Wednesday, 25 March 2015

The Darkest Part Of The Forest by Holly Black

Publisher: Orion
Format: ARC
Published5th February 2015
Number of Pages: 272
Book: ARC*
Genre: Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, Faerie Tale, Mystery, Romance, Suspense, Thriller, Action-Adventure, YA
Recommended Age: 13+
Contains: Violence, Swearing, Alcohol References
Author's Site: Holly Black

Faeries.  Knights.  Princes.  True love. 
Think you know how the story goes? 
Think again…

Near the little town of Fairfold, in the darkest part of the forest, is a glass casket.  Inside lies a sleeping faerie prince that none can rouse.  He’s the most fascinating thing Hazel and her brother Ben have ever seen.  They dream of waking him – but what happens when dreams come true?  In the darkest part of the forest, you must be careful what you wish for…

“Hazel had seen a surfeit of faeries awfulness, but she was still lured by stories of its beauty and wonder.  She'd hunted them and feared them, but, like the rest of Fairfold, she loved them, too...”
In the town of Fairfold, humans live alongside the fae.  The fae pray on naive tourists, but those who live in Fairfold know the real danger of the faeries' magic.
Hazel and her brother Ben were born in Fairfold to forgetful artists.  As children, their imaginations reigned supreme – they went on quests, fought monsters and even killed fae.  But what they did most of all was dream about the horned boy with pointy ears in the glass coffin.
The boy has been there for as long as anyone can remember, sleeping, never waking.  Hazel and Ben used to dream about him – about rescuing him, about him falling in love with one of them, about how he is a prince and that one day he will wake up.
But then he does.  He disappears from the coffin.  And everything changes.
A monster stalks the town.  Wishes turn deadly.  Panic spreads.  
And the Alderking hunts for the horned boy - for the one who broke the curse...
I have been so excited for The Darkest Part Of The Forest – like, ridiculously excited.  So excited that I was terrified even the amazing Holly Black wouldn't be able to live up to my hopes.  Oh, how foolish I was to worry!  Holly, as always, blew me away.  She delivered a faerie story with a difference, something dark and beautiful and enchanting and dangerous.  It was intoxicating, addictive and so brilliantly Holly Black!  And I just... I freaking loved it.
Hazel was such a complicated character – I was so, so impressed with the amount of characterisation Holly managed to fit into one girl in one book.  Hazel was a character that really grew on you; you started off thinking that, yeah, she was pretty cool, but by the end you were blown away by her strength and bravery and foolishness and love and stubbornness and badassness.
Ben, I adored.  The gay big brother with a difference and a dark secret that broke your heart.  He was so sweet and clever and funny.  I loved him!  And I loved watching him and Hazel, watched them get close all over again.  He was an awesome brother!
Jack – oh, I was so torn about him for ages, because he wasn't really in the book that that much.  But then there was this chapter from his perspective and... I totally fell for Jack.  He made so much sense and my heart hurt for him.  He was complex and sweet and funny and brilliant.  Totally love him!
And as for the Horned Prince – or Severin, to use his real name.  Unfortunately, I found it hard to read Severin without thinking Severus...  Oh well.  Severin intrigued me and I think I may have become almost as infatuated with him as Hazel and Ben were.  I really don't know what it was about him, but I fell for him.  He was... a prince: noble, loyal, brave, caring...  I loved him.
None of the characters in this book were perfect – they were so far from it.  And that just made me love them more.  Well, 'cept for the Alderking.  Hated him.  Wasn't fond of Jack's elf mother either.  But other than that, brilliant!
Holly Black is one of the most versatile authors when it comes to writing style.  She can write excitingly and simply, like in Spiderwick.  She can write snark and angst, like in Curse Workers.  And she can write beautiful, simple and otherworldly prose, like in The Darkest Part Of The Forest.  This writing... it was so very beautiful.  Seriously: there was so much backstory, so much description, but it was all just so beautiful and perfect and enchanting that it was just... effortless, to learn it all.
This plot... it was just so unexpected!  I literally never knew what to expect.  Just like the Folk, it was unpredictable and freaking addictive.  I couldn't get enough.  The action sequences, the fighting, were amazing.  The way Holly racked up the suspense was genius, wrapping fae magic up with mysterious happenings, a mystery, fighting and an Alderking.  It's safe to say that I freaking loved it.
I adore the world Holly created so so much.  She's a master of writing fae – seriously, a freaking black-belted, multi-award-winning master – and The Darkest Part Of The Forest might be my very favourite of her faerie tales to date.  The idea of this town living on the edge of a forest inhabited by wild fae was amazing – especially when you added the horned boy in the coffin, the tourists coming to see the fae and the fae doing all kinds of cruel things to the tourists because Fairfold residents were off-limits.  Yes, a fascinating, terrifying, beautiful, breath-taking world indeed!
The Darkest Part Of The Forest was pure magic – and far exceeded even my highest of expectations, also managing to be something totally different than your usual YA faerie book.  In fact, it was the best possible faerie tale imaginable; enchanting, magical, addictive, stunning, unexpected, twisty.  Full of fey, changelings, knights, kings, monsters, friends and a very odd town, The Darkest Part Of The Forest has left me both utterly satisfied and yet thirsty for more of this special blend of magic.  And, really, can you ask for any more than that?

