Chain of Iron (The Last Hours #2) by Cassandra Clare

Months after the Shadowhunter attacks of the summer, old fears return as a murderer walks loose in dawn hours. Patrols are set up, and Cordelia and her friends take personal interest in the deaths as James finds himself in a waking nightmare. Who is killing their own in the early hours? And why are the bodies located in such places? Why are they missing ruins?

For Cordelia Carstairs and the Merry Thieves, life in London continues on in Chain of Iron by Cassandra Clare. Cordelia is married now, and only those closest to her know the truth behind her sham marriage vows. While she loves her husband desperately, she’s unnerved by the fact that he loves another. Together they brave increasingly romantic moments while trying to remind themselves of promises made.

Lucie Herondale discovers a strange new power. She’s always been able to see ghosts as it’s a Herondale family trait, but now she finds she’s able to command them to her will. Together with Grace Blackthorn, the unlikely pair begin to dive into necromancy and illegal magic in effort to raise Grace’s brother Jesse from the dead. Neither trusts the other, but their mutual love for Jesse brings them together in fantastical escapades.

Matthew Fairchild is determined to live his life in an obliterated state. Golden, charismatic, with a cheshire smile – he should have the world at his feet. But between harboring secrets and drowning himself in alcohol, and his friends and family become increasingly worried that he’ll be his own ruin.

While I’ve grown out of Cassandra Clare’s overwhelming descriptions of young love and beauty, I really enjoyed Chain of Iron and was sad to realize there’s no release date for the third installment of The Last Hours series. Clare churns books out like clockwork, but world events have put a damper even on publishing, I imagine. She’s got multiple books in this universe and they have a special place in my heart. I haven’t read all of her side stories, but I do think I’ll revisit the prequel series to The Last Hours, Infernal Devices. It’s been awhile.

The Project by Courtney Summers

The picturesque background of upstate New York holds a mystery Lo Denham has been trying to unravel for six years. Where is her sister? Lo’s been working as an assistant to the head of SVO, and up and coming magazine, for a year and is finally ready to get her byline – by investigating the truth of The Unity Project, the community her sister Bea loses herself in shortly after their parents deaths.

Bea Denham joins The Unity Project, a cult to everyone else, that bases itself on love, acceptance, and faith. Her little sister was brought back to life by their charismatic leader, Lev Warren. She leaves Lo in the care of their great Aunt and begins a semi-reclusive life working to grow The Project’s outreach.

Foster worked in an emergency room, where by chance he has a run in with Bea in the hospital chapel after losing a young patient. He’s brought into The Project as the perfect soldier. He’s a young man searching for more than the hurt and death he sees daily.

Told from a shifting narrative, The Project by Courtney Summers entwines the lives of the lost, the lonely, and those searching for the truth in a fast paced thriller centering on how much damage one man with too many idealizations about himself can cause. I was a little skeptical going in. I saw the hype over this book on social media and I’ve read a book or two by the author in the past, but nothing that stuck with me. But after the initial set up I was hooked, reaching for it in-between Sunday tasks and checking the latest hurricane coverage. It’s gripping and raw, and I’ll be thinking about it for a long time.

The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern

The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern is a little bit Coville, a little bit Ende, a little bit Sendak, Carroll, and Lewis. It’s a lot of imagination, spirit, and wonder. You have to be prepared to undertake Morgenstern’s love letter to imagination, and that’s what it is. The kind of book you read through but can’t race through, love and cherish and keep. It’s beautiful for a display piece, but it’s meant be touched and highlighted and reread.

I started reading back when it was released but I wasn’t ready to undertake such an adventure. I’m glad I finally was.

The Starless Sea tells the tale of an underground labyrinth, housing a collection of stories only accessed through hidden doors around the world.

