Welcome to my book-blog. I spend as much time as I can within the pages of a book and hope you'll get some reading inspiration from my library. Catch me on Instagram as well as books.tea.and.me – I'm always looking for recommendations!
It’s a pleasure to be a part of the Blog Tour for Bea Green’s crime thriller novel, ‘Stealing the Spanish Princess’. Firstly, an apology, as my review is not ready to post. It’s the first time I’ve failed to get my review complete for blog tour day and for that I am awfully sorry. For now, please check out the blurb and some of the fabulous bloggers who have posted their reviews already; my review will be up very soon.
In this captivating and dazzling art crime mystery, eccentric detective Richard Langley hunts for a 16th-century masterpiece by the artist El Greco. The thief stole the priceless painting from an apartment in Kensington, London, and in the process knifed to death a Russian woman.
DCI Richard Langley from Scotland Yard’s Art and Antiquities Unit joins colleagues from Homicide as they pursue a trail that leads them to St Petersburg and then to Madrid. Following closely in their footsteps is a maverick private investigator hired by the painting’s owner. Knowing how hard it is to sell on stolen artworks of that calibre, Richard wonders what the motive behind its theft might be.
The answer, when it comes, takes everyone by surprise.
The Blog Tour
Bea Green has had a somewhat roving life as the daughter of a British diplomat. Her mother is Spanish and growing up Bea spent every summer at her grandfather’s olive tree farm in Andalusia. This olive tree farm was the inspiration for her contemporary romance book, La Finca.
Bea studied Art throughout school and then did Art History for two of her four years at St Andrews University, where she met her husband. She graduated with an MA in English Literature.
Her interest in art was fostered by her father and her Spanish grandmother. Her Spanish grandmother accompanied her to many of Madrid’s art galleries and several of El Prado’s paintings are fondly remembered in Bea’s art crime book, Stealing the Spanish Princess.
Stealing the Spanish Princess was inspired by a Spanish painting, Lady in a Fur Wrap, at Pollok House, Glasgow. When Bea wrote Stealing the Spanish Princess there was a huge debate among art experts about the painting, with some claiming it was painted by El Greco. Some experts thought the painting was of Princess Catalina Micaela, daughter of the Spanish King, Philip II.
Bea Green has lived in Edinburgh since leaving St Andrews University, with her Glaswegian husband and two daughters. She also maintains close links with her family in Spain.
Lucia’s fingers found her own. She gazed at Caro as if from a distance. Her lips parted, her words a whisper: ‘He knows.’
Daughters of Night
London, 1782. Desperate for her politician husband to return home from France, Caroline ‘Caro’ Corsham is already in a state of anxiety when she finds a well-dressed woman mortally wounded in the bowers of the Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens. The Bow Street constables are swift to act, until they discover that the deceased woman was a highly-paid prostitute, at which point they cease to care entirely. But Caro has motives of her own for wanting to see justice done, and so sets out to solve the crime herself. Enlisting the help of thief-taker, Peregrine Child, their inquiry delves into the hidden corners of Georgian society, a world of artifice, deception and secret lives.
But with many gentlemen refusing to speak about their dealings with the dead woman, and Caro’s own reputation under threat, finding the killer will be harder, and more treacherous than she can know . . .
My thoughts – Daughters of Night
The contours of this novel are meticulous and the atmosphere produced by Shepherd-Robinson’s narrative pulls the reader into the past. I loved the history that this novel draws upon as its visual background and plot; the sex trade of this period is fascinating and drives the story of a brutal murder in Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens. Featuring characters from the writer’s debut novel Blood & Sugar (a highly recommended read), and, in particular, Caroline Corsham who finds herself embroiled in a terrible crime; this by no means inhibits the reading of this book and it works beautifully as a standalone. What I love about this book is the depth to the story, which is, at its core a murder mystery, but it’s so well researched with themes of: the female in Georgian London, art, representation, poverty, moneylenders, politics, sex and desire and power. It’s a great dip into the society of this period, matched with a riveting and meticulously planned investigation. A feast of flawed characters, hypocrisy. morality and sins. Loved it!
The Chalet by Catherine Cooper
French Alps, 1998
Two young men ski into a blizzard… but only one returns.
20 years later
Four people connected to the missing man find themselves in that same resort. Each has a secret. Two may have blood on their hands. One is a killer-in-waiting.
Someone knows what really happened that day.
And somebody will pay.
