You can find my book reviews for October 2021 below.
I didn’t get to read as such as I wanted (but what else is new), yet it was still a pretty good reading month.
As always, you can either scroll down to read all of the reviews, or go below the image and click the link of the book/genre that sounds most interesting to you.
You’ll then jump straight to the review of that book.
You can jump straight to:
- A Discovery of Witches (All Souls #1) by Deborah Harkness (Adult Fantasy Romance Thriller)
- Tender is the Flesh by Agustina Bazterrica, Sarah Moses (Translator) (Dark Adult Dystopian Sci-Fi Thriller)
Book Reviews October 2021
A Discovery of Witches (All Souls #1) by Deborah Harkness
Genre: Adult Fantasy Romance Thriller
Publisher: Viking Penguin
A Discovery of Witches is the first book of the All Souls trilogy and damn it’s off to a great start! Deborah Harkness had me hooked!
If you’d like to read more about the author, click here.
And keep reading for my book review of A Discovery of Witches.
In this first novel of the fantasy witch book series, Diana Bishop, a young scholar, who unwittingly calls up a bewitched alchemical manuscript in the course of her research. Even though Diana stems from an old and distinguished line of witches, Diana wants nothing to do with sorcery. So, she quickly banishes the book back to the stacks.
However, her discovery sets the underworld stirring, and a horde of daemons, witches, and vampires soon descends upon the library. Not in the least the striking vampiric geneticist Matthew Clairmont. Can she trust him to help her uncover the meaning of this manuscript?
I loved the slow-building suspense, both with the mystery surrounding the book and Diana’s parents as with the romance between Diana and Matthew.
The pace is slow yet gripping. However, after some pretty intense events, the excitement of the book became less, for me.
This is mainly because the ending felt very long. There’s not actually a lot that happens at this point, other than making plans and the start of enacting those plans. In that way, it felt more like the beginning of a new book rather than the ending of this book.
What I liked less were the different viewpoints that seemed kind off haphazardly thrown in there. We get a few chapters from Matthew’s viewpoint (but only like two or three if I’m not mistaken), one from Hamish’s viewpoint, and one from Mark’s viewpoint.
It’s especially with those last two that I thought: why?
It didn’t make sense to me to include it, other than that it provided a different perspective on Matthew’s behavior. But if you need two different viewpoints to defend a certain character’s behavior… maybe that just means the author needed to establish those motivations better from the main character’s perspective.
I loved Diana, as she was a strong and smart woman yet completely in denial about her magic. This gave her some depth and room for growth.
She’s also independent and very stubborn. I liked how Deborah wrote her and her viewpoint was very recognizable. Diana’s someone who’s very detail-oriented and that showed in the narration.
What I didn’t like was how, once she and Matthew got together, she seemed to become this very love-sick blinded individual who excused any kind of behavior as: well, that’s just how he is—he’s an overprotective vampire, after all.
That just didn’t sit well with me. Mostly, I suppose, because it seemed so different from who she was at the start of the book. And, trust me, there were definitely some inexcusable things that Matthew did.
Oh, he’s got anger issues?
Well, perhaps he should’ve learned to deal with those somewhere in the 1000 years he’s been “alive?” I didn’t see any of the other vampires acting in the way he did, so it’s definitely within the realm of possibilities.
Within this book review of A Discovery of Witches, I’d say the worldbuilding was the best part. The details in the worldbuilding were amazing.
The magic and the other creatures were just extremely well-thought-out. Deborah made it seem as if magic is a real possibility in our world, and that’s when you know the magic system works.
My favorite thing was the house. It doesn’t appear until the end of the book, but the way it had its very own personality was great.
A Discovery of Witches started out absolutely amazing for me, with a lot of slow-building tension, but by the end, I loved it a little less.
I still think it’s a really good book, mind you, just not as great as I found it as I started reading. If that makes sense.
If you love a witch-vampire romance that definitely reminds of Twilight, with great attention to detail, and slow-building tensions, then you should absolutely try A Discovery of Witches.
Tender is the Flesh by Agustina Bazterrica, Sarah Moses (Translator)
Genre: Dark Adult Dystopian Sci-Fi Thriller
Holy freaking shit.
Tender is the Flesh is one of those novels that leaves you staring in the distance, contemplating life and humanity.
You can read more about the author here.
It all started with an infectious virus that made all animal meat poisonous to humans. Then came the ‘Transition’: eating human meat, or ‘special meat’ is legal. Marcos works in one of the factories that slaughter humans for meat (although no one calls them human anymore). Then one day he gets some quality meat, and though he’s forbidden from personal contact, he does. And little by little he starts to treat her like a human again.
