Something Wicked Strikes Day #27. We entering into the final week of all things Wicked. I promise this last week is absolutely packed full of fantastic guest posts and giveaways, and I can't wait to share them with you. I have a terrific book for you today, the finale of one of my all time favorite series. Before we get to that, though, here are the stops to visit today:
Maja @The Nocturnal Library:Mihir from Fantasy Book Critic
Nobody @ The Story Goes: The Devouring Trilogy by Simon Holt
Now onto the good stuff. I am thrilled to welcome back author Sarah Fine today. I was lucky enough to be sent a copy of her debut book, Sanctum, back in 2012. I fell in love with her Guards of the Shadowlands, and I have shouted far and wide for everyone to check it out. Today, I have the final book in this trilogy: Chaos on the blog, along with another fun post from Sarah. Let's first meet Sarah:
Sarah Fine was born on the West Coast, raised in the Midwest, and is now firmly entrenched on the East Coast, where she lives with her husband and two children. When she's not writing, she's working as a child psychologist. No, she is not psychoanalyzing you right now. SANCTUM was her first novel. She also writes with Walter Jury under the name S.E. Fine, and their YA sci-fi thriller, SCAN, comes out in 2014 along with the conclusion of the Shadowland Series: Chaos and Of Metal and Wishes. Visit her website for details, also find Sarah on her blog, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Goodreads.
Here is Sarah talking about villains:
One of my favorite kinds of villain is the evil queen, when it’s done well. The evil queen villain is often found in fairytales, like Snow White and Sleeping Beauty, and there are plenty of modern revamps lately, like on the ABC show Once Upon a Time:
In fairytales, this type of character is unspeakably evil (in contrast to the innocent, sweet ingénue) and often has no backstory to explain her behavior. But in recent years, we’re getting evil queens born of pain or tragedy, with heartbreaking histories. The typical evil queen is either seeking revenge for mistreatment in the past, or she’s pursuing something with complete determination, either for herself or for others. She’s rarely completely cold, but she’s capable of brutality if she’s crossed. What I like most about her is that she’s often smooth, confident, intelligent, sexy—and a grown-up. She has lived and lost, and she’s mature and powerful (notice how you rarely see evil princesses? It’s just not the same!) Although I write YA, I’m turning forty this year myself, and I totally appreciate—and even root for—powerful female characters like this. Here’s one of my recent favorites:
I think sometimes evil queen characters are born out of this stereotype about powerful women, like if they do the same things as men—be assertive, dominant, relentless, willing to crush dissent, etc.—they’re crazy or evil. However, when presented with nuance, it’s truly a pleasure to watch them in action.
Now, my most recent book, Chaos, the series-ender for Guards of the Shadowlands, contains an evil queen character—the Mazikin Queen. She has her own reasons for doing what she does, but whoa, does she do some heinous stuff. And she’s not exactly as seductive as some characters you might be used to. She’s like a combination of …
… AND this:
But it was certainly fun to write her, because evil queens are so delicious in their malevolence, so sweet-but-deadly. So. Who’s your favorite evil queen?
(Please click on images for credits).
Hmm.... I have to say my favorite evil queen is still Malificent from Sleeping Beauty she gave me the creeps as a kid. What about you all? Weigh in. Thanks to Sarah, for once again stopping and being a part of Wicked. This is Sarah's third year participating in Wicked! Now I have a fantastic prize up for grabs courtesy of Ms. Fine. I have an audiobook copy of Chaos for one lucky winner. To enter fill out the Rafflecopter after reading Contest Policies. This giveaway is open for U.S. readers only.
Be sure to check out the entire Guards of the Shadowlands series:
Here is my Audibook review:
Chaos(Guards of the Shadowlands #3) by Sarah Fine
With Juri in control and everything in absolute chaos, Lela plunges into the depths of hell to free Malachi from creatures that have waited decades to exact their revenge.
But the Judge has her own way of doing things, and Lela must work with Ana, the new Captain, who has a very personal mission of her own.
Together, they infiltrate the most horrifying realm either has yet encountered in the Shadowlands, the bitter landscape ruled by the Mazikin.
The stakes could not be higher, and Lela must accept the help and love of people she barely knows or trusts.
As alliances and loyalties shift and she realizes the soul she came to save isn't the only one in need of rescue, can Lela summon the strength to see the fight through to the very end?Audio CDPublished October 7th 2014 by Brilliance Audio
Source: Publisher/Author in exchange for an honest review.
