Last year I read Owl and the Japanese Circus, the start of a new fantasy series combining archaeology and the supernatural. The series main protagonist is Alix Hiboux, otherwise known as Owl – an international antiquities thief. Owl wasn’t always a thief, she was a grade A student until her work and reputation were left in tatters by her professor and she turned to a different route to stay afloat.
The world here is full of supernatural creatures all hiding in plain sight and although Alix has no love for the supes her natural lack of ability to detect their presence means she now has a boyfriend who is an icubus, a boss and his sidekick who are a dragon and naga respectively, a gaming buddie who is an elf and a bunch of vampires out for her blood (pun intended!) after she accidentally killed their main ‘poobah’.
The focus of the plot here boils down to the fact that a number of ancient items have been stolen from the City of the Dead and due to her previous reckless behaviour the Owl is the chief suspect. In order to mollify her new boss, and prevent him from toasting her alive, Owl undertakes to try and retrieve the aforementioned items and also to try and uncover the real thief who seems hellbent on framing her. Now, these items are cursed, which is bad enough as anybody who touches them usually drops dead within the week, add to that the fact that they are owned by a siren and have also drawn the attention of the vampires and you can see that things are about to get intense!
i do like this series. So far it’s a bunch of fast paced adventures among temples and ruins with mummies and other critters coming out of the woodwork. The author has a great imagination and a crazy sense of fun. She’s not afraid to chuck anything into the mix and the constant sense of anticipation, fast flowing plot and comedy-esque type capers make an excellent combination.
I really enjoy the concept and the Indiana Jane feel of the books. I love that we have a series that takes us to all sorts of exotic places and brings to the pages mummies and curses and other weird and wonderful things. There’s also such a lot of scope yet for the series to develop and whilst I wouldn’t say Owl develops massively this time around I do think the cast of supporting characters are coming together very nicely indeed and I also enjoy the way that the author is slowly revealing little pieces of Alix’s past whilst at the same time revealing more about the supernatural world that she is now surrounded by.
in terms of criticism. Well, oddly, Alix is the main one. I have a hard time seeing her as an international thief. Everybody recognises her, she rushes blindly into any number of situations and, frankly, she’s about as subtle as a hippo on skis. Don’t get me wrong, I like the comedy aspect that her bungling brings to the novel, I quite like that she’s a bit of a beer guzzling potty mouth who isn’t about to kiss ass even if her life is under threat but her ‘whoops I’ve triggered a death trap so better run at great speed’ mantra does puzzle me sometimes’. That being said, this is very much a tongue in cheek type read, it isn’t intended to be deep and meaningful but more a whole bunch of crazy running about and causing turmoil. If you go into the series with that in mind then you’re in for some fun.
I enjoyed the plot and the whole inclusion of pirates and other elements that I won’t go into. I had a bit of a wobble at one point where everything did seem to become a bit convoluted but on the whole I thought this was a great second in series with a surprising ending, that I really didn’t see coming, that provides a great set up for the next book. Treat yourself to some fun.
I received a copy of this book through Netgalley, courtesy of the publishers, for which my thanks. The above is my own opinion.
This week over at the Broke and the Bookish the Top Ten Tuesday topic for discussion is:
Ten Bookish Things I Want to Quit
- Having messy book shelves – needs no explanation
- Rushing in and taking on more book reviews than I reasonably have time for. Foolish and as I don’t like to miss a deadline really not a good idea.
- Being unorganised – I need to keep a schedule – but, let’s face it, I’d have to be organised in the first place even to think of having one, or putting it together!
- Wanting all the books (see No.2 above)
- Buying books the second they come out (yes I will wait until the door is unlocked) and then not reading them for months – why, just why?
- Signing up to anything and everything in terms of emails – where they relate to books and bookish things that is – my emails are a mess. A big mess. This is bad because when I’m looking for a really important email – yeah, no chance of finding that little sucker.
- Letting people loan my books – this is a bad idea. First, I’m not a library, 2. I don’t keep track and (c) I very rarely see those books again. ‘goodbye favourite books’ Annoying much.
- Putting books before people – yes, you all know what I’m talking about so don’t even bother to raise your eyebrows or judge. Sometimes, If I’m near the end of the book (or even at the beginning) I’m so caught up that I actually don’t want to be social.
- Not savouring the book as much as I’d like. Again, I don’t think I’m alone. Sometimes I’m enjoying a book so much that I will stay up to ridiculous-o-clock, all by myself, to finish it. This isn’t a good idea really because basically it means I’m racing through the story (not skipping anything I hasten to add). Then, when I reach the end of a book I really loved I feel bereft – why did I rush to the end when I know that’s how I’m going to feel?
- Not writing my reviews quickly enough – I don’t like to come back to book reviews after the feelings have gone cold – this is bad for me. I like to review the book while my emotions are either on a high or in turmoil – or whatever feeling it happens to be – because I want the emotion to come out in the review.
What bad habits do you need to quit???
I loved this book. It’s an absolutely perfect combination of superb characters, dark world with intriguing magic and wonderfully clever and twisted plot. A winning package nicely wrapped up in this author’s lovely writing style with great dialogue topping the lot.
To cut a long story short, and if you want the speedy version, read this book. If you want to find out a little more and read some gushing then continue on.
Firstly, I haven’t read the previous trilogy by Bardugo and can firmly say that I don’t think it’s necessary to have done so in order to enjoy this story. I’ll also mention that not having read the first I have no idea if this review will contain spoilers so please be aware of that before reading on.
