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.)

10 books to read after Six of Crows

Wish you had more Six of Crows? I’ve compiled a list of books to fill that Kaz-shaped hole in your heart after finishing Crooked Kingdom.

10 Books to Read After Six of Crows

When I think of Leigh Bardugo’s Six of Crows duology, the words gritty, dark, clever and underworld come to mind. If you’re searching for another read full of nimble thieves and/or intrigue, read on!

The Book of Night, by Holly Black – Expert thief Charlie is trying to go straight, but when her shadow-filled version of Eastern Massachussetts is upended by strange murders, the underworld comes for Charlie. This wonderfully gritty story of shadow magic and unexpected love is a riveting urban fantasy.

A Darker Shade of Magic, by V.E. Schwabb – One of two perspectives in this portal fantasy belongs to thief and pirate wannabe Lila; the other to a dimension-walking honorary royal who smuggles for the thrill of it.

The Theft of Sunlight cover

The Theft of Sunlight, by Intisar Khanani – Country girl Rae must work with (and against) thieving rings in the capital in order to find abducted children from throughout Menaiya, including the sister of her closest friend. (You can find my full review here on the blog.)

The Prince and the Poisoner, by Helena Rookwood – A sassy young thief and carnival potionmaker must slip poison to a princess, or else be sent back to the abusive troupe she’s fled from. (Find my review of this indie fantasy here.)

Night Angel (Night Angel Trilogy), by Brent Weeks – If you loved the gritty underworld of the Barrel, you’ll want to meet Kylar and the slew of villains he can’t quite escape.

Half a King, by Joe Abercrombie – A prince becomes a slave who must claw his way back to his kingdom and throne after a betrayal. Fans of Six of Crows will appreciate the intrigue.

Tapestry of Night, by Elm Vince – Cassia is a late bloomer magically, and the perfect person to play government spy and help free rebels before they’re moved to a new prison. (Read my review here.)

The City of Brass, by S.A. Chakraborty – Nahri is a thief and hustler in Cairo–until the day an ifrit chases her and a djinn comes to her defense. As It turns out, the djinni city of Daevabad has enough intrigue going on to keep even Kaz Brekker on his toes. (My review here.)

The City of Brass cover

The Assassin Bride (currently on Kindle Vella), by Anastasis Blythe – An assassin is plucked from her foxhole and dropped into a deadly competition to be Queen–one she can’t escape without surviving each of the dangerous and clever challenges.

A Dark and Hollow Star, by Ashley Shuttleworth – This contemporary fantasy set mostly in a fae-filled Toronto has all the wit of Six of Crows, plus a crime to solve and a heist-like mission to find the culprit. A Dark and Hollow Star is also full of LGBTQ+ rep, fun nerd culture references and an unforgettable fallen Fury.

10 Books to read after Six of Crows

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

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.

Atheist’s Angel review

A review of Atheist’s Angel by A. Velfman

Note: I received a free ARC and am voluntarily writing an honest review. Atheist’s Angel contains scenes of violence, child abuse, self-harm and torture.

I can honestly say I haven’t read another book like this! Atheist’s Angel delivers interesting takes on angels, djinn and Hades. It’s also darker than what I usually read, verging on grimdark without losing its hopeful message. It reminded me of Sabaa Tahir’s An Ember in the Ashes and Hannah Whitten’s For the Wolf.

At the beginning of Atheist’s Angel, human Gabriela rescues Tararus, a fallen angel in every sense of the word. Dropped into the affairs of angel-like celestials and gods, she’s forced into a bargain with Tararus and the god of punishment he serves. Thankfully, Tararus has already grown on her. She sees the good left in him that he can’t see in himself.

Atheist’s Angel book cover

The story really picks up when Gabriela ends up in Tararus’s old realm. Though early parts of the book felt slower due to dense language in the exposition, Gabriela’s sarcastic descriptions lift it. They also offer a welcome dose of humor in this often heavy story. One example: when speaking to a benevolent god “…her mortal self stood out like a forty-a-day smoker among vegan gym bunnies.”

I came very close to rating Atheist’s Angel higher (rounding up to 5 stars rather than 4 1/2) and would have if it leaned into the romance and emotion a bit more by the end. After all that darkness and suffering, I wanted a longer payoff. At least I have future books to look forward to for that, and I do expect good things. What could be more fun than watching the celestial and mundane human worlds collide?

My rating:
4.5/5

To learn more about this author, visit annavelfman.com.

Heir of Fire review

I’ve been reading the Throne of Glass series for the first time. You can find my reviews of Throne of Glass and Crown of Midnight here…which means it’s time for my Heir of Fire review!

Heir of Fire review
This is by far the most emotional of the books in the Throne of Glass series, so get your tissues ready. It’s also the book that opens up the story for the grander fight against the evil king, without making many steps in that direction.
 
A lot of Heir of Fire is spent working through Celaena’s internal conflict. She has to face her past in order to move forward. It’s not the most riveting thing to read, but it’s tempered by her developing magical skills and the hunt for a murderer of demi-fae.
Heir of Fire cover
Heir of Fire also introduces the Ironteeth witch Manon and the wyverns. As readers get the answer to what’s happening in the mountains (partially), Manon provides a welcome bit of action. I instantly loved the wyvern Abraxos, but unfortunately nothing comes of their storyline in this book.
 
Will I keep reading? Of course. But I’m an impatient reader. I hope to find much more plot movement in book four, because, though I loved the world-building in Heir of Fire, it did put my patience to the test.

