Avoiding the Abyss by A.C. Ward

Too much abuse

This book starts straight off the bat with Aubrey getting a beating by her mother. It is given under the guise of “training”, because Aubrey is a bad fighter, but it is very clear that her mother detests her. Yet, Aubrey remains throughout her staunch defender.

Others amongst the rebels pity her, but do very little to defend her, because her mother is the “hero”, the one who rules the rebels and is renowned as the best fighter.

Everything is turned on its head when she is captured by government, yet not at all in the ways that she expects. She keeps on supporting her mother, even secretly, right up to the last. Even when she does find out the truth, can she keep supporting someone who her entire life has seen her as useless until it’s discovered she has powers?

The ending, or perhaps more late middle to end, were the only redeeming parts of this book. The way the abuse is treated just appalled me that I nearly stopped reading after the opening scene. The latter parts made the universe interesting, enough that I want to continue the series, but I can’t ignore that beginning.

Final rating: ★★★☆☆ – Sort of liked/OK.

*I received a free digital ARC via NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.*

All Bleeds Through: Ten Stories of Hemomancy and the World It Shaped by Bartholomew Lander

Dark, vermillion arts

This book is a compilation of linked stories. In it we see the very “human” side of Hemomancers (those born with the ability to control blood). It shows fear, jealousy, revenge, as well as stigmatisation and the effects of being ostracised from society, from mere bullying to being hunted down and killed. These are people who are both feared and reviled, sometimes correctly, other times less so (the hunting of Hemomancer children is seen to be as just as if they were fully-fledged adults, the fear is so great).

This is a book full of well-filled arguments, from both sides of the coin, from the Human side and the Hemomancer side, and how each action affects the other. We have murderers, thieves, but also scientists and defenders. In this book, through the stories, you come to truly understand what it is like to be a Hemomancer, or a Human living in fear of them. Never have I read a story that links different POVs to truly allow such understanding.

At the beginning, I wasn’t so endeavoured with the story, after reading the first part. But, by the end, as all parts started to link through, I was wowed. The end links into the beginning, to create a round circle that allows everything within this book to make sense. Each character has their own attributes, to allow you to live with them. The pain, the fear, the anger, the determination, it all shines through.

Quite a remarkable collection of stories that I definitely want to continue with.

Final rating: ★★★★★ – Loved it/couldn’t put it down

*I received a free ARC via NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.*

Devils Glen by Matthew Speak

Darkness descends

I took my time getting around to this book, so long in fact that Kindle Scout has now died and gone. But, no matter, I still own a copy of the book, so I have to read and review it at some point, don’t I…?

Anyway, this book was darker than I normally like to get in to. I was lucky that I didn’t have nightmares afterwards! But, I plodded on.

The beginning almost made me want to throw it at the wall, as it was so so boring!! The chapters were disjointed and unrelated. Some of the prologue material was repeated in the first couple of chapters. But then came glimmers of brilliance, that started to make the story interesting, so I persevered further. Plenty of creepy stuff to be had, but the main gore of the story didn’t happen until towards the end, like it came out of nowhere! Suddenly, blatant blood and gore, like the book is catching up or something for missing out on it sooner!

And, as it so happens, just around the point of the major bloody action is when the book was starting to get really interesting and it started pulling all together. Although there are still a heap of unanswered questions. Maybe the next book will resolve that, but I’m tentative as to whether I should pick it up or not.

My rating for this flew between two and five stars, depending on how the book was running, so I think I’ve chosen a fairly nice middle ground.

Final rating: ★★★★☆ – Really liked

*I received a free copy of this book via the, now defunct, Kindle Scout program, and am voluntarily leaving a review.*