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The Gate Cycle #1

Marrow Charm

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Azure Brimvine lives in a world decimated by magic. One 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.

But 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.

Her search for Armin leads her to Avergard, a ruthless city of inhuman lords and twisted creatures. Azzy must find allies and forge new bonds in this broken world, brave the perils of the Above, and reach Armin before his new power is used to open the Gate once more.

346 pages, Kindle Edition

First published October 1, 2019

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About the author

Kristin Jacques

31 books267 followers
Mother of two, caffeine addict, sleep deprived book eater.
Kristin Jacques writes primarily speculative fiction, dabbling with dark adventures, monsters, mayhem, and the occasional sarcastic zombie.
When not at her computer spinning tales she is generally herding cats or snuggling with her gremlins.

A Multi Award Winning Author of Fantastical YA & Adult Fiction.

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5 stars
143 (47%)
4 stars
102 (33%)
3 stars
31 (10%)
2 stars
19 (6%)
1 star
6 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 144 reviews
Profile Image for MischaS_.
785 reviews1,375 followers
August 5, 2020

I started reading this on October 11, 2019. The beginning totally blew my mind; it was that great.

And then Armin appeared I just could not stand him. So, I took a break. Then it was almost the end of July 2020; it felt like this book would remain on my Currently reading shelf forever. So, I sort of challenged myself.

August 3, 2020, and I did manage to finish this! Really proud moment for me.

While I did manage to finish this, I still cannot rate this very high if only because of how long it took me to read this.

Anyway, the beginning was amazing. Then it started to drag. Then my problem was removed, and it started to pick up. I loved the Above. It certainly had the potential to be great. I enjoyed all the different creatures and everything.

But then the story shifted once again, and it was again hard to care. I can absolutely acknowledge that the story ended on a high. There is a pretty decent built up for the next book.
However, here is a bit of the usual "it's me, not the book" and it's just the reason that I do not care. So many things are unanswered. What will happen to everyone? What is even going on? This is absolutely an open ending. And yet, I'm fine with not knowing. If you ask me now, the answer will be no. No, I won't be reading the next book.

But despite all of this, I certainly think that many may and will enjoy this book. It just did not sit right with me.

Also, what is "the Third Reich" in the blurb? My mind totally went to the Third Reich of 1933 - 1945, which is the reason why I was interested in the story. The Third Reich and magic sounded intriguing. But either I missed something, or the Third Reich was only in the blurb.

***Advance Review Copy generously provided through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Monica.
538 reviews177 followers
February 4, 2020
Solid fantasy! My only criticism is I never truly matched the summary concerning The Third Reich. There were hints of it but I thought that piece could have been more developed.

That being said, I didn't feel the story was missing much without that connection. Characters were solid and I enjoyed reading from the different perspectives. The Wolf reminded me a bit of the Wolves of Mercy Falls series, which I really enjoyed.

The conclusion leaves a lot of loose ends and I will waiting for the sequel, to be released July 2020. I definitely recommend this book to YA (and older) fantasy readers!

*Many thanks to NetGalley and Parliament House for the copy of Marrow Charm in exchange for my honest review.
Profile Image for Candace Robinson.
Author 51 books1,036 followers
August 5, 2019
I’ve read several books by this author and what I love most is that each one is different yet all amazing! The writing in Marrow Charm is especially wonderful and lush with gorgeous world building and a unique plot. We get multiple POVs here, each told in third person and they are all my little babies!

The characters all had distinct personalities and I especially loved Azzy and Kai! Also, I need book 2 already!
Profile Image for Marta Cox.
2,633 reviews194 followers
September 13, 2019
This turned out to be an intense dystopian story that actually felt more like a fantasy. It’s set in a future when mankind have retreated below ground to escape the horrors unleashed above. Magic is a taint that twists and alters those infected meaning monsters roam at will and normal humans fear for their lives.
We meet Azzy who lives with her brother Armin and their guardian in Heap, an underground city that’s gradually decaying. Azzy is resourceful, caring and frequently ventures above seeking herbs or anything useful as she knows it’s only a matter of time before her brothers infection is discovered. Of course things take a bad turn and Armin is cast out but when Azzy follows him it’s only to discover a horrible betrayal and Armin has been taken by grotesque traders who intend to auction him off !
Azzy is the perfect heroine and although most of this book is taken up by her journey we do get glimpses from other perspectives. I’ve no wish to reveal too much but expect Shifters, Witches and all manner of fantastical creatures. The magical elements are very intriguing and in spite of the books blurb revealing something there’s actually very little here that explains just exactly what has happened and why. I would have perhaps liked slightly more description about some of the monsters encountered so I could picture them but honestly that’s a minor niggle. I can honestly say I absolutely loved this story and was constantly surprised by this dark world and I’m already desperate to find out what happens next.
This voluntary take is of a copy I requested from Netgalley and my thoughts and comments are honest and I believe fair
Profile Image for Nasom.
195 reviews141 followers
October 1, 2019
Although I got an advanced reader's copy from Netgalley, this book is officially out as from today and I recommend everyone to get it!

