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  • Jacque Stevens

Review Round-Up: January 2018

A Night Divided:

Good historic fiction. I've read a lot about WWII, but less about the period after and I liked Nielsen's other books a lot, so this was something I was excited to read. Germany history is super interesting. The plot is fairly simple, but there’s a steady stream of tension to keep things moving that I think is kind of Nielson's trademark. I think the brother was my favorite character . . .

Yeah, I don’t really have much to say about this one, but it was really good. :)

5 stars.

How to Hang A Witch:

I enjoyed the history explored in this novel along with the supernatural elements. I didn’t even realize that the author was also a descendant until the end.

I don’t know why, but there were several times where I had to reread parts and I kept feeling like I was missing something. A few things just seemed overly complex or convoluted. But the bones of the story were great. Some of the twists surprised me and the ending was fully satisfying.

The next one seems interesting too, so maybe I will read it. Kind of on a historic fantasy kick.

4 stars.

4 Years Trapped in my Mind Palace:

I work with patients with disabilities so this was an interesting read. I always wonder how much my non-verbal patients can understand. It would be miserable to be trapped like that and be so aware of everything.

I liked the characters and the light fantasy in the story. That said, I don’t know how much the shared visions interested me. I was skimming them by the end.

The ending was really cute. I enjoyed it.

4 stars.

The Bear and the Nightingale:

This had a real classic fantasy feel to it—a bit old-school in the writing style that made me hesitate toward the beginning. And it hoped characters and timelines so quickly that it was hard to know exactly what the focus of the story would be, but I loved the Russian world-building from the start. Many of the characters were interesting and complex. They fit with the historic setting, but still were very sympathetic. And I loved all the different fantasy creatures that were included.

All the fairytale troops were present, but richly developed. It made things a bit slower paced, but it was worth the extra effort. There were so many fun details that just made the setting come alive. :)

Two slight things that bugged me were the feminist and anti-Christian undertones. It was very subtle, but I just got tired of hearing how poor Vasya had no choice but to marry or go to the convent and how “repressive” it was to have things expected of her based on her gender. I get that it was a harder time for women, but it was a harder time for everyone. Boys also had hard things expected of them based on their gender. They also were expected to marry or could be sent to become a priest. And since most other cultural aspects seemed so in line with the time-period, this just stuck out to me as “off,” as being a more modern ideal. It probably was a necessary part of the character conflict though. I probably just need to get over it. :P

Also, I have no problem with a corrupt priest being shown as a villain in favor of the wild druid magic. Priests can certainly be corrupt, and I love wild druid magic in fantasy. But I guess I just wished there was something to balance it out. Something to say that not all Christians are repressive in their views or to show some of the good things that came from their country’s conversation to Christianity. It just seemed really one-sided by the end.

Minor complaints though. It didn’t ruin the book for me. I’d like to read the other books in the series at some point. :)

5 stars.

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