Agents of Shield Season 5 Reactions

Okay, first off, someone please give Daisy a hug!!! How did we not have a single instance of someone showing affection and concern for Daisy after what she went through at Fitz’ hands? Honestly, the one person who constantly checked up on her was Deke and how messed up is that? The guy who sold her into slavery is a also the only person who is concerned about her. Now I know, he had ulterior motives, he liked her romantically but still.

This season is a little hard figure out in terms of whether I liked or not. I’m still not sure. There were some problematic elements like that fact that Deke sold Daisy into slavery and we never really explored that. Or that Fitz took out her inhibitor, never asked Daisy and essentially chose the most sadistic way to go about it and we never explored that either.

Also, I hate that Simmons just completely shut out what Daisy suffered. I get it, she loves Fitz but Daisy is also her friend, right?! Who was just ripped open and was betrayed by someone she deeply trusted. Yet, she never seems to consider that. Instead, getting really hopped up on the theory that she, Fitz and Yo-Yo are somehow invincible and that nothing could hurt them. Collectively, the three of them deserved to get smacked on their heads. I actually found Simmons even more frustrating that Yo-yo. Fitz attacking Daisy and forcibly restoring her powers, no problem. But using Jiaying’s DNA, from her corpse, that has moral implications?! Wow, double standards much!

That entire scene where Fitz abducted Daisy and then tore into her was pretty hard to watch. Kudos to both Chloe Bennet and Iain De Caestecker on their respective performances, they were both excellent. But what really bothered me after that was that no one else really addressed that. Like we were just expected to move on.

I liked that May and Daisy, at least, were a united front. For both of them, Coulson was more than a team-mate/leader. He was family. We’ve known for a while that both Coulson and May have deeper feelings for each other and it surprises absolutely no one that Daisy and Coulson were like father and daughter. May lost Andrew and Daisy lost everyone, so it’s understandable that they would fight tooth and nail to save him. Someone who never gave up on them and was always there, who never left them behind.

I initially really disliked Deke earlier in the season but he kind of grew on me as the season progressed. Also, he and Fitz have more in common as far as their more grey decisions are concerned. Another thing that I was really grateful for that the show didn’t force Daisy and Deke into a romantic relationship. And that ALL the characters knew exactly how Daisy felt about him and never encouraged him (except for laughs)

I also liked the way Daisy handed over the reins over to Mack. She recognised that she wasn’t objective enough to make the tough calls but Mack, being more experienced than her, does have that. I liked that we had a few moments of Mack and Daisy being there for each other, I wish we had more of those moments.

One of my biggest complaints of the season is the fact that a ship seems to have gotten bigger than the rest of show and that the show-runners are running with that. That I feel is detrimental to the over-all plot. The writers know how big the Fitz-Simmons ship is and they constantly play to that corner. And they’re doing it at the expense of other characters.

Going forward, Season 6 has a shortened number of episodes. This is a good thing, fewer episodes means that the plot will be tighter and the no filler episodes. I know that Fitz will be found, even when he died, there was no tension because I knew that there is no way that he would let him die. I knew that the team will be getting him back. I don’t know how I feel about the possibility of no Coulson. And does that mean that May is done as well or did she take that break to be with Coulson during his last days? I’m confused.

Season 5 is a mix of things that worked really well and others that didn’t, I’m hoping that season 6 is more balanced in that regard. And that they treat Daisy better. She’s a badass but more importantly she’s a multi-faceted character and deserves to be treated as such. I’d like her to have agency going forward and for the other characters not steam-rolling all over it. I hope the writing, plot and character development are more balanced.

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The Tiger’s Daughter (Their Bright Ascendency #1) by K. Arsenault Rivera Review

DNF

There really needs to be a negative ratings system because if there were I would have used it for this book.. I could not even bring myself to finish it. It was so damn tedious!! The pseudo-Japanese names coupled with some of the dullest text I’ve come across in a while did the book no favours.

