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Review: Gilded Cage by Vic James


Gilded Cage
Author:  Vic James
Series:  Dark Gifts 1
Publisher:  Del Rey, February 14, 2017
Format:  Hardcover and eBook, 368 pages
List Price:  US$20.00 (print); US$10.99 (eBook)
ISBN:  9780425284155 (print); 9780425284131 (eBook)

Review: Gilded Cage by Vic James
A darkly fantastical debut set in a modern England where magically gifted aristocrats rule, and commoners are doomed to serve—for readers of Victoria Aveyard and Susanna Clarke

NOT ALL ARE FREE.
NOT ALL ARE EQUAL.
NOT ALL WILL BE SAVED.

Our world belongs to the Equals—aristocrats with magical gifts—and all commoners must serve them for ten years.

But behind the gates of England’s grandest estate lies a power that could break the world.

A girl thirsts for love and knowledge.

Abi is a servant to England’s most powerful family, but her spirit is free. So when she falls for one of their noble-born sons, Abi faces a terrible choice. Uncovering the family’s secrets might win her liberty—but will her heart pay the price?

A boy dreams of revolution.

Abi’s brother, Luke, is enslaved in a brutal factory town. Far from his family and cruelly oppressed, he makes friends whose ideals could cost him everything. Now Luke has discovered there may be a power even greater than magic: revolution.

And an aristocrat will remake the world with his dark gifts.

He is a shadow in the glittering world of the Equals, with mysterious powers no one else understands. But will he liberate—or destroy?



Melanie's Thoughts

Abi and Luke have their whole lives in front of them - Abi has been accepted into university to study medicine and the 16 year old Luke is looking forward to doing what most teenage boys do...have fun. This isn't on the cards when their parents make the big decision to leave their home, jobs, friends, family and most importantly their freedom in order to do their mandatory 10 years as slaves for the magically gifted aristocracy. When Luke is separated and sent to the brutal factory town of Millmoor it's clear that this was a decision that would irrevocably change the entire family's lives forever. Politics and revolution play hand in hand with magic and subjugation.

James sets her debut in a dystopian version of England where the ruling class are the Skilled with magical powers they barely ever have to use and the rest of humanity who give up ten years of their lives in slavery to the Equals. The majority of the story is told from four of the main characters POV including Abi and Luke where we learn what it is like to have everything you love stripped away from you by the ruling class. To avoid a totally one sided story chapters are also dedicated to two of the Equalis - Gavar and Bouda whose are both single mindedly selfish and cruel. The mystery of this story is not what happens to Abi and Luke but rather it's whether the extremely powerful Equal Silyen is working for good or evil. You are kept guessing all the way to the end (and I'm still not sure).

When I read the book summary I was convinced that this story was going to be right up my street - a bit of magic, a bit of mayhem and a fight against an evil aristocracy. While there was definitely a bit of magic the revolution aspects were pretty thin on the ground. I wouldn't say that Luke actually succeeded in proving that the power of the people was greater than the power of magic. I felt that Abi's almost instant infatuation with the Skillless aristocract Jenner was a bit trite and unbelievable. I am not sure, regardless of how handsome Jenner was, how you could fall so easily in love with someone who effectively owns you and your family for a decade. I thought that Silyen was the most interesting by far and he wasn't in it quite enough to keep my interest through the whole story.

While I think Gilded Cage was a good debut I wasn't blown away. The world building was very good but I found the characterisation a bit weak. My main criticism is that I just didn't care enough about any of the characters that I was worried about what could happen to them or angry when they did something evil. I believe that having a story told by 4-5 different POVs makes it more challenging to really draw in the reader so that they are truly invested in what they do and what happens to them. The story ended on quite the cliffhanger but I am undecided whether I want to know what happens next.

