8 fantasy books with delicious cliffhangers

8 fantasy books with delicious cliffhanger endings

Whether it’s a plot twist that blows a story wide open or an arc that leads to a wider plot, cliffhangers get a reaction. Whether you hate them or love the torture, cliffhangers appear in many popular books. Personally, I love them–if they’re done right.

Here’s a list of some of my favorites.

Warning: This list contains spoilers (though I’ve tried to keep them vague).

Six of Crows (Six of Crows #1), by Leigh Bardugo – They’ve done it! Or have they? Things go south real quick as book one in the Duology comes to a pretty abrupt halt. This one left me worried for my favorite characters and needing Crooked Kingdom fast.

Bride of the Shadow King, by Sylvia Mercedes – The two would-be lovers could not be more star-crossed in this brilliant romantic fantasy. Just when you think they’ll catch a break, a single chapter changes the game completely. (Find my review here.)

The Wicked King, by Holly Black – Will Jude and Cardan work things out, or will the boy king go the way of King Joffrey? After a mega plot twist, you’ll learn…that you need to read book three!

Heir of Fire (Throne of Glass #3), by Sarah J. Maas – Celaena Sardothien has an emotional breakthrough, and a lot goes wrong or outright fizzles. But as the plot is about to move her back to the primary setting as this lengthy book ends. Come on! (My review.)

An Enchantment of Thorns (A Court of Fairy Tales #1), by Helena Rookwood and Elm Vince – In this Beauty and the Beast retelling, there’s no relief in sight for heroine Aster and prickly fae beast Thorne. With their tale now complete at three books, at least you won’t have to shout at words like I did. (My review here.)

For the Wolf (Wilderwood #1), by Hannah Whitten – We’re far from done with Wilderwood guardian Eamon and the unlucky Red by the time For the Wolf is finished. Thankfully, the book’s sweet and swoony romance provides a /bit/ of closure. (My review.)

The Theft of Sunlight (Dauntless Path #2), by Intisar Khanani – As a country girl turned princess’s lady-in-waiting with mobility challenges, it takes time for heroine Rae to find her place. Not long after she does, a wicked plot twist pushes the plot into another book due this summer. Such delicious torture! (Find my review here.)

Skin of the Sea (Skin of the Sea #1), by Natasha Bowen – This Yoruba legends-based mermaid’s odyssey manages to end in a satisfying way, despite the greater adventure only beginning. (My review here.)

Trivia: How well do you know the Six of Crows duology characters?

How well do you know the Six of Crows characters?

Love Leigh Bardugo’s Six of Crows duology? (Of course you do! You’re here!) Test your knowledge of the unforgettable characters below!

  1. What kind of Grisha is Kuwei Yul-Bo?

    A. Heartrender
    B. Fabrikator
    C. Inferni
    D. Tailor

    2. Which of these Grisha skills does Nina have at the beginning of Six of Crows?

    A. Tailor
    B. Heartrender
    C. Healer
    D. All of the above

    3. Where does Pekka Rollins keep his office?

    A. The Kaelish Prince
    B. The Emerald Palace
    C. The Black Veil
    D. Sweet Reef

    4. Which of these characters is NOT a Grisha?

    A. Zoya
    B. Genya
    C. Jesper
    D. Colm

    5. Which one of these characters join a consortium of jurda traders according to Kaz’s plan?

    A. Jarl Brum
    B. Karl Dryden
    C. Mister Crimson
    D. Cornelius Smeet

    6. Which of these roles or disguises does Jesper NOT assume as part of a plan?

    A. Zemeni delegate
    B. Mister Crimson
    C. Jurda farmer
    D. Gambler

  1. C. Inferni

  2. D. All of the above (these are all Corporalki skills)
  3. B. The Emerald Palace
  4. D. Colm (Fahey)
  5. B. Karl Dryden
  6. C. Jurda farmer

Less than 4 questions right: You’re a Six of Crows novice! Maybe it’s time for a re-read!

4 questions right: You’re familiar with the duology, but the details have gotten fuzzy!

