The Night-Bird's Feather

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Pub Date 15 Sep 2022 | Archive Date 15 Feb 2023

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Valentina dreams the future and the past. One day, she will duel the lord of death. She will leave his lands in ruin, and a portion of her heart behind. Another day, she will return, to study at Death’s Bleak Academy. Today ... she is alone, her family bound in enchanted sleep, her home ringed round by a witch’s guard of a crows. In her dreams she’s found the first hope of fighting back; has set her hand upon the true thing that is behind all things, that undergirds all things, the treasure that is the worth of all the world ... but it is a treasure that belongs to Death, and Death is a jealous god.

One day, her great-great-granddaughter Aprosinya will grow up on stories of her deeds—stories of witches and curses, clockwork come to life, duels in the dark beyond the world, and the risen dead. Stories that will come to her as finished things ... but they are not. The Bleak Academy has business with her family yet, and the things of fairy-tale too; and Valentina and the witch yet haunt her dreams.

Vita Nostra meets Spirited Away in this bold, heartening Slavic-inspired fantasy saga by Jenna Moran, where attention and care hold the world in place; where beauty, wonder, and terror may yet be found beyond the lands of life. Pick up a copy of the Night-Bird’s Feather and let its story set you free.

Valentina dreams the future and the past. One day, she will duel the lord of death. She will leave his lands in ruin, and a portion of her heart behind. Another day, she will return, to study at...

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Average rating from 43 members

Featured Reviews

this was a beautifully done Slavic-inspired fantasy saga, I loved the strong imagery that was used in this book. Jenna Katerin Moran has a great writing style and it worked really well for a fantasy novel. The characters were beautifully done and they were what I expected from the story. I enjoyed the time-period used and loved the plot of the book. Overall I had a great time reading this and look forward to reading more from Jenna Katerin Moran.

"One day, the Headmaster of the Bleak Academy suddenly realized that he had a daughter. She was a creature of flesh and bone and hair, but also, a creature of fire. He turned to her. He said, “On this matter there is some division."

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Thank you NetGalley for a chance to read The Night-Bird’s Feather.

This book was so good. I was hooked from the start and loved how the book was written. I really enjoyed the characters and the plot. This story is unique but the writing style is what really sets it apart for me. I plan to read this again in the fall.

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While I really wanted to love this story, the writing style just wasn't for me. It was hard to follow and stay engaged throughout the story. I often had to go back and reread passages in order to understand what the characters were talking about. The concept is unusual which is what drew me to the story, and while I think that it may be for some, it just wasn't meant for me,

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I received a copy of The Night-Bird’s Feather from netgalley in return for an honest review.

This book twists together heavy ideas of existence and other heady ideas with banter between characters that often have your head spinning. This is the sort of book that you isolate yourself in your room, maybe with some light simple music playing in the background, and no other chances of interruption. If you’re like me, then you should take copious breaks to walk around and just think about what you just read (which since my phone likes to crash my netgalley app and bring me back to the beginning of these long chapters and thus I had to sit down and read at least the entire chapter in one sitting).

In other words, read this when you want to delve into a book and really absorb it. If you try to read it quickly it will probably give you book indigestion. This would not be the book I suggest to get you out of a book slump.

That said, what is this book about? This book follows the life, and influence of the woman Valentina as she starts to explore her powers when her entire family is carved out and put to sleep by a heron witch who she then starts to connect with when the witch realizes she needs to help keep the family alive in order to continue to live in the families’ dreams. From that experience, she learns to resent the Headmaster of Bleak’s Academy, who turns out to be Death and who doesn’t want to see her anytime soon after that confrontation so she has a long life…

And from there the stories continue, some of them with her as the central character, and sometimes other people taking the stage with her as the sage woman (almost the witch character) that people seek to help with their problems. My favorite stories were the ones with the agoraphobic vampire. I thought that her second story brought up an interesting point, that I wasn’t sure was well explored, or was well explored but I lost in the banter and confusing prose, and the moving ending.

Overall, I really liked the story, or collections of stories about her life, her family, and her town, and I feel like I need to read it again to really get my head around some of the ideas. Which I don’t know if I missed it because of how it was written or my headache brain. I can say that at one point it made me really want to read some Terry Pratchett, especially some of his Death books or Tiffany Aching books, so it had that sort of feeling to it, but not quite that accessible if that makes sense.

