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Duology Do-Overs Mid-Month Check In

We’re halfway through January already, so I thought it was time to take a quick look at how I’m getting on with my Duology Do-Overs challenge! If you missed my initial post, check it out to find out more details about what’s going on – for now, here are the duologies I’ve managed to finish so far.

The first duology I went for was Shadowscent: The Darkest Bloom and Shadowscent: Crown of Smoke by PM Freestone. Rereading the first book was interesting: while the perfume magic was as awesome as I remembered, I found myself less in love with the characters this time around, probably because they feel very typical of YA fantasy and by this point, I’m a little burned out on ‘headstrong girl with a talent’ and ‘stoic but soft love interest boy’. This is wholly a me-and-YA problem – I think these are some of the best classic quest YA fantasy out there, and I wholeheartedly recommend them to fans of the genre. The second book ups the stakes in fun ways and has a very satisfying ending.

Next I read Wicked Like A Wildfire and Fierce Like A Firestorm by Lana Popovic, which I had the opposite experience with: I was expecting to find the first book less appealing on a reread, but I think I actually loved it more. There’s something really beautiful about the writing here – it’s not overtly flowery, just very evocative and elegant. The family relationships are so vivid, and the main character is very believably a teenager in a way that feels honest and fascinating to read. The second book holds the same tone as the first, but takes the plot to a slightly different place, and I really enjoyed the Hades and Persephone vibes. Overall these feel very dramatic and romantic – really unusual!

After that I read Daughter of the Pirate King and Daughter of the Siren Queen by Tricia Levenseller. According to my records I’ve read the first book twice before, but I didn’t remember a single word, so this felt like reading completely fresh to me! This is another case where these are hugely fun, tropey YA fantasy, but I’m a little burned out on that side of the genre, so while I enjoyed these a lot while reading, I don’t think I’ll hang onto my copies. They’re absolutely great though if you like pirates, magic, and plenty of banter, and Alosa is a fun, strong heroine.

In the second week I started off with Enchantée and Liberté by Gita Trelease. I’d forgotten how great Enchantée was, with its glittering, dark depiction of magic in the court of Versailles – I loved how well the writing captured the glamour and intensity of it. I could have done with less of the hot air balloon plot, though, and I felt that in comparison to the darker plotline, the romance was a little bit too sweet. Going into the second book I was really unsure what to expect, because the end of Enchantée really feels like a satisfying conclusion to the story; turns out, this is more of a separate sequel than a one-story-in-two-books duology. The new story is much more focused on the Revolution, which makes for a pacey plot that I enjoyed, but you could definitely skip Liberté and still feel like you’d had a full story.

Next up was Gumiho: Wicked Fox and Dokkaebi: Vicious Spirits by Kat Cho. I was a little bit disappointed by my reread of Gumiho, because although I still enjoyed the fun and fast-paced urban fantasy plot, I noticed the writing a little more this time around, and found it a bit clunky in places. Dialogue, especially, can be very terse, which can leave things feeling a little flat. Still, it’s a very good story with a satisfying conclusion – as with Enchantée above, at the end of book one I was confused about where we were going to go from here. Dokkaebi made a great choice in switching the focus from Miyoung and Jihoon to Somin and Junu as the new leads; all four still have large main roles, but it added a new spark to have a new love story to focus on when the fantasy part of the plot was extremely similar. Overall, this is an exciting duology, but it didn’t quite hit the five star mark for me this time around.

That makes five duologies down and three to go: wish me luck for the rest of the month!

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