Book Review: Ruined, by Amy Tintera

cv_ruinedAmy Tintera places her reader right bang in the middle of the action in her intense, adventure fantasy novel Ruined.

Ruined tells the story of Emelina Flores’ quest for revenge. Once a princess of Ruina, Em’s whole world was turned upside down when Lera invaded her country, taking away her everything. She had parents, but now they are both slaughtered, she had a home, but now it has been burnt to the ground, and she had a sister, but she has been locked up in an enemy kingdom. Hunted as one of Ruina, now all Emelina has is her thirst for revenge.

Armed with a fierce determination to make the Lera King pay, Em sneaks into her enemy’s kingdom, posing as his son’s betrothed. Possessing no magic as a useless Ruined? It won’t matter to Em as she uses her sword skills and intelligence to complete her mission, that is, if her rage-filled heart can withstand the tentative touch of an enemy prince.

Highly recommended for fans of fantasy novels such as Throne of Glass, The Winner’s Curse and Cruel Beauty. Although the plot sounds a bit cliché with the whole main character playing a role in order to infiltrate the enemy but falling in love with the enemy part, Ruined is by no means boring. In fact, it has an action-filled plotline and a story that takes place over the course of only a few days. Also, it gets into the nitty-gritty very quickly. During the first chapter, I was immediately shocked into attention. Amy Tintera introduces us to Ruined’s brutal world with a cold-blooded murder of Princess Mary by none other than the protagonist of the tale herself. Yet despite the ruthless attitude of many of the characters, including Em, we find ourselves unable to condemn them because of the merciless world they live in. Also, it sometimes adds to our curiosity and the intrigue of the novel.

Overall, I enjoyed this book with its intense action and interesting romance as two people from totally contrasting situations come together: Em with her dark world, and Cas with his mostly worry-free one. However, if I had to criticise the novel, I would say that events developed a little too quickly since Em and Cas go from not feeling anything for each other at all to suddenly being quite in love. Also, the characters could have been developed more so we grow a stronger attachment to them. But as a whole, a wickedly good start to an awesome trilogy. Looking forward to finding out what becomes of Em and Cas in the next instalment.

Reviewed by Elinor Wang
A & U Reading Ambassador

Ruined
by Amy Tintera
Published by Allen & Unwin
ISBN 9781760290641

Book Review: Queen of Shadows, by Sarah J Maas

Available now in bookshops nationwide.

‘Be prepared to lose yourself in the most dangerously captivating series ever.’cv_queen_of_shadows

Sarah J Maas’s writing has never let me down. Her books, filled with elaborate, twisting plotlines and the best-developed characters, seem to come with a guarantee of being unputdownable. Queen of Shadows was no exception.

Queen of Shadows  is the highly anticipated fourth book of the ‘Throne of Glass’ series. In this book, Aelin Galathynius returns to claim what is rightfully hers, embracing her destiny as the Queen of Terrasen. Gone is her past self: Celaena Sardothein, the enslaved assassin trying to hide from her past. This time round, it is Aelin who returns to Adarlan and she does so prepared to fight for her friends, her people and her country. Yet, her evil foes are not as weak as she would like them to be (Of course, since one of them is the King of Assassins and the other, the King on the Glass Throne). The only question is, will Aelin be able reap vengeance from her previous masters or will she be the one to pay? Read it to find out and once again, be drawn into our favourite badass heroine’s story as she battles for the greater good.

Although I preferred the intrigue and romance of the first and second books more, I nevertheless enjoyed Queen of Shadows with its brilliant characters, vivid fantasy universe and racing plotline. If you are looking for a book with a strong, sassy female protagonist, a heart-pumping narrative and a beautiful yet dangerous fantasy universe to lose yourself in, then look no further than Queen of Shadows.

Warning: I advise you to wait until the weekends to read this book because once I picked it up, I found myself unable to put it down.

Reviewed by Elinor Wang, as part of the Allen & Unwin Ambassador programme.

Queen of Shadows
by Sarah J Maas
Published by Bloomsbury Publishing
ISBN 9781408858615

Book Review: A Court of Thorns and Roses, by Sarah J. Maas

Available in bookstores nationwidecv_a_court_of_thorns_and_roses

New York Times bestselling author Sarah J. Maas begins her new high fantasy-romance series with this novel, A Court of Thorns and Roses. Set in the fictional realm of Prythian, a land divided between the humans’ territory and the courts of the dominating faeries, this story explores love, selflessness, pain and desire.

Nineteen year old Feyre is unexpectedly plunged into a violent world, riddled with nightmares and whispers in the dark. The young huntress, whose family depends on her for their survival, is responsible for killing a magical creature named Andras. This wolf was the sentinel of Tamlin, a High Fae, and Lord of the Spring Court of Prythian. After committing this deed, Feyre is taken from her village into custody in the Spring Court by Tamlin and his companions, Lucien and Alis. There, she begins to fall in love with the captivating High Lord himself, a faery blessed with shapeshifting powers, military prowess and an exceedingly attractive physique.

No one is safe in the forests of Prythian. Danger lurks perpetually in the ‘labyrinth of snow and ice’. Feyre is eventually forced to choose between Tamlin and her duty to protect her human family and herself. Her fiery passion for her loved ones never ceases to grow. Playing with fire, however, can have dangerous consequences. The time will come when her emotions will have her answer to Amarantha, the tyrannical Faerie Queen of Prythian.

This book makes for an enjoyable read. Written in first-person, the story allows us to delve into Feyre’s inner thoughts and longings. I particularly admire Sarah J. Maas’s ability to engage with the reader’s senses. The novel flows with descriptive language, which conjures up images and sounds in the reader’s mind. We grow conscious of Feyre’s quickening heartbeat and anticipate each moment of her new life with bated breath. From blissful birdsong at dawn to the warm woven hues in Feyre’s paintings, beauty and magic illuminate and bring hope to the otherwise cold and perilous world of Prythian.

Sarah J. Maas’s first fantasy series, Throne of Glass, has been widely acclaimed, and I have no doubt that her latest novel too will attract readers of high fantasy, paranormal romance and young adult fiction, of the likes of Kresley Cole, George R.R. Martin and Cassandra Clare. Keep an eye out for this new novel if you dare. Books like these will always sweep you off your feet to some otherworldly place.

Reviewed by Azariah Alfante

A Court of Thorns and Roses
by Sarah J. Maas
Published by Bloomsbury
ISBN 9781408857861