Character of the Month #20: Nyktos.

Note: This post contains spoilers from the From Blood and Ash and Flesh and Fire series.

Nyktos (pronounced: Nik-toes) is the current Primal of Death and the King of the Gods.

Nyktos is often described to be thoughtful, grounded, honourable, methodical and trusting.

Nyktos is described as incredibly tall and muscular with thick, wavy, red-brown hair, and eyes that glow silver with eather. His skin is a lustrous, golden-brown color. His cheekbones are high and broad, his nose straight as a blade and his mouth full and wide. He also wears a silver band around his right biceps.

Empathy: Like his Granddaughter, Penellaphe Balfour, Nyktos is gifted with the power of empathy, allowing him to reach out and feel emotions in people. In A Shadow in the Ember, Nyktos told Seraphena this gift comes from his mother’s side.
Shifting: Nyktos is able to shift into the form of a white wolf.

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Who is Nyktos?

  • According to Reaver, Nyktos doesn’t have a last name.
  • Nyktos is represented as a father and has an affiliation with the night, moonlight, and the wolven. He often turns the day sky into dark in order to signal his sign of approval (which was seen at Poppy’s and Casteel Da’Neer’s wedding).
  • Nyktos is related to Poppy (grandfather/granddaughter), as she is one of two last living descendants.
  • Married to Seraphena.

“I want to kiss you, even though there is no reason for me to other than I want it.” The heated intensity of his stare held mine. “I would even go as far as to say I need to.”

A Shadow in the Ember

“he was like the brightest star and the deepest night sky given mortal form. And he was utterly beautiful in this form, wholly terrifying.”

A Shadow in the Ember

“You should’ve thought about that before you picked up that whip,” the Primal growled. “And touched what is mine.” What is mine? Another laugh tickled the back of my throat. Now he claimed me?”

A Shadow in the Ember

“You”, he said, his thumb moving in a slow swipe over the side of my throat. There was something about the way he said that. “You are trouble.”

A Shadow in the Ember

“You interest me because there seems to be little time between what occurs in your head and what comes out of your mouth. And there seems to be little regard for the consequences.”

A Shadow in the Ember

Manga Review: Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba, Vol.23 by Koyoharu Gotouge.

Synopsis: In Taisho-era Japan, kindhearted Tanjiro Kamado makes a living selling charcoal. But his peaceful life is shattered when a demon slaughters his entire family. His little sister Nezuko is the only survivor, but she has been transformed into a demon herself! Tanjiro sets out on a dangerous journey to find a way to return his sister to normal and destroy the demon who ruined his life.

In an epic confrontation, Tanjiro and his fellow Demon Slayers have fought on through the night, suffering terrible losses against the King of Demons, Muzan Kibutsuji. Dawn is breaking soon, and if they can keep Muzan at bay just a little longer, it will be the end of the centuries-long struggle. But Muzan, who will stop at nothing to destroy the Demon Slayers, unleashes his most terrible powers. If he can’t defeat the Demon Slayers, he may be able to cause them to destroy themselves from within. All fates and destinies will be decided as the sun begins to rise…

Review:

Why yes, I did spend 95% of this volume sobbing hysterically. And no, I have no shame admitting that.

So, final thoughts on the series: This was an absolute delight to read from start to finish. The artwork struck a great balance of being beautiful and intense as well as goofy and simple. The fight scenes were dope as fuck and I LOVED the breathing techniques. Each fight was a feast for the eyes and my eyes were stuffed after every battle. The characters were the highlight of the series, with our main squad of Tanjiro, Zenitsu, Inosuke, and Nezuko bringing their best every time. Speaking of characters, the female characters in this series were some of my favorites in Shounen Jump as well as shounen action in general. Yes, they didn’t get as much time to shine and there weren’t as many (as per usual in a shounen action series) but when they were present the DOMINATED. Tamayo and Shinobu are still the MVP’s of this series, don’t @ me. And, of course, the focus on family and familial bonds made me super fucking happy as someone who values family most in her life.

