BOOK REVIEW: HOUSE OF SKY AND BREATH BY SARAH J. MAAS

the book cover for House of Sky and Breath by Sarah J Maas
  • STAR RATING:  5 stars
    PAGE LENGTH: 805 pages
  • WHAT SERIES? The Crescent City Series
  • WHAT BOOK DO I START WITH? House of Earth and Blood
  • HOW MANY BOOKS IN THE SERIES? Currently unknown, but I’m betting 4.
  • DATE PUBLISHED: February 15th 2022
  • PUBLISHER: Bloomsbury Publishing
    CONTENT WARNINGS: Sexual content, violence, death, slavery, torture, war

  • IF YOU LIKED THIS, TRY: A Court of Thorns and Roses series by Sarah J. Maas, The Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas, or the Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs

SYNOPSIS

Bryce Quinlan and Hunt Athalar are trying to get back to normal―they may have saved Crescent City, but with so much upheaval in their lives lately, they mostly want a chance to relax. Slow down. Figure out what the future holds.

The Asteri have kept their word so far, leaving Bryce and Hunt alone. But with the rebels chipping away at the Asteri’s power, the threat the rulers pose is growing. As Bryce, Hunt, and their friends get pulled into the rebels’ plans, the choice becomes clear: stay silent while others are oppressed, or fight for what’s right. And they’ve never been very good at staying silent.

In this sexy, action-packed sequel to the #1 bestseller House of Earth and Blood, Sarah J. Maas weaves a captivating story of a world about to explode―and the people who will do anything to save it. 

My hold at the library came in for this book on Sunday, and I couldn’t help but literally leap at the chance to read this. I had been EXTREMELY ANXIOUS picking House of Sky and Breath up, because I’d seen everyone else’s reactions to the ending of this book. I was so, so sure that something awful happened to one of the main characters, that Maas had broken her usual MO and done something horrible. While bad stuff does happen, the ending isn’t at ALL what I thought was going to happen.

Holy sh*t, guys.

That’s all I’m going to say, but if you’ve read this and are looking for someone else to scream at, PLEASE COME FIND ME ON TWITTER.

ANYWAY, I fell into House of Sky and Breath much easier than I did the first book in the series, House of Earth and Blood. I had a harder time with that one, because it wasn’t like anything by Maas I had ever read before, and the world-building was somewhat of a shock. Not so with House of Sky and Breath! It was like crawling home at night — I knew where we were, what was happening, I knew the characters, etc. I loved watching Hunt and Bryce circle each other, and I love that they finally just gave in. They are adorable (and extremely, steaming hot) together!!!

The plot itself was interesting, too. A rebel boy goes missing, and literally everyone under the sun is looking for him. I felt horrible for the kid, because no one cared about him, personally, only what he could do for the rebel cause. Bryce was the only one in the whole book who wanted him to be safe for who he was, not what he was. Sewn into that plot are more mysteries about Danika, which I’m torn on. Half of me thinks its super interesting to have books wrapped all up in a dead character, the other half of me thinks its sort of a cop out? Like because Danika is dead Maas can say all sorts of things about her, because we’ve never really seen her on page. I’ll reserve my judgement until the end of the series, I think, because it worked pretty well on page in this book.

The reveal about the Asteri was…whoo boy. Something, huh? I can’t wait to see where that plotline goes.

Overall, I’d say House of Sky and Breath is another five star read from Maas for me. I love how she weaves incredible storylines together, and I love how much romance she pours into all her books.

Add to your Goodreads, or preorder at at the following links:

GOODREADS | BOOKSHOP.ORG | AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE

ARC REVIEW: LOCKLANDS BY ROBERT JACKSON BENNETT

STAR RATING: 3 stars 😞
PAGE LENGTH: 496 pages
WHAT SERIES? The Founders Trilogy
WHAT BOOK DO I START WITH? Foundryside
HOW MANY BOOKS IN THE SERIES? 3
CONTENT WARNINGS: Violence, blood, death, torture, mentions of slavery

IF YOU LIKED THIS, TRY: Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch, or An Illusion of Thieves by Cate Glass

Thank you to Netgalley and Random House Publishing Group for providing an ARC copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

SYNOPSIS

A god wages war—using all of humanity as its pawns—in the unforgettable conclusion to the Founders trilogy.

