Book Review: Lakesedge by Lyndall Clipstone

Rating: ★★★.5
RRP Paperback: $24.99 AUD
Release Date: September 2021

A huge thank you to the wonderful people at Macmillan AU for gifting me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Goodreads synopsis:

There are monsters in the world.

When Violeta Graceling arrives at haunted Lakesedge estate, she expects to find a monster. She knows the terrifying rumors about Rowan Sylvanan, who drowned his entire family when he was a boy. But neither the estate nor the monster are what they seem.

There are monsters in the woods.

As Leta falls for Rowan, she discovers he is bound to the Lord Under, the sinister death god lurking in the black waters of the lake. A creature to whom Leta is inexplicably drawn…

There’s a monster in the shadows, and now it knows my name.

Now, to save Rowan—and herself—Leta must confront the darkness in her past, including unraveling the mystery of her connection to the Lord Under.

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This book absolutely gave me dark, gothic, atmospheric vibes. I swear I could taste the mist in the air while reading due to the lyrical and poetic writing style. It truly was lovely to read.

Lakesedge tells the story of Violeta Graceling and her brother Arien. Due to the nature of Arien’s magic, the siblings are summoned to the Lakesedge estate by Rowan Sylvanan to help heal the land after it was corrupted by an insidious magic.

I enjoyed this novel! The characters were great and I really liked the way the sibling bond between Leta and her brother was portrayed. The ‘I’d do anything for you’ love she showed for him was heartwarming (even though at times I wanted to shout directly at the book for her not to do anything stupid!) The supporting characters were fantastic and provided a lot of witty banter that definitely helped lighten the dark atmosphere of the book. I also appreciated that we got some lgbtq+ representation throughout!

The romance was good, not mind blowing, but it was good! This, along with some of the other plot points, did feel a little bit rushed. This could have more to do with the fact we were told how much time passed at the estate rather than shown, but it didn’t take away from what made the book enjoyable for me. Also, side note: I don’t know if it has something to do with my weakness for dark, mysterious characters, but I’m not convinced the characters involved in the romance are end game! (Once you read it, please come and tell me your thoughts, I need to know if it was just me or not!)

Overall, I enjoyed this book and look forward to seeing what’s in store for the next instalment. I would really love to learn more about the world. Don’t get me wrong, I loved being at the Lakesedge estate, but I’d love to see more of what the world has to offer these characters. 3.5 stars!

Once again, a huge thank you to Macmillan AU for sending me an ARC of Lakesedge in exchange for an honest review.

Book Review: The Grace Year by Kim Liggett

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Rating: ★★★★
RRP: $32.99 AUD
Find it on Book Depository

A huge thank you to Penguin Random House Australia for gifting me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Goodreads Synopsis:

The resistance starts here…

No one speaks of the grace year.
It’s forbidden.
We’re told we have the power to lure grown men from their beds, make boys lose their minds, and drive the wives mad with jealousy. That’s why we’re banished for our sixteenth year, to release our magic into the wild before we’re allowed to return to civilization.
But I don’t feel powerful.
I don’t feel magical.

Tierney James lives in an isolated village where girls are banished at sixteen to the northern forest to brave the wilderness – and each other – for a year. They must rid themselves of their dangerous magic before returning purified and ready to marry – if they’re lucky.

It is forbidden to speak of the grace year, but even so every girl knows that the coming year will change them – if they survive it…

The Grace Year is The Handmaid’s Tale meets Lord of the Flies – a page-turning feminist dystopia about a young woman trapped in an oppressive society, fighting to take control of her own life.

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How do I even begin to put my feelings about this book into words. It’s almost like The Hunger Games, Lord of the Flies and Handmaids Tale made a gritty dystopian YA baby. It’s a harrowing, and at times, confronting feminist novel that had me on the edge of my seat the whole way through.

The Grace Year follows Tierney James and the other girls from her secluded village on the cusp of womanhood. After being banished by the men to the Northern Forest to brave the wilderness and rid themselves of their dangerous seductive “magic”, Tierney finds herself navigating deception, betrayal and a forbidden love as she fights for her life.

The pacing of this was everything! It was so intense and took me right back to the first time I read the Hunger Games. The main character, Tierney, was tenacious and strong, and still managed to remain believable through the circumstances she ends up in. The novels cast is made up of a lot of complex and interesting characters that evoked a lot of different emotions in me, making me feel like I was actually one of the Grace Year girls myself.

The romance was nice and I understand how it was used to advance the plot and create a pretty epic, bittersweet ending, however I feel like the main male companion was introduced far too late in the book for me to really have a strong connection to him. None the less, I did enjoy it, but it did feel more like a plot device than an intentional path for our heroine.

Overall this was a great read, I would highly recommend it to anyone who loved The Hunger Games or the Handmaids Tale! The perfect ambiguity of the ending left me in a total state of awe. The last page was poetic and beautiful, I read it at least 5 times. Once again, a huge thank you to Penguin Random House for the review copy!