Title: Skin Curse
Author: Kristin Jacques
Pub. Date: November 9, 2020
Pub: The Parliament House
Genre: SFF Paranormal Fantasy Horror
The Children of the Gate wait for the call to Rise.
Azzy Brimvine knows her brother is in the vast city of Avergard. She must find him, but time is not on their side.
In the House of Seven Smiles, Azzy struggles to understand the constraints and limits of her power. She finds the whispering voices that guided her for so long, suddenly silent. The enigmatic Lord Wallach is both a frustrating ally and a dangerous mystery, and a strange entity lurks among the household servants. The haven Azzy sought may not be as safe as she thought… but is anywhere truly safe in the Above?
The city of Avergard is full of monsters and secrets, and a dark history festers at its root. A yawning pit nestles in the house of a scheming lord, who will use Armin’s dangerous gifts to raise history, and raze the city to the ground. As Azzy finds herself and her brother pulled into these machinations, she must navigate the politics and society of Avergard’s brutal ruling class to save her family and friends before the Gate consumes them all.
This will be a spoiler free review. I listened to the audiobook via Audible. If you haven’t yet checked out the first book in The Gate Cycle – what the fuck are you waiting for?
Here, need convincing? You can check out my spoiler free review for Marrow Charm.
I’ve been waiting for what feels like forever, and ultimately this book did not disappoint. It took me a minute to remember things that happened in the first book – I read it back in October of 2019 – so things had been pushed aside. But I quickly fell back into the world, fell back in love with the characters (old and new) and couldn’t wait to find out what happens next.
Much like the first book, once the ball gets rolling, there’s no stopping it. Azzy is so much more than anyone thought and expected her to be, and the promise and fear of her future is enough to entice some and make others fearful. She’s still such an amazing character and I love her. Her journey in this book isn’t easy. For her, it’s very hard emotionally. Despite being a servant in a stranger’s household, she’s pretty well off. Lord Wallach isn’t like most others, and while he has quite a few servants, he doesn’t treat them poorly. He cares about them. And that’s not to say he’s a good man – he’s got his own dark history and let me tell you – I didn’t see it coming.
If you’ve read Marrow Charm then you might be wondering where Kai is.
You’ll have to read this book because everything I could say would be a spoiler. But to slightly prepare you – that poor, poor boy. His relationship with Azzy is as strong as ever, despite their circumstances.
And then there’s Howl – and omfg I would die for him. Read the book to meet him and see his relationship with Azzy. It’s so pure.
I loved this book – and by the time I got to the end, I was in awe at the story Kristin crafted – built upon from Marrow Charm. You can’t help but to want to binge read it in one sitting. I kept getting annoyed because people wanted to talk to me at work – I just wanted to listen and find out what happens next.
But maybe it was because it had been so long since I’d read the first book, but from time to time, I was a little unenthusiastic. Ugh, I hate saying that, because this book is phenomenal. In the midst of reading it, I felt like it might suffer just a smidge from Middle Book Syndrome. A lot was being explained and built upon and it made the book progress a little slowly, it just had slow build to it.
And when I put it like that, it sounds so much better. By the time I finished the book – read the ending, all my reservations were gone. Because this book is stunningly crafted – you’re engaged and rooting for Azzy the whole time. There’s betrayal, new friendships, hardships, trauma and reunions. I mean, so much happens in this book. I’m left desperate to find out what happens next.
Oh, and when that reveal about [redacted] was dropped – how a certain Lord had a hand in it…I legit 100% could not have even guessed that’s how it all came to be. Then the showdown at the end. Marrow Charm was utterly fantastic, but Skin Curse ups the game and has you falling in love all over again.