5 questions right: You’re almost an expert!

6 questions right: Are you Leigh Bardugo? No? Just a really huge fan? My friend, you are in the right place!

So how did you do?

9 Fantastic Quotes from the Six of Crows Duology

9 Fantastic Quotes from the Six of Crows Duology

Crooked Kingdom is my favorite of the two books in Leigh Bardugo’s brilliant Six of Crows Duology. I had so many highlights! In all fairness to Six of Crows, I’ve plucked out some of my favorites from that book to include in this list, too.

Here they are: Nine fantastic quotes from the Six of Crows Duology.

  1. What about the nobodies and the nothings, the invisible girls? We learn to ring magic from the ordinary. – Crooked Kingdom

2. She’d laughed, and if he could have bottled the sound and gotten drunk on it every night, he would have. It terrified him. – Six of Crows

3. He felt free, dangerous, like lightning rolling over the prairie. – Crooked Kingdom

4. “I would come for you. And if I couldn’t walk, I’d crawl to you, and no matter how broken we were, we’d fight our way out together–knives drawn, pistols blazing. Because that’s what we do. We never stop fighting.” – Crooked Kingdom

5. I’m a business man,” he’d told her. “No more, no less.”
“You’re a thief, Kaz.”
“Isn’t that what I just said?” – Six of Crows

6. “That was how you survived when you weren’t chosen, when there was no royal blood in your veins. When the world owed you nothing, you demanded something of it anyway.” – Crooked Kingdom

The Six of Crows Duology

7. “Nina glanced from Inej to Kaz and saw they both wore the same expression. Nina knew that look. It came after the shipwreck, when the tide moved against you and the sky had gone dark. It was the first sight of land, the hope of shelter and even salvation that might await you on a distant shore.” – Crooked Kingdom

8. He needed to tell her…what? That she was lovely and brave and better than anything he deserved. That he was twisted, crooked, wrong, but not so broken that he couldn’t pull himself together into some semblance of a man for her. That without meaning to, he’d begun to lean on her, to look for her, to need her near. – Six of Crows

9. “Stop treating your pain like it’s something you imagined. If you see the wound is real, then you can heal it.” – Crooked Kingdom

Kaz Brekker and my Fjerdan heist level character hangover

Caution: This post contains spoilers for Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom.

Ever had a book hangover? How about a character hangover?

I’ve got one, and it’s because of Kaz Brekker.

Kaz Brekker and my Fjerda heist-level character hangover

Six of Crows introduces readers to the gritty underworld of Ketterdam, from scheming merchants to the gambling empires of the Barrel. As a top underling in a gang called the Dregs, Kaz Brekker is a half mythical figure–which is exactly how he designed his image. There aren’t many anti-heroes that intentional.

Throughout the Six of Crows duology, the story slowly prizes up Kaz’s carefully crafted mask. He’s only a marginally likeable character, his intellectual feats pulling off impossible victories like magic. He’s vicious, living up to his nicknames: Dirtyhands and the Bastard of the Barrel.

So why am I so weirdly obsessed with this character?

Kaz Brekker has a leg injury that leaves him with mobility issues. It’s a little odd in terms of representation because 1) it causes pain but doesn’t seem to hinder him in critical moments and 2) he actually could rid himself of it with a skilled Grisha tailor’s help. He considers it such a part of himself, though, that he doesn’t think of it when he has the chance.

Stock photo of an alley at night
A stock photo by Nicolas Postiglioni with serious Ketterdam vibes

There’s also something fiercely endearing about the moments he fails: when he finally reveals some of his feelings to Inej and when he passes out in the truck in Fjerda. Kaz has his painful backstory to be sure, but I don’t think that’s what makes him an unforgettable character.

It’s the way others view him that does it. From Inej’s challenge that makes him face his flaws, to the way they brighten when they spot his “scheming face.” He’s loyal to those loyal to him, the dark knight sweeping in for the rescue in a merciless city. He’s a super hero with a soft spot, clever and not at all charming, especially with a character like Jesper on the scene. Kaz even gives out second chances.

