Book Review: Naamah’s Blessing by Jacqueline Carey

Naamah's Blessing by Jacqueline Carey

Title: Naamah’s Blessing

Author: Jacqueline Carey

Series: Moiren’s Trilogy (Naamah) #3

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 3/5 stars

The Overview: Returning to Terre d’Ange, Moirin finds the royal family broken. Wracked by unrelenting grief at the loss of his wife, Queen Jehanne, King Daniel is unable to rule. Prince Thierry, leading an expedition to explore the deadly jungles of Terra Nova, is halfway across the world. And three year old Desirée is a vision of her mother: tempestuous, intelligent, and fiery, but desperately lonely, and a vulnerable pawn in a game of shifting political allegiances.

As tensions mount, King Daniel asks that Moirin become Desirée’s oath-sworn protector. Navigating the intricate political landscape of the Court proves a difficult challenge, and when dire news arrives from overseas, the spirit of Queen Jehanne visits Moirin in a dream and bids her undertake an impossible quest. -Goodreads

The Review:

I think I’ve gotten the question “is this trilogy worth reading?” more times since starting it than I can count. People obviously know how much I loved Phedre’s and Imriel’s trilogies (and in most cases they share that love), and are wondering how this final series compares. I’ve been waiting until finishing the trilogy before giving a final assessment, and here it is:

Its not quite as good, but it’s still worth reading.

In some ways it’s like apples to oranges. Phedre’s and Imriel’s stories were a lot more narrowly focused, where the court dynamics and political intrigue played a huge role in lending complexity to the series. It focused on the beauty of Terre d’Ange and its surrounding lands in a manner that made the places almost ethereal. Comparatively, Moiren’s tale focused on a much broader scope. As fun as it was to explore the world, this structure kept the story kind of superficial because we didn’t get to spend enough time in any of the places to really dig in to the nuances of politics. Not that Moiren’s character profile was set up to handle nuance, anyway. Part of what made the first two trilogies such page turners for me was how politically savvy the characters were. They always had their fingers on the pulse of Terre D’Ange, which allowed a narrative driven by the small details. This trilogy is significantly more straight-forward because Moiren (a cave-raised bear witch) doesn’t have the background or the training to really engage in all the politics. Her ignorance of societal dynamics was both refreshing in it’s innocence yet frustrating because it kept the plot from gaining any sort of depth.

Moiren is a lovely character, and if I take anything away from this series, it’s her beautifully kind outlook on the world and her determination to do what feels right despite brutal consequences to herself. Her love is given without expectation, and reading about a character so poignantly selfless was a treat. Even though I wasn’t as in love with this trilogy’s love story, I definitely always felt the depth of Moiren’s love for other characters and mourned the losses fiercely. So, even though a few elements fall short of expectation, Moiren is why you read this series.

Moiren is Naamah’s child, and bid to do her will, which essentially means that she’s compelled to use sex as a healing mechanism whenever required. Where Phedre’s encounters never felt inappropriate to her character or the story, for whatever reason many of Moiren’s encounters felt a little cheap and forced (almost to the eye-rolling point at times, if I’m totally honest). Maybe that’s because the encounters were more of a “duty” where’s Phedre’s came off as a mutually agreed “pleasure,” I’m not sure, but by this final book I was physically cringing every time the story headed in that direction. It is what it is.

Overall, even though the story lacked the plot depth, political intrigue, and oddly compelling sexual encounters (elements that made the first two trilogies so special), it offers instead a beautifully poignant main character and the chance to explore many wonders of the world through Carey’ slens. It might not satisfy the same craving, but it is still definitely a journey worth experiencing.

Recommendations: venture into this trilogy only after reading Phedre’s (Kushiel’s Dart) and Imriel’s (Kushiel’s Scion) trilogies, as this is a future generation continuation. Because I love Carey’s writing and stories so much, I’d definitely recommended it if you haven’t gotten around to continuing yet, but with a few disclaimers to moderate your expectations.

