Humans! I thought I’d introduce a couple of fantasy books that have captured my attention recently. I’ve grouped these books based on some common themes, and these books have a very similar feel, but were recommended to me from very different sources.
An Ember in the Ashes: This debut novel by Sabaa Tahir is an excellent example of a unique, eerily beautiful, and terrifying fantasy world without the typical cross-continent travel aspect (although I fully expect it in the upcoming sequel). This story is told from two perspectives, Laia and Elias, who couldn’t be from more different walks of life, but are still in parallel situations. Laia is a young woman who volunteers out of guilt for a hopeless, deadly spy mission in an attempt to get information to help her imprisoned brother. Elias is a young man who just wants to get away from the cruel tactics that he’d been raised in as a member of the ruling group, but instead is goaded by future-tellers into taking a dangerous chance at true freedom. Overall, I loved this story, although it didn’t fully draw me in until the first chapter from the Elias viewpoint. My favorite character? The wonderfully deadly Helene, for whom I wish every happiness.
The Wrath & The Dawn: This debut novel by Renée Ahdieh is a love story first, and a fantasy second. The magic in this is an undefined system, that unfolds through its interaction with other characters. The mystery of the magic system left me hungry for more throughout, and this is the kind of book that begs for (and has!) a sequel. Although I have not read the sequel yet, I am looking forward to it once I have the opportunity. In this retelling of the Arabian Nights, the heroine Shahrzad is fierce, dangerous, and determined to take revenge on the King, who killed her best friend. Of course, there end up mitigating factors (sorta), but I hardly think of that as a spoiler. I have some difficulty relating to the love-triangle subplot, but I imagine given the prevalence in modern stories, some people love this sort of thing. I highly recommend this richly written novel to fans of beautiful, dangerous worlds and beautiful, dangerous women.