eARC Review – The Shrike & the Shadows

Title: The Shrike & the Shadows

Authors: Chantal Gadoury & A.M. Wright

Publisher: The Parliament House Press

Publication date: March 3rd, 2020

365 pages

3/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Men have gone missing before.

The village of Krume is plagued by a haunted wood and a hungry witch. It’s been that way for as long as Hans and Greta can remember, though they have never seen the witch themselves; no one has. 

When men start to disappear once again in the cover of night – their bloody hearts turning up on doorsteps – the village falls into frenzied madness.

Hans and Greta, two outcast orphans, find themselves facing accusations of witchcraft and are met with an ultimatum: burn at the stake, or leave the village forever. 

With nowhere else to go, they abandon their only home. 

As they venture into the strange forest, their path is fraught with horrific creatures, wild and vivid hallucinations, and a mysterious man tied to the witch’s past.

The Shrike is watching, just beyond the deep darkness of the woods.

Review

**Thank you to The Parliament House Press, Netgalley, and the authors for a copy of this ebook in exchange for an honest review**

The Shrike & the Shadows gives us different version of Hansel and Gretel than we may be used to. Twins Hans and Greta are orphans living in the village of Krume. Their mother died from going into the woods, and their father died shortly after. The village thinks Greta is a witch and they are eventually cast out in to the woods for her ‘crimes’. The downside? There is a mysterious woman called ‘The Shrike’ that torments men in the village by seducing them and ripping out their hearts to put the outside their family’s house. The woods hold terrors the twins can’t even imagine, and the ending will be surprising.

I have never been a huge fan of the Hansel and Gretel fairy tale, and I didn’t like it much more in this book. I think I would have enjoyed it more if the characters were more interesting and redeemable. Hans screws Greta over from start to finish and Gretel is a doormat. She lets everything happen to her and her ‘innocence’ feels more like blank slate. I think her character should have been fleshed out more.

There was a level of dark and twisty to this book that was refreshing. It didn’t pull punches in that way and the terrors that Hans and Greta experience were interesting. Overall, this book wasn’t quite for me but if you like Hansel and Gretel, retellings, and dark & twisty than definitely check this out!

Happy reading, folks!

eARC Review – When We Were Magic

Title: When We Were Magic

Author: Sarah Gailey

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Publication date: March 3rd, 2020

352 pages

5/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

A moving, darkly funny novel about six teens whose magic goes wildly awry from Magic for Liars author Sarah Gailey, who Chuck Wendig calls an “author to watch.” 

Keeping your magic a secret is hard. Being in love with your best friend is harder.

Alexis has always been able to rely on two things: her best friends, and the magic powers they all share. Their secret is what brought them together, and their love for each other is unshakeable—even when that love is complicated. Complicated by problems like jealousy, or insecurity, or lust. Or love.

That unshakeable, complicated love is one of the only things that doesn’t change on prom night.

When accidental magic goes sideways and a boy winds up dead, Alexis and her friends come together to try to right a terrible wrong. Their first attempt fails—and their second attempt fails even harder. Left with the remains of their failed spells and more consequences than anyone could have predicted, each of them must find a way to live with their part of the story.

Review

**Thank you to Netgalley, Simon Pulse, and Sarah Gailey for a copy of this ebook in exchange for an honest review**

Okay. I’m gonna be honest. I was not prepared for the first chapter of this book. Now, this will not be a spoiler, because again, this is just the first chapter. So the MC, Alexis, was trying to hook up with a guy at the after party of Prom. In the process, she made his penis explode. EXPLODE. And it killed it him. So she calls in her best friends, who are mostly UNFAZED. THEN, Alexis announces she made it explode with MAGIC.

And that is literally just the first chapter. I don’t remember the last time that I was so intrigued by the start of a book! And it just got so much better after that. I loved everything about When We Were Magic. The friendship between the MC’s, the magic, the plot, the diversity… everything.

Let’s start with the characters. Each has their own personality and they are a tight group of friends. They all are magical and work together to try and figure their magic out. Also, I love that the magic system is so free flowing, without real known rules. Most fantasy novels have a magic system that is known whereas the character in When We Were Magic found each other casually and have to experiment to learn what they can do. There is no magic school, or teachers, or book of spells to learn from which means they have to be independent.

The plot moved along SO WELL. Information was provided at just the right moment to keep you in suspense while also making it interesting. It flowed well and the writing was great. I loved the romance, and the fact that there was queer witches is something I am HERE FOR. The ending was not what I expected and that’s okay.

Seriously, y’all go put this book on your TBR because it will not disappoint.

Happy reading, folks!