Don’t you just love a twisty, pacey, perfectly plotted chiller thriller? The Chalet certainly ramps up the tension as the reader is pulled into a 20-year old mystery; soon dark secrets begin to become exposed and, like snow thawing: it cannot stay hidden forever.
This story of revenge, told via multiple perspectives and a dual timeline, is a great narrative mystery thriller. The hooks, twists and turns work incredibly well as the reader works to discover how the various plot threads and timelines will come together.
I really enjoyed this character driven thriller and there’s a great setting for the backdrop. It’s about the complexities within relationships and old injustices needing reparation. I have never wanted to go skiing and after reading this absolutely nothing has changed.
A recommended read if you’re looking for a tense thriller with depth; it’s a great book for the escapism that’s definitely needed this year.
An atmospheric Alps setting for a story of mismatched couples, secrets, relationship dramas, murder, and revenge.
I’m attempting to read and review all my NetGalley books this month and although ‘The Killing Kind’ is my most recent review copy, I can’t help but bump up any Jane Casey book to the top of the pile. Although it’s not a Maeve Kerrigan novel, (I’m a huge fan of this series) it’s a great thriller read. The second is the sequel to ‘Ground Sweet as Sugar’ by a lovely lady called Catherine C. Heywood whom I’m delighted to have connected with via Twitter and Instagram. Do keep scrolling for some bookish chat.
The Killing Kind by Jane Casey
This is a deftly plotted thriller from Jane Casey and comes highly recommended. The novel’s protagonist, Ingrid Lewis, is a London barrister and through one of her cases we are introduced to John Webster: a high functioning sociopath, who is a constant presence during the book. I had so many questions about him and he provides an additional thriller element of trust. There are two other male figures circling around Ingrid to mix up the drama and both add to the question of who can be trusted. Casey has certainly plotted with panache! There are so many layers and via a narrative of mixed time frames, emails and court documents the reader needs to work hard to make the connections and work out where the story is taking you; to find out who is hiding behind their lies. I must admit I had a strong suspicion about one of the culprits early on, so it was enjoyable tracking the clues to the dramatic conclusions and reveals. I’d certainly recommend this book to thriller fans – it’s intelligent, cleverly weaved and provides many doubts, twists and spins until the final reveal. Despite not being the wanted 2021 release of the next book in Casey’s fabulous Maeve Kerrigan series, I was content with this standalone whilst waiting. If you haven’t read any of the Maeve Kerrigan crime reads you are absolutely missing out. It’s an exceptional crime, thriller series and is highly recommended. ‘The Killing Kind’ gets a thumbs up from me. Addictive, satisfying and crafty.
The Virtues of Vice by Catherine C. Heywood
‘The Virtues of Vice’ continues the story began in ‘Ground as Sweet as Sugar’ (you’ll definitely need to read this before to understand what’s happening) and our lead characters Charlotte and James are battling with both current events and their feelings for each other. Life in the West Indies remains tough and there’s a balance to be found, not only in their personal lives but in the world around them. The drama certainly continues for Charlotte as she is punished for her part in crimes of the previous book. James is, as always, on her side, even when he perhaps shouldn’t be. Heywood’s characters have flaws and Charlotte certainly does; this can alienate her from the reader and we have to remember this fiction is set in a far-removed time to understand events and decisions. James and Charlotte’s relationship does dominate the book, but we also have dangers and manipulations to deal with. This is a world of strife, greed, desires, domination and despair. But it’s balanced by the positives: love, loyalty and friendship.
Heywood, as always provides a story that drags the reader into some wonderful escapism, romance and high drama. A book of consuming love, justice, power and revenge, where the end to all virtue is finally happiness.
Thanks to Tracy for the invite and to the publisher for the review copy. It’s great to get the chance to review a debut novel and Fennell’s serial killer thriller certainly hits the mark. Please do keep scrolling for some bookish chat.
An underground artist leaves three glass cabinets in Trafalgar Square that contain a gruesome installation: the corpses of three homeless men.
With the artist promising more to follow, newly-promoted Detective Inspector Grace Archer and her caustic DS, Harry Quinn, must race against time to follow what few clues have been left by a savvy killer.
As more bodies are exhibited at London landmarks and live streamed on social media, Archer and Quinn’s pursuit of the elusive killer becomes a desperate search.
But when Archer discovers that the killer might be closer than she originally thought – she realises that he has his sights set firmly on her . . .
He is creating a masterpiece. And she will be the star of his show.
