ARC Review: I COME WITH KNIVES (Malus Domestica #2) by S.A. Hunt (2020)

Rating: 4/5 stars
Genre: Adult Horror
Year Release: July 2020
Source: NetGalley eARC
Buy links: Bookshop | Unabridged Books | Barnes and Noble

Read a NetGalley eARC from the publisher
Content  and trigger warning for dismemberment, gore, violence against cats, emetophobia, fatal shootingsWe return to the urban fantasy Untied States right off where Burn the Dark left off as Robin Martine reunites with her mentor, Heinrich Hammer, to take out the witches who killed her mother once and for all. Between those working with the witches and new allies, nothing is quite so simple.

Once again, the pacing in this book is impeccable. Between every intense action scene, there is enough room to breathe and really take in the other story elements. The world-building of the world of witches and demons really shines in this one. Robin undergoes some character development, but not as much as some of the other POVs like Joel, Wayne, and Kenway. It works because all her new friends and allies are being pulled into her violent, supernatural world by forces beyond their control, but also as a result of their devotion to each other. It’s really compelling and makes for some good found family feels.

Compared to the first book, this one is definitely more off the rails. The battles are more intense, the enemies have far more bite to them. And as alluded to in the warnings above, if you like cats, you’re going to have a really bad time because nothing feels particularly gratuitous. It is just taken to the next level as the story demands and the horror elements really work.

An action-packed sequel that leans really into the horror and the introduction of new allies and more terrifying enemies.

Review: BURN THE DARK (Malus Domestica #1) by S.A. Hunt (2020)

Rating: 4/5 stars
Genre: Adult Horror
Year Release: 2020
Source: My own physical copy

Content warning for gore, violence, vomiting, mental illness, dead parents, blood

Robin Martine is a YouTuber who films her literal witch hunts. Her latest trip takes her home to confront the witches who brought about her mother’s death.

This story doesn’t only center Robin. The Parkins family of Wayne and Leon move into Robin’s family home and the haunts start there. Wayne just started a new school, so on top of the normal being the new kid in a place anxieties, there’s also a demon to contend with. This child was so realistically written—smart and tenacious enough to get himself out of a bind, but still definitely needing the support of the adults around him. The entire cast has such a fantastic dynamic, especially because even though Robin has so much firsthand knowledge, she can’t survive on her own and this sense of found family and community permeates from start to finish.

The pacing in this book is so good. Hunt has a real grasp of when information is necessary and trusts the reader to keep all the threads in their heads. The witches and the hunts are scary and Hunt does so many interesting things with the way the words look on the page. I definitely do not want to live in a town that’s haunted by a dryad, is all I’m saying.

A fun, spooky, witch-hunting time for all of those wanting to get Halloween started early.

Review: QUEENS OF INNIS LEAR by Tessa Gratton (2018)

Rating: 4/5 stars
Genre: Adult Fantasy
Year Release: 2018
Source: My own hard copy

I’m going to start this review by saying that I have never read Shakespeare’s King Lear. That being said, if you want a family drama full of magic and ambitious women vying for the position of king, look no further. This book is magical in a way reminiscent of mythology. There are prophecies and stars and a forest that speaks to its inhabitants.

In terms of the three queens, I loved them all. Gratton takes her time exploring what Innis Lear might be like under each one, from traditional Elia, war-mongering Gaela, and cunning Regan. Their romantic arcs with their husbands felt familiar as well, with having different layers of conflict. There is love and betrayal, and I really enjoyed how the world handled the topics of “king” and “queen” in its own vocabulary.

The prose is absolutely beautiful. The atmosphere of Innis Lear hums with something supernatural and ancient. Though it’s the setting, the island also serves as another protagonist, and depending on whose character arc you’re on, it definitely serves as an antagonist. I think it wins in the end, but that’s for me to read Lady Hotspur to find out (even though that story takes place in the future).

A dark, enchanting fantasy intriguing politics, prophecies, and heaps of ambition.