Other books you might like:

by Niki Hawkes


Top Three Thursday [3]: Top Three New Releases for the First Half of 2018?

Top Three New Releases for the First Half of 2018?

This is a new feature hosted by Fantasy Buddy Reads over at Goodreads. :)

Being a book lover wouldn’t be nearly as much fun without new releases on the horizon to look forward to. Although I’m anticipating many in 2018, these are the three titles at the top of my list:

Guardian is book three in the Alternate Detective series by A.J. Hartley. The covers are what first caught my attention, and then I was lucky enough to receive a copy of the second book from TOR Teen, and from there I was hooked! Everything about it screams originality to me, because I can’t say as though I’ve read anything quite like it before. I am eager to see what mystery unfolds next in this third book.

Starless is the latest from Jacqueline Carey, one of my all-time favorite authors (famous for her Kushiel Saga, which I love). It appears to be a stand-alone novel. I can’t wait to get back into this writer’s beautiful prose and immersive world building. She’s one of the most lovely writers I’ve ever read and I will continue to devour anything she chooses to write.

Nyxia Unleashed is the second book in Scott Reintgen’s Nyxia Triad series, and even I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the first book. It had great elements of competition and an interesting concept, and I think it’ll only get better as the series progresses.

Honorable Mentions: Burn Bright by Patricia Briggs (not included because I’ve already read it :D), Iron Gold by Pierce Brown, Last Dragon Standing by Rachel Aaron, and Child of a Mad God by R.A. Salvatore (currently reading).

What 2018 releases are you eager for? :-)


The Obsessive Bookseller’s Mini Book Review Blitz! [2]

Mini Book Review Blitz!

Naamah's Kiss by Jacqueline Carey

Book Info: Naamah’s Kiss [Moirin’s Trilogy #1] by Jacqueline Carey

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

I have mixed feelings about this trilogy. You see, it’s really difficult for anything to follow Kushiel’s and Imriel’s stories and, since this one took place a few hundred years in the future, I found myself mourning the fact that we’ve moved on (kind of like when Avatar ended and they brought back Legend of Korra – it’s really good, but I miss the old characters). I also thought the story was a bit inconsistent – the first half was a solid 5-star “I was totally enamored” rating. The second half was a conservative 2.5-star rating because the story elements sort of “jumped the shark” when it came to feasibility. Overall, the parts of this story I liked, I did so with the same ferocity as those which came before. The parts I didn’t amounted to my least favorite experiences with this author so far. The verdict? Worth reading if you’ve read the other trilogies, but moderate your expectations (and take what I say with a grain of salt – I’ve met a few people who claim this as their favorite of Carey’s trilogies). I’ll also add that I really adored Moirin, so there’s no shortage of beautifully written characters.

A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab

Book Info: A Gathering of Shadows  [A Darker Shade of Magic #2] by V.E. Schwab

Rating: 5/5 stars

I went into A Gathering of Shadows with extremely limited expectations, but was delighted to discover one of my favorite books of the year (so far). In contrast, my friend Petrik HATED it. And we usually line up with most of our reviews (you can check out his scathing review of this book on Goodreads). We’ve such a broad difference of opinion of the same book, which is really fascinating. I see most of his points, but had a very different reaction to them. Ultimately (I like that word today) I thought A Gathering of Shadows was a fantastic follow up to A Darker Shade of Magic. It had a lot more of the fun elements the first one was missing: an exploration of Red London, a magical dueling tournament, and some excellent insight into these already good characters. I especially loved Lila. It’s refreshing to read about a tough female character who actually backs up her bolstering with action. I can’t think of another female lead with such grit (cunning, bravery, and skill, maybe, but not grit). Overall, the trilogy is worth reading just for aGoS alone – I was completely engrossed from start to finish, and will probably add it to my List of All-Time Favorites (yeah, I liked it that much).