To learn more about this author, visit sarahjmaas.com.

All the Horses of Iceland review

All the Horses of Iceland review

This little book took me by surprise. More the length of a novelette or novella, it’s written in the style of an Icelandic saga. For me, reading it lands somewhere between Tale of Genji and Julie Otsuka’s The Buddha in the Attic. It has the mix of lyricism and opacity that comes with reading an old text, yet the story is a breath of fresh air.

All the Horses of Iceland cover

There were times where this epic journey gets a little lost (it would help if you know the names of ancient countries that no longer exist), but I had faith that it was leading somewhere I wanted to see. There are bizarre magical rituals, a horse that is said to hold a departed human’s spirit and, above all, the will to make the best of things.

I was so impressed with the ending of this book, which tied it all together. This is ultimately the story of legacy, and that it doesn’t have to take the usual form. For lovers of historical fiction and high fantasy, I highly recommend this short read.

 

To learn more about this author, visit sarahtolmie.ca.

The Theft of Sunlight review

Fans of Tamora Pierce won’t want to miss this one. Up next is my much belated The Theft of Sunlight review!

The Theft of Sunlight review graphic

The Theft of Sunlight is an issues book without compromising action and story, and I am there for it! Like in Thorn (Dauntless Path #1–find my review here), there are challenges relating to an abusive family members, corruption and class disparity. There’s also sweet romance—this time, between country girl turned lady-in-waiting Rae and a thief.

Rae’s story continues after The Bone Knife, which appeared at the end of Thorn. Cleverly, we haven’t  left Princess Alyrra behind, either, even with the protagonist switch. The Menaiyan palace is viewed with fresh eyes, we have disability rep and Rae becomes a crusader to stop human trafficking after her best friend’s sister is snatched. It’s a dark road to go down, yet the story is well-balanced and never hopelessly grim. Delving into the underbelly of the capital brings an array of colorful, dangerous and riveting thieves with it. Think Lila Bard in V.E. Schwabb’s A Darker Shade of Magic.
The Theft of Sunlight cover

This book reminded me a lot of Alanna: the First Adventure (my review here), with an altruistic but grittier version of George in Bren (it’s generally much darker than Alanna, even in the glittering palace). I also think of Vanessa Len’s Only a Monster (my review) as a good “if you liked that, read this” title. Rae is a great protagonist up against an almost hopelessly powerful enemy (enemies, really), and I felt like she was really coming into her own by the end of the book. I don’t think the cliffhanger was too bad, either. I do need that next book, though!

My rating:
5/5

To learn more about this author, visit booksbyintisar.com.

Of Heists and Hexes review

If you like your fantasy romances extra spicy, my Of Heists and Hexes review is here! This is the first time I’ve read anything by S.L. Prater, and she certainly knows how to turn on the steam. Read on!

Of Heists and Hexes review graphic

Note: I received a free copy and have voluntarily written this honest review. Contains steamy open-door scenes, disturbing violent content and depictions of capital punishment.

Noah is an honest, likable sheriff. Robin is a witch and a thief on a mission to feed the people of Arm. The two are fated mates thanks to their magic, though Noah knows he should arrest her. The last thing he wants is for his young sister Marian and his nan to get caught up in Robin’s rebellion against the political status quo.

I loved the world-building, the witches and the cat and mouse game between Robin and Noah. Seeing Robin thwart him is genuine fun, and the tension, between them and throughout the kingdom, make it binge-worthy. There is a very serious side, too, as Noah brings depraved criminals to justice (the crimes are heartbreakingly real). Combined with depictions of poverty, these scenes show how broken their society is, because Noah and the witches are practically the only ones to do anything about it. With all he has to face, it is a challenge for Noah to be an honest law man.

Of Heists and Hexes book cover

I wish there’d been more in-person emotion between the two love interests. Much of the heart is in the form of notes, and when together they’re all heat (and yes, the heat level is VERY high). I was waiting for an emotional breakthrough to back the fated romance between these two that I never quite got, though they sometimes came close. I also thought the climax came up suddenly. Though the ending didn’t disappoint me, I’d invested enough in the characters that I wanted the epilogue to be longer, so I could learn the particulars of what they did next. And really, is that such a bad problem to have?

My rating:
4/5

To learn more about this author, visit streetwitch.net.

Crown of Midnight review

For my review of Throne of Glass #1, click here.

Did you love Throne of Glass? In this Crown of Midnight review, we’ll take a look at how the tone of the series majorly shifts in book two of the series.

Crown of Midnight
The legend of unparalleled assassin Celaena Sardothien continues with a double dose of revenge, intrigue and romance.
 
Crown of Midnight finally gives us glimpses of Celaena’s life before she was captured and taken to Endovier. Though still spare with details of her past, Celaena shows more of her hidden abilities and becomes emotionally vulnerable. Stuck doing the evil king’s bidding, she is stagnant in other ways, too: BFF Nehemia is angry she won’t do more to stop him, and Celaena only knows how to work in the shadows.
Crown of Midnight

I thought the romance, grief and anger unfolded beautifully from Celaena’s perspective. Dorian’s POV becomes more of a placeholder and Chaol sometimes verges on bland (for a captain of the guard, the dude needs some backbone), but Celaena (and her sharp new frenemy Mort) shines as she struggles to solve more supernatural riddles. It’s an exceptional second book.

My rating:
5/5

To learn more about this author, visit sarahjmaas.com.