(this review is spoiler-free!)
“Perhaps I loved the monstrous because I was a monster. Josef, the Goblin King, and me. We were grotesques in the world above, too different, too odd, too talented, too much. We were all too much.”
– S. Jae Jones, Shadowsong
“I can only live, either altogether with you or not at all.”
– Ludwig Van Beethoven, The Immortal Beloved Letters
“I am going to keep on defying you. I am going to shame you with my defiance. You remind me that I am a mere mortal and you are a prince of Faerie. Well, let me remind you that means you have much to lose and I have nothing. You may win in the end, you may ensorcell me and hurt me and humiliate me, but I will make sure you lose everything I can take from you on the way down. I promise you this” —I throw his own words back at him—“this is the least of what I can do.”
Huge thank you to Harper360 for sending me a copy of Wicked Like a Wildfire!
This book has been on my TBR for a loooong time – sibling dynamics, witches that can manipulate beauty, a family curse and set in the Balkans (plus, I have to say, that cover), what’s not to love? I’m glad to say that Wicked Like a Wildfire did not disappoint!
WLAW follows twins, Iris and Malina, living with their mother in old town Cattaro (Kotor) in Montenegro. Their family passes down a gleam – a way of manipulating magic – which manifests differently in each woman. Iris can manipulate flowers into fractals, Malina senses moods through song, and their mother Jasmina can bake memories into flavours. Since the girls were young, Jasmina has told them that the three of them are the last of their family, and that it’s not only important to keep their magic a secret, but also vital that they never fall in love. However, when Jasmina is attacked the day after a mysterious stranger who shares their light grey eyes visits their bakery, Iris and Malina must uncover Jasmina’s secrets, and unravel the family curse that they stumble upon when discovering that Jasmina may not have been entirely truthful about her origins.
First off, I have to say, I absolutely flew through this book! I’ve been in quite a big reading slump over the past few weeks, and WLAW was such a magical, refreshing read, I couldn’t put it down. I adored the setting – having visited some Balkan countries before, I was really interested to read more about folklore from the area, and frankly, I now really want to go to Montenegro at some point! Popović’s choice to include aspects from her Serbian heritage definitely made this book for me, and Montenegro was the perfect magical setting for such a story.
Alongside the setting and world building, I adored the characters. I definitely felt more connected to Iris, since the book was written from her point of view, but I loved reading how different the two girls were – Iris’s tough exterior compared to Malina’s softer personality really complemented each other, and Iris’s constant need to protect Malina fit perfectly with the rest of the book. I have to say, one thing that really stood out to me was Iris’s openness when talking about sex – this is something that I found really refreshing, especially in a YA book. I think it’s so important that talking about sex without the sense of shame or taboo is normalised in YA. However, I don’t think the low key slut shaming that Jasmina often directed towards Iris, in terms of her dress sense and her casual way with guys, was necessary.
Anyway, I absolutely love sister-stories (probably because I got stuck with two brothers) and as much as I loved Iris, I’m definitely hoping for book two to be from Malina’s POV!
I have to say, I’m a huge wimp when it comes to anything even slightly scary, and parts of this book definitely creeped me out a bit, but as with everything else, this just added to the overall mysticism of the story. The way the family curse tied in with the local folklore tales worked so well, and I definitely didn’t expect that ending at all! I can’t say much else without revealing huge spoilers, but I’m in desperate need of book two right now – I have to know what happens next.
Overall, for me, Wicked Like a Wildfire was made by the relationships throughout it – not only Iris and Malina’s sisterly bond, but also Iris and Jasmina’s strained relationship which is a key focus that’s constantly developing throughout the entire book, the bonds of family members throughout generations, and there’s also a really cute f/f relationship! This was the perfect magical sisterhood book, and I am so excited to read Fierce Like a Firestorm after that plot twist filled ending. I’d definitely recommend picking up this book!
Love Becky @
“You are like a living rose amongst wax flowers. We may last forever, but you bloom brighter and smell sweeter, and draw blood with your thorns.”
I’ve been really excited for An Enchantment of Ravens for a long time, so when I managed to get an ARC in a twitter trade (thanks again, Kelly!) I was over the moon! This book pulled me right out of my reading slump and is literally the perfect autumnal read.
An Enchantment of Ravens follows Isobel, a portrait artist living in the town of Whimsy, whose citizens mostly serve faeries through their ‘craft’. Isobel is a master of her craft, and is renowned both throughout Whimsy and the faerie courts. However, when Rook, a prince of the autumn court, commissions Isobel to paint him, she makes one deadly mistake – Isobel sees mortal sorrow in Rooks eyes and adds this detail to his painting, a weakness which could cost him his reputation and his crown. Rook then sets off to take Isobel to the autumn court to stand trial for her mistake, but the path through the faerie courts is a dangerous one for mortals to tread.
So first off, I have to say – I definitely thought I was over faerie books, at least, YA faerie books. An Enchantment of Ravens, however, is unlike any other faerie book I’ve ever read. Although it incorporates all of the usual faerie-lore, such as an aversion to iron, being unable to lie etc, it still managed to be so unique. The faeries of Isobel’s world are unable to create anything seen as human craft (which ranges from painting to cooking, and everything in between) and therefore, they crave it – hence Isobel’s high end clients of the faerie world. I’ve always been a fond artist, and so I loved that Isobel was a painter, and the details of her painting style, method, and even her favoured oil paint colours really are what made this book stand out to me. You really could tell that Margaret Rogerson had done her research when it came to Isobel’s art, as literally no detail from the pigments to the creation of each oil painting was missed out. The descriptions throughout were vivid and beautiful, and I found it incredibly easy to picture Isobel, Rook, and their journey from Whimsy through to the Autumn court.
I’m not generally a fan of journey books, however, this managed to be a journey book without feeling too much like one for me to get tired of the theme. The majority of the journey focused on character and relationship development, rather than jumping from one path-blocker to the next, and again, this really made the overall story for me.
If I had to give one slight criticism, it’s that I think An Enchantment of Ravens certainly could have benefited from being a bit longer. I believe it’s just about 300 pages long, and I definitely could have read about Isobel and her story for another 200 pages or more! I connected with her as a main character instantly – besides immediately clicking with her love of art, Isobel was a smart, down to earth protagonist, and you all know how much I love strong female characters. The writing was also absolutely beautiful – I cannot stress enough how much each sentence within this book was just perfectly crafted. Unfortunately, I believe that this book is a standalone, however I can say with confidence that I’ll immediately pick up anything else that Margaret Rogerson writes.
An Enchantment of Ravens is out today and I’d highly recommend that you add it to your autumn TBR!
(PS. we’ve also just released a candle inspired by An Enchantment of Ravens on Two Candle Thieves! Take a look here!)
Love Becky @
|Goodreads | Book Depository|
|Goodreads | Book Depository|