Sancia, Clef, and Berenice have gone up against plenty of long odds in the past. But the war they’re fighting now is one even they can’t win.

This time, they’re not facing robber-baron elites, or even an immortal hierophant, but an entity whose intelligence is spread over half the globe—a ghost in the machine that uses the magic of scriving to possess and control not just objects, but human minds.

To fight it, they’ve used scriving technology to transform themselves and their allies into an army—a society—that’s like nothing humanity has seen before. With its strength at their backs, they’ve freed a handful of their enemy’s hosts from servitude, even brought down some of its fearsome, reality-altering dreadnaughts. Yet despite their efforts, their enemy marches on—implacable. Unstoppable.

Now, as their opponent closes in on its true prize—an ancient doorway, long buried, that leads to the chambers at the center of creation itself—Sancia and her friends glimpse a chance at reaching it first, and with it, a last desperate opportunity to stop this unbeatable foe. But to do so, they’ll have to unlock the centuries-old mystery of scriving’s origins, embark on a desperate mission into the heart of their enemy’s power, and pull off the most daring heist they’ve ever attempted.

And as if that weren’t enough, their adversary might just have a spy in their ranks—and a last trick up its sleeve.

Woof. Okay. I finished this book over the weekend while trying to get my teething 10 month old to sleep. [NOTICE: I wrote this review way back in February, when I finished the book. The published asked reviews to be held until 2 weeks before the book comes out, so here you have the review now.] Sadly, I wasn’t a huge fan of Locklands. If you read my reviews of the previous two books, you’ll know how much I enjoyed them. Needless to say, I am vastly disappointed in how this series ended. Those three stars I gave this book is me being generous.

Locklands is a hot mess compared to Foundryside and Shorefall. The prior two books felt like a natural progression. Shorefall raised the stakes the appropriate amount compared to the first book. The villain got scarier, the world got bigger and more dangerous. The characters developed and generally, it made sense that Shorefall followed Foundryside. Locklands’ problem is that it jumps ahead eight years after Shorefall. I generally do not like time jumps in books. They rarely do what the author thinks they do, and instead just make a series feel jumbled up and messy. We see little of those eight years, and as a result, you feel as if you’ve been dropped into the middle of something. You’re left confused and unsure for a while until things feel slightly more familiar.

There is a huge concept in this book that was extremely confusing to me when they first introduced it — the twinning of minds. It technically was introduced in Shorefall, but Sancia and Berenice pushed this even further in those eight years that we don’t see. The whole conversation/explanation in the text is only made more confusing by the diagram that’s included.

I’m really not a fan when authors introduce a phrase/saying/concept in the last book of a series, and then act like it was a huge part of the series from the beginning. Sancia and Berenice use the saying, ‘There’s no dancing through a monsoon,” over and over in this book. I think the author was trying to reiterate it enough to have some emotional impact on the reader. It didn’t really work on me, though it probably would have if this saying had been introduced in the prior two books.

That’s not to say there weren’t parts of this book that I enjoyed — I really, really liked learning more about Clef, who he was, and what he did that brought about literally everything. What a character. He’s deeply flawed, and at first you feel sorry for him, but by the end of the book everything you know about him changes. Crasedes Magnus, and Valeria/Trevanne get some serious character development, too.

In the acknowledgements at the end of this book, Robert Jackson Bennett shares that he wrote this book during the pandemic. I think that’s why this book is the mess that it is. I’m really disappointed in Locklands, and I hate to say that overall, I didn’t enjoy it.

Locklands comes out June 28, 2022.

