The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi

Hello There
Ever since I heard about The Gilded Wolves, I was so curious about it: Roshani Chokshi’s writing and I hadn’t gotten to a great start, but so many readers kept praising her works and I wanted to know what the hype was all about. Besides, this book is set in 19th century, which is right up my alley. Of course, when I saw the book up on Netgalley, I didn’t hesitate and I’m so glad I got approved for it! I didn’t love this book as much as everyone else, but I flew through it and it was really entertaining. So, without further ado, happy publication day to The Gilded Wolves and here’s my review of it!

 

Published: January 15th 2019 by Wednesday Books
Genres: young adult, historical fiction, fantasy
Number of pages: 464
 
Goodreads summary: Set in a darkly glamorous world, The Gilded Wolves is full of mystery, decadence, and dangerous but thrilling adventure.
Paris, 1889: The world is on the cusp of industry and power, and the Exposition Universelle has breathed new life into the streets and dredged up ancient secrets. In this city, no one keeps tabs on secrets better than treasure-hunter and wealthy hotelier, Séverin Montagnet-Alarie. But when the all-powerful society, the Order of Babel, seeks him out for help, Séverin is offered a treasure that he never imagined: his true inheritance.
To find the ancient artifact the Order seeks, Séverin will need help from a band of experts: An engineer with a debt to pay. A historian who can’t yet go home. A dancer with a sinister past. And a brother in all but blood, who might care too much.
Together, they’ll have to use their wits and knowledge to hunt the artifact through the dark and glittering heart of Paris. What they find might change the world, but only if they can stay alive.

MY THOUGHTS

Disclaimer : I received this book through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. The quotes I used might have changed in the final copy.
My favourite element of The Gilded Wolves was its characters. This novel had such a diverse cast of six main characters, whom I adored. They were so complex and had rich backstories, which made me get to know them pretty well and I’m a bit sad to leave them behind now that I’ve finished the novel. I have to admit that I’m a bit disappointed that we didn’t get every main character’s point of view: I feel like I didn’t care as much for one of them, I *almost even* forgot about them at times and so I didn’t really care about this character’s storyline or ending? That’s too bad because I cared about everyone else; at this character, I am really sorry. Moreover, they all had amazing group dynamics and I loved every little interaction they had together. My favourite character was for sure Zofia, because I related to her in so many ways, but I also have a soft spot for Hypnos!

I had high expectations when it comes to the world-building of this novel, especially the parts about late 19th century Paris, as I’m French and a history major, but I can tell you that Roshani Chokshi did her job splendidly! You could tell how much research she put into her book and I loved that she didn’t only show an idealistic Paris: she also showed France’s ugly colonialist past, how unaccepting and racist society could be. As she said in her author’s note:

“History is a myth shaped by the tongues of conquerors.”

Shameful events can often be glossed over and this shouldn’t be. This past needs to be acknowledged, discussed and I’m glad that voices that have been ignored for so long can finally be heard. So many important topics were talked about in this novel and Chokshi did a good job at that. The Gilded Wolves was also full of historical, philosophical and scientific references, which I adored!

While I was impressed by the way Chokshi portrayed Paris, I wasn’t as convinced when she presented the novel’s magic system. It was complex and a bit confusing at times, especially when paragraphs upon paragraphs were explaining the world: it felt a bit like info-dumping to me. Still, it was a bit more interesting once I understood everything.

To talk about the elephant in the room, that many reviewers have discussed: in many things, The Gilded Wolves is quite similar to Six of Crows for some aspects of it. I am not saying that this is a bad thing: The Gilded Wolves has amazing characters no matter what and a different world building, but because of those similarities, the plot didn’t take me by surprise, because it wasn’t anything I hadn’t read before. It could be thrilling at times, but overall I was left being unimpressed by it. Besides, I wasn’t too convinced by the villain: I would have liked to know their motivations more; it has to be more than “I want to take over the world” to me, I need more explanations and very morally gray characters. Despite that, I adored the fact that it was all about a secret society!

