With the release of VULTURE, final book in The Isles of Storm and Sorrow trilogy, approaching, what better way than to celebrate that anticipated release than with a book tag based on the world?
Created by Nikki (Books and Lemon Squash, who tagged me), this tag is inspired by the isles that make up the sea-faring world. For more information on the tag, click here. General rules: answer the prompts, tag some friends, and link back to Nikki. The header was made by me and do feel free to use it (please just credit me, thanks!)
Being me, I am adding an extra little rule for myself – I’m only allowed to use YA titles to answer the prompts. Bonus points for YA fantasy, particularly UKYA fantasy!
First Isle: The King’s Isle
Prompt: A book with royalty
The funny thing about these sorts of lists is that it doesn’t always reflect the order the prompts were answered in. I often bounce around (so have to go back and proofread to check I haven’t said “another X book” when it’s the first item on the list!). In fact, I left this prompt until last as royalty is very, very common in YA fantasy, so I knew I could fill this one in easy peasy with any book I adored that I hadn’t yet used.
Naturally, that book ended up being A THRONE OF SWANS, by Katharine and Elizabeth Corr. This political fantasy follows Aderyn, heir to a powerful estate and niece to the King in a world where nobles can transform and the flightless commons serve. Except Aderyn can’t transform after the attack that killed her mother – a secret she must hide if she wants to keep her life. When her father dies, she travels to court, determined to find out the truth behind her mother’s death, but court is a deadly, shifting web of loyalties that might swallow her whole.
Second Isle: The Fallow Isle
Prompt: A book with a focus on food or harvests
This is a prompt that took me rather a while to work out. Food? What books contain food? HELPPPPP!
Thankfully, I then remembered WITH THE FIRE ON HIGH, by Elizabeth Acevedo, a contemporary book about a teenage mum who loves cooking. Thanks to reading this on holiday, on the beach, this book will forever be associated with sunshine and warmth as Emoni tries to juggle grades, her daughter, and her new cookery course at school. But will the rigid rules of a kitchen stifle her creativity, or will she find the perfect blend of innovation and procedure?
Third Isle: The Black Isle
Prompt: A book with a black cover
A nice easy one! This gorgeous cover (and equally brilliant book) just had to make this list (plus, Irish author writing fantasy ticks both my “bonus points”)
QUEEN OF COIN AND WHISPERS, by Helen Corcoran, is an absolutely stunning YA political fantasy debut about a young queen and her spymaster who have to try and keep the throne as enemies external and internal try to wreck her reign, all while the two girls fall in love. I was lucky enough to get an ARC of this book, and then immediately began stuffing it down the throats of all my reading friends demanding they read it as soon as it came out.
Fourth Isle: The Floral Isle
Prompt: A book that makes you feel peaceful
Peaceful is not a word I’d usually associate with reading fantasy! There’s too much action for that.
When it comes to feel good books, THE PAPER AND HEARTS SOCIETY, by Lucy Powrie, is pretty high up my list! This book is like being wrapped in a warm fuzzy blanket, as tabby moves to a new town far from the bullying of her old school, and has to find a new bunch of friends. Luckily, she quickly finds a group of book enthusiasts who are setting up a book club. As well as being about friendship and being yourself, this book also tackles anxiety and panic attacks.
Fifth Isle: The Mist Isle
Prompt: A book featuring Mountains
EVEN THE DARKEST STARS, by Heather Fawcett, is a book I read about eighteen months after I came back from Nepal. Given it is inspired by the Himalayas and those who have climbed its peak, this book had a pretty big nostalgia hit for me. I haven’t got around to finishing this duology, but I need to!
Kamzin has long dreamt of exploring the mountains of her home as part of the royal explorers. When a famous explorer arrives and demands to hire Kamzin, not one of the more experienced people in her village, it seems like her dreams have come true. But the explorer plans on ascending the largest, deadliest mountain of them all.
Sixth Isle: The Rock Isle
Prompt: A book featuring a quest
There are very few quest books being published these days, something that makes me very sad as I grew up on them. Quests are the heart of classic fantasy, for me, and it’s a genre I wished saw more.
AS THE SHADOW RISES, by Katy Rose Pool, is the second instalment in her Age of Darkness trilogy, and the POVs are all on their own personal quests (for missing siblings, to atone, for hidden objects of power). These missions intertwine as the characters are drawn together and vision associated with the prophecy begins to play out. I love the feel of this world, as it really does remind me of the stuff I grew up on, but brought into a more modern style.