Four and a half stars: A thrilling and brutal ending to a fantastic series.
Lela storms into the Sanctum, demanding to see the Judge. There is no way she is going to allow the Mazikin to torture her beloved Malachi. The Judge gives Lela a nearly impossible mission. Lela must storm the Mazikin city, recover Malachi, kill the Mazikin Queen and destroy the portal that allows the Mazikin to walk in the land of the living. A nearly impossible task, but it doesn't matter, Lela, accompanied by Ana, is hell bent on recovering the man she loves, even if that means storming Hell. Can Lela and Ana accomplish the impossible? Will love conquer all?
What I Liked:
- Wow! What a roller coaster ride. This is a book that will tear your heart out, only to let it heal before tearing it out again. It is an intense read, dark, brutal, scary yet filled with such tender moments. You will feel a full range of emotions, and likely be emotionally spent by the time you reach the last page. I was thrilled and satisfied to complete the journey and finally reach the end. A terrific conclusion to an epic series. I can't recommend this series enough.
- At the heart of the story are two amazing characters Lela and Malachi. Both have endured horrific hardship in their short lives, but they refuse to give up. Neither backs down from a fight, as they are true fighters. Together, they are a whole. Two souls that complete and heal one another. Their love is beautiful, deep, true and completely altruistic. I love how they go through horrible lengths for one another and how they each time and time again make tremendous sacrifices for the other. Lela storms Hell to get to Malachi and Malachi has to move Heaven to reach Lela. This couple literally moves Heaven and Hell to be together. How can you not love a relationship like that?
- There is a well rounded cast of secondary characters in this one. Ana returns and she is as passionate and fiery as ever. In the realm of the Mazikin there are new allies, and the return of old faces. The Mazikin are as vicious and nasty as ever. They make you shudder with fear every time they appear. I love the range of emotions these characters instill in me.
- The story is incredibly fast paced and action packed. There is rarely a moment of respite with this one. It is a hectic, brutal and thrilling read. I suggest setting aside some time for this one as once you plunge in, you will find yourself remiss to stop reading. If you love heart pounding action, you will love the pace of this one.
- Ms. Fine definitely knows how to write believable and beautiful romances. She puts such depth and emotion into her romances, they are stunningly beautiful and heart felt. There are no love triangles or insta love situations. You must read this series to experience the brilliant story telling and the perfection of romantic relationships.
- The world building is top notch. If you thought the Shadowlands were unsettling, wait until you reach the Mazikin city. It is the stuff of nightmares. Ms. Fine knows how to craft dark and scary worlds. Her world building is exceptional.
- After so much emotional turmoil while reading this one, I was thankful to finally reach the end. I was pleased at the way things settled out, and I was satisfied with the resolution. I am sad that this series is over, but I think the characters have earned a long respite. I most assuredly will continue to read anything Ms. Fine writes as I am in awe of her mad writing skills.
- The audiobook version is fantastic. Amy McFadden does an exceptional job with the voices. I even enjoyed her male characters, and usually I struggle with females impersonating males, but that wasn't the case with this one. I loved the emotion McFadden packs in as she reads. Her narration was excellent. I highly recommend the audiobook.
And The Not So Much:
- This was a tough read at times. There is so much violence and darkness. Malachi and Lela endure horrendous hardship, they are beaten, mauled and scarred over and over again, to the point where I was beginning to lose all hope. It was tough to watch them continue to endure such horrible circumstances. It was almost too much, and every time I thought I was going to get a small reprieve, the story bared its ugly teeth and bit into my heart again. This definitely isn't a book for the faint of heart. It is dark and downright depressing at times.
- I had a couple of niggling questions at the end. I still didn't get a concrete answer as to who the Judge really was or Michael and Raphael. I have my theories, but I wanted it spelled out for me, yeah I am difficult like that.
- I was pleased that after all the upheaval that I got resolution for almost all the characters but two. What happened to Lela's mother and Zip? What was the deal with Lela's mother's teeth?
Chaos was a satisfying and stunning finale to an exceptional series which has landed a spot on my all time favorite series list. I loved the depth of the characters, the romance and the exceptional world building and story telling. If you are looking for an exciting, original and unforgettable series, I urge you to read The Guards of the Shadowlands immediately.
I received an audiobook copy from the author in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and I was not compensated for this review.
Be back tomorrow for another Wicked Post..... You won't want to miss it. Click on the button to catch up on all things Wicked.