Cover Image: Leather and Sage

Leather and Sage

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Member Reviews

I really enjoyed this book, I couldnt put it dpwn. It was dark, eerie and was full of a gothic atmosphere that gave me chills when I was reading it. I was gripped from start to finish and it engaged me the whole way through.
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Actual Rating: 3.75 stars

First I'd like to thank the publisher Cursed Dragon Ship Publishing for sending me a copy via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

"We just got the gift and the way it lets us see things that ain’t there, hear things that don’t make sound, and feel gooseprickles of warning. Madness from the spirits is a big price to pay for it."

I genuinely liked this book. It had an eerie vibe throughout that made what would be a really cool witch town in the woods seem absolutely odd, and the dialect used in the writing certainly helped set the mood and paint a picture.

However, as much as I enjoyed the writing, the style definitely threw me off for a while. It took time to get used to it, and for some people I can see that being an issue. But once I got past that, I was in for a great story that made me so sad at times.

I guess maybe I should add a trigger warning for some of the content: blood, and child monsters? Is that a thing? I'm not sure. But when you read it from said child's perspective, it breaks your heart.

If you're looking for a book with a vampire origin story that's quite unique, with witches, then this is the book for you.
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Leather and Sage by Taylor Shepeard is a book that immerses the reader in the story of Ellie and Lillian Hallivard, two sisters born to a matriarch of witches. Their mother is struggling with possession by a spirit when Lillian comes across a flower, picks it, and is changed into another being under the power of a curse that was put on the family. What ensues is an effort by Ellie to become the new matriarch of the clan of witches, convince those witches her sister's curse will not make her unable to lead the clan, and reject the thing that once was her sister.

I appreciated the dual first-person points of view in this book. It switches back and forth between the perspectives of Ellie and Lillian, and it is interesting to see into the mind of Lillian, who in some ways is still a child but has been twisted into something inhuman. The characters describe their feelings, thoughts and surroundings with vivid language. The struggle between the urge to love someone and hatred for what they've become is evident.

Despite this, I had difficulty getting through this book. Shepeard makes an effort to bring out the voice of the characters through colloquial language. However, I found that the use of this ebbed and flowed from chapter to chapter and passage to passage. It was actually a relief to me when less colloquial language was used for a time. The more traditionally written passages were pleasant to read with good flow, while the sections where regional dialect was prominent felt clunky and unnatural. I would have preferred to read the entire book rewritten to completely exclude the changes made to the words meant to evoke a regional accent. The author also makes a point of using the phrase "willow moss and kindling" as a replacement for the word "eyes" every single time the main characters do something with their eyes, which quickly grew tiresome.

Additionally, I would have preferred a chapter from the perspective of Lillian prior to her change. The combination of childlike innocence with monstrous intent was creepy and compelling. However I would have had more emotional reaction to Lillian's transformation and sympathy for her character if I had been able to first form a bond with her as a sweet and lively child.

Overall I thought this book had interesting elements. It is a story about family connections and how those break down when the family you loved becomes something horrible. It has vivid descriptions of nature and the world that I thoroughly enjoyed. But I didn't connect with the characters enough where I cared about their struggles and the nontraditional writing style killed my immersion rather than enhancing it.
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The storyline of this book intrigued me, and even though it wasn't a five-star read, I'm glad I took the time to read it.

This novel follows Ellie as she struggles to protect her clan against the forsaken, who are brought into existence by her sister. In order to protect her clan and stop the forsaken, she must do the unthinkable. Can she kill her sister?

The concept of this story and its execution was good, but the writing style just threw me for a loop. I really struggled to enjoy the story when I was re-reading sections due to the unique storytelling. Other than this, the story was enjoyable and gave a different take on how vampires came to be. It was a quick read, and I recommend it to people who enjoy fantastical creatures such as vampires and witches.

Review was also posted to Goodreads.
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I really enjoyed the different spin on "vampire" origin, I feel it had alot of potential, I also enjoyed the different pov from Lillian and Ellie.

However that's where it stopped for me, I felt the story line was lacking depth and was very predictable.
I really struggled with the dialect, it took me weeks to get past the prologue, now finishing the book I realised I could have skipped as it didn't reveal much that didn't show up later on.

I really wanted to love this book, unfortunately it just didn't grab me.

Special thanks to NetGalley, the publisher and the author for a free, electronic ARC of this novel received in exchange for an honest review
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The language takes a minute to get use to...at first I thought there were some editing issues but then as the story goes on...you realize that they are in the deep country and it's just they way they talk. There are some formatting issues...like chaoter 20 and 21 are squished together on one page at the end but other wise I really liked this story. 

A different take on witches, spirits and vampires then I have read before. And this one doesn't have a happy ending necessarily but I kind of liked that. The Monster gets the happy ending if you will instead of the heros.
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The writing of this book just wasn't for me. The premise of the story was intriguing and I think if any word that began with "a" hadn't been replaced with a ' and can't wasn't spelled cain't I might have enjoyed it more. I couldn't decide if it was the author trying to give the characters accents or make them appear uneducated or what but it drove me nuts the whole book. Also the story was kind of disjointed and didn't flow well, but that could be I wasn't enjoying the writing style so I wasn't following the story very well.
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This is a very solid book with a simple yet intriguing storyline. I don't think I have ever read a book that uses the tone that Shepeard does in this one and, despite it taking a few pages to get into, I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was a very intentional effort that paid off incredibly well as I can't see myself reading the characters through any other means. Speaking of characters, the mains (Lillian, Ellie, Kylie and a plethora of others) are told in depth enough for it to be intriguing, yet shallow enough to keep you wondering for more. There were sections of the book where I didn't feel entirely compelled or gripped by the plot as I would have liked but again, it is a solid piece of work that has its moments. There are also some very relatable emotions that flesh out aspects of things (mostly characters but at times it was the world too). I would have loved to see more of where the story is set and maybe even a flashback or two so we can fully understand more of the backstory and feel stronger attachments to the characters.
As a general reader, I may be compelled to pick up the second book as it comes out - all in all I would hope for that one to keep the development and exploration of the characters (and the world) a little more.
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"If you see petals gray as thunder, leaves red as the setting sun, you run. Always run." One hundred years ago, a curse was placed on the Hallivard family of witches. This curse was to be completed in exactly one century, with a Hallivard witch touching the flower of the Bloodbud. When the matriarch of their family begins to unravel, the three Hallivard sisters try to protect each other from the curse. But the dark magic has a mind of its own. It lures the youngest, Lillian, to it with the beauty of the flower. With one touch of the gray petals, a terrible monster is unleashed.