Sorry, I have better things to do than trying to muddle through this mess.

The Hundredth Queen (The Hundredth Queen #1) by Emily R. King Review

This book made me want to beat my head against the wall. It reads as a mish-mash of various cultures including but not limited to ancient Sumerian and Indian.

The thing that really ticks me off are the names. I can only speak for names that are Indian but there’s almost always a cringe-worthy element. For example, Deven’s mother’s name is Mathura. Mathura is the name of a town in India. As an author who’s neither Indian origin nor familiar with Indian names, please do the least minimum and at least google the names you plan to give your characters. This kind of writing reeks of laziness and immediately pulls me out of the story.

The main plot was also mediocre at best. Kalinda and Deven almost immediately fall in love and seem to have no self-control and have the survival instinct of a dodo. Their characters were inconsistent and seemed to sway back and forth with no real convictions.

Of the secondary characters, Yatin, Jaya, Mathura were okay. The rest didn’t really make an impression. The king, our chief antagonist was also written so poorly that it was difficult to take him seriously. King wanted him to exude menace but failed.

I did originally plan to read books 2 and 3, now, I’d much rather focus on something that better written and has characters that I care about. I am also going back to my original weeding process and avoiding debuts.

Avengers 4 – Theories and Speculation

SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS

So, I saw Avengers: Infinity War and I’ve been a mess ever since. The film really guts you in a way that previous MCU films don’t. I’ve always had a problem with Marvel films, in that the stakes never felt high enough, you knew that the protagonists would make it through the end because there was another film in the franchise.

Avengers: IW threw all the out the window. The film starts with 2 deaths and from then on, the Mighty Avengers are playing catch up. They really never had a chance (save for one, but I’m not going there) So who’s gonna come back and who’s dead for sure? Well, I have some ideas, so here we go:

Who’s dead for sure:

Loki, Heimdall and Vision. I’m pretty sure that they’re dead for sure. For one, Idris Elba is done with his Marvel contract and he’s been pretty vocal of late of being done with the MCU as well. Tom Hiddleston as well, as far as I know has also finished the contracted number of films (Avengers 4 being the final one, so we may see him in some capacity) Vision died when Thanos ripped out the stone from his head. Now, I think that this Vision is dead. We may see another version of him assuming Shuri managed to save his mind, the part independent of the Stone. So there is the possibility of White Vision.

Who’s Coming back:

Pretty much everyone who got dusted. There is no way that Black Panther and The Guardians aren’t coming back. For one, BP was one of the most commercially successful and critically acclaimed film in the MCU, there is no way that Marvel is permanently killing him off after just one film. Similarly, we know that there is a Guardians 3 film happening and we know it’s going to feature Adam Warlock. So Peter, Drax, Groot and Mantis are coming back. But what about Gamora, you ask? Well, recently the Russo Brothers confirmed a theory quite a few of us had; that Gamora is alive inside the Soul Stone. I think she’s alive because she was Thanos’ sacrifice to obtain it. In effect, she is its first inhabitant, the 1st person put in there because of Thanos.

Now there are some people who are speculating that she may not come back till Guardians 3, I disagree. Her arc, what happened to her is tied to Thanos. She was pretty much the first person to defy him, it makes no sense to keep her absent from Avengers 4 when Thanos is eventually brought down. It would be poetic for her to be there when Thanos meets his end. To see him look at her, someone he loved most (albeit his version of love is twisted as fuck) standing over him. I didn’t know how much I needed that till I wrote it down. As for why Thanos saw her in her child’s form, that’s easy enough. He saw her as he wanted to see her, as a child, when she needed him and likely didn’t question him. When she didn’t look at him with loathing because she didn’t know what he had done.