Fennell introduces the reader to an absorbing protagonist in his debut thriller ‘The Art of Death’. It’s great when you become hooked into a new detective thriller and really connect with the lead characters. The opening investigation is led by DI Grace Archer and DS Harry Quinn, a confident ‘side-kick’ who’s smart and shows the capacity for great loyalty as the book, and hopefully series, progresses. It’s great we have some fully rounded characters to hook into, that are written with realism and have enough background depth to keep up the interest in their personal lives, despite the gruesome unfolding events of the murders they are investigating.
Set in London, we are introduced to a new killer on its streets. This predator really resonates with our modern society, using social networks to hunt for prey. The detached, cold feel of the murderer is really striking through the opening pages and builds throughout the book. The reader is aware from early events that DI Archer will have a bigger part to play in the crimes, and the tension builds through the pages as we await what will happen.
I really enjoyed the plotting and pace of this book; I must admit I guessed very early on who the guilty party was and where it was heading (I think reading crime novels for 30 years has helped, rather than a structural/plotting flaw by the author), so for me another plausible potential murderer would have been a useful red herring to get me off the scent. However, as all reading is a personal experience, this by no means deflates this novel. It’s an impressive debut and I hope will lead to a new and exciting series featuring Archer and Quinn.
A highly recommended debut crime thriller read. This creepy page-turner will pull you into a macabre world where the hunt for a killer consumes the pursers until the heart-stopping climax.
David Fennell was born and raised in Belfast before leaving for London at the age of eighteen with £50 in one pocket and a dog-eared copy of Stephen King’s The Stand in the other. He jobbed as a chef, waiter and bartender for several years before starting a career in writing for the software industry. He has been working in Cyber Security for fourteen years and is a fierce advocate for information privacy. To find out more, visit his website: www.davidfennell.co.uk and follow him on Twitter: @davyfennell
It was lovely to be invited on the BLOG TOUR for WINTERKILL (thank you Anne!) and the atmospheric book cover design really caught my eye too; the bleak landscape looks a perfect setting for this latest book in the NORDIC NOIR Dark Iceland crime series, published by the fabulous ORENDA BOOKS. Please keep scrolling for lots of book information and chat…
The Book Blurb
When the body of a nineteen-year-old girl is found on the main street of Siglufjörður, Police Inspector Ari Thór battles a violent Icelandic storm in an increasingly dangerous hunt for her killer … The chilling, claustrophobic finale to the international bestselling Dark Iceland series.
Easter weekend is approaching, and snow is gently falling in Siglufjörður, the northernmost town in Iceland, as crowds of tourists arrive to visit the majestic ski slopes.
Ari Thór Arason is now a police inspector, but he’s separated from his girlfriend, who lives in Sweden with their three-year-old son. A family reunion is planned for the holiday, but a violent blizzard is threatening and there is an unsettling chill in the air.
Three days before Easter, a nineteen-year-old local girl falls to her death from the balcony of a house on the main street. A perplexing entry in her diary suggests that this may not be an accident, and when an old man in a local nursing home writes ‘She was murdered’ again and again on the wall of his room, there is every suggestion that something more sinister lies at the heart of her death…
As the extreme weather closes in, cutting the power and access to Siglufjörður, Ari Thór must piece together the puzzle to reveal a horrible truth … one that will leave no one unscathed.
Chilling, claustrophobic and disturbing, Winterkill marks the startling conclusion to the million-copy bestselling Dark Iceland series and cements Ragnar Jónasson as one of the most exciting authors in crime fiction.
The Blog Tour
Firstly, I need to admit that this is my first time reading Ragnor Jonasson’s DARK ICELAND books, so I’m very late to the series, and I’m beginning at the end! Jonasson has been billed as writing ‘Nordic Noir of the highest order’ and ‘breathing new life in Nordic Noir’, so I was very excited to read WINTERKILL. It’s the sixth installment in the series, which began in SNOWBLIND and introduced the series protagonist Detective Ari Thor Arason. So our principle character has obviously a long history with fans of these books, and I looked forward to reading to see how this works as standalone for a new reader. What a credit to the skills of the writer, that its quality narrative relays enough information to settle the reader in and the new investigation runs beautifully alongside this.
WINTERKILL is a quality Nordic Noir (translated brilliantly by David Warriner) that reels you in from the opening emergency operator call to the duty Inspector on call: Ari Thor Arason. Siglufjordur is the setting, a land of day and night, where the sun barely sets in the summer. It’s so remote, it becomes almost uninhabitable. This remote Northern Icelandic village provide the frozen backdrop to the investigation of a teenage girl’s body found in a unusual setting.