When starting this, I found it to be slow tbh, and It took me awhile to actually start enjoying it. But when it became good, it stayed that way until the end.

Majority of this book is spent, by the main character (Azure), trying to find her brother who was cast out from their society because of his magic/power. It was slow at first until a wolf that she rescued a while back decided to join her on her quest. I really enjoyed the relationship between the girl and the wolf, especially how protective they were of each other. Azure herself has some type of power but it's different from everyone elses. There is still a mystery behind what exactly her power is!

What I liked about this is that there isn't really a good side vs bad side plot. This is one of those books where i can't predict an end. So far, there is no 'evil' to defeat in terms of saving the world. All Azure wants is to save her brother but there is clearly something bigger than that going on and we are yet to find out! Very mysterious.

This book had everything: mystery, magic, pain and suffering, a blossoming romance (that I ship!) and bonds that cannot be broken.
Profile Image for Donna (BookDragonGirl).
1,001 reviews7 followers
September 28, 2019
This is such an AWESOME book!!! A friend recommended it to me, and I am SO GLAD she did!!!!! I would have missed out on an AMAZING story!!!!

The world in this book is sooo well written, that I felt like I was there! And there is a lot going on in this world. There is the below, where the story begins, and then there’s the above!!! Neither is safe really. Magic has done a job on the people, mentally and physically. The main character, Azure or Azzy, goes above ground with her guardian, Bixby, to save her younger brother, Armin. Then Azzy is on the journey of a lifetime!! She meets so many characters along the way, but non so dear to her than Kai the wolf. I loved Azzy and Kai, and I can’t wait to read more about them!!!! But I loved so many of the characters, they were written so beautifully. All the details were splayed out to us, so that we are able to imagine them as real and have strong feelings about them, whether good or bad.

I’m not going to tell you too much about the story, because I want you to read it and experience it for yourself. The writing is flawless and story moves along at an even keel, you will be lost to it!! Turning pages one after the other, and not wanting to put it down. I was/am sooo sad it ended. BUT I cannot wait for book two, when Azzy’s journey continues!!
Profile Image for Permanently_Booked.
863 reviews57 followers
September 17, 2019
Magic is unruly. It cannot be controlled. When released it breeds dark creatures, creates monsters from pure flesh and diseases born of magic meant to consume.

In a moment when words are greatly needed I am at a loss to properly articulate the captivating read this was for me. The author writes fluently and effortless bringing the scenes and characters to life in your mind. This book could easily be considered horrific with the description of the Above creatures and the natives to the territory. The gory details of monsters, transitions and dismemberment are just icing on the cake of graphic description.

But that’s not all…

I could not properly build a brief synopsis of this book without giving away details I feel the reader needs to gleam on their own. I can indicate that the reader is immediately thrown into the dangers of the Above as we meet Azzy our main character. You’ll fall in love with the apothecary, Brixby, who has taken in the orphan siblings. Azzy’s brother, Armin, who holds a powerful magic inside. Kai, the wolf connected deeply to Azzy and many others along the way.
The only desire I had once I finished was to know more about how it all began. Though I am not one for books that have chapters dedicated to the history of origins for a story; I do enjoy enough background to have an understanding of why a world is the way it currently is. Without reading the synopsis provided on NetGalley I wouldn’t have known what little I did. I do not think it takes away from the story though it does take a momentary chapter or two to grab a foothold in the plotline.
With that said this book was a 5/5 for me. I truly did “really like it.” I hope to add this to my shelves as a dust- jacketed hardback and cannot wait for the second installment.

*Disclaimer: I received this arc for an honest review. Thank you NetGalley, Parliament House and special thanks to the author for allowing me the ability to review.*

Profile Image for Anja H..
760 reviews460 followers
May 19, 2020

This was a really good book! It took me a while to finish though.

It's been a while since I read a dystopian, and I love what the author tried to do here. She introduced us a rich world with wild magic and a whole new system, but it was a bit much at times, because I feel like you really get thrown into the middle of it all right from the start!