Taylor Shepeard's Leather & Sage is one of the most emotionally charged monster novels readers will ever get their hands on. It feels very reminiscent of the theme of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. Who is the monster in this situation? The one who was cursed, or the family that ostracized and condemned them because of it? Due to the multiple points of view, we see the characters dealing with their inner turmoil as they tumble further into their monstrosity. Taylor has done an incredible job balancing the horrific and sorrowful elements of this novel.

The dialect used throughout the novel can make it a little difficult to follow. Readers may appreciate the dedication to authenticity, but it breaks up the flow of the storytelling. Had the unique dialect been used just in the dialogue, it would have made the novel much easier to read.

That said, I rated Leather & Sage 4 out of 5 stars. It has a unique, complex plotline, with plenty of unexpected twists and an emotionally powerful theme. The idioms used throughout the novel detract from those a bit, but if readers can look past that element, it's an entertaining and beautiful read. There are written spells and doodles placed throughout the novel that add whimsy and show how much love the author poured into her work. 

The violence can be a bit graphic, but it's a monster novel, so that shouldn't be surprising. I think this would be perfect for readers of any age who like their monster novels to have depth and meaning. It's the type of novel that will have readers thinking about it for days after they finish and begging for the next installment.
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This is a very interesting read. At first, I found the dialect (several of the main characters have not learned English fully yet) of the characters to be confusing, but as I continued reading the book, I found that I understood and even enjoyed this part of the writing. I feel like it really added to the uniqueness of this title and the authenticity of the characters.
Sometimes I found that I could not put this book down, and other times I found myself struggling to get into the story. But I would say overall I enjoyed this book. The characters were developed well, and I was often conflicted about who I was rooting for. To me, the ending was very sad, and it left a lot unsaid, which I assume will be explained or included in the next book. In the end, I have never read anything quite like this, and I look forward to finding out what the next book in this series has to bring.
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DNF @ 20%
Just not for me... so many grammatical errors. It had promise, but I found myself editing the book rather than enjoying it.
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This book initially threw me for a loop with the dialect used in its writing. It did get easier the further along into the book I got. Other then that I really enjoyed the storyline. This was a, new to me, orgin story for the vampire. Definitely interested to see where things go from here with the next in the series.
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If you’re looking for a book that feels almost like a fever dream and reads like a child who hasn’t quite learned English yet, this is for you. Now, I’m not saying the writing is bad - it isn’t. It was just so incredibly different for me personally. Here are two actual examples: “I watch them figures” and “I just want them screams to stop”.
Not horrible, no. And I can respect writing an entire book in the way a character speaks. It was just incredibly difficult to want to continue on for. However, I do feel like a good amount of people will love it.
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Certainly one of the strangest Sci-Fi books I've read in a long time! If you are into witches and spirits, this book is probably for you! 
While I appreciate the author staying true to their way of talking throughout the entire book, it also drove the English lover in me crazy. 

Ellie presents as a true-to-form eldest sister who simply wants to do what's right and Lillian is the perfect example of a spoiled, self-centered youngest child. I adored their characters as well as the tomboy like Kylie. Ellie's use of potions on her love interest had my laughing throughout because what teenage girl didn't wish she could cast spells on her boyfriend?
Although not my usual cup of tea, I want to read the second book in this series and find out what ends up happening. Excellent cliffhanger ending!
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Leather and sage by Taylor Shepeard. 
If you see petals gray as thunder, leaves red as the setting sun, you run. Always run.
These words are both a warning and a truth. Stop the Curse of the Bloodbud from coming to fruition, lest the Forsaken bring the downfall of all the Coven.
For Ellie Hallivard, these are but ancient stories within her world of poultice brewing and apple tree tending. As the eldest daughter of the Matron of the Orchard Clan, Ellie must prepare herself for leadership, all while trying to protect her younger sisters, cultivate her love of a town boy, and undermine the spirit intent on devouring her mother’s soul.
Despite Ellie’s best efforts, her sister defies Clan law and touches a Bloodbud; the Forsaken is brought into existence in the body of a Hallivard.
Abandoned by her family and her Clan, the Forsaken struggles to understand why she’s been cast aside. Something is happening. She feels . . . different. Her tooths are sharp and smooth. Everywhere she goes, she can smell iron and daisies. And there’s a spark of something like lightning in her gaze of willow moss and kindling.
The Ancestors warn Ellie of the Forsaken, instill in her the knowledge of what must be done to keep the Orchard safe. If she fails to act, her surviving family, the Orchard Clan, and the entirety of the Coven will succumb to the devastation of the Infected. Ellie can save them all with a single act.
But can she kill her sister?
A good read with likeable characters.  I liked Ellie. I did like the cover.  4*.
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