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Wednesday, September 28, 2022

The Oleander Sword by Tasha Suri - Review


Buy The Oleander Sword HERE

OFFICIAL AUTHOR BIO: Tasha Suri is the award-winning author of The Books of Ambha duology (Empire of Sand and Realm of Ash) and the epic fantasy The Jasmine Throne. Her upcoming novels include The Oleander Sword, sequel to The Jasmine Throne, and What Souls Are Made Of, a YA remix of Wuthering Heights. She is a writing tutor, an occasional librarian and cat owner. She has won the Best Newcomer (Sydney J. Bounds) Award from the British Fantasy Society and has been nominated for the Astounding Award and Locus Award for Best First Novel. Her debut novel Empire of Sand was named one of the 100 best fantasy books of all time by TIME magazine. When she isn’t writing, Tasha likes to cry over TV shows, buy too many notebooks, and indulge her geeky passion for reading about South Asian history. She lives with her family in a mildly haunted house in London.

FORMAT/INFO: The Oleander Sword was published by Orbit Books on August 16th, 2022. It is 480 pages long, split over 62 chapters, a prologue, and an epilogue. It is told in third person from multiple POVs, including Priya, Malini, Bhumika, Rao, and others. It is available in paperback, ebook, and audiobook formats.

OVERVIEW/ANALYSIS: A year has passed in Malini’s war against her brother, the despotic emperor Chandra. She’s closing in on the capital city, but when faced on the battlefield with a powerful new weapon, the male generals begin to question if this woman leader has the strength to carry them to final victory. Against her better judgement, Malini reaches out to an ally who is also her one true weakness: Priya, the handmaid who helped her escape her imprisonment, who is now a leader of her own people. Priya’s magic might be the one thing to save Malini’s campaign, if the empress can convince her former handmaid to use it on her behalf. But unbeknownst to both of them, a new force is rising in Priya’s homeland, an ancient power that will threaten not just Priya’s people, but everyone on the continent.

The Oleander Sword is a punishing sequel that has all the tension of a noose tightening around a neck. I’ll admit, it took me a bit to get back into the rhythm of the story, with a year long time jump and the characters scattered about the world. It wasn’t too long, though, before I was happy to be back with these fierce women who are ready to make bloody sacrifices to get what they need or to protect the ones they love. And they’ll need every scrap of determination they have, as the forces working against them are slowly penning them in, until the options left to our various heroines are almost all bad.

At the heart of it, The Oleander Sword is about sacrifices, both willing and unwilling, and the power they can have in the right circumstances. Chandra’s forced sacrifices of women, for instance, will never carry the same power as a woman who willingly goes to her fate for her people. But the real agony in this book comes from choosing which thing you’re willing to sacrifice to protect something else. There are some impossible choices made, and while the decisions made seem inevitable, it makes them no less heart-wrenching to watch.

(Behind it all, there’s also a lingering question of fate and destiny. Were these characters always destined to make these specific choices, or are they really choosing their own path? I suspect book three might shed some light on that matter.)

As the stage for conflict in this series grows, so does the number of POV characters. Many of the ones from The Jasmine Throne return, but this time, we also get smaller side characters, some of whom only get the spotlight for a chapter or two. But those small chapters serve to show shifting alliances, changing sentiments in war camps, and dominos that are beginning to fall to shift the fates of certain characters. The number of POVs isn’t daunting, but instead deepens the stakes and lets you see some background currents the main characters aren’t aware of.

As always, an extra shout out to Bhumika. Malini and Priya get a lot of limelight as the doomed love interests, but Bhumika is working quietly, efficiently, and desperately to keep things together in the face of increasingly insurmountable odds. Her storyline is most directly tied to the new power rising in this world, so while Priya and Malini are dealing with the men and pining over each other, Bhumika is back home making sacrifice after sacrifice to keep her people alive.

CONCLUSION: The Oleander Sword is a read for people who like characters boxed into corners, pushed to make choices they’d never make otherwise. It comes for the jugular in the last 50 pages, as multiple people go past the point of no return, leaving the world in a precarious place heading into the final installment of this trilogy. The Burning Kingdoms series is easily a must-read of epic fantasy, particularly for those looking for female characters fighting tooth and claw to control their own destinies.

Sunday, September 25, 2022

Longshadow by Olivia Atwater - Review

Order Longshadow HERE

OFFICIAL AUTHOR BIO: Olivia Atwater writes whimsical historical fantasy with a hint of satire. She lives in Montreal, Quebec with her fantastic, prose-inspiring husband and her two cats. When she told her second-grade history teacher that she wanted to work with history someday, she is fairly certain this isn't what either party had in mind. She has been, at various times, a historical re-enactor, a professional witch at a metaphysical supply store, a web developer, and a vending machine repairperson.

FORMAT/INFO: Longshadow was published by Orbit Books on August 16th, 2022. It is 254 pages long, split over 22 chapters, a prologue, and an epilogue. It is told in third person from Abigail's point of view. It is available in paperback, ebook, and audiobook formats.

OVERVIEW/ANALYSIS: A proper lady wouldn’t get herself involved in a murder investigation, but then again, Abigail Wilder is hardly a proper lady. It seems that ladies of a marriage age have been dying under mysterious circumstances, leading her adoptive father, the Lord Sorcier of England, to investigate. Abigail, who has magics of her own, begins pursuing her own leads, when she runs into Mercy, a street rat whose magical affinity for ghosts makes her a valuable ally. And Abigail will need all the help she can get, because all signs point to dangerous faeries being involved in the recent deaths. 