It does have that fairytale feeling where characters decide to do something, or weird problems happen and they have easy ways to solve it (throw the man out of their house) but they feel they shouldn’t do that because it wouldn’t be polite so they go to Valentina or have to go through a set of strange tasks. They usually do this while talking philosophical and bantering at each other. So, it’s enjoyable, but do not read while watching the TV (as I’ve heard some crazy people do), or watching children, or doing anything but reading. At least that’s my advice. 😊

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I really didn't love this book. I wanted to and tried but it just wasn't for me. The premise is unique, with a family tasked with protecting dreams falling prey to a witch that cursed them into eternal sleep. It just was difficult to engage for me personally.

I was granted an advance review copy in exchange for my honest review.

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This books feels like your brain was extracted from your head, wrapped in a sherpa blanket, gently tucked into a basket, then sent floating down a lazy river.

Absolutely nothing in this story makes sense and I cannot say enough good things about it. This reads like what disassociating feels like. It has a feeling that's like a mix of nonsense, folklore and child's bedtime story.

This book was much longer than I expected, and I think it was a good one to read in small doses.

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I am not gonna lie, the thing that had attracted me to this book was the cover because it sort of reminded me of constellations. The premise sounds interesting, but to my dismay, however it has very long chapters, it would have been nicer if the chapters have been divided into smaller chunks. After reading about 7% of the story I finally decided to let it go because due to its pacing I don't think it's kind of the book that I would enjoy.

Thank you, NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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The latest novel from Jenna Moran is more like a cycle of short stories from the history of a family of dream magicians, heavily influenced by Slavic fairy tales. In this book, as a young girl, Valentina is menaced by a terrifying witch who has already cast her entire family into enchanted sleep. With no one to turn to, Valentina makes contact in her dreams with her future descendent, Aprosinya. But Aprosinya, who knows Valentina as her family's famous and powerful ancestress, has her own problems, feels like she should be the one begging for assistance.

Over the course of the novel, we trace Valentina's life over several centuries of the history of the enigmatic community called Town, as the sun rises for the first time, Progress begins and later ends, and Valentina grows into an unstoppable legendary sorceress while continuing to grapple with depression and dark thoughts.

This novel deals with questions about perception, understanding of the self, and similar themes. It can be pretty heavy, although the author's ever-present whimsy keeps things from getting too dark to handle. If your tolerance for whimsy is low, this won't be the book for you, but if you're looking for a story with a unique voice and a deep interest in the proper way to make jam, this could be exactly what you want.

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This book started so well and the concept and the lore behind it is fascinating, but I found myself growing bored and restless with the lack of direction around the 40% mark and decided to DNF.
The prose was beautiful, but the dialogue was jarring and confusing. I’d start enjoying myself again, and then the dialogue would take me right back out of the story again.
I’m sure this kind of book is for someone, but that someone is unfortunately not me.

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trigger warning
<spoiler> being exiled, being poisoned, torture </spoiler>

There is a place outside of space and time called Fortitude, a city full of witches where every family has their own speciality. The Sosunovs are dabbling in dream magic, and Valentina might be the most powerful family member yet.

This is not really what you would expect from a novel, it's a weird in-between of short stories and longer narrative. Not even every story is about the same protagonist, but they all come together, eventually.

The magic in here reminded me a lot of that in Vita Nostra, more concerned with probabilities and perception than fireballs and colourful sparks.

It's a very, very slow read. Characterdriven and in places metaphysical, and it certainly was the wrong choice for a readathon as busy as G's Magical Readathon. Also it's one of those where I am glad to have it in my brain, but the way there was hard. I feel myself craving short, easy reads now.

All this means that this book will only appeal to a very specific kind of reader. Oh, and I am less sure than usual about the trigger warnings in here. Make sure to check multiple reviews for those.

The arc was provided by the publisher.

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Thank you NetGalley and Jenna Moran for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.

Valentina’s family is plagued by a cruel witch who feeds off of their dreams and keeps them in a comatose state. It is up to Valentina to protect and care for her family while dealing with the witch. Aprosinya, Valentina’s great-great granddaughter grows up hearing of her tales and business with The Bleak Academy. Aprosinya and Valentina’s stories are woven together in this Slavic-inspired tale.

The premise of this story has great bones. It does move at a slower pace and the chapters are very long. Having shorter chapters throughout the book would have made it much easier to read.

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Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for an eARC of The Night-Bird's Feather in exchange for my honest review!

Everything about this book was right up my alley and the cover art is beautiful. I also took a Slavic Vampires course in college so, I felt well prepared to get into the world building of this book. The Night's Bird Feather is set in a unique world with plenty of magic and creatures. But, what I like most about this book that it is mainly character driven.