Add to your Goodreads, or preorder at your local indie bookstore, or at the following links:

GOODREADS | BOOKSHOP.ORG | AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE

ARC REVIEW: DAUGHTER OF REDWINTER BY ED MCDONALD

The book cover for Daughter of Redwinter by Ed Mcdonald

STAR RATING4.5 stars
PAGE LENGTH: 352 pages
WHAT SERIES? The Redwinter Chronicles
WHAT BOOK DO I START WITH?  Daughter of Redwinter
HOW MANY BOOKS IN THE SERIES? Unknown
CW: Blood, gore, body horror, violence

IF YOU LIKED THIS, TRY: Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson, Sabriel by Garth Nix

Thank you to Netgalley and Tor.com Publishing for providing an ARC of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

SYNOPSIS

Those who see the dead soon join them.

From the author of the critically-acclaimed Blackwing trilogy comes Ed McDonald’s Daughter of Redwinter, the first of a brilliant fantasy series about how one choice can change a universe.

Raine can see–and more importantly, speak–to the dead. It’s a wretched gift with a death sentence that has her doing many dubious things to save her skin. Seeking refuge with a deluded cult is her latest bad, survival-related decision. But her rare act of kindness–rescuing an injured woman in the snow–is even worse.

Because the woman has escaped from Redwinter, the fortress-monastery of the Draoihn, warrior magicians who answer to no king and who will stop at nothing to retrieve what she’s stolen. A battle, a betrayal, and a horrific revelation forces Raine to enter Redwinter. It becomes clear that her ability might save an entire nation.

Pity she might have to die for that to happen…

A couple of weeks ago, a publicist from Tor reached out asking if I’d be interested in reading Daughter of Redwinter. I, of course, said yes. I’m still new to the reviewing scene, and honestly, I’m going to take just about any book that Tor offers me. They consistently put out amazing fantasy / sci-fi books, and well, I want them to like me. I knew absolutely nothing about Daughter of Redwinter before going in. I had no expectations, honestly.

DAAAAAAANG was this book right up my alley. Daughter of Redwinter reminded me a lot of Mistborn and of The Old Kingdom series. The mystery at the core of the plot reminded me of Mistborn, and the main character’s powers reminded me of the necromancers from The Old Kingdom. If you like those books, you’ll like this one without question.

Look, I grew up on strong female protagonists, and Raine more than fits the bill. She reminded me so much of Sabriel and Vin (from Mistborn) that I couldn’t help but love her. To keep things as vague as possible — Raine witnesses something awful, and becomes the only person who can save a good man from being blamed for something he did not do. She has a rather neat power — she can see the dead. (However, this power is highly vilified, and she has to keep it a secret, or her life would be forfeit.) Raine is a little broken on the inside, but through the course of the novel, she works through it. She’s sassy, slow to trust, and surprisingly not good at everything. Needless to say, I really liked her.

The supporting characters are good, but many of them are rather flat. However, I’m fairly certain they were written this way because for a good chunk of the book, Raine is keeping them at distance. Remember how I said she was slow to trust? Yeah, she has a good reason for it. People have to prove to her they’re worth her trust, and it takes a good chunk of the novel for her to get there.

The entire plot of Daughter of Redwinter wraps up very, very nicely at the end. So much so that I have no idea what the second novel is going to be about — and there’s definitely going to be a second novel. This is no doubt the set-up novel to a series, and one that I will absolutely be following.

daughter of redwinter COMES OUT JUNE 28, 2022.

Add to your Goodreads, or preorder at your local indie bookstore, or at the following links:

GOODREADS | AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE

BOOK REVIEW: HOUSE OF EARTH AND BLOOD BY SARAH J. MAAS

The book cover for House of Earth and Blood by Sarah J. Maas
  • STAR RATING: 5 big stars
  • PAGE LENGTH: 807
  • WHAT SERIES? The Crescent City Series
  • WHAT BOOK DO I START WITH? House of Earth and Blood
  • HOW MANY BOOKS IN THE SERIES? Unknown, but I’m willing to bet its 4
  • CW: death, violence, gore, drug use, slavery
  • IF YOU LIKED THIS, TRY: A Court of Thorns and Roses series by Sarah J. Maas, The Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas, or the Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs

SYNOPSIS

Bryce Quinlan had the perfect life–working hard all day and partying all night–until a demon murdered her closest friends, leaving her bereft, wounded, and alone. When the accused is behind bars but the crimes start up again, Bryce finds herself at the heart of the investigation. She’ll do whatever it takes to avenge their deaths.

