My initial plan for these booklogs was to share thoughts on every book I read, but I just kept picking up book after book and have been so busy diving into story after story to write any booklogs. Since my Throne of Glass appreciation post, I’ve finished up 22 more books, including catching up on the entire Sarah J. Maas universe. I also pulled Zach into the Maasiverse journey so it’s been fun experiencing his first-time read reactions as well.
I’m still (mentally) out of breath after finishing up the ToG series, so I’ve been sticking trilogies or less. Here is where I learned that I have a love-hate relationship with duologies. I love that I get such a well developed story, but I hate that there isn’t enough time to spend with the characters. Ironic, I know, considering one of the reasons I clearly chose to read them was the shorter commitment time. I can’t help it if I get sucked in! I’ve finished three duologies recently that I have really stuck with me and I find myself thinking about them often. Spoiler-free thoughts, as always. All of these are 5/5, would read again.
Letters of Enchantment [Divine Rivals & Ruthless Vows] by Rebecca Ross
Letters of Enchantment tells the story of Iris Winnow and Roman Kitt as their lives become casualties of a foolish war between the gods of their land. I kept seeing an insane amount of hype about Divine Rivals, but I waited until after Ruthless Vows was published before I picked up the first book. Thank goodness I waited. I don’t handle cliffhangers well (ahem, Iron Flame). I thought Divine Rivals was just *chef’s kiss* – I was so in love with Iris and Roman and their story. It was so genuine, endearing, and heartwarming. I thought about the world and time they lived in. The desperation of the war in the background was so important for the pivotal moments in their relationship. I got a little lost in sense of time for a bit and it felt everything was moving so fast – something I’m sure parallels Iris and Roman’s experience. There was just not enough time; there never is enough time.
Ruthless Vows lived up to its name – it was indeed ruthless. The second book spent more time in the war and politics, which was less of what I was looking for so it didn’t capture me as much. I wanted more of Iris and Roman: more interactions, more dialogue, more of that dazzling chemistry we got in Divine Rivals. I was left wanting a lot in this area and felt a bit more detached from the story because of it. I suppose in the grand scheme of things, that feeling ties in well with where the overall story was at those moments. It featured a trope that I absolutely loathe, however, but I think Ross made up for it. I was worried for a little bit there. The conclusion to the duology was satisfying and what I was hoping for, but I still didn’t get that “little more” that I was looking for from Iris & Roman’s story. I keep thinking there’s a way this could’ve been done a little differently, but of course, the execution is always hardest. Rebecca Ross’ story here was still amazing, though, and I’m excited to read more of her stories.
Crowns of Nyaxia – Nightborn Duet [The Serpent and the Wings of the Night & The Ashes and the Star-Cursed King] by Carissa Broadbent
This was both a duology and a gateway into a series. The Crowns of Nyaxia world will continue, but the story told in the Nightborn duet was well contained. The Nightborn Duet delves into the story of Oraya, a human, who has both belonged to yet always felt out of place among the monsters of her land. I think perhaps that’s what I had wanted – a full and complete story, but to know that the world doesn’t really end there. I picked up this duology because of the cover – sorry, but it’s true! I’m of the belief that you can have a good book and invest in a good cover artist/design. It doesn’t have to be one or the other. The cover is always going to be the first impression anyone has of the book, and in many situations, first impressions are important.
I genuinely loved both of these books. I think it’s obvious by now that I thoroughly enjoy stories with strong female main characters. Sometimes, the way these characters start off tends to annoy me before I learn more about them, but Oraya was one that I liked from the beginning. I really enjoyed how her story was told and was very intrigued by the fact that there wasn’t really a “villain” in the normal sense. I found myself, at times, flip-flopping on supporting and not supporting the “bad guys” and that’s what made reading both of these books so enjoyable. I also really came to like the side characters and can’t wait to continue on their journey in the next books in the series. The world they live in reminds me a little of the world in Letters of Enchantment, but it is much more vast and detailed. The novella, Six Scorched Roses, was also a wonderful exploration into a couple of the characters introduced in The Ashes and the Star-Cursed King. Not a necessary read but it gave their characters so much more depth. I’m looking forward to re-reading the second book now that I’ve finished the novella.
The Shepherd King [One Dark Window & Two Twisted Crowns] by Rachel Gillig
My one complaint about these books is that they are only readily available in paperback. I buy everything in hardcover and the only hardcover versions of these are the FairyLoot special editions, which are obscenely priced in the aftermarket. Publishing availability complaints aside, I absolutely loved this duology. The Shepherd King begins as a story about Elspeth Spindle, whose life is reminiscent of Cinderella, who is unwittingly absorbed into an adventure that defies the laws of all she has known. I was wrecked (as usual) after finishing it – more than I expected it to be. Trees, I just can’t stop thinking about this story! The magic system was truly unique and made each instance of magic use so impactful. These characters did not simply exist in a world where magic was something in their lives, but it defined their lives in so many ways.
I thought both of these books read like one masterful poem. I also love it when an author is able to weave the title of the books into the story. When I got to the portions where One Dark Window and Two Twisted Crowns were referenced, it was quite satisfying. I recommend the read if not just for this part! And, do you know the feeling where you need a story to end? I had that feeling many times during Two Twisted Crowns, but only because it was so heart-wrenching. Most of the time, I suspect you want a story to end because you’re just done with it or sick of it, but that isn’t the case here. I needed it to end because it felt like I was experiencing all the despair the characters felt. I wanted, so badly, for things to be better for them. I was truly impressed by the double-meanings in Gillig’s world and took some time afterwards to do a little research myself on the mythology and descriptions of trees. What I learned just made these books all that much more enjoyable. I’m sure Gillig hid a lot more in here that I likely missed so I will need to dig right back in.