This story structure was also another reason why I really enjoyed this story. We get to read different narratives and short stories throughout the course of the book. And it all comes together at the end for a concise story.

That being said, the only issue I had was that the pacing is very slow. It took me awhile to finish the book. And it's not the type of book you can finish in one sitting. However, if you are looking for a book to read in October to fit the spooky vibe, I would definitely give this a try!

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Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for an eARC of The Night-Bird’s Feathers in exchange for my honest review!

This was a difficult read for me that I really wanted to enjoy. I DNF’d at 25% mostly because it was the third time I had put the book down. The premise is so interesting but I just couldn’t pick up on it. I feel like this is one of those books that is a better read with a physical copy rather than an ebook. That way I could flip back and forth and annotate more.

I’m still giving this book 3 stars because there is so much promise there. The writing is beautiful and it has a very unique voice. It really feels like it’s a folk story being told to you. My difficulty while reading came from sections became almost too abstract. This is definitely a book I’d come back to to try again!

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Unfortunately this book was not for me. The concept itself is so unique and it being Slavic inspired is also amazing. However the writing style fell a bit flat for me, and I was really confused for the majority of this book. I’m giving it 3 stars for the uniqueness and the fact that other people might really enjoy this.

Thank you so much to the publisher and net galley for the ebook in exchange for my review.

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I really wanted to like this, not only because of the cover but because I'm trying to diversify my genres read and this premise sounded really interesting. However, unfortunately, this wasn't the book for me. I found myself confused most of the time and this prevented me from being fully engaged with what was going on.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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*3.5 ⭐️⭐️⭐️

I really wanted to love this book, I really did. Unfortunately that’s not what happened. The cover was what at first sucked me in as it seems dark and mysterious, and the book started out strong. It was giving creepy/witchy vibes, and I was loving it, and then I was enjoying it, then getting through it, and by the end I was wondering when are these chapters going to end??
This book is SO. LONG.
And not in a good way, I feel like %40 of it doesn’t even have to do with the plot and just describing things. I just think I couldn’t get into the writing, the story was good if it didn’t have so much filler around it.
Thank you NetGalley for giving me an arc of this book for an honest review.

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The Night-Bird's Feather, in its opening parts, reminds me in some way of a joining of Puella Magi Madoka Magica with Russian folklore with a lot of philosophical discussions (seriously, don't read it while trying to multitask).

The only complaint that I have is that if you're like me, and you love lore and you love knowing everything about specific characters and what they are, or if you are just as obsessed with seeing meaning and metaphor and the whole life lesson in everything, you tend to get a bit caught up with the whole search for meaning in it. Ie combing through server messages and your corebooks of Chuubo's which you've just never had the time to read through fully for a character who appears in like five pages.

Oh, and the philosophy and ideology, while pretty interesting to contemplate, can get a bit hard to wrap one's head around, with the constant debates on what things Are and what things Aren't or if something is even a Thing or deserves to be.

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DNF at 12%;

This book intrigued me as soon as I saw the cover and read the description. However, once I started to actually read it, I found myself disengaged. This book is over 500 pages long and only has 8 chapters. The flow of the narrative felt choppy and I constantly felt myself being told what was happening rather than being shown. The lore and magic system were interesting but it was taking too long to get to any sort of rising action worth my time to read. If this book was about half as long as it is, I may have taken the time to finish it, but with the length and extremely slow pacing I, unfortunately, cannot subject myself to reading something I have not enjoyed.

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I have been thinking about this book for a few days now, ever since I finished it, and frankly, I've still got no idea how to review it. I loved this book, and yet it is so hard to describe and to make sense of what my thoughts actually are. Something about the themes of this book really spoke to me, but I am struggling to put it into words.

The Night-Bird's Feather follows many characters and is mainly set in a place called Fortitude. Fortitude is a town that exists in its own reality it seems, and the story spans a great deal of time, but it also really shows that time is but a construct. It starts with a girl, Valentina, and the heron-witch who curses her family into an enchanted sleep, which leaves Valentina to take care of her entire family. Valentina is from the Sosunov family, famous for their dream magic, and the story starts before there was the Sun in the world. The story is not only of Valentina, it is also of Death and his dominion, his daughter; Valentina's great-great-granddaughter Aprosinya (and even more characters). It is told through a series of fairytale-esque stories that seem less connected in the beginning, but start to link together the further you read.

