A mixed bag this time around.

5.  House of Furies by Madeleine Roux

What it’s About:  Louisa joins the staff at the mysterious Coldthistle House, and quickly becomes suspicious that things there are not what they seem.  Ultimately she discovers that the house lures evil people to it, so that the staff can ensure these villains meet their deserved fates.  Louisa becomes convinced that one of the guests is actually an innocent, and is determined to save him from the terrible punishment awaiting him.

What I Thought:  This seems like the perfect set-up for a creepy, gothic tale.  And there are some good things here, but it just doesn’t come together to make a satisfying whole.  Part of the problem is that I just didn’t care about Louisa’s relationship with Lee, the guest she is trying to save.  It feels a bit like a prequel, setting up future stories for Louisa and the others at Coldthistle House.  Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it does result in a somewhat flat ending. 

4.  Everless by Sara Holland

What it’s About:  In a world where time is currency, Jules Ember returns to work at the home of the wealthy Gerling family, a home she and her father were once driven out of after an accident.  But with her father dying, Jules is determined to earn time in order to save his life.  But with the queen soon to arrive at the estate, Jules may find it impossible to just do her work and stay out of trouble.

What I Thought:  This one has been getting mixed reviews, and I can see why.  It’s an interesting (if sometimes confusing) world, but the characters feel a bit paint by numbers, and the first half of the story is fairly predictable.  Things pick up in the latter part of the story, enough to leave me interested to see where things go from here.

3.  First we Were IV by Alexandra Sirowy

What it’s About:  Four friends form a secret society, hoping to make their last year of high school memorable before they all go their separate ways.  It’s supposed to be harmless, but two things throw the plan off course.  First, other classmates, people who they dislike, learn about the group and want in.  Second, the four friends remember discovering a dead body a few years past, a girl whose murder was swept under the rug by the rest of the town.  And they realize their little group could be a way to force the secrets of their community into the light.

What I Thought:  I previously read Sirowy’s The Creeping, and I can safely say that she is a master at presenting an idyllic small town and then showing the reader the horrible secrets lurking beneath that façade.  There’s something about her prose that keeps me at arm’s length sometimes, but she’s still excellent at telling these creepy tales.  I didn’t like this quite as much as The Creeping, though I’ve seen other reviews saying this is Sirowy’s best book so far.

2.  The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

What I Thought:  Jude was seven years old when she learned that her older sister was actually half-fae, which she discovered when the sister’s father showed up, murdered her parents, and took the kids to live in the High Court of Faerie.  Jude has come to love her step-father, but she faces constant prejudice from all sides, including the youngest son of the king, Prince Cardan.  Jude only wants to earn her place in faerie society, but she gets caught up in court intrigue and must try to prevent a civil war from destroying her family.

What I Thought:  Black is no stranger to the world of faeries, so it probably shouldn’t be a surprise that she created a compelling and dangerous High Court that definitely sucked me in.  I’ve actually never read a Black work before, unless you count watching The Spiderwick Chronicles movie, an adaptation of her series, but this definitely makes me more inclined to pick up her other books.

  1.  Aru Shah and the End of Time by Roshani  Chockshi

What it’s About:  Aru Shah’s tendency to stretch the truth in order to seem cool comes back to bite her when three classmates show up hoping to catch her in a lie.  Against her better judgement, Aru decides to light a cursed lamp, which freezes time and sends her on a dangerous quest through a world rich with Hindu mythology.

What I Thought:  Rick Riordan is famous for the Percy Jackson universe, a contemporary fantasy filled with characters from mythology, and he awesomely decided to set up a new imprint for authors from underrepresented cultures to write similar stories.  This first result is a wonderful, fun story with two outcast girls who discover they are actually demigods, and are guided by a pigeon companion on a quest to prevent the world from being destroyed.  I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for the next book in the Aru Shah series, as well as future books from Rick Riordan Presents.

Published by Andrew Clendening