This was basically non-stop action, with Azzy and Armin hurtling from one bad event to the next, and I just couldn't fathom how one (or two) people could be so unlucky!

I love the characters they encountered along the way though (especially Azzy) and I can't wait to see how this continues!

Received a free copy of this book from the publisher through Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.
Profile Image for Sheena ☆ Book Sheenanigans .
1,440 reviews360 followers
September 19, 2019

A page-turner from start to end, this dystopian novel was easily able to capture my attention from the get-go with the magical creative writing style the author was able to displayed, refreshing and unique characters, and storyline that captivated me. With this novel being the first I have read from this author, I can't wait to see what else she has in store for us.

Profile Image for Carol (StarAngel's Reviews) Allen.
1,683 reviews600 followers
October 18, 2019
Book – Marrow Charm
Author – Kristin Jacques
Series – The Gate Cycle
Cliffhanger? - Yes
Publication Date – October 1, 2019
Genre – YA Dystopian/Fantasy
Rating – 4 1/4 out of 5 Stars

Complimentary copy generously provided by the author through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

My Thoughts - Story

OMG…it’s been awhile since I’ve read anything other than Historical Fantasy and what a treat it was to be able to read Marrow Charm where we mesh the fantasy with the dystopian and on top of that…this author did it seamlessly.

The world building is breath taking where the reader is transported into their own world full of the writer’s descriptions molded into the personality of the reader.

But the one thing I have to gush about is….Kai! OMG….I am in love! What dedication and what loyalty. I can’t wait to get more of these characters and see how they develop further!

Reason for Reading – NetGalley Review
Story – 4.5 out of 5 Stars
Steam – 4 out of 5 Stars
Angst – 5 out of 5 Stars
Writing – 4 out of 5 Stars
Content Flow – 4 out of 5 Stars
Would Read More from Author? Yes
Recommend To – Lovers of something different in fantasy and dystopian
Profile Image for Laura ☾.
878 reviews278 followers
September 28, 2019
*Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review *

4 stars!

Marrow Charm is a fantasy/horror tale set in a dystopian world, where the few Humans who survive live below ground in makeshift towns, because the world above-ground is crawling with monsters. The protagonist, Azure (Azzy) is a fierce heroine, who doesn’t agree with how society below-ground is (including gruesome practices such as eating their deceased, and casting out those who are ‘tainted’ by magic into the monster-ridden Above). When her brother is cast out for being tainted, she sets out on a dangerous journey to try to find him again.

This book was well-written, with great world-building (including some very imaginative creatures)

However, I felt like there were too many questions left unanswered, and the character development could have been more elaborate.
Profile Image for Sheila G.
506 reviews96 followers
October 4, 2019
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!

Vulgarity: Some.
Sexual content: Kissing.
Violence: Quite a bit, mainly gore.

My Rating: ★★★★★

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Profile Image for Gavin Hetherington.
673 reviews6,144 followers
October 22, 2019
This book was just what I needed right now - filled with page turning action and a heroine I could root for. I got major Bloodborne vibes or any kind of Gothic video game as we would encounter monsters like bosses in the story - but not all monsters were evil (which I high-key enjoyed). Azzy is also our relatable protagonist who kicks some serious butt with a wolf companion as she goes on a journey to save her brother. Super interesting with a very atmospheric world, this was such a thrilling read!
Profile Image for Aly.
2,731 reviews
November 11, 2019
This was amazing! From the very beginning I was sucked into this story and it just got crazier and more exciting. The sibling bond between Azzy and Armin was my favorite part of the story. I love seeing siblings that are close and would do anything for each other. Azzy is a great main character, she cares for others, even those she doesn't know well, and will take on blame or pain if she thinks it will help someone else. She made a lot of great friendships throughout the story, especially the wolf/man Kai, who saved her more than once.
The format of the story was great, I enjoyed the change of viewpoints in the middle and the pacing was well done. I am so excited for the next book!!
Profile Image for Darian.
199 reviews26 followers
March 9, 2020
'I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.'

Overall: 4.5 stars. I'm changing my rating because I've been thinking about this book for months and now I'm impatiently waiting the next book.

In a world where 'most' magic is tainted, Azzy, a girl who grew up in the Below, must travel across the Above to find her brother and guardian who were captured by snatchers. She encounters many obstacles along the way, including the realization that she has magic deep in her marrow and that all monsters aren't as monstrous as they appear.