That being said, nothing is without flaws and Demon Slayer is not exception. Its biggest weakness was its story, which is either simple at best or flimsy at worst. So many plot points and story lines ended up going nowhere due to the admittedly rushed nature of the story, and because of that there are times when a plot point would be brought up and I’m thinking, “wait, what is this again? When was this established?” If you’re a story-driven reader, this series may not be what you’re looking for. While I do love the characters, most of them only get to show up once or twice and then are either killed or do nothing for the rest of the series. Don’t get me wrong, I still love them, but it is frustrating that they don’t get to do a whole lot thanks to, again, the rushed and short nature of the story. The ending was a little weird, but I still liked it and think that it works for the narrative.

Overall, this was an incredibly entertaining series that has become a favorite. No, it’s not doing anything special and isn’t “original,” but it knew what it was and had fun with it. If you want a quick, fast-paced action series with a group of lovable characters, definitely give this a shot. It’s worth it.

My rating: 5/5 stars.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Book Review: A Light in the Flame (Flesh and Fire #2) by Jennifer L.Armentrout.

Synopsis: The only one who can save Sera now is the one she spent her life planning to kill.

The truth about Sera’s plan is out, shattering the fragile trust forged between her and Nyktos. Surrounded by those distrustful of her, all Sera has is her duty. She will do anything to end Kolis, the false King of Gods, and his tyrannical rule of Iliseeum, thus stopping the threat he poses to the mortal realm.

Nyktos has a plan, though, and as they work together, the last thing they need is the undeniable, scorching passion that continues to ignite between them. Sera cannot afford to fall for the tortured Primal, not when a life no longer bound to a destiny she never wanted is more attainable than ever. But memories of their shared pleasure and unrivaled desire are a siren’s call impossible to resist.

And as Sera begins to realize that she wants to be more than a Consort in name only, the danger surrounding them intensifies. The attacks on the Shadowlands are increasing, and when Kolis summons them to Court, a whole new risk becomes apparent. The Primal power of Life is growing inside her, pushing her closer to the end of her Culling. And without Nyktos’s love—an emotion he’s incapable of feeling—she won’t survive her Ascension. That is if she even makes it to her Ascension and Kolis doesn’t get to her first. Because time is running out. For both her and the realms.

A Light in the Flame (Flesh and Fire #2) by Jennifer L.Armentrout.

Publication Date: November 15th, 2022

Publisher: Blue Box Press

Genre: Fantasy, Romance, New Adult

Pages: 645

Purchase on: Amazon,  
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

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Review:

Where do I even start? Being back in this world was everything. Sera and Nyktos only got better and more heartbreaking. The steam was on point. The story is addictive, making me cry, smile, and throw my kindle down in disbelief. I could not put this book down.

“I can sense your need. Feel it. Taste it. You’re drowning in it.” His eyes slammed shut. “I’m fucking drowning in it.”
A sharp dart of desire sliced through me. “Then drown with me.”

I just love Sera, she is a flawed, realistic character that I connect to very easily and I just enjoy reading about her. You see her try to come to terms with what she thought she knew and understood, while she is adjusting to all the new information that is presented to her. Not only is she discovering more of the world she doesn’t know, she’s also discovering herself and the emotions she’s now allowed to feel. And now she finally gets to live for once and she doesn’t really know how to, but seeing her discover things she never knew? I loved it. Sera is strong-willed, unwavering, and sassy but also level-minded. Her struggles with anxiety were delved into in this book and I really loved that Jen included that. When bad things happen, she is down to earth and understands what every decision means. And she’s also so selfless, there were moments I even thought she was too selfless in this book because she has to come to the bitter acceptance of choices more than most would, and she does so with the understanding that it’s the best decision, which just broke me.

“For the first time in my life, I felt like I was more than a destiny I’d never agreed to. More than the embers I carried within me.
I felt like…more.”

We got to see so much more of Nyktos in this book. He has been through a lot, and I loved the deeper insight into that, this guy/god has been through a world of hurt and lies but still manages to be considerate and good. He is stubborn and thinks he can fix everything. I felt like we saw him grow a lot as well in this book, he still made a ton of mistakes, past and present, that caused a lot of issues that didn’t need to happen. His loyalty, the way he cares for others, and his strength make him such an awesome character.

Sera and Nyktos, they were everything. They have my heart. How they are with each other, the way they react to one another, and even how devastating their story was from the beginning. While they were getting a lot of hurts thrown at them, they still managed to have those moments which I adored. The spice was so good in this book, Jen always knows how to write a great scene!

“He felt…gods, my head fell back. He felt like we were made for each other.”