I had tried reading Chokshi’s debut in the past without success, but I really liked her writing style in this one, it flowed nicely and I got through this book really quickly. While I don’t really want to pick The Star-Touched Queen again at this point, I’d be interested in reading more of her works.

To conclude, I thought that while being a bit too similar to Six of Crows for my taste, The Gilded Wolves is a novel with amazing characters and a compelling setting that many readers will adore. Some aspects of the novel, such as a confusing magic system at first and a plot that didn’t take me by surprise didn’t convince me as much, but maybe that’s just me? I’m always super picky, haha.

Have you read The Gilded Wolves or are you interested in it?
lots of love

Bellewether by Susanna Kearsley | Book review

Hello, beautiful people!

When I saw that I could request Bellewether by Susanna Kearsley on Netgalley, I didn’t hesitate one second, as it was one of my most anticipated releases of the year, considering how much I adore her other works. Of course, I was over the moon to get approved and to discover another era, another mystery and another love story. Bellewetherwas released this Tuesday, so today, I thought I would share my review of it with you!

Bellewether by Susanna Kearsley

Published: August 7th 2018 by Sourcebooks Landmark

Genres: historical fiction, romance
Number of pages: 512

Summary: “The house, when I first saw it, seemed intent on guarding what it knew; but we all learned, by the end of it, that secrets aren’t such easy things to keep.”

It’s late summer, war is raging, and families are torn apart by divided loyalties and deadly secrets. In this complex and dangerous time, a young French Canadian lieutenant is captured and billeted with a Long Island family, an unwilling and unwelcome guest. As he begins to pitch in with the never-ending household tasks and farm chores, Jean-Philippe de Sabran finds himself drawn to the daughter of the house. Slowly, Lydia Wilde comes to lean on Jean-Philippe, true soldier and gentleman, until their lives become inextricably intertwined. Legend has it that the forbidden love between Jean-Philippe and Lydia ended tragically, but centuries later, the clues they left behind slowly unveil the true story.
Part history, part romance, and all kinds of magic, Susanna Kearsley’s latest masterpiece will draw you in and never let you go, even long after you’ve closed the last page.

MY THOUGHTS

Disclaimer : I received this book through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. The quotes I used might have changed in the final copy.

“You’ll find most people, when you get to know them, are not what you were afraid they’d be. They’re only people.”


Susanna Kearsley’s novels are in part known for their dual historical perspectives: they usually follow a character in our own time, trying to understand what happened to historical figures, with a touch of supernatural. This time around, our protagonist was Charley, who had just been appointed as a curator to the Wilde House Museum and discovered the legend of Lydia and her French soldier, which made her curious to understand what really happened, to potentially include it into the museography of the museum.

I truly enjoyed reading about Charley, especially because I knew how accurately Kearsley described what it meant to be a curator, talked about their daily duties and the opposition they could encounter by an administration board or local historical societies. Susanna Kearsley actually used to be a museum curator – so she’s trained in history and that’s why she’s amazing with historical details! – and I felt like it showed, so it made me really happy, considering all the knowledge I have of that world. Charley’s narrative also was quite interesting, because it was about reconnecting with your family, as well as grief, which was splendidly done. Bellewether also had references to some of Kearsley’s previous novels, I didn’t catch those she mentioned in her author’s note, but she mentioned Sebastian from The Firebird, I wasn’t quite sure until I double checked, but it made me so proud to recognise that as a fan of her works!

Moreover, while all of Kearsley’s novels (that I have read, at least?) are set in Europe, this one was set in America and I was so curious, because I don’t know that much about the Seven Years War from an American perspective. Once again, Kearsley astonished me with the accuracy of her research, how she wrote about some historical figures, how I time-traveled and was walking alongside Lydia and Jean-Philippe. As I’m French, I also was fascinated to learn about French people in America at that time, whether it was the Acadians or the Canadians, for we don’t learn about them that much at school. Bellewether also was, in part, about slavery; the author wrote about people who owned slaves and people who were against it, about running away and staying, about how we, in our modern societies, could hide from that past.