As for the others who got dusted: Wanda, Peter Parker, Dr. Strange, Bucky, Sam Wilson, Maria Hill and Nick Fury, do you seriously expect me to believe that they’re gone for good? I’m not buying. For one, We need Dr. Strange to wield the Time Stone, for second we know that Homecoming 2 is in the works and Bucky is tipped to take over the Captain America mantle from Steve and Sebastian Stan has a 9 film contract with Marvel so he’s certainly not done. In which case, it doesn’t make sense why some of the characters would come back while others don’t when eventually they had all suffered the same fate. It does not compute.

Also, I can’t wait to see Okoye, Black Widow, Wanda, Gamora, Nebula, Wasp and Captain Marvel collectively kick Thanos’s ass.

We know that Avengers 4 has to undo Thanos’ genocide otherwise it was all for naught, half of the entire universe’s population stays dead and how is that a good end for this phase.

Speculation:

Now, how will we get people back from the dead? There are a few ways that it could come to pass… For one, it is entirely possible that the remaining avengers manage to get their hands on the stones after Thanos’ gauntlet disintegrates. I also don’t think any one Avenger will wield all the stones, more like a collective wielding. Strange will definitely wield the Time Stone, the rest are up in the air.

I have a feeling that the events in Ant-man and the Wasp take place slightly before the events in Avengers: IW or they’re running very close to parallel. Which is why, it still has the light-hearted tone that we usually associate Marvel films with. It’s only at the end that we’ll see the ramifications of Thanos’s finger snap affect the characters in Ant-man and the Wasp. It would be a pretty neat lead-in to Avengers 4.

As for Captain Marvel, I think it’s going to be a flash-back film. Marvel will need to tell us why she was missing for so long/ where she went. The reason I think it will be a flashback because it doesn’t make sense to a regular prequel/origin film just before Avengers 4. The tone will likely not match, not to mention that the time difference would be jarring (CM is set in the 90s).

What about Iron-Man and Captain America:

These guys are the first avengers and in many ways the fabric that holds the team together which is why the Avengers fell apart when Tony and Steve had a falling-out. The events in IW in many ways foreshadow what might happen to these guys.

While many speculate that Steve will die in the A4, I think it’s going to be Tony. Why? Let me elaborate: we see Tony and Pepper in IW, Tony wants to start a family but he can’t stop being Iron Man. It’s in his DNA. He loved Pepper, but even she can’t keep him from being Iron Man. He can’t stop, his identity as Iron Man is deeply tied in to who he is deep inside.

Steve, on the other hand, joined the military because he wanted to do the right thing. He became Captain America, not for glory but because, he felt it was the only way he could contribute. At his core, he’s a peace-maker. He doesn’t like conflict and only engages when he has no other alternative. He would want a quiet life, heck, he would want to get a chance to live his life, without being constantly on the run or fighting.

Also, Steve already died once, I refuse to believe that Marvel would do that again.

I need Steve to walk away, I will NOT be able to deal with his death! Don’t do it Marvel!

I think A4 will end with Tony’s death and Steve stepping down from the Avengers and handing over his mantle to Bucky.  It would be a good way to end Phase 3 and kick off Phase 4.

The 100 – Home (A Clexa Fanfiction)

I’ve had this story going around in my head for a while now and I finally decided to put it down, I realise that it may not be exactly novel but I don’t care, I’m still bitter about Lexa so I decided to write it down. Here goes:They finally had peace. Or at least as close to peace as one could get when tribes that had spent decades warring amongst each other were forced to co-exist. The arrival of the newest members, the prisoners, was a setback and that was an understatement of epic proportions, but they had won and that was all that mattered. They had peace, they had order and sometimes Clarke had a tough time believing that they were no longer fighting for their very survival.

With peace came time, time to reflect, to connect and in some cases reconnect with people you were once close to. Clarke suddenly found herself with a lot of time and with no life-threatening circumstances to occupy her attention, she found herself feeling more than a little lost. But she had a second chance with her mother, she was not going to pass this up. There was also Maddie and though Clarke loved her like her own daughter, she had to admit that Maddie did not need her as she once did. And now with a community around her, she wasn’t tied to Clarke. She was out making her own choices, meeting new people and having new experiences.