I really love Azzy's character and how she interacts with the people and monsters in the Above, like she's connected to them all in a sense. The wolf companion was a great addition. The two characters introduced at the end captured my attention and I can't wait to see how they develop in book 2.

The the beginning was a bit slow, but picked up quickly and I was able to enjoy the rest of the book.
I didn't love the change in point of views and part 2. I enjoyed the story they told, but the randomness of it confused me. I would like more backstory on Brixby, Safiya, Kai and their mother. Their magic is tied to the gate, the world and their mother somehow, but it's never really explained. I'm assuming this will be discussed in book two, which I'm already looking forward to.

The magic system wasn't explained that well and it's supposed to be the backbone of the book. There is rot, humans turned into monsters, and a Gate that was opened by a man, which caused all of this, but I don't know what happened. And it's stated that someone is trying to use the Gate again. Only that many don't survive it, but Armin did.

Overall, I really enjoyed the journey to Avergard through Azzy's POV. I loved the characters she met along the way and I'm looking forward to book 2. ❤️
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Lauren Stoolfire.
3,733 reviews260 followers
October 1, 2019
I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Azure ‘Azzy’ Brimvine lives in a world decimated by magic, where humans have retreated underground, but Below is no safer than Above. Magic borne plagues continue to eat away at the remaining human cities, a sickness that creates aberrations from the stricken: people twisted by magic. 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. 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. 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.

I'm so thrilled to have had the opportunity to read Marrow Charm by Kristin Jacques! It's a pretty fantastic series opener. It's unique concept and luckily it really delivers. It was my first novel by Jacques, but it certain won't be my last. The fantasy dystopian world-building for both Below and Above is darkly lush and atmospheric. In regards to the cast of characters, I particularly appreciated the relationship between siblings, Azzy and Armin. Their journey is really something else, isn't it. The supporting cast is also quite intriguing as well. My only gripe is the multiple third person perspective. I would have preferred that aspect narrowed down to just one or two characters.

Overall, Marrow Charm (The Gate Cycle #1) by Kristin Jacques is a brilliant dark YA fantasy dystopian novel that stands out from the crowd. If you're interested in dark fantasy or dystopian worlds, I highly recommend this author's unique new story. I'm looking forward to seeing what comes next this series with Skin Curse which is due to be released next May. Thanks again, NetGalley!
Profile Image for Lili  Marcus.
715 reviews406 followers
April 7, 2021
An amazing journey, a strong and protective heroine, a romance, some wonderful platonic and familial relationships, magic and mythical creatures, some mystery and a plagued, decaying world — Marrow Charm has everything I want in a fantasy/dystopian novel.

Okay, let me elaborate…

Marrow Charm features Azure (even her name is amazing) who lives with her brother, Armin and their guardian in Heap, an underground city. I love Azure as a sister, she’s protective, responsible, caring and just generally will do everything for her brother. Which prompted her journey throughout the book when Armin got infected and was cast out into the Above. There, more mysterious and intriguing things happen.

I love the world that the author has created. The idea of the plagues was really interesting and a great take in this kind of plot element because magic has something to do with it. I love the idea of Below and Above as a kind of division in this fictional world. I love that I got to meet a number of mythical, magical creatures in this book that I really wasn’t expecting to see. We don’t usually meet mythical creatures in dystopian novels, in fantasy novels sure, but the blurb hinted at a dystopian novel, more than a fantasy. But I guess since magic is a big part of this novel, I should’ve expected seeing mythical creatures such as the shifters and witches. Though, I would’ve liked more description for each creature, or each character that Azure met in her journey.

The entire book centers on Azure’s journey in Above and to be honest, it’s a little slow in the beginning but it gets better eventually. I can’t say when exactly the pace picks up but I became more invested when Azure rescued a wolf. Speaking of the wolf… No, sorry, I won’t talk about the wolf much because judging from how much I enjoyed the Azure and the wolf’s interactions, I might gush and gushing is dangerously close to spoiling. LOL.

As for the plot…I enjoyed it. I really did. I found Marrow Charm a very intense read. Azzy and Armin often find themselves in intense situations. But the thing about the whole book is that it didn’t really reveal anything concrete about each plot element. So to me, it was almost like some parts need more development. That said, after finishing it, I felt like I was in the dark even more than I was before reading it. For example, the magic system. I didn’t really quite understand the whole magic system. But anyway, since this is a series, I can still hope that I will learn more in future books. By the way, this one ends in a cliffhanger so be warned.

One more thing that I liked is the multiple POVs. I always enjoy seeing or picturing fictional worlds based on different perspectives. Plus, I liked the characters so I love being in their heads. LOL.

