The Stone Knife by Anna Stephens: I was excited by the premise of this book; a war between two Mesoamerican cultures with looming monster problems. There were a few decent moments (I’m a sucker for a good vision quest) and character before I put it down, but nothing that caught me enough to pull me in. On the negative side, the attempts to make peace were so obviously doomed that I felt social embarrassment and a slackening of whatever narrative momentum was built up as things seemed to slow to a crawl. Speaking of which, nobody seemed to have very immediate interesting problems; it was a slow burn start that didn’t charm me enough for it take light.
The Shadow of What Was Lost by James Islington: One word – bland. There was nothing wrong with this book. It was well written, its plot kept throwing up interesting ideas regularly enough, characterisation was clear. But there was nothing that right for me either. There was no character or idea that made me go ‘ooh’. In a book as long as this, that simply wasn’t enough to keep me going. There was no moment that popped for me (the closest was the female mage-hunter that the MC encounters). I think if Islington had done an edit of it giving everyone cool names, and hook hands and eyepatches, I’d have probably finished it. But he didn’t.
The Maleficent Seven by Cam Johnston: Nobody can accuse Johnston of failing to add pop to his book. Nobody. It’s full of big brash characters with obvious hooks and plenty of foreshadowing of things to come. Arguably it was too big and brash; I think it was meant to remind me of Deadpool or Suicide Squad, but sometimes made me think of something more cartoony. The big thing though is I just never really rooted for the characters. They didn’t have enough charisma for that, or I didn’t love their motivations enough, or just didn’t dislike the Lucent Empire enough. It’s a huge shame as I loved the concept.
The Stone Knife and the Maleficent Seven were both ARCs provided by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. I’d like to thank them, the publishers, and authors for doing so.