Review: Heartstone by Elle Katharine White


Heartstone
Author:  Elle Katharine White
Publisher:  Harper Voyager, January 17, 2017
Format:  Trade Paperback and eBook, 352 pages
List Price:  US$15.99  (print); US$9.99 (eBook)
ISBN: 9780062451941 (print); 9780062451958 (eBook)

Review: Heartstone by Elle Katharine White
A debut historical fantasy that recasts Jane Austen’s beloved Pride & Prejudice in an imaginative world of wyverns, dragons, and the warriors who fight alongside them against the monsters that threaten the kingdom: gryphons, direwolves, lamias, banshees, and lindworms.

They say a Rider in possession of a good blade must be in want of a monster to slay—and Merybourne Manor has plenty of monsters.

Passionate, headstrong Aliza Bentaine knows this all too well; she’s already lost one sister to the invading gryphons. So when Lord Merybourne hires a band of Riders to hunt down the horde, Aliza is relieved her home will soon be safe again.

Her relief is short-lived. With the arrival of the haughty and handsome dragonrider, Alastair Daired, Aliza expects a battle; what she doesn’t expect is a romantic clash of wills, pitting words and wit against the pride of an ancient house. Nor does she anticipate the mystery that follows them from Merybourne Manor, its roots running deep as the foundations of the kingdom itself, where something old and dreadful slumbers . . . something far more sinister than gryphons.

It’s a war Aliza is ill-prepared to wage, on a battlefield she’s never known before: one spanning kingdoms, class lines, and the curious nature of her own heart.

Elle Katharine White infuses elements of Austen’s beloved novel with her own brand of magic, crafting a modern epic fantasy that conjures a familiar yet wondrously unique new world.



Melanie's Thoughts

Elle Katharine White's debut novel, Heartstone, can only be described as an homage to Jane Austin's Pride and Prejudice. In place of Elizabeth Bennett Aliza Bentaine fulfills the role of the forthright and adventurous heroine. Initially excited about the dragon Riders arriving in Merybourne to slay a horde of gryphons that murdered her young sister Aliza isn't best pleased to spend time in the company of the haughty dragonrider Alastair Daired. In true Pride and Prejudice fashion Alastair sticks his upper crust nose up at the much lower class Aliza. His obvious disdain for her lack of 'connections' is short lived however, when a evil force threatens not just Aliza but the kingdom as well. Will true love prevail?

I am a huge fan of Jane Austin and have read all of her books. I especially love the BBC's adaptation of Pride and Prejudice with the well cast Colin Firth in the role of Mr. Darcy. I have to admit I am always a bit dubious about novels that try to re-tell this classic. I liked but did not love White's version in the form of Heartstone. Rather than adapting Austin's original in a fantasy setting complete with dragons and hobgoblins White rather slavishly followed the plot and merely modified the names (i.e. Aliza instead of Lizzie). This shouldn't be considered criticism but rather 'critique'. I thought that Heartstone was a welcome relief from the news and some of the other options on my TBR. I will be interested to see whether White can follow this debut with a truly original tale. For fans of Austin and dragons then please give this a read.

Review: The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden


The Bear and the Nightingale
Author:  Katherine Arden
Publisher:  Del Rey, January 10, 2017
Format:  Hardcover and eBook, 336 pages
List Price:  US$27.00 (print); US$12.99 (eBook)
ISBN:  9781101885932 (print); 9781101885949 (eBook)

Review: The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden
A magical debut novel for readers of Naomi Novik’s Uprooted, Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus, and Neil Gaiman’s myth-rich fantasies, The Bear and the Nightingale spins an irresistible spell as it announces the arrival of a singular talent with a gorgeous voice.

At the edge of the Russian wilderness, winter lasts most of the year and the snowdrifts grow taller than houses. But Vasilisa doesn’t mind—she spends the winter nights huddled around the embers of a fire with her beloved siblings, listening to her nurse’s fairy tales. Above all, she loves the chilling story of Frost, the blue-eyed winter demon, who appears in the frigid night to claim unwary souls. Wise Russians fear him, her nurse says, and honor the spirits of house and yard and forest that protect their homes from evil.

After Vasilisa’s mother dies, her father goes to Moscow and brings home a new wife. Fiercely devout, city-bred, Vasilisa’s new stepmother forbids her family from honoring the household spirits. The family acquiesces, but Vasilisa is frightened, sensing that more hinges upon their rituals than anyone knows.