This book will devesting and beautiful, packed with emotional torment from start to finish. The plot was engaging, with great pacing and lots of reveals and twists and turns. There were moments I guessed what happens and moments that shook me. We see some of our favorite characters from From Blood and Ash cross over into this book, which I loved. I loved seeing Nektas and the Drakken. And that ending! I was not prepared for it, Jen is known for leaving the reader wanting more and that is exactly how I feel. I sat there for a good 10 minutes just going over what happened in the book. I cannot wait for the third book!

Manga Review: Lovesick Ellie, Vol.2 by Fujimomo.

Synopsis: Eriko Ichimura spends her high school days in complete obscurity. As if that weren’t enough, popular boy Akira Ohmi has discovered her Twitter, filled to the brim with fantasies about him. However, Omi-kun finds Ellie’s pervertedness funny and interesting, and the two rapidly grow closer. They go on a festival date, but end up missing the last bus home! Presenting the second volume of the curious romance between a plain, perverted girl and a two-faced boy!

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Review:

This just keeps getting better and better 😍😍😍 I love Omi-kun and Ellie-chan’s relationship!!! I love how Omi-kun is a completely different person to everyone at school, basically wearing a mask but he is his true self with Ellie. Even though he is blunt and sometimes says the wrong things, he finally admitted outright that he likes Ellie and I was screaming with joy 😱 😭 😍

In the final scene where Ellie-chan comes running to Omi-kun to tell her that she’s not going to give up and their interaction was just perfection! I was squealing and gigling so much!

My rating: 5/5 stars.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Book Review: Tower of Dawn (Throne of Glass #6) by Sarah J.Maas

Synopsis: Chaol Westfall and Nesryn Faliq have arrived in the shining city of Antica to forge an alliance with the Khagan of the Southern Continent, whose vast armies are Erilea’s last hope. But they have also come to Antica for another purpose: to seek healing at the famed Torre Cesme for the wounds Chaol received in Rifthold.

After enduring unspeakable horrors as a child, Yrene Towers has no desire to help the young lord from Adarlan, let alone heal him. Yet she has sworn an oath to assist those in need—and will honor it. But Lord Westfall carries shadows from his own past, and Yrene soon comes to realize they could engulf them both.

In this sweeping parallel novel to the New York Times bestselling Empire of Storms, Chaol, Nesryn, and Yrene will have to draw on every scrap of their resilience if they wish to save their friends. But while they become entangled in the political webs of the khaganate, deep in the shadows of mighty mountains where warriors soar on legendary ruks, long-awaited answers slumber. Answers that might offer their world a chance at survival—or doom them all . . .

Tower of Dawn (Throne of Glass #6) by Sarah J.Maas

Publication Date: September 5, 2017

Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children’s

Genre: Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult

Pages: 660

Purchase on: Amazon,  
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

⭐⭐⭐⭐

Review:

“Let’s have an adventure, Nesryn Faliq.”

Across a raging sea lies the God City, the mighty realm of the Khaganate where the Torre Cesme looms, stark like a glowing beacon of knowledge and hope – Silba’s temple of healing. An empire where muniqi stallions gallop across sun-blasted sands, warriors bread in the wilds of the mountain aeries soar on their loyal ruks and ancient darkness – the kharankui – sisters of the legendary stygian spiders stir. It’s to this sprawling empire that we find Chaol and Nesryn post Queen of Shadows. Snort An adventure indeed. Tower of Dawn is a rich, wind-swept tale of hope and healing packed with steamy scenes, magical troves, deadly scrapes, and a whole lot of plotting, court politics, and scheming. You know – basically your typical Sarah J. Maas epic at this point.

“I will cherish it always.
No matter what may befall the world.
No matter the oceans, or mountains, or forests in the way.”

When Sarah J. Maas sat down at her writing desk to pen Tower of Dawn she was supposed to be delivering a short novella dictating Chaol and Nesryn’s adventures during their absence in Empire of Storms. Basically, several hundred pages later (as you do) the proposal for a second novella was scrapped, giving birth to Tower of dawn; a full-fledged novel and the sixth official installment in the series. Tower of dawn is the installment we never knew we needed. Yes, Aelin and her court of misfits and rouges aren’t present but Tower of Dawn more than holds up as one of the stronger novels in Sarah J. Maas’s arsenal. Tower of Dawn reminds us that master storytelling and world-building is expanding the already complex universe of Throne of Glass, proving once again that this narrative is so much bigger than an assassin’s fight for her freedom.