Read on for my review of this book.
It’s not a story for the faint of heart. As you start, you’ll find yourself disgusted on more than one occasion. As the story progresses, however, it’ll start to become more and more normal.
Interesting how humans can adapt so quickly, right?
It helped, I think, that it was told with a certain detachment from everything. I did need to get used to this style of writing, I have to admit. But I did understand why it was written in such a way. If the writing had been more immersive, it would’ve been practically impossible to read through some of the events.
This is also not a story about an uprising or a protest for human rights (even those raised specifically for consumption). Marcos is not a hero.
He’s just doing what most people do in these types of situations: he adapts and makes the best of his circumstances.
All the while, you keep wondering what he’s going to do with the head he got as a gift. If he’s going to, at least, make a difference in how she’s treated. If it will make him view things differently.
And then comes the ending.
I did not see it coming. And it was absolutely jarring. But also a perfect fit for this book.
There are several characters in this book, but Marcos is the main character. He’s a man who’s still reeling from the loss of his infant child. His wife went away to her mother to heal, leaving him to deal with things by himself. On top of it, he’s had to watch his father break because of the Transition. He’s now in a nursing home that Marcos has to pay for.
We follow along with him on his daily chores. They’re what you expect from someone who works in a slaughterhouse: goes to suppliers to inspect the product, goes to butchers and other clients for orders, and makes rounds in the factory to ensure that everything’s done right.
It just makes everything seem a lot different when the product is humans. These are all raised for slaughter, their vocal cords cut.
As such, Marcos isn’t exactly a highly likable character. We feel empathy for him because of his situation, but at the same time, you want him to stop being so passive and do something about it.
But as I said: this is not that kind of book.
This was done really well. I had a similar feeling with this as I had with Handmaid’s Tale in that it feels both far removed yet also within the realm of possibilities.
What would the meat industry do if they couldn’t sell meat anymore? Surely they wouldn’t just call it a day?
And we know the lobby of the meat industry is huge. I don’t think it’s too far fetched that they would get the assistance of the government to make “special meat” available to the masses.
And as for people readily consuming it: it’s all about the branding, isn’t it?
Nowadays, when you buy a burger or a steak, you don’t recognize the animal it’s made from either. So, if it’s simply labeled as “special meat,” why wouldn’t you buy it?
They’re just things that were raised for slaughter, right?
What really called to the hypocrisy of it all was the reaction of people when talking about those who ate “meat with a name.” While it was perfectly okay to eat a human (head) that was raised for this specific purpose, it was definitely not okay to just kill and eat a “normal” human.
This made me think a bit about the distinction we often make as well: while we find it okay to eat meat when it’s raised for this purpose, we frown upon those who eat animals we consider to be pets (such as cats and dogs).
Now, before this book review gets too long: if you love a thought-provoking book that will grip you to the bone and will not let you go: Tender is the Flesh is your book.
You need to have a little bit of a strong stomach, although the detached style of the writing helps to ease into the story. It’s a slow-building story, where not always something is actually happening or you don’t necessarily feel a sense of progress.
But, somehow, it doesn’t really need that, either. The world is simply fascinating enough, and the escalating events that do happen keep you hooked in the story, all the way to that jaw-dropping ending.
Other Blog Posts
New On This Blog
There’s a whole new list with amazing books about witches. The perfect fall reads.
What’s gonna be new in November? Check out the 18 Best New Fantasy & Sci-Fi Book Releases of November 2021
I also updated the list with the best Fantasy & Sci-Fi book subscription boxes, so be sure to check it out (they’re also great as gifts!).
Book Recommendations, Reviews & Bookish stuff on other blogs
Do you read historical fiction? No? Perhaps this list with reasons why you should will change your mind about historical fiction.
Love podcasts? Then give this bookish podcast a try.
If you love fairy tale retellings, then check out this review of a Spindle Splintered.
Click here for a list of great thrillers and mysteries.
Want to find more fantasy book blogs? Check out this list with other book bloggers.
It's a Wrap!
I hope you enjoyed my book reviews of October 2021 or any of the other recommendations and blog-posts I linked here.
I hope it helps you choose your next read.
As for November, I’m hoping to finish Master Assassins, an eArc called The Bone Wars, and another eArc The Rebels of Vanaheim.
I could list more, but we all know this is probably as much as I can handle, anyway.
What books did you read in October?
And what are you going to read in November?
Let me know in the comments!