At the same time, he’s not all that complex: Kaz is totally driven by revenge and ambition. His most lovable moments come when he tries to do normal human things. For all his faults and miraculous heists, it’s this quality I love most about his character: the boy who knows he isn’t ordinary, but for others’ sake, makes the attempt anyway.

And that’s why I won’t forget Kaz Brekker anytime soon.

Do you know Kaz Brekker?

Do You KNow Kaz Brekker?

So, you think you know Kaz Brekker…! Find out below whether you’re a tried and true Crow who knows Kaz cover to cover–or if you’re just visiting the Crow Club for kicks.

via GIPHY

1.What item of Saskia’s does Kaz Brekker keep?

A. A toy lion
B. A pin
C. A ribbon
D. A crow stuffed animal

2. Which of these businesses does Kaz Brekker sabotage?

A. The Rose Garden
B. The Kaelish Prince
C. The Crow Club
D. Club Cumulus

3. What everday item does Kaz keep up his sleeve as a weapon?

A. A shucking knife
B. A paring knife
C. A seam ripper
D. A boning knife

4. True or false: Kaz Brekker has never left Ketterdam until the Fjerdan heist.

5. What real plague does Kaz Brekker orchestrate a fake outbreak of?

A. The King’s Pox Plague
B. The Queen’s Lady Plague
C. The Water Pox Plague
D. The Lady’s Lace Plague

6. Which of these characters does Kaz slip up and call Jordie?

A. Inej
B. Matthias
C. Wylan
D. Jesper

1 C. A ribbon
2. B. The Kaelish Prince
3. A. A (oyster) shucking knife
4. False: Kaz is from the countryside
5. B. The Queen’s Lady Plague
6. D. Jesper

Less than four questions right: Have you been watching Netflix again?

Four questions right: Ok, so you’ve see Kaz Brekker around.

Five questions right: You know Kaz Brekker–but I wouldn’t let him hear you saying that!

Six questions right: Kaz will admit to knowing you. Heck, he may even set up a rescue when you’re in need. But can anyone REALLY know Kaz Brekker?

Girl of Shadow and Glass cover reveal!

Not long ago, I made the decision to relaunch my Tara’s Necklace series ahead of book three. (No, I don’t have a release date in mind, sorry!) The first thing I did was commission brand new covers from MiblArt, and they absolutely NAILED what I wanted. The new cover of Girl of Shadow and Glass came out perfectly.

(And guess what? I think the new cover for Girl of Glass and Fury is even better!)

Each cover represents a different world in the portal fantasy series, visited by a narrator in each book. I’ll be sharing some of the new scenes from Girl of Shadow and Glass later, but first…

Girl of Shadow and Glass has a new synopsis!

Dare to dream. Live to defy.

I can’t remember the last time I dared to dream about anything—not about my future, never about love, and certainly not about the sorcery the ancestors left behind.

All that’s about to change.

Kith has spent each of her seventeen years being coddled by the wisps and semi-wisps of her world. Born physically fragile, her family, elders and neighbors have never allowed her the independent life she craves. It’s no wonder she looks forward to her brush with sorcery each morning. When she passes through an ancient gate to a neighboring world, the animal-like shadows are there to welcome her—and the shadows aren’t the coddling type.

Bound by treaty to feed and educate her, the magical shadows have become beloved teachers for Kith—until one of them makes a shocking decision. Kith must succeed at a new type of education: she must learn to run faster than a shadow or risk going hungry.

With the weight of an inter-world treaty on her shoulders–and encouragement from a young man with courtship on his mind—Kith sets out on a journey to become stronger, smarter and more independent, all within the bounds of her dying world and the body she was born with. Because as the last of her ancestors’ protective sorcery gives way, it’s no longer enough for Kith to defy the odds.

It’s time to live to defy.

Girl of Shadow and Glass cover

Isn’t it a beauty? I thought it captured the Sundown World perfectly.

