'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.'
Partial synopsis provided by Goodreads.
Series: The Gate Cycle #1
Author: Kristin Jacques
Publication Date: October 1, 2019
Publisher: The Parliament House
Page Count: 346
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Cover Artist: Shayne Leighton
My Rating: ★★★★1/2
I received an ARC of this book from the publisher, The Parliament House, in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! In no way does this affect my rating or review.
All included quotes have been taken from an ARC and may not match the finished publication.
Content Warning: Cannibalism, Death, Gore, Slavery, Injury, Abduction
We fear magic and those who are tainted by it. So quick to exile these doomed souls, be they innocent youths or beloved spouses. We expel those who fall prey to their own blood and yet use the castoffs, the remnants of twisted fauna and corrupted flora, to cure our ills. Survival has made hypocrites of us all.
Marrow Charm totally took me by surprise. To be honest, I didn’t read even the entire synopsis before picking it up. I just knew that I had to read it. I’m so glad that I did! This book is magical, heart-wrenching and lusciously dark.
Marrow Charm felt slightly reminiscent of the writing style used in The Beast Is An Animal and The Cold Is In Her Bones. The main character, Azure or “Azzy,” is no stranger to a life of hardness and unpleasantries. Having a mother that passed years before, and a brother who shows signs of the taint–the effects that magic has on a human once infected–festering, Azzy does everything she can to keep the symptoms at bay. She regularly risks her life to venture to the Above–the land above ground which is crawling with tainted creatures of twisted magic–to gather supplies. These supplies come from the horrific creatures of the Above, and are used in potions crafted by Oswin Brixby, apothecary to the Heap, and guardian to Azzy and her brother.
When her brother is seized by a prophetic vision that the Rot–the onset of the curse of magic–is coming, Azzy does all she can to protect her brother to keep the leaders of the Heap from discovering that he is tainted.
Armin was newly tainted. He would be led out, thrown to the mercy of a world crawling with monsters until he became one. Alone.
When the child of another woman dies, she tells the leaders of the Below about Arwin, and eventually causes his banishment to the Above. Azzy and Brixby venture into the lands of the Above to recover Armin before the sickness overtakes him.
I could literally sit here and unpack the dense world that was built throughout all of Marrow Charm, but I won’t because I don’t want to spoil anything for those who read it (which should be all of you who love dark fantasies). Know that a wolf has a huge role to play, dandelions can seal someone’s fate, and terrible lies are spewed to cover up even less-appealing secrets. I do want to discuss some of the beautiful themes used throughout Marrow Charm that absolutely sucked me into this story. First off, family.
”I know I’m not like you, sister mine, but we both know you need me. Otherwise, you’d have left me behind, no matter what I said.”
Even though the interaction between Azzy and Armin is short-lived, the love that these siblings have for one-another is piercing. Their kinship is what drives the plot forward. The one goal Azzy had is to get to her brother. Everything else pales in comparison. I actually felt that Azzy’s character development mimicked the path that she physically traversed. Her goal and her character growth go hand-in-hand. Never losing sight of her goal, she, and the things around her, change drastically. As she uncovers characteristics about herself, she doesn’t use them to amplify her own person. She applies them to aid her in her search for Arwin. In a way, I felt that the Azure that we get to know in the beginning of the story is eclipsed by this new version of Azure, and she becomes much harder to read. Don’t get me wrong. For me, I really enjoyed her character development. I’ve never seen a character become more introspective and reserved as the story reaches its apex.
The second theme I kept stumbling upon which reading was: finding friendship where friendship seems all but lost. This is a very dark tale. I could feel it’s “weight” while reading. But when these instances occurred, it added that glimmer of hope in a world where everything seems sinister in nature.
As I said before, I could talk a lot more about this book, but I will refrain. Read it. I only wish I could have had more descriptions of locations, just to get a better sense of where I was. Nevertheless, I am so anxious for Skin Curse!
Sexual content: Kissing.
Violence: Quite a bit, mainly gore.
My Rating: ★★★★★
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