November 11, 2019

Abbreviations #93: Catwoman: Soulstealer, The Starless Sea + Steel Crow Saga

It doesn’t surprise me that I really enjoyed Catwoman: Soulstealer a whole lot, even though I don’t necessarily gravitate towards stories with superheroes (and supervillains). I’ve been a Maas fan for years, and the way she tells stories and writes characters has always really worked for me, and it’s no different with this one even with a new world and new characters to play with. I truly enjoyed her take on Selina Kyle, who is a character with a complicated set of morals (which reminds me of other Maas characters, admittedly), and I like the direction she took with the plot as well. Also, considering my familiarity with the world of Gotham and Batman (which is very light, and mostly centered on the various Robins), it was fun to see recognizable faces and details pop up and be woven immediately into this story! It was truly fun to experience this world through the lens that Maas provides, and I enjoyed seeing her spin on a young adult Selina Kyle and her story. 

Catwoman: Soulstealer was released on August 7, 2018 from Random House Books for Young Readers.

Much like my experience with Morgenstern’s other published work The Night Circus, The Starless Sea challenged me to wholly immerse myself in the prose and try to make sense out of the seemingly disjointed pieces of the narrative to get a clearer understanding of the full story. Morgenstern also includes detailed imagery, using repeated motifs, additional ‘secondary sources’ and vivid descriptions to bring her story to life. As someone who occasionally fancies this type of writing and responds well to it when in the right mood (which I was when I cracked this volume open), it made this tale even more magical and fantastical. I feel very strongly that this is a story that is worth returning to again and again, if only to uncover even more to the book each time. It is a fact that The Starless Sea is not going to be a book that appeals to every reader (particularly if you gravitate more towards character-driven stories, as for me, this was not purely that)… but it was a book that worked very well for me. 

The Starless Sea was released on November 5, 2019 from Doubleday Books. 
I received an ARC during BookCon from the publisher for review.

I had high hopes for Steel Crow Saga, considering the things I’d heard about it prior to picking it up, and I’m happy to be able to say that I really enjoyed it! This novel takes on the task of narrating the stories of four different individuals: a princess determined to earn her place as heir to the throne, a thief given a second chance, an exiled prince returning to claim his place on the throne, and a military sergeant tasked with the protection of said prince. Even though I tend to be partial to ensemble casts, it’s an undeniably difficult task for an author to juggle the multiple storylines and to alternate narrative voices in a way that is specific enough to be easy for readers to remember. Paul Krueger successfully accomplished this here, highlighting the individual experiences of Tala, Jimuro, Xiulan and Lee in a way that made it easy to tell them apart and giving them stakes and obstacles that kept me invested in all their stories. It helps that they happen to be a diverse bunch, both in terms of race, gender and sexuality (which also applies to the secondary characters). Apart from the strength of his character portrayals, Krueger also manages to bring an extremely interesting world to life from the magical lore to the complex political ties between the countries (including the effects of colonization and revolution, which I found particularly interesting). He also succeeds in weaving together a series of plots and tropes that will be fun for any reader but will be particularly recognizable for any anime fans (and his storytelling is very much like that of a shonen anime too). Honestly, I had so much fun devouring Steel Crow Saga and would certainly recommend adding it to your TBRs! (I also want to throw in that I particularly feel like if you enjoyed Fullmetal Alchemist, you might really like this, as there were elements and themes that reminded me of it.) 

Steel Crow Saga was released on September 24, 2019 by Del Rey Books.
I downloaded an e-galley from NetGalley for review, and buddy read it with Melanie.


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