Zachary Ezra Rawlins is about to finish his graduate studies when he finds a mysterious book in his college library, and that moment subsequently changes everything. One literary party later he finds himself swept up in a centuries old battle where he gets knocked out more times than I could keep up with, finds his Written in the Stars person, encounters the true love story of Fate & Time, and there’s cats. Lots of cats. Please don’t feed them.

Erin Morgenstern paints the most beautiful pictures with her words. She weaves them back and forth through time, switching narratives as easily as colors on a brush. She’s written an ode to tale as old as time, missed opportunities, adventure, and second chances.

They say all stories must end, but do they truly end if someone’s around to tell them?

Review: House of Furies (House of Furies #1) by Madeleine Roux

Seventeen year old Louisa Ditton is unwanted. By her parents, by her grandparents, by her school. By the general populace. She’s telling fortunes in the streets for pennies until an old crone tricks her into coming to Coldthistle House, where she begins working as a maid. But things aren’t as they seem inside the mansion, where the next day Mrs. Haylam, the old crone, isn’t quite so old or quite so cronish, and there’s a girl working that reminds Louisa a little too much of her childhood imaginary friend. There’s also the Residents, terrifying smoke-like creatures that may or may not be protecting her, but are extremely dangerous to the guests. And don’t forget Mr. Morningside, the owner of Coldthistle House, who seems to be a few hundred years old and has backwards feet, like a demon.

Coming across Mr. Morningside’s diary, Louisa starts to unravel the alarming histories of her employer, as well as those of the inhabitants of the house itself. And it’s not long before she realizes that all the guests that come to Coldthistle House don’t actually leave.

House of Furies by Madeleine Roux is a gothic novel set in Victorian times and is filled with murder and mystery, making it the perfect book to read in late September / early October. I found the side characters to be more interesting than Louisa and her love interest, Lee Bremerton, and hope they’re further explored in the next book. Unfortunately there is a lot of unnecessary plot, a lot of side plot, and not a lot of getting to the point, but the strange and weird that happens within the 400-odd pages is enough that I will pick up the second book in the series at one point.

Roux seems to be a fan of shorts within her different book universes, so hopefully we will get one featuring the Residents, and how they came to be. The hints that were dropped have me itching for more.

Review: Catacomb (Asylum #3) by Madeleine Roux

The Asylum series by Madeleine Roux is one of my favorites. I recently finished its conclusion, Catacomb, in a marathon read of about four hours. I did have to pause a few chapters in to go back and reread the first two; it had been about four years since I read them and I needed to reacquaint myself with the story, but it was absolutely worth it. Madeleine Roux does a great job with set description, particularly. I could really visualize the settings and felt myself drawn in to all of the adventures.

Full of mystery, suspense, intrigue, and New Orleans, Catacomb is my favorite book in the series. Dan Crawford and his friends Jordan and Abby have finally put their nightmare in New Hampshire behind them. Ready to road trip to New Orleans, where Jordan is moving for school, they’re looking forward to a few weeks of fun and relaxation before college. Nobody is trying to stalk them, kill them, or mind-control them. They deserve this.

Until a mysterious figure on a motorcycle keeps showing up wherever they go, photographing them. And a muscle car follows them from a campsite they bunk down in to the Quarter. And a friend starts contacting them from beyond the grave. Dan, Jordan, and Abby are once again thrust into a paranormal experience that will haunt them and connect them for the rest of their lives.

I didn’t mind that Catacomb barely ties into the first two books in the Asylum series. We revisit the same trio of characters but they are quite literally onto the next stage of their lives, figuratively and literally. One could consider the first two books the New Hampshire experience and the New Orleans setting as a stand alone novel, but I do recommend reading them in order to get the full experience of their history together. We dive deeper into Dan’s past, learning more about his parents directly, and start to see that his hallucinations are perhaps something more than that.

While their final adventure wraps up as well as it can, it’s nice that Roux didn’t spell out everyone’s happy ending. Dan does get a sweet epilogue in the end though, which was appreciated given all he was put through.