“Lara told her, “That’s true. You know, back when I went to school we never learned about us having slaves in the north. It was all just the Underground Railroad and Lincoln, and how we were good and the south was so bad, and then I read this article on slavery in Brroklyn and it said at one time New York had more slaves than any city except Charleston. And it blew my mind. I mean,” she said, “it shouldn’t have. I should have known of course we had slaves, too. The history wa
s all right there, if I’d just looked for it.” 
“You liked the ‘nice’ story better.” Malaika was matter-of-fact. “Most folks do. It makes them feel good.” (p. 125)


Bellewether confronted racism several times, when it talked about slavery, of course, but also about Native Americans. In the 18thcentury narrative, it approached the topic with a dual perspective from two soldiers, one talking about how they were ‘savages’ (that character was truly awfull), the second one trying to show him how wrong he was and how those societies that called themselves ‘civilised’ could be prejudiced and in the wrong. It also approached that topic in the contemporary narrative, as an important character was Native American. It also talked about respectful terminology, I don’t know how accurate it was and it felt a bit forced at first, but then it got better.

The plot of this novel was really enjoyable, even though I had to confess that I struggled a bit to get into it and thought the second half was so much better than the first one. The first half of the novel was about setting the mystery and the characters, whereas the second half was about getting all the answers and it became gripping. I adored the atmosphere created around the Wilde House, with the supernatural element (a ghost this time), it was almost a bit scary considering the legend, which was so much fun in a way. I also have the feeling that the ending was a little bit abrupt: I did have the closure I wanted, but it all happened so fast, like the author realised that she had to finish her book. I truly hope this was resolved in the final copy, because it was a tad frustrating.

“She’d fought those feelings all the could, while standing in that doorway. She had told heself the trembling was from fear, and nothing else. But it had been an unconvincing explanation, and her heart had not believed it.Hearts were stubborn things, and often inconvenient.” (p. 280)


Now, about the romance. There is always a point in Susanna Kearsley’s novels when the romance takes a big step on the plot and unfortunately, they usually are my least favourite part of the novel, because there are one in the contemporary era, one in the historical one, it kind of feels too much. I quite liked the one involving Charley, in the 21th century, even though a certain scene didn’t feel natural. However, I wasn’t that convinced about Lydia and Jean-Philippe. I agree that they liked each other, I do. I agree that Kearsley can write romance scenes that make me smile, I do. But how am I supposed to believe that two characters are in love and want to spend the rest of their lives togetherwhen they didn’t really speak the same language and had known each other only for a few months? I can understand attraction in this situation, but I thought that the love bit was a little too much. I know I’m not big on romance most of the time, but still.

Overall, Bellewether was a good historical novel, although it wasn’t my favourite of Kearsley’s works. While I adored the mystery, the setting and Charley’s storyline, I had a suspension of disbelief problem with the romance between Lydia and Jean-Philippe. Still, if you’re interested to read a historical novel set during the Seven Years War in America, you should give it a go! Otherwise, you should still try some of Susanna Kearsley’s other works, such as The Winter Sea(my personal favourite), The Shadowy Horsesor The Firebird(also that’s the chronological order if you want to get all the references).



Thank you for reading,


Lots of love,
Lucie

The Radical Element, an anthology edited by Jessica Spotswood // Book review

Hello, beautiful people!

In 2016, I discovered my favourite YA anthology, A Tyranny of Petticoats, a historical fiction and fantasy anthology, which focused on telling the stories of a diverse array of heroines. When I heard that a follow-up project was in the works, I couldn’t be more excited about that and had to get my hands on it as soon as possible. Lucky for all of you, The Radical Element is coming out today, and I’m sharing my review with you all to (maybe) convince you to read it. While I’m at it, I have to say that you do not need to read A Tyranny of Petticoats first, it’s an amazing anthology, but the two of them are independent (and complementary) and different authors contributed to them.

The Radical Element, an anthology edited by Jessica Spotswood

Authors included: Dahlia Adler, Erin Bowman, Dhonielle Clayton, Sarah Farizan, Mackenzi Lee, Stacey Lee, Anna-Marie McLemore, Meg Medina, Marieke Nijkamp, Megan Sheperd, Jessica Spotswood, Sarvena Tash
Published: March 13th 2018 by Candlewick Press
Genres: short stories, young adult, historical fiction
Number of pages: 320

Goodreads summary: In an anthology of revolution and resistance, a sisterhood of YA writers shines a light on a century and a half of heroines on the margins and in the intersections.