Star Rating:
4½ Out of 5

Read this book if you liked:
Throne of Glass and A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
The Iron Fey by Julie Kagawa
The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare

Happy Reading
* This book was received from Indigo in exchange for an honest review

** Quotes used are from a proof copy and may have been changed in the finished book

Monday, 23 March 2015

The Fire Sermon by Francesca Haig

Series: The Fire Sermon, Book One
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Format: ARC
Published26th February 2015
Number of Pages: 432
Book: ARC*
Genre: Dystopia, Post-Apocalyptic, Fantasy, High Fantasy, Paranormal, Magic, Romance, Mystery, Suspense, Action-Adventure, YA, YA-Adult Crossover
Recommended Age: 14+
Contains: Violence, Death, Swearing and Alcohol References
Author's Twitter: Francesca Haig (@FrancescaHaig)

“When Zach and I were born our parents must have counted and recounted: limbs, fingers, toes.  The complete set.
They would be disbelieving – nobody dodged the split between Alpha and Omega.

Born as twins.  Raised as enemies.
One strong Alpha twin and one mutated Omega; the only thing they share is the moment of their death.
The Omegas live in segregation, cast out by their families as soon as their mutation becomes clear.  Forced to live apart, they are ruthlessly oppressed by their Alpha counterparts.
The Alphas are the elite.  Once their weaker twin has been cast aside, they’re free to live in privilege and safety, their Omega twin far from their thoughts.
Cass and Zach are both perfect on the outside: no missing limbs, no visible Omega mutation.  But Cass has a secret: one that Zach will stop at nothing to expose.
The potential to change the world lies in both their hands.  One will have to defeat the other to see their vision of the future come to pass, but if they’re not careful both will die in the struggle for power.

