Title- Marrow Charm
Author- Kristin Jacques
Publisher- Independently published
Publication Date- 23rd Sept 2019
Comment- I was given a copy from BBYNA and the Write Reads in exchange for a honest review. I was in no way influenced by any slave traders that might have purchased my soul during this time.
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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, some 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.
In our world magic is something exciting and fantastic. However, in Azzy’s world, magic is something to be feared and reviled. Magic changes you, takes your natural form and transforms you into something twisted and dark.
In the few human settlements left beneath the ground magic is outlawed and anyone thought to have even a sprinkling of it is exiled and sent to the Above to allow the monsters to feast on them.
When Azzy’s brother, Armin, starts to exhibit signs of magic he is cast out, but she won’t let him go alone into that savage land.
After getting separated soon after their foray Above Azzy must ally herself with those monsters in order to survive the wastelands and save her brother from the Auction block of Avergard- one of the few cities left. But a city of savage and inhuman beings who delight in misery and torture.
But Armin’s power is growing even faster that Azzy realises and stronger than even he knows.
One of my all-time favourite things in books is close sibling relationships. Katniss and Prim Everdeen, Lizzy and Jane Bennett and now Azzy and Armin Brimvine. (Can I just say how cool that last name is?!)
Azzy has a very close relationship with her brother and is determined to do whatever it takes to save him, whether that is from a virus or slave traders. Her self-sacrificing spirit is evident in everything that she does and just makes her such an appealing character.
I absolutely adored the world building here. Kristin Jacques was able to bring the whole world to life with her amazing prose and descriptions. I became so immersed in that world it was hard to drag myself out of it. The Above was so savage and dark and yet the Underground felt more like a prison with the narrow-minded ideas and desperation of the citizens.
The various beasts and creatures of the Above are so well described and so well rendered that the image of them stayed with you even when you couldn’t actually see them- the Winnowrook, the Grimworms and the Wailing Nattering are all Nightmare inducing.
The originality of the mechanics of the curse are brilliant. Magic rotting a person beyond recognition and twisting their appearance is such a fascinating idea and was done so expertly that you forget how original an idea it is. The story canters along at a brisk pace allowing you enjoy the descriptions but pulling you along to feel the urgency of Azzy’s task.
In short, I loved this book and will be purchasing a hard copy for myself.
Although I wasn’t given this book during the BBNYA and only got to read it afterwards, I honestly think it should have come higher than 6th place.