And indeed, crops begin to fail, evil creatures of the forest creep nearer, and misfortune stalks the village. All the while, Vasilisa’s stepmother grows ever harsher in her determination to groom her rebellious stepdaughter for either marriage or confinement in a convent.

As danger circles, Vasilisa must defy even the people she loves and call on dangerous gifts she has long concealed—this, in order to protect her family from a threat that seems to have stepped from her nurse’s most frightening tales.



Melanie's Thoughts

Set in the remote forest of Russia, Katherine Arden begins her amazing debut featuring Vasilisa who is very different from her parents and siblings. Vasilisa can see the spirits who live in her home, stables and the forest. The same spirits who frighten her step mother and cast her in the role of the village witch. When a young priest is sent to the village, determined to purge the 'old ways' everything takes a turn for the worst.  Crops start to fail, villagers and their animals die in horrible ways and the dead come back to life but its not the pious who will save them. Vasilisa, with the help of the frost demon, is the only one who can save her family home.

The Bear and the Nightingale is truly a fantastic book. It is one of those books that you can't believe is a debut and can't put down. To echo the book summary it really reminded me of Naomi Novak's Uprooted. Both books are steeped in Russian folklore with enigmatic female leads. Arden paints a rich and colourful picture of Vasilisa's lonely upbringing as the child that caused her beloved mother's death. When her stepmother turns up on the scene Vasilisa's life turns into an almost 'cinderella before the ball' existence. I enjoyed how Arden uses the plot to explain the spread of Christianity during that time period in Russia and how people turned away from worshiping the pagan gods and spirits. My one small criticism is that Arden spent a little too long describing Vasilisa's early life as I believe she could have a successfully progressed the plot without so much exposition in that period of her life.

If you are looking for a book that draws you in from page one and you can't put down then I urge you to read The Bear and the Nightingale. Hats off to Arden for crafting an richly textured story in a wonderfully lush and equally stark setting. This story hearkens back to a traditional fairy tale and is so detailed you can almost feel the chill of every snowflake that falls on Vasilisa's shoulders. A joy to read, start to finish.

Review: One Fell Sweep by Ilona Andrews


One Fell Sweep
Author:  Ilona Andrews
Series:  Innkeeper Chronicles 3
Publisher:  NYLA, December 20, 2016
Format:  eBook, 257 pages
List Price:  US$4.99
ISBN:  9781943772711

Review: One Fell Sweep by Ilona Andrews
DeMille may run the nicest Bed and Breakfast in Red Deer, Texas, but she caters to very particular kind of guest… the kind that no one on Earth is supposed to know about. Guests like a former intergalactic tyrant with an impressive bounty on her head, the Lord Marshal of a powerful vampire clan, and a displaced-and-superhot werewolf; so don’t stand too close, or you may be collateral damage.

But what passes for Dina’s normal life is about to be thrown into chaos. First, she must rescue her long-distant older sister, Maud, who’s been exiled with her family to a planet that functions as the most lawless penal colony since Botany Bay. Then she agrees to help a guest whose last chance at saving his civilization could bring death and disaster to all Dina holds dear. Now Gertrude Hunt is under siege by a clan of assassins. To keep her guests safe and to find her missing parents, Dina will risk everything, even if she has and may have to pay the ultimate price. Though Sean may have something to say about that.



Melanie's Thoughts

One Fell Sweep is the third instalment in Ilona Andrews Innkeeper Chronicles. Andrews releases the books of this series (including OFS) in part chapter instalments on their website for free. Fans wait anxiously by their computers every Friday for their Innkeeper fix and now we get to enjoy it all over again with a bit more detail and a gorgeous cover.