“The blast shattered time.  In an instant, it cleaved time irrevocably into Before and After.  Now, hundreds of year later, in the After, no survivors remained, no testimonies.  Only seers like me could glimpse it, momentarily, in the instant before waking, or ambushing us in the half-second of a blink: the flash, the horizon burning up like paper…”
After the world ended, the survivors began to have twins – all of them.  A boy and a girl.  One perfect, strong, healthy: an Alpha.  The other sick, deformed, weak, infertile: an Omega.  The Omegas are sent away – out of sight, out of mind, far away so they can't contaminate the Alphas.  But there's more: a link between the twins – they are tied together, their fates entwined.  If one is sick, so is the other.  If one dies, the other dies too.
Normally, it's easy to tell which twin is the Omega.  Not for Cass and Zach.  Both babies were perfect – but no one escapes.  Cass hid a secret for thirteen years – that she was a seer, an Omega with strange and powerful abilities.  She is discovered and sent away.  She begins to build a life for herself in the Omega settlement.
But then Zach gains political power and he sends someone to grab Cass.  To stay safe, he locks her away, isolates her, sends another seer to interrogate her.  Haunted by visions, she slowly begins to lose control...
Her twin is not the boy he used to be.  He isn't the person she played with, whispered with in the night.  
And so she decides to escape.  She needs to leave – before Zach hurts her more, before her visions come true.
Along with an amnesiac one-armed Omega, Cass goes on the run, desperately searching for the one place she will be safe: the rumoured Omega-rebellion-ruled island.  But with the way Alphas treat their Omegas shifting, getting worse with every passing moment, would they even be safe on the island...?
Wow.  Just... wow.  I really don't know where to start with The Fire Sermon.  It was so stunning.  It took the dystopian genre, turned it on its head and made it about a million times more amazing.  I was expecting great things from The Fire Sermon – impossibly great things, I thought.  But it lived up to every single one of my expectations – and totally overtook them.  I adored the writing, world-building, characters and plot lines.  I adored the addictiveness, the suspense, the excitement.  And I just can't believe I have to wait a whole freaking year until the second book comes out.  I don't know how I'll survive so long!
Cass was amazing – damaged, but so strong, naive, but smart too.  I adored her and just know she's going to continue growing to be a truly strong leading lady.  Maybe she needs to be a little less trusting, a little more worldly, but I kind of liked that about her: that even though she's a Seer, even though she sees horrible things so often, she's still hopeful, idealistic.  It was a nice change to all the cynical antagonists we see nowadays.  She's also totally real and relatable; she felt just like someone I'd meet in the real world today.
And I really loved Kip: he was adorable!  He was just the sweetest and loveliest and funniest and cutest thing!  He was good and kind, without being as naive as Cass – which is odd, since he was the amnesiac one with no memories of himself...  But I loved Kip and I loved the relationship between him and Cass – how naturally it grew, how adorable they were together.
Piper really grew on me as the book went on.  I began a little nervous of him, a little sceptical.  But he was so brave and good and honourable.  I really liked him by the end – especially with that little twist...
As for Zach...  God, I don't know what to do with Zach.  It was clear Cass still loved him – he was her brother, after all – but he was so horrid to Omegas.  I just... don't know what to do with him.  I mean, the relationship between Cass and him killed me.  My little brothers are twins, and they always have each other’s backs.  That's what being a twin should be – what being siblings should be.  To see the way Zach treated Cass... horrible.  To see the way all Alphas treated Omegas (and, at times, Omegas treated Alphas) was horrifying and devastating.  But the way Cass felt for Zach, the way she tried to look after him, even after everything he'd done... it was so beautiful.
There were scores of other small characters, some I adored, some I hated.  The one that terrified me the most was, of course, The Confessor: that woman was evil and terrifying!  I truly admired the character development in the story: they all felt real, even the small characters, even the ones who were so different from today.  Amazing.
The writing was so, so beautiful – haunting, descriptive, addictive, elegant, authentic.  Like how Cass described a battle: it held nothing back, no sweet sugar coatings.  It was bloody and honest, and the lyrical way it was written made it beautiful and dreadful and, strangely, real.   Cass felt real: her voice was authentic and beautiful and so absorbing.  Not many authors can put me instantly under a spell when writing fiction such as this (with huge amounts of world-building) but Francesca managed it effortlessly and left me wanting more.
As for the plot... I'll admit, there were definite slow-burner moments in the book, but the racking-up of suspense made up for that.  Also, in the first books of epic fiction like this, there has to be time for world-building!  But more on that in a minute.  Back to the plot: I really loved it.  It was unpredictable and gripping and amazing.  I was totally hooked and desperate to know how everything would end.  I had a few ideas of where it was all going: many turned out to be so very wrong, some were right and some were in the general(ish) vicinity.  I do like being surprised – generally speaking.  But this part at the end... a few parts really... just NO!  No, Francesca, how can you do this to me?  Not only have you done... that... but you've also left off in a place that will drive me crazy with unanswered questions 'til the second book comes out next year.  And so again I go NOOO!
But this world... wow wow wow.  It was so just breath-taking.  And, in an odd way, so real.  Sure, it's a dystopian world where one 'perfect' twin is just awful to the 'flawed' twin.  It's a world with secret islands, dreadful experiments, seers, rebellions and a sinister Council.  But the way all these people act is so human, so real and believable.  I couldn't – still can't – quite put my finger on what it was that made this world so three-dimensional, real and tangible to me, but it was there.  I saw Cass, Kip and the Keeping Rooms, Piper and the island, in my head as I read.  This world... it blew me away.  It was horrible and it was brilliant.  I can't wait to go back.
I also think The Fire Sermon has true crossover appeal: teens will love it, but adults will too.  It's not like Hunger Games or Divergent, which are definitely aimed at teenagers.  The Fire Sermon is both perfect for the typical YA audience, but is also sophisticated enough for adults to adore it too.  
As for the upcoming (hopefully!) film adaption, I'm very interested to see how they will do it.  It looks like it's got a great team and the breath-taking scenery will look stunning on the big screen.  I'm really hoping they do this great book justice!
I've said something similar before, in other reviews, but I simply must say it again for this book: The Fire Sermon had a magic to it, something different and unique and beautiful and utterly compelling.  I was drawn in from the very first sentence and not let go for all four-hundred-and-seventeen pages, not even for one moment.  I know The Fire Sermon won't be everyone's cup of tea, but I adored it – if you haven't gathered that by this point!
The Fire Sermon was unique and beautiful and chilling and addictive.  If you're looking for an eloquent dystopian novel with an epic-fantasy feel to it, I honestly can't recommend The Fire Sermon enough.  I will be dying until the next book and want to tell you all now: Francesca Haig is an author to watch!  If this is how amazing her debut novel is... I can't wait for her second!