The pacing of the story is quite slow, especially in the beginning, and I had slight issues with it until I got into the rhythm of the story. The book had a way of making me feel like my brain was scrambled at some points, with its dialogue that often took the most convoluted routes and sometimes felt nonsensical. I mean this in the best way, I enjoyed it a lot. I loved the dialogue for the most part, but it did take some getting used to it. The book is inspired by Slavic folklore (mostly Russian, if I'm not mistaken), and it does have that fairytale feel to it. The dialogue and the logic used are very reminiscent of those tales, such as characters having to complete an impossible task (and another, and another), the whole world being as strange as they come but being presented as the most normal thing, the quips in the dialogue such as (my favorite) "That's not convenient for me" when being told a creature would like to eat them.

I truly loved this story, and I'm trying to be purposefully vague because I feel like going mostly blind into this book is the "right" way to do it. I will say, I really like the development of Valentina's character throughout the book. She starts a book as a scared child, with too much responsibility on her back. Too much for someone much older, let alone a child left alone. While trying to find a way to help her family, she stumbles upon a discovery that shapes the rest of her life and her as a person. I really found this aspect of the story interesting, and this was something that felt so real and tangible to me. The anguish Valentina feels for the rest of the story, the discomfort, and the loathing (especially when everyone else fails to see why she feels the way she does) felt so raw and by the end so cathartic to read about.

I also really enjoyed the characters of Mrs. Senko and Aprosinya. Their stories were connected with Valentina's in more ways than simply their paths crossing and Valentina being Aprosinya's ancestor. I really liked them as characters and I liked how all of them had entirely different life paths, but the emphasis, in the end, was being able to choose for yourself, above all else. Both of their stories felt close to me for different reasons and I think there was something so deeply human at the center of the story, even when the characters were mostly not.

Valentina's story was largely about looking inwardly, into yourself (maybe even a bit too literally), and having to live with what you see in there. Valentina's physicality was something that haunted her almost to the end, but I truly did like how her story "ends". There was something entirely freeing in reading about her shedding her skin and leaving what she felt was a mask behind her. I'm sure this means very little if you've not read the book but I was so curious to see how her story would play out, so this was an important moment. It was as if for the entire novel she has been punished for being too close to the big truth, cursed to see herself as something, a monster. I do like that in the end, she got to choose to cast aside what held her back.

I do also like how Valentina's story contrasted and corresponded with Mrs. Senko and Aprosinya's stories. I think it's really interesting, that Valentina was cursed with who she was, while the other two were cursed with who they weren't, if that makes sense. Mrs. Senko being the daughter of someone so powerful, and yet being so invisible. And Aprosinya, who felt like she was cursed to not be anything, to not have a future, to feel like a dead end. I think what's interesting is that the book doesn't tell you that you can just very easily rid yourself of your curses, they are something you carry with you, but they don't have to make you into a terrible monster.

I feel like this review does very little justice to both the book and my feelings regarding it, but I did try my best to not spoil anything as I wrote this. I definitely will reread this book, I feel like I missed many things in my first read and I feel like this is one of those stories in which with every read you find many things you haven't noticed before, something that resonates with you. I acknowledge this book might not be for everyone, but if you are interested I think you should give it a go.

Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with an arc in exchange for an honest review!

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The Night-Bird’s feather is unlike any book I’ve ever read. I’m still trying to figure out if that is a good or bad aspect. The entire plot is so abstract that it was extremely difficult to keep up with at times. Well, all of the time really. That should make me hate it and yet, I don’t. Nothing in this book makes any sense at all, so why do I not hate it completely?

I am unsure of the objective of this book, but it will make you think and maybe even question reality? It felt like a trip-you know the type I’m talking about. Would I read it a second time? Absolutely not. Am I happy I read it the first time? I have no clue. It’s creative and complex and completely out there. I’ve no intention of summarizing it for you. The description given will have you throughly confused for the first quarter of this long book. Give it a go. You’ve nothing to lose.

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I absolutely adore books that go more for the vibe over the plot. But what made this one special was that it went for both an equal perfect amount. I was able to sympathize with the characters and really feel the atmosphere and get drawn inside the strangeness and the horror. The magic system of this was amazingly crafted as well as the worldbuilding it was like no other fantasy I have read before. I enjoyed this book immensely and recommend it to everyone who reads my review.

Thank you Netgalley for the ARC!

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2.5 🌟
This book and I did not vibe at all.

It has an interesting premise but the execution was flawed. The chapters were too long and it's not the type of book one would be able to finish in one sitting. That said, I do realise the book has potential and a lot of people might like it.