This time Dina has not one but two challenges. She has to rescue her sister Maud and niece from a backwater, restricted vampire planet. She doesn't have to do it alone as along for the mission is her werewolf- almost-boyfriend Sean and Arland, the Lord Marshal. With her sister back safe in the Inn there is another difficult decision for Dina to make. One of the few survivors of the Hiru, a race that are being driven to extinction, has claimed refuge in the Gertrude Hunt. In exchange the Hiru will arrange for Dina to ask one question to an omnipotent being. For Dina this represents her one chance to find out where her parents are. The bigger question however, is what she is willing to do to ask it. It's not long before Dina is tested on exactly that when the Gertrude Hunt is besieged by a race of assassins come to murder the Hiru. Everything is at risk - the safety of her guests, the clue to finding her parents, her sister and her niece and her hunky werewolf, Sean. All her skills as an innkeeper will be required to save the Hiru and her loved ones all while avoiding revealing the existence of supernaturals to humanity.

Not to sound too gushy...I LOVE this series and One Fell Sweep does not disappoint. Dina has now pipped* Kate Daniels to the post as my favourite female butt kicking heroine. I thought that Andrews was very clever to weave a couple of different plot lines together that fed seamlessly into the overall plot arc of trying to find her parents. I liked the addition of Maud and her daughter even though she was used mainly as a romantic interest for Arland. I also enjoyed the resolution of the 'will she/won't she' with Sean. Andrews didn't make us wait too long to see where their relationship would go with very satisfactory results. Andrews does a fantastic job at creating an interesting supporting cast. The other 'regulars' Calendia, Orro, Beast and, of course, the Gertrude Hunt itself were well balanced and contributed to the plot overall. The Hiru were almost the perfect victims and the Draziri (the assassins) were ruthlessly evil. For a novella Andrews provides a lot of detail on the background of their characters especially, the Draziri.

Whenever I read one of the Innkeeper stories I always marvel that Andrews gives us these great characters for free. The price however, is having to wait each week to find out what happens next. Getting to enjoy the whole story along with some fantastic illustrations is more than worth the cost of buying the eBook. Even if you have followed the weekly chapter release I would definitely urge you to buy the book. The 'finessing' of the story, additional information and the amended ending make it worth it. Great book, great series and check out the cover! Gorgeous.


*pipped at/to the post - to be beaten in a competition or race by a very small amount.





Previously

Clean Sweep
Innkeeper Chronicles 1
NYLA, December 2, 2013
eBook, 175 pages

Review: One Fell Sweep by Ilona Andrews
On the outside, Dina DeMille is the epitome of normal. She runs a quaint Victorian Bed and Breakfast in a small Texas town, owns a Shih Tzu named Beast, and is a perfect neighbor, whose biggest problem should be what to serve her guests for breakfast. But Dina is...different: Her broom is a deadly weapon; her Inn is magic and thinks for itself. Meant to be a lodging for otherworldly visitors, the only permanent guest is a retired Galactic aristocrat who can’t leave the grounds because she’s responsible for the deaths of millions and someone might shoot her on sight. Under the circumstances, "normal" is a bit of a stretch for Dina.

And now, something with wicked claws and deepwater teeth has begun to hunt at night....Feeling responsible for her neighbors, Dina decides to get involved. Before long, she has to juggle dealing with the annoyingly attractive, ex-military, new neighbor, Sean Evans—an alpha-strain werewolf—and the equally arresting cosmic vampire soldier, Arland, while trying to keep her inn and its guests safe. But the enemy she’s facing is unlike anything she’s ever encountered before. It’s smart, vicious, and lethal, and putting herself between this creature and her neighbors might just cost her everything.


See Melanie's Review here.



Sweep in Peace
Innkeeper Chronicles 2
NYLA, November 13, 2015
eBook, 237 pages

Review: One Fell Sweep by Ilona Andrews
Dina DeMille doesn’t run your typical Bed and Breakfast. Her inn defies laws of physics, her fluffy dog is secretly a monster, and the only paying guest is a former Galactic tyrant with a price on her head. But the inn needs guests to thrive, and guests have been scarce, so when an Arbitrator shows up at Dina's door and asks her to host a peace summit between three warring species, she jumps on the chance.

