Cover Image: Gothikana

Gothikana

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Member Reviews

I was eager to check out this book when I saw it was slated for publication from Tor this winter. For one thing, it was hugely popular as a self-published titled, and I always love to see indie authors picked up by large publishing companies. Second, Tor has had a great track record this last year for putting out some really great SFF books. I’ve reviewed a ton of them and almost all of them have been positive reviews. Third, the description for this book likens it to “Beauty and the Beast.” I’m a simple person: if you tell me a fantasy story is inspired by “Beauty and the Beast,” I’ll probably read it. So, where did all of this lead me? Well, unfortunately, to a pretty steep disappointment.

I do try to start with the positives, but unfortunately, I really don’t have a lot. Really, the best I can say is that the overall concept was creative. I was drawn in by the book description, and I think if the execution had been up to snuff, than it would have been enjoyable read. Also, a lot of people do like this book. I can’t say I understand why, but they do. So clearly there’s some positive appeal for readers here that I’m not seeing, and if you’re interested in this book, there are a whole lot of people out there who would say go for it!

For me, however, right away I knew there would be problems with the writing. I read an ARC version of this book, so I can’t confirm for a fact that some of my complaints won’t have been corrected in finalized versions, but I’m doubtful. Usually, the kinds of changes you’ll see between ARCs and finished versions are last minute spelling or punctuation problems, like a dropped period or something. But here, the writing failures were way beyond this. Honestly, I was a bit shocked. In many ways it read like a bad stereotype of what self-published books can be: clunky writing, odd word choices, lack of useful descriptions (we got enough superficial stuff about fashion to last a life time) leaving the reader stranded in a wasteland. The sentences structure would be fragmented on one page, and then fall into run-on sentences on the next. Honestly, within the first few chapters, the number of times I had to stop and re-read a sentence to try to understand what was being said was shocking. It was the kind of reading experience where I was spending more time mentally re-writing and re-structuring sentences than I did absorbing that actual story.

Moving beyond the actual functionality of the writing, the style itself was also frustrating. This is a perfect example of writing that simply tells you what you’re meant to feel and see, rather than making any sort of effort to lead readers along in an organic, “showing” manner. This style didn’t help the fact that this book very much felt like it was all vibes and no actual world-building. Whenever I stopped and tried to think about how some of the fantasy elements worked, I became frustrated. I kept waiting for some sort of resolution or explanation for various plot elements that were introduced, but by the end, it became clear that tight structure and plot was not the priority. Instead of addressing the various mysteries that are brought up, the book ends with a sputter…something something magic…something something the mountain itself! If the answer to your numerous mysteries in a FANTASY NOVEL is “whelp, magic” than you didn’t have any mysteries to begin with and what story are you even trying to tell here?

I also very much struggled with the romance. I didn’t care for either character, our leading lady or Vad (the name alone!). At best, it was under-developed and I couldn’t understand why either character was interested in the other. At worst, it wasn’t helped by dialogue that had me experiencing indirect embarrassment for the characters. This also had a hirer level of spice than I was anticipating, which isn’t necessarily the book’s fault. But what I’m coming to understand about myself as a romance reader and my approach to spice levels is that it has much less to do with how spicy the book is, and much more to do with the overall approach to these scenes. There are certain descriptive words that I just don’t like in my romance scenes. And there’s a very fine line where these sorts of scenes can stray into the corny, and the minute that happens, the romance is drained and it all gets a bit of an “ick” sheen. Again, this is going to be very subjective from one reader to another. But all of the problems I had with the writing in general just compounded the problems I had with the romance aspects.

Overall, I can’t recommend this book. The romance aspects are subjective, for sure, and some readers might like these sorts of spicy scenes. But the writing was actually just bad, and there’s no two ways about it. Romantasy is having a big moment currently, which means that readers can hold their books to higher standards than this one had to offer, I’m sorry to say.

Rating 5: Honestly, if I hadn’t requested an ARC, thus feeling more obligated to give it a full review, I would have DNF’d this within the first 25%, the writing was that bad.

Review will go live on The Library Ladies January 10

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Thank you to Netgalley and the publishing company for this Advanced Readers Copy of Gothikana by RuNyx!

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This book was both so messed up psychologically and also so good at the same time. I practically blew through the book and loved every second of it.

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This just wasn't what I expected. I was prepared for dark but not for quite this dark. It just isn't right for me as a reader.

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Gothikana is a strikingly written atmospheric dark romance. Corvina Clemm has always felt like an outsider, but when she accepts admittance to Verenmore, a school located in a gothic castle on top of a mountain, she is thrown into a world of secrets, deceit, and darkness. And she find she can’t fight her attraction to her teqxhee, the mysterious Vad Deverell, who is equally captivated by her. The writing is beautiful. It is eerie and the gothic tone is perfectly encapsulated. I will say, I had a little trouble with the ending. The story is a romantic suspense and the ending feels like a thriller ending that loses momentum. But the lead up into that is steamy and romantic and dark. Corvina and Vad are both such tragically tortured characters and this Beauty and the Beast retelling is striking. I would’ve liked a little more development in the romance but I loved the solace these two find in each other and how seen Corvina felt with Vad, even with his mixed signals. The mystery is interesting, and I loved the dark academia setting of this. It’s a beautifully written gothic romance.

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Unfortunately, the writing in this novel is absolutely atrocious. There is so much incorrect word usage.