Clarke was glad she still had Bellamy. They drifted towards each other and even though it was slow going, Clarke was happy but because it felt earned. Like they deserved a little happiness after everything they had gone through. Clarke had her mother, she had Maddie and she had Bellamy, she had her family back and she was happy. But through it all, there was a part of Clarke that was always missing. She felt it sometimes like a ghost-limb, this emptiness inside her and no matter how much she tried to fill it and tried to convince herself that she was fine, she was happy, that emptiness remained.

Raven and Monty were regular fixtures around her and Bellamy. As if they too wanted to get back a little sliver of who they used to be. Clarke knew why they all, even Octavia, gravitated towards each other. They were the only ones who truly understood what they had gone through. The things they had done. When they were with each other, they didn’t feel as alone. Clarke didn’t think that she and Octavia would ever be close, but she was glad that they had reached a point where Octavia wasn’t actively trying to kill her.

Clarke, no longer wanted to lead. She was thrust into a role she never wanted. She had wanted to be an artist, to create things of beauty, things that brought light into peoples’ lives. Instead, she had turned into someone she still didn’t always recognise. What she had done to protect her people, what she had done at Mt. Weather. She couldn’t undo those decisions. She couldn’t go back and save the people she had lost. She had lost the person she used to be and that was perhaps the person she missed the most. The person who saw the best in people, who saw beauty in the world instead of threats, who saw a world filled with hope and optimism.

Even now, in these times of peace, she didn’t always trust it, always waiting for the other shoe to drop. She saw that Bellamy had the same concerns, so when he decided to join the group of leaders, she didn’t begrudge him that. She lost a part of herself and so did Bellamy, but he also thrived in leading them. It suited him, it gave him a goal, a purpose. Clarke was happy for him but always refused when he asked her to join him and the committee. She was done with that life.

They had a few good years before Clarke fell sick. It started fairly innocuously, she would get easily tired and feel drained. But then it began to get worse and Clarke went from bad to worse in a matter of days. She was in constant pain and only the intensity changed. Some days were better than others. Her organs had begun to fail.

Her mother ran a whole battery of tests with what she had available and could find no cause for her failing health. It was Clarke who finally figured it out.

“It’s the night blood.”

Abby and Bellamy didn’t believe her, “That can’t be it. We would have heard something, read something.” Bellamy was still shaking his head.

“It’s the only thing that does make sense. Think about it. We haven’t had a serious disease breakout in ages. We’re actually being safe in what we consume. No one is exhibiting symptoms like mine.”

Abby was silent for a few minutes, then said, “Your body fully assimilated the night blood cells. If you had to have a reaction, it would have happened when the blood cells were injected into your blood stream. It doesn’t make sense.”

Clarke didn’t say anything. She didn’t know why she was so certain. It could be that it was a passing illness like Abby believed but Clarke wasn’t so sure. She sought out Indra, one of the few people who might give her straight answers. She finally found her in the training ring, alone.

Clarke was already exhausted by the time she reached her. With no place to sit, she had no option but to stand. She waited for Indra to notice her.

“What do you want?” Indra was always a ray of sunshine. All these years of living in the same camp made no difference, her reaction to Clarke was always frosty at best.

“Did you ever come across anything that left the night-blood vulnerable medically?” She didn’t see the point of stalling.

“All the sacred texts were lost in the Praimfaya. Titus would have known but he is lost to us too.”

Clarke deflated. “You could ask Gaia? Maybe she knows something…”

Indra continued with her motions, not even looking at her, “Gaia and her sect only knew the legend, the rituals. She did not get a chance to finish her training.”

Clarke just stood there, trying to blink the black spots away. She leaned against one of the posts.

Indra was quiet for so long that it seemed she was done talking. Clarke was just about to leave when she continued, “I never saw any of them get sick the way you have. But then the Commanders weren’t known for their long lives, with constant threats of violence, none of them lived long.”