Unfortunately, for Dina, keeping the peace between Space Vampires, the Hope-Crushing Horde, and the devious Merchants of Baha-char is much easier said than done. On top of keeping her guests from murdering each other, she must find a chef, remodel the inn...and risk everything, even her life, to save the man she might fall in love with. But then it's all in the day's work for an Innkeeper…


See Melanie's Review here.

Review: Stiletto by Daniel O'Malley


Stiletto
Author:  Daniel O'Malley
Series:  The Rook Files 2
Publisher:  Little Brown and Company, June 14, 2016
Format:  Hardcover and eBook, 592 pages
List Price:  US$26.00 (print); US$13.99 (eBook)
ISBN:  9780316228046 (print); 9780316228039 (eBook)

Review: Stiletto by Daniel O'Malley
In this spirited sequel to the acclaimed The Rook, Myfanwy Thomas returns to clinch an alliance between deadly rivals and avert epic -- and slimy -- supernatural war.

When secret organizations are forced to merge after years of enmity and bloodshed, only one person has the fearsome powers---and the bureaucratic finesse---to get the job done. Facing her greatest challenge yet, Rook Myfanwy Thomas must broker a deal between two bitter adversaries:

The Checquy---the centuries-old covert British organization that protects society from supernatural threats, and...

The Grafters---a centuries-old supernatural threat.

But as bizarre attacks sweep London, threatening to sabotage negotiations, old hatreds flare. Surrounded by spies, only the Rook and two women who absolutely hate each other, can seek out the culprits before they trigger a devastating otherworldly war.

Stiletto is a novel of preternatural diplomacy, paranoia, and snide remarks, from an author who "adroitly straddles the thin line between fantasy, thriller, and spoof " (Booklist).



Melanie's Thoughts

It's been four years since Daniel O'Malley's fantastic debut novel The Rook was published. The Rook tells the story of a covert organisation, The Checquy, and and its high ranking member Myfanwy Thomas. Now O'Malley is back with an equally fantastic sequel Stiletto. In this instalment The Checquy are hosting a delegation of their sworn enemies - The Grafters. Rook Thomas is trying to broker a peace deal to bring the Grafters into The Checquy fold but this seems an almost impossible task. The Checquy agents are indoctrinated from childhood to hate the Grafters - they are The Checquy version of the bogie man. The Grafters are raised to hate The Checquy. The Grafters are scientifically engineered humans, often centuries old, and have been living in Europe virtually in secret. Well until now.

The story is set in London and is told from two different POVs - Odette the lovely surgically enhanced Grafter surgeon and Felicity a Checquy solider who can 'read' the history of any object she comes into contact with. It has been ingrained in Felicity to hate The Grafters and in Odette to fear The Checquy. This unlikely pair are forced to work together when the enemies of both organisations try to destroy the fragile peace and kill as many on both sides as possible. This is truly a story of 'the enemy of your enemy is your friend'.

I will admit that when I first started Stiletto I was a bit disappointed that the story wasn't told from Myfanwy Thomas' POV as I think she is a great character. My disappointment didn't last too long as I soon came to enjoy Odette as much as I had Myfanwy. Rook Thomas is still very important in the plot as one of the main instigators of the peace treaty between the two organisations but it is Odette and Felicity who steal the show. Odette has been sheltered and lived the life of privilege in her Grafter family whereas Felicity is a soldier through and through. They are so very different but through various attempts on their lives discover that they aren't so very different at all.

In my opinion O'Malley is a genius with an acute sense of observation and humour. I loved every minute reading this novel and I spent quite a lot of those laughing at some witticism or keen observation that O'Malley makes. There are many humorous lines in this novel and I could have easily highlighted the whole book.

O'Malley has such a vivid imagination and the ability to create a detailed, interesting world. The agents of The Checquy and The Grafter enhancements were exquisitely crafted so that you could easily picture each of them. This combined with a well constructed plot makes Stiletto a real page turner.

Some of the scenes could be described as a bit gruesome - especially at the start and the end of the book - but I am sure you won't be able to put this book down. Hats off to O'Malley for another fantastic instalment from The Rook Files





The UK Edtion

Stiletto
The Checquy Files 2
Head of Zeus, June 16, 2016
Paperback and eBook, 496 pages

Review: Stiletto by Daniel O'Malley
THE CHECQUY: A centuries-old covert organization that protects the nation from supernatural threat.