You can find the new addition of Girl of Shadow Glass at your favorite retailer through this UBL (just make sure it has this cover–some retailers will take longer to update than others). Right now, it’s just $.99 USD!

Cheers!

-CKB

10 Questions with Chesney Infalt

10 Questions with Chesney Infalt

As the author of two fairytale retellings and a Victorian romance, indie fantasy author Chesney Infalt has a lot to say about writing, including her latest release, The Fox and the Briar (you can read my review here). I interviewed the author shortly before the Sleeping Beauty retelling debuted. Here’s what she had to say:

Your new Sleeping Beauty retelling, The Fox and the Briar, follows another, The Heart of the Sea. You’ve said you plan to write more fairytale retellings. Is there one particular fairytale you can’t wait to draw from?

I have a (long) planned list of fairytales I’m excited to write! Snow White is currently in the works, and I’m really looking forward to writing Red Riding Hood and Alice in Wonderland.

As a nearly life-long Cheshire Cat fan, this may not be a question so much as a request. Can you tell me more about the Cheshire Cat and his role in Faerie?

In this series, the Cheshire Cat, although he is in everyone else’s business, keeps his secrets to himself. He seems to fancy himself as a sort of balance keeper for Faerie, adding just as much chaos as he does order. This is definitely not the last time you will see him—he enjoys annoying Toussaint far too much.

Author Chesney Infalt

You’ve also written Victorian romance with A Different Kind of Magic. What about that era speaks to you?

I think I love the aesthetic—the clothing, the societal expectations, the dances and parties. 

Do you think any of those Victorian sensibilities carry over into your romantic fairytale retellings?

I think so! Both stories mention the main characters having chaperones, and while the women in them are independent and strong-willed, society has expectations of them getting married to beneficial matches and starting families. 

Are there other eras you’d like to set a fantasy novel in?

I’d love to do a more medieval setting. I had a high fantasy series I started but am rewriting, and that setting is a lot closer to that era. Honestly, I am open to writing whatever era speaks to me. If the story calls for it, I am willing!

As I’m writing this question, I’m more than two-thirds of the way through The Fox and the Briar. Can you tell me why I’m rooting for Tristan, who is set up as the villain, to get the girl?! And was this the reaction you were hoping for?

In the beginning, The Unseelie King was not meant to be likable at all—but it’s not fun if the villain isn’t interesting. I started fleshing him out and giving him a reason for wanting to curse Briar Rose, and that evolved into me writing chapters from his perspective. One of my critique partners (the marvelous L V Russell) suggested early on that I add a prologue from his perspective, showing the curse being cast, and from then on, I adored him! (He is my favorite character from this series so far…) As for the romance… I didn’t ever see Tristan and Briar Rose having a romantic connection, although I figured some might see it that way. I think they are drawn to one another, but not as lovers. I hope the readers see and appreciate the complexity of both Tristan’s character and his connection to Briar Rose. 

Character art from The Fox and the Briar, depicting Tristan

Let’s talk crafting characters! I think Loren has such a Darcy-esque social unease and sweetness, but at the same time he is easily led by emotion. Tristan, meanwhile, is full of well-calculated plans and responses, yet has so much confidence and villain swagger! Did you always intend for the half-brothers to be such perfect opposites?

I love the way you described them! Their personalities developed as I wrote. Tristan was really easy for me to write, but one of my betas (the fantastic Katherine Macdonald) pointed out that Loren read a little flat at times, so I am grateful she helped me backtrack and flesh him out more. I like to find songs that remind me of my characters, and as soon as I realized that “I’m Still Here” from Treasure Planet perfectly captured Loren in my mind, he came alive to me in a whole new way. It was fascinating to see how these half-brothers deal with the sins of their parents and the roles they have been pressured into. 

There are plenty of misunderstandings between Briar Rose and Loren early in The Fox and the Briar, plus an arranged marriage trope. What are your favorite tropes to write about?

