Book Reviews, Contemporary, Romance, YA

Below – Alexandria Warwick

A person was not their face. A person was their heart, and Eska’s heart was back home along with Apaay’s.

-Alexandria Warwick
Below

Publication Date: February 4, 2020
Publisher: Wolf Publishing
Genre: YA Fantasy/Dark Fantasy
Pages: 308
Dates Read: January 20-21, 2020
Format: Paperback ARC provided by author


Buy on Amazon
My Goodreads Review

SYNOPSIS:

From the author of The Demon Race comes a YA dark fantasy series inspired by Inuit mythology.

“In the heart of the frigid North, there lives a demon known as the Face Stealer. Eyes, nose, mouth—nothing and no one is safe. Once he returns to his lair, or wherever it is he dwells, no one ever sees those faces again.

When tragedy strikes, Apaay embarks on a perilous journey to find her sister’s face—yet becomes trapped in a labyrinth ruled by a sinister girl named Yuki. The girl offers Apaay a deal: find her sister’s face hidden within the labyrinth, and she will be set free. But the labyrinth, and those who inhabit it, is not as it seems. Especially Numiak: darkly beautiful, powerful, whose motives are not yet clear.

With time slipping, Apaay is determined to escape the deadly labyrinth with her sister’s face in hand. But in Yuki’s harsh world, Apaay will need all her strength to survive.

Yuki only plays the games she wins.”

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
4 STARS

When the author contacted me about reviewing this book for her, she described it as ‘dark fantasy’ which i was slightly hesitant to pick up, because i’m not a huge “dark fantasy” person. I love a good fantasy though, so I had her send it to me to give it a try. It did NOT disappoint. Below is such a unique and compelling story!

Below is set in the Arctic and is based on Inuit Mythology-something I knew absolutely nothing about before reading this. The culture is fascinating though, and I am bound to wind up delving deeper into learning more about them. I found that Warwick seemed very knowledgeable in this aspect of the book. It was also a very unique setting, which made it such an intriguing read.

Apaay is our MC and she is bold and often finds herself in unexpected or dangerous situations because of it. Apaay never gives up though, and one of my favorite things about this novel was how truly steadfast and loyal she was to her family. I really enjoyed Apaay’s character and following her on this journey of personal growth.

The Face Stealer was a great anti-villain. He is intimidating and dangerous, but there is also a sort of deep emotional connection you feel toward him, and i’m not sure why yet. I feel that we will get to know more about him and his story in the next book.

Yuki was a great villain to the story, and I found that while I liked The Face Stealer, I did not like Yuki. She was also intimidating and dangerous in her own ways, but I felt less of a connection to her on an emotional level. I feel that she is the true villain to this story and may not have any redeeming qualities, but I guess we will see.

The plot felt very unique and well done. I did have slight trouble in the beginning with getting into the story, but I feel like that happens to me with all first books in a new series. The world-building can sometimes feel sluggish. After about 40 pages though, I could not put it down. I love that Warwick infused her characters with these powerful growth moments and points in the novel where they each really shine and show their inner strength in the face of adversity. Like I said before, I also loved the themes of family loyalty throughout the book. It felt so easy to read and to connect with the story and characters. This story though is also quite intense. It has a lot of dark and emotional moments-life and death situations, but even with that, I felt that the story still shined with hope.

Overall, I really liked this one, and recommend it to any fantasy and dark fantasy readers. I look forward to the next book in this series!

*Special thanks to Alexandria Warwick for sending me an advanced print copy of the book in exchange only for my honest thoughts and review*

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