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One of my friends highly recommended this. I am not a dark romance girly by any means but this was pretty good! I would recommend to anyone who likes dark romance with an academic setting.

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I liked the vibe of this book but the "romance" seemed forced and unhealthy. The gothic and dark academia aspects were my favorite. I wish it had focused more on that.

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It’s easy to follow and extremely readable. I stopped after chapter 1, but I can definitely see it doing well with its target audience. Easy three to four stars.

Thank you to NetGalley and Tor for the ARC.

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I love a good dark academia romance novel, but this one fell flat in a few places for me. I'm not a huge fan of insta-lust/love and there we re a few too many plot holes for my preferences, however, it was well written everywhere else.

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Thank you to Tor Publishing Group - Bramble and NetGalley for providing an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This title was originally self-published in 2021 and is being rerelased by Bramble in 2024.
An outcast her entire life, Corvina Clemm is left adrift after losing her mother. When she receives the admission letter from the mysterious University of Verenmore, she accepts it as a sign from the universe. The last thing she expects though is an old, secluded castle on top of a mountain riddled with secrets, deceit, and death. This is a dark academia romance with a morally grey MMC, spice, dual-POV, and has multiple trigger warnings. The "insta-love" attraction between a student and teacher fell flat to me personally. On the bright side though, the haunted castle and grounds were a delightfully creepy setting. It's suspenseful and full of intrigue. I would have preferred more closure by the end; there were several plot holes that are never fully resolved. Overall I contemplated DNF'ing this one early on but am glad I stuck with it. Readers of dark academia may enjoy this.

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This was simultaneously great and meh. I loved the gothic, dark academia setting. I loved how he called her "Little Crow" and "Little Witch" and she called him her madness and her devil. I loved the secrets and the twists. The references to Poe and Dracula were amazing! But there was something about it that was just meh. I can't quite put my finger on it.

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I really enjoyed reading this book. I like the dark academia setting and the morally gray male main character. I wish there were more details in the slayers and the mysterious disappearances. It felt like there were holes within that plot portion of the book. Overall I enjoyed the book and look forward to reading the other books the author has written.

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Really enjoyed this book! The sprayed edges will make this cover even better! The mystery aspect of this story was great and the spice was chefs kiss.

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Literally loved this book. Loved it when I first read it, loved it when I read it again. I always have so much fun reading this book, simply because the author does a fantastic job at creating a world that you can fall in to and fall in love with.. The mix of the dark academia and gothic vibes was perfection and had me unable to put this book down.

The characters were done really well and for the most part I enjoyed them all. There were moments where I didn't love them, but overall, I found that the growth of characters was really well done and had me liking them more at the end than I initially started liking them in the beginning.

This book was so much fun to read & I'm so happy to have read it again!

Thank you NetGalley for an eARC in exchange for an honest review!

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I really liked the aesthetic and the spooky vibes. Although the writing is a lot like wattpad, which isn't a bad thing but it does change my rating. I loved how Corvina was written and her dynamic with the silver devil. I loved the pace of this story! It would've been nice to see Corvina explore and expand on her witch-y side.

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This was a fun dark romance. Nothing in line with Sarah J. Maas or Rebecca Yarrows, but fans of those books will enjoy this. It's got instant attraction, forbidden love and mystery all set in a dark academic castle.

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"Gothikana" by RuNyx offers readers a blend of the eternal romance found in "Beauty and the Beast" and the gothic suspense reminiscent of "Dracula." The story follows Corvina Clemm, an outcast who, after losing her mother, finds herself admitted to the mysterious University of Verenmore. The university is housed in an ancient castle on top of a mountain, filled with secrets, deceit, and a history of death.

Vad Deverell, a part-time professor with a penchant for keeping secrets, crosses paths with Corvina, and their connection sets off a chilling century-old mystery. Despite the dangers and the dark history of the castle, a deep love begins to blossom between them.

The novel promises a combination of mystery, romance, and elements of dark academia. The setting of the secluded castle adds an atmospheric touch, and the characters, with their enigmatic qualities, contribute to the sense of suspense and intrigue. The book seems to explore themes of love, danger, and unraveling mysteries in a captivating and immersive way.

If you've had the opportunity to read "Gothikana," feel free to share your thoughts on how RuNyx weaves together the elements of romance, suspense, and the macabre, and how the characters of Corvina and Vad navigate the mysterious and haunting world of the University of Verenmore.

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"I will have you even in death, little witch. I am your beast. I am your madness. And you, you're my afterlife.”
Swoon. For a first ever boyfriend for our girl Corvina, Vad is exceeding expectations. And for growing up in solitude without any friends, Jade, Troy, Jax and the others really take her in as one of their own. Was there a “oh s$*!” element to the paranormal event(s) happening? Yes. Did I expect it? Nope. Was I thrilled? Also yes. I will definitely be reading more books by this author in the future. Thanks to NetGalley for the arc to read/review for free.

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A perfect blend of dark academia and dark romance! The standout in this novel for me wasn’t the romance or the mystery, but the setting itself: a marvelous gothic castle-turned-university located on a mountain that may or may not be haunted (TBD). Aside from the amazing setting, the plot was pretty simple (and I felt fairly predictable), the spice was pretty good (a few scenes made me wince in cringe due to wording… but I think that’s bound to happen in most romances), and the main characters were likable — corvina especially so. And okay Vad too (tall, dark, handsome, mysterious: sign me UP). 3.5 rounded to 4 simply due to the fact that this book brought the spooky Fall VIBES that I needed. Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC!

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