A few of my favorites:

    • Arranged Marriage/Marriage of Convenience

    • Fated Love

    • Friends-to-Lovers

    • Enemies-to-Lovers

    • Found Family

    • Redemption

You’ve shared on Instagram that you’re working on a Howl’s Moving Castle-inspired gothic fantasy. Can you tell me, I don’t know, everything about that?

I am so excited about that project! Howl’s Moving Castle has been a favorite of mine for a long time, so it really isn’t surprising that I got an idea inspired by it. I actually woke up from a nightmare, and instead of calming myself down and going back to sleep (it was 3 am!), the idea for a gothic romance began to form. I wasn’t done editing TFATB yet, so I didn’t let myself go further than jotting down notes and writing a blurb (and making a few moodboards) until after that was done.

I don’t want to say a ton about the project yet, but I’ll list a few things “The Magic Collector” will have:

    • Marriage of Convenience

    • Ghosts

    • Curses to break

    • Touch-starved MC

    • A castle that doesn’t like to stay in the same place (or time!) for very long

Thanks for joining me today! As a final question, I’d like to issue a challenge: please write a short story in 10 words or less.

Using my three wishes bound me in servitude.

Chesney Infalt is the author of The Heart of the Sea, A Different Kind of Magic and The Fox and the Briar. To learn more about Ms. Infalt, visit chesneyinfalt.com.

The Fox and the Briar release info

The Fox and the Briar review

The Fox and the Briar review

Note: I received a free ARC and am voluntarily leaving an honest review.

I’m so taken with this incredibly gentle, understated fantasy retelling! The Fox and the Briar is a fae retelling of Sleeping Beauty, with a reserved, Darcy-esque fae prince who can’t seem to find the right words to tell his princess how he feels.

Fans of the miscommunication trope will like the initial premise. Those who don’t will be pleased (and maybe squee a little) when it ends with the first quarter or so of the story. There’s an arranged marriage, a prince in magical disguise and Tristan, a wicked fae king with boldness for days. And who doesn’t love a villain with swagger?

The Fox and the Briar cover

The more I read of Tristan, the more I loved this story. While the (loveably) bumbling Seelie prince can’t find the nerve to express himself, Unseelie King Tristan casually worries about keeping a courtier from falling in love with him. The guy’s got confidence.

I really liked where the story was left, and hope to hear more from the characters, just like characters from author Chesney Infalt’s previous retelling, The Heart of the Sea, make an appearance in The Fox and the Briar. And if the Cheshire Cat is involved–included here as a denizen of faerie–you know it has to be good.

My rating:
5/5

To learn more about this author, check out the interview, 10 Questions with Chesney Infalt (live 6/3/22), or visit chesneyinfalt.com.

Want more fairytale retellings?

Retellings to Thrill Any Fantasy Reader (review list with links)

Enchanting Fate review

Throne of Sand review

From Storm and Shadow cover reveal!

Yes to fae fantasy and unlikely allies!

From Storm and Shadow, by Rachel Morgan, is the first in a new series, Storm Fae, and set in the same world as her Creepy Hollow series. It’s also one of my favorite cover types, but we’ll get to that…

Giveaway and Deals

For a giveaway through Book of Matches Media, head to my Instagram page for details. Otherwise, you can pick up Ms. Morgan’s entire previous series, Creepy Hollow, for just $2.99 until tomorrow (May 31, 2022). And in case you’re wondering, there are nine books! Get the deal through this UBL.

Synopsis
Return to the beloved bestselling World of Guardians…
 
When Silver’s parents are murdered in front of her by the people she’s trusted for years, she flees the fae realm and begins a new life pretending to be human.
 
More than two years later, she believes she’s finally safe—until the night someone from the Guild shows up.
 
Ash.
 
The boy who was once her best friend. The boy who tried to kill her.
 
He’s on the run now as well, after discovering the same secret that led to Silver’s parents’ deaths. Or so he says.
 
The forest they grew up in has become a dangerous place, crawling with fae monsters, and Ash claims he needs Silver’s help. The discovery her parents made years ago could be the only thing to save their home.
 
Silver knows Ash is only using her—he’s a guardian, after all, and they’re the ones who took everything from her—but she can’t turn her back on the home she still loves.
 