Like I said, Marrow Charm has everything I want in a fantasy/dystopian novel so despite my little issues, I still enjoyed reading it.
Profile Image for Hayley (Shelflyfe).
315 reviews5 followers
February 23, 2021
Today is my spot on the blog tour for 𝐌𝐀𝐑𝐑𝐎𝐖 𝐂𝐇𝐀𝐑𝐌 by Kristin Jacques who was a finalist in the Book Bloggers Novel of the Year Awards (BBNYA). Thank you to TheWriteReads for having me along on the tour and sending me an ebook copy.
𝐈𝐭 𝐰𝐚𝐬 𝐚 𝐟𝐨𝐨𝐥𝐢𝐬𝐡 𝐦𝐚𝐧 𝐰𝐡𝐨 𝐨𝐩𝐞𝐧𝐞𝐝 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐆𝐚𝐭𝐞. 𝐋𝐮𝐬𝐭𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐩𝐨𝐰𝐞𝐫 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐝𝐨𝐦𝐢𝐧𝐢𝐨𝐧 𝐨𝐯𝐞𝐫 𝐚𝐥𝐥. 𝐇𝐞 𝐝𝐢𝐝𝐧'𝐭 𝐤𝐧𝐨𝐰 𝐰𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐰𝐚𝐬 𝐰𝐚𝐢𝐭𝐢𝐧𝐠. 𝐌𝐚𝐠𝐢𝐜 𝐢𝐬 𝐧𝐨𝐭 𝐚 𝐬𝐭𝐫𝐮𝐜𝐭𝐮𝐫𝐞𝐝 𝐞𝐧𝐭𝐢𝐭𝐲. 𝐈𝐭 𝐥𝐢𝐯𝐞𝐬 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐛𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐬 𝐢𝐧 𝐛𝐞𝐚𝐮𝐭𝐢𝐟𝐮𝐥, 𝐜𝐫𝐮𝐞𝐥 𝐜𝐡𝐚𝐨𝐬. 𝐈𝐭 𝐜𝐨𝐫𝐫𝐮𝐩𝐭𝐬 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐥𝐢𝐯𝐢𝐧𝐠. 𝐀𝐧𝐝 𝐢𝐭 𝐛𝐫𝐞𝐞𝐝𝐬 𝐜𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐭𝐮𝐫𝐞𝐬 𝐨𝐟 𝐜𝐞𝐚𝐬𝐞𝐥𝐞𝐬𝐬 𝐚𝐩𝐩𝐞𝐭𝐢𝐭𝐞.
I'm not usually the biggest fan of the fantasy genre, but I really enjoyed Marrow Charm.
Some of my favourite books are actually categorised as fantasy, but I just find that this is such a broad and varied genre, and I'm quite particular about what I like.
Jacques manages to create an interesting world, with meaningful characters and a strong female lead. The mixture of fantasy and magical realism kept me engaged throughout.
𝗧𝗵𝗲𝗿𝗲 𝘄𝗲𝗿𝗲 𝘁𝗲𝗻 𝗼𝘁𝗵𝗲𝗿𝘀, 𝘁𝗵𝗲𝗶𝗿 𝗻𝗮𝗺𝗲𝘀 𝗮𝘀 𝗳𝗹𝗲𝗲𝘁𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗶𝗻 𝗵𝗶𝘀 𝗺𝗲𝗺𝗼𝗿𝘆 𝗮𝘀 𝗵𝗶𝘀 𝗺𝘂𝗱𝗱𝘆 𝗳𝗼𝗼𝘁𝗽𝗿𝗶𝗻𝘁𝘀 𝗶𝗻 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗿𝗼𝗮𝗱, 𝗮 𝗺𝗶𝘅 𝗼𝗳 𝗺𝗮𝗹𝗲 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝗳𝗲𝗺𝗮𝗹𝗲 ... 𝗪𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝘁𝗵𝗲𝘆 𝗮𝗹𝗹 𝘀𝗵𝗮𝗿𝗲𝗱 𝘄𝗮𝘀 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝘀𝗮𝗺𝗲 𝗯𝗶𝘁𝘁𝗲𝗿 𝘁𝗿𝘂𝘁𝗵, 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗵𝗼𝗿𝗿𝗶𝗳𝗶𝗰 𝘀𝗲𝗰𝗿𝗲𝘁 𝗼𝗳 𝘄𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝗵𝘂𝗺𝗮𝗻𝘀 𝗱𝗶𝗱 𝘁𝗼 𝗲𝗮𝗰𝗵 𝗼𝘁𝗵𝗲𝗿.