To respect yourself, to love yourself—should not have to be a radical decision. And yet it remains as challenging for an American girl to make today as it was in 1927 on the steps of the Supreme Court. It’s a decision that must be faced whether you’re balancing on the tightrope of neurodivergence, finding your way as a second-generation immigrant, or facing down American racism even while loving America. And it’s the only decision when you’ve weighed society’s expectations and found them wanting. In The Radical Element, twelve of the most talented writers working in young adult literature today tell the stories of the girls of all colors and creeds standing up for themselves and their beliefs—whether that means secretly learning Hebrew in early Savannah, using the family magic to pass as white in 1920s Hollywood, or singing in a feminist punk band in 1980s Boston. And they’re asking you to join them.


MY THOUGHTS

Disclaimer: I received this book through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.


Reviewing and rating anthologies is usually tricky, because you can’t always love all of the short stories they are made of; yet, for The Radical Element, I can say that I enjoyed all of them and that the messages the anthology was trying to get through were executed well.The Radical Element is an empowering read that focuses on young women who didn’t fit within the norms of society, who were marginalized and learnt to respect and step up for themselves. 


The short stories manage to make you learn historical details you might not have suspected, especially since the stories of those young women would be stories erased from the records of history. In a way, it puts the stress that history was made as much by women than by men, even though so many of them had to work in the shadows (for that, I’m considering Lady Firebrand, which was one of my favourite stories) and thanks to some of the authors’ notes, you might even get recommendations for non-fiction history books on women. 


As I’m more interested in the 19th century than in the 20th century, I have to confess that I loved the short stories set from 1838 to 1927 more, because those are set in time periods that compel me, but that’s personal preference and they all were pretty good. My personal favourites were Lady Firebrand by Megan Sheperd, Glamour by Anna-Marie McLemore and Better for all the world by Marieke Nijkamp. Some of them include fantasy elements, which I really loved, considering mixing history and fantasy is one of my favourite things. I discovered several new authors through this anthology and will make sure to check some of their novels out. 


Another thing I loved was that it didn’t have a lot of romance, it was sometimes hinted, it was sometimes shown, but it wasn’t the focus of the story, it was more about growing on your own. I would have liked to see more f/f romances though, it was hinted once in Step Right Upand there was a f/f romance between secondary characters in Take Me With U, but I wanted a bit more. 


Now, I have to say that if you read the stories one after the other without reading anything else on the side, the endings of most of them must feel a bit repetitive, but it goes alon
g with the main message of this anthology: it’s about getting through obstacles that prevent you to be who you are and embracing your difference and that’s such an important idea. I believe that this anthology should be read by as many young women as possible, to show them that they got this and that they can dare dreaming and fighting for what they want. 


The representation in this book is fantastic – or that’s what I felt, but for that, it’s important to check out what #ownvoices reviewers have to say – and quite a few of those short stories were #ownvoices. This anthology is an accurate representation of what it is to be American when you feel like you’re not wanted, when you’re different from what the norm wants you to be: it tells the stories of women of colour, disabled women, women from different religions. It is an amazing example of the diversity young adult literature has been getting and what it deserves. 


OverallThe Radical Element is one of the best YA anthologies I got to read, alongside A Tyranny of Petticoats which is its close second (it makes sense, considering A Tyranny of Petticoats was edited by Jessica Spotswood and focused on similar themes). It delivers such important messages and might have a lasting impact on young adults who will read it, as its heroines were relatable and might make you want to fight harder to defend what you believe in. 