Lady Renegades by Rachel Hawkins

Book Info: Lady Renegades [Rebel Belle #3] by Rachel Hawkins

Rating: 1.5/5 stars

I’d been stalling on reading Lady Renegades because I was disappointed in Miss Mayhem – the second book in the trilogy (it had some good ideas, but didn’t live up to its potential). Ultimately, it was my memory of how much I loved her Hex Hall series that drew me back to finish this trilogy out of some odd sense of loyalty. Although it didn’t take me very long to get through, I can’t help but feel I wasted my time. I’m of the opinion that this story would’ve been better served as a duology. There just wasn’t enough substance to book 3, and it had a ton of repeating elements. It was essentially a drawn out segment that should’ve been the climax to Miss Mayhem and ended the story there. Usually in a YA trilogy, it’s the second book that feels like a filler novel, but in this case it was the third one. This might be harsh, but I’d say read the first two books, then skip to the final two chapters of Lady Renegades and call it a day. #harsh

Thanks for stopping by! I hope you enjoyed my Mini Book Review Blitz. :)

by Niki Hawkes


Coming Soon: Miranda and Caliban by Jacqueline Carey

February 14, 2017

Title: Miranda and Caliban

Author: Jacqueline Carey

Series: N/A

Genre: Fantasy

Release Date: February 14, 2017

The Overview: In William Shakespeare’s The Tempest, the action of the entire play unfolds over the course of a single day. But what happened on the island in the twelve years leading up to that day? Why does the magician Prospero keep his daughter Miranda ignorant of her history? Why does he take the supposedly monstrous Caliban under his wing?

Miranda is a lonely child. For as long as she can remember, she and her father have lived in isolation in the abandoned Moorish palace. There are chickens and goats, and a terrible wailing spirit trapped in a pine tree, but the elusive wild boy who spies on her from the crumbling walls and leaves gifts on their doorstep is the isle’s only other human inhabitant. There are other memories, too: vague, dream-like memories of another time and another place. There are questions that Miranda dare not ask her stern and controlling father, who guards his secrets with zealous care: Who am I? Where did I come from? The wild boy Caliban is a lonely child, too; an orphan left to fend for himself at an early age, all language lost to him. When Caliban is summoned and bound into captivity by Miranda’s father as part of a grand experiment, he rages against his confinement; and yet he hungers for kindness and love. This darkly re-imagined vision of Shakespeare’s beloved tale is told in their voices and is rife with issues of power and control, innocence and sexuality. Lovers of the fantastic, the classic, and beautiful writing will fall in love with Carey’s imaginative retelling. -Goodreads

Nik’s Notes:

Jacqueline Carey dazzled me with her Kushiel’s Legacy and gave me all the feels with Imriel’s Trilogy (I’m still saving Morin’s Trilogy for a rainy day). Now she has a prequel retelling of Shakespeare’s The Tempest on the way and, regardless of my initial hesitance at anything Shakespeare-related, I can guarantee Miranda and Caliban is going to be a beautiful piece of work. I may not read it immediately, but I’m thrilled Carey is still writing and always look forward to anything she produces.

What book are you looking forward to?

By Niki Hawkes


Trilogy Review: Agent of Hel by Jacqueline Carey

The Agent of Hel Trilogy
by Jacqueline Carey
4/5 stars

“Agent of Hel” is a trilogy about a half-human, half-demon woman named Daisy, whose heritage earned her the job of liaison between the human world and the supernatural kingdom. It’s a job that gets particularly complicated when citizens start showing up dead by supernatural causes…

Jacqueline Carey is one of my top authors, specifically for her “Kushiel’s” and “Imriel’s” Trilogies (which contain some of the best writing I’ve ever read, although I’d recommend it with a strong disclaimer of sexual content… particularly of the S&M variety). I’ve come to love her for her rich character development, expansive world/culture building, beautiful love stories, and epic storytelling. Many of these elements you don’t normally see within urban fantasies, whose storylines typically revolve around mystery, action, and instant gratification. As you can imagine, after reading Carey’s epic fantasies, I was intrigued to see how she would tackle a new genre.

