I’m so excited to be part of The Write Reads blog tour for The Marrow Charm by Kristin Jacques! I received this book to read and review as part of the BBNYA tours, which is organized by the @The_WriteReads tours team. All opinions are my own, unbiased and honest.
About the Book:
Title: Marrow Charm
Author: Kristin Jacques
Series: The Gate Cycle #1
Page Length: 346
Publication Date: Oct. 1, 2019
Synopsis: Azure ‘Azzy’ Brimvine lives in a world decimated by magic, where humans have retreated underground from the overwhelming dangers of the surface. But Below is no safer than Above.
Magic borne plagues continue to eat away at the remaining human cities, a sickness that doesn’t merely kill, but creates aberrations from the stricken: people twisted by magic into something dark, dangerous, and powerful. It is an existence of fear and constant dread. When Azzy’s brother, Armin, is infected and cast out into the Above, she sets out after him, determined to be there for him no matter what he becomes.
The world Above is full of monsters, both wild and cunning, some more human than Azzy was led to believe. Armin is captured and bound for the Auction block of Avergard, a ruthless city of inhuman lords and twisted creatures. To reach him, Azzy must brave the perils of the Above and the chaotic life forms created by the Gate. To reach him, she must find allies and forge new bonds in this broken world.
And Azzy must reach him, before Armin’s new power is used to open the Gate once more.
I loved this story! It’s a bit darker than my usual read, but the setting, the characters, the suspenseful action-packed plot, and so much more captivated me from the first pages. Atmospheric and immersive, the story is fast-paced as it follows Azzy on her journey to find her brother Armin.
Gritty, dark, and atmospheric, this unique dystopian fantasy is set in a world ravaged by magic. Humans live Below in underground communities that are slowly dwindling. Azzy, the protagonist, doesn’t agree with many of the rules and traditions in her below-ground society, which include harsh punishments and cannibalistic rituals. The rule she fears the most, however, is the one that affects her beloved brother. People who have been tainted, or infected with magic, are cast out and forced Above. This all but guarantees their deaths. When her brother is banished for being tainted, Azzy sets out on a perilous journey Above, which is filled with monsters and other dangerous elements, to find Armin before it’s too late.
The story has a unique and vast setting. The underground world where the story begins is deeply unsettling, and though it doesn’t seem as scary as the world Above, it is dangerous and frightening in different ways. In the Above, the threats are more tangible – monsters, magic, scavengers, slave traders, and other unusual dangers lurk. However, in the underground society, political maneuverings and manipulations, disturbing societal traditions, and a horrifying disease called the rot pose great risks to its citizens. I love that these worlds are so unique and so different from each other, yet they both have frightening and potentially mortal obstacles that harm and break people.
One of the other strengths of the story is the plethora of fascinating and fantastic characters. I love Azzy! She is a brave and determined protagonist with a tremendous amount of grit. She also has a rebellious side, which both helps and hinders her. There is nothing Azzy won’t do for her brother, and the story centers around her love for him and her quest to reunite with him. The sibling relationship is pure and loving and strong, and it is what propels the plot.
Azzy meets many unusual and unique characters and creatures along her journey, and I was totally there for it! I love how Azzy forms connections with people and creatures she meets as she searches for Armin, though I still question why some are so eager to help her. An eel-like female, a witch, a surrogate father, and many other creatures and people add depth and dimension to the plot and highlight the fact that things are not always what they seem.
My favorite character, other than Azzy, was Kai. Part wolf-part man, Kai becomes Azzy’s traveling partner throughout her quest to find Armin. They repeatedly save each other, and they develop a strong bond over the course of the book. Theirs is a complex relationship, and I’m curious to learn how and if their relations develop as the story continues.
The unique spin on magic is quite interesting as well. Corruptive and corrosive, magic has dark and dangerous connotations in this world. However, as the story progresses, Azzy realizes there are many different kinds of and uses for magic, not all of which are detrimental and dangerous. I found it fascinating how magic affects people differently, and I can’t wait to read the next book in the series to see how it changes some of the major characters, especially Azzy and Armin. Azzy’s magic has just only begun to be realized, and I’m curious to see what happens when she fully understands her powers.
The story focuses mainly on Azzy’s journey, but the narration does change perspectives. I liked this because you get to see different events unfold from Armin and Kai’s point of view as well. The three are together and separated at various times throughout the book, and the switching of perspectives offers more insight into the thoughts and feelings of several characters and a look at what they experience while apart from the others.
Messages of familial love, survival, fighting for what is right, and never giving up even when the odds are stacked against you offer glimpses of hope in an otherwise dark and unforgiving world. This is definitely a story that will appeal to readers who enjoy dark, atmospheric fantasies with rich world-building and dynamic characters. Thanks so much to the author and The Write Reads for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.
- The variety of dynamic and unusual characters and creatures.
- The immersive story-line.
- The unique setting.
Screams were for fools and food; Azzy refused to be either.
There were many details buried deep in her mind that continued to float to the surface. Neat little rows of jars, swirling with memories and regrets, like ink-stained smoke.
Denial was necessary to survive.
Magic is not a structured entity. It lives and breathes in beautiful, cruel chaos.
Greed and fear never fail.
This is a fantastic story for readers who like dark dytopian fantasies with strong, unique characters, terrifying journeys, and expansive world-building.
About the Author:
Kristin Jacques is an author from small town New England. She grew up in the sticks, surrounded by river wildlife, and various swamp inhabitants. Somehow she managed to keep all her toes despite a run in with a snapper or two.
She lives with her husband and sons in another small New England town. She is mighty attached to them.
When not writing, she is likely reading, watching a terrific B-Horror flick, or further spoiling the family cats. Sometimes she has blue hair.
- Twitter: @Krazydiamond07
- Website: https://www.kristinjacques.com/
- Buy link: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08GRB622X
- Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/41428040-marrow-charm
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