They were both silent after that, thinking of the last Heda. Clarke remembered that day with crystal clarity, even the parts that she wished she could erase.

She faded out and when came to, she was back in the med-bay, under the careful supervision of her mother. It was a good thing that Indra didn’t hate Clarke, or she might have let her fall to the ground, thankfully, she caught her just as Clarke lost consciousness..

Abbi noticed how pale she looked and she had to swallow her fear. She had to believe that they could get past this. They had gone through so much together, Abbi refused to believe that this could be the end.

“You over-exerted yourself today.” she said quietly.

Clarke looked at her mother, saw the strain that she tried so hard to hide, the dark circles. She knew her mother was afraid, but strangely Clarke wasn’t. She felt this sense of peace, it was almost soothing.

“It’s okay mom, I’m not scared.” She reached out and took her mom’s hands. Clarke’s hands felt cold in Abbi’s. She was fading too quickly.

“Has Bellamy come back yet?” Clarke’s voice was soft.

“Not yet honey. He’ll come straight to you as soon as he gets back.” Abbi ran her hand through Clarke’s hair, felt her clammy skin when she kissed her forehead.

Clarke nodded, her eyes closed.

Clarke felt like she was drifting, weightless and free. When she opened her eyes, her surroundings were different but she would recognise them anywhere. She was back in the Tower. In Lexa’s room, her bed.

“There you are.”

Clarke’s heart stopped when she heard the voice. The voice she thought she would never hear again. She bolted upright- and there she was. She looked exactly as she had the last time they had shared the bed.

“Lexa” Clarke breathed. Not trusting herself, what she saw. She had seen this too many times, always believing it to be real only to wake to the cruel reality that it had all been a dream.

Lexa walked towards the bed, her steps steady and measured, as if she was afraid that Clarke might react badly.

“It’s okay, I’m here. It’s real.”

Clarke reached for her hand as Lexa reached the bed. Lexa lay down on the bed next to her and Clarke couldn’t take it anymore. She pulled Lexa towards her and crushed her in a hug, still not truly believing that Lexa was here, with her. She pulled back and searched her face, running her hands over her face, over her eyes, eyes she had thought she could drown in, tracing her eyebrows, her mouth. Lexa stayed still, her own eyes closed as she sighed, as if she too had been holding her breath.

“You’re really here.”

Lexa looked at her, gave her a small smile and leaned in and kissed her softly, once, twice.

“I told you that I would always be with you. Our story is not over.” Lexa’s hands cupped Clarke’s face. She rested her forehead against Clarke’s and for a moment, they just basked in each other’s presence.

For the first time in a very long time, Clarke didn’t feel incomplete. That void she felt inside her, it was gone. She felt like she could finally breathe at ease. She still clutched Lexa to her and Lexa didn’t seem to mind. It was finally starting to sink in, Lexa was here, it was a real and that’s all she cared about.

She looked up and found Lexa looking at her, a faint smile on her face. It struck her then that she had never seen Lexa look so at peace. She looked… happy. For once, they weren’t at odds, weren’t at opposing ends, trying to look out for their peoples.

Lexa wrapped her arm around Clarke’s waist and pulled her closer. She brushed her lips against Clarke’s.

“Do you remember when you told me, that one day we won’t owe anything to our people?” Lexa breathed against her lips.

Barely able to think straight, Clarke nodded, not trusting herself to speak, she remembered everything about that day.

“Well, that day has come, Clarke kom Skaikru.”

Lexa deepened the kiss until Clarke couldn’t think of anything except how good it felt to be in Lexa’s arms. She pushed Lexa on her back and kissed her harder, not able to hold back anymore. She had hungered for this, for the taste of Lexa’s lips, the familiar lines of her body. They were both moving their hands, driven to touch, to feel, breathing hard.
They fit together like pieces of a puzzle, one completing the other, balancing each other. Clarke realised that it had always been like this. She didn’t realise it before, but the only person who took her exactly as she was was Lexa. She saw her and everything that she had done and never turned away, never asked her to change. She had loved Lexa and in some ways, she never stopped. It’s why, for all her affection for Bellamy, she couldn’t really let him in the way she had Lexa.