Seventh Isle: The Shadow Isle
Prompt: A dark story
If your reading habits are like mine (mostly SFF and an absolute scaredy cat), then reading truly dark books is a rare occurrence because you stick well clear of horror. And then you pick up a horror that (while very good) reminds you why you rarely read it!
GOOD GIRLS DIE FIRST, by Kathryn Foxfield, is a horror that is marketed a bit more like a thriller (hence I picked it up). Ava is lured by blackmail to an old, burnt-out, abandoned carnival (I was told by amused friends that this fact should have told me it was horror!) with a bunch of classmates. Upon finding themselves trapped and with their number dwindling as something starts killing them, Ava starts to wonder if the killer is among them.
Eighth Isle: The Snow Isle
Prompt: A book with a white cover
White covers are surprisingly rare on my shelves for YA. A fair few white/cream covers for adult books, but YA was harder than I’d expected! ASH PRINCESS, by Laura Sebastian, sort of has a white cover. It’s blue tinted, but yeah, let’s call this white or I’m really going to struggle!
The start of a YA fantasy trilogy, this book is about Princess Theo, whose nation was conquered a decade back. She has spent those years a captive, suffering mental and physical abuse at her captor hands. When her former mentor, the person who had been causing troubles, is captured and killed, she realises there is no one left to come and rescue her, so it’s time to fight back.
Ninth Isle: The Blood Isle
Prompt: A murder mystery
Hmm, a YA murder mystery with bonus points for being by a UK/Irish based author? I wonder what book I’ll pick.
I am hardly likely to stop screaming about A GOOD GIRL’S GUIDE TO MURDER, by Holly Jackson, any time soon. This twisty mystery follows straight As student Pip as she takes on the cold case mystery that has hung over her town for five years – a murder that the police have ruled as an open/shut case of murder-suicide, but Pip isn’t so sure. And as she begins to investigate, it becomes clear that someone in her town has secrets to hide and will do anything to protect them.
Tenth Isle: The Snow Isle
Prompt: A book that gets heated
Given the guidance for this prompt was “chose how you interpret this”, I’m guessing this was sort of meant to be taken as steamy romance but broadened for those of us who don’t read romance? So let’s go with a book either featuring fire or set somewhere hot.
Deserts are hot, so REBEL OF THE SANDS, by Alwyn Hamilton, counts! Amani, a girl desperate to escape her back-of-beyond, dull town (appropriately named Deadshot) gets swept up in a rebellion when she enlists the help of a passing rogue to escape. There she encounters a world of Djinn and magic, and a battle for her home against the foreign powers allied with the corrupt Sultan.
Eleventh Isle: The Song Isle
Prompt: A book featuring magicians
Magic is one of the reasons why I love fantasy (and why I often struggle with contemporary. “where’s the magic!?”) Not all fantasy books need magic, but I love picking apart unusual or interesting magic systems, and seeing how it affects the world and its politics.
In WE ARE BLOOD AND THUNDER, by Kesia Lupo, there are nine types of magic, one for each of the gods. The primary storyline of one of the two lead girls is all about her discovering what her magic is now she’s escaped her cloud-captive city and is in the great, wide world. She practices with different temples and gets into all sorts of trouble as her magic just doesn’t seem to fit any of the standard nine.
Twelfth Isle: The Jewel of the West
Prompt: A book with thievery
Thievery seems to be a bit of a buzz word in YA at the moment – it often feels like half the MCs are thieves. Thankfully, that makes this one a much easier prompt to fulfil than others.
As the title suggests, there are various thieves in THE SMOKE THIEVES, by Sally Green. Only one might be called a “professional” thief (though he’s pretty bad at it, and often caught), but a trio of the characters are fighting over a bottle of demon smoke – an outlawed substance, that they keep pinching from one another. Unfortunately for them, there are certain powers-that-be interested in keeping the secrets of the smoke for themselves, and a war about to erupt.
Seventeen-year-old Marianne is fated to one day become the Viper, defender of the Twelve Isles. But the reigning Viper stands in her way. Corrupt and merciless, he prowls the seas in his warship, killing with impunity, leaving only pain and suffering in his wake. He’s the most dangerous man on the ocean . . . and he is Marianne’s father.
She was born to protect the islands. But can she fight for them if it means losing her family, her home, the boy she loves – and perhaps even her life?