[REVIEW] Asking for It

Asking for It by Louise O'Neill
Young Adult: contemporary
September 2015, Hachette.

It's the beginning of the summer in a small town in Ireland. Emma O'Donovan is eighteen years old, beautiful, happy, confident. One night, there's a party. Everyone is there. All eyes are on Emma.

The next morning, she wakes on the front porch of her house. She can't remember what happened, she doesn't know how she got there. She doesn't know why she's in pain. But everyone else does.

Photographs taken at the party show, in explicit detail, what happened to Emma that night. But sometimes people don't want to believe what is right in front of them, especially when the truth concerns the town's heroes...

This was a difficult book to read, not because of the writing style or because of lack of interest but because of the content. These kinds of books are important because sometimes it is necessary for fiction to show us the things that we are blind to in reality. While I was reading this book, and explaining what it was about to a housemate who wanted to know what I was reading, I thought a lot about why I chose to read something so confronting and uncomfortable when I could have been reading something light and entertaining.

Asking For It is a close and personal look at an account of gang rape that, while fictional in this book, is something that happens again and again and again. Although unlikeable at first, protagonist Emma is a familiar example of the kind of women who are created by a society that glorifies male reputation over the voices of the women who have been damaged by them. This book is raw, and real, and it makes it very clear that no woman is ever asking for it, no matter what behaviour she displays.

The book covers the events leading up to the rape and the events that happen after, covering every little detail so that the reader doesn't feel at all like they are being deprived of the complexities of the story. Unfortunately, in the harsh light of reality we don't get all of the details, and even when the facts are clear and the voices are loud people are willing to turn a blind eye. This is a confronting book, and I would definitely advise against reading it if you've ever experienced sexual assault of any kind because the details have the potential to be quite triggering but if such an experience is alien to you then this book is something that you should definitely give a try.

We need difficult books to make difficult situations clearer, so that we can understand both the experiences of others and the ways in which our attitudes and actions can create a culture of harm. I am in no way saying that this book explains all of the evils of rape culture and it is certainly not a blueprint for changing the system, but it is a powerful story that provides a chilling reflection of the kinds of things that teenage girls experience all the time.

There's a reason why O'Neill won the Irish Book Award 2015 and the Irish Book Award: Newcomer of the Year Award in 2014.

Read this book.

Potential Triggers: Rape, Sexual Assault
What to Read Next:

  • Beauty Queens by Libba Bray. Deals with the unreasonable standards put upon women by society through the lens of satire. Laugh out loud funny and potentially therapeutic after Asking for It.
  • Raw Blue by Kirsty Eager. Aussie author, rather than being about the event it is about the recovery, and the ways in which protaganist Carly finds the strength to take control of her life.
  • All the Rage by Courtney Summers. You can't go wrong with Courtney.

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Lauren James on Soul Mates: Guest Post + The Next Together

The Next Together by Lauren James
Young adult: contemporary/historical romance
August 2014; thank you to Walker Books Australia
Add to Goodreads / Booktopia / Bookworld / find your local indie

How many times can you lose the person you love? 

Katherine and Matthew are destined to be born again and again, century after century. Each time, their presence changes history for the better, and each time, they fall hopelessly in love, only to be tragically separated. 

Spanning the Crimean War, the Siege of Carlisle and the near-future of 2019 and 2039 they find themselves sacrificing their lives to save the world. But why do they keep coming back? What else must they achieve before they can be left to live and love in peace? 

Maybe the next together will be different...

A powerful and epic debut novel for teenagers about time-travel, fate and the timelessness of first love. The Next Together is told through a mixture of regular prose, diary entries, letters, "original" historical documents, news reports and internet articles.

Lively and well-plotted, The Next Together is an ambitious and imaginative fusion of historical and science fiction, romance and thriller. The concept is stellar. The scrapbook format evokes a fun sense of uncovering a mystery, with Matthew and Katherine's romance reenacted over centuries through 'primary documents' and prose narration from the heroine reincarnate, interspersed with ominous updates from a mysterious outside entity, chronicling Matthew and Katherine's multiple lives together.

The reincarnated soulmate premise has the potential to fall into irreparable clich̩, but The Next Together avoids becoming trite because the complications in the lovers' multiple lives aren't anchored in their relationship. Rather, throughout history, Matthew and Katherine find themselves poised to change the world for the better. Lauren James' pacing is superb: an impressive feat with four sets of Katherines and Matthews, with each with their own distinct contexts and storylines. I consider it the mark of a successful dual Рor, in this case, quadruple Рnarrative when I am equally invested in each time period featured: this Lauren James achieves. The voice of 2039 Kate is immediately endearing, as are the flirty interactions between Katherine and Matthew of 2019; and I was fascinated by both the featured historical periods.