Feeling Lexa’s hands under her shirt, on her skin, Clarke’s lost herself in Lexa. Her last coherent thought was she was home, she was finally where she belonged.

Obsidio (The Illuminae Files #3) by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff Review

*INCOHERENT SCREAMING!!!!*

This book made me want to tear my hair out and if not for my strong self-control, I wouldn’t have any nails left. But I managed to retain my head of hair and most of my fingernails.

Where do I even begin with this book and this series as a whole! Reading these books is a unique experience because they are so different from anything else out there. And the best part, it’s not simply a gimmick, Kristoff and Kaufman have woven an intricate and incredibly detailed narrative and then designed the book around that. The words and design work seamlessly and make for an amazing reading experience.

A brief summary, Obsidio is the final book in the Illuminae Files series. It follows the survivors on the planet Karenza IV and their condition post the attack by the BeiTech corporation. It also simultaneously follows the survivors aboard the Mao and Hypatia and their race to get back to the planet after Heimdall was destroyed.

It is finally over and I think I still haven’t completely processed it and all the stuff that went down. Obsidio is awesome!! It is amazing!! Having said that, is it as good as Illuminae and Gemina, I think it is. It is also different from the first two books in that the novel gave as much time to Kady, Ezra, Hanna, Nik and Ella as it did to Asha and Rhys.

I think that switch works well considering that this was the final book in the series with a lot of loose ends to tie up and a long way to go before the plot could reach a satisfying end. I fully expected this book to be about Asha and Rhys and was very pleasantly surprised to learn otherwise.

Being familiar with Kristoff and his bloodthirsty tendencies towards his characters, I knew that no character was safe till the very end, till the page said “The End” and I did not put it beyond the authors to make the character deaths as painful as they could possibly be. For a book categorised as YA, Kaufman and Kristoff do not pull any punches lest the redacted curse words fool you. Be prepared, some of the deaths will gut you.

This book stressed me out enough that there were times when I had to put it aside and just walk for a few minutes, either because I knew that something horrible was about to happen or because something horrible did happen and I had to take a breather to process it. And the fact that the narrative jumped between Karenza and the Mao, the character chapters did not necessarily follow a pattern, this was slightly chaotic but I did not mind it in the least.

I love the design of these books and you can see the effort that goes into producing these beauties. The analyst commentaries are hilarious as ever, I love that guy. This time there was significantly more artwork by the wonderful Marie Lu. There is so much more going in these books beyond just the written words.

The list of characters in Obsidio is also considerably larger than the previous books, in terms of just the protagonists. We have Asha and Rhys as well as Kady, Ezra, Hanna, Nik, Ella and Isaac Grant. In addition to these, we have a lot of new secondary characters as well as returning faces like Syra Bol, Winifred McCall to name a few. If I tried to write about all the important characters, this review would be ridiculously long, so I shall attempt to be brief.

I really liked Asha, she wasn’t a hacker like Kady or a master tactician like Hanna, she was an ordinary girl, who worked as a pharmacy intern. But she possesses the same internal strength and steel that allowed the other girls to power through whatever the universe BeiTech threw at them. She joined the resistance and tried to do her part even if it meant putting her life on the line.

Rhys, on the other hand, I did not like him in the beginning. I found his naïveté frustrating, the fact that he refused to see what had been done to the people of Karenza. But, once he did find out and saw what his own “brothers’ were doing, he did question their actions and often. But Asha and Rhys didn’t quite have the same kind of pull as the 2 other couples. So if I had to list one complaint, that would be it.