Star Rating:
4¼  Out of 5

Read this book if you liked:
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
The Chronicles of Ixia by Maria V. Snyder
The Sin-Eater's Daughter by Melinda Salisbury
Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
Grisha by Leigh Bardugo

Happy Reading
* This book was received from HarperCollins in exchange for an honest review

** Quotes used are from a proof copy and may have been changed in the finished book

Saturday, 21 March 2015

Arsenic For Tea by Robin Stevens

Series: Wells & Wong, Book Two
Publisher: Corgi Childrens
Format: Paperback
Published29th January 2015
Number of Pages: 352
Book: Bought
Genre: Mystery, Crime Fiction, Murder Mystery, Historical, Suspense, Thriller, Action-Adventure, Middle Grade, YA, YA-Child Crossover
Recommended Age: 9+
Contains: Death, Mild Swearing and Alcohol References
Author's Site: Robin Stevens


I looked at Daisy.  Her eyes were glittering and her cheeks were pink.  This was Daisy with a Plan.

Schoolgirl detectives Daisy Wells and Hazel Wong are at Daisy’s home, Fallingford, for the holidays.  Daisy’s glamourous mother is throwing a tea part for her birthday, and the whole family is invited, from eccentric Aunt Saskia to dashing Uncle Felix.  But it soon becomes clear that this party isn’t about Daisy at all.  (Naturally, Daisy is furious.)
Then one of the guests falls seriously, mysteriously, fatally ill – and everything points to poison.
Suddenly, Fallingford feels like a very dangerous place to be.  And when someone close to Daisy looks suspicious, the girls must reveal the truth… no matter the consequences.

