Member Reviews

I feel like this will be an unpopular opinion and that’s fine!

The book is told from one point-of-view and it comes from Kosara. She is a witch who ends up losing her shadow to stay away from a monster and then goes on a journey to get it back. I thought that it was an interesting plot from the beginning, but it does end up slowing down and it made it to where I had to push through this book. I don’t think that it was really due to the plot but more or less the writing. It is meant to be humorous and lighthearted for the most part, but there are dark tones to the book as well. It just didn’t work for me, but I can see others really enjoying the writing.

The plotline does deal with domestic violence/grooming. It was an interesting topic to include but I think that it needs to be said at the beginning of the book because it could trigger some.

The world is very cool with learning about the different monsters and why the towns are split and what happens on the other side of the wall. I do wish that the characters had been more flushed out though.

Overall, this was okay but I was just hoping for more from it

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📚Fouls Days
🖋️Author: Genoveva Dimova
🗂️Genre: Adult Fantasy
📆Publication date: June 25
📝Pages: 362



As a witch in the walled city of Chernograd, Kosara has plenty of practice taming rusalkas, fighting kikimoras, and brewing lycanthrope repellent. There’s only one monster Kosara can’t defeat: her ex the Zmey, known as the Tsar of Monsters. She’s defied him one too many times, and now he’s hunting her. Betrayed to him by someone close to her, Kosara’s only hope is to trade her shadow―the source of her powers―for illegal passage across the Wall to Belograd, where monsters can’t follow.

Life in Belograd should be sweet, but Kosara soon develops a fast-acting version of the deadly wasting sickness that stalks shadowless witches―and only reclaiming her magic can cure her. To trace her shadow, she’ll have to team up with the suspiciously honorable detective investigating the death of the smuggler who brought her across the Wall.

Even worse than working with the cops is that all the clues point in a single direction: one of the Zmey’s monsters has found a crack in the Wall, and Kosara’s magic is now in the Zmey’s hands.

The clock is ticking, the hunt is on, and Kosara’s priorities should be clear―but is she the hunter or the hunted? And in a city where everyone is out for themselves, who can Kosara trust to assist her in outwitting the man―the Monster―she’s never been able to escape alone?

Content Warning: Physical and psychological abuse by a partner, violence, murder, arrest and imprisonment, drugging

I loved the world-building, especially Slavic Folklore with the fantasy elements. Kosara is a truly amazing book hero that i need to see more of her. The writing and the pacing of the story was very good as well. Can’t wait to read the next one.

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Oooh this was wonderfully dark and magical and strange. So much fun! An incredibly enjoyable read full of monsters, mayhem, pirates (well one pirate), magical compasses, and evil kings. Just such a great use of folklore and imagery to create a unique and memorable world. The villain was truely repugnant, and I loved that Dimova's story was as much about recovering from/taking your life back from an abusive situation as it was about fighting physical monsters.

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As a fan of folklore and myth, this book was an instant homerun for my personal taste. Not only do we get a dark, witchy, atmosphere; we also encounter monsters lurking in shadows, brooding cop side-kicks, and questionable friends. This story is rich in Bulgarian lore as the author shares in her own words, and she truly seems to love the narrative which comes through in her writing.

I was enthralled by the story, the struggle of our main character Kosara, who is likeable and still flawed enough to not be overly perfect or "the chosen one", and the restless spirits of the walled city. I enjoyed the mix of urban fantasy meets Naomi Novik fairy tale-esque writing. I found moments of humor, emotion, contemplation, and frustration (all in well crafted amounts).

I feel as thought Ms. Dimova has set us up well and established a firm foundation for an almost "buddy cop" monster hunting team and I am here for it. I can not wait to see where the characters go and what sort of mischief they get into next.

I want to thank NetGalley and the publisher for allowing me to receive an advance reader copy in exchange for an honest review. I loved this book and could not put it down. I thought it was well crafted, entertaining, and absolutely worth the read.

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Foul Days has a great atmosphere. From page one, you can feel the cold of Eastern Europe in the dead of winter. You can feel the closeness of all the characters inside the bar on New Year's Eve. I loved the beginning of the book—how the author described so much—but then it became sketchy. I never fully got a good idea about what Kosara looked like—nothing. I know the Zmey had blue eyes. It was almost like looking through a glass at a movie; you can sort of see the people, but you really can't make out their faces or features. I did, however, enjoy the story and I will continue with the series. I really want to know what happens next.

Thank you, NetGalley and Tor Books, for the eArc. These opinions are my own.