Hunt Athalar is a notorious Fallen angel, now enslaved to the Archangels he once attempted to overthrow. His brutal skills and incredible strength have been set to one purpose–to assassinate his boss’s enemies, no questions asked. But with a demon wreaking havoc in the city, he’s offered an irresistible deal: help Bryce find the murderer, and his freedom will be within reach.

As Bryce and Hunt dig deep into Crescent City’s underbelly, they discover a dark power that threatens everything and everyone they hold dear, and they find, in each other, a blazing passion–one that could set them both free, if they’d only let it.

I will be the first to admit that it took me a good chunk of this book to really be interested in it. The only thing that really kept me going is that I have never hated a Sarah J. Maas book. I know I like her work — I’ve read just about all that she’s put out there. That’s why I pushed through the beginning of House of Earth and Blood.

I think my biggest issue with this book is that it takes place in a modern day setting. Not our world, mind, but a world with something akin to electricity, the internet, with cars and cell phones. It threw me off, because none of Maas’s other books have ever taken place in this sort of setting. HOWEVER, once I got over myself, and adjusted to the world, I loved it. I’m a huge fan of the Mercy Thompson books, and while those take place in our world, that’s what House of Earth and Blood reminded me of the most. Creatures like werewolves, angels, vampires, witches, all of them call Crescent City home. I love a paranormal novel, so I was all for this.

The plot was fascinating — Bryce’s best friend, Danika (and her pack) are killed in a horribly violent way. Around the same time, an ancient Fae artifact is stolen. It’s up to Bryce, and her bodyguard/partner/friend, Hunt, to figure out how the two are connected. If they are. The whole thing is very twisty-turny, explain at the last second things that had been whispered throughout the book. I admit I did not see some of the twists coming, but they had been hinted at before. I was just blind!

The villains were terrifying. I spent the whole book dreading what they were finally going to do, what they were going to make Hunt do, what they were going to do to Bryce to put her through even more pain. The ending of this book is so satisfying!

If you’re a Maas fan, then you’ll like this book. I do not, however, recommend this as a good place to start her work. Go with ACOTAR or Throne of Glass, for a starting point. BUT EITHER WAY — I enjoyed House of Earth and Blood. Now to go track down a copy of the next book!!

GOODREADS | AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE

Sidenote — how is the new review format working for you guys? Any other information I should include up top for you? Let me know!

ARC REVIEW: THE STARDUST THIEF BY CHELSEA ABDULLAH

  • STAR RATING: 4.5 stars
  • PAGE LENGTH: 480 
  • WHAT SERIES? The Sandsea Trilogy
  • WHAT BOOK DO I START WITH? The Stardust Thief
  • HOW MANY BOOKS IN THE SERIES? 3
  • CW: Death, Violence, Murder, Blood, Injury/injury detail, Death of parent
  • IF YOU LIKED THIS, TRY: The City of Dusk by Tara Sim

Thank you to Netgalley and Orbit Books for providing an ARC of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

SYNOPSIS

Neither here nor there, but long ago…

Loulie al-Nazari is the Midnight Merchant: a criminal who, with the help of her jinn bodyguard, hunts and sells illegal magic. When she saves the life of a cowardly prince, she draws the attention of his powerful father, the sultan, who blackmails her into finding an ancient lamp that has the power to revive the barren land—at the cost of sacrificing all jinn.

