ARC REVIEW: THE WICKED KING by Holly Black

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I’ve been played. 

How could Holly Black do this to my weak mortal heart? How can she live with herself after this? I feel like my heart has been ripped out my chest and will only be returned at the end of the series. So basically my life depends on The Queen of Nothing. That’s great. 

THE PLOT: 

Power is much easier to acquire than it is to hold onto.”

Jude now has control of Cardan but it’s slowly slipping away. She needs to make sure that the throne is ready for Oak when he is of age, but to do that she must take power from where she can and must figure out who has betrayed her before it’s too late. 

THE CHARACTERS: 

Wow. If you thought they were complex in the first book, then you should be happy to find out that they become even more so in this one. Everyone is unpredictable. Everyone has a secret. Everyone needs power and they are willing to do whatever it takes to get it. 

I loved Jude even more in this book just because there was a bit more of vulnerability and maturity. She is so determined to get what she wants and will let nothing stand in her way, let it be the whole of Faerie. She is not your typical protagonist and is doesn’t mind getting her hands dirty. She is stubborn and brave and cunning and makes you feel for her. 

“The three of you have one solution to every problem. Murder. No key fits every lock.” Cardan gives us all a stern look, holding up a long-fingered hand with my stolen ruby ring still on one finger. “Someone tries to betray the High King, murder. Someone gives you a harsh look, murder. Someone disrespects you, murder. Someone ruins your laundry, murder.”

Cardan obviously remains my favorite. He is just everything i need from the “villain “ of the story. I honestly feel things for him that I haven’t felt for anyone in real life so far. He is just so vulnerable and needs to be told that he is loved and needed. My heart broke at multiple points in this book and won’t recover until he gets the happy ending he deserves. 

Our eyes meet, and something dangerous sparks.
He hates you, I remind myself.
“Kiss me again,” he says, drunk and foolish. “Kiss me until I am sick of it.”

Also the sexual tension between Cardan and Jude, had me squealing the whole time. I just wanted them to confess their feelings for each other once and for all. I needed them to. I usually can’t handle romance in a fantasy because i find it too cheesy. This was nothing like that. They were both aware that it was a toxic relationship. They hated one another as much as they desired  each other.

I think that this is Holly Black’s best book yet and I can’t wait for you guys to read it and go through the same torture that I am facing right now. (Yes, the book is rubbing off on me). There really are no words to describe my love for this book and how good it is. It makes you think that you’ve got the plot all figured out and you’re a genius. Well guess what? You didn’t guess it, not even close. Holly Black is the only one here with a storytelling IQ of 200. This book is a masterpiece and that is the only way to describe it. Go ahead and pre order it. It’s going to be the best book of 2019.

The best YA books of 2018 ( so far)

So, 2018 is nearly coming to an end and we have had some pretty good YA books. Lots of diversity and important themes that have been explored. So here’s some of my favorite book releases of the year in no particular order:

THE CRUEL PRINCE by Holly Black

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What a ride this book was! So many different plot twists, betrayals and secrets. Definitely one of my favorite books to date. The sequel, The Wicked King, set to come out in January is one of my most anticipated reads of 2019. Check out the sneak peak here 

Recommended for fans of: Six of Crows series by Leigh Bardugo

THE POPPY WAR by R.F. Kaung

 

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This was so good! i mean, i was in a slump and this totally got me through it. There was action, magic and anything you could ever want for a good fantasy book.

Recommended for fans of: The Young Elites series by Marie Lu

THE REAPER AT THE GATES by Sabaa Tahir

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After reading the first two books in the series, this was one of my most anticipated releases of the year..and boy, did it deliver! It was such a perfect addition to the series and just has me dying to know what is going to happen in the next book.

Recommended for fans of: Anyone who loves a good fantasy will love this

BRIGHT WE BURN by Kiersten White

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What an ending to one of my favorite series ever! Kiersten White truly did the series justice and gave us the perfect ending. If you haven’t read this series already, please start now.

Recommended for fans of: The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

THE ASTONISHING COLOR OF AFTER by Emily X.R.Pan

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A beautiful book about dealing with loss of a loved one lost through suicide. This book really makes you feel the grief of the protagonist who was trying to understand why her mother killed herself. It makes you understand that some answers can’t really be found and that you aren’t responsible for someone choosing to take their own life. That was their decision.

Recommended for fans of: Contemporary books that make you feel something such as  Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S King

SMOKE IN THE SUN by Renee Ahdieh

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This was a good end to the Flame in the Mist duology. Though i preferred the first one, i enjoyed this one as well.

Recommended for fans of: Fantasy with romance and a kick-ass heroine as well.

ARC Review: For a Muse of Fire

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“Never show, Never tell.”
Okay, before i start the official review, i wanted to know: didn’t that line remind you of Frozen? Just me? That’s fine.

I have a feeling a lot of you are going to like this book, and that’s good. Personally I am really not sure about my feelings regarding this book. I liked it, but I didn’t love it. I read every page, i wanted to. But I didn’t devour it. There were some things that I didn’t predict, but unfortunately I predicted most of them. Also if you want to know, it isn’t like Frozen.

The story takes place in Chakra which has been conquered by the Aquitans’, and all magic has been banned.

Jetta, is a shadow player, one of the best. She uses her ability of being able to capture dead souls to control her puppets. How? She traps the souls in her puppets and commands them. The problem lies in the fact that the use of , or having such a power could get her killed.
However Jetta has another problem, one that is just inside her: she is mentally ill. The only cure that she knows of is the water of a magical fountain and to get there would mean that she would have to secure a place on the king’s ship that would take her to Aquitan.

However Jetta and her family are soon in danger when she nearly gives them away. With the help of Leo, a gun smuggler for the rebels, she tries to make her way to Aquitan without being found out.

THE CHARACTERS:
Jetta- she is brave and willing to do anything for her family. She is also scared of herself, the power she years and what she really is.

Leo- the owner of La Perl, a bar and a stripper club and also the smuggler for the rebels,though he is not directly in league with them. Even though he was present during most of the book, I would have liked to get to know him better.

Captain Le Garde- the army general and an all round asshole.

I wish we could have had characters such as the Boy King, Theodora and Cheeky’s explored a bit more. They were important but weren’t really given the necessary attention.
The writing was engaging and kept you interested but wasn’t unique. The author uses a few french words in the beginning that may confuse you and like me you may find yourself googling “What is a fantoche?”

Themes such as mental illness, colonialism and feminism explored quite well.

All in all, the book was an engaging read that most readers will enjoy. I definitely will read the sequel.

*Thank you to the publisher for providing me with an arc of this book via Edelweiss*