“We don’t look back. It helps no one and nothing to look back.”

Amidst the vlag and the near constant threat of looming war, much in the style of my personal favorites; Heir of Fire and A Court of Mist and Fury, Tower of Dawn is, at its heart, a story of emotional healing. Running parallel to Empire of Storms, Chaol and Nesyrn have arrived at the doorstep of the Great Khagan to muster a host to rally against the threat of Morath in the north. It’s a desperate quest that will see them both pitted against the Khagan’s brutal, scheming would-be heirs as they plot their way to winning an army for Aelin and Dorian. As they work towards their means, both Chaol and Nesryn discover key information that could change the tide of the War, likewise altering Kingdom of Ash. Basically, don’t even think about skipping over Tower of Dawn because of Aelin’s absence – here there be long-awaited answers and I was 100% here for the revelations and that final twist of the knife in the form of a serious plot twist.

“The heart he’d offered and had been left to drop on the wooden planks of the river docks. An assassin who had sailed away and a queen who had returned.”

Chaol Westfall, the once honorable, charming captain of the guard now turned a hand to the king takes the helm reluctantly in Tower of Dawn. left broken in more ways than one after the events leading to the glass castle’s demise, we see a raw extension of his character as he grapples with his bitter self-loathing and the consequences of his past choices. Chaol has always been a favorite of mine (even if I am firmly #teamrowelin) but I was curious as to how Sarah would handle his disability. It’s no secret that disabilities have limited representation in literature and it’s no wonder – it’s a touchy subject but I think Sarah handled it beautifully. Fight me on my opinions but you can’t deny that his character arc is inspired. I don’t want to give too much away, but the way Sarah chose to end his journey was just perfect. The honesty, the underlying message – utter perfection.

“A gift.
A gift from a queen who had seen another woman in hell and thought to reach back a hand. With no thought of it ever being returned. A moment of kindness, a tug on a thread.”

And – can we please just talk about my girl Yrene??? Remember everyone’s favorite barmaid from The Assassin’s Blade? Well, she’s back baby, and is as feisty and fierce as ever! Yrene is seriously a character you can root for, her character dynamic and what she brings to the saga are just fantastic. She’s a different kind of badass when compared with our heroine Aelin or even Lysandra and Nesyrn but what makes her strong is her will and her compassion. Speaking of Yrene, I really should begin to discuss the amount of world-building in Tower of dawn because seriously, I was in awe of the sheer beauty of the Southern Continent. What made me fall in love with this series was the scope of the world-building and the way Sarah crafted these sprawling continents and Antica doesn’t disappoint. Yrene has come a long way since the last time we saw her in Inish. Now basically the Healer on High’s unofficial heir, Yrene has made quiet a name for herself as a powerful healer in the Torre Cesme. My favorite aspect of her narrative was exploring the tower and all it’s wonder, especially the mystical caverns of the bathhouse – the Womb, lying deep beneath the Torre. I mean Sarah’s description of the thick air, and the echoing ringing through the open chambers of the bells was everything. Also – library cats (Baast Cats) are a thing and I need one now.

“This was not the end. This crack in him, this bottom, was not the end. He had one promise left.”

Then we have Nesryn’s arch and her high-flying, wind-swept adventure aboard the ruks in the Tavan Mountains and the Dagul Fells. I actually couldn’t tell you whose narrative I enjoyed more – Chaol and Yrene with their hand-in-hand journey of emotional forgiveness and acceptance or Nesryn and Prince Sartaq’s battle with the kharankui and the dark truths they uncover. Nesryn really took the helm in Tower of Dawn, exploding into the scene in a riot of overall badassery and high-stakes shenanigans. Basically, I loved every second. Also can we please just mention the appearance of a certain merchant and what his backstory might mean for a certain shapeshifter?

While all characters unearth crucial information regarding the origins of the Fae and the healers and their relation to the first demon wars, what Nesryn learns deep in the mountains is truly a game changer. I mean am I the only one who didn’t see that coming??? That being said – the evidence was there all along. Please refer to my Heir of Fire review, in particular a certain quote taken from page 501. The end game was right in front of us the entire time guys. But what does this mean for Aelin and the Valg?

“He’d almost told the princess that she could keep Hellas’s Horse, but there was something to be said about the prospect of charging down Morath foot soldiers atop a horse named Butterfly.”