Now, in term’s of character, obviously I’m missing the previous character developments, so have only a surface level of understanding of this journey through the series narrative. I was aware I missed out, but in all honesty, it didn’t impede my enjoyment of this book. There’s a great sense of humanity in Ari, and you can’t help but respect how he works and lives; he’s a character who’s dealing with several issues in his private life as well and these pop up throughout the central crime story.
The investigation is a delight for the reader to follow, pick up clues and surmise where the plot is heading. It’s really well crafted and the quality of the translation adds to the success of this. The pace is slow, but works. The readers glances in onto different characters as Arason investigates the complex nature of a seemingly tragic suicide.
I did find the contemplative nature of the story-telling the more dominant aspect of the book, perhaps as it’s the end of the series, and therefore the crime is in a more secondary position. From the more reflective, personal thoughts of our protagonist the reader gets a sense of humanity, desires, needs, love and reflection – all working well to add depth. For many, this is the final book in a loved series, for me, it’s the start of a new adventure – to find out how we arrive at this point, and I look forward to beginning my journey.
An accomplished character driven crime novel, set in a unique world of snow and light, where the darkness in humanity is uncovered by a driven, complex and engaging protagonist.
Icelandic crime writer Ragnar Jónasson was born in Reykjavík, and currently works as a lawyer, while teacher copyright law at the Reykjavík University Law School. In the past, he’s worked in TV and radio, including as a news reporter for the Icelandic National Broadcasting Service. Before embarking on a writing career, Ragnar translated fourteen Agatha Christie novels into Icelandic, and has had several short stories published in German, English and Icelandic literary magazines. Ragnar set up the first overseas chapter of the CWA (Crime Writers’ Association) in Reykjavík, and is co-founder of the International crime-writing festival Iceland Noir.
Ragnar’s debut thriller, Snowblind became an almost instant bestseller when it was published in June 2015 with Nightblind (winner of the Dead Good Reads Most Captivating Crime in Translation Award) and then Blackout, Rupture and Whiteout following soon after. To date, Ragnar Jónasson has written five novels in the Dark Iceland series, which has been optioned for TV by On the Corner. He lives in Reykjavík with his wife and two daughters.
Cassie Raven believes the dead can talk. We just need to listen . . .
People think being a mortuary technician is a seriously weird job. They can’t understand why I choose to cut up dead bodies for a living. But they don’t know what I know:
The dead want to tell us what happened to them.
I’ve eviscerated thousands of bodies, but never someone I know before – someone who meant a lot to me; someone I loved.
The pathologist says that her death was an accident.
Her body is telling me differently.
Do check out the book chat about Body Language until Dec 6th and do keep scrolling for my bookish chat 🙂
Our protagonist is a mortuary technician who is so attuned to the dead she encounters in her job, that she can sense and ‘hear’ them. This supernatural element provides a different tone to what is a new mystery crime thriller series featuring Cassie Raven. Cassie is unconventional in the sense that she’s young, and a goth adorned with tattoos and piercings; she adds originality and freshness to a new investigative crime character. Cassie’s certainly had some ups and downs in her life, and she appears to the reader early in the book as someone with tenacity, compassion and drive to both her job and for the end of life care her job can offer.
There are, of course, descriptions of the mortuary world of autopsies, so if you are squeamish or might find memories of lost ones upsetting, then do read with caution. For me, there’s a great deal of respect embedded behind the narrative, and Cassie herself is a comforting figure, as she talks to, cares and respects for the people she deals with.
I enjoyed the character of Cassie, and she’s the main drive for pushing the narrative forward for me, rather than the investigations. I liked the slow development of her relationship with the newly transferred DS Flyte, from distrust and unease to a respectful bond with an additional developing warm and twinkle.
Body Language is a great supernaturally enhanced new crime series with a great modern protagonist at the helm. I look forward to seeing how Turner develops the series.
With thanks to Zaffre Books for the review copy and to Tracy at Compulsive Readers for the Blog Tour invite.
A perfect book for October; it’s half-term and I’ve been lucky to have read ‘The Once and Future Witches’ by a warm fire with my ‘familiar’ on my lap (AKA Mr. Willoughby, my cat, he’s nearly all black apart from his white ‘socks’ and face markings). This is certainly a perfect autumnal/Halloween read, do keep scrolling for more bookish chat…
In 1893, there’s no such thing as witches. There used to be, in the wild, dark days before the burnings began, but now witching is nothing but tidy charms and nursery rhymes. If the modern woman wants any measure of power, she must find it at the ballot box.