Longshadow is an enchanting murder mystery that, while more somber than its predecessor, nevertheless fills with delight. The somber aspects of this story come from its premise: not only are young women being murdered, but the plot is tied up in the dealings of the slaugh, faerie creatures responsible for escorting souls to the Other Side. This is a story about grief and acceptance of death, applying not just to the victims, but to Abigail herself, who lost so many people before she was rescued from terrible circumstances and adopted.

I should take this moment to point out that, once again, Longshadow is a standalone novel in the Regency Faerie Tale series. While you do not strictly need to read the other books, however, this is much more directly tied to its predecessors, as all the characters from previous books come together in various ways to aid Abigail (and indeed, Abigail’s origins are told in Half a Soul).

Despite the darker aspects of the story, Longshadow still manages to have a warm glow about it. This has always been a series about the importance of the family you choose, and that theme especially resonates here with Abigail, a young woman who has been claimed as family by multiple people in recent years, all of whom help her without hesitation.

And then of course, there’s the romance itself. Abigail is a woman who has been confused why her heart never flutters over the male suitors like its supposed to, and part of her journey is about learning that there are other romantic options available to her. While Regency Faerie Tales exists in the social morays of heteronormativity, it never once says a discouraging word about LGBTQ relationships. Instead, the story is about helping its protagonist see how alternative relationships hide in plain sight, even if they’re not openly discussed. It’s a beautiful queer awakening story as a lightbulb clicks on and Abigail realizes that she’s been looking for romance in all the wrong places.

CONCLUSION: Longshadow is a satisfying endcap to the Regency Faerie Tales series. It’s fitting that the final book is about learning to say goodbye, and it goes about that lesson with aplomb. While it doesn’t reach the whimsical heights of Ten Thousand Stitches, Longshadow succeeds in its own way (and indeed, a sequence at Kensington Gardens might be the most enchanting of the whole series). Regency Faerie Tales is a wonderful addition to the regency fantasy genre, and we could use more books in this space of manners and magic.

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

House of Hunger by Alexis Henderson - Review

Buy House of Hunger HERE

OFFICIAL AUTHOR BIO: Alexis Henderson is a speculative fiction writer with a penchant for dark fantasy, witchcraft, and cosmic horror. She grew up in one of America’s most haunted cities, Savannah, Georgia, which instilled in her a life-long love of ghost stories. When she doesn’t have her nose buried in a book, you can find her painting or watching horror movies with her feline familiar. Currently, Alexis resides in the sun-soaked marshland of Charleston, South Carolina. 
Tuesday, September 20, 2022

One Dark Window by Rachel Gillig (reviewed by Shazzie)


Official Author Website
Order One Dark Window here (U.S. | U.K.) 
Monday, September 19, 2022

A Dowry of Blood by S.T. Gibson (reviewed by Caitlin G. & Shazzie)


Official Author Website
Order A Dowry of Blood over HERE - USUK
Friday, September 16, 2022

Book review: The Art of Prophecy by Wesley Chu


Book links: Amazon, Goodreads
Thursday, September 15, 2022

Notorious Sorcerer by Davinia Evans (reviewed by Shazzie)


Official Author Website
Order Notorious Sorcerer over here - U.S. | U.K.
Wednesday, September 14, 2022

The Book Of Zog by Alec Hutson (reviewed by Mihir Wanchoo)


Tuesday, September 13, 2022

COVER REVEAL: Adjacent Monsters Hardcover edition by Luke Tarzian


Today we at FBC are thrilled to be revealing the exclusive hardcover edition of Luke Tarzian’s Adjacent Monsters duology (released EXCLUSIVELY through Silverstones Books) by along with Out Of This World SFF Reviews Blog & FanFiAddict. 

Book review: Our Lady of The Artilects by Andrew Gillsmith


Book links: Amazon, Goodreads

Friday, September 9, 2022

Book review: Ithaca by Claire North


Book links: Amazon, Goodreads

AUTHOR INFO: Claire North is a pseudonym for Catherine Webb, a Carnegie Medal-nominated author whose first book was written when she was just fourteen years old. She went on to write several other novels in various genres, before publishing her first major work as Claire North, The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August, in 2014. It was a critically acclaimed success, receiving rave reviews and an Audie nomination, and was included in the Washington Post's Best Books of the Year list. Her most recent novel, Touch, was also in the Washington Post's Best Books of the Year, in 2015.

Publisher: Orbit (September 06, 2022) Page count: 464 Cover design: Lisa Marie Pompilio

Thursday, September 8, 2022

BABEL by R.F. Kuang - Review

Official Author Website
Read Daniel and Shazzie's Reviews of Babel HERE

Wednesday, September 7, 2022

COVER REVEAL Q&A: Eleventh Cycle by Kian N. Ardalan (interviewed by Mihir Wanchoo)

Tuesday, September 6, 2022

Book review: Eversion by Alastair Reynolds

Book links: Amazon, Goodreads

Publisher: Orbit (August 2, 2022) Page count: 353 p (ebook) Formats: ebook, paperback, audiobook
Monday, September 5, 2022

Book review: The Genesis of Misery by Neon Yang (reviewed by Shazzie)

Official Author Website

Order The Genesis of Misery over HERE 
Friday, September 2, 2022

Book review: Babel by Rebecca F. Kuang (reviews by Daniel & Shazzie)


Thursday, September 1, 2022

Book review: Lost in Time by A.G. Riddle

Book links: Amazon, Goodreads

AUTHOR INFO: A.G. Riddle spent ten years starting and running internet companies before retiring to focus on his true passion: writing fiction. He is the author of ten novels that have sold nearly five million copies worldwide in twenty languages. He lives in North Carolina. For more, visit


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