Basically, if you thought you could skim or even just skip Tower of Dawn entirely you are wrong. Dead wrong. Tower of dawn is such a sprawling, epic setup for Kingdom of Ash and yet is absolutely crucial to the overall story arch. Chaol and Nesryn’s narrative is necessary for a full understanding of the history of the fae and a certain fae Queen in particular. There is a lot of relevance okay – pay attention. The characters are diverse (in more ways than one with the representation of race, disabilities – yes plural – and LGBT) and the world-building is simply magical. Where Empire of Storms is a story of suffering and anguish, Tower of dawn is one of hope. I mean, if you thought Queen of Shadows was emotional and bittersweet then I kid you not, Tower of Dawn will destroy you. I cried. A lot. All I can say is I can’t wait to see the myriad of Sarah’s characters meet up in what will be the conclusion to the end of all conclusions; Kingdom of Ash.

Manga Review: Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba, Vol.22 by Koyoharu Gotouge.

Synopsis: In Taisho-era Japan, kindhearted Tanjiro Kamado makes a living selling charcoal. But his peaceful life is shattered when a demon slaughters his entire family. His little sister Nezuko is the only survivor, but she has been transformed into a demon herself! Tanjiro sets out on a dangerous journey to find a way to return his sister to normal and destroy the demon who ruined his life.

After centuries of preparation and training, the Demon Slayer Corps has come face-to-face with their nemesis, Muzan Kibutsuji. It is a desperate battle and several Demon Slayers have already been killed. Tanjiro himself has engaged Muzan, and, despite giving it everything he has, is taken out of the fight! Although severely injured and near death, he sees a vision of his ancestor that may hold the key to finally destroying Muzan! Can Tanjiro recover enough strength to fight Muzan to the finish?

Review:

Wow, the desperation and determination displayed in this volume was insane! No joke, I could feel the desperation and anxiety the Hashira and the others were feeling during this fight. Watching everyone struggle to keep Muzan occupied until dawn was interesting because it reminded me of that phrase, “throwing things at a wall until something sticks”. Everyone is trying every tactic, every technique, trying to find any advantage to prolong the fight and I could feel their desperation, exhaustion, hopelessness, and determination. Because even when things kept getting worse, they never gave up; they just tried something, anything to keep moving. And I fucking love that.

Iguro got to be center stage in this volume and while it’s sad that his backstory wasn’t given until now (you know, ONE VOLUME BEFORE THE SERIES ENDS), it was truly haunting and fit the theme of the family either being an inspiration or a curse. And HOLY SHIT was Iguro’s family a curse! That scene with him and the snake demon made me nearly throw up. It also makes sense why he loves Kanroji so much (not that you need a reason, she’s amazing) but it was sweet seeing him try to protect her as best he can. Also, him teaming up with Tanjiro near the end was great.

But most importantly of all, Tamayo and Shinobu are officially the MVPs of this fight because those ladies fucked up Muzan before the real fight even started! Seriously, I don’t care what anyone says, NONE of the Hashira OR Tanjiro would be able to stand up to Muzan if Tamayo and Shinobu hadn’t created the toxic concoction for him. They deserve all the credit for making this flight possible from the start and I love them both!

That’s all I’ve got for now. One more volume, the end is near!

My rating: 5/5 stars.

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Manga Review: Hirano to Kagiura Vol. 3 by Shou Harusono.

Synopsis:

“Boys Life” comics, long-awaited spin-off, Volume 3

“I will do my best”
Hirano and Kagiura aim to continue living in the dormitory as before.
I was studying late every day to clear the conditions for being in the same room.
Hirano sees Kagiura doing his best to study, which he is not good at.

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Review:

This series is killing me! It’s so much slowly than Sasaki to Miyano and they were slow burn so imagine my frustration with this one! I think it will take them until volume 10 to get together… Not to say I’m not loving every minute of it. Hirano senpai and Kagi-kun are so adorable and I love their interactions also we can some Sasaki and Miyano updates and I love that.

there’s something about this very earnest portrayal of teenage puppy love. the longing, the yearning, the wild, desperate, foolish hope. Kagiura 😔 watching Kagiura be so far gone made my own chest ache. and although Hirano says he can’t return Kagiura’s feelings, the way he dotes on his kouhai is so 🤧 the genuine care and affection that these 2 have for each other touched me. even if it doesn’t become mutually romantic, these 2 have something very special. there’s something about them is2g. i hate gay people. i hope this is headed for hrkg endgame bc some of the things Hirano does… aren’t really things you do with friends.

