Manga Review: THE KINGDOMS OF RUIN Vol. 5 by yoruhashi (2022)

Genre: Dark Fantasy Seinen
Year Release in English: 2022
Source: BOOK☆WALKER

Reminder: The star rating reflects overall opinion of the series. Click here for my reviews of the previous volumes.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Content warnings: Gore, violence, blood, robot necrophilia (aftermath), beheading

After the levity of the previous entry into the series, Adonis and Doroka continue on their way through the wastes with Redian special forces hot on their trail. They come across several abandoned towns, each ruined by technology in different ways.

Despite Doroka using her love powers to defensive means, it’s charming to see that she hasn’t lost her faith in humanity (in the spiritual sense) while Adonis works extra hard to maintain his edge. Their rapport is so good, giving necessary levity to the bleakness of their surroundings. The landscapes are chilling, especially with the ways that decay is evident and what becomes of the people left behind. What’s almost as frightening are the super-powered humans chasing the witch and boy-witch, and that fight introduced at the very end of the volume is bound to be a doozy.

October 2022 Reading Recap

October was my first month without my main WIP. Because I’ve been in such an intense state of revision, I took October off to tap into things I’ve wanted to watch and read for a while, and honestly, it’s been quite restorative. 10/10 highly recommend. I might have a new project in the works, but it’s all joy and no stress. Book-shaped, but without all the other intensity.

Which, speaking of, it’s November. Am I doing NaNoWriMo? Who knows.

October’s blog interviews were:

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Horny Goth Novel Craft Study Part 1: TITUS GROAN (Gormenghast #1) by Mervyn Peake (1946)

After finishing my revision and resubmission, I needed to take a step back from barreling through writing novel after novel, inhaling every release, not really learning anything new, and getting my soul crushed in query trenches. The step I’m taking to recover from the intensity of writing-to-publish, I’ve decided to make a reading list to help me develop in pretty specific ways. While a craft study might not make any difference in my outcomes in the traditional publishing trenches, I’m having a great time learning and studying, improving my craft while I wait for responses. This series is me writing about the books I’m reading to learn how to write a “horny goth” novel because that’s the type of book I want to write next.

I’m kicking off the Horny Goth Novel Craft Study series with Titus Groan, the first book in the Gormenghast trilogy by Mervyn Peake.

Buy link: Bookshop | Unabridged | Libro.fm

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September 2022 Reading Recap

Somehow, September also saw me in New York City. We can thank the CDC for letting me reunite with my best friend from my childhood in Poland, along with several others who I haven’t seen in years even before the pandemic. This is also a reminder for folks to get the bivalent booster if you are 18 and haven’t had COVID within the last 3 months.

I finished my revision and resubmitted it, which is my big project completion that robbed me lots of reading time. Now, I’m resting an embarking on a reading adventure to learn how to write a horny goth book. Hopefully, I’ll be able recapping that in October’s post. But we’ll see.

This month’s blog interviews were:

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Review: KNIVES IN YOUR EYES by RooFiction (2022)

Genre: Adult Dark Fantasy Erotica
Buy Links: itch.io | AO3 (Read for Free)

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Trigger warnings: Full list here, gore, body horror, surgery, eye trauma, torture, insects, graphic sex, dubious consent & lack of consent, incest

This is a self-published novel about a boy who can’t die, a professor who’s actually a god, and hunter seeking a new job. Val is a little freak with a heart of gold who seeks to understand all the people around him while he helps the professor, Dream, search for his brother, Mare, while newly-minted humanoid monsters called spiders wreak havoc in city centers. The reunion is fraught with danger at every corner, including a man called the Cardinal Major with literal daggers in his eye sockets.

It’s intense with some gorgeous writing and a compelling found family, Please heed the trigger and content warnings before diving into this one.

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Author to Author with Aden Polydoros (Bone Weaver)

Bone Weaver tells the story of a girl raised by benevolent undead, a tsar on the run, and a boy witch helping each other survive in a secondary world fantasy inspired by imperial Russia. Its layered world-building, examination of monstrosity, sisterly love, and queer characters make this an enchanting read that will delight any fan of historically-grounded Slavic dark fantasy.

Today, Aden tells me a bit about putting this dark fantasy adventure together, from its open image to the research behind the tale. He also shares how the story evolved and what he’s working on next.

Buy Links: Bookshop.org | Unabridged Bookstore | Libro.fm

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August 2022 Reading Recap

August saw me flying from New York City back to Texas and spending a bunch of time recovering from psychic damage I’m not going to get into. I also did a bunch of painting, had a weird episode with my Instagram, and just. What a ride of a month it was!

I am nearing the end of my revision journey, and then I’m going to be doing more focused reading lists that I may or may not share as part of the recovery phase after finishing an intense project.

This month’s blog interviews were:

September is off to a hype start, with me getting to announce a short story with the inaugural edition of the Best Served Cold zine.

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Author to Author with Freydís Moon (With a Vengeance)

I’m so thrilled to have Freydís Moon on my blog today to talk about their debut novel, With a Vengeance. Kye is a human who has a lot on their shoulder: grief, a family estate, a demonic haunting, and a rogue ICE agent sniffing around. This dark paranormal erotic romance is as affirming and as it is hot, while featuring a nuanced exploration of culture, family, grief, healing, and the things people do to keep their community safe.

Today, Freydís chats with me about the origins of this novel, the myriad projects coming down the pipeline, and the works they’re looking forward to most.

Buy Links: Amazon | Signed Paperback

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ARC Review: BONE WEAVER by Aden Polydoros (2022)

Genre: Young Adult Dark Fantasy
Year Release: September 20th, 2022
Buy Links: Bookshop.org | Unabridged Bookstore | Libro.fm

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Read an advanced copy on NetGalley
Content warning: on-page murder and violence, decapitation, gun violence, body horror, off-page dismemberment, reference to the mutilation of corpses, religious and ethnic persecution, death of a parent (off-page)

Toma lives in the wilderness with her benevolent upyri parents and younger sister. A dirigible erupts near their home, where the found family nurses a boy back to help. He turns out to Mikhail, the tsar who is on the run from violent revolutionaries. The two run off to find Toma’s sister, Galina, stolen by enemies, and pick up a snarky boy witch on the way.

With layered world-building that examines monstrosity and otherness with an endearing cast, this one is a must-read for fans of historically-grounded Slavic dark fantasy.

An interview with the author is going up on September 20th, release day.

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ARC Review: BABEL, or The Necessity of Violence: An Arcane History of the Oxford Translators’ Revolution by R.F. Kuang (2022)

Genre: Adult Dark Fantasy
Year Release: August 23rd, 2022
Buy Links: Bookshop.org | Unabridged Bookstore | Libro.fm

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Read an advanced copy on NetGalley
Trigger/Content warning: death of a parent, racism, microaggressions, colonialism, imperialism, gun violence, blood, vomiting, sexual harassment, murder, suicidal ideation, child abuse, parental abuse

When Robin Swift’s mother dies of cholera in Canton, a British professor Richard Lovell whisks him off to England to be trained in Greek and Latin to attend the translation program at Oxford University. He befriends his cohort of three other students, Ramy, Letty, and Victoire, but what lies beneath is a mechanism that furthers white British supremacy and goals of global domination. This book and its characters are having none of it, and it begins an exploration of the role of language and translation as a weapon and tool of colonialism.

Magical, nuanced, intense, and gut-wrenching, this is definitely going to live in my heart as one of my favorite reads of 2022.

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