Reviews

An Interesting Historical Fantasy- Spellbound by Allie Therin

Overall Enjoyment: 3.5/5

Characterization: 3/5

World building: 3/5

Diversity: 3/5

Goodreads Summary:

To save Manhattan, they’ll have to save each other first…

1925

New York

Arthur Kenzie’s life’s work is protecting the world from the supernatural relics that could destroy it. When an amulet with the power to control the tides is shipped to New York, he must intercept it before it can be used to devastating effects. This time, in order to succeed, he needs a powerful psychometric…and the only one available has sworn off his abilities altogether.

Rory Brodigan’s gift comes with great risk. To protect himself, he’s become a recluse, redirecting his magic to find counterfeit antiques. But with the city’s fate hanging in the balance, he can’t force himself to say no.

Being with Arthur is dangerous, but Rory’s ever-growing attraction to him begins to make him brave. And as Arthur coaxes him out of seclusion, a magical and emotional bond begins to form. One that proves impossible to break—even when Arthur sacrifices himself to keep Rory safe and Rory must risk everything to save him.”

I loved the idea of this novel. The 1920s is such an interesting time in history and then Rory’s power is so interesting! I was sold on the idea. It was okay. I really enjoyed the plot and I enjoyed the characters, but the relationships needed more in my opinion.

The characters. Rory was enjoyable to read. He had a very distinct voice that really came together the more we learned about his history and his background. I really enjoyed the work that was put into getting to know this character. Arthur was interesting, but also a little lackluster to me. I liked the idea of him, but he was just a bit two dimensional. He’s a good guy that has a thing for Rory and…that’s it. We also have Jade, who also has powers and runs a speakeasy. She and Rory click pretty well together.

World building. There wasn’t a ton in this book. We do get some idea of what life might have been like in the 1920s, but its fairly limited. What I most like is the information on the relics and the brief explanations of how different characters’ powers work.

I would say this is more of a plot driven story. We do get some time with the characters, but the relationships just kinda happened without a lot of build up in my opinion and if you have read any of my other reviews you know that that’s one of my largest pet peeves in a novel. So, if you want an interesting gay romance set in the 1920s with some magic thrown in there I think you’ll enjoy this story. If you want a deep historical romance that takes its time then you might be a bit disappointed.

Diversity. There is limited diversity in this book. Arthur is gay and I believe Rory is more bisexual. There is also Jade who is a black woman and there is a Chinese American character as well, but he’s in briefly enough that I can’t quite remember his name. It’s better than some books, but worse than others I’ve read. I’d have loved some more intersectionality.

Overall, I did enjoy this book. The characters were interesting even if I did want more and I liked the plot. This book is part of a series so there may be more character building in the works!

ARC

ARC Review- The Bird King

Overall enjoyment: 4/5

World building: 4/5

Characterization: 5/5

Diversity: 3/5

Goodreads Summary:

Set in 1491 during the reign of the last sultanate in the Iberian peninsula, The Bird King is the story of Fatima, the only remaining Circassian concubine to the sultan, and her dearest friend Hassan, the palace mapmaker. 

Hassan has a secret–he can draw maps of places he’s never seen and bend the shape of reality. When representatives of the newly formed Spanish monarchy arrive to negotiate the sultan’s surrender, Fatima befriends one of the women, not realizing that she will see Hassan’s gift as sorcery and a threat to Christian Spanish rule. With their freedoms at stake, what will Fatima risk to save Hassan and escape the palace walls?

As Fatima and Hassan traverse Spain with the help of a clever jinn to find safety, The Bird King asks us to consider what love is and the price of freedom at a time when the West and the Muslim world were not yet separate.

Review

I was given a free copy of The Bird King by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

I started this novel with some hesitation. The concept sounded interesting, but historical fiction is hit or miss with me. This novel was definitely a hit. I would say until towards the end the novel is fairly slow paced. I enjoyed it, but if you’re looking for some fast-paced crazy action this generally won’t be for you. The amount of love and care that I felt from this book was incredible. Just the amount of historical facts sprinkled within the novel was wonderful and then the fantasy elements just blended seamlessly together.

World building. The detail described throughout the book is wonderful. I read it and definitely could imagine the world. I’m not familiar with that time period in history or that particular area at the time, but it was easy to imagine. As a speculative novel there wasn’t anything to crazy from our normal world when it comes to governments, religion, etc.

Characters. This is what really sells the book to me. Wilson focuses most of her attention on mostly three or four character at a time and its perfect. Fatima is amazing. A concubine who was educated and uses that to power her through a tough journey. Hassan, our devote Muslim who draw fantastical maps. I don’t want to give a ton away, but I feel like you do get to really see into who these characters are and to watch them grow. They’re messy and imperfect, but there’s just something I find so interesting about all the characters we meet in this novel. Maybe it’s the realism, but I fall in love with them.

Diversity. This books diversity is mainly through Hassan I would say. He’s a devote Muslim who also happens to be openly gay. There are other characters in the book who are also Muslim in the first half of the book. Fatima I believe would identify as Muslim if asked, but she’s not very religious.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. The ending left me feeling a little unsatisfied, but I think it was a realistic way to end it and it is probably the best way to end it. Fatima has some great quotes about women that I really enjoyed. I would call her a determined feminist. If you have any interest at all in historical or speculative fiction I would highly recommend this book! It will be released on March 12th.