The Dark Artifices by Cassandra Clare
It will come as no surprise to some people that Cassandra Clare is on this list. For many years now she has been my favourite author. Although The Mortal Instruments series is what she is most famously known for, The Dark Artifices is my favourite series so far. This may possibly be down to the fact that it involves characters from both series, but is mostly down to the fact that personally, I think her writing has gotten better and better as the books played out (something of which I did not think possible).
For those who have not read anything by Cassandra Clare, her books are all about the world of Shadowhunters (people with angelic powers who fight demons) and Downworlders (vampires, faeries, wolves and warlocks). The Dark Artifices is a sequel series to The Mortal Instruments so make sure you read those ones first!
The series follows Emma Carstairs and the Blackthorn family in their fight against all things demons and magic in Los Angeles. Emma alongside her Parabatai (lifelong fighting partner) Julian Blackthorn investigate the death of Emma’s parents and must find a way to become the victors in a bargain with the Fae in the first book of the series Lady Midnight. I could write about these books for pages and pages, but I don’t want to delve too much into the story as no one likes spoilers!
One of the reasons why I love this series so much is not only because it has a lot of action and is exciting all the way through, but also because it focuses on issues found in the real world. A main theme of the book is the family dynamic of the Blackthorns.
The biggest and probably only negative I have to say about this series is that I wish there were more books in it, three just wasn’t enough for me! Don’t get me wrong they were set at a great pace however I would love to have more adventures with the Blackthorns.
This series has the perfect balance of heart-pounding action, heartbreaking relationships and genuinely unique and authentic characters.
A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
I was definitely very late to the party with these books (three were released before I had started them) and wow did I regret not reading them sooner. One thing I must say first is that they are to me sitting somewhere weird in between YA and adult fiction. This series contains much more mature content then you would usually find in YA so it is suggested that they are not for younger readers!
Although this series is not yet finished it very quickly became one of my favourites. I literally devoured the first book. As in reading pretty much the whole thing in one sitting.
A Court of Thorns and Roses follows Feyre, a poverty-stricken human living with her father and two sisters Elain and Nesta. When in the woods hunting for her family Feyre kills an unusually large looking wolf not realising that this would have bad repercussions with the Fae who live over the Wall (border between the human and Fae lands). Tamlin, High Lord of the Spring Court takes Feyre into the land of Faerie as payment for the killing. However, all is not as it seems in the Spring Court, without giving too much away let’s just say that Tamlin has been waiting for Feyre for a very long time and things are about to change big time.
Something that Sarah J. Maas is incredible at is world-building. Prythian (land of the fae) is built of seven courts: Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter, Night, Day and Dawn. Sarah J. Maas has a way of describing surroundings in a way that can only be described as poetically beautiful. It is extremely easy to picture how these places look however I do not think that my own imagination could do her words justice. With the first book set mainly in the Spring court, I could not wait to see what beauty Sarah J. Maas had written for the others.
After reading the first three books in this series Sarah J. Maas quickly became one of my favourite authors. I am now anticipating the release of the fourth book in the series.
Caraval by Stephanie Garber
I am completely in awe at Caraval by Stephanie Garber, this series had me reading in a trance-like state – I could not pull myself away from these books. Although sadly I am yet to read the last book Finale (but I’m more than likely to love it and will post a review on it when I get the chance to read it).
I was completely hooked on this series following the adventures of the world-famous festival, Caraval with the Dragna sisters. Scarlett and Donatella Dragna live on a tiny island with their cruel and controlling father. Ever since she was a little girl Scarlett dreamed of visiting Caraval however now with a marriage arranged by father to a mysterious count, her dreams of this are over. This, however, is not the case as she finally receives her invitation to Caraval and with the help of her sister Tella and a strange sailor, the sisters escape the clutches of their father to participate in a game that will change their lives forever.
Stephanie Garber has created a stunningly magical world full of twists and turns. Like seriously the plot twists in these books are incredible and totally not guessable. The first book focuses on Scarlett and her playing of the game, with the second book Legendary following Tella.
Something that I find really interesting about this series is that Scarlett is not a character you would expect to be the heroine, being more subdued and doubtful due to her father’s abuse. Tella who is more outgoing and rebellious would have been a more obvious choice. When playing a game of wits it is interesting to see from the point of view of a heroine who questions every move they make. In some ways, it is refreshing to not have a heroine who jumps into everything without giving it a single thought. Surprisingly this does not make the story any less interesting but instead leads to you rooting for Scarlett to become a confident person who can break free from her self doubt.
The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer
This series holds a very special place in my heart. I have always loved fairy tales (especially the Disney kind) and Marissa Meyer has retold them in a way that I have never read before. With also being a big science fiction fan Cinder was perfect for me.
A cyborg Cinderella sounds pretty cool, right? Definitely right. Cinder, a mechanic living in New Beijing, is a cyborg – the result of an accident that orphaned her as a child. Cyborgs are treated poorly so only a select number of people know Cinder’s secret. Similar to the original fairy tale Cinder lives under the tyranny of her stepmother and stepsisters, who have been invited to a ball at the palace. Once again Cinder is not permitted to go, even though all citizens of New Beijing are invited. Her stepmother, Adri, treats Cinder as her property and shuns her for being a cyborg.
Running her booth at the market Cinder and her android Iko encounter Prince Kai who is in disguise. Prince Kai, who has heard of the famous mechanic Cinder but was not aware that she is a teenage girl, has brought his android Nainsi who has suddenly broken to be repaired. Soon after Prince Kai leaves the market a plague that has been raging across Earth, Letumosis, hits the market and one of its vendors starts showing symptoms.
In the world where Cinder is set, there are two colonies one on Earth and another on the moon. Those living on the moon are known as Lunars – evolved humans who now possess the powers of mind control used for deceptions in thoughts and appearances. The Lunar Queen Levana is a cruel woman who is said to have killed her sister to gain her position of power and murdered her three-year-old niece so her position could not be threatened.
This whole world is something that amazed me more and more as I read each book. Marissa Meyer shows amazing character development, especially with Captain Thorne – who you meet in book two Scarlet. She writes funny and witty characters who you can’t help but love and cruel and evil characters who you love to hate.