Cover Image: Foul Days

Foul Days

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

A fast, easy read, although poorly developed characters and world-building made it rather forgettable.

Was this review helpful?

I absolutely adored my time reading this book. The writing style was just stunning. I could picture everything. It was fluid, and it just kept me captivated throughout. It was such an effortless book to read. I think it’s a book that’ll stay with me for a long time and now I would definitely be on the lookout to read the author’s next book.

Was this review helpful?

Foul Days is a rich fantasy monster-filled world steeped in Bulgarian folklore. It was an unexpected delight of a book — witchcraft, monsters, and bad ex’s. What really drew me in was the trauma both Kosara and Asen have in their pasts and how it reflects on their choices made in the book. I really loved them as a team and how their characters reflected on each other. Is it a romance? No. There’s a potential hint of it, but it’s minuscule. The pacing was well done, the story flowed, and I loved seeing different side characters like Vila and Blackbeard. Foul Days was definitely a hit for me — and for those who love magic, quests, detective stories, trauma, secrets, and the slightest promise of romance — then this one is for you!

Thank you to Tor Books for the chance to read early! I loved it

Was this review helpful?

What a disappointment! Intrigued by the concept - felt like the Witcher mixed with Katherine Arden mixed with Jessica Jones - and always down for a unique fantasy world, I started this one with high hopes. Unfortunately, almost immediately I was met with mediocre writing and an information dump that slowed down every aspect of the plot. Right off the bat we had the protagonist explain the worldbuilding to a stranger unfamiliar with local culture - so clunky and unnecessary. We learned exactly what we needed to know immediately for the next phase of plot, and nothing more. The rest of the book continues in this vein, and although I wound up mostly enjoying it, it was never a book that I felt compelled to pick up; I more finished it to say I did.

I enjoy YA books and I enjoy adult books, and this one felt exactly like when a YA author tries to write an adult book and just can't quite make that transition. A lack of complexity and a tendency to spell out exactly what the main character is feeling/thinking just made it a blunt book with little depth. There's a great idea in here, but the actual execution of it just killed it for me.

Was this review helpful?

4 ★ The synopsis of Foul Days describes Genoveva Dimova as an “assured new voice in the genre” and that is absolutely correct! I’ve been looking forward to this debut for a long time as I love it when books are inspired by folklore.

This book weaves Bulgarian folklore, which I haven’t seen in a book before, with sharp prose and an atmospheric wintery setting. I quickly grew attached to our main character, Kosara, and she was such a breath of fresh air compared to other main characters I’ve read about. She was sly and witty, with a distinct voice that never bored me. The world itself was fascinating and complex. I absolutely loved the various monsters featured throughout the novel. There’s even a monster pamphlet detailing all of the various monsters and important information, which the citizens of Chernograd received (though didn’t read…), from the Witch and Warlock Association featured at the end of the book.

I haven’t read anything like Foul Days before, nor have I read the comp titles, but this book did slightly remind me of another June 2024 release: The God and The Gumiho. Both are folklore-inspired fantasies with a murder mystery at the forefront.

For readers who dislike how romance-driven and trope-filled a lot of fantasy books are nowadays, you’re in luck as romance is not a major element of this story. There is a very minor romantic subplot, however, it does not get in the way of the main plot. I want to mention that there is an abusive romantic relationship portrayed between Kosara and the Zmey and themes of grief and loss of a sister which may be triggering.

Overall, I’m excited for Kosara (and her detective sidekick, Asen’s) adventures in the sequel, Monstrous Nights, and luckily there isn’t a long time to wait! This was a great debut, and I am looking forward to reading more from this author in the future.

Was this review helpful?

After following Genoveva’s path to publication on social media I was so, so excited to finally dig into her Bulgarian-folklore inspired fantasy, and needless to say, it didn’t disappoint!

