Book reviews for 3 recent fantasy reads!
1. Cinderella is Dead by Kalynn Bayron ⭐⭐⭐.5
This was an extremely fast paced, entertaining YA fantasy! I loved how this story opened up and jumped right into the action. This story felt like a fairytale and I was hooked right from the beginning. I absolutely loved the diverse representation, strong feminist themes, and extremely unique twist Kalynn Bayron took on this classic fairytale. This book felt fresh and new despite it’s ties to a story we all know.
I also loved how utterly readable this book was. I absolutely flew through the pages, trying to discover what happened next. I was wholly invested in the story from start to finish. However, I do think it may have moved a little too fast. By the halfway point, only 5 days had passed but so much plot had developed. Especially with the romance, which was far too instantaneous for preference. Especially considering the MC’s initial motivation was her romantic feelings for someone else.
Overall I felt the character and plot development were a little too hurried, but I loved Kalynn Bayron’s writing, the themes and discussions had, as well as the history and fairytale aspect of this world. I thought this book had the perfect setup for more books to be written in this series since other fairytales are hinted at – and I would absolutely read all of them! This was a fun, solid YA fantasy that I definitely recommend checking out!
2. Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
I absolutely loved everything about the fantastical YA contemporary. It had amazing characters, heartfelt familial discussions, a romance for the ages, and all the magical, ghostly vibes. Plus any book that can make me sob happy tears for the last 10 pages is an easy 5⭐ read.
I’m going to keep this relatively short so it doesn’t turn into an embarrassingly massive list of things I loved.
Yadriel’s was such an amazing main character to follow. He was so lovable and determined. From his struggles with identity and acceptance from his family, to his drive to prove himself magically, to his devotion to his family, friends, and even accidentally summoned ghosts, I was completely invested in his story.
I loved the Latinx representations, the discussions on gender and identity, the themes of cultural expectations & tradition, as well as found family. Julian is the type of rough-and-tumble love interest I adore, and I loved watching their relationship unfold. They had amazing banter and loads of chemistry.
The mystery aspect was really engaging, and while I wasn’t surprised by the twist, I thought everything about it was executed to perfection. And those last 2 chapters… all the tears. I loved absolutely everything about this amazing fantasy and cannot recommend this enough!
3. Fortuna Sworn (Fortuna Sworn #1) by K.J. Sutton ⭐⭐⭐.5
I really enjoyed the concept of this adult fantasy and thought it was a solid opening to a series. It had an interesting plot, expansive world, and compelling characters. It was definitely extremely dark at times and covers a lot of difficult themes. I was completely engaged while reading and absolutely flew through the pages every time I picked this up.
However I wasn’t completely blown away, this definitely felt like a first book. While I loved the multiple love interests, I didn’t feel particularly attached to any of them. In fact, I never got too attached to any of the characters. I thought all of them were interesting and layered, but since this was so plot (trial) driven, we didn’t get much in the way of character development.
I’m also not super clear on the world. I think this will most likely be explained further in upcoming books, but I couldn’t really follow how the different courts, creatures, etc were connected or what the hierarchy (if there was any) was. I definitely felt as if I was missing some crucial information, especially during the heavy political discussions.
This isn’t a con but it’s something I wanted to mention because it’s talked about often – this book wasn’t nearly as sexy/erotic as everyone builds it up to be. This was pitched to me as this super erotic fantasy and there’s like a single sexual scene in this entire book. I can’t speak for subsequent books, but if you were deterred by that, it’s not nearly as sexual as everyone has made it out to be.
Overall this was a really enjoyable start to a new fantasy romance series. While I had a couple of issues, I’m really intrigued by the characters, world, and relationships and I’m excited to see how everything develops and becomes intertwined. I have a feeling my few minor issues will be fleshed out in upcoming books!
Content Warnings: Slavery, Slave Trade, Kidnapping, Abuse, Death of a Parent/Loved One, Eating Disorder, Misogyny, Sexual Assault, Anxiety (Mention of Panic Attacks), Blood/Gore, Public Beating (Whipping), Forced Marriage, Stockholm Syndrome, Animal Abuse/Death, Murder, Self Harm/Cutting (For Rituals)