Individual ratings of the stories: 

  • 1838, Savannah, Georgia – Daughter of the Book by Dahlia Adler 4/5 stars 
  • 1844, Nauvoo, Illinois – You’re a Stranger Here by Mackenzi Lee 3/5 stars 
  • 1858, Colorado River, New Mexico Territory – The Magician by Erin Bowman 3.5/5 stars 
  • 1863, Charleston, South Caroline – Lady Firebrand by Megan Sheperd5/5 stars 
  • 1905, Tulsa, Indian Territory – Step Right Up by Jessica Spotswood 4/5 stars 
  • 1923, Los Angeles and the Central Valley, California – Glamour by Anna-Marie McLemore 5/5 stars 
  • 1927, Washington, D.C. – Better for all the world by Marieke Nijkamp5/5 stars 
  • 1943, Oak Bluffs, Massachusetts – When the moonlight isn’t enough by Dhonielle Clayton 3/5 stars 
  • 1952, Brooklyn, New York – The Belle of the Ball by Sarvena Tash3.5/5 stars 
  • 1955, Oakland, California – Land of the Sweet, Home of the Brave by Stacey Lee 3/5 stars 
  • 1972, Queens, New York – The Birth of Susi Go-Go by Meg Medina3.5/5 stars 
  • 1984, Boston, Massachusetts – Take Me With U by Sarah Farizan 3.5/5 stars

Are you planning on picking up The Radical Element
Which anthologies are your favourites?

Thank you for reading,
Lots of love,
Lucie

Shadowsong by S. Jae-Jones // Book review

Hello, beautiful people!

Last week, I received an e-ARC of Shadowsong by S. Jae-Jones, the sequel to Wintersong and of course, I had to drop everything to read it. It only comes out in two weeks, but I decided to share my review with you today, so it might motivate you to pick up Wintersong if you haven’t yet and then to read that one when it’ll be released.


Shadowsong (Wintersong #2) by S. Jae-Jones

Published: February 6th 2018 by Wednesday Books
Genres: young adult, historical fiction, fantasy
Number of pages: 384

Goodreads summary: Six months after the end of Wintersong, Liesl is working toward furthering both her brother’s and her own musical careers. Although she is determined to look forward and not behind, life in the world above is not as easy as Liesl had hoped. Her younger brother Josef is cold, distant, and withdrawn, while Liesl can’t forget the austere young man she left beneath the earth, and the music he inspired in her. 

When troubling signs arise that the barrier between worlds is crumbling, Liesl must return to the Underground to unravel the mystery of life, death, and the Goblin King—who he was, who he is, and who he will be. What will it take to break the old laws once and for all? What is the true meaning of sacrifice when the fate of the world—or the ones Liesl loves—is in her hands?

You can read an excerpt for Shadowsong here.


MY THOUGHTS

Contents warnings for Shadowsong (included in the author’s note at the beginning of the novel) // self-harm, addiction, reckless behaviourssuicidal ideation, bipolar disorder 
Disclaimer: I received this e-ARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All the quotes used in this review might have changed in the finished copy. 

When I started reading Wintersong last year, I had no idea it would end up being one of my favourite reads of 2017 and yetit was exactly the book for me. Like I told you a few weeks agoShadowsongits sequelwas one of my most anticipated releases of 2018 and I was over the moon when I got to read it early. I was a bit scared it wouldn’t live up to Wintersong, but it truly was amazing. 

“You didn’t tell me living would be one decision after another, some easy, some difficult. You didn’t tell me living wasn’t a battle, but a war. You didn’t tell me that living was a choice, and that every day I choose to continue was another victory, another triumph.” (p.96)


I’ll say this straight away: Shadowsong is quite different from Wintersong, but it is still an amazing novel. I also have to say that this review will never do the book justice, but I had to stop writing at some point, or it would have been way too long. I just hope I will be able to make you eager to read this book and if you haven’t read Wintersong yet, you should check out my review of it. 

