Today's mini-reviews are Boneset & Feathers by Gwendolyn Kiste, Children of Chicago by Cynthia Pelayo, Certain Dark Things by Silvia...

Mini Reviews || Boneset & Feathers by Gwendolyn Kiste, Children of Chicago by Cynthia Pelayo, Certain Dark Things by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Today's mini-reviews are Boneset & Feathers by Gwendolyn Kiste, Children of Chicago by Cynthia Pelayo, Certain Dark Things by Silvia Moreno-Garcia.

You don't know their fire is coming until it's too late. That's exactly the way the witchfinders like it. As an isolated enchantress, Odette knows this too well--she lost nearly her whole family to the last round of executions, barely escaping with her own life. All the magic she could conjure wasn't enough to protect her mother and sister, a burden that leaves a despondent Odette practically wishing she'd burned with the rest.

Now it's five years later, and as the last witch left from her village, Odette has exiled herself to the nearby woods where she's sworn off all magic, hoping instead for quiet and for safety. But no witch has ever been permitted a peaceful life.

It starts with crows tumbling out of the clouds and spectral voices on the wind that won't leave her alone. Then there are those midnight visits to the graveyard that she can't quite remember in the morning and the strange children following her everywhere she goes. Odette wants to forget magic, but her magic doesn't want to forget her. Meanwhile, the former friends she left behind in the village are cowering together, hiding from the ghostly birds they believe she's sent to torment them for abandoning her. But that's only the beginning of their problems, as Odette soon discovers their worst nightmare is about to come true--the witchfinders are returning. And this time, the decree is clear: to burn the witch that got away.

With the men drawing nearer to the village, Odette must face the whispers from the dead and confront her fear of her own growing power if she wants any chance of stopping the army of witchfinders determined to rid the countryside of magic once and for all. 

Publication date: November 23rd, 2020
Add to Goodreads

My Thoughts...

This is my first book of Gwendolyn Kiste's and it won't be my last. Beautifully written, her flowing style took a bit to get into the cadence but once I did, I adored it. While the novella is about a witch, it does more than live up to all the tired tropes about witches. More dark fairytale than horror, there are birds falling dead from the skies and returning changed, an enchanted forest that never spits you out where you came in, strange children, and of course, magic. 

Odette has a reputation as an outsider. The townspeople fear her and instead of blaming their loss on the witchfinders, they choose to blame her as the source of their troubles. Known as the witch who would not burn, Hunted by the witchfinders, Odette not only faced the flames, she somehow consumed them and carry them inside her skin. She's a great character, doubt-filled and living in isolation in the woods away from those who fear her. 

A coming of age story, yes, but this is also a powerful and moving fight for identity, sisterhood, and the right for women to exist without being cowered by men. 

This horrifying retelling of the Pied Piper fairytale set in present-day Chicago is an edge of your seat, chills up the spine, thrill ride. ‪ When Detective Lauren Medina sees the calling card at a murder scene in Chicago’s Humboldt Park neighborhood, she knows the Pied Piper has returned. When another teenager is brutally murdered at the same lagoon where her sister’s body was found floating years before, she is certain that the Pied Piper is not just back, he’s looking for payment he’s owed from her. Lauren’s torn between protecting the city she has sworn to keep safe, and keeping a promise she made long ago with her sister’s murderer. She may have to ruin her life by exposing her secrets and lies to stop the Pied Piper before he collects.

Publication date: February 9th, 2021
Add to Goodreads

My Thoughts...

There is always a dark side to fairytales and Pelayo gives us a new ominous twist to the Pied Piper, melding fairytale roots, dark urban horror, and police procedural. Chicago's dark and mean streets are laid bare, but there's also beauty there and Pelayo's love of the city shines through. We're given a completely unlikeable female main character, but this is not without planning, as it's also a statement about police and their abusive power without repercussions—a highly controversial topic in today's media. There's a lot of information delivered throughout which at times made the story feel very laden. There's no denying the horror elements of the story, but it almost felt as it was trying to be too many things at once. 

Welcome to Mexico City, an oasis in a sea of vampires. Domingo, a lonely garbage-collecting street kid, is just trying to survive its heavily policed streets when a jaded vampire on the run swoops into his life. Atl, the descendant of Aztec blood drinkers, is smart, beautiful, and dangerous. Domingo is mesmerized.

Atl needs to quickly escape the city, far from the rival narco-vampire clan relentlessly pursuing her. Her plan doesn't include Domingo, but little by little, Atl finds herself warming up to the scrappy young man and his undeniable charm. As the trail of corpses stretches behind her, local cops and crime bosses both start closing in.

Vampires, humans, cops, and criminals collide in the dark streets of Mexico City. Do Atl and Domingo even stand a chance of making it out alive? Or will the city devour them all?

Publication date: September 7th, 2021
Add to Goodreads

My Thoughts...

 Sparkley vampires need not apply. Certain Dark Things bring back the cold, aloof vampires of days past. Set in Mexico City, Moreno-Garcia shies away from the busy, bright streets into the back alleys and subway tunnels. It's a very neo-noir take, with gangs, drug cartel wars, and multiple sub-species of vampires. The relationship and dialogue between Atl and Domingo seemed awkward and yet, was still amusing. The lore and legend of vampires were unique and interesting but the best part was the world-building. It's gritty and dark with complex morally grey characters.