#BiteSizeSaturday – FairyLoot edition: Beauty and the Beast, bone magic, talking books and a fluffy white cat-demon

Hi and welcome to Bite Size Saturday – FairyLoot edition!

I received my first FairyLoot box in February, I got two books with the March special edition and although I skipped a few boxes along the way, I did get a few more books to read. Want to know how many of those I’d read until last month? One – sigh. I’m always so happy when the box arrives, thrilled with the goodies, looking forward to reading the book and THEN I NEVER DO, it’s madness! So I decided that before the end of the year, I needed to get through at least a few of my FairyLoot books, and today, I’d like to give you a little taste of them.

A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer is a Beauty and the Beast retelling. I got it in my very first FairyLoot box in February, which I ordered because of its “Beast and Beauty” theme, since I’ve always been a sucker for Beauty and the Beast. Then why did I wait until now to actually read the book? Beats me, I read in mysterious ways!
Aaaaanyway, let me just come out and say it: I loved this book! All the crucial Beauty and the Beast elements are there: we get a headstrong female lead in Harper, a teenager with cerebral palsy who is transported from modern-day Washington DC to a kingdom far far away, we have the cursed male lead, Prince Rhen, and the latent chemistry between them, there’s the enchanted castle, and the imminent threat of enemies seeking to destroy any chance of breaking the curse, and the difficult choices to make. Still, A Curse So Dark and Lonely is a far cry from simply rehashing the original fairy tale. It is a fairy tale in its own right, imaginative, evocative, magical, yet somehow also very real. If you’re into YA fantasy, fairy tales retellings or Beauty and the Beast, A Curse So Dark and Lonely is one to add to your TBR!
Will I be reading the sequel? Hell yes! I’d just read A Curse So Dark and Lonely when FairyLoot contacted those of us who had received the Beast and Beauty box, we could pre-order a special edition of A Heart So Fierce and Broken to go with this one, and of course I did.

The Merciful Crow by Margaret Owen is set in a world ruled by a caste system. All the castes are named after birds, with Phoenix as the royal class, the crème de la crème, and Crows well below the common class, they are treated as the scum of the earth, yet they are vital to society because of their immunity to the sinner’s plague, and when a member of another caste succumbs to the plague, it’s the Crows who euthanise the sick person and take care of the body, hence the mercifulness of the Crows.
Fie is a Crow Chief in training. This means she is a kind of witch and she draws magic from teeth… I am familiar with the concept of bone magic, but the teeth thing, well I won’t lie, it felt really silly at first and it took me some time to get used to. It’s very cleverly worked out though: each caste has a birthright and Fie can access that through their teeth, for example a Phoenix tooth allows her to conjure up a fire.
The story kicks off with the Crown Prince and his bodyguard faking their own deaths to get away from the evil Queen, asking Fie’s band of Crows to get them to their allies. The Prince and the Chief broker a deal: the Prince will be accompanied to his allies and when he becomes King, he will protect the Crows, ensure they get a better life. The Merciful Crow tells us about this dangerous journey, with friends turning into foes and enemies lurking behind every crook in the road.
Obviously there’s also a love interest, and I have to say I was very happy with the way Margaret Owen dealt with it. She could have easily lost Fie in a number of tired YA romance tropes, but she didn’t.
Overall, The Merciful Crow is an entertaining adventure story with excellent world-building, an awesome main character and great supporting characters, and a lovely romance.
Will I be reading the sequel? Well I don’t know yet. I enjoyed this one, but it took me a while to get into the story. By the end of the book, the journey has come to an end and we know where everyone is and I kinda feel like that’s enough. I’m not dying to know how everything will pan out, so I may stop the series here, but who knows, I might change my mind when I stumble across the sequel next year.

Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson is about an apprentice librarian, Elisabeth. In Elisabeth’s world, the job of librarian in one of the Great Libraries is a dangerous one: the books are grimoires, alive with magic and they can spit ink at you, shout at you, bite, maim, even kill. In her world, sorcerers are evil, their magic black. Until she’s forced to throw in her lot with sorcerer Nathaniel Thorn and his demon servant Silas, and she starts to realize the world might not be as black and white as she’s always been taught…
Any reader will appreciate the world-building here, a book in which books steal the spotlight, what’s not to love! If your favourite thing about Harry Potter is the Monster Book of Monsters and the talking paintings, then this is definitely one for you! I liked Elisabeth as a character, and Nathaniel as well, especially his sarcasm and irony, especially at first when Elisabeth doesn’t realize he’s just pulling her leg. My favourite character though, was Silas the demon: intriguing and multi-layered and sometimes appearing as a fluffy white cat!
Sorcery of Thorns has been praised far and wide, and although it’s not my favourite YA fantasy book, I did enjoy it very much. It’s a fun, suspenseful story full of magical adventures, friendship and a bit of romance (but not the sappy insta kind).

Thanks for joining me today! Have you read any of these, or would you want to? Let me know below!

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