THE GRAFTERS: A centuries-old supernatural threat.

After centuries of rivalry and bloodshed, two secret and otherworldly organisations - The Checquy and The Grafters - are on the verge of joining forces, and only one person has the supernatural skills - and the bureaucratic finesse - to get the job done: Myfanwy Thomas.

But as a wave of gruesome atrocities sweep London, ingrained paranoias flare, old hatreds ignite and negotiations grind to a halt. It is up to Myfanwy to find the culprits before they trigger a devastating, all-out, supernatural war between the reluctant allies.

Review: Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel


Sleeping Giants
Author:  Sylvan Neuvel
Series:  Themis Files 1
Publisher:  Del Rey, April 26, 2016
Format:  Hardcover and eBook, 320 pages
List Price:  US$26.00 (print); US$12.99 (eBook)
ISBN:  9781101886694 (print);  9781101886700 (eBook)

Review: Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel
A page-turning debut in the tradition of Michael Crichton, World War Z, and The Martian, Sleeping Giants is a thriller fueled by an earthshaking mystery—and a fight to control a gargantuan power.

A girl named Rose is riding her new bike near her home in Deadwood, South Dakota, when she falls through the earth. She wakes up at the bottom of a square hole, its walls glowing with intricate carvings. But the firemen who come to save her peer down upon something even stranger: a little girl in the palm of a giant metal hand.

Seventeen years later, the mystery of the bizarre artifact remains unsolved—its origins, architects, and purpose unknown. Its carbon dating defies belief; military reports are redacted; theories are floated, then rejected.

But some can never stop searching for answers.

Rose Franklin is now a highly trained physicist leading a top secret team to crack the hand’s code. And along with her colleagues, she is being interviewed by a nameless interrogator whose power and purview are as enigmatic as the provenance of relic. What’s clear is that Rose and her compatriots are on the edge of unraveling history’s most perplexing discovery—and figuring out what it portends for humanity. But once the pieces of the puzzle are in place, will the result prove to be an instrument of lasting peace or a weapon of mass destruction?



Melanie's Thoughts

Young Rose Franklin didn't realise that riding her bicycle through the woods near her home would irrevocably change her life. One minute she is walking through the trees and the next she is lying at the bottom of a very large, very deep, square hole with walls that were intricately carved in a beautiful turquoise light. What is even more amazing is that Rose is lying on the palm of a giant metal hand. The plot advances almost 20 years in the future where Rose is now a successful physicist. From this point forward the story plays out in a series of interviews between the various characters and an unnamed interviewer.  One of the biggest mysteries of the story is the identity of the interviewer who remains unknown to both the reader and to characters themselves. The interviewer belongs to a wealthy and powerful secret organisation that want Rose to study the hand and find a way to uncover the rest of the pieces and assemble the 'giant'. The rest of the story involves the giant, Rose and her team. I don't want to tell you more than that as I don't want to let anything slip.

The construct of the plot is one of my favourite things about Sleeping Giants. I thought when I started it that I wouldn't enjoy reading a story that was comprised of transcripts of interviews but that wasn't the case. The format added to the tension and the suspense of the story. I also liked how Neuvel didn't reveal who the interviewer was or why they were so interested in Rose and the giant. The giant and what it really is and where it comes from are almost secondary to the interviewer and Rose's project team. Neuvel has managed to create characters who you are so invested in that you can't put the book down but yet, as the reader you are still only on the sidelines of the story, separated from the action by the transcripts. In my view this is innovation in story telling.

I first read Sleeping Giants eight months ago and it only took a few chapters for me to realise that it was going to be one of my favourite books of the year. Reading it again has made me realise that it likely one of my all time favourites. Not a mean feat and as a debut this an amazing accomplishment. I urge you to give Sleeping Giants a go and I dare you not to have it on your favourite reads of 2016.


Read an interview with Sylvain Neuvel here.