I would be remiss in reviewing Obsidio if I did not mention AIDEN, the resident insane AI. AIDEN is not what he used to be, nor is he as powerful as he once was. But he is still every bit as unpredictable as it was. I have to say that AIDEN is one of my favourite characters in the entire series. I love him.

 

 

SPOILERS:
I was right!!!!! When I heard the Illuminae audiobook, I said that the book read more like a love-story between AIDEN and Kady and that’s exactly what happened here!!!! It was heartbreaking and heart-warming at the same damn time! It blew me away because I thought that maybe I was reaching and it was my weird imagination, but no! It was real AIDEN fell in love with Kady and I think Kady felt the same. Not the same thing she felt for Ezra but as close to love as it could be. They went through so much together and that created a strong bond between them.

END SPOILERS

 

 

Some honourable mentions:
Ben Garver- pain in the ass from the very beginning! He was so annoying, self-important, pompous ass!
Sergeant Oshiro- she was such a hard-ass, no-nonsense person. I liked that about her and the fact that she had some semblance of a conscience, which is more than what I can say about some of the other characters.

One of the aspects that I really about the series is its inclusivity in terms of ethnicity, race, religion and sexual orientation. This is still not something that we see as often as we should and every time I do see it, I am very happy.

It’s hard to top an Illuminae and then Gemina and while Obsidio doesn’t quite achieve that, it is still every bit as amazing as those two. It is a worthy end to an amazing series and certainly one that lends itself so well to re-reading. I loved every minute of this incredible journey!

The Bear and the Nightingale (Winternight Trilogy #1) by Katherine Arden Review

I read this book sporadically, that usually happens when I start work and dedicating time to read becomes difficult. There were days when I didn’t read a single word and others where I finished several chapters. I don’t enjoy reading like this as it breaks the flow and this usually doesn’t bode well for the book in question (unless I’m extremely invested) I fell in love with The Bear and the Nightingale. It was spellbinding and read like a dark fairy tale.

The book is based in Russia and in the past. One of the things I loved most about the book was the setting and way it was described. Arden really put the reader in the same place as the characters and her description was so good that the setting often felt like another character. The prose was straightforward but not lacking in beauty. And while the pace was slow in certain parts, it didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the book. This is the kind of book that once you start reading, you don’t want to stop.

I loved the sheer variety of characters in this book. From the different kinds of domovoi to Vasya’s family, all of them were fully realised fleshed out characters. They were three dimensional and layered. There were no outright villains or heroes.

In terms of the characters, I loved Vasya. I loved that she was this wild spirit that would not be tamed by anyone. She loved fiercely and completely and did not let the opinion of those around her deter her from doing what she believed was right.

I loved that while her family did not always understand her, it in no way affected their love for her. The decisions of the adults often drove me up the wall, especially Anna and then later Pyotr. I loved Dunya and Alyosha, the only two people who perhaps really understood Vasya and did not try to change her.

The character I liked least was Konstantin. He made me so mad that there were numerous moments where I wanted to kill him. He was a weak man and a hypocrite and I cannot believe that he did not die a most painful death. If there was a vile character in this book, it was him.

As for Frost and the Bear, I wish we had seen more of both of them. They didn’t feature as much as I hoped and that felt a little lacking. I hope we see more of them in the future instalments.

I really liked the way Arden didn’t give us a traditional villain. There was a villain but he wasn’t the moustache-twirling variety. The real evil was more along the lines of our own inner demons and weaknesses; hungering for the forbidden, coveting what isn’t yours and fearing what you cannot control or understand to name a few. Arden also brings to light a problematic aspect of organised religion, the need to eradicate existing beliefs to that only faith can survive. And doing that through fear, making people give up their long-held traditions and customs for fear of being damned. But perhaps that is a conversation for another time.

The Bear and the Nightingale took me by surprise. I fell in love with this cold and unforgiving world with its flawed and complicated characters and I look forward to returning to it. Masterful character development coupled with beautiful world-building make this an extremely rewarding read.