But when the three Eastwood sisters join the suffragists of New Salem, they begin to pursue the forgotten ways that might turn the women’s movement into the witch’s movement. Stalked by shadows and sickness, hunted by forces who will not suffer a witch to vote – and perhaps not even to live – the sisters must delve into the oldest magics, draw new alliances, and heal the bond between them if they want to survive.
There’s no such thing as witches. But there will be.
Firstly, this book is creative; the lyrical and creative writing lifts from the pages and you can take time and savour the words. Harrow is also just as creative with her punctuation, and you get a real sense of crafting throughout. The structure and plot are meticulously planned and literary history, actual history and the female is reworked and re-represented in a mix of childhood rhymes, fairy tales and lore.
An evenly paced story, that allows the reader to indulge in good storytelling against a backdrop of more pertinent and relevant themes. Gender, race, and identity are woven into the threads of this story. On its surface is a story of three sisters, of how they became separated and how their witchcraft begins to define them. There is a great bond, although severely fractured, between these three women. I love their flawed but powerful characters, and how over time we begin to view each one differently. Harrow connects the female, and her repression over centuries into the current lives of the three Eastwood sisters. History is re-worked as a plot device to relay themes of repression, feminism, racism, women’s suffrage, patriarchy, and persecution.
The Eastwood Sisters are great characters; they are not perfect; they have let each other down and are rather downtrodden and lost at the start. They soon change their current situations and begin a battle to promote witchcraft in a town that would have them burned. Their power and determination become a strong reading hook, as they unite to battle inequality and subjection from a shadowy, evil nemesis.
A book of witchy spells, creative fairy tales and the power of words with powerful overriding themes. It is also a great adventure: a book of love and resilience in the face of powerful adversaries.
Full blog tour belong – do check out all the bookish chat about The Once and Future Witches:
In rural Somerset in the middle of a blizzard, the unthinkable happens: a school is under siege. Children and teachers barricade themselves into classrooms, the library, the theatre. The headmaster lies wounded in the library, unable to help his trapped students and staff. Outside, a police psychiatrist must identify the gunmen, while parents gather desperate for news. In three intense hours, all must find the courage to stand up to evil and save the people they love.
Yet do I fear thy nature…
Phew! Thrilling, terrifying and the stuff of nightmares… but also deeply rooted in humanity, this is a narrative that hooks you from the opening page into a world of violence, fear and deep shock; when all too real terror strikes at the heart of a rural community.
I teach in a school, and the notion of ever being in such a situation is deeply traumatising; the construction of this novel pulls you in to a seemingly actual timeline and really does not let you go until the last page is turned.
The heart of this story is what humanity draws upon in the darkest of moments, of what lies with our hearts, our compassion, our resilience and is rooted in our communities, whether we know it or not.
I loved this book; it was a nail-biting experience from start to finish, but the beauty of the relationships and selfless behaviour under extreme pressures also kept emotional tears in my eyes, and turned a harrowing story of radicalisation, grief, loss and the willingness to sacrifice into something very special . A book that stays with you long after the closing page is turned.
Rosamund Lupton graduated from Cambridge University in 1986. After reviewing books for the Literary Reviews and being invited to join the Royal Court Theatre, she won a television play competition and subsequently worked as a screen writer. Her debut novel Sister, was a BBC Radio 4 Book at Bedtime, a Sunday Times and New York Times bestseller, has been translated into over thirty languages and has international sales of over 1.5 million copies. It was the fastest-selling debut of 2010 by a British author, and was winner of the Richard and Judy Best Debut Novel of 2011 Award and the Strand Magazine Critics First Novel Award. Film rights of Sister are currently under option.
Lupton’s critically acclaimed second novel Afterwards also went straight into the Sunday Times bestseller lists and was the No. 2 Sunday Times fiction bestseller of 2011. The Quality of Silence her third novel was a Sunday Times best seller and a Richard & Judy book club pick.
Wow, what an eye-catching cover! With thanks to the publisher and Anne for the tour invite, please keep scrolling for some bookish chat about THE NESTING…
The grieving widower. The motherless daughters. A beautiful house in the woods. And a nanny come to save the day….
So what if Lexi isn’t telling the truth about who she is? Escaping to the remote snows of Norway was her lifeline. And all she wanted was to be a part of their lives. But soon, isolated in that cold, creaking house in the middle of ancient, whispering woods, Lexi’s fairytale starts to turn into a nightmare. With darkness creeping in from the outside, Lexi’s fears are deepening. Lexi knows she needs to protect the children in her care.