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The Night-Bird's Feather is an incredibly interesting take on magic systems, familial ties, and morally grey bird-witches. The vibes of this book are immaculate, but I struggled with the execution of the story itself. I'm a big fan of the locked tomb series, so I'm familiar with having no idea what's happening in a book. However, this wasn't as enjoyable to wade through. It was mainly a problem with the pacing of the book. It felt incredibly slow, but if you can get past that it's truly a great read.

This book shined in it's forming and detailed recounting of relationships. Valentina's relationship and struggle with the witch who put her family to sleep while grappling her burgeoning powers.

I really wanted to love this story, but the pacing was too much. The chapters were so long and I lost the plot toward the end. It's very atmospheric and for the right reader would be perfect.

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I have come back a few times to try and read this book but it keeps losing me. Either the concepts are too complicated, or the execution is. Which is a shame, because I think the idea has a lot of potential. I tried starting again twice and still got lost. If I manage it a third time, I will change my review, but for now, DNF.

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ARC from Netgalley.

As some other reviewers have noted, this wasn't for me. I thought the description sounded really interesting, but the style and tone put me off. Others may well love this type of book, but I didn't warm to it. This may well be the kind of book you have to read slowly and savour it, and that's not my reading style at the moment. I can't trash the book though, because I think it's a thoughtful sort of book - I'm not panning it because it was too simplistic or badly written. Just not my taste.

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I liked The Night Bird's Feather.
It was well written and I did enjoy the characters.
The only reason I'm giving it a 3 star is that I found some sections of the book were quite slow and hard to get through.
Thank you Netgalley and the publishers for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

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It took me much longer to read this than expected, not because I wasn't enjoying it but because I wanted to savour every word. I'm not familiar enough with Slavic fairytales to know whether this drew on existing characters or if it's a world of the author's own creation, but either way it felt like stepping into an epic mythological tale. Really new and fresh.

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The Night-Bird's Feather - 3/5
I am not 100 percent sure how to feel about this book. I loved the story line, but I don't think it was well written in way for readers to stay engaged and keep us wanting more.

The storyline follows Valentina and her family, who has been at the mercy of a witch who has forced her family into an enchanted sleep. As the story continues it comes across as a bunch of short stories thrown together, leaving us wondering where it will all end up and if it will piece together cohesively to give us an ending we understand. I honestly feel like this is the sort of story that benefit and be more understood with a 2nd read and annotations.

Thank you NetGalley for the ARC.

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The cover and description of this book drew me in, but it really wasn’t for me. I didn’t find that this book engaged me at all, and in fact I found the tone and world somewhat off-putting. I’m not familiar with Slavic folklore so I’m not sure how much of this book is based on existing characters or the author’s own interpretations, but either way I really wasn’t expecting a bird to become a witch and be the main villain of the story?? And if that had been in the description I never would have picked up this book. I tried to give it a chance, but I’m someone who hates to stop reading in the middle of a chapter and these chapters were just way too long. 8 chapters in a 500+ page book is just not enough, especially when the pacing is slow.

I DNF’d this book at 10% because I just wasn’t really enjoying it and I really had no motivation to pick it back up again. If this book had been shorter I might have tried to finish it just to see where it went, but I couldn’t see myself getting through another 450 pages.

*Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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(Thank you NetGalley for a copy of this book. To the best of my knowledge, it doesn't affect my feelings on it.)

The Night-Bird's Feather feels more like a set of fairy tales or a legendarium than anything else. Connected stories about a few core characters, but told as though we've been hearing about them since childhood. ...Except more likely to be about the unfair weight of expectations on children or the philosophy of perception.

The sentence-and-paragraph level structure of the book was by turns musical and challenging, and while I enjoyed it and mostly felt I understood, I also wanted to dive back into the first chapter right after I finished, to see what my greater understanding would reveal. But it didn't grab me and drag me through like a more approachable book might, and took me a while to finish.

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Dnf at 26%

It's not the book's faults. It's me. It was too long and i can't focus on reading long texts in digital format. I'll buy the book in the future and complete it. I adored the writing style, the plot idea and the characters.

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We love a good fantasy, and I've been meaning to look into more Slavic-origined things. But the writing style was really the thing that caught my attention. I'm a sucker for good writing, so reading this was an utter joy -- it felt like I was indulging in all my favorite foods and desserts with every single turn of the page.

What a wonderful experience! I can't recommend this enough.

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*Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for a copy in exchange for an honest review*

While this synopsis interested me, I just couldn't get into the writing style. It's not for me. I was really excited about the story but it fell flat for me and I wish it didn't. The chapters are also huge, and I don't think I'm meant for that long of chapters. It's sad because the cover drew me in! It's such a pretty cover.

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