I won’t elaborate too much on the plot. We find ourselves in the busy city of Ketterdam and in particular focus on the Barrell where the seedy underworld thrives and gangs jostle for superiority. The Dregs are a gang ran by Kaz Brekker. He ultimately answers to a crime lord but in practice he has put the Dregs on the map, so to speak, and made them a force to be reckoned with. Known as Dirty Hands because he’ll take any job for a price, Kaz is about to be offered an obscene amount of money for a seemingly impossible task. This is a job that will test his wits to the full but if he manages to pull it off will make him wealthy beyond his dreams.
This story is a heist with a difference. The ultimate con job to obtain something that is being sought by many and could be disastrous in the wrong hands. It will involve a select number of people, all chosen for their own particular skill and all with their own individual motivations. It involves a gang putting themselves into a situation that any self respecting criminal would normally avoid like the plague and it’s set in the magical world of the Grisha.
In terms of the writing. Bardugo pulled me into the story and the world effortlessly. Her writing is really captivating and the world here is easy to envision. No clunky info dumps that pull you out of the story but a great combination of easy detail and flashbacks that slowly create a perfect understanding of the people and places visited. On top of this she manages to achieve that perfect mix of anticipation and fear that make you want to race forward at breakneck speed but also fear to do so at the same time. And, if that’s not enough to have you chomping at the bit this is a story with multiple points of view. This isn’t always easy to pull off and let’s face it can sometimes end up with characters that seem to morph into each other and become difficult to distinguish. No fears of that happening here. These characters all stand on their own two feet. They’re flawed, they come with intriguing back stories and, more importantly, they’re easy to like. Let’s face it, multiple povs is difficult to achieve because more often than not you end up with a favourite character and it’s irritating when you’re pulled away from that particular thread. With this story I liked all the characters and so the chapters were all compelling to read about.
To the gang themselves. A quick inventory. Kaz, the brains of the crew. Quick witted and ruthless. Inej, otherwise known as the wraith. A sad backstory with insight about how she manages to be so stealthy. Matthias, you could say is the brawn and also provides invaluable Intel on the Ice Court. Nina is a Grisha soldier. She practically oozes with confidence and sexuality. Jesper is the sharpshooter with hidden talents and, finally Wylan, he’s the mystery card, definitely the real misfit of the piece but his inclusion will eventually be revealed.
I love all these characters I have to admit. The way they interplay with each other. The banter and the different relationships that eventually become intricate to the story. Okay, if I was pushed I would have to say that I love the storyline between Nina and Matthias
Basically, I loved this book. It has everything I want to read. It’s clever, fast paced and totally gripping. Magic, in fact super, drug enhanced magic, adventure, twists and turns and seemingly impossible obstacles to overcome, a light touch of romance that just sweetens the plot and adds to the gang dynamics and a finale that will leave you clutching the book with white knuckles and bemoaning the fact that it’s all come to an end too quickly. When is the next book? Enquiring and needy minds want to know.
I received a copy of this book courtesy of the publisher for which my thanks. The above is my own opinion.
Out from the door where it began:
This week over at the Fantasy Review Barn Nathan is taking us Tough Travelling looking at the tropes of fantasy. This week the topic up for discussion is:
The Well Travelled Road:
(This is a scheduled post so I may not be linked up over at the FRB – also, I don’t have the blurb so I’m taking this title to mean exactly what it says and not be all cryptic!)
- I have to go there – Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien. It would be frankly unforgivable to not include this book in this post!
- The Road by Cormac McCarthy – yes, this is a bit dark and rather gloomy to be frank. But… Apocalyptic fantasy and definitely worth a read.
- The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams – not fantasy but who cares – this really is a road trip, of sorts, kind of …well, there is plenty of travelling so I think it counts.
- A Game of Thrones GRR Martin – I’m thinking of Daenerys Targaryen when she leads her people (or what’s left of them) to try and reclaim her crown.
And, finally – I still had to go there – a clue ‘lions and tigers and bears, oh my’
My monthly round up – what I’ve read/plan to read, any events, etc:
- The Dragon Engine by Andy Remic
- Kushiel’s Chosen – readalong
- Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho
- The Traitor (Baru Cormorant) by Seth Dickinson
- Deadlands by Jonathan Maberry
- The Kingmakers by Clay and Susan Griffiths
- Bloodforged by Erin Lindsey
- Flux by Ferrett Steinmetz – review to follow
- Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo – review to follow
Bloodbound by Erin Lindsey
Unfinished series completed:
- The Kingmakers by Clay and Susan Griffiths
- The Crimson Corset by Alistair Cross
- Without Light or Guide (Los Nefilim part two) by T Frohock
- Under My Skin by Zoe Markham
- Made to Kill by Adam Christopher
- The Machinery by Gerrard Cowan
- Speak by Louisa Hall
- City of Wonders by James A Moore
- The Palace Job by Patrick Weekes
- The Prophecy Con by Patrick Weekes
- The Paladin Caper by Patrick Weekes
- The Grace of Kings by Ken Liu
- Malus Domestica by S A Hunt
Cover Spotlight: (I love both of these)
UK or US cover:?? (UK for me with this one – not fond of the US cover tbh)
Backlist Backburn is an end of month event organised by Lisa at Tenacious Reader. If you’ve caught up on any of your backlist then call over and link up. I find this a good incentive to dust off some of my books! Last Month I read the Erin Lindsey book but didn’t review it in time so included it for September’s backburn.
Top Ten Tuesday at The Broke and Bookish (every Tuesday).
Tough Travel by Nathan at the Fantasy Review Barn
Completed the readalong for Kushiel’s Chosen by Jacqueline Carey