10 Perfect Halloween Reads

Happy Halloween! Today I’m sharing 10 incredible books that are perfect for reading on Halloween – or any occasion! Definitely add these to your TBR and request them at your local library. I’d love to know what books you’re reading this Halloween?


31371752Something Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard

HarperTeen | July 24, 2012

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New York Times bestselling author Susan Dennard adds a “never before in print” e-novella and a gorgeous new cover to the first book in the Something Strange and Deadly trilogy. Perfect for fans of Cassandra Clare’s Infernal Devices series.

Sixteen-year-old Eleanor Fitt’s brother is missing. After discovering the Dead are rising and wreaking havoc in Philadelphia, she knows that her brother is involved.

So Eleanor enlists the help of the Spirit-Hunters. This motley crew, hired to protect the city from supernatural forces, is after the necromancer who has been reanimating corpses. Their skills can save her brother. Yet as Eleanor spends time with the Spirit-Hunters and their handsome inventor, Daniel, the situation becomes dire. Now not only is her reputation at risk, but her very life hangs in the balance.

In Something Strange and Deadly, Susan Dennard weaves together beautifully imagined scenes of action, adventure, and vivid Victorian life to create an entertaining steampunk tapestry of humor, horror, and romance. Readers will be intrigued from the start.

This is the debut novel of one of my favourite authors and let me tell you, this book is an excellent Halloween read. It has steampunk and necromancers and zombies! I will forgive you for not having this on your shelf, so long as you add it immediately.


36952594A Blade So Black by L.L. McKinney

Imprint | September 25, 2018

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The first time the Nightmares came, it nearly cost Alice her life. Now she’s trained to battle monstrous creatures in the dark dream realm known as Wonderland with magic weapons and hardcore fighting skills. Yet even warriors have a curfew.

Life in real-world Atlanta isn’t always so simple, as Alice juggles an overprotective mom, a high-maintenance best friend, and a slipping GPA. Keeping the Nightmares at bay is turning into a full-time job. But when Alice’s handsome and mysterious mentor is poisoned, she has to find the antidote by venturing deeper into Wonderland than she’s ever gone before. And she’ll need to use everything she’s learned in both worlds to keep from losing her head . . . literally.

This is pitched as Buffy the Vampire Slayer meets Alice in Wonderland – what’s not to love? I’ve been dying to read this!


34198648The Brilliant Death by Amy Rose Capetta

Viking | October 30, 2018

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For Teodora DiSangro, a mafia don’s daughter, family is fate.

All her life, Teodora has hidden the fact that she secretly turns her family’s enemies into music boxes, mirrors, and other decorative objects. After all, everyone in Vinalia knows that stregas—wielders of magic—are figures out of fairytales. Nobody believes they’re real.

Then the Capo, the land’s new ruler, sends poisoned letters to the heads of the Five Families that have long controlled Vinalia. Four lie dead and Teo’s beloved father is gravely ill. To save him, Teo must travel to the capital as a DiSangro son—not merely disguised as a boy, but transformed into one.

Enter Cielo, a strega who can switch back and forth between male and female as effortlessly as turning a page in a book. Teo and Cielo journey together to the capital, and Teo struggles to master her powers and to keep her growing feelings for Cielo locked in her heart. As she falls in love with witty, irascible Cielo, Teo realizes how much of life she’s missed by hiding her true nature. But she can’t forget her mission, and the closer they get to the palace, the more sinister secrets they uncover about what’s really going on in their beloved country—and the more determined Teo becomes to save her family at any cost.

I’ve been wanting to read this for a long time, but every time I hear someone talking about it, THE BRILLIANT DEATH gets higher and higher on my TBR.


36671146Hidden Pieces by Paula Stokes

HarperTeen | August 28, 2018

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Embry Woods has secrets. Small ones about her past. Bigger ones about her relationship with town hero Luke and her feelings for someone new. But the biggest secret she carries with her is about what happened that night at the Sea Cliff Inn. The fire. The homeless guy. Everyone thinks Embry is a hero, too, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.

Embry thinks she’ll have to take the secret to her grave, until she receives an anonymous note—someone else knows the truth. Next comes a series of threatening messages, asking Embry to make impossible choices, forcing her to put her loved ones at risk. Someone is playing a high stakes game where no one in Embry’s life is safe. And their last move…is murder.

