The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon [Extract Review]

This review is my first impressions based on the first seven chapters that I was able to read in the early extract.


“All the world is a cage in a young girl’s eyes.”

I have been anxiously waiting for the publication of The Priory of the Orange Tree since it was first announced, and I am super excited to have gotten an opportunity to read the early exclusive extract (which is the first 7 chapters of the book)! I love adult fantasy, and once I learned that this was a standalone with dragons, I knew it was a book that I needed to read! While this was not the effortless fantasy read that I was hoping for, I am still really interested in reading the full book.

I found the opening chapters to be lyrically written and instantly engaging. It was largely plot driven with the anxiety and fear of the unknown outsider’s appearance, and the worldbuilding trickled in slowly. But after the first chapter I started getting increasingly more confused as more characters and perspectives were introduced. It took me quite some time to even realize there was a perspective and country shift, and it took me until about 50% or so to settle into the narrative style and really understand what was going on. This is definitely a “me issue” because I often struggle with multiple POVs, and unfortunately for me the eARC formatting really exacerbated my confusion for this one. (Again, I read an early extract and there often are significant changes made prior to final publication; the MOBI formatting issues are not something that will be present in the final book.)

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The Haunting of Henderson Close by Catherine Cavendish

“It’s worse than creepy in here. Let’s find what we need and get out.”

What a fantastically atmospheric ghost story! I was really excited when the publisher offered me this eARC for my honest review because I love tales of the supernatural even though I am a total skeptic about it. Interestingly enough, my one unexplained ghost experience happened on a ghost tour in the Underground Vaults in Edinburgh, so I was extra excited for this one! While the character’s backstories and initial conversations felt disjointed at first, the story definitely shines with building tension and crafting a truly spooky read.

For those of you that have never walked the streets and closes of Edinburgh, they definitely have a haunting atmosphere to them. Our main character is Hannah, a recent divorcee that’s relocated from England to Edinburgh to as an actor and guide for haunted walking tours of Henderson Close. While Henderson Close itself is fictitious, there are countless walking tours where the guides dress up as people from the past to lead the tours and discuss ghost sightings around the city (I’ve been on one!).

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Night Shift by Robin Triggs

We had good cause for fear. This assignment was rapidly becoming a nightmare. Just a few days into the night shift and we already had a death on our hands.

Night Shift is more of a whodunit thriller story with some underdeveloped science fiction worldbuilding elements. The story is a spin on the And Then There Were None motif of a group of strangers are isolated from the outside and are picked off one by one. 13 people are working in Antarctica for what is known as the night shift: a six month period where the sun doesn’t rise and inclement weather isolates them completely from outside help.

This is a plot driven narrative told in the first person perspective of Anders and written well to keep the suspense throughout for the reader, and Triggs does a good job of expressing the characters’ paranoia through the text. I liked that the beginning started at the end with the tease of the terror about to unfold with the confidential memo.

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The Sorrows by Jonathan Janz

The Sorrows is the first of many re-published backlist titles from Jonathan Janz and was his first book. It was originally published in 2012 and has been out of print for some time, and I am so glad that this and his other work is being re-released!

Holy crap what a ride that was! Friends, I know you have seen me screaming about The Siren and the Specter and The Children of the Dark, so I am sure that it will come as no surprise to you that I thoroughly enjoyed The Sorrows as well.

The story follows Ben Shadeland and Eddie Blaze, a Hollywood composer duo trying to beat the deadline for the score for the next horror film from renowned director Lee Stanley. Ben’s had a bit of creative block since his horrible wife divorced him, and Eddie has taken to haunting legends in Northern California to scare Ben into inspiration.

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Vicious (Villains #1) by V.E. Schwab

Life—the way it really is—is a battle not between Bad and Good, but between Bad and Worse. —Joseph Brodsky

Friends, Vicious is a book that totally surprised me in the best of ways. I’ve owned this book for months but was kind of afraid to read because of the hype and my lukewarm/conflicted feelings about the Shades of Magic trilogy, but when I impulse bought the Limited Special Edition OwlCrate for Vengeful and decided that it was about time that I give this book a try… and I am so glad that I did because I loved it! If you enjoy morally gray characters and anti-heroes like I do, this definitely is a book for you.

Vicious is told in the perspectives of Eli and Victor, who are former college roommates turned enemies, I really enjoyed the storytelling overall: the narrative shifts between present-day and ten years prior, meaning that the reader is thrust into the present with little context and slowly discovers what happened to turn friends into foes.

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