“Daisy and I will both need to think like detectives again.  You see, just now we overheard something quite awful; something that proves that what happened to Mr Curtis was not simply an accident, or a sudden illness.  Someone did this to him, and that can only mean one thing: the Detective Society has a brand-new case to investigate…”
Daisy Wells and Hazel Wong's Detective Society have already solved one huge mystery – the Murder of Miss Bell.  Now, on holiday from school at Daisy's home, they plan to attend the tea party Daisy's mother is throwing for Daisy and eat cake and deal with the extended Wells family.
Of course, this isn't what they end up doing, not when a guest mysteriously and suddenly becomes ill – the deadly kind of ill...
When Daisy and Hazel discover that his death wasn't accidental but was, in fact, murder – poison, to be precise – they of course have to investigate.
With everyone present turning from guests to suspects, Daisy's home Fallingford seems deadly dangerous...
It seems the Detective Society has a new case – one a little too close to home...
I absolutely adored Murder Most Unladylike, so of course I had to pick up a copy of Arsenic For Tea the moment I laid eyes on it in WHSmith.  I began reading the book in Costa, as you do, and was a hundred pages in before I could came up for air.  Oh, how I love this series!  It's the most fun, exciting and brilliant thing to read – I would happily read both Wells & Wong books back to back, over and over for a whole year.  And speaking of this year, a third book is coming out later in 2015!  I knew this was going to be the best year ever! 
Hazel has become a lot stronger since the events of MMU – and a much better detective too.  She's still the calm to Daisy's crazy, the emotion to Daisy's logic and the one who narrates the Detective Society's exploits.  I love Hazel!
I really don't know how Daisy kept it together for so long in Arsenic For Tea!  Poor girl.  But she was her smart, sneaky, cunning, witty, bossy self – and I loved it.  I also loved seeing more emotion from her, seeing her vulnerable side.   
This time Kitty and Beanie were allowed to join in with the detecting, something that added new depths to Hazel and Daisy's little partnership.  It showed just how brilliant the President and Vice President of the Detective Society are – and added extra mayhem to the mystery!  Kitty was funny and Beanie was sweet – and it was nice to get to know them better.
Now, I really don't want to say too much about the other characters – can't give away any spoilers! – but I will say they were a varied, bizarre and intriguing bunch!  Some were hilarious (Lord Hastings), some were curious (Miss Alston) and some were irritating (Lady Hastings).  But I felt each and every one of them were unpredictable, mysterious and intriguing.  I also had no freaking clue who the murderer was – like, no clue.  It's embarrassing... 
Oh, and it's cool – the Inspector had the same name as the author of An Inspector Calls – Priestley.  Great play – great inspector.  Although this isn't really anything to do with Arsenic For Tea.  Just noting it...  
Moving on from that, I absolutely adore Stevens' writing – it's so 1930s, so addictive and so brilliant.  I love Hazel's voice, the suspense, the humour and the heart.  It’s so brilliant!
Now, because the death in Arsenic For Tea happened in Daisy's own home, the plot was a lot more complicated than in Murder Most Unladylike, because the majority of the suspects were related to Daisy.  This, obviously, made the detecting feel much more urgent.  Letting Kitty and Beanie in on the secret on top of the personal angle made for an infinitely intriguing and exciting plot, one that kept me hooked and guessing from the first page to the very last.  Robin Stevens truly is a master of the whodunnit – and at making me scratch my head!  Bravo!  And I also like how the plots aren't as open-shut as they first seem.  The motives behind the murders are real – believable.  Like in this one... I kind of totally got it.
How I adore the Wells & Wong series!  It is just so much fun!  It makes me feel younger, smarter and more interesting – and I just have so, so much fun reading it!  I literally love everything about it and cannot wait for First Class Murder!  It can't come quickly enough!  I can't be without my two favourite detectives for too long!  I'll lose my detective-ing edge!
If you've deduced by the end of this review that I absolutely, totally and completely adore the Wells & Wong series, bravo!  Brilliant detective-ing!  If you've listened to the facts and done the smart thing, you will decide to go out right now and buy both Murder Most Unladylike and Arsenic For Tea and read them on the floor in the bookshop.  Which is a brilliant idea – one I wholly support and one you won't regret!  
But I've talked your ear off, haven't I?  I apologise – I just loved Arsenic For Tea so much!  Before I go (and because Hazel is so fond of lists), I feel I should end this review with a little list of why EVERYONE EVERYWHERE must read the Wells & Wong series ASAP!  Here we go...
  • Murder mysteries have been proven to be good for the brain – especially murder mysteries set in the '30s in England following two brilliant school-girl detectives.
  • The girls are hilarious – mischievous, devious, sneaky, brilliant, clever, a little bonkers.  Basically, they are all such bricks!  (Read Wells & Wong to find out what brick means.)  You'll love the girls and will hold your breath as they sneak around, finding clues and questioning suspects without them even realising!
  • Arsenic For Tea is marvellously gripping!  It will suck you in, hold you tight and not let you go 'til the very end.  It is more addictive than bun breaks!
  • You never know who the murderer is – you literally suspect everyone and are left on the tip of your toes like Hazel and Daisy, watching everyone and trying to detect their secrets.
  • Reading a Wells & Wong book is more fun and more addictive than watching Scooby Doo while drinking tea (arsenic-free), eating chocolate and reading a good book.  Which is one of the most addictive scenarios I've ever encountered.  Which means this book is seriously hardcore.
  • It's set in the '30s!  This leads to all kinds of awesome words, (occasionally) wonderful manners, Lords, Ladies, butlers and lots of other awesomeness that's enough to make a girl want to invent a time machine, hop inside, and pop back in time.  Trust me, if you read it, you'll want the exact same thing!
  • Now, who here didn't want to be Sherlock Holmes as a kid?  Exactly!  Everyone wanted to be Sherlock!  Well, this book lets you live your dream and have so much fun doing it!
  • If you don't read the Wells & Wong series, you'll be a dreadfully bad sport – and you wouldn't want that.  If you read it, however, you shall be a brick!
  • Reading Murder Most Unladylike and Arsenic For Tea is the most fun you'll have in any murder mystery!  Just clear an afternoon before starting – you won't want to put it down.  I stayed up 'til the wee hours to finish – and didn't care one bit, because it was just so marvellous!
  • Because... just because!  I've been rambling for this long!  Because I read both books in one sitting!  They are too freaking addictive!  They are so much fun!  They are amazing!  Because I've just used a billion exclamation marks in a row – something that means this is deadly serious!  Just trust me and read them now!  Like, right now.  I'll be waiting!

