2 Mini Reviews: INTO THE HOURGLASS by Emily R. King and SLUMBER by Becky Bird

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Published: August 2019 - Skyscape. 
Genres: Young adult / epic fantasy / romance. 
Pages: 286. 
Triggers/Content Advisory: One scene of distressing gory description / violence / mild sexual innuendo. 
Format: eARC.
Source: Netgalley. I voluntarily read & reviewed this copy. All thoughts are my own.

Everley Donovan’s mission: retrieve the hallowed sword of Avelyn stolen by the wicked Prince Killian, who slayed her family and left her for dead. Should she fail, the seven worlds will come to an end, as could time itself. And no one treasures time more than Everley, whose lifesaving clock heart cannot beat forever. She has set sail with a rogue crew for the otherworlds, where the key to dethroning the prince lies deep within the Land Under the Wave.

But passage through these unknown seas—where horrors lurk and pirates rove—proves a treacherous gamble. The Land Under the Wave was not made for humans, particularly one with a fragile clock heart. Here, Everley’s tragic past resurfaces unsolved questions. Here, too, the prince has hidden secrets more precious than pearls, secrets that could fracture the future forevermore. Everley must take back her sword and break free from this watery world before her time runs out…or so will everyone else’s.


I love King’s writing. I enjoyed it in the first book of this series, and I still do. The only disappointing factor is the dialogue: it’s on-the-nose and dry, pointing out what the story needs to propel it forward, but not delivering entertainment, subtext, or character. I think it’s a pity.
Otherwise, though, King’s prose is lyrical, her descriptions are rich, and the whole book sparkles with a tangible atmosphere.

The world building is good, to an extent. Many details are vague. It’s very complicated, magic is everywhere and anywhere, and bizarre things “just happen”. It’s the way of the world, I suppose - magic is a given - but from what I could see there aren’t many specific parameters. Or if they are, they’re skimped over. In a nutshell: you have to suspend disbelief if you want to be swept away. And don’t ask too many questions.

Two things I loved about this second book is A) the increased action, and B) the complexities of the plot. There are more exciting, action-packed scenes, and the plot has intricate, clever details which pop out in all the right places. This makes the story entertaining and intriguing.

I explained my opinions on the characters in my review of Before The Broken Star, and I won’t repeat them here because I haven’t changed my mind. Basically, the characters are underwhelming. They could be stronger.

Published: August 2019 - N.A.
Genres: Young adult / fantasy / romance / retelling.
Pages: 292.
Triggers/Content Advisory: N.A.
Format: eARC.
Source: Netgalley. I voluntarily read & reviewed this copy. All thoughts are my own.

Prince Thomas cannot take the throne without a queen. Though the problem isn’t his lack of suitors but his refusal to marry a princess that is less than perfect.

The cardinal presents him with an opportunity: a quest to find the most beautiful princess in the land who has been in slumber for a century. But, unbeknown to the prince, the cardinal plans to kill him as soon as the prince embarks on his quest, and take the throne for himself.

Luckily, Prince Thomas’s path crosses with Lucy, a spirited orphan runaway, who saves his life and convinces the prince to continue the quest. When they eventually find Princess Aurora, they also find another contender – Prince Philip – vying for the princess’s heart. 

Despite their mutual disdain for each other, Lucy agrees to assist the prince, and Thomas accepts her help to keep him alive long enough to beat out his competition and return to rule his kingdom alongside his perfect bride. They just don’t count on falling for each other in the process

This is a sweet, fun little story, ideal for Middle Grade readers.

The writing is rather clumsy. Some descriptions are bizarre, and there's a lot of telling. Still, you can look past those aspects if you just want to enjoy the story for what it is: an innocent adventure. The humour will tickle you. The antics will make you smile. The world is "the vague, magical royal kingdom", but it's enchanting all the same.

The plot is predictable yet high-spirited. The characters do learn lessons, and their relationships are lovable. Lucy is feisty with human weaknesses. Thomas is sexist and arrogant, but he too learns the error of his ways. Jack is delightful, and provides awesome comic relief. He's like a lovable little brother.

This novel might not be a contender for Sleeping Beauty retellings, but it is childish in a cute way.

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