"The Darkness Outside Us" review

The Darkness Outside Us from its cover looks like a young adult romance set in space. And indeed it is set in space, its protagonists are young adults, and it does have a fairly significant romance subplot. But do not think for a minute that this incredible novel is anything other than a science fiction thriller/mystery written for adults with all of the what-if? philosophical questioning requisite of any classic you can think of.

"The Changeling Sea" review

I didn’t love The Changeling Sea as much as I was hoping. It’s a sweet slice-of-life, fairytale, romance story set by the sea. Peri’s mother is swallowed by depression after her father dies, and so Peri goes to live with an old woman instead. When the old woman disappears, she lives alone. She decides to hex the sea because it has taken too many people from her, and she hates it, and the novel is about her learning to find connection to people around her again when strange events start to take place. I’m not sure if I would have liked it more if I’d read it when I was in a different mood, or if I was just never going to love it, but it just didn’t quite give me the feelings I knew it was trying to.

"Scales and Sensibility" review

Scales and Sensibility is a fun, cute, what-could-possibly-go-wrong case of mistaken identities. The plot revolves entirely around the fortunes of a couple families in 1800s England-but-with-dragons and takes place over the span of about a week, so it’s a very low-stakes, lighthearted comedy. Our heroic and sensible protagonist is one Elinor Tregarth, split off from her sisters and living with the insufferable Penelope after her family’s ruination by an investment scam and the subsequent death of her parents.

"Stariel Series" review

“The Lord of Stariel is dead. Long live the Lord of Stariel. Whoever that is,” proclaims the blurb, and The Lord of Stariel begins with a prologue literally titled “An Ominous Prologue.” What follows is a delightful quartet that is not at all as un-serious as one might expect from such a first impression, but still retains a relatively light-hearted atmosphere with an intimate scope. There’s magic, minor battle scenes, and other standard fantasy fare, but the focus is primarily on Hetta dealing with her family, potential lovers, and increasingly complex politics.

"This is How You Lose the Time War" review

This is How You Lose the Time War is not really about a time war. There is a time war contained in it, and if I’m being generous, I can say that there is a plot that involves time travel and a war, but this book is not about a time war. It’s unapologetically a romance told in letters between two women who start out as strangers and then almost immediately become pen-pal lovers in what was to me an unbelievably short correspondence period (I hesitate to use the phrase “period of time” given the context).