Sorcerer to the Crown – Zen Cho Review

At his wit’s end, Zacharias Wythe, freed slave, eminently proficient magician, and Sorcerer Royal of the Unnatural Philosophers—one of the most respected organizations throughout all of Britain—ventures to the border of Fairyland to discover why England’s magical stocks are drying up.

But when his adventure brings him in contact with a most unusual comrade, a woman with immense power and an unfathomable gift, he sets on a path which will alter the nature of sorcery in all of Britain—and the world at large…

Why did I pick this up?: Honestly, I picked it up because I KEPT hearing about it. So often that I eventually caved and thought ‘why not just buy it and see?’

Good points: Okay, there is this gorgeous idea within it where characters use clouds as transportation. I LOVE THAT. I also love Prunella, and Rollo, who are great characters with huge potential.

Quibbles: I haven’t got that many, but yet again this was a book I was reading that was very slow to start. It reads a little like Austen, as several people have said, and this sort of thing often puts me off. However this time it didn’t. I’d say it was a steady 4/5. It also reminds me of Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, which I love, so there was always going to be at least some positive points there.

Overview (TL;DR): Super short review, but… it was a good book, nothing to scream and rave about for me, but definitely worth picking up.

-K Hart

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Dreams and Shadows – C Robert Cargill Review

There is another world than our own—one no closer than a kiss and one no further than our nightmares—where all the stuff of which dreams are made is real and magic is just a step away. But once you see that world, you will never be the same.

Dreams and Shadows takes us beyond this veil. Once bold explorers and youthful denizens of this magical realm, Ewan is now an Austin musician who just met his dream girl, and Colby, meanwhile, cannot escape the consequences of an innocent wish. But while Ewan and Colby left the Limestone Kingdom as children, it has never forgotten them. And in a world where angels relax on rooftops, whiskey-swilling genies argue metaphysics with foul-mouthed wizards, and monsters in the shadows feed on fear, you can never outrun your fate.

Why did I pick this up?: Urban fantasy, a world of faeries close to ours, genies, a darker faery world? Not to mention the gorgeous cover. This book sounded like it was made for me… and spoiler alert, it met expectations!

Good points: This book had an incredible skill and craftsmanship about it. It’s been compared to Gaiman’s work, and I can see why. That underground world of magic fusing seamlessly with our own mundane world, creatures walking amongst us invisible. This book  was everything I wanted from an urban fantasy – it made me believe that maybe, just maybe, it might be real. I loved the dark and the weird: that’s my territory, and this checked all of my boxes.

Quibbles: Honestly, it’s a shame, but it took me a while to really get into it. Starting with the young Colby made me wonder for quite a long time where it was going, and if I’d even like it. I loved the little bits of information we got from the start about the magical world, but the characterisation of young Colby, not so much.

Overall (TL;DR): Please don’t put this down because you’re not sure where it’s going. I promise you, it’s going somewhere great. If you’re willing to come along for the ride, this book will take you to amazing places.

-K Hart