BOOK REVIEW: NINTH HOUSE by LEIGH BARDUGO

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•••some thoughts•••

• by far my biggest issue with this is how plot- and exposition-heavy it was. it was like bardugo did a shitton of research and just wanted to include as much of it in the book as possible. which, like, great, research is good, but i don’t need to hear about every tiny little detail of every single secret society. there’s a fine line between world-building and info-dumping, and ninth house did not walk that line well–or at all, really.

• worse than that though, ninth house‘s plot was convoluted. it felt like at any given moment, there were like 5 plot threads that we had to keep track of, all of which i couldn’t keep track of, let alone care about…

• so, uh, turns out i don’t really give a single shit about secret societies. or mysteries involving secret societies.

• the writing was fine; there was nothing glaringly bad about it, but i expected so much more from leigh bardugo, given what i know she’s capable of (hello, Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom are masterpieces). sadly though, there wasn’t a single moment in this book that was memorable to me in any way, not a single moment that i found impressionable enough to remember after finishing this book.

• because the plot dominated so much of the book, it felt like the character work just didn’t get the time it needed. alex is definitely the main character here; the plot only moves because she does. but even though so much of the book is about her, i never really felt like i saw her grow. we find out more about her throughout the book, sure, but character knowledge is not character development.

• yeah, this was underwhelming. i may or may not have zoned out multiple times while listening to its audiobook. and i didn’t really care that i did, to be honest. my patience ran out about halfway through this, and after that i just wanted it to be over.

• probably won’t be reading the sequel ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

2.5-


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BOOK REVIEW: CIRCE BY MADELINE MILLER

utterly captivating. madeline miller is a goddess of a writer.

I always find it so much harder to review books I loved—how do I articulate the je ne sais quoi of a book as masterful as Circe? I wouldn’t even know where to begin—actually, I do: Miller’s writing. It’s as beautiful and lush as it was in The Song of Achilles. In my head, amazing writing and amazing stories always, always go hand in hand. Sure, good writing can exist, but it’s not really good writing unless it’s not only supporting a story, but enhancing it. And this is where I think Miller excels. Her writing is beautiful, but never superficially so. It somehow effortlessly conveys atmosphere, character, emotional nuance, all at once. Her stories deal with mythology, so a certain level of scope is always required. But at the same time, she brings such a quiet humanity to the gods and goddesses she portrays, most of all to Circe. I felt so much for Circe. So many—way too many—stories of Greek mythology hinge on marginalizing women: trading them like they’re just one more commodity, raping them, holding them as collateral, sacrificing them in service for some other male’s character’s story. And Circe’s character is an unabashed and nuanced response to all of that abuse.

I can wax poetic about this book for days, but none of this will actually mean anything to you unless you read this book. So, to distill this review: read Circe; it’s a marvel of a book.

4.5-


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BOOK REVIEW: SORCERER TO THE CROWN BY ZEN CHO


I liked certain aspects of this: Zacharias and Prunella (PRUNELLA IS GREAT—she just doesn’t give a single shit), the focus on marginalized identities in the face of a discriminatory magical community, the polished writing style, the general setting, the world-building.However, what I didn’t like was just how plot-heavy this book was. I know plot doesn’t preclude character development; really, I’m fine with a heavy plot, so long as it’s balanced by slower, more quiet scenes where the characters just get to TALK. A great example of this would be Six of Crows: sure, the plot plays a big part in the story, but the characters get ample time to breathe and interact and develop dynamics between each other. But the Sorcerer to the Crown just didn’t have that. What particularly bogged it down for me was that I barely got the intimate character moments I was hoping to see, platonic or romantic*. Every single time two or more characters would sit down to talk it would ALWAYS be about some convoluted scheme or plot revelation or what have you. By the end of the book, I was frankly flat out irritated because I was just so TIRED—tired of having to keep up with plot developments that never seemed to end, of feeling disappointed every time a seemingly quiet scene turned into yet another springboard for the plot. I don’t mean to say that these characters weren’t developed, they were, but I feel like the story could’ve had so much more heart had there been less emphasis on plot.
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prunella in a nutshell

The crux of the matter is this: my enjoyment of the story felt completely superficial. I could describe these characters to you, give you some of their traits, tell you which ones I liked, but I’d be lying if I told you that I had truly felt attached to them in any way. Harsh truth, I know, but what can you do?