And so she forms a fragile truce with the boy who broke her heart. Stepping back into the world she swore never to return to, she sets out on a dangerous path to unlock the secrets of the past.
 
But neither Silver nor Ash are prepared for the true horror of what they will find lurking in the shadows of Stormsdrift.
 

From Storm and Shadow can be purchased here. And now for the pretty picture…

From Storm and Shadow cover

I don’t know about you, but I’m a sucker for ominous covers with blossoms.  Maybe it’s from my childhood The Secret Garden obsession, but I always want to dive on in!

That’s all for now!

Cheers,

-CKB

16 awesome Asian-inspired fantasy worlds

Books with Asian-inspired faNtasy worlds 2

I should’ve called this 16 plus books, since so many of these are series…es?! In any event, I’m here with some bookish representation for those always in search of more. These 16 books represent places throughout Asia and Polynesia through fresh takes on mythology, settings and retellings. Check them out below!

The Chanter’s Blade, by A.A. Lee – When I found this Philippines-inspired fantasy, it went on my TBR list. So far, the writing has grabbed me.
 

Sunbolt, by Intisar Khanani – The intersection of cultures (and monsters) features prominently in this book. Set in a West Asian-inspired country with a feisty FMC whose mother came from an East Asian-inspured country, Hitomi is sure to steal readers’ hearts. (My review here.)

Six Crimson Cranes, by Elizabeth Lim – A coming of age story for the ages–or maybe just a few days for a dragon. (My review.)
 
The Singing Hills Cycle, by Nghi Vo (The Empress of Salt and Fortune; When the Tiger Came Down the Mountain) – Literary, whimsical and inventive, Vo’s stories get me every time. (Read my review of book one and two.)
 
The Jasmine Throne, by Tasha Suri – This India-inspired world is as haunting as its characters.
 
The Priory of the Orange Tree, by  Samantha Shannon – Part of this story is set in an East Asian-inspired country. I thought the plentiful storylines thin in this novel, but it’s a favorite for others.
 
Maiden of Candlelight and Lotuses, by Anastasis Blythe – Blythe’s first book outside of Vella is a magic academy homerun, filled with sweet romance and convincing martial arts action. As of writing this, it’s free for her newsletter subscribers. (Check out my review here.)
 
The Pler Series, by Anna Velfman (Snowblind; Icedancer; Avalanche) – A fused East-Asian setting is the last great civilization in Velfman’s exciting, science-fantasy-leaning novels with a protagonist from the “uncivilized” south. (My review of Snowblind, Icedancer and Avalanche.)
 
Gunpowder Alchemy, by Jeannie Lin – Another novel on my TBR list! This one promises steampunk and I can’t wait to read it.
 
The Poppy War, by R.F. Kuang – Steeped in World War II history (chapters on city warfare are rooted in an actual battle), this one can be hard to stomach, but is undeniably a true fantasy epic. (My review.)
 
Black Water Sister, by Zen Cho – Okay, so this one is urban fantasy, but its expert fusion of myth, tradition and modern Malaysia are not to be missed. (My review here.)
 
The Daevabad Trilogy, by S.A. Chakraborty – I haven’t had time to read The Empire of Gold yet (each of these books is LONG) but this series just gets better as it goes. I highly recommend it. (Read my review of The City of Brass.)
 
Desert Nights series, by Helena Rookwood and Elm Vince – The fairytale retelling duo tackles the story of Aladdin in this fun series. (Read my review of Throne of Sand here.)
 
The Whale Rider, by Witi Ihimaera – One of my all-time favorite books is a quick a read as it is memorable. I’m including this because of its magical realism. Forget the movie and grab the heartwarming book!
 
Red Winter, by Annette Marie – Rooted in Japanese mythology, I picked up this book after multiple recommendations.
 
Tales of Akatsuki, by Nicolette Andrews (Kitsune; Yuki; Okami) – Fairytales are retold and blended with Japanese myth in this series I can’t wait to read.