From the very first lines, I fell in love with S. Jae-Jones’ beautiful and poetic writing once again. I absolutely loved that she used quotes from Beethoven to introduce the different parts of the novel, as well as the use of musical terms for some chapters. I felt like I was reading a fairy tale that had gone completely wrong. Some aspects of Shadowsong actually reminded me of Hades and Persephone, which is such an interesting arc to develop in fiction and that’s pretty much one of my weaknesses. Once again, the author incorporated elements of folklore into her story easily, even showing that some elements of folklore were common to different cultures and that this story, that was set in Austria, could have repercussions in the rest of the world, which was somehow quite realistic. Her world-building was once again compelling and I always needed more of it. This time, the novel wasn’t set much in the Underground, but I really loved seeing the world-building in our world. 
Shadowsong picks up six months after the ending of Wintersong and from the very beginning, the author shows that her characters are in a completely different state of mind, that they’re completely lost within their own lives. In the background, we have glimpses of the upcoming plot, but some readers might feel like it will be a bit slow to start, because this story is as much about the consequences of the events of Wintersong as the characters finding themselves again. I didn’t mind at all, but I know it might bother some readers, so now you know. Shadowsong is a dark and twisted novel, plays with the boundaries between reality and delusion. In my opinion, Shadowsong was a slow-paced, atmospheric read I had no choice but to devour, because I couldn’t get enough of it. I read it in less than 24 hours, for I simply couldn’t stop myself. 
While Wintersong explored Liesl and the Goblin King’s relationship, Shadowsong focused on her dynamics with her brother, Josef. [Warning for the Goblin King’s fans: you won’t see much of it in the novel, but I loved that the author went that way.] I have a weakness for family dynamics and S. Jae-Jones explored this one in a very realistic way: the characters don’t know each other anymore, they can’t get through the other and yet, they would do anything for each other. Liesl and Josef were far from perfect with each other, but their relationship rang true and this sibling relationship is something I definitely want to see more of in YA fiction. 

“In the end, words had been insufficient. Music was the language my brother and I shared down to our bones. Melodies were our sentences, movements our paragraphs. We spoke best when we let our fingers do the talking – mine over my keyboard, his over the strings. It was in our playing, not my letters, that I could make Sepperl understand.” (p. 61)


One of my favourite aspects of the novel was definitely Liesl’s character development. At the beginning of Shadowsong, it might look like she finally has everything she ever wanted, yet she is completely lost within her own life, she doesn’t know who she is anymore, she even struggles to find motivation to get through every single day. It might not be easy to read at times, but as someone who has felt this way, I can tell you that the author did a fantastic job at putting those feelings into words and it made me relate to Liesl even more. For almost all of the novel, she was a broken character and I really loved that the author showed us that it’s okay not to be okay sometimes, but that we can still find ourselves, at some point. Liesl is such a strong character, loyal to her loved ones, trying to be someone and I really admire her for all of that. She might be one of the characters I relate to the most in YA literature. I will miss her so much, because following her journey truly was wonderful.

“As I turn to peer into each of the mirrors, I see a different facet of myself: the girl with music in her soul, the daughter, the friend, the sister. These are all parts of me, entire, yet, I did not know until this moment how I had fractured myself, unable to understand how to fit these pieces together into a whole.” (p. 354) 

The last few chapters of the novel were absolutely spectacular, I was on the edge of my seat for the entire time, devouring words after words to know how the author would wrap everything up. I obviously can’t tell you much about that, but it was a very satisfactory conclusion to an amazing duology. 
Overall, I absolutely adored Shadowsong. It was a dark, heart-wrenching story and I am so sad to say goodbye to those characters. This duology truly was made for me and I cannot wait to read what S. Jae-Jones will publish next. Sadly, I couldn’t write about all the aspects of the novel because it would be an essay and not a review, but I hope that what you just read convinced you to read Wintersong and Shadowsong.

Other quotes I adored: 

“People don’t disappear, but their stories become forgotten,” he said in a soft voice. “It is only the faithful who remember.” (p. 53)

“Perhaps I love the monstrous because I was a monster.” (p. 261)

“You allowed me to forgive myself for being imperfect. For being a sinner. For being me.” (p. 356) 



Thank you for reading,
Lots of love,
Lucie 

Retribution Rails by Erin Bowman // Book review

Hello, beautiful people!

It’s been quite a while since I wrote any review on my blog, because let’s be honest, reviews are the types of posts which get the less views (I’m guilty of not reading that many blog reviews as well, oops). However, I read an ARC of Retribution Rails a few months ago and as I absolutely adored it and it comes out today, I really wanted to talk to you all about it! Besides, I wrote a review for Vengeance Road, the first book in this companion duology, two years ago (!!), so I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to start writing reviews again.