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I really like Slavic folklore books, especially when they involve monsters or creatures, so this was a hit with me! I enjoyed following Kosara's journey to reclaim her shadow and exploring the world with her. I'm kinda sad it's a duology so I have to wait to see what happens next!

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I honestly really wanted to enjoy this book, but I do not feel like I connected to it in the way I was hoping to. Kosara’s character is really underdeveloped when the story first starts and then the character building that tries to happen to get the reader caught up I don’t quite feel works. Kosara continuously deems herself a weak witch throughout this book, mediocre at best. Yet her mentor and others view her as being way beyond the average witch. I also felt that the story dragged on in places and that it kept going once it had reached a good place to wrap up. Overall, there was nothing massively wrong with this book, it just didn’t quite resonate with me like I hoped it would.
Thank you to Tor Publishing Group and Netgalley for allowing me to read an advance copy of this title.

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The first in a duology, Foul Days is about the people in our lives who bring shadows to our days and nights. Who seek to cloud our days in the big and small ways. Foul Days begins with a bang and doesn't let up. While it's certainly easy to fall into this magical world. Dimova's debut is about shadow magic and full of magical creatures. I ended up enjoying the themes the most. The ideas of power, exploitation, and labor.

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Witches, monsters and a murder mystery really sounds good to me when I read the premise.
Suffice to say, this was an enjoyable debut novel!

The world building is fascinating, an island was separated by an enormous wall that divided two cities.
It’s interesting to see how contrast one city compare to the other, Chernograd city was over-run by various types of monsters every new year – known as Foul Days, while the people in Belograd city can celebrate new year with great fanfare.

The plot started right at the beginning and I really enjoy following Kosara trying to get back her shadow along with her new friend – Asen, the detective who is following a murder investigation which brings them to work together to defeat the same monster.

The author did a great job in portraying just how difficult it is to get out of a toxic relationship and even if you do, some of the memories still linger just like Kosara and the main antagonist, the Tsar of Monsters.

I thought this was a standalone but imagine my surprise to find that things are far from over since they still have another ‘monster’ to hunt!

Overall, for a debut novel this was a great start. Great storyline and world building manage to captivate me from the beginning until the end.
I’m looking forward to read the next book in this series!

⚠️ 𝐓𝐖: toxic relationship, violence

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4.5 Stars

In Chernograd, New Year's Eve isn't a time of merriment and celebration. It's the beginning of Foul Days - the most dangerous time of year, when monsters descend upon the city and its residents hold up behind warded walls clutching their talismans and spells ready on their lips. It would be awfully terrible timing to gamble away the source of your power, especially if the Tsar of Monsters just came knocking...  

*Note - The "Monster Pamphlet" that is distributed by the Chernograd Witch and Warlock Association is located at the back of the book, a perfect reference for each monster as you read!

I'll admit I'm not familiar with Slavik folklore, but this was an utter witchy delight. This world was so dark and fun, and I appreciated that there wasn't an overwhelming wold dump to get bogged down in - right to the action without "filler" chunks! My interest was piqued instantly, and it held my attention the entire time - I didn't want to put it down!

We've got quirky flawed characters that have been burned (quite literally) by their past mistakes and are haunted (again, literally) by them throughout the story. I was completely charmed by both Kosara & Asen, Genoveva does a phenomenal job of tossing in a dash of humor and mystery around these characters that has you anxious to find out more. 

We were given a teensy glimpse of Kosara's teacher - Vila, who is wise beyond her witchy years. When battling monsters in Chernograd, or obstacles in your own life - I felt Vila's words of wisdom should be echoed for all to hear: "The only way to defeat him is to face that little, horrible voice in your head telling you that you're not good enough and force it to shut the f*ck up." 

This is not romance-heavy, but I fully support this as I think that would have been more of an unnecessary distraction. This magical, mysterious, monster-filled adventure somehow gave me cozy vibes at the end. I'm honestly shocked this is a debut novel, I'm already looking forward to the second book - and hopefully many more from Genoveva Dimova. 

Thank you NetGalley and Tor Books for the e-ARC!

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I loved this original fantasy novel. The characters were well written, realistic and relatable. The world building was handled masterfully as well as the different types of monsters and other creatures. The plot was fast paced and original. I could not put it down and cannot wait for the sequel.

