This took me a while to latch onto but once I got the flow of things and followed the story, I was in for an epic adventure.
‘In his pursuit of the occult, the Third Reich opened the Gate to a realm of magic and brought the world to ruin. The Gate was eventually closed, but They were already in our world and They were hungry.’ -The Lost History, Library of Avergard Azure ‘Azzy’ Brimvine lives in a world decimated by magic, where humans have retreated underground from the overwhelming dangers of the surface. But Below is no safer than Above. Magic borne plagues continue to eat away at the remaining human cities, a sickness that doesn’t merely kill, but creates aberrations from the stricken: people twisted by magic into something dark, dangerous, and powerful. It is an existence of fear and constant dread. When Azzy’s brother, Armin, is infected and cast out into the Above, she sets out after him, determined to be there for him no matter what he becomes. The world Above is full of monsters, both wild and cunning, more human than Azzy was led to believe. Armin is captured and bound for the Auction block of Avergard, a ruthless city of inhuman lords and twisted creatures. To reach him, Azzy must brave the perils of the Above and the chaotic life forms created by the Gate. To reach him, she must find allies and forge new bonds in this broken world. And Azzy must reach him, before Armin’s new power is used to open the Gate once more.
Thank you to The Parliament Press who provided me with an e-arc so I could review it and be part of this blog tour!
As stated in my introduction, it took a while for me to get into this book. They only gave me a few days to read the book, so I tried to skim/rush but knew I wouldn’t be able to absorb and enjoy the story that way. However, once I started to make sense of things and followed along with Azure, I stayed up through the night reading. For a Fantasy, this was beautifully written and well spaced out. I loved the concept of humans beings forced underground while magic lurks Above. It’s written in third person but most of the time, we see things from our protagonist, Azure or Azzy. I liked the names as well, they weren’t common in Fantasy but still had that touch of ‘human’ to it.
"Screams were for fools and food; Azzy refused to be either." - 2% into the book
I loved the adventure and challenges Azzy had to face to rescue her brother, Armin. It’s adventurous yet dark and thrilling. He’s been taken by Elder Prast because Prast assumed one of them would’ve turned out like their mother. Then Armin’s taken by the Snatchers. Armin holds strong magic inside him that can either build him or end him. I’m trying not to drop subtle spoilers but as it’s revealed in the second chapter, they have a guardian who’s a good friend of their mother, Brixby, the apothecary. The lengths that these three will go for each other, softens my heart. I love when family/friendship is shown greatly especially in young adult. I think Jacques played well with this to establish how far Azzy would’ve gone to save her brother.
"Each step toward home was another step toward a future without him." - 14% into the book
At one point I was reading this and thought, wait this sounds familiar. Not copied but similar to Meredith Tate’s The Red Labyrinth. I’ve done a review on this book earlier this year, you can read it here. Totally different worlds but also Fantasy. The female protagonist sets out to enter the labyrinth in order to rescue her friend. Inside she meets someone and they eventually go to the same place. In Marrow Charm, Azzy has a wolf (Kai) who I adored from the start! I knew he’d stick by her as I sensed the connection and feeling of Kai not abandoning her. So there are a few similar but they’re widely different and both enjoyable.
One thing I love about our protagonist was that she was brave and showed true emotion. Yes, going Above was scary and dangerous but Azzy knew it was the only way she’d have time to rescue her brother. The descriptive language when Azzy encounters a monster or the connection exchanged between her and Kai are amazing to read. I couldn’t get enough of it.
I’d write further but I don’t want to spoil it! This is just the first book in The Gate Cycle series which received a good four stars out of me! I can’t wait to read the next book when it comes out!