The plot was interesting, and multi-faceted. Each of the main characters is on their own journey, though their stories do overlap and intertwine.
𝐓𝐡𝐞 𝐰𝐨𝐫𝐥𝐝 𝐥𝐨𝐨𝐤𝐞𝐝 𝐝𝐢𝐟𝐟𝐞𝐫𝐞𝐧𝐭 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐬𝐚𝐦𝐞 ... 𝐀 𝐬𝐡𝐚𝐫𝐝 𝐨𝐟 𝐬𝐤𝐲 𝐩𝐫𝐨𝐯𝐞𝐝 𝐟𝐚𝐫 𝐦𝐨𝐫𝐞 𝐚𝐛𝐬𝐭𝐫𝐚𝐜𝐭 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐧 𝐬𝐡𝐞 𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐥𝐢𝐳𝐞𝐝. 𝐒𝐡𝐞 𝐬𝐡𝐮𝐝𝐝𝐞𝐫𝐞𝐝 𝐚𝐭 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐦𝐞𝐦𝐨𝐫𝐲 𝐨𝐟 𝐚 𝐩𝐚𝐢𝐧 𝐛𝐞𝐲𝐨𝐧𝐝 𝐚𝐧𝐲𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐩𝐡𝐲𝐬𝐢𝐜𝐚𝐥 𝐬𝐡𝐞'𝐝 𝐞𝐱𝐩𝐞𝐫𝐢𝐞𝐧𝐜𝐞𝐝 𝐢𝐧 𝐡𝐞𝐫 𝐥𝐢𝐟𝐞.
There was enough description about characters and the environment to pique the reader's interest, but not overly detailed, meaning that you can use your imagine and make the world in Marrow Charm your own.
I always think this makes for a more enjoyable experience in fantasy novels.
𝐀𝐳𝐳𝐲 𝐜𝐨𝐮𝐥𝐝 𝐜𝐨𝐮𝐧𝐭 𝐨𝐧 𝐨𝐧𝐞 𝐡𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐧𝐮𝐦𝐛𝐞𝐫 𝐨𝐟 𝐭𝐢𝐦𝐞𝐬 𝐬𝐡𝐞'𝐝 𝐯𝐞𝐧𝐭𝐮𝐫𝐞𝐝 𝐭𝐨 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐀𝐛𝐨𝐯𝐞. 𝐄𝐚𝐜𝐡 𝐭𝐢𝐦𝐞 𝐥𝐞𝐟𝐭 𝐡𝐞𝐫 𝐛𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐭𝐡𝐥𝐞𝐬𝐬. 𝐒𝐭𝐚𝐫𝐬 𝐬𝐩𝐚𝐫𝐤𝐞𝐝 𝐥𝐢𝐤𝐞 𝐭𝐫𝐚𝐩𝐩𝐞𝐝 𝐠𝐞𝐦𝐬 𝐢𝐧 𝐚 𝐬𝐰𝐢𝐫𝐥𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐦𝐚𝐬𝐬 𝐨𝐟 𝐯𝐞𝐥𝐯𝐞𝐭𝐲 𝐩𝐮𝐫𝐩𝐥𝐞 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐝𝐞𝐞𝐩 𝐛𝐥𝐮𝐞.
The parallels and contradictions between the human world Below the surface, and the magic-plagued world Above the surface are intriguing - especially when Azzy and Armin realise that the lives they led and the beliefs they held in the past were not the full truth.
"𝐓𝐡𝐞𝐫𝐞 𝐰𝐞𝐫𝐞 𝐭𝐡𝐨𝐬𝐞 𝐰𝐢𝐭𝐡 𝐜𝐨𝐢𝐧 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐭𝐡𝐨𝐬𝐞 𝐰𝐢𝐭𝐡𝐨𝐮𝐭," 𝐬𝐡𝐞 𝐬𝐚𝐢𝐝, "𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐭𝐡𝐨𝐬𝐞 𝐰𝐡𝐨 𝐥𝐨𝐫𝐝𝐞𝐝 𝐰𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐲 𝐡𝐚𝐝 𝐨𝐯𝐞𝐫 𝐭𝐡𝐨𝐬𝐞 𝐰𝐡𝐨 𝐝𝐢𝐝𝐧'𝐭."
"𝐓𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐢𝐬 𝐬𝐨𝐦𝐞𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐀𝐛𝐨𝐯𝐞 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐁𝐞𝐥𝐨𝐰 𝐡𝐚𝐯𝐞 𝐢𝐧 𝐜𝐨𝐦𝐦𝐨𝐧".
Overall I enjoyed Marrow Charm, and would consider reading more by Kristin Jacques.
Profile Image for Katherine Paschal.
2,183 reviews57 followers
July 25, 2020
**3.5 Stars**