And that's my list.  I hope I've convinced you!  I can't recommend Wells & Wong enough and have already pushed the book onto my family and friends.  I can't wait to hear what everyone thinks of the books! 

Star Rating:
4½ Out of 5

Read this book if you liked:
Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle
The Lynburn Legacy by Sarah Rees Brennan
Nancy Drew by Kathryn Keene
Young Sherlock Holmes by Andrew Lane

Happy Reading


Thursday, 19 March 2015

Fire Study by Maria V. Snyder

Series: Study, Book Three
Publisher: Mira
Format: Paperback
Published16th January 2009
Number of Pages: 448
Book: Bought
Genre: Fantasy, High Fantasy, Paranormal, Magic, Romance, Mystery, Suspence, Action-Adventure, YA, YA-Adult Crossover
Recommended Age: 14+
Contains: Violence, Death, Swearing, Alcohol, Sexual and Sexual Assault References
Author's Blog: Maria V. Snyder


The apprenticeship is over.
Now the real test has begun.
When word that Yelena is a Soulfinder – able to capture and release souls – spreads like wildfire, people grow uneasy.  Already Yelena’s unusual abilities and past have set her apart.  As the Council debates Yelena’s fate, she receives a disturbing message: a plot is rising against her homeland, led by a murderous sorcerer she has defeated before.
Honour sets Yelena on a path that will test the limits of her skills, and the hope of reuniting with her beloved spurs her onward.  Her journey is fraught with allies and enemies.  Yelena will have but one chance to prove herself – and save the land she holds dear.

