Book: GOBLINS OF BELLWATER
Author: Molly Ringle
ARC?: Yes. A free eARC was provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Most people have no idea goblins live in the woods around the small town of Bellwater, Washington. But some are about to find out.
Skye, a young barista and artist, falls victim to a goblin curse in the forest one winter night, rendering her depressed and silenced, unable to speak of what happened. Her older sister, Livy, is at wit’s end trying to understand what’s wrong with her. Local mechanic Kit would know, but he doesn’t talk of such things: he’s the human liaison for the goblin tribe, a job he keeps secret and never wanted, thrust on him by an ancient family contract.
Unaware of what’s happened to Skye, Kit starts dating Livy, trying to keep it casual to protect her from the attention of the goblins. Meanwhile, unbeknownst to Kit, Skye draws his cousin Grady into the spell through an enchanted kiss in the woods, dooming Grady and Skye both to become goblins and disappear from humankind forever.
It’s a midwinter night’s enchantment as Livy, the only one untainted by a spell, sets out to save them on a dangerous magical path of her own.
Full transparency: I did not finish this book. I DNFed it around 73% but since I read the majority of the book, I did rate it.
Honestly, what killed this book for me was the insta-lust between Skye and Grady. Skye is under a goblin spell but to everyone else, it looks like she is having a mental breakdown and has gone almost completely silent. Instead of trying to help this girl, Grady spends most of his time trying to get in her pants which feels a lot like taking advantage of a situation. Even though Sky has chosen him “as her mate”, it bothers me to think about this character trying to start a relationship with someone who needs help, who had gone almost completely mute, and has suffered some form of trauma. Kit and Livy weren’t much better. Just the way the characters are described was a little weird to me. There was a lot of focus on how many women the male characters had been with and how thin and desirable the female characters were. Not for me.
Book: MASK OF SHADOWS
Author: Linsey Miller
ARC?: Yes, provided by NetGalley for an honest review
Sallot Leon is a thief, and a good one at that. But gender fluid Sal wants nothing more than to escape the drudgery of life as a highway robber and get closer to the upper-class—and the nobles who destroyed their home.
When Sal steals a flyer for an audition to become a member of The Left Hand—the Queen’s personal assassins, named after the rings she wears—Sal jumps at the chance to infiltrate the court and get revenge.
But the audition is a fight to the death filled with clever circus acrobats, lethal apothecaries, and vicious ex-soldiers. A childhood as a common criminal hardly prepared Sal for the trials. And as Sal succeeds in the competition, and wins the heart of Elise, an intriguing scribe at court, they start to dream of a new life and a different future, but one that Sal can have only if they survive.
It took me 10 days to finish this book. 10. Days.
The first thing that came to me when I was reading this book was “Wow, this reads like someone who is trying very hard to copy Bardugo while pretending that they are totally not copying Bardugo.”
I couldn’t connect with the characters at all. Sal feels very bland and like every other MC in every other slightly awful dystopian/fantasy book. The fact that most of the other characters are referred to by a number and not a name furthered that feeling of being unconnected to them. I didn’t care what happened to them.
The world-building was sloppy, the writing patchy, and like a lot of other people I was confused as to why Sal was so emotional when people used the correct pronouns if this world is supposed to be so accepting that no one bats an eye at fluid pronouns.
I was very, very let down by this book. After seeing so many of my friends talk about how wonderful this was, it kinda felt like doing a bellyflop… on concrete.