This twisty thriller from Paula Stokes should be at the top of your TBR pile! Filled with secrets, high stakes and murder, HIDDEN PIECES is the perfect Halloween read.


Certain Dark Things HC Mech.inddCertain Dark Things by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Thomas Dunne Books | October 25, 2016

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Welcome to Mexico City… An Oasis In A Sea Of Vampires…

Domingo, a lonely garbage-collecting street kid, is busy eking out a living when a jaded vampire on the run swoops into his life.

Atl, the descendant of Aztec blood drinkers, must feast on the young to survive and Domingo looks especially tasty. Smart, beautiful, and dangerous, Atl needs to escape to South America, far from the rival narco-vampire clan pursuing her. Domingo is smitten.

Her plan doesn’t include developing any real attachment to Domingo. Hell, the only living creature she loves is her trusty Doberman. Little by little, Atl finds herself warming up to the scrappy young man and his effervescent charm.

And then there’s Ana, a cop who suddenly finds herself following a trail of corpses and winds up smack in the middle of vampire gang rivalries.

Vampires, humans, cops, and gangsters collide in the dark streets of Mexico City. Do Atl and Domingo even stand a chance of making it out alive?

I started reading CERTAIN DARK THINGS and it is incredible – this should be on everyone’s TBR! I love the cover and the characters just draw you in.


27414411Pitch Dark by Courtney Alameda

Feiwel & Friends | February 20, 2018

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Set against a future of marauding space scavengers and deadly aliens who kill with sound, here is a frightening, fast-paced YA adventure from the author of the acclaimed horror novel, Shutter.

Tuck has been in stasis on the USS John Muir, a ship that houses Earth’s most valued artifacts—its natural resources. Parks and mountains are preserved in space.

Laura belongs to a shipraiding family, who are funded by a group used to getting what they want. And they want what’s on the Muir.

Tuck and Laura didn’t bargain on working together, or battling mutant aliens who use sound to kill. But their plan is the only hope for their crews, their families, and themselves.

In space, nobody can hear you scream . . . but on the John Muir, the screams are the last thing you’ll hear.

I’m almost finished my binge of Riddick movies and this will be the perfect book to read afterwards. I love anything to do with space and aliens. Definitely add this to your TBR!


23168806Seriously Wicked by Tina Connolly

Tor Teen | May 5, 2015

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The only thing worse than being a witch is living with one.

Camellia’s adopted mother wants Cam to grow up to be just like her. Problem is, Mom’s a seriously wicked witch.

Cam’s used to stopping the witch’s crazy schemes for world domination. But when the witch summons a demon, he gets loose—and into Devon, the cute new boy at school.

Now Cam’s suddenly got bigger problems than passing Algebra. Her friends are getting zombiefied. Their dragon is tired of hiding in the RV garage. For being a shy boy-band boy, Devon is sure kissing a bunch of girls. And a phoenix hidden in the school is going to explode on the night of the Halloween Dance.

To stop the demon before he destroys Devon’s soul, Cam might have to try a spell of her own. But if she’s willing to work spells like the witch…will that mean she’s wicked too?

I loved the humour and heart in SERIOUSLY WICKED! I read this last year and I really liked the author’s take on witches and magic.


27414389A Darkly Beating Heart by Lindsay Smith

Roaring Brook Press | October 25, 2016

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A time-travel story that alternates between modern day and 19th century Japan as one girl confronts the darkness lurking in her soul.

No one knows what to do with Reiko. She is full of hatred. All she can think about is how to best hurt herself and the people closest to her. After a failed suicide attempt, Reiko’s parents send her from their Seattle home to spend the summer with family in Japan to learn to control her emotions. But while visiting Kuramagi, a historic village preserved to reflect the nineteenth-century Edo period, Reiko finds herself slipping back in time into the life of Miyu, a young woman even more bent on revenge than Reiko herself. Reiko loves being Miyu, until she discovers the secret of Kuramagi village, and must face down Miyu’s demons as well as her own.

I’ve heard so many incredible things about A DARKLY BEATING HEART and it’s everything I love to read in a book. A must-have for Halloween.