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I thoroughly enjoyed this folklore-inspired fantasy! Kosara is from Chernograd, a place where monsters roam. Kosara is a witch, one with a bit of a past with the king of the monsters the Zmey. and during this year's Foul Days she has made him angry, so angry that she trades her shadow, the source of her power to get her over the wall where the Zmey can't find her. She immediately regrets her decision for many reasons, one is that she actually misses her home, but second and most importantly she catches the disease that witches with no shadow catch, and she needs it back ASAP.
Thankfully she is stubborn and resourceful and won't stop until she finds the guy she sold her shadow to, only that doesn't go as planned, and she ends up with a hunky policeman that wants to catch a killer and is going to stick to Kosara like glue until he catches them. There are twists and turns, betrayals, humor, and a smidge of romantic feelings, which I can't wait to see play out. And I didn't want to put it down.
This book was so much fun! it was dark and dealt with trauma, but I had such a good time reading it. Not only was I glued to the pages waiting to see how Kosara and Asen were going to pull of their plans, but the monsters were so fascinating! I loved learning all about them, and their weaknesses, and even getting to chat with a couple of them.

When I was turning the last page, I was left wanting more. Not that it didn't give me everything I wanted from it, but I wasn't ready to leave this world and Kosara behind. I'm so excited that the next book will be released this year, and I won't have to wait long to see what's in store for Kosara and Chernograd next.

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I went into *Foul Days* a bit blind, and what a wonderful surprise this dark fantasy was! Full of Slavic lore and monstrous creatures—*Foul Days* provides an excellent and captivating adventure that I couldn’t put down.

Kosara is Chernogradian witch—and like others in Chernograd, she is trapped in a dangerous life behind a wall intended to keep monsters from the rest of the world. When Kosara is tricked into losing her witch’s shadow, the source of her magic, she finds herself across the wall for the first time. Desperate to get it back before the shadow sickness—the disease that befalls all witches who lose their shadow—comes for her life, she hunts down the man who took her shadow only to find him brutally murdered. After a mysterious policeman brings her in for questioning in the thief’s death, the unlikely pair embark together on a journey back to Chernograd, both looking for answers. Kosara will have to decide who to trust—herself included—if she’s going to get her shadow back, let alone survive.

>> ❤️What I loved: Kosara’s character development is thoughtful and complex, particularly the exploration of grief and self-doubt. The side-characters, monstrous and human alike, are entertaining and equally captivating. Excellent writing with surprisingly amusing dialogue gave this a bit of dark humor to go along with the dark fantasy. Additionally, the super slow burn romance (that I am very invested in!!) paired with a fast-moving plot gives *Foul Days* a great balance and rounds out the storytelling.
>> 💔What I didn’t love: At times I felt the pacing was a little all over the map—with some big things happening rather quickly—but this ultimately didn’t detract much from the story for me personally.

Fans of more monstrous fantasy stories like *The Cruel Prince, Shadow and Bone*, or *Emily Wilde’s Encyclopaedia of Faeries* should definitely pick up *Foul Days.* Book #2 is scheduled for later this year, and I cannot wait to see what happens next.

**Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐/5 (4.5-5)**

**Acknowledgments & Disclaimers**
✨ Thank you to NetGalley, Genoveva Dimova, and Tor Publishing, for providing an ARC and the opportunity to share an honest review of this book.
✨ All thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are my own.
✨ My reviews and ratings strive to evaluate books within their own age-demographic and genre.

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thank you to netgalley and the publisher for this e-arc! 3.5 stars, overall a fun lil slavic fantasy read!

usually, if a main character annoys me I tend to have a hard time connecting with them and it makes reading a slog because I'm kinda fed up with them all the time. kosara is, and I mean this in the best way possible, a little stupid and usually that annoys me to no end, but I actually really enjoyed her! while she does make dumb, impulsive decisions, it's obvious that's she's actually clever and smart - she just has the unholy combination of bad luck and poor decision making - and I think this is what really helped me enjoy her character. I was rooting for her the entire time despite these poor choices and she made me laugh often. her and asen have a funny little dynamic and they're both kind of silly and stupid and smart all at once - I do think this is one of those relationships that could've easily been platonic, however, and while I don't mind the romance, it would've been refreshing to see their relationship develop that way and not into romance. I've also been loving the trend towards 'nontypical' mythology, so all of the slavic mythology and monsters was super interesting to see - easily one of the best parts about reading fantasy is seeing how different authors choose to develop and interpret the same subjects, and I think dimova made her world interesting and relatively unique. the pacing was pretty quick - we jump right into the action and don't really stop, which I enjoyed overall but made some parts feel rushed. this made some parts that should've been emotional and deep feel kind of shallow, so at times, I couldn't really connect to kosara because her feelings were kind of just skimmed over in favor of advancing the plot. overall, I mostly enjoyed this novel - it was a fun little read, but I think I'll wait and see how the second one is received before I decide to continue on with this series.