With no choice but to obey or be executed, Loulie journeys with the sultan’s oldest son to find the artifact. Aided by her bodyguard, who has secrets of his own, they must survive ghoul attacks, outwit a vengeful jinn queen, and confront a malicious killer from Loulie’s past. And, in a world where story is reality and illusion is truth, Loulie will discover that everything—her enemy, her magic, even her own past—is not what it seems, and she must decide who she will become in this new reality.

Inspired by stories from One Thousand and One Nights, The Stardust Thief weaves the gripping tale of a legendary smuggler, a cowardly prince, and a dangerous quest across the desert to find a legendary, magical lamp. 

This was an incredibly refreshing fantasy novel. Clearly inspired by stories from One Thousand and One Nights, The Stardust Thief is about a merchant, her bodyguard jinn, and the legendary relic they’ve been forced to pursue by the sultan.

Our main character is Loulie, the Midnight Merchant, who is known for selling magical relics in black markets. She is incredibly competent, no-nonsense, and seemingly quite independent. Her bodyguard, Qadir, has been with her since she was small, and does his best to keep her safe. Qadir is, without a doubt, my favorite character in this book. He’s quite serious, and mostly stoic. However, he loves Loulie with all his heart, and that comes across on page. He’s got a million and one secrets, and it was fascinating watching them all fall out as the story moves forward.

The other two main characters are Aisha, a dangerous thief, and Mazen, one of the princes. Mazen is an adorable cinnamon roll who needs to learn the ways of the world, but I still love him.

The writing in this book wove an absolutely beautiful tale set in an equally stunning setting. The landscape felt lush, and real. It is gorgeous. The Stardust Thief reads like someone is audibly telling you a story, and I loved it.

My one complaint is that the ‘romance’ between Loulie and the wali who’s name I literally cannot remember right now felt a little contrived. I wish we had seen more of them meeting or how they had fit together in the past, because as it is, it feels as if we were dropped into their relationship with absolutely zero context. I wasn’t a fan of this, and ultimately, I was rather happy when this plotline fizzled out. I figure there will be a romance eventually in this series, and hopefully that one will earned!

The Stardust Thief is an excellent start to a trilogy, and I hope that you’ll pick it up when it is released!

THE STARDUST THIEF COMES OUT MAY 17, 2022.

Preorder at your local indie bookstore, or at the following links:

AMAZON | BARNES AND NOBLE

ARC REVIEW: THE HUNGER OF THE GODS BY JOHN GWYNNE

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Thank you to Netgalley and Orbit Books for providing an ARC of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

SYNOPSIS

The Hunger of the Gods continues John Gwynne’s acclaimed Norse-inspired epic fantasy series, packed with myth, magic and bloody vengeance.

Lik-Rifa, the dragon god of legend, has been freed from her eternal prison. Now she plots a new age of blood and conquest.

As Orka continues the hunt for her missing son, the Bloodsworn sweep south in a desperate race to save one of their own – and Varg takes the first steps on the path of vengeance.

Elvar has sworn to fulfil her blood oath and rescue a prisoner from the clutches of Lik-Rifa and her dragonborn followers, but first she must persuade the Battle-Grim to follow her.

Yet even the might of the Bloodsworn and Battle-Grim cannot stand alone against a dragon god.

Their hope lies within the mad writings of a chained god. A book of forbidden magic with the power to raise the wolf god Ulfrir from the dead . . . and bring about a battle that will shake the foundations of the earth.

The Hunger of the Gods is just as entertaining, just as atmospheric, and awe-inspiring as the first book in this series, The Shadow of the Gods. It’s rare that a second book will live up to the first — I can think of maybe three off the top of my head — and it’s even rarer that the second book is better.

The Hunger of the Gods picks up literally RIGHT after TSOTG finishes. Seriously, there’s not even like…a day time-jump. Just bam, right back where we left off. Which is good, because some serious stuff had gone down. I didn’t want to skip ANY OF IT, so I’m glad there wasn’t a big leap forward. We’re left in a world where a “dead” god has been released from her prison, and is ready and eager for revenge. Lik-Rifa, the dragon god, has risen to power again. The world is not ready for her, and her unimaginable cruelty. She is terrifying.