The story follows our remarkably well rounded MC Kosara as she takes and battles monsters, all who fall to her prowess besides one— the fabled Tsar of Monsters, and, unluckily, her ex. He’s hunting her, and her time is running out. After escaping to a city monsters can’t follow and teaming up with a well-meaning detective, she needs to decide who to trust and if she’s going to be the hunted… or the hunter.

I absolutely adored both the pacing and the characters in Foul Days. The story kept my interest the entire time and I truly didn’t see some of the twists coming. I loved how setting and atmosphere played such a fundamental part in the reading experience and how wonderfully wrought the aspects (especially the monsters) inspired by Bulgarian folklore were. It was a perfect mix of historically inspired and strikingly fantastical— the perfect set up for a brilliant fantasy.

I really loved both Kosara and Asen, it’s clear how much time and thought were put into making them fleshed out characters, both together and separately. Their romance was built very convincingly and I enjoyed how their secrets made up such a fundamental part of their dynamic. Couple that will a chilling and skin-crawling villain, and needless to say I was obsessed!

With her debut, Genoveva has definitely set a formidable start to her writing career! I’m delighted to see the sequel will be out very shortly, as I’m eager to learn of the story’s conclusion. Thanks so much TOR for the chance to read!

Was this review helpful?

Young witch Kosara gambles away her magic during the worst time of year to not have magic- the foul days. While monsters run rampant, Kosara must race against the clock to get her magic back and save her city, if she can manage to confront her past traumas and abusive ex. Well paced and action packed from start to finish, this is a thoroughly enjoyable read inspired by folk tales and full of wit.

Was this review helpful?

the cover is what drew me in and glad I was able to read this, it had everything that I was hoping for from the description. It uses the Slavic folklore perfectly and had other elements that I wanted from in this fantasy novel. Genoveva Dimova did a great job in writing this and I enjoyed how it was shown in this world and story. It left me wanting to read more in this universe and was invested in the characters. I thought shadow-less witches were a interesting concept and glad I got to read this.

Was this review helpful?

Foul Days was an unexpected treat. Packed full of monsters from Bulgarian and Balkan folklore, this novel takes place in the twin cities of Chernograd and Belograd, divided in half by a magical wall. In one city, people live ordinary, safe lives and in the other, the people live amongst monsters year round, but during the 'Foul Days' right after New Years, there are more monsters than ever. Kosara, a witch and our intrepid heroine, has lost her shadow and magical powers during the least safe time of year, Teaming up with a cop from the non-magical city of Belograd, she gets pulled into a mystery that is greater than her own problems. This is the first book in a series, so not everything is resolved by the end of the book. My one criticism is the Monster Guide at the end would work better at the beginning, as it is written as an 'in world' text and knowledge of the creatures in the book is necessary to enjoy the plot fully.

Was this review helpful?

Thank you to Tor for the e-ARC!
I won't bore you lot with a lengthy review but all you need to know is it's pitched as if The Witcher was written by Naomi Novik which, even though I've read neither, I can say it's a fairly suitable pitch.
It has everything you want - a cool setting and flawed but over time loveable characters that you grow fond of despite them getting up to all sorts of shenanigans and not being the most moral people in the world. Kosara, the MC, is a grumpy black cat personified and Asen Bakharov, the police officer she's forced to team up with is your next book boyfriend.
I also enjoyed how the emphasis was more on Kosara growing as a character and the world around her changing and moving and her discovering things than the romance for example. She's flawed and brave and occasionally stupid but it makes you want to root for her even more. Asen is like a golden retriever in human form - he's incredibly loyal to those that help him and he proves to Kosara that trust can be good and can help and not always stab you in the back.
I loved, loved, LOVED the inclusion of various creatures from Slavic, and specifically Bulgarian, folklore. It was so cool to see some terms I know such as rusalkas and Zmey reminding me of Zmey Gorynich from Russian Fairy Tales but also learning about new creatures I hadn't heard of because they're not as popular or don't exist in Russian folklore/fairy tales.
I cannot wait for book two, this was absolutely amazing.

