S. Jae-Jones's lush, beautifully written retelling of Labyrinth meets Cruel Beauty is a heart-wrenching and bittersweet tale that, in a good way, leaves you with more questions than answers.
This NA high fantasy, essentially Macbeth meets And I Darken if Lada were Wu Zetian, is every bit as depraved as the reviews promise. Xifeng is a self-serving villain protagonist with zero redeeming qualities, but something in me wanted her to succeed anyway.
I have read few more convincing vindications of humanity's imperfection than An Enchantment of Ravens. Some reviews liken Rogerson's debut to A Court of Thorns and Roses, but I don't really find it a fair comparison. Similarities between the two books are mostly superficial and lie on the aesthetic side of things: When it comes to the message that each book is trying to say, Ravens effortlessly takes the cake.
The Language of Thorns turns out to be a gentle rendition of trope subversion, producing essentially a rewrite of fairy tales and fables to capture the nuances in the morals they impart. Bardugo's style maintains the spark to it that's served her well over four series and counting.
I remember my initial amazement at the sheer volume of fan theories surrounding A Song of Ice and Fire as I clicked through westeros.org and r/ASOIAF posts to discover postulation after postulation, many of them tinfoil based off of nothing more than a few scant lines pulled from chapters with no relation to each other. At the very top of the totem pole you had R + L = J (of course), the greatest theory of all time. Then there were the A + J = T's, the Grand Northern Conspiracy's, the Pink Letter speculations, and on and on and on. The number of unsolved mysteries, both real and imagined, was staggering. The Three Dark Crowns series doesn't quite reach that level of cloak-and-dagger hint-dropping, but it comes splendidly close for a combined length that's only about half that of A Storm of Swords alone.
I have nothing against long books, as long as the amount of content justifies the length. A Storm of Swords justifies its 400k words. Tower of Dawn doesn't justify more than 100k. It's glaringly obvious that this was originally a novella that spiralled out of control when SJM couldn't be bothered to cut it down.
When it's good, it's really, really good. The novel, which is billed as a YA supernatural but has more than a touch of horror mixed in, includes some deliciously scary moments that gave me the chills as I read it in bed late at night...Echlin and Watrous's writing style is down-to-earth and authentic, and you can tell that there's incredible potential there.