Untamed is a short story collection from A.G Howard's Splintered-universe, taking the reader back to Howard's mad Wonderland, a slightly more cynic version than that of Lewis Carroll. In this collection, made up from three short stories, we again meet Alyssa, Jeb, Morpheus and Alyssa’s parents.

The first story is called The Boy in the Web and is the tale of how Alyssa’s parents met and fell in love. The second is The Moth in the Mirror and tells the story of when Morpheus delves into Jeb’s memories from events in Splintered. Last is Six Impossible Things, were Alyssa remembers life as a human before taking her place as Queen of Wonderland.

All the stories give something to the series, more depth and understanding for the reader. I liked seeing certain parts of the story from the perspective of other characters and I liked seeing how Alyssa lived and viewed the world as an old woman. Normally, when a series is over you don’t get to know what happens in the “happily ever after”, but Alyssa’s life doesn’t end when she ‘dies’ in the human realm. She lives for an eternity in Wonderland and it was interesting to see this play out as well.

Just like the trilogy, these short stories are dark and heavy, showing a more brutal Wonderland than the one we might remember from Carroll’s tale. Howard has a lot of imagination and the entire series is fantasy in every way. Strange creatures, magic, a whole new world. It’s like Alice in Wonderland for grown-ups. Freaky and weird yet fun.

It’s not my favourite series by far but I read all the novels, I like short story collections and I was very interested in The Moth in the Mirror, so I got the collection anyway. I liked how Howard managed to show Jeb, in his perfect imperfect human form, viewed by Morpheus who almost understood him and gave up something important for himself, only to go back to his vicious netherling ways and prioritising himself. She created two men who love Alyssa and are so alike yet so far apart. It was very interesting to see a softer side of Morpheus only to be reminded that he puts himself first always. It shows how great Howard is at creating characters who are not only fascinating but also complex, thee-dimensional and relatable.

I think it’s always fun to go back to a world you’ve enjoyed through short story collections, I have quite a few myself and hope there will be more published in the future. This particular one is certainly something a fan of the Splintered trilogy should check out, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed!

The Thief

Megan Whalen Turner's The Thief was first published over twenty years ago but the series is still active today. I've heard a lot of good things about this book and I was excited to read it for many reasons. A good fantasy for me is a nice way to relax and I love to disappear into a whole new world and escape reality for a little while. Also, The Thief is not even 300 pages and I thought this might finally be the novel that cured my reading slump. It didn't, but it was a nice read nonetheless.

Gen is a young thief who ends up in the King’s Prison after boasting that he can steal anything. That’s how he meets the magus, the king’s scholar, and how Gen finds himself on a trip across the country in search of a legend he’s supposed to steal and bring back to the king. The magus thinks he has found out where an ancient treasure lies and he needs Gen to steal it for him. But Gen works for no-one but himself and while the magus thinks that he saved Gen from the King’s Prison and that he’s entitled to a favour because of it, Gen will only ever do what’s best for himself.

I had pretty high hopes for this one and was disappointed when I started reading. It was a slow novel to get into, for me, and the beginning dragged out for a long time. Nothing really captured me right away and I found Gen extremely arrogant and annoying. I went on nevertheless but was still not impressed when Gen, the magus and three other characters set out on the trip across two countries. It was tedious, not much happened and I got bored with reading about horses, riding, Gen disliking horses and riding and the magus talking about olive trees. Around this point some stories about gods and goddesses appeared, as told by both the magus and Gen to give some background to their world. These stories were somewhat interesting and yet felt a little unnecessary. I was waiting for something to happen and this just wasn’t cutting it for me. However, eventually they ended up on the right place for Gen to do his stealing and while that was dragged out and not incredibly interesting either, what happened in the last eighty-or-so pages certainly turned the story around.

Turner wrote a good novel but nothing in it surprised me, except one thing and it wasn’t really a big surprised but rather something I should’ve seen coming. The rest, however, was predictable, at least for me. Despite that, I still really enjoyed it all. The last part of the novel, all the revelations, was fun and changed the way you looked at the beginning of the story. It wasn’t an amazing read, but it was entertaining and I do think the sequel will be better.

Gen was arrogant but he also had quite a few different sides and they really came forward towards the end of the novel. I liked that Gen more and especially the one he transformed into at the absolute end. The magus was also a character that I didn’t really like in the beginning but he, as well, grew on me. I had conflicting feelings towards the three other companions on the trip, Sophos, Pol and Ambiades. Pol was a strong and stable, which I liked, Sophos was shy and sweet and by far my favourite while Ambiades was too sour for my taste. Gen had a sharp tongue and made me laugh more than once and the magus turned out to be pretty funny as well. All together, these five characters worked well with each other and with bringing the story forward. A lot of the reasons why I disliked Gen in the beginning was explained in the end and now I’m quite curious to see what the next book will bring.

This is a story that contains some action, some comedy and no romance. It’s mostly about Gen stealing the treasure and I got to say, it’s always fun to read a good novel about a thief. That’s one of the main reasons that I was excited to read this book and on that aspect, Turner really delivered. I do think this was an enjoyable read, if maybe a bit slow in the beginning (though that can be because of my slump). I recommend The Thief to people who like a good fantasy and I will jump on the sequel myself!


Rec of the month - May 17

While my reading slump continues, I thought I would try something new and open up a new category here, like the title called Rec of the month. Every month I'll recommend one book that I like and/or feel should get more attention. First of is none other than one of my favourite novels from last year (well, I read it last year but it was published in 2015), A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas! This is a retelling of “Beauty and the Beast”, a very popular novel and the first in a series that started as a trilogy but was later expanded to six books. My full review can be found HERE.

Feyre is a nineteen-year-old huntress providing for her family after they lose their money. But out on a hunt one day, Feyre kills a beast that managed to slip through the wall separating Feyre’s home, the mortal land and the immortal land where magical creatures such as High Fae lives. As punishment for this crime, Feyre is given the choice of being killed or agreeing to leave her home to live out the rest of her life in the immortal land. That’s how Feyre ends up living in Tamlin’s home. He is a man that can turn into a beast and he is very powerful but he is also cursed. It’s a curse that will doom not only the immortal land but the whole continent and possibly the entire world. A curse that needs to be broken soon because time is running out and Feyre is the last hope. But is she willing to save the creatures in the immortal land when they’ve only ever wanted to hurt her and her world?

I fell in love with this story and I hope you will too. I think it’s great in every way; it’s fun, packed with action and romance and lovely friendships. It’s about a strong woman becoming stronger, fighting not just for a man, but for the world. It lays the groundwork for what I think will turn into an intense series. If you find yourself falling in love with this story, good news! The sequel, A Court of Mist and Fury came out last year and the third book, A Court of Wings and Ruin was published just a few days ago.