35068650Contagion by Erin Bowman

HarperTeen | July 24, 2018

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It got in us.

After receiving an urgent SOS from a work detail on a distant planet, a skeleton crew is dispatched to perform a standard search-and-rescue mission.

Most are dead.

But when the crew arrives, they find an abandoned site, littered with rotten food, discarded weapons…and dead bodies.

Don’t set foot here again.

As they try to piece together who—or what—could have decimated an entire operation, they discover that some things are best left buried—and some monsters are only too ready to awaken.

Erin Bowman is another fave of mine so I was super excited to read this. I love sci-fi and this just sounds so intriguing. Also, this cover is to die for!


BONUS BOOK:

39863277Bloodwitch by Susan Dennard

Tor Teen | February 12, 2019

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Fans of Susan Dennard’s New York Times bestselling Witchlands series have fallen in love with the Bloodwitch Aeduan. And now, finally, comes his story.

High in a snowy mountain range, a monastery that holds more than just faith clings to the side of a cliff. Below, thwarted by a lake, a bloodthirsty horde of raiders await the coming of winter and the frozen path to destroy the sanctuary and its secrets.

The Bloodwitch Aeduan has teamed up with the Threadwitch Iseult and the magical girl Owl to stop the destruction. But to do so, he must confront his own father, and his past.

Bloodwitch doesn’t come out until February, but this is the perfect Halloween read and I just had to share some preorder links. I love this fantasy series so much (this is book #4!) and you can check out my reviews of Truthwitch, Windwitch, and Sightwitch.

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Top 5 October Releases

October is officially the best month – a ton of books were released! It was so hard choosing my top 5 picks so I decided to split this feature in two. For part one, I’m sharing five standalones by five incredible authors! Don’t be disappointed if your favourite book isn’t here, my next post will be about sequels. Definitely check these out and don’t forget, leaving a review on book retailer sites and making library requests help authors so much. You can learn more about this feature here.


36952596Blanca & Roja by Anna-Marie McLemore

Feiwel & Friends | October 9, 2018

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Synopsis: 

The biggest lie of all is the story you think you already know.

The del Cisne girls have never just been sisters; they’re also rivals, Blanca as obedient and graceful as Roja is vicious and manipulative. They know that, because of a generations-old spell, their family is bound to a bevy of swans deep in the woods. They know that, one day, the swans will pull them into a dangerous game that will leave one of them a girl, and trap the other in the body of a swan.

But when two local boys become drawn into the game, the swans’ spell intertwines with the strange and unpredictable magic lacing the woods, and all four of their fates depend on facing truths that could either save or destroy them. Blanca & Roja is the captivating story of sisters, friendship, love, hatred, and the price we pay to protect our hearts.


34842042The Light Between Worlds by Laura Weymouth

HarperTeen | October 23, 2018

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Synopsis: 

Five years ago, Evelyn and Philippa Hapwell cowered from air strikes in a London bomb shelter. But that night took a turn when the sisters were transported to another realm called the Woodlands. In a forest kingdom populated by creatures out of myth and legend, they found temporary refuge.

When they finally returned to London, nothing had changed at all—nothing, except themselves.

Now, Ev spends her days sneaking into the woods outside her boarding school, wishing for the Woodlands. Overcome with longing, she is desperate to return no matter what it takes.

Philippa, on the other hand, is determined to find a place in this world. She shields herself behind a flawless exterior and countless friends, and moves to America to escape the memory of what was.

But when Evelyn goes missing, Philippa must confront the depth of her sister’s despair and the painful truths they’ve been running from. As the weeks unfold, Philippa wonders if Ev truly did find a way home, or if the weight of their worlds pulled her under.

Content warnings are available at www.lauraeweymouth.com/books


36430924Beneath the Citadel by Destiny Soria

Amulet | October 9, 2018

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Synopsis: 

In the city of Eldra, people are ruled by ancient prophecies. For centuries, the high council has stayed in power by virtue of the prophecies of the elder seers. After the last infallible prophecy came to pass, growing unrest led to murders and an eventual rebellion that raged for more than a decade.

