The Light Between Worlds by Laura Weymouth – A Review

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The Light Between Worlds by Laura E. Weymouth
Young Adult | Fantasy | Portal Fantasy
Goodreads | Amazon
Published by Harper Teen
Released October 23, 2018
Rating: 5_Star_Rating_System_4_stars

I remember the first time I heard of The Light Between Worlds – it was in a booktube video about new releases. As soon as I heard the premise I added it to my TBR because it sounded so unique. I couldn’t believe that no one had done it before.

The plot focuses on three siblings: Evelyn, Philippa, and Jamie Hapwell. They find themselves seeking safety in an air raid shelter during World War II, and something completely unexpected happens – they open their eyes to find they’re standing in a forest with a stag walking towards them. They’d been called to the Woodlands by Cervus, the guardian of the Woodlands. The siblings spend several years in this fantasy world, aiding the Woodlanders in their own war.

This book isn’t about their story in that fantasy world, though. It’s about how they deal with coming back to the real world. As I already stated, I can’t believe no one has done this before (that I’m aware of), because it’s an amazing plot. We’re always so focused on the magical lands that our characters find themselves in that we never take a moment to consider what their lives are like once they come back to their normal, everyday lives.

The first half of the novel is told from the point of view of the younger sister, Evelyn, and the latter half is in the words of Philippa. Evelyn has struggled with the transition back to her real life and only wants to go back to the Woodlands.

This book had very strong Narnia vibes, which is part of the reason I loved it. I grew up reading portal fantasy such as the Narnia book, and Laura E. Weymouth did an incredible job of turning such an over-used type of story and forming something unique and new with it. This is the author’s debut novel, and I can’t wait to see what she comes out with in the future.

I really enjoyed the dual timelines. For the most part, each chapter alternates between Evelyn trying to keep her head above water in her real life and what it was like being in the Woodlands. Even though the Woodlands are fighting a war against a ruler who is trying to take over the forest to use for fuel for another war that he’s fighting, Evelyn still finds so much beauty in that world and feels at home there.

“Why are there always people who want to own everything good and bright in the world, and destroy those things if they can’t be bought? Isn’t it enough to just know such things are there?”

There was one aspect of the book that I didn’t enjoy, and that was the romances of both Evelyn and Philippa. Both romances felt very insta-lovey and there was absolutely no build up to these relationships. In each case, the girls find a nice, well-mannered boy who is willing to take care of her and suddenly they’re dating. I don’t think these romances were needed at all, and they just made the novel feel fluffier than need be.

One unexpected aspect of this book is that it made me feel incredibly homesick. I found myself dreaming of the city where I spent my 20s and missing it so much. It’s not to be unexpected, as the novel deals with finding where you feel most at home, but I wasn’t expecting it to happen. It actually made me enjoy the book even more since I always love it when a book makes me feel so much emotion.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book and can see myself re-reading it in the future. It’s not perfect, but it’s fun to read and reminded me of what it means to feel at home.

Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo – A Review

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Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo
Young Adult | Fantasy
Published by Orion Children’s Books
Released September 27, 2016
Goodreads
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million | Thriftbooks
Author Links: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Tumblr
Rating: 5_Star_Rating_System_5_stars

Crooked Kingdom is the second book in the Six of Crows duology. As such, I won’t be able to say too much about the plot of this book, due to spoilers. However, this novel is somehow even better than Six of Crows, and it absolutely crushed my heart.

If you’ve read Six of Crows, you’ll already know all of the characters in this book. The whole gang is back, and they’re still trying to get their due rewards from Wylan’s father. We follow them on new adventures and watch as deeper bonds continue to form between the members of the group.

Just like in the first book, I love Leigh Bardugo’s writing style and world building. This story takes place in the Grisha Verse universe established in her trilogy that was released before these ones. However, it isn’t necessary to have read those books in order to understand what is happening in the Six of Crows duology. I will definitely be reading that previous trilogy now (I’m actually picking the first book up at the library on Friday!), but I didn’t feel as though I had missed out on anything.

Kaz and Inej are still my favorite characters, and I love both of them even more after this second book. They’re both so deeply scared and watching as they struggle to overcome their terrible pasts is a heartwarming thing to see.