Finally, I've finished my review!  And just in time for Shadow Study!  Enjoy...
"Fire is your downfall, little bat.  Can not call it.  Can not control it...."
It seems things were never intended to be easy for Yelena Liana Zaltana.  Having escaped her homeland to seek magical training in birthplace of Sitia, she soon found out that she is a Soulfinder, a rare kind of magician with the ability to control souls.
Sitia has had an unhappy history with Soulfinders: the last one raised an army of the dead and was burnt on the stake.  So when word gets around about what Yelena is, the reaction is not positive.
As the Council decide what to do with Yelena, she and her brother Leif go in search of the outcast magic clan Daviian and the wannabe King of Ixia, Cahil.  They soon discover that the Daviian Vermin are using an ancient and brutal form of blood magic – and have a very powerful magician amongst them: a Fire Warper.
But quickly the Vermin grow in strength and become infinitely more deadly.  So deadly, in fact, that they spark a plot to destroy Ixia, Yelena's former home.
With the Council turned against her, and with no way to help save Ixia, Yelena flees with her brother Leif to the one place they can be safe.  There, she will have to prove herself to both kingdoms and stop the Fire Warper and the Vermin clan – before they destroy them all...
I love the Yelena Zaltana series and I was so sad that Fire Study would be my final Yelena-centric novel...  And then along came Shadow Study and I was overjoyed!  Still, I can't help feeling a sense of loss after finishing Fire Study, as it is the end of a trilogy I adored.  And it finished so brilliantly, I think.  We saw Sitia and Ixia, saw friends from both books, were taken on a series of wild adventures that constantly had me on the edge of my seat.  I read Fire Study in a single sitting and loved every second – even though Yelena managed to get herself in a million scrapes!  That girl is a trouble magnet!  But, personally, I think that it is just... the perfect end to the original trilogy.  And after reading it, I am itching at the collar to read Shadow Study – NOW!
Yelena, I think, was perfect in this one.  She was looked to as a leader, but she worried about whether she was doing the right thing, like all young people.  She was strong and vulnerable, funny and scared and real.  She planned a lot more now – sure, she did her rush-in thing too, but she took charge more.  She made a few mistakes early on, but I really admired how she grew.
Valek: oh, how I adore Valek.  Every time he says 'love' I swoon a little.  He is just... perfect.  I love him so so much.  I also love how he's protective but not overbearing: he lets Yelena do her Yelena thing and doesn't try to stop her.  He's the best heart mate ever – I wish he was all mine.
I quite liked Leif, Yelena's brother, by the end of Magic Study.  By the end of Fire Study, I loved him.  He is so funny and sarcastic – and a real brother too.  And I loved how close Yelena and Leif became by the end of this one – it was so cute and so funny.  Their sibling-bantering was hilarious, and when they fell out it felt real, like something siblings do (God knows I've ticked my brothers off a few times, and vice versa).  
Onto the other characters.  Firstly, Janco and Ari, who are the best things since sliced bread in my opinion.  They rock: every time they're in a scene, they kill me.  Janco with his craziness and big-talk, Ari with his attempts to tone Janco down...  I love them.  Love them love them love them.  Then there was Moon Man, who was a bit mixed in this one, but by the end I loved him.  And it was great to see Opal again – and it made me even more excited to read the Glass series!
But the animals in this series are awesome.  Kiki, Yelena's horse, I love: she's hilarious.  And Yelena also got a little bat buddy (a LBB) in this one too – love him!
As always, Snyder's writing was flawless and beautiful.  I love her lyrical voice and the beautiful way she describes the lands and people.  You can really feel Yelena in the words – stubborn and scared, strong and uncertain.  It was perfect.  The plot, too, was perfect and just nonstop – like all of the Study plots!  But, out of all of them, this felt the most fast-paced and also the most... choppy.  I have no better word.  There was just so much going on so fast and it felt... I don't know.  Not as flawless as the previous two books.  Don't get me wrong – by most book standards, Fire Study is a work of pure magical art.  But by the standard I hold Snyder to (which is probably unfairly high thanks to her amazingness) it fell a little short.  
Nonetheless, I was hooked start to finish and was left thinking: 'Yeah.  That was awesome – and a worthy finale.'  Of course, I'm even more excited that it isn't the end, that the adventure isn't over, but it was still a good ending!  And I really was shocked by that last twist, and terrified by one before it!  
I've said numerous times that I adore this world – both the Ixian and Sitian sides.  I love how both were visited in Fire Study – along with a few other worlds!  The mythology Snyder used, on top of the existing magical Sitia and military Ixia, was so brilliant – she took the notion of heaven, hell and purgatory and made it so unique.  Loved it!
I've loved every single moment of this series (even all the rush-in moments that ended with capture) and am sad it's over....  But it isn't over anymore, is it!  Because we have a new Yelena trilogy!  Excuse me while I do a crazy happy dance.  
I'm back.  I absolutely adored Fire Study; it was exciting, thrilling, magical, addictive and totally epic.  I love all the characters, the world and the magicness of the series and can't wait to continue it with Shadow Study!  Yay!  I love you, Maria V. Snyder!

Star Rating:
4¼ Out of 5

Read this book if you liked:
The Fire Sermon by Francesca Haig
Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
Grisha by Leigh Bardugo
Graceling by Kristin Cashore

Happy Reading