Ultimately, the exposition of the time travel mythology wasn’t comprehensive – who are the faceless higher-ups intervening to manipulate Katherine and Matthew’s shared history? How, as readers, are we viewing this dossier of documents piecing together Matthew and Katherine’s contact through their ‘time-landscapes’? I want to know everything! I first read The Next Together in ignorance of its upcoming sequel, and found the ending open-ended nature a bit frustrating. But Lauren James has allowed herself room to solidify the time travel mythology in The Last Goodbye, due next year, for which I have endless anticipation.

The Next Together is an energetic, compelling concept well executed. Its clever and original and quite unlike anything I’ve picked up in a long while.

My favourite soulmate tropes

I don’t believe in soulmates in reality, but as a literary device they are one of my favourite tropes. The idea that your favourite character is only a moment away from bumping into their perfect partner is such an exciting incentive to keep reading. It adds an air of anticipatory delight through the whole book – especially when the going gets tough. The character might be going through terrible things, but just wait until they meet their soulmate! Then everything will change – and they have no idea what’s coming! It’s so gleefully delicious to read.

I’m a sucker for those kind of stories. So here are some of my favourite soulmate tropes. 

This is the idea that you’re born with a mark which matches one on your soulmate’s skin – or even their name, like a tattoo. Every person you meet might be your soulmate, and the only way to find out is to check their soulmark and see if it matches your own. So fun! What are the social conventions of asking about other people’s soulmarks? What happens if you fall in love with someone, and then realise your marks don’t match? What if your soulmate is already married? What if your parents knew you were gay from the moment you were born, before you did, because the name on your arm was of someone of the same gender? What would that change about society’s acceptance of homosexuality throughout history? The politics of this are just so fascinating.

Obviously this is one of my favourites – I wrote a book about it! The idea that souls find each other in every life, and that they can’t keep themselves away from each other despite the fact that they literally died and came back to life . . . it’s irresistible!

Dream sharing 
This is one of my favourite tropes. What if your soulmate has been in your dreams since you were a child? What if the first time you met a stranger, you suddenly recognised them from your oldest dreams? What if you shared the same dreamspace, so you’d spent hours and hours together in dreams before you ever even met?

What if the moment you saw someone, even if you were just passing them in the street, you knew they were your soulmate? It would be so convenient (and save a LOT of small talk) but what if you were driving past them, and never found them again? What if you spent years after that, knowing your soulmate was out there and what they looked like, but never being able to find them? What if you saw a famous actor in a film and realised they were your soulmate? What would dating sites look like – a series of endless photos that you stared at until one clicked? I NEED TO KNOW EVERYTHING.

Sharing emotions 
In this soulmate concept, even before you meet each other you can feel your soulmate’s emotions. You’d feel happy when your soulmate is happy, and pain when they are hurt. How would you track them down? How would it feel to finally meet someone whose emotions you knew just as well as your own? Imagine the sheer happiness you would feel from them when you finally met!

Lauren James is 23, and graduated in 2014 from the University of Nottingham, UK, where she studied Chemistry and Physics. Her first novel The Next Together, a YA reincarnation romance, is out now with Walker Books in the UK and Australia, and will also be published in the USA, Germany, Turkey and Brazil. The Last Beginning will be published in Autumn 2016. Lauren is an Arts Council grant recipient. 

You can find her on Twitter at @Lauren_E_James or Tumblr at http://lauren-e-james.tumblr.com.

Monday, November 9, Genie in a Book
Tuesday, November 10, Dymocks Bookmarked
Wednesday, November 11, Nicole Has Read
Thursday, November 12, Cassie the Weird
Friday, November 13, Imaginary Misadventure
Saturday, November 14, The Book Addict


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Obernewtyn by Isobelle Carmody: Guest Review

Today, we welcome the indomitable Elspeth LaMorte to Imaginary Misadventure as she shouts about how everyone ought to fall into the emotional vortex of the Obernewtyn Chronicles, now that The Red Queen is finally here! 

Obernewtyn by Isobelle Carmody (The Obernewtyn Chronicles #1)
Young adult: fantasy, adventure, post-apocalypse
First published 1987 (this edition 2007); Penguin Random House Australia
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For Elspeth Gordie freedom is-like so much else after the Great White-a memory. 