Leigh Bardugo has a way of writing perfectly flawed characters that you love no matter what they’ve done. Every single character in this duology is fully fleshed out and believable. Their pasts are extensive, and since the story is told from multiple points-of-view, you come to understand their motivations and thinking processes, which I adore. It makes you feel as though you’re right there with them, and with their backgrounds, you feel sorry for them for everything that has happened to get them to where they are today.

It was obvious early on in Crooked Kingdom that I would be rating this book five stars. Everything about it was perfect and I definitely feel that it deserves all of the hype it garnered around its release. If you haven’t read this duology yet, it’s never too late! Start reading!

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo – A Review

No Mourners. No Funerals.

The Book

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Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
Fantasy | Young adult
Published by Henry Holt & Co
Released September 29, 2015
Goodreads
Author Links: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Tumblr
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million | ThriftBooks

Synopsis

Six of Crows is a young adult fantasy heist novel that takes place in the same world as Leigh Bardugo’s previous Grisha Trilogy. Kaz Brekker and his team of five very mismatched people attempt to break into a prison called the Ice Court that no one has ever broken into or escaped from.

The characters in the story are from all over this world and each has a very different past:

A convict with a thirst for revenge

A sharpshooter who can’t walk away from a wager

A runaway with a privileged past

A spy known as the Wraith

A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums

A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes

As their mission progresses, they encounter extreme conditions, violence, betrayal, love, and so much more. These six people have to learn to trust one another in order to survive.

The Six of Crows duology can be read on their own without having read the Grisha Trilogy.

Review

This novel was so much fun to read. I’ll preface this review by saying that this is the first Leigh Bardugo book I’ve read, so I didn’t know anything about the Grisha universe going into it. Thankfully, this novel and its sequel can stand on their own, so it’s not necessary to know anything about her previous trilogy.

The best part of this book for me was the diversity, history, and relationships of the characters themselves. Each character is unique and completely different from anyone else in the story, which serves to make them seem so real. My favorite characters in the book were Inej and Kaz because they are both immensely difficult characters. Kaz closes himself off to everyone but is also just a badass of epic proportions. As the story progresses we learn about the brother he once had and the tragic story of their coming to Ketterdam, the city where most of the story is set. Inej is a talented acrobat that is also a spy known as The Wraith and has a tragic history. I loved the part of the story that delved into the love between Inej’s parents:

Shall I tell you the secret of true love? her father once asked her. A friend of mine liked to tell me that women love flowers. He had many flirtations, but he never found a wife. Do you know why? Because women may love flowers, but only one woman loves the scent of gardenias in late summer that remind her of her grandmother’s porch. Only one woman loves apple blossoms in a blue cup. Only one woman loves wild geraniums.”

The rest of the characters are just as interesting, however. Matthias is an incredibly complex character who struggles with his upbringing and prejudice as he helps these people that he looks down on. He’s particularly troubled about helping Nina, who he feels betrayed him and is the reason he was thrown in prison. Matthias was raised to hate Grisha and fear their power.

Nina had wronged him, but she’d done it to protect her people. She’d hurt him, but she’d attempted everything in her power to make things right. She’d shown him in a thousand ways that she was honorable and strong and generous and very human, maybe more vividly human than anyone he’d ever known. And if she was, then Grisha weren’t inherently evil. They were like anyone else – full of the potential to do great good, and also great harm. 

The novel is told from the perspectives of five of the six characters, allowing us to understand their innermost thoughts and their own perspective on the difficult journey they’ve undertaken together. I wish we had gotten Wylan’s perspective at least a tiny bit, and I’m hoping that when I read the sequel I’ll see that there.

I’m definitely going to be reading Bardugo’s Grisha trilogy soon because I want to know more about the Grisha themselves and the different powers they have. I especially want to see more of the Etherealki, those that can control water and weather.

Verdict

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I literally could not put this book down. I work in a call center, and I kept the book open in front of me on my desk so that in the seconds between calls I could read another sentence or two. It was a roller-coaster ride that didn’t stop surprising me with its twists and turns. I cannot wait to read the sequel, Crooked Kingdom!

Have you read Six of Crows? What were your thoughts on it? Leave your comments below.