Was this review helpful?

Reminiscent of Schwab's Shades of Magic series with the creature-mystery vibes of the X-Files, FOUL DAYS takes us through a fast-paced, magic-infused race against time to save one witch from the shadow that she will soon become. Kosara's banter is funny, and her demons are more than metaphorical. A little chaotic, and highly enjoyable.

Was this review helpful?

I went into this one expecting it to be a fun monster-hunting romp. A palate-cleanser of sorts. It was that type of book in terms of the writing, which felt a little YA at times, and because it was quick and a little bit snarky. It also ended up being a much more substantial book than I anticipated, containing some pretty heavy themes. A huge focus of the book was the FMC's experience recovering from an abusive relationship, and ,in retrospect, I'm not sure how I missed that from the book's synopsis. The allegory is so blunt and in your face-- the entire book literally centers on the FMC taking her power back from her abuser-- but the topic was handled extremely well. The major characters were all very specific and well-developed humans (or in the abuser's case, an actual monster in human form), each dealing with and recovering from trauma. No token characters (or living tropes) to be found. I thought it was very well-done and a fantastic debut.

The book occurs over the course of 12 days, which made it very bingeable. There is ALOT that happens over the course of those days. A running joke throughout the novel is that the Witches Association has created this monster-hunting pamphlet to help everyone survive, but everyone is too lazy to read it. The pamphlet is included at the end of the book. I think I recommend reading that pamphlet before starting the book because it provided (at least for me) some spoiler-free and much needed monster-specific context that I felt was not fully fleshed out throughout the novel.

I saw someone else mention somewhere that they felt like this book is a perfect fit for people who enjoy YA but are outgrowing it. I definitely agree with that. Definitely check triggers, the author posted some to Goodreads. The book imho is definitely a bit dark.

Was this review helpful?

Foul Days is a great beginning to anew series. It has elements of Shadow and Bone or the October Daye series, but is not li j e either story. The world-building is enriching but efficient and the rension between the characters is palpable.

Was this review helpful?

This is a whimsical, fast-paced fantasy novel. This is the 1st book in the series (The Witch’s Compendium of Monsters). Kosara is a witch that lives in a magically confined city called Chernograd. She is forced to trade her powers to escape her ex, whom happens to be the Tsar of Monsters. The story is a race against time to get them back. She will also face some hard truths and will be forced to face many fears. There is even a “Monster Pamphlet,” at the end of the book (this town literally makes them for the citizens). An enjoyable read overall, I will definitely be reading the next book :)

Was this review helpful?

This breathtaking fantasy begins with a high-stakes card game, and by the end of it I was all in. The pacing is shockingly good. It’s always fast, yet it’s never rushed. I’m not sure how Dimova pulled that off, except ‘with extraordinary aplomb.’

Kosara is a compelling, sly, spiky, sympathetic witch, full of flaws and passions, hurts and hopes. She’s brave and clever==and just terribly, constantly outgunned! She’s such a compelling protagonist that of course she needs an equally-compelling foil. And damn, does she get one. The Zmey is proper monstrous. He’s more terrifying that the upirs, rusalkas, and kikimoras roaming the streets—and they’re all terrifying, particularly during the Foul Days …

The side characters are wonderful. Ruksana is great, and Asen is extremely well-drawn, as is his relationship with Kosara.

This is easily a five-star fantasy novel, and that would be true even without the world building. But holy Lamia the world building! It's brilliant. The magic is chef’s kiss, visceral and commanding. The city within a city is a character in itself. There’s a beautiful depth of culture that shines through every page.

Highly, highly recommended.

Was this review helpful?

This was not the kind if fantasy book I was expecting or necessarily wanting to read. This is very much a case where my expectations did not match the book. I wanted an escapist read and found this version of the world way to similar to our own. This book is compared to the Witcher series but I frankly did not understand the comparison.