It was a time known as the Age of Chaos. In a final explosive flash everything was destroyed. The few who survived banded together and formed a Council for protection. But people like Elspeth-mysteriously born with powerful mental abilities-are feared by the Council and hunted down like animals...to be destroyed.

Her only hope for survival to is keep her power hidden. But is secrecy enough against the terrible power of the Council?

Today is the release day of a little book called The Red Queen by Australian fantasy extraordinaire Isobelle Carmody. And when I say 'little' I actually mean 'flipping massive'. Here are some images with attractive book model (me) for scale. Please note I have a big head.

The Red Queen is book number seven in a series called the Obernewtyn Chronicles, book one of which, Obernewtyn, was originally released in 1987. 1987. As in, twenty-eight years ago. Now... I am not 28, I'm 22, but my name is Elspeth and this is actually the series I was named for. I first read Obernewtyn when I was thirteen and I have been emotionally invested in the series ever since. At the time, only four books had been published, so I have been following the series for long enough that I can stress to you how painful the wait has been.

To give you some perspective; book four, The Keeping Place, was published in 1999, book five, the Stone Key, was published in 2009. That's ten years. Ten years that people had to wait for a book, so the fact that this book, is the final book in the series, that we finally have a conclusion.

A conclusion I haven't read... because I'm scared. Also I'm rereading the series so that it's all fresh in my mind when I do get to it. (And live tweeting it here)

So, some information to get you interested in the first book;

Obernewtyn, book one of the Obernewtyn Chronicles, is about young teenager Elspeth Gordie, who has grown up in an orphan home with her brother Jes, and has always known that there is something about her that is different. Elspeth can hear thoughts in the minds of others, she can communicate with animals; especially wild, maimed cat Maruman, who is her only friend, and she can influence the actions of those around her when she enters their minds. She lives in a post apocalyptic world that has been destroyed by a force known only as 'the Great White' and the very earth can be poisonous to them.

The story kicks off when a representative of the Obernewtyn Institute comes calling and chooses to take Elspeth back to the mountains where the staff of Obernewtyn are trying to find a cure for 'Misfits', that is; people who show strange abilities. These abilities are not discussed, and they are outright feared by the community and the religious authorities which is why Elspeth keeps herself hidden and withdrawn. Once she reaches Obernewtyn she begins to find people who are just like her and learns that things at Obernewtyn are not exactly as they seem.

The series takes place in the richly painted colours of a world that was once overrun by human destruction and reformed itself in destructions wake, and as Elspeth learns of the things in the world that were previously hidden to her, she learns things about her own future and her own destiny.

Now; I should warn you that the series gets a little... incoherent, I suppose, but only a little. Each book increases in size and though the later books in the series are quiet full of character and content, it is character and content that you have been introduced to as you go along. In your own time you will be able to pick which characters require the most attention (characters such as Elspeth, of course, Rushton, Matthew, Dragon, and several who you will meet eventually, never fear) and hopefully be as emotionally devastated as I am.

Come be emotionally devastated with me, but without the ten years of pining (or twenty-eight years... as some have suffered).

Obernewtyn is published by Penguin Random House Australia and the first book is also available as part of the Pink Popular Penguin range

Elspeth LaMorte has been a misfit since she read a certain book as a child and decided that being a misfit was something to be proud of. She spends most of her time on Twitter shouting about books or complaining about assessments and is still entirely awkward when required to interact with people. She recently spend a brief period of time as a tiger and still growls at unsuspecting passers-by. Catch here on Twitter @elspethlamorte.
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Rachael Craw on Predestination: Guest Post + Stray

Stray by Rachael Craw
Young adult: contemporary science fiction, romance, thriller
September 2015; thank you to Walker Books Australia
Add to Goodreads / Booktopia / Bookworld / find your local indie

It’s hard to remember hating anything as much as I hate Affinity; a bone-deep loathing for the faceless unknown and the concrete walls of my own DNA.

Evie is a Shield: designed to kill in order to protect, and the Affinity Project have finally come for her. But Evie isn’t ready for the sinister organisation to take control of her life, her body, her mind. She isn’t ready to follow their rules about who may live and who must die – not when it condemns the innocent. She has one option: risk losing everything and everyone – including Jamie – and run.