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Real Rating: 3.5 / 5 Stars

Foul Days was a book I decided early on the year that I wanted to read and was one of my few exceptions of requesting a book that started a new fantasy series (that I knew of, at the time). I liked the cover and the blurb a whole lot (Eastern European fantasies are a weakness).

Foul Days isn’t an outstanding book one for a series, but it’s not half-bad, either. Genoveva Dimova is an excellent worldbuilder and plotter. Her characters are interesting and her monsters are terrifying. The thing is: the machine they’re all working in isn’t oiled all that well. All the components are there in separate pieces, ready to use, but while reading this book it felt a lot like Dimova couldn’t bind everything together very well. That caused certain scenes to feel a little overwrought (like where did all these feelings come from all of a sudden?) or others to feel a little anticlimactic (didn’t you just say… never mind, apparently).

I love almost any fantasy that will give me some Eastern European vibes, and this one gives not only supernatural beings but also folklore in the forms of customs, rituals, and herblore. The setting of a walled-off town that’s somehow reminiscent of both an early 20th-century ghetto and Chernobyl at the same time is freaking fantastic in so many ways.

While Foul Days on its own isn’t the most fantastic book one of a fantasy series I’ve ever read, it has me intrigued enough I really want to continue onto the next book to see what happens. It’s an interesting story and I’d like to see where it goes!

I was provided a copy of this title by NetGalley and the author. All thoughts, opinions, views, and ideas expressed herein are mine and mine alone. Thank you.

File Under: Book Series/Fantasy/Fantasy Series/Romantasy

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This book is for monster lovers~ I am not well-versed in Slavic folklore and I think that actually made me love this story all the more! Foul Days by Genoveva Dimova follows Kosara, a witch, on her search to reclaim her shadow. A journey filled with mystery, magic, and monsters!

I adored learning about all of the monsters and the different ways to "best" them. I appreciated that there is no lore dumping, but, instead, we are thrown into the thick of a world in which monsters run rampant. I really felt immersed in the world, like a Belogradian in over their head (in the best way! And I promise if you read this book this line will make sense 😂).

This book was snappy and fast-paced with a fun hint of humor amidst a dark, monstrous world. There is also a small slow burn romance, which is a nice piece of the whole story. And a villain who I am super interested in learning more about in book 2!

Did I mention how much I loved the monsters? The monster compendium at the end was a lovely touch. Just absolutely *chef's kiss* 🧑‍🍳 😘

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I was honored to be selected as an e-ARC reader for Foul Days by Tor Books. This book is rooted in Slavic folklore, including a certain hut standing on chicken legs. The Foul Days start in the walled city of Chernograd on New Year’s Eve and monsters are allowed to roam free. Kosara is a fire witch who considers herself to be mediocre. In a split second decision rooted in fear, she gives her shadow, the source of her magic, to a stranger in exchange for safe passage outside of the wall to the city of Belgrad. Kosara finds herself in the middle of a murder and gains the attention of Bakharov, the young detective determined to catch the killer. Kosara brings Bakharov back to Chernograd with her, as they are both looking for the same person - his murderer and the person who has her shadow. I found this book hard to put down and if you like magic, monsters, and unique folklore, this story is definitely for you. I can’t wait to see what happens between Kosara and Bakharov in Book 2!

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3.5 stars.

Foul Days follows Kosara, a witch living in the walled city of Chernograd, the city of monsters. As a witch, Kosara works to protect the people of Chernograd from monsters year-round, and especially during the Foul Days, the first twelve days of the year when the monsters are most active and some of the scarier monsters are able to access the mortal realm. Kosara's life changes drastically, however, when in a moment of panic on New Year's Eve, Kosara trades her shadow (the source of her powers) to a mysterious stranger in order to escape Chernograd and her abusive ex – the Tsar of Monsters. In order to get her shadow back and return home to Chernograd, Kosara teams up with Detective Asen Bhakarov who is investigating the smuggling ring that the mysterious stranger was involved with. The duo have just a few days to catch a smuggler and retrieve Kosara's shadow, or else Kosara will turn into a shadow herself.

I had a lot of fun with Foul Days. It's full of monsters and magic and witty banter between Kosara and Asen. And, if you thought "Hey, this sounds like it has a romance in it," you'd be correct.