My rating: 5/5 stars.

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Book Review: Empire of Storms (Throne of Glass #5) by Sarah J.Maas

Synopsis: Kingdoms will collide.

The long path to the throne has only just begun for Aelin Galathynius as war looms on the horizon. Loyalties have been broken and bought, friends have been lost and gained, and those who possess magic find themselves at odds with those who don’t.

With her heart sworn to the warrior-prince by her side, and her fealty pledged to the people she is determined to save, Aelin will delve into the depths of her power to protect those she loves. But as monsters emerge from the horrors of the past, and dark forces become poised to claim her world, the only chance for salvation will lie in a desperate quest that may mark the end of everything Aelin holds dear.

In this breathtaking fifth installment of the New York Times bestselling Throne of Glass series, Aelin will have to choose what—and who—to sacrifice if she’s to keep the world of Erilea from breaking apart.

Empire of Storms (Throne of Glass #5) by Sarah J.Maas

Publication Date: September 6, 2016

Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children’s

Genre: Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult

Pages: 689

Purchase on: Amazon,  
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Review:

A fight for her throne. A War against darkness.

Empire of Storms is everything its name suggests. A fierce maelstrom of violence, bloodletting, and emotional turmoil as war gathers on the horizon and our squad prepares to go head to head with Darkness with a capital D. A desperate quest crammed with pirates, sea dragons, witches, and then the usual amount of plotting and scheming only to be expected from a Sarah J. Maas book, Empire of Storms’ plot plays out much like a chess match. A grueling game of strategy where the upper hand constantly shifts between the myriad of players and moving pieces. So strap in, because this power struggle is one hell of a ride.

“The world,” Aelin said, “will be saved and remade by the dreamers, Rolfe.”

Empire of Storms begins just as Queen of Shadows left off. Aelin and her court are making the long trek home to Terrasen through the domain of Brannon and the little folk; Oakwald forest. But the long journey to the mantle of her throne isn’t over yet – what with the lords ruling against her and exiling the would-be assassin-queen from the glittering pillars of Orynth. Basically throne-less with a decorative title, there’s really only one thing left to do. Aelin must embark on a desperate quest, journeying across Erilea, calling in old debts to raise an army of thieves, assassins, cutthroats, and rebels. Perhaps the only force cunning enough to challenge the growing threat of Morath. Let’s just say that at this point reading The Assassin’s Blade is past crucial.

“Even when this world is a forgotten whisper of dust between the stars, I will always love you.”

Right off the bat (or in this case would sword work better?), I just want to put it out there that I’ve been sitting on this review for longer than probably necessary. Empire of Storms is one hard book to review. Almost a sheer beast in size, Empire of Storms is dense with a myriad of shifting narratives. Because there is just so much going on, it is near impossible to condense all the feels and aspects into one review. With that in mind, I’m proclaiming that this here paragraph will be a mess. Basically a quick note of what I loved. First thing’s first; dang, I was 110% here for the Tolkien-esque journey through Erilea. I mean Sarah has always been a master at world-building but Empire of Storms does it best. Second; can we just take a moment to cheer for the fact that my favorite self-elected-pirate-king is back? I was just itching to return to Skulls Baby, stalking the Tortuga-ry ruffian-infested bars and hovels. Next; Lysandra is my queen and I lived for her arch. The way Sarah portrays the female friendship between Lysandra and Aelin is just epic. They sacrifice for each other and will lay literally everything on the line. Watching them pull one over on Captain Rolfe was just too hilarious. Fourthly; is the Cadre joining forces with the Terrasen court? Um, Yes! I’m all about the territorial fae males. Finally; the banter between Aelin and Manon was just fantastic. Also, Aelin clicking her tongue and comparing the names of their two blades was everything. I was in hysterics.

“He was hers and she was his and they had found each other across centuries of bloodshed and loss, across oceans and kingdoms and war.”