Rachael Craw catapulted the Spark series into the stratosphere with Stray. Grander in scope in every aspect, Stray's pacing is accelerated and its emotional stakes higher. The romance is sexier and more anguished, the menacing Affinity Project more insidious.

Evie remains a formidable heroine, determined in her struggle against the removal of her agency, and willing to do anything for those she loves. With Kitty free of the immediate and urgent threat to her life that the rampant Stray presented in the first book, we get a greater sense of her agency and defiance (spoiler: she's fabulous). Meanwhile, Evie's love interest Jamie continues to be utterly charismatic and loveable (even as he's angry and bull-headed? How do you manage that, Rachel?!)

I loved Spark, so I had high expectations for Stray: these Rachael Craw has met and exceeded. Fiercely emotional and compelling, Stray left me desperate for the series finale, Shield, due next year from Walker Books Australia.


I'll move along now, because to celebrate the release of Stray, I asked the delightful Rachael Craw to share some thoughts on predestination, a theme central to the Spark trilogy, and faith. Here's what she had to say:

On Faith and Predestination

Sophie has asked me to share a little bit about my faith and the question that hangs in the air of the Spark trilogy around the idea of ‘predestination’.  I really appreciate the opportunity to speak about both as my Christian faith is central to all things in my life and the topic of destiny and free will is one of my favourites. Whether I have the answers or not is a whole other matter but I enjoy thinking about/exploring the ideas.

If you’ve read Spark or Stray you’ll see in the acknowledgments I mention my thanks to my Heavenly Papa. This whole journey began with a desperate prayer. I was sitting on my bed one night and feeling very overwhelmed with the need to do something creative. This unction is fairly common in my history, the physical need to do something creative, especially with words. It grips me in the chest, makes me all twitchy and I can’t settle. I knew I needed to write. I knew I wanted to write YA, that I wanted my story to have some kind of fantastical element, that I wanted to write a kick-ass girl protagonist but I didn’t have my BIG idea. I prayed hard. I shed tears. I fell asleep. I had a dream. That dream became the prologue of Spark.

I was the one running through the dark forest with crazy speed and reflexes and heightened senses, I felt that terrible urgency to get to the person lost and in danger in the woods. I felt that dread that I wasn’t the only one out their searching and I knew if I didn’t get there first that person would die. I woke up and knew I had my idea. Thank you, Jesus. Literally. Let the good times roll. By good times I mean 5 years of blood, sweat and tears in the desert. HA! For me it was a journey of faith, seeing my dream become a reality, and an experience of partnership with my Heavenly Papa in developing my craft, learning patience, surviving disappointment, exploring my creativity. Not meaning to sound spooky but for me it was as much a spiritual journey as a practical one. It taught me so much about trusting the creative gift and the giver of the gift and that I’m not alone in the process.

The question of freewill is one of the recurring themes of Spark. It’s a fairly big ticket item in religion and mythology too. Personally, I don’t believe in predestination in the extreme theological sense. I do believe in divine will, so to speak, and that each of us has been created with purpose but my theological stand point is that we are free to choose our path. However, I think the idea of removing freewill from the equation makes for fantastic high-stakes storytelling. For me, the idea is horrific, to not only be robbed of agency but to be compelled down a path against your will. I studied Classical Studies at Uni and I was very drawn to Greek Tragedy. Oedipus fated to kill his own father and marry his mother! Cassandra doomed to prophesy correctly but never be believed. I love it!

I think it’s a big part of what I love about the hero archetype. As much as I want to be Buffy, it’s the horrific reality of her life that makes her a source of fascination and me glad I get to watch and live vicariously from my armchair. Evie suffers this loss of freewill through the synthetic gene Optimal, that overrides her system when she triggers in response to a Spark. The mutation in the gene causes the Fixation Effect and the Fixation Effect compels her to protect the Spark. She is bound to her destiny. The overwhelming sense of injustice and futility is crazy-making. That’s what I love seeing her fight against throughout the story. Stray focusses particularly on her fight against a ‘prescribed’ outcome for the lives of those impacted by genetic manipulation.

Now I’m about to launch into the rewrite of book 3, Shield. Needless to say, I’m praying hard.

Subscribe to Rachael's Newsletter here.  

Stray Blog Tour

September 1
September 2
September 3
September 4
September 5
September 6
September 7

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Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas

Queen of Shadows (Throne of Glass #4) by Sarah J. Maas
Young adult: high fantasy, romance
September 2015; thanks to Bloomsbury Australia
Add to Goodreads / Booktopia / Bookworld / find your local indie

Everyone Celaena Sardothien loves has been taken from her. But she's at last returned to the empire—for vengeance, to rescue her once-glorious kingdom, and to confront the shadows of her past...