The pacing near the beginning of the story is a little odd and jarring because there are several "And suddenly... this!" kind of moments in the first 25% where the status quo keeps suddenly changing before we have a chance to get to grips with the world. However, after about 25% everything settles out, and I felt like the rest of the book was paced really well. The characters were progressing their investigation without it feeling too simple or easy, and it also didn't feel like the book dragged at any point.

The other thing I think is important to know about the book's setup is that while the comps are The Witcher and Naomi Novik, I don't think those comps do this book justice. I went in expecting a vaguely medieval-y fantasy world and tons of monster hunting, but this feels like it sits somewhere solidly between the 1920s and 1950s in terms of technology. There are trains and cars and phones and voice recorders and guns and forensic science. So, that caught me off guard, but once I understood what kind of era this was set in, I thought the technology fit in with the magic in really interesting ways.

While some of the red herrings were really obvious, I really enjoyed the way the mystery plot unraveled throughout the book. The clues felt logical, and the investigation put Kosara and Asen into some interesting dangers and difficult situations that they had to use their ingenuity to escape. As a result, I think the stakes of the book felt significant, and I was really rooting for Kosara and Asen to succeed. It also felt like no one was safe and like the characters were taking real risks in order to reach their goals. The monsters that they faced were really interesting and creepy, and I liked the variety of methods they had to use to survive the different kinds of monsters. Overall, I think the plot is a ton of fun. The book is also clearly discussing grooming and domestic abuse, which, while a little on the nose, was generally tackled in a compassionate and respectful way. I liked this discussion, but feel it could have been more developed.

My primary issue with the book has to do with the characters. While I liked both Kosara and Asen, it felt a little like the book wanted Kosara to be in the right no matter what she did. This made the romance feel very underdeveloped and undeserved to me. Basically, Kosara heavily distrusts Asen throughout the book despite him giving her basically no reason to suspect him of treachery the way she does. Her primary argument is that he's keeping information from her, but the information he's keeping is well within his right to keep. It's personal and doesn't significantly impact their ability to investigate together. However, the methods Kosara uses to try and get him to talk are invasive and ill-advised at best. She repeatedly crosses his personal boundaries he has (very clearly) set, and she takes advantage of his kindness and eagerness to help. They do eventually have a discussion about their relationship in which they both apologize, but it felt very surface level. Kosara in particular apologizes for her actions without addressing the root cause of the issues between them; I'm unconvinced that this relationship is healthy because it seems like Kosara would be likely to continue disrespecting Asen's boundaries. This romance was a hard sell for me.

That said, I do think this book raises some interesting conversations about abuse and power, and I think that the plot itself is fun. (Why is Blackbeard here, though? That I don't understand.) The villain is really scary and unsettling, and I liked the way the ending wrapped up. We get a tiny bit of a cliffhanger to lead us into book 2, and I'm really interested to see where Genoveva Dimova will take this story in the duology's conclusion. Overall, I think this is worth picking up, and I will definitely be reading book 2!

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I quite enjoyed the storytelling in this book, it had a fantastic setting and interesting lore with a great character to follow. Kosara is a witch in Chernograd when the Foul Days begin where the monsters roam free for 12 days, and the Zmey is back to claim his bride. Caught in a corner, Kosara makes a hasty decision to accept help from a stranger in exchange for her shadow, leaving her vulnerable without her magic. This starts an adventure with monsters, mobsters, hunters, and curses.

I love the recent emergence of Slavic based stories and I had a lot of fun with Foul Days, it was atmospheric but also very cozy? Mysterious, dark, magical, yet very easy to follow. The monster compendium at the end of the book was a nice addition in the world building, I’m looking forward to reading the next book in this series!

Thank you Tor Books for the review copy.

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I really enjoyed this!

The setting was different than your typical fantasy, which I loved. I enjoyed all of the different monsters and the very matter of fact, not particularly grimdark tone of the book despite a frankly quite grim circumstance. In fact, I think one of my favorite elements was that, even though there is this city right on the other side of the wall without monsters, many of those who make it to that "safety" actually want to come back home. The theme that the monsters are also their family, in some instances, or just a part of their daily lives was really interesting. I really liked the main character and enjoyed the dive into living with a past abusive relationship, her lingering feelings of guilt and inadequacy, and her growth during the book. The one thing I didn't love was the hint of romance. I like romantasy but not every book needs a romantic subplot, especially if it's going to go undeveloped. I appreciate that we didn't go very far with the potential love interest because it didn't feel like it would have made sense with the main character's arc. The ending works for a standalone but also leaves a lot to explore in a sequel.

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