Mini Reviews #4 | Courting Darkness, The Beauty of the Wolf, Pantomime, The Quiet at the End of the World

Hello Humans! Fancy a few more Mini Reviews? After finishing our little Bookaneerathon reading session I slowed down on library reading just a little (there’s so much to read guys) – so these aren’t coming in as thick and fast as they have been. There’s still plenty to be reviewing so I’d better get started!

Courting darknessCourting Darkness

Yes, I am now finally caught up with this series! Please take a moment to congratulate me on actually reading these in order – I am pleased with my personal growth.

This book was, in a number of ways, quite different from the previous books in the series. For one thing, this book follows a character from a previous book, Sybella, where the previous three books have started with a new character each time. But we do still get a new character, Genevieve because this book is dual POV! I thought this worked really well, giving you the link between the previous books and this new storyline as well as giving a bit more of personal insight into the new setting.

I did feel like Sybella was a little bit less…headstrong? Perhaps ‘impulsive’ would be a better word. I didn’t personally mind that as I feel like she does grow up as a character through the first three books – but there is certainly a difference.

Another difference is that this book doesn’t round off as much as the previous three books did – in fact it ends on a kind of cliffhanger. This didn’t change my enjoyment of the book but I did find it interesting as the other three books are so ‘complete’. I’m a little bit sore that I’ll have to wait to find out what happens – but it has certainly reignited my interest in this series. (I have now looked at Goodreads and realised that this is going to be a duology or maybe even another trilogy?- so I guess that makes sense).

I had a good time reading this. It’s a bit denser than previous books – or perhaps it was just that my paperback had very small font, but those who enjoyed the other books in this series will certainly have a good time!

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The Beauty of the Wolf

The Beauty of the WolfThis book is absolutely beautiful (I read the hardback edition) and if you’re the kind of person who collects beautiful books then this should absolutely be on your list.

Unfortunately, this book just wasn’t for me. I didn’t get on with the characters, the plot or the writing style. That is, for the most part, a matter of personal preference and there are certainly people who I can see enjoying this story. I have read a good number of Beauty and the Beast retellings and, while the idea of flipping the genders is clever, this one didn’t hit the mark for me.

This book has a lot of talk about gender and same-sex attraction – but it felt to me like it was done less as an intentional look at representation and as more of an ‘ooh this will make this story more interesting’. I don’t know, it didn’t quite sit right with me, I’ll be interested to read some own voices reviews to see what others thought about this.

This is absolutely a personal thing, but I find the use of the word ‘cunny’ to be the equivalent of the word ‘moist’ (said out loud). It just sets my teeth on edge and this book used it a lot. I expect it’s historically accurate but I could have done without it.

I don’t know, this felt like a bit of a hodge-podge of ideas that never really came together. There are some good moments but they aren’t really enough to lift it.

If you enjoy more convoluted retellings, and things that lean towards being deliberately unsettling then I would guess that you will enjoy this more than I did.

My rating: 2/5 stars

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Pantomime

PantomimeNot strictly a library book, but a loan from the lovely Justine.

I have a vague recollection of picking up the third book in this series over a year ago, having no idea what was happening and putting it down. It has taken me more than a year to actually find the first book and read it.

I’m so glad I didn’t give up on this. This is, in my opinion, a really great example of how to write circus fantasy that isn’t just a clone of The Night Circus. It features an intersex main character who, in my opinion, was presented in a very gentle and non-offensive way (though, of course, own voices reviewers should be placed above my own opinion). It is an incredibly quick read, doing a lot of set-up for later books which I am now desperately in need of.

If you’re vaguely interested in this series I would highly recommend giving the first book a try. It’s great writing and will certainly leave you wanting more.

My rating: 4/5 stars

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The Quiet at the End of the World

The Quiet at the End of the WorldDespite it having been everywhere at YALC a couple of years ago I haven’t actually read Lauren James’ The Loneliest Girl in the Universe but my local library had The Quiet at the End of the World and I thought I’d give it a go.

I don’t know about this one. Overall, I’d say it was a good read, and worth reading if you like weird dystopian/science fiction YA that doesn’t read like the same old same old.

I think my lack of maternal-ness may be playing an extra role here as a lot of the subplot of this book is told through social media posts from a long-dead woman telling the story of how humanity lost their fertility and everyone started having robot babies. I won’t say I didn’t care, but I think I responded in more of a ‘this is creepy’ way than I might have done otherwise? Probably more of a me thing.

But I liked the main plot, Shen and Lowrie were great characters, I felt like there was awesome LGBTQIA+ representation throughout the book (and that was with the premise of having only two characters – what excuse do other books have?). I thought that the format, starting each chapter with an extract from the logbook of what these two had managed to find, was a great way of contextualising this idea of memory and legacy, cross that with the idea of our digital legacy – social media profiles and such, and you’ve got some quite powerful ideas going on.

I think I’ve ended up coming down on the ‘I liked this but I don’t know that I’ll re-read it any time soon, but I’d certainly recommend it to people who enjoy this kind of story.

My rating: 3.5-4/5 stars

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