I’m not going to give away any huge spoilers, because it would ruin the book for too many people. I’m just going to say this — whatever action you liked from the first book will be once again seen in this one. Not as a rehashing, but in addition to. It’s not repetitive or boring. Not at all. It’s non-stop action from cover to cover in the best way.

What is different in THOTG is that we get two new POV characters, both villains. This helps immensely in rounding out the feel of the book. Instead of just seeing what’s going on through the “good” characters, now we see more motivation and reasoning behind the villains’ actions. All the original POV characters return. We see Elvar grow into herself, and become who she is absolutely supposed to be. Varg realizes he does have a place in the Bloodsworn, and that he belongs there. Orka continues to be the absolute coolest woman in the novel. She deals with some supreme guilt and loneliness, and she too comes to some revelations as well.

The end of the book is a massive cliffhanger and I am NOT OKAY WITH IT AT ALL, JOHN GWYNNE. How dare you.

The Hunger of the Gods comes out April 12, 2022.

Preorder at your local indie bookstore, or at the following links:

AMAZON | BARNES AND NOBLE

BOOK REVIEW: THE SHADOW OF THE GODS BY JOHN GWYNNE

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Without a doubt, this is one of the best fantasy novels I have read in a long, long time. It’s not particularly unique or mind-blowing in any way, but it is so engrossing and well-written that I cannot stop raving about it to anyone who asks.

The Shadow of the Gods takes place in a HEAVILY Norse-inspired world where the gods are all dead after battling amongst each other in a Rangarok-style event. These gods had children, and these children are known as the Tainted amongst humans. Tainted people have similar powers to their god parent. The wolf-gods children howl, grow sharp teeth and claws, and are good at hunting. The bear-gods children go berserk, and are known as berserkirs. The fox-gods children are good-looking and cunning, etc. The Tainted are hunted, and treated as second-class citizens. Its not a good thing to be Tainted.

There are three POV characters in this book, and each one was so well-rounded and interesting that I was thoroughly engrossed in all three storylines. My favorite of the bunch, however, was Orka. Orka is a complete badass. She and her husband have a son, Breca, who ends up being stolen towards the beginning of the novel. She spends the rest of the book trying to find him, and kicks some major ass while doing so. I couldn’t help but picture her as Lagertha from Vikings the entire book.

John Gwynne’s writing is so atmospheric and detailed that you can see the book taking place in your head. This world is bleak, but beautiful. There’s no shortage of action, and some serious violence. Each POV character is a fighter, and the violence pretty much doesn’t end. However, it doesn’t feel gratuitous. It’s just a part of the world that this book takes place in. It’s a violent, bloody world, and we see the reasons behind it. The book moves along at a decent pace, and at no point was I bored. The ending of this book is phenomenal.

I was lucky enough to receive an ARC of the next book in the Bloodsworn Saga, The Hunger of the Gods. I’ll be moving right onto it next, because I cannot wait to find out what happens to these characters.

BOOK REVIEW: SHOREFALL BY ROBERT JACKSON BENNETT

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

As you all know (if you read the review I posted a few days ago), I absolutely adored the first entry into the Founders Trilogy, Foundryside. It is a immensely satisfying read, with an enormously unique magic system and world. Well, Robert Jackson Bennett takes all of those components from the first book and puts them to work in Shorefall.

While not as tightly plotted as the first book, Shorefall is still a wonderwork of fantasy writing. The stakes are upped just the right amount in comparison to the first book. The main villain of the series so far, the first of the heirophants, is  bone-chillingly terrifying in the best ways. You really are scared of him while you read — there’s no second guessing, no well-maybe-he’s-right in this book. He’s just flat out terrifying, and you hope-hope-hope that our heroes save the day. The author did an amazing job of showing just enough to prove that this villain is not someone to underestimate.