Retribution Rails (Vengeance Road #2) by Erin Bowman

Publication date: November 7th 2017 by HMH Books for Young Readers
Genres: young adult, historical fiction, adventure
Number of pages: 384

Goodreads summary: REDEMPTION IS NEVER FREE

When Reece Murphy is forcibly dragged into the Rose Riders gang because of a mysterious gold coin in his possession, he vows to find the man who gave him the piece and turn him over to the gang in exchange for freedom. Never does he expect a lead to come from an aspiring female journalist. But when Reece’s path crosses with Charlotte Vaughn after a botched train robbery and she mentions a promising rumor about a gunslinger from Prescott, it becomes apparent that she will be his ticket to freedom—or a noose. As the two manipulate each other for their own ends, past secrets are unearthed, reviving a decade-old quest for revenge that may be impossible to settle.

In this thrilling companion to Vengeance Road, dangerous alliances are formed, old friends meet new enemies, and the West is wilder than ever.


MY THOUGHTS

“So you can either be scared yer whole life or you can try to enjoy it. I suggest the latter. Otherwise yer gonna blink and find yerself old and weary, talking yer last breath and regretting that you passed yer years tense and worrisome.”

I received this book through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All the quotes used in this review might have changed in the final copy.


Before I actually start this review, here is the quote that might be enough to convince you to read it:

“Reece Murphy was a boy who became a man while riding with the devil.” 


From the first few pages, I fell in love with Retribution Rails. Truth be told, I hadn’t read any summary of it, but as I loved Vengeance Road, I was confident I would enjoy it. What I hadn’t expected was to fall in love with the story, to the point that I loved this companion novel even more. Once again, Erin Bowman did a lot of research to recreate the setting of that time, and I was transported all the way there, alongside the characters. 


It’s been a long time since I read a book with two points of view, but I thought it was so well-done here. Sometimes, the characters take a long time to meet and you don’t understand how they’ll come together, but in this case, Charlotte and Reece’s paths were intertwined from the first few pages and I loved how Erin Bowman did it. Reece was that boy who had been given no choice, who seemed to be a villain from the outside, when the truth was so much more complicated than that and the lines between right and wrong were blurred. On the other side, Charlotte was this badass girl through her words, who wanted to be a journalist and to be independent. Their backgrounds were so interesting and I liked that we still got subplots involving Charlotte’s family, as the main plot drifted away from it. Their dynamics were so well-developed, because it started with prejudice, mistrust and fear, and it was so interesting to see them change their minds. Besides, old characters from Vengeance Road played an important role in Retribution Rails, I loved to see what they had become.


Now, when it comes
to the plot, I loved how it was linked to the events taking place in Vengeance Road. The novel started as Reece and Charlotte’s story, before the reader discover that the stakes are so much higher than that. Would I recommend you to read Vengeance Road before Retribution Rails? I do, because it’s awesome and it makes a lot more sense when you have that background, but you can understand without having read it. In short: it’s up to you. 


Anyhow, the plot was so gripping, I read this book in a few sittings and there weren’t any dull moments. Retributions Rails is a page-turner with amazing action scenes and such an interesting historical background. Moreover, my feelings got all over the place. “Why would you do that to me?” Is all I ask. I’m sorry, but I need to recover from everything that happened in the end. I just need more from these characters and I’m totally up for another companion book (but sadly it won’t happen)(please do it though), for I want to see everyone again.


Overall, this book was absolutely amazing and I loved it even more than Vengeance Road. I thought that the two points of view balanced the book perfectly, I was so attached to the characters that I don’t really want to let them go (I’m still in denial) and the plot was so gripping. If you think you don’t like historical fiction, please reconsider. Vengeance Road and Retribution Rails might change your mind.




That’s all for me today, folks. Please let me know if you’ve read Vengeance Road or anything else by Erin Bowman, or even if you’re planning on doing so!
Lots of love,
Lucie