Okay, now I’ve sorted that, moving on to my more coherent thoughts…

Aelin’s character has grown so much throughout the series, evolving from the sassy, arrogant assassin Celaena Sardothien first introduced in Throne of Glass. Empire of Storms brings deeper layers to her already more than complex personality. We see a tired woman, gripping onto hope with everything she has. Having literally clawed her way out of her dark past, Aelin will do whatever it takes to see her family safe and her country liberated. Empire of Storms highlights the selfless, calculated, self-sacrificing Queen that she is, leading a power-house court of dreamers; Rowan, Aedion, Lysandra, and Evangeline (#squadgoals). Of course, it wouldn’t be Aelin without some secretive and downright devious plotting and scheming. At this stage in the game, you just know she’s got a card or two stashed up her sleeve to save all of their asses. All I’m saying is prepared to be utterly gutted.

“It is not such a hard thing, is it – to die for your friends.”

Much like Heir of Fire and Queen of Shadows, Empire of storms is utterly sprawling in its scope, splitting the main rising action between various narratives. Basically, epic fantasy is at its best at the hands of a master storyteller. That being said, there was one plot line that completely stole the show and I was 100% here for it. Aelin isn’t the only badass wandering the wilds of Oakwald. Remember Elide Lochan? What seemed like a convenient character device to help Manon find her humanity has proven to be so much more. Elide, on the run from the shadow of Morath and her uncle, teams up with Lorcan Salvaterre as they make their way across the continent in search of Aelin. Can we please just talk about how much I actually lived for Elide totally making Lorcan her bitch? I mean, the man (the most powerful demi-fae in existence, a member of the cadre) actually cuts his shirt into strips for Elide to use for her cycle. Their narrative was crammed with witty banter, plenty of escapades, close scraps, and rounded with a good amount of general badassery.

“Aelin Galathynius had raised an army not just to challenge Morath, but to rattle the stars.”

Speaking of Manon… This woman just keeps surprising me. Initially, I was skeptical of her place in Sarah’s world. In Heir of Fire, the Ironteeth witches felt out of place. Why did I care about a bunch of moody witches and their train-your-dragon-like shenanigans? However, through the course of the later installments and my various re-reads Manon has fast become one of my favorite characters. That being said, man did she up her game in Empire of Storms. Much like Queen of Shadows, more is revealed about how the witches fall into the overall plot and endgame. I mean, that whole revelation with the Crochans, the Three Face Goddess, and the Eye of Elena? Who here saw that coming? Certainly not me. All those various plot threads and subplots, the foreshadowing – it’s all knitting together for the final punch that will be Kingdom of Ash. Remember that little plot thread with Baba Yellowlegs and Elena back in Crown of Midnight? Remember “nameless is my price”? Everything and I do mean everything is relevant to the overall series arch.

“Where is Aelin.
Where is my wife?”

To wrap up this rather messy (my perfectionism is thrashing and clawing at me to not post this) and long review. I just want to touch on that brutal ending. And no, let me just be the first to assure you that it doesn’t get any easier the second time around. Just when everything seems to be going as planned (the allies meeting up in Eyllwe, the arrival of Elide with the second wyrd key, and the retrieval of the “lock”) the quest is thrown into chaos with the arrival of the big bad. Also, making us wait for two years for this mess to be fixed? Unforgivable. Utterly unforgivable, Sarah. I screamed, I cried and a part of my soul died as the final pieces fell into place; the endgame became clear as the true antagonist declares. A word of advice? Make sure you have tea and chocolate… And maybe a stuffed animal or significant other to comfort you through what will be the worst book hangover since A Court of Mist and Fury. You have been warned. Enjoy the pain, my friends.

ARC Review: Bloodshed (Order of the Unseen #1) by Molly Doyle.

Synopsis:

We like to believe monsters don’t exist, even in the moonlit streets of a place like Salem, Massachusetts. But they’re very real… and very human. There’s danger lurking around every corner. People are vanishing off the street into thin air, never to be seen again.

The masked men have their own secrets. But it isn’t until the night that they all come together when true horror is born.

College student Quinn did not expect her Halloween night to take a dangerous turn. When her masked men swoop in and make her a proposition, she can only promise one night.

*Check trigger warnings

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Publisher: Unknown

Publication Date: October 31st, 2022

Genre: Dark Romance, Adult

Source: ARC provided by author

Review:

From the beginning, we follow how Damien, Jensen, and Micah become a unit as well as the struggles each of them has with mental health. I believe it’s portrayed in a very real, raw way and you maybe wouldn’t expect that from a smutty book. As well as that you get their POV for some Scream for Us scenes and I thought it was very clever how the author wrote the story in a way in which you could enjoy this one without having read the novella.