I had heard that this was a fantastic read by a friend and I was intrigued to read it, but I will admit that I knew nothing about the book when I started reading it (I completely forgot what the synopsis said since I read it so long ago) so I basically went into this story blind which made for a very interesting reading experience.

This was a very dark story, with graphic imagery of death/destruction and cannibalism, survival and all other kinds of torture and messed up situations. That being said, it was a very interesting story, it was just super dark and surprising- also 100% unique. The story would best be described as a dystopian, where humans have moved from the surface of the earth for survival, and magic is now a normal commodity. In this new world, people struggle to survive, food not a given so instead of burying the dead, they are consumed. People fear those who do not conform, and magic is a terrible force for destruction.Keep in mind that this is the first book in a series and it has a huge shocking ending, so anticipate needing more answers soon!

The narrator was pretty good, nice at annunciation and pacing, giving a perfect performance to one main character. I will say that sometimes it seems she was more upbeat than the actions of the story reflected, making it a little confusing. Also, all her character voices were the same so I was never very clear as to who was talking. I think I might have enjoyed the book a little more than I did if I had read it instead of listening.

I received this audiobook as part of my participation in a blog tour with Audiobookworm Promotions. The tour is being sponsored by Kristin Jacques. The gifting of this audiobook did not affect my opinion of it.
Profile Image for Alexx.
310 reviews61 followers
September 21, 2019
I received an e-arc of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you so much The Parliament House!

Marrow Charm, though it was interesting and great at some parts, can be confusing and a bit of a letdown. There’s an interesting world-building and a fast-paced story line, but the plot, for me, failed to bring me as a reader to new heights. I give this one 2.5 stars

Atmospheric writing
The writing was one of the things I really liked about this book. It was dark, it was atmospheric, and at times, it could be creepy, as well. The author has an excellent way of describing the current setting of the scene, and that will really get the readers hooked. Indeed, the visualization in this book was truly awesome.

Okay characters
The characters of Marrow Charm were okay and I loved reading about their journey, and the dangerous things they went through. However, I was not that invested in them.

Azzy was interesting and I loved her love for her brother and her family, but I just wasn’t quite hooked with her character. She was interesting, but there were a lot of vague things about her that weren’t explained. Kai was okay as well, but I wanted more backstory for him. Same with Brixby and Armin.

Letdown plot
Let me begin by saying that the synopsis is a bit misleading. In the synopsis, they talked about the Gate and Armin’s powers, but I didn’t see that in the book. If there was, it was very little and it wasn’t the main focus. Which is a bit disappointing for me, because there was a fast-paced story line and dangerous conflicts and adventures here and there, but all of those things didn’t add up to one big showdown or some sort of revelation. With all of those in the book, I definitely expected Azzy’s journey to reach a climax, or a plot twist, or some pivotal situation that will heighten the story. Sadly, I did not see anything like that, and the ending, for me, was just confusing and lacking. I believe this is the first book of a series, but that ending didn’t really give me something big.

Interesting world-building
As I said before, the author has a very atmospheric writing—she was able to describe the setting of the story, both Below and Above. The author also described the creatures and the animals so wonderfully and it just helped the world to come alive even more.

As much as I loved that part though, it still felt lacking to me. Again, in the synopsis there was stuff about the Gate and everything, and I feel like that is such an important part of the history and the world-building, but there was no information about that. I’m always craving for a great world-building, but Marrow Charm fell a little bit.

Overall, this book was okay. I expected to love it, but unfortunately, there were more lows than highs for me.

(This book review was first published on my blog.)
Profile Image for Julie - One Book More.
1,048 reviews182 followers
February 22, 2021
I loved this story! It’s a bit darker than my usual read, but the setting, the characters, the suspenseful action-packed plot, and so much more captivated me from the first pages. Atmospheric and immersive, the story is fast-paced as it follows Azzy on her journey to find her brother Armin.

Gritty, dark, and atmospheric, this unique dystopian fantasy is set in a world ravaged by magic. Humans live Below in underground communities that are slowly dwindling. Azzy, the protagonist, doesn’t agree with many of the rules and traditions in her below-ground society, which include harsh punishments and cannibalistic rituals. The rule she fears the most, however, is the one that affects her beloved brother. People who have been tainted, or infected with magic, are cast out and forced Above. This all but guarantees their deaths. When her brother is banished for being tainted, Azzy sets out on a perilous journey Above, which is filled with monsters and other dangerous elements, to find Armin before it’s too late.

