There was no December Decimation recap post on Monday for two reasons: firstly, I took a few days off blogging for Christmas, and secondly, I actually went an entire week without reading anything! I was very busy with writing and family, and I genuinely didn’t pick a book up for a week, which is very rare for me. It did leave me needing to pack the last nine books of the decimation challenge into this last week of the year, so here’s my final recap – I didn’t quite make it to the end of my thirty books, but I achieved a very respectable twenty-five (plus plenty of others that weren’t in the challenge)!
I loved the clever worldbuilding of Crimson Bound – it’s a mash up of a sparkling Versailles-like court and a dangerous magical forest that is really compelling. The story itself did drag a bit for me in the second half; I liked Rachelle, the cursed, arse-kicking heroine, more in the beginning, but she didn’t seem to develop as much as I would have liked, and I found her a little hard to connect with as she could be quite mopey and angsty. It’s definitely a fun dark YA fantasy, though – good for fans of Serpent & Dove, Grave Mercy and Graceling, I think.
I was really excited for Shatter the Sky because I was promised dragons and a bi heroine, but while this book does technically feature both those things, it didn’t really live up to the promise for me. It’s very short for a YA fantasy – under 300 pages – but I felt like the pace was off somehow, and I was a little bit bored. Perhaps because every time something interesting happened (Maren’s relationship with Kaia, Maren becoming a poison taster, Maren becoming an apprentice to a super cool alchemist, Maren trying to bond with a dragon) the narrative swooped in and said ‘nope’ and just… cut it off? I didn’t feel like there was much reason behind how any of the plot progressed, other than that the story needed to keep moving. I’m a bit disappointed.
I love Suzanne Enoch’s Wild Wicked Highlanders series, which has the titular heroes playing fish-out-of-water and falling in love with proper ladies in London; My One True Highlander is the opposite, with a proper English woman completely out of her depth in the Highlands. This is less funny than the other series, but still has more humour than Some Like It Scot (which I recently read and was disappointed by) so I ended up really enjoying it. I loved the growing bond between the leads, and also the antics of adorable eight-year-old Connell, who rescues baby animals and was generally just a sweetheart.
The Last Sun by KD Edwards wasn’t at all what I was expecting, but it was a huge amount of fun! This is an urban fantasy that is technically set in our world, but has a very secondary world feeling; modern weapons and tech mix with elemental magic and a really deep court system in a way I’ve not seen before. My one complaint was how few female characters there were; the ones that did exist were thinly drawn and had extraordinarily minor roles. I get that it’s m/m romance and centred around male friendship, but that’s not a reason for your only female characters to be a mumsy housekeeper and a fragile woman controlled by her boyfriend, neither of whom get many lines or actions. I enjoyed this, but the lack of women is a shame; hopefully it’s better in the sequels, which I would like to read.
So there we go! There were five books I didn’t manage to get to, but I’m actually really pleased with how this challenge went – it was great to have the chance to read some things I’d forgotten about, and making the time to choose some things that often got skipped over meant I discovered some new favourites and found some books I could get rid of. Overall, I’m calling it a success!