The switch between the POVs was clear and each character has been created with clear traits to help the reader get a sense of which guy brings what to the table. I previously mentioned in my Scream for Us review that it felt more like a one-night stand between Quinn and Damien where his friends tagged along rather than the balance of an RH but this book corrected that. Even though Damien is the leader, both Jensen and Micah are important parts of this whole and they offer Quinn something else.

I really reallyyyyy wanted to like this one but it felt like I was rereading scream for us for a few chapters rereading what we already read so it made the book meh I wanted more stuff between them not stuff I reread. I wish after the pre-Quinn we got right after Halloween night. So we can have more connections among the group we still don’t know about the cult, and we don’t know who felicity is???? Why the mom was shifty after Quinn said Damiens’s name?!?

My rating: 4/5 stars.

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Manga Review: Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba, Vol.21 by Koyoharu Gotouge.

Synopsis: In Taisho-era Japan, kindhearted Tanjiro Kamado makes a living selling charcoal. But his peaceful life is shattered when a demon slaughters his entire family. His little sister Nezuko is the only survivor, but she has been transformed into a demon herself! Tanjiro sets out on a dangerous journey to find a way to return his sister to normal and destroy the demon who ruined his life.

The fight with Kokushibo, the highest-ranking demon among Muzan’s servants, is over. Although Himejima and Sanemi defeated Kokushibo and sent him to hell, the price the Demon Slayer Corps has paid is very high. Kiriya Ubuyashiki, the new leader of the Demon Slayers, struggles to recover from the losses. With the battle against Muzan far from over, the remaining fighters will need his help more than ever. Meanwhile, deep within Infinity Castle, Tanjiro and his friends come face-to-face with their nemesis at last…

Review:

Holy FUCK, THIS WAS AWESOME!

Right from the start, readers get repeatedly kicked in the feels that made me cry because dammit, Gotouge, why can’t I have nice things?! Is it bad enough I had to lose Rengoku so early, but now I’ve lost Genya and Tokito?! And holy shit, both of their farewell scenes were so damn painful, dammit! It’s even worse considering this is the most relaxed point in the volume and also the most heartbreaking. But damn, Gotouge really knows how to handle emotional scenes with tenderness, care, and empathy. You will forever have my respect, Gotouge.

After that, the volume is tense moment after tense moment as our heroes grapple with the growing threat that is Muzan. I love how the ones dealing with this threat and are having emotional breakdowns over it aren’t just the Hashira, but Kiriya as well. Seeing him finally breakdown not only over the loss of many demon slayers but his newfound responsibility was a great character building moment. This poor kid has been thrust into this role way earlier than anticipated and not only has to think about what’s best for the demon slayers, but also how to get rid of Muzan once and for all. It’s a shame he was introduced so late, but this small moment of him breaking down did wonders for his character.

Speaking of great character moments, Yushiro was an absolute BOSS this volume! Him taking control of Biwa and fucking with Muzan was gold! Not only that, but the savage rage depicted on his face when he calls out Muzan for killing Tamayo was terrifying yet so cathartic. He’s pulled his weight throughout the entire series, but this volume is where he really got to shine.

While I don’t think Muzan’s final form is that original in design, I do like the fact that there are multiple mouths on his body to symbolize his unabashed gluttony for power. Aside from that, it’s not that interesting. It does look cool, I’ll give it that.

The fight scenes in this volume were top notch all around. While Muzan’s fighting style is lackluster (seriously, all he does is whip his body around and slash things) I do love watching the Hashira fight against him. Especially Kanroji, seeing as her sword is effectively a whip. The struggle between him and the Hashira is pretty incredible and really sells Muzan as a threat. While it’s a bit anticlimactic that this fight is effectively a stalling match, what makes it interesting is seeing the Hashira band together and try different things to stall him. Also, the other slayers giving up their lives to help the Hashira was heartbreaking but noble. And of course, the fight choreography and artwork are stellar as ever, making the fights even more enjoyable.

I can’t believe we’re getting to the end of the series, just two more volumes! This is a relatively short series by Shounen Jump standards, but I’m still enjoying this final arc. Looking forward to more!

My rating: 5/5 stars.

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