Today, I’m bringing you a special blog tour post. Last year, I was a panelist for a wonderful new award called the Book Blogger Novel of the Year Award (BBNYA)! BBNYA is a yearly competition where book bloggers from all over the world read and score books written by indie authors. I was lucky enough to read a great array of indie books, from fantasy to thrillers and more! One of the books I got to read and absolutely loved was Marrow Charm by Kristin Jacques, which ended up winning 6th place. I’m not at all surprised that this book made it to the finals because it was incredible! Of course, I received this book to read and review as part of the BBNYA 2020 competition organized by the @The_WriteReads tours team. I want to thank them so much for sending me a free copy of the e-book so I could participate in the awards! All opinions are my own, unbiased, and completely honest.
Before we talk about the book, though, here’s a bit more about BBNYA. If you are an author and wish to learn more about the 2021 BBNYA competition, you can visit the official website (https://www.bbnya.com/) or our Twitter account, @BBNYA_Official. If you would like to sign-up and enter your book, you can find the BBNYA 2021 AUTHOR SIGN UP FORM HERE. Please make sure to carefully read our terms and conditions before entering.
If you are a book blogger or reviewer, you can apply to be part of BBNYA 2021 by filling out this form (also remember to read the terms and conditions before signing up)! BBNYA is brought to you in association with the Folio Society (If you love beautiful books you NEED to check out their website!) and the book blogger support group TheWriteReads.
Alright, on to the post!
“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.”
About the Author
Kristin Jacques is an author from small town New England. She grew up in the sticks, surrounded by river wildlife, and various swamp inhabitants. Somehow she managed to keep all her toes despite a run in with a snapper or two.
She lives with her husband and sons in another small New England town. She is mighty attached to them. When not writing, she is likely reading, watching a terrific B-Horror flick, or further spoiling the family cats. Sometimes she has blue hair.
“She swallowed hard. Screams were for fools and food; Azzy refused to be either.”
When I first signed up to be a panelist for BBNYA 2020, I honestly didn’t know what to expect. I have read criminally few indie authors, which is why I signed up in the first place, so I felt both nervous and excited to be a part of the team. And then, when we got to the finals, I was lucky enough to be assigned Marrow Charm as one of my reads. I’m so glad it was one of my finalist reads because it absolutely blew me away!
This book follows a young woman called Azzy. Azzy has spent most of her life underground after wild magic has taken over the surface. With magic destroying or twisting much of the world above, those that live below are distrustful of anyone who shows they have magical abilities. So, when Azzy’s little brother starts having prophetic dreams, she is determined to keep him out of the eye of those that would cast him out. Everything comes to a head when a magical plague sweeps through the underground city and, in an effort to save the people who live there, her brother’s magic is exposed. When he is exiled to the surface, Azzy sets out to find him and keep him safe, even if she has to brave the dangers of the Above.
Y’all, when I tell you that this book is a work of art! Everything about this story is masterfully crafted, from the world-building, to the characters, and beyond! Let’s talk about the characters first. Azzy was such a spectacular lead! She had so much depth and complexity that she felt incredible real. I loved how vivid and alive she felt for a fictional character. Watching her character grow and develop as the story went on was such a treat, as well. It all felt natural, organic… nothing seemed forced or like it was thrown in just to further the plot. Well… except for maaaybe the romance. Azzy’s romance with a certain character kind of felt like it came out of left field, but I don’t think it detracted from the book. It just didn’t do much for me personally. And, even though I didn’t care for the romance, I still think the love interest was just as intriguing and well-crafted as Azzy, herself. In fact, all of the characters had that vivid quality that made them come alive in my imagination.
This author also has a way of painting a picture with her words. I found myself easily imagining the world that was being built for us and it made the story that much more compelling! I got lost in Jacques richly imagined story and I honestly did not care. I could have stayed there for much longer! I thought the world-building was wonderfully done. It never felt like information was just being piled on to me. And everything about this world was so fascinating that I wanted to know more! The writing also captivated me and kept me invested in the story. I will say that the pacing was a bit uneven for me, with some parts dragging just a touch. For the most part, though, this story keeps you charging towards the conclusion from page one and I, for one, was happy to go along for the ride!
Final thoughts: Marrow Charm is an incredibly wrought fantasy that has immersive world-building and characters that practically leap off the page! Though the romance wasn’t my cup of tea and there were moments that lagged, this was overall an amazing beginning to a new young adult fantasy series. I can’t wait to pick up the next book and continue Azzy’s journey. If you enjoy intricate magic systems, lush world-building, and lots of action, I think you would love Marrow Charm!