She will fight for her cousin, a warrior prepared to die just to see her again. She will fight for her friend, a young man trapped in an unspeakable prison. And she will fight for her people, enslaved to a brutal king and awaiting their lost queen's triumphant return.

Celaena’s epic journey has captured the hearts and imaginations of millions across the globe. This fourth volume will hold readers rapt as Celaena’s story builds to a passionate, agonizing crescendo that might just shatter her world.

As a high fantasy, Queen of Shadows is superb. Aelin continues to be the queen we all deserve, and Aedion and Rowan, and their unerring loyalty to her, shine within the ever-expanding cast of characters. The third act is riveting, with a game-changing revelation from which I’ve not yet recovered.

But real talk: approaching Queen of Shadows, the anticipation of emotional turmoil was exhausting – it’s the reason I took three weeks to make it through the first quarter of this book (then I inhaled the remainder in a single day).

I thought I knew what to expect from the romance in this book. The sexual tension was sizzling, as usual, but not between who I would have predicted. Perhaps I’m wired to a trilogy timeline? There appears to be a clear romantic trajectory by the end of this book but I’m holding off judgement – we are just past the halfway mark of this six-part series, after all. As we’ve seen, Maas isn’t afraid of throwing a curveball (or six).

Book five can’t come fast enough.
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The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black

The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black
Young adult: modern fairytale, romance
August 2014; Hachette Australia
Add to Goodreads / Booktopia / Bookworld / find your local indie

Children can have a cruel, absolute sense of justice. Children can kill a monster and feel quite proud of themselves. A girl can look at her brother and believe they’re destined to be a knight and a bard who battle evil. She can believe she’s found the thing she’s been made for.

Hazel lives with her brother, Ben, in the strange town of Fairfold where humans and fae exist side by side. The faeries’ seemingly harmless magic attracts tourists, but Hazel knows how dangerous they can be, and she knows how to stop them. Or she did, once.

At the center of it all, there is a glass coffin in the woods. It rests right on the ground and in it sleeps a boy with horns on his head and ears as pointed as knives. Hazel and Ben were both in love with him as children. The boy has slept there for generations, never waking.

Until one day, he does…

As the world turns upside down, Hazel tries to remember her years pretending to be a knight. But swept up in new love, shifting loyalties, and the fresh sting of betrayal, will it be enough?

The Darkest Part of the Forest is a lush, impeccably imagined modern fairy tale. Holly Black’s prose are radiant in this creatively reimagined gender-swapped adaptation of Sleeping Beauty, and her faerie lore deftly fashioned. Hazel is an eternally endearing heroine, yearning for the golden days of her childhood adventures with her brother. The sexual tension between Hazel and Jack is delicious, and each of the primary characters is imbued with an enticing sense of longing that drew me to each of them.

My single complaint is that Darkest Part is a standalone, and I wasn’t ready to leave the forest. But there’s a Holly Black has a new faerie trilogy on the horizon, and in the meantime, I’ll be coming for her early Modern Faerie Tales series.

Enchanting and moreish, this is a novel I finished and immediately reread. I wanted to live in this world forever.

If my gushing hasn't convince you to pick up a copy of The Darkest Part of the Forest as soon as possibly, I'll let its delightfully creepy book trailer do it for you:

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Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas: Mid-Series Review

I have no clue why it took me so long to read this series. I've come to Throne of Glass through a haze of hype in the jittery lead-up to the release of Queen of Shadows, but I haven't been disappointed. I'm interning at Bloomsbury Australia and the lovely people at the office allowed me to commandeer the last remaining copy of the upcoming book, so in preparation: a series-in-progress review of first three novels and the prequel novella bind-up.

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
Young adult: high fantasy, romance
August 2012; Bloomsbury
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Meet Celaena Sardothien.
Beautiful. Deadly. Destined for greatness. 

In the dark, filthy salt mines of Endovier, an eighteen-year-old girl is serving a life sentence. She is a trained assassin, the best of her kind, but she made a fatal mistake: she got caught. 

Young Captain Westfall offers her a deal: her freedom in return for one huge sacrifice. Celaena must represent the prince in a to-the-death tournament—fighting the most gifted thieves and assassins in the land. Live or die, Celaena will be free. Win or lose, she is about to discover her true destiny. But will her assassin’s heart be melted?