I requested this one because it might be an upcoming title I would like to review on my Youtube Channel. However, after reading the first several chapters I have determined that this book does not suit my tastes. So I decided to DNF this one.

Was this review helpful?

In this captivating read, the author masterfully weaves a narrative that is both engaging and thought-provoking. Through a blend of richly developed characters and a meticulously crafted plot, the book offers a unique exploration of its central themes, inviting readers to immerse themselves in the story's depth and complexity. The narrative is paced perfectly, balancing moments of intense action with thoughtful reflection, ensuring that readers are hooked from the first page to the last. The author's ability to evoke emotion and create a vivid, immersive world is truly remarkable, making this book a must-read for anyone looking for an exceptional literary experience.

Beyond its compelling storyline, the book stands out for its insightful commentary on the human condition, weaving philosophical questions into the fabric of its narrative. The author's skillful use of language not only enriches the text but also elevates the reader's experience, offering new perspectives on familiar themes. Whether it's the intricate dynamics of relationships, the exploration of identity, or the confrontation with ethical dilemmas, this book tackles complex issues with sensitivity and intelligence. It's a testament to the power of storytelling to illuminate the nuances of life, making it a valuable addition to any book lover's collection. Regardless of genre, this is a work that resonates on multiple levels, affirming the enduring impact of well-crafted literature.

Was this review helpful?

The premise completely grabbed me. Chapter 1 opens so strongly. But then it falls flat, with world-building and exposition dumps, which continue on into chapter 2 (I stopped partway through at 5%). I think this will be a solid three to four stars with five for the right readers.

Thank you to NetGalley and Tor for the ARC.

Was this review helpful?

This book was fun - a good choice for a beach or plane read.

The protagonist is a witch living in a city that is an enclave within a bigger city. The bigger city constructed the wall surrounding the smaller one to contain monsters, and those who were within the enclave now have to just live with the monsters as the wall cannot be crossed easily. A visitor from the outside world persuades her to give him her shadow in exchange for passage, which she agrees to because her ex (the “Tsar of Monsters”) is hunting her. But having no shadow means she has no power, and is going to become a wraith. Recognizing that she was coerced, she seeks to reclaim her shadow, accompanied by a police officer of the outer city.

The blurb said it was for fans of Naomi Novik and the Witcher - Novik because of the Slavic inspiration, and the Witcher because of all the monsters running around. I’d throw in a comparison to China Miéville’s *The City and the City*, for obvious reasons to anyone who’s read that one.

But I call it a beach read because it was fun, but not a book I’m going to be thinking about when my mind wanders. It felt like the author couldn’t quite decide if she wanted to make it a modern urban fantasy or something more Medieval/Renaissance-ish, and ended up sort of splitting the difference in a way that kind of gave me expectations-whiplash. The dialogue felt stilted, at times, and the characters weren’t as developed as they could have been (a LOT of things happened because the protagonist and/or the cop picked up the idiot ball).

The best done parts were the parts with the “Tsar of Monsters.” Not only was he a good and interesting antagonist, but the author did a *great* job of writing about the difficulties of escaping an abusive relationship when your abuser is a literal monster. It was well done enough that I find myself hoping that Dimova wasn’t writing from experience too much, and if she was, good for her for escaping.

Was this review helpful?

Thank you Netgalley, Genoveva Dimova, and Tor Publishing Group/Tor Books for the eARC!

A solid debut. Definite The Witcher vibes--it's fast-paced, solidly written, and absolutely jam-packed with monsters crawling from every corner. I really enjoyed this. Also pleased to hear that the series will be coming sooner rather than later, because this series will be very binge-able for people. My biggest gripe with this book was the lack of emotion. I can't really pinpoint why--maybe the prose? While flashy, dark, and humorous, I didn't connect with any sort of deep-level emotion. I felt it was laid out to me, instead of actually experiencing it myself. That's nitpicky, however, and I thought this was a fantastic start to a promising duology.

Was this review helpful?