In the present day, Cassa, the orphaned daughter of rebels, is determined to fight back against the high council, which governs Eldra from behind the walls of the citadel. Her only allies are no-nonsense Alys, easygoing Evander, and perpetually underestimated Newt, and Cassa struggles to come to terms with the legacy of rebellion her dead parents have left her — and the fear that she may be inadequate to shoulder the burden. But by the time Cassa and her friends uncover the mystery of the final infallible prophecy, it may be too late to save the city — or themselves.


38720939A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh Mafi

HarperTeen | October 16, 2018

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Synopsis: 

It’s 2002, a year after 9/11. It’s an extremely turbulent time politically, but especially so for someone like Shirin, a sixteen-year-old Muslim girl who’s tired of being stereotyped.

Shirin is never surprised by how horrible people can be. She’s tired of the rude stares, the degrading comments—even the physical violence—she endures as a result of her race, her religion, and the hijab she wears every day. So she’s built up protective walls and refuses to let anyone close enough to hurt her. Instead, she drowns her frustrations in music and spends her afternoons break-dancing with her brother.

But then she meets Ocean James. He’s the first person in forever who really seems to want to get to know Shirin. It terrifies her—they seem to come from two irreconcilable worlds—and Shirin has had her guard up for so long that she’s not sure she’ll ever be able to let it down.


39848512Odd One Out by Nic Stone

Crown Books for Young Readers | October 9, 2018

Buy: Amazon | Book Depository |  Chapters/Indigo.ca | B&N | Kobo

Synopsis:

From the New York Times bestselling author of Dear Martincomes this illuminating exploration of old friendships, new crushes, and the path to self-discovery.

Courtney “Coop” Cooper
Dumped. Again. And normally I wouldn’t mind. But right now, my best friend and source of solace, Jupiter Sanchez, is ignoring me to text some girl.

Rae Evelyn Chin
I assumed “new girl” would be synonymous with “pariah,” but Jupiter and Courtney make me feel like I’m right where I belong. I also want to kiss him. And her. Which is . . . perplexing.

Jupiter Charity-Sanchez
The only thing worse than losing the girl you love to a boy is losing her to your boy. That means losing him, too. I have to make a move. . . .

One story.
Three sides.
No easy answers.

Book Review: Circle of Jinn by Lori Goldstein

18046383Circle of Jinn – sequel to Becoming Jinn

Lori Goldstein

3/5 stars

Release Date: May 17, 2016

Publisher: Feiwel and Friends

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository | Chapters/Indigo.ca | B&N | Kobo

Synopsis on Goodreads:

Being Jinn is Azra’s new reality. As she grants wishes under the watchful eye of the Afrit council, she remains torn between her two worlds—human and Jinn. Soon, secrets spill. Zars are broken. Humans become pawns. And rumors of an uprising become real as the Afrit’s reach extends beyond the underground world of Janna.

Straddling the line becomes impossible. Aware of her unique abilities, Azra must not just face but embrace her destiny. But when the role she must play and those she must protect expand to include a circle of Jinn greater than her own, Azra will be forced to risk everything. A risk that means there’s everything to lose, and at the same time, everything to gain—for herself and her entire Jinn race.

In this dramatic sequel to Becoming Jinn, Azra’s story comes to a heartfelt and thrilling conclusion.

Review: 

I’m very conflicted over the rating of this book. Halfway through this was a 3.5-4 star rating for me and then when I reached the last 100 pages of the book, it became a 3. More on why in my review below.

CIRCLE OF JINN is the sequel to BECOMING JINN and while I enjoyed it overall and am glad I finished the series, I’m a bit disappointed. Becoming Jinn had such a solid plot and the character development was fantastic, particularly when it came to Azra, our protagonist. Even though this was Goldstein’s first novel, I could tell from the writing she was not an amateur [writer]. There were a few things I disliked about the first book: it focused more on the human world and Azra’s ties with humans (like Henry and Nate), which wasn’t my personal reading preference – I wanted more fantasy, less contemporary; more Jinn less human. I was hoping the second book would give me that, as things were finally getting exciting by the end.