For a high fantasy about the world’s most dangerous assassin, Throne of Glass is quieter than I was expected. Calaena is an intriguing heroine who remains something of a mystery in this book. Self-sufficient but prideful, her unsure navigation of the new space in her life for meaningful relationships was realistic following a year in an isolating labour camp, but I was hungry for more details of her backstory, especially her history with Sam.

There’s no formula for making a love triangle work, but this is why the Celaena/Chaol/Dorian dynamic worked for me: we meet Celaena at such a low point that I am invested in every positive interaction she has on page. Balancing the high fantasy setting and lavish mythology with a contemporary narrative voice, Throne of Glass is an engrossing, intriguing series debut.

Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas
Young adult: high fantasy, romance
August 2013; Bloomsbury
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Crowned by Evil.
Bound by Duty.
Divided by Love.

Celaena Sardothien, royal assassin, is the King of Adarlan's deadliest weapon. She must win her freedom through his enemies' blood - but she cannot bear to kill for the crown. And every death Celaena fakes, every lie she tells, put those she loves at risk.

Torn between her two protectors - a captain and a prince - and battling a dark force far greater than the king, Celaena must decide what she will fight for: her liberty, her heart or the fate of a kingdom...

Crown of Midnight is a cautionary tale in judging an author by her debut. The second Throne of Glass  novel heightens the stakes of its predecessor, amps up the sexiness, and fortifies the already intricate mythology with the expansion of the magic system of this well-realised high fantasy world. Celaena's friendship with Nehemiah is central, as the most important, challenging female friendship in a heroine's life should be. Stellar character development in Caleana and Dorian in particular compliments the delicious, slow build chemistry between Chaol and Caleana. Crown of Midnight's complex, compelling narrative is thick with intrigue, tension and betrayal, and its third act is a triumph.

Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas
Young adult: high fantasy, romance
September 2014; Bloomsbury
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Consumed by guilt and rage, Celaena can't bring herself to spill blood for the King of Adarlan. She must fight back...

The Immortal Queen will help her destroy the king - for a price. But as Celaena battles with her darkest memories and her heart breaks for a love that could never last, can she fulfil the bargain and head the almighty court of Terrasen? And who will stand with her?

The slower pace of Heir of Fire is a welcome reprise from the heart-racing third act of Crown of Midnight, but delivers on all the main strengths of this series. The expanding geography of this book diversifies the worldbuilding on a global scale. Gentle exploration into the intricately mythologised magic system entwines with transcendent themes of oppression, rebellion and identity. Dorian's characterisation especially shined for me in this book, but all the new additions to the sympathetic and endearing cast of characters are worthy citizens of this harsh world: Sarah J. Maas can pull off a character driven novel. Following Crown of Midnight and Heir of Fire, Queen of Shadows as a lot to live up to.

The Assassin's Blade by Sarah J. Maas
Young adult novellas: high fantasy, romance
August 2012; Bloomsbury
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Celaena Sardothien is Adarlan's most feared assassin. As part of the Assassin's Guild, her allegiance is to her master, Arobynn Hamel, yet Celaena listens to no one and trusts only her fellow killer-for-hire, Sam. 

In these action-packed novellas - together in one edition for the first time - Celaena embarks on five daring missions. They take her from remote islands to hostile deserts, where she fights to liberate slaves and seeks to avenge the tyrannous. But she is acting against Arobynn's orders and could suffer an unimaginable punishment for such treachery. 

Will Celaena ever be truly free? Explore the dark underworld of this kick-ass heroine to find out. 

The stories in this bind-up are called novellas, but they’re all pretty short, so came to The Assassin’s Blade with some trepidation because often I finish short stories wondering why I bothered. The Assassin’s Blade reads more like an episodic novel, leading up to the opening events of Throne of Glass. Here is the backstory we missed in the first novel: Celaena's history of training as an assassin and her relationship with Sam.

It's pretty devastating, but definitely worthwhile for greater insight into the world of Throne of Glass and Celaena's character.

At this stage, I give the Throne of Glass series 4 stars. Sarah J Maas' writing seems to be steadily strengthening as the series progresses, so I wouldn't be surprised if this was an emotionally loaded five star series for me by the time of its conclusion.

Have you ever let the weaknesses of a debut dissuade you from continuing a series? Should we persevere, or is it up to the author to convince us to continue with a killer first novel?
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