But protect them from what?
Firstly, C.J. Cooke is a clever storyteller who’s not afraid to mix things up! What I loved most about THE NESTING is the many layers structured through the narrative and the landscape that’s as important as the characters and story. This book has been written with passion, and pulls together the author’s love of nature, Norway, folktales, and the gothic, in a story of love, loss, fragility and rebirth.
Seemingly a story of a young woman, displaced in the world, who finds a position as a nanny under dubious circumstances, but layered with so much more. I loved the character of Lexi/Sophie, her strength and resilience underscored a young, fragile, frightened girl trying to find her place, and her people. It’s her relationship with her new ‘charges’ that you quickly warm to as a reader, and find you are very much on her side. The children, Gaia and Coco are delightful characters, and the heart wrenching journey of deep loss through the little Gaia is beautifully written. But this book is also more than a story of the loss of a parent and its aftermath. It’s also a story of the otherworld and a deeply entrenched menace. The supernatural element works so well, with terrifying images of creatures from local folklore and the slow drip feed of horror elements is balanced well. The narrative switches from the ‘now’ to the ‘then’ as we slowly come to understand the events of the past and how they are beginning to shape the future. This is also a book with a sharp warning about meddling with nature, and you can really see the passion the author has for the beauty and importance of Norway’s natural world.
I found this book a compelling read, perfect for the autumn/winter season. Deeply emotional and intensely creepy. I am happy to recommend this book to readers seeking an emotive, nerve-wracking story pulled straight out of a fairy tale.
Drama, mystery, grief, and the supernatural combine in an intense story from C.J. Cooke that will demand you keep turning the pages.
The Blog Tour
C.J. Cooke is an acclaimed, award-winning poet, novelist and academic with numerous other publications under the name of Carolyn Jess-Cooke. Born in Belfast, she has a PhD in Literature from Queen’s University, Belfast, and is currently Lecturer in Creative Writing at the University of Glasgow, where she researches creative writing interventions for mental health. She also founded the Stay-At-Home Festival.
It’s lovely to be chatting about THE BONE SHARD DAUGHTER today for the Blog Tour – many thanks to Tracy for the invite, and Orbit for the review copy. I enjoy reading fantasy, so this appealed to me straight away, and I wasn’t disappointed…
The Sukai Dynasty has ruled the Phoenix Empire for over a century, their mastery of bone shard magic powering the monstrous constructs that maintain law and order. But now the emperor’s rule is failing, and revolution is sweeping across the Empire’s many islands.
Lin is the Emperor’s daughter, but a mysterious illness has stolen her childhood memories and her status as heir to the empire. Trapped in a palace of locked doors and old secrets, Lin vows to reclaim her birthright by mastering the forbidden art of bone shard magic.
But the mysteries behind such power are dark and deep, and wielding her family’s magic carries a great cost. When the revolution reaches the gates of the palace itself, Lin must decide how far she is willing to go to claim her throne – and save her people.
THE BONE SHARD DAUGHTER is certainly an eye-catching book, and the title an intriguing one. I enjoy reading fantasy novels, so was delighted to read this one as part of its Blog Tour.
Firstly, I’m not usually a fan of too many narrative perspectives, in this book we see the story through several eyes, written either in the first or third person. Lin and Jovis are connected via their first-person narratives, and I personally enjoyed the immediacy and drive of these sections. I really liked both Lin and Jovis. Jovis in particular is very endearing as he copes with what life throws at him, but also the thought and dedication to maintain the search for his missing wife is very emotive; I loved the snatches of memory built into the story as we piece together the past. Ah, and then there’s the adorable evolving relationship with Mephi – a magical horned cat/otter type creature. Loved every moment with Mephi! I also enjoyed the third person narrative pulling into the story the lives of Ranami and Phalue that explores the relationship between two social classes and pulls in the revolution theme.
Overall, meticulous planning and structural format creates a multi-layered perspective fantasy set in a creative island-based world ruled by a failing Emperor. There’re all the elements fantasy readers expect, and importantly the world is carefully crafted in detail, so the transference from reality is seamless. This is a book of layers with a thought out embedded magical system – I found Pullman’s Dark Material vibes made creepy with the creature constructs lurking and spying. The idea is menacing, and Frankenstein vibes underscore the reanimated creatures. It’s really creative and explores more modern themes of experimentation and exploitation.
With themes of identity, control, loss, the past, memory, and connection this is an impressive debut; I’m be looking forward to the second book in the Drowning Empire Trilogy.