Sadly this wasn’t the case. Like I mentioned, things were pretty slow until halfway through the book. The one thing I did like is that Azra being so focused on her ties with the human world mirrored the real problems teens go through today. For example, Azra is sort of together not really together with Nate, but she kissed Henry. She feels really guilty about that and wonders if she should tell Nate, even though they aren’t official. These are things teen-me could relate to. There were also more “serious” issues; in the first book we learn Henry’s sister and childhood friend of Azra, Jenny died as a kid. That accident and the resulting trauma has lived with her ever since. Even if this book didn’t meet what I wanted 100% (more fantastical elements), I still felt I needed to finish the book. I feel teens will enjoy and even find solace in Azra. The character development between Azra and self & Azra and other characters was great. The reader is able to connect with Azra.

I also liked the introduction of new characters like Zak and Matin. I can’t say who exactly they are (spoilers), but I feel most readers will like them.

World-building – one of the things this book is sorely lacking. It’s one of my favourite parts of a book, so that was a huge negative for me. There were so many things I wanted to know about Janna, the home “city” of the Jinn as well as the Jinn and Afrit. For example, I thought female jinn were sent to live in the human world hundreds of years ago, but apparently this happened right before Azra was born?! As well, why do Jinn grant wishes to humans? I know the Afrit force Jinn to do it to control them, but what about before the Afrit were in power? At one point a Jinn will not have enough magic to connect to a human’s soul and see what they truly desire, and therefore no longer be able to grant wishes. What’s the point of that then? Some might do it out of the goodness of their hearts, but not all are fond of humans.

I mentioned above that my rating changed when I got to the last 100 pages of the book. So many plot twists were revealed that it was just too much and those 100 pages felt like a mess. It was made even worse because in one way or another, these plot twists were all connected. The author was able to tie up all the loose ends, but it was a very bumpy ride for the reader. Circle of Jinn was also lacking action, so the ending felt anticlimactic. I wasn’t exactly expecting sword fights but a little more action would have been nice.

Now that I’ve mentioned the lack of action, there was also a lack of action from Azra’s Zar sisters. The Zar is supposed to be this eternal sisterhood going back generations. I loved this and thought it was a really great creation on the author’s part. The point of this sisterhood is to help with wish-granting etc. Together they have so much more power, so granting a wish or performing a spell is made much easier than if just the one Jinn was doing it. I felt like the author really took a step back with them. If the Zar had all helped fight the antagonist together, it would have canceled out the “Special Snowflake effect” [Azra]. The author tries to cancel the SS effect by introducing/revealing characters with powers similar to Azra, but it didn’t really work out in the end.

I actually have so many issues with the epilogue. Half the things that were mentioned could have happened in the actual book, and might have been the action this book was sorely lacking. So, I thought this book was a trilogy and I’m wondering if it was meant to be one but for one reason or another was made into a duology? It felt like the author had to fit things meant for two books into one.

Final thoughts: if you loved Becoming Jinn, you’ll probably like this. If you usually read contemporary and are looking for something that isn’t hardcore fantasy and without a lot of action, you’ll probably like this series. If you were disappointed or frustrated with Becoming Jinn, it’s unlikely you’ll enjoy this.

Book Review: Trial by Fire by Josephine Angelini

23310784Trial by Fire

Josephine Angelini

4/5 stars

Release Date: September 2, 2014

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository | Chapters/Indigo.ca | B&N | Kobo

Synopsis on Goodreads:

The exhilaratingly seductive new series from the author of the bestselling Starcrossed series

Love burns. Worlds collide. Magic reigns.

This world is trying to kill Lily Proctor. Her life-threatening allergies keep her from enjoying many of the experiences that other teenagers take for granted…which is why she is determined to enjoy her first (and perhaps only) high-school party. But Lily’s life never goes according to plan, and after a humiliating incident in front of half her graduating class Lily wishes she could just disappear.

Suddenly Lily is in a different Salem – one overrun with horrifying creatures and ruled by powerful women called Crucibles. Strongest and cruellest of all the Crucibles is Lillian . . . Lily’s identical other self in this alternate universe. This new version of her world is terrifyingly sensual, and Lily is soon overwhelmed by new experiences.

Lily realizes that what makes her weak at home is exactly what makes her extraordinary in New Salem. It also puts her life in danger. Thrown into a world she doesn’t understand, Lily is torn between responsibilities she can’t hope to shoulder alone, and a love she never expected.

