April 15, 2020

Friends with ARCs | The Empire of Dreams + Don't Call the Wolf

It's been years since I read the original Fire and Thorns trilogy, but I still feel a wave of warm fuzzies whenever their spines catch my eye on my bookshelf. I was looking forward to revisiting the world and the characters when The Empire of Dreams was first announced, and can happily report that this stand-alone companion to the original trilogy was a delight. This tale centers around Red Sparkle Stone, a foundling orphan with a colorful past. After her royal adoption ends up thwarted by Empress Elisa's rival, Red decides to embark on a different path entirely and prove herself as a recruit for the elite Royal Guard. While training alongside her fellow candidates, Red discovers that the threat to the royal family might actually be bigger than anyone anticipated. I'll leave it at that, but suffice to say, it was very well-done.

I did love seeing what the world was like years after the events of the original trilogy, and particularly appreciated seeing where a number of familiar faces had ended up. It was familiar, but also fresh, as readers are experiencing the world through a whole new perspective. Red was a character I found all too easy to like and root for from the start, though I had admittedly forgotten her role in the trilogy until it was referred to in this one. It was interesting to learn more about her past, including the trauma and change in circumstances that shaped who she was in the present. I also really liked the plot; it reminded me a lot (in the best way) of stories à la Tamora Pierce with how simple and neatly woven all the threads were. The Empire of Dreams is a solid read, and I'm so glad to have been given the opportunity to revisit the Fire and Thorns universe (and I'm now kind of itching to reread the original trilogy too).

If you could only pick one object to take with you always, what would it be? This is a little bit of a cheat considering the object in question, but I'd have to say that I'd choose my iPhone. It has a little of everything I feel strongly about: a way to connect to my loved ones, photos to reminisce and inspire me, music to listen to, games to play and books to read. (If I couldn't pick my phone, however, I'd pick my wedding ring.)

The Empire of Dreams (Fire and Thorns #4) was released on April 7, 2020 by Greenwillow Books.
Here are my reviews for the previous books: Girl of Fire and Thorns, The Crown of Embers, The Bitter Kingdom.
I received an e-galley from the publisher via Edelweiss for review. All opinions stated are my own.

Don't Call the Wolf has a fairly straightforward premise. Ren (the young queen of the forest of Kamiena) is fighting a losing battle against the monsters that terrorize her forest, monsters that appeared in the wake of the Golden Dragon. When she rescues a skilled hunter named Lukasz, she sees the opportunity to take down the Dragon once and for all. A deal is struck: Ren will help him locate his missing brother and Lukasz will slay the Dragon. But both Ren and Lukasz have secrets to contend with, both those they keep and those kept from them, and their journey might not go exactly as they expected.

Don't Call the Wolf is a decent YA fantasy read and, though I only found this out afterward, it's a story inspired by the fairytale The Glass Mountain. I did find myself immediately intrigued by the two character perspectives, as their individual opening chapters are well-executed. Unfortunately, my interest in both Ren and Lukasz slowly withered to something more impersonal as the story played out. While I was still willing to finish the journey with them, I didn't have any particular investment in the outcome. The same thing happened with the pacing, as things felt like they started off with a bang and then gradually found more uneven footing as they embark on their quest. I did appreciate the story's plot structure (as many of you know that I'm a sucker for quest tales), but it did ultimately end up feeling a little underwhelming by the time I reached the last page. Truthfully, Don't Call the Wolf was simply fine. While it didn't end up being my personal cup of tea, I do think other readers might enjoy it if they're at all intrigued by the premise above.

What kind of shapeshifter would you want to be? I definitely want to be a white tiger shifter! I've always loved tigers, and I'm especially drawn to the white tigers.

Don't Call the Wolf will be released April 28, 2020 by HarperTeen.
I received an e-galley from the publisher via Edelweiss for review. All opinions stated are my own.


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