The reason I docked a star is something that happens towards the middle-end of the book. Hover to read bc it’s a spoiler but it’s regarding Sancia and Berenice and something they do together.

I’m still not sure how I feel about the twinned-mind thing. It was supposed to be temporary but it seems fairly permanent by the end of the novel. Then again, it isn’t all that clear on how much time actually passes between them twinning and the end of the book. First read through of this book, it didn’t bother me. Second read through, it’s sort of…hm. It feels convenient? Like I get what the author is going for, and where it will probably end up, but. IDK. Let me know if you feel the same way!

The best part of Shorefall, though, is the reveal of who the villain actually is. I will not spoil this because it is so chef’s-kiss perfect that I don’t want to ruin it for anyone. But you really don’t see it coming until it’s right on top of you, and then everything sort of clicks into place.

I’m now hurrying onto my ARC of the last book in this trilogy, Locklands. Let’s hope it’s just as good as the first two books.

BOOK REVIEW: FOUNDRYSIDE BY ROBERT JACKSON BENNETT

Rating: 5 out of 5.

SYNOPSIS

Sancia Grado is a thief, and a damn good one. And her latest target, a heavily guarded warehouse on Tevanne’s docks, is nothing her unique abilities can’t handle.

But unbeknownst to her, Sancia’s been sent to steal an artifact of unimaginable power, an object that could revolutionize the magical technology known as scriving. The Merchant Houses who control this magic–the art of using coded commands to imbue everyday objects with sentience–have already used it to transform Tevanne into a vast, remorseless capitalist machine. But if they can unlock the artifact’s secrets, they will rewrite the world itself to suit their aims.

Now someone in those Houses wants Sancia dead, and the artifact for themselves. And in the city of Tevanne, there’s nobody with the power to stop them.

To have a chance at surviving—and at stopping the deadly transformation that’s under way—Sancia will have to marshal unlikely allies, learn to harness the artifact’s power for herself, and undergo her own transformation, one that will turn her into something she could never have imagined.

I read this book for the first time last year, in the midst of my maternity leave. It was one of the first books I picked up after having my son, and WOW did I get lucky with my choice. Foundryside is one of the best books I read last year, no question. I picked it up again, now, because I was approved for an ARC of the last book of the trilogy. A reread was in order so I could appropriately appreciate the series as a whole.

My opinions of this book have not changed in the slightest. Foundryside is a tightly plotted fantasy book that takes place in the city-state of Tevanne, that is (I think) based off of Venice, Italy. There are canals and merchant houses, so that’s what I’m basing that off of. In Tevanne, “magic” is done by scriving — convincing an object to do something other than what reality says it is supposed to by the use of sigils. That sounds complicated, but it really isn’t inside the confines of the book. An example — they make carriages move forward by convincing the wheels that they are going down a hill. This magic system is so amazingly unique and used in the most fascinating of ways throughout the course of the novel.

Sancia, the main character, is a gruff and mean thief with a strange ability — she can listen to objects by touching them. She’ll lay her hand or a finger on a wall and immediately know what the inside of the building looks like. She uses this ability to steal and during a particularly well paying job, she steals something extremely rare and valuable. It’s this object that starts off the entire plot. This object — a key — is my absolute favorite character of the bunch. And yes, you read that right — the key is a character. I won’t get much more into that because I really don’t want to spoil anyone.

The main plot of the book is to keep someone from doing something absolutely horrifying (seriously, just HORRIFYING) with scriving in order to gain massive amounts of power.

Robert Jackson Bennett manages to weave an incredibly detailed world into being inside Foundryside’s 501 pages. The Tevanne lore includes myths of massively powerful gods that created the scriving language, and mentions of long ago cultures/civilizations that used particular tools. This lore is not only believable inside the context of the novel, but also creates a large sense of the world. I can’t get over how masterfully this is done.

The next book in the series, Shorefall, is just as amazing. I’m onto that book next so I can dive into my ARC of Locklands, the third and final book in the series. Please go read this series. You will not regret it.