And the verdict? “Agent of Hel” was anything but typical… And I really dug it.

My favorite things about this series were the world building and quirky cast of characters. Both of which I thought were developed expansively enough to merit more than just a trilogy. Carey’s supernatural world was one of the most conceptual and well-imagined of any I’ve ever read. Everything from creature creation to the political hierarchy went one or two steps above what I would consider necessary for a good urban fantasy. It was a lot of fun. Carey’s characters also had a lot of depth and backstory, but there wasn’t enough time within such a short series to explore them all thoroughly. I wanted more, which is more or less a positive way to finish a series. I don’t think Carey has any plans to write more, but one can dream.

Anyway, despite the series ending before I was ready for it to, “Agent of Hel” had great pacing that kept me engaged from start to finish. It had a nice balance of action, mystery, romance, and humor, which are ingredients for an awesome read.

As with many urban fantasies, “Agent of Hel” contained a prominent romance – one which I thought did a good job of balancing the action without overwhelming the plot. As with everything else, the love story was a bit atypical. For starters, it wasn’t always clear who the love interest was supposed to be. Also, the romantic story arc didn’t follow the usual formula. Both were things I actually liked about the series and, at the risk of sounding redundant, I also found myself craving another book to keep it going by the time the series ended. I should clarify that my slight dissatisfaction was because I was really enjoying what I was reading and wanted more, but Carey did do a nice job wrapping up her plot points with clear resolutions.

Overall, I’d rank “Agent of Hel” as one of the better urban fantasies and would recommend it to anyone familiar with the genre. Fair warning though, the series contains sexual content.

by Niki Hawkes


Book Review: Kushiel’s Justice by Jacqueline Carey

kushiel's justiceTitle: Kushiel’s Justice

Author: Jacqueline Carey

Series: Imriel’s Trilogy #2

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 4.5 stars

The Overview: Imriel de la Courcel’s blood parents are history’s most reviled traitors, while his adoptive parents, Phèdre and Joscelin, are Terre d’Ange’s greatest champions. Stolen, tortured, and enslaved as a young boy, Imriel is now a Prince of the Blood, third in line for the throne in a land that revels in beauty, art, and desire. After a year abroad to study at university, Imriel returns from his adventures a little older and somewhat wiser. But perhaps not wise enough. What was once a mere spark of interest between himself and his cousin Sidonie now ignites into a white-hot blaze. But from commoner to peer, the whole realm would recoil from any alliance between Sidonie, heir to the throne, and Imriel, who bears the stigma of his mother’s of his mother’s misdeeds and betrayals. Praying that their passion will peak and fade, Imriel and Sidonie embark on an intense, secret affair.

The Review:

This is one of those epic fantasies you remember for the rest of your life. The story is so beautiful and profound that I find myself getting completely swept away every time I pick it up. And it’s not just what the author is saying, it’s how she’s saying it. I get lost in her words.

The first book in this trilogy (Kushiel’s Scion) offered an incredible emotional journey of self-discovery where Imriel struggled to find himself and his place within the world. Kushiel’s Justice’s profoundness came from external conflicts – how his decisions affected the people around him. It struck a different chord, but it was still beautiful to read about.

This book also involved a lot of travel, with immersion into many different cultures. While the emotional story was compelling, it was this adventure to new lands and new people that I found the most exciting. Carey weaves such a realistic picture that I would dare call the places I got to visit and her books downright breathtaking.

Okay, I think I’m done gushing now. This is the type of series I could literally go on for hours about, but I’ll spare you. I can’t guarantee that anybody else will love it as much as I do, but it’s books like this that make me so grateful that I’m a reader.

All things considered, this was an amazing book. The only reason it didn’t get five stars is that I’m down to splitting fine hairs, and I happen to like the first one just a bit more. This author is quickly escalating towards becoming one of my all-time favorites, and I hold her work in the highest regard. If you pick them up, be prepared for the adventure of a lifetime! But be warned of some very explicit content.

Other books you might like:

by Niki Hawkes