ARC Review: The Secret City by C.J. Daugherty & Carina Rozenfeld

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‘Remember: Demons lie’

Locked away inside the fortified walls of Oxford’s St Wilfred’s College, surrounded by alchemists sworn to protect them, Taylor and Sacha are safe from the Darkness. For now.

But time is short. In seven days Sacha will turn 18, and the ancient curse that once made him invincible will kill him, unleashing unimaginable demonic horror upon the world.

There is one way to stop it.

Taylor and Sacha must go to where the curse was first cast – the medieval French city of Carcassonne – and face the demons.

The journey will be dangerous. And monsters are waiting for them.

But as Darkness descends on Oxford, their choice is stark. They must face everything that scares them, or lose everything they love.

review

3.5/5 Stars

***I received this eARC as a gift in exchange for an honest review via NetGalley & Bookouture

I was apprehensive getting into The Secret City because while I loved the premise of book 1 (The Secret Fire), I was disappointed in the execution. The Secret City was much better The Secret Fire and I kind of wish there was another installment in this series because I can’t wait to see what happens with these characters next.

The Secret City is full of action, danger, romance, and learning to embrace your fears to become more than you ever thought you could be. 

I loved, loved, loved Louisa and Allistair’s story. They have grown so much, you can’t help but fall hard for their friendship. Louisa’s past is a dark and tragic one, full of hurt and pain and heartache. Louisa has given up on love because she’s terrified she doesn’t know how because she has never been loved. It will break your heart that such a fierce, heroic, and whip-smart girl could feel so emotionally broken. Seeing her vulnerability, her bravado, the way she yearns for happiness and will sacrifice everything to save the world, she is just epic. Plus, that banter between Louisa and Allistair is playful, flirty, and full of admiration. It flows so well. 

The bad guys are seriously creepy and sinister. There are several adrenaline-fueled moments that you won’t be certain of the outcome. Those weird zombie-esque creatures are disgusting and yet, you can’t help but pity them. There’s a great balance showing that not all darkness is true darkness. 

Taylor still struggles. I liked that she stayed true to her personality. Yes, her power grows, yes, she’s destined, but she’s not perfect, she has to work hard for her skills and she makes mistakes. So relatable. 

I wish there was more of Sacha. Despite the story divided into various POVs, it felt dominated by Taylor for some reason. Not that her voice was stronger, somehow it was more demanding. Sacha’s story is complex. Hundreds of years of hatred and curses have made him into who he is and finally, finally, you see what a wonderful person he is. Be on guard for the swoon. 

I’ve waited not-so-patiently for some romance in this series and FINALLY. FIN-AL-LY. But so spaced out. Drove me nuts. MORE, needed much, much more. While I appreciated that it wasn’t romance-driven, I would have liked a little more development there on both counts. 

The ending was abrupt. 

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Happy reading, 

Jordan

 

ARC Review: The Secret Fire-C.J. Daugherty & Carina Rozenfeld

The-Secret-Fire-FinalGoodreads/Amazon/B&N

cooltext1889161239 copyFrench teen Sacha Winters can’t die. He can throw himself off a roof, be stabbed, even shot, and he will always survive. Until the day when history and ancient enmities dictate that he must die. Worse still, his death will trigger something awful. Something deadly. And that day is closing in.

Taylor Montclair is a normal English girl, hanging out with her friends and studying for exams, until she starts shorting out the lights with her brain. She’s also the only person on earth who can save Sacha.

There’s only one problem: the two of them have never met. They live hundreds of miles apart and powerful forces will stop at nothing to keep them apart.

They have eight weeks to find each other.

Will they survive long enough to save the world?

cooltext1889171582 copy3.5/5 Stars

***I received this eARC as a gift in exchange for an honest review via NetGalley & Bookouture

PROS:

  • Sacha is a bad boy daredevil. Completely and utterly irresistible. Reckless, dangerous, and fearless, Sacha is dark and deep. His war with his past is fueled by resentment and anger, he’s complex and layered, a wonderfully shocking character. 
  • Taylor is a good girl who always follows the rules. Teacher’s pet and fairly popular, Taylor has everything going for her…that is, until a twist of fate throws everything off balance. Taylor learns so much about herself, she grows and finds that the girl she thought she was is just the foundation for something even more amazing. Full of heart and hope, she’s the perfect counterbalance to Sacha.
  • The Bringers are CREEPY. Between the paranormal elements and real life threats from Mafia-esque goons, you’ll be on edge and wrapped in constant foreboding. 
  • Together, Sacha and Taylor bring out hidden depths in each other. Through Sacha, Taylor learns to let loose, to embrace her inner warrior, and to fight with everything in her. Taylor opens up Sacha to hope and affection, to dreams and comfort. All Sacha wanted was to know that he wasn’t alone, that someone would fight fiercely for him, Taylor is the answer to his fears. Scenes are magical, playful and always a surprise. Danger is at every corner. 
  • The Winters’ past, the witch trials, curses, and alchemy all come together in a startling and climatic reveal.

CONS:

  • For a book about alchemy, there’s a surprisingly little amount of alchemy practiced. 
  • The pacing is fairly slow for the majority of the book and it takes a while to get into. A large chunk of the story is shrouded in mystery and you can’t be sure where it’s going. On top of that, the typical high school drama detracted from the supernatural arch.
  • There’s promising hints at romance that grows but doesn’t blossom. Before any major development on that front happens, the story is cut abruptly.
  • Secondary characters, for the most part, are rarely interactive. There’s not a strong foundation for emotions to build or to establish a connection between the main characters and their families. Had there been playful or even antagonistic scenes between family members and friends, more than just a short little scene, the sense of danger would have intensified ten-fold because there was something to lose. Scenes that should have been emotionally devastating fell flat. 

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