But how can Lily be the saviour of this world when she is literally her own worst enemy?

Review:

Trial by Fire incorporates Salem witches, spirit walking, and alternate universes. Alternate universes are my absolute favourite and Angelini doesn’t disappoint – it’s creative and well-done. Lily lives in our world but is brought to an alternate Salem through her other self, Lillian. What’s worse, Lily learns magic and witches reign supreme and Lillian is the ruler and villain of this new world. Angelini gives us an incredible world that I loved reading about!

The book starts off in our world, introducing Lily, her family, and best friend Tristan. Lily is frequently sick and diagnosed with more allergies than she can count, so her social life consists mainly of Tristan. Lily’s had a long-time crush on Tristan, which I found a bit cheesy especially when the reader learns Tristan is the school’s most popular boy. The author doesn’t have enough room to make this popular trope unique so in my personal opinion it should have been avoided. Before the start, the two had a steamy kiss, but they hadn’t discussed where their relationship lies so when Lily see’s Tristan making out with his ex at a party, she runs off with a broken heart. This creates the perfect opportunity for Lillian to bring Lily to her world – Lily has to willingly agree to leave and of course, she’d like to be anywhere but here.

The world-building is phenomenal and my favourite aspect of the book. I was actually expecting a pre-1800’s Salem, but I think it’s set in or around present day because technology exists, although influenced by magic. You have things like bioluminescent trees and giant walled cities – the cities are reminiscent of the Thirteen colonies. When it comes to science and magic there’s a really interesting dynamic. The growth of science is controlled by the ruling coven so that it can’t become bigger or independent of magic. If a citizen needs clean water or medicine, they have to hire a witch because using science for something like that is illegal. Ironically magic is more expensive than science, so this further divides the witches and non-magic people.

I loved Angelini’s version of witches and magic. Everyone has a Willstone, which is a small rock usually worn as a necklace and acts as an extra limb. A Willstone also allows a witch to bond with other people and share their magic. It’s very sensitive so if destroyed or in the wrong hands can be very painful for the witch. There’s also people called Mechanics, someone a witch is expected to bond with and is supposed to make sure the witch’s body and soul is in good condition. In exchange, they get a lot of magic to use at their own disposal. Outlanders like Rowan, people born outside the city walls and therefore not a citizen, fear bonding with a witch because there’s a chance the witch will control their thoughts and use them like a puppet.

When it comes to the Outlanders, there wasn’t the same sort of creative development like with witches and magic. It borders really close to “Native Americans are savages and the Europeans civilized” and other racist, misperceptions. It makes the author look like A: did not do a lot of research on Native American history and/or doesn’t feel like they need to because it’s an alternate universe largely focused on Salem witches and B: a product of the American education system that isn’t overly focused on teaching accurate Native American history.

I loved Rowan and the romance between Lily and him. Some characters like Juliet (Lily’s sister) and Tristan exist in both worlds, but there’s no Rowan in Lily’s world so both the reader and Lily get to learn about this person at the same time. We find out Rowan and Lillian used to have some sort of romantic relationship so I’m not 100% sure how I feel about that when it comes to the romance between him and Lily, BUT I still ship the latter.

I expected to see a lot more of Lillian and as this great villain she’s been advertised. I like reading about the villain and seeing their POV because things aren’t just black and white. She’s presented as a person who’s resorted to the no-other-option to save her world and I just wish we’d seen her more as the villain and interacting with Lily. The reader learns about her dark acts from other characters so I hope we get to see more of her in the sequel.

Something that wasn’t made clear is whether Mechanics are only males and if females can become Mechanics, but it’s just rare. There are male witches, but not many and most probably don’t know they’re witches. I was also disappointed with the lack of female characters. Lily didn’t interact with any on a regular basis, other than maybe her sister, Juliet and doppelgänger Lillian. Even in her own world she didn’t seem to have any female friends. It’s really important to me that a heroine of a book have at least one good female friend.

Overall I loved this book and will be reading the sequel (already bought it). Cheesy parts aside, the world-building is incredibly strong and Angelini’s world stands out so much to me. If you’re looking for a new original take on Salem witches and magic, this book is for you. There’s so much about the world that I loved and it’s impossible to write about it all in a review, so read the book!