Review: A Murder in Time by Julie McElwain


A Murder in Time
Author:  Julie McElwain
Series:  Kendra Donovan 1
Publisher:  Pegasus, April 11, 2016
Format:  Hardcover and eBook, 320 pages
List Price:  $25.95 (print); $12.99 (digital)
ISBN:  9781605989747 (print); 9781681771151 (digital)

Review: A Murder in Time by Julie McElwain
When brilliant FBI agent Kendra Donovan stumbles back in time and finds herself in a 19th century English castle under threat from a vicious serial killer, she scrambles to solve the case before it takes her life—200 years before she was even born.

Beautiful and brilliant, Kendra Donovan is a rising star at the FBI. Yet her path to professional success hits a speed bump during a disastrous raid where half her team is murdered, a mole in the FBI is uncovered and she herself is severely wounded. As soon as she recovers, she goes rogue and travels to England to assassinate the man responsible for the deaths of her teammates.

While fleeing from an unexpected assassin herself, Kendra escapes into a stairwell that promises sanctuary but when she stumbles out again, she is in the same place - Aldrich Castle - but in a different time: 1815, to be exact.

Mistaken for a lady's maid hired to help with weekend guests, Kendra is forced to quickly adapt to the time period until she can figure out how she got there; and, more importantly, how to get back home. However, after the body of a young girl is found on the extensive grounds of the county estate, she starts to feel there's some purpose to her bizarre circumstances. Stripped of her twenty-first century tools, Kendra must use her wits alone in order to unmask a cunning madman.



Melanie's Thoughts

Kendra Donovan is a highly gifted FBI profiler with a career on the rise until a raid goes tragically wrong and most of her team are killed. Kendra almost dies and spends months in rehab plotting the demise of the man who killed her teammates. Haunted by what happened, she makes the drastic decision to go rogue and seek justice for her team by assassinating the man responsible. She follows him to England and to Aldrich Castle where something happens that changes not only her life but the very fabric of time. Another assassin kills her target and in the process of fleeing she ends up in a stairwell that takes her not only to safety but 200 years in the past. Mistaken for a ladies maid Kendra tries to figure out what has happened to her. When a young prostitute's body is found on the estate, having been tortured and murdered, Kendra can't resist trying to solve the crime. Can she solve this case without the use of the tools of her trade and with the restrictions of society and class structure of the early 1800's? A serial killer is targeting young women and Kendra may be the only person capable of stopping him.

Kendra is a genetically engineered child of two scientists, highly intelligent but emotionally stunted with no friends or family that she was close to. Her career is everything to her and seeking justice for her teammates ruled her life until she 'fell through the rabbit hole' into 1815. The majority of the story is set in the 1800s and involves the murders at Aldrich Castle. I think the murder plot was well executed and I wasn't sure who the serial murderer was. In fact I had a couple of late nights trying to finish the book. I have A Murder in Time to blame for my sleep deprived puffy eyes twice last week! I used to read a lot of murder mysteries and usually guess who 'dunnit' but this time I couldn't figure it out. My main criticism, however, is with Kendra herself. While I think that McElwain excelled in plot development I don't think the character development was as strong. I find Kendra a bit superficial and not that likeable. I feel that McElwain could have spent more time developing Kendra at the start of the story before she ended up in 1815 which would have made her a much more rounded character.

Overall, I enjoyed A Murder in Time. I am not sure I liked it as much as Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series which has a similar time traveling basis. For a debut A Murder in Time is a good read. McElwain leaves the reader with an ending that will obviously lead into future novels and I hope that can produce another plot that can keep me up at night.

Review: Gilded Cage by Vic JamesReview: Heartstone by Elle Katharine WhiteReview: The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine ArdenReview: One Fell Sweep by Ilona AndrewsReview and Giveaway: An Import of Intrigue by Marshall Ryan MarescaReview and Giveaway - Level Grind by Annie BelletReview: A Little Knowledge by Emma NewmanReview: Stiletto by Daniel O'MalleyReview: Sleeping Giants by Sylvain NeuvelReview: A Murder in Time by Julie McElwain

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