The story has a unique and vast setting. The underground world where the story begins is deeply unsettling, and though it doesn’t seem as scary as the world Above, it is dangerous and frightening in different ways. In the Above, the threats are more tangible – monsters, magic, scavengers, slave traders, and other unusual dangers lurk. However, in the underground society, political maneuverings and manipulations, disturbing societal traditions, and a horrifying disease called the rot pose great risks to its citizens. I love that these worlds are so unique and so different from each other, yet they both have frightening and potentially mortal obstacles that harm and break people.

One of the other strengths of the story is the plethora of fascinating and fantastic characters. I love Azzy! She is a brave and determined protagonist with a tremendous amount of grit. She also has a rebellious side, which both helps and hinders her. There is nothing Azzy won’t do for her brother, and the story centers around her love for him and her quest to reunite with him. The sibling relationship is pure and loving and strong, and it is what propels the plot.

Azzy meets many unusual and unique characters and creatures along her journey, and I was totally there for it! I love how Azzy forms connections with people and creatures she meets as she searches for Armin, though I still question why some are so eager to help her. An eel-like female, a witch, a surrogate father, and many other creatures and people add depth and dimension to the plot and highlight the fact that things are not always what they seem.

My favorite character, other than Azzy, was Kai. Part wolf-part man, Kai becomes Azzy’s traveling partner throughout her quest to find Armin. They repeatedly save each other, and they develop a strong bond over the course of the book. Theirs is a complex relationship, and I’m curious to learn how and if their relations develop as the story continues.

The unique spin on magic is quite interesting as well. Corruptive and corrosive, magic has dark and dangerous connotations in this world. However, as the story progresses, Azzy realizes there are many different kinds of and uses for magic, not all of which are detrimental and dangerous. I found it fascinating how magic affects people differently, and I can’t wait to read the next book in the series to see how it changes some of the major characters, especially Azzy and Armin. Azzy’s magic has just only begun to be realized, and I’m curious to see what happens when she fully understands her powers.

The story focuses mainly on Azzy’s journey, but the narration does change perspectives. I liked this because you get to see different events unfold from Armin and Kai’s point of view as well. The three are together and separated at various times throughout the book, and the switching of perspectives offers more insight into the thoughts and feelings of several characters and a look at what they experience while apart from the others.

Messages of familial love, survival, fighting for what is right, and never giving up even when the odds are stacked against you offer glimpses of hope in an otherwise dark and unforgiving world. This is definitely a story that will appeal to readers who enjoy dark, atmospheric fantasies with rich world-building and dynamic characters. Thanks so much to the author and The Write Reads for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.
Profile Image for (Ellie) ReadtoRamble.
403 reviews26 followers
March 7, 2021
I read this book for the blog tour organised by The Write Reads for the BBNYA 2020 competition. All opinions are my own.

Marrow Charm by Kristin Jacques is the first instalment in a fantastic and unique YA fantasy series called The Gate Cycle in which we meet Azzy, Armin, Brixby, Kai and many other characters as they face the harshness and danger of the Above, all searching for one another.

As soon as I started reading this book, I knew it was going to be a series I would need to continue. I love darker fantasy series, and this one could really be described as a mix between atmospheric dystopia and grimdark. I’ve been edging my way into this darker fantasy lately, and I have to say, if you don’t know where to start, then Marrow Charm is a great choice.

In this book, the author has crafted such a realistic and unique world that I was able to picture vividly thanks to the clear and beautiful writing style that really brought forward some amazing world-building. The different settings in this world are very unique and they appear to be very desolate. I love the fact that this world is MASSIVE, but we have only seen a very small part of it. it definitely feels like our world has completely crumbled and only a few cities above, and a few below have survived, pushing humans and magical creature together and forging a hostile relationship between both sides.

While I’m not much of a fan of family relationships and sibling bonds in contemporary and realistic fiction, I do like the odd familial bond in fantasy if it is done well. We don’t get to see Azzy with her family for much of the book because they are separated, but the fact that Azzy travels such a distance to find Armin really shows how much she loves him. I’m not sure I was a complete fan of that being basically the main plot of the book since I think that other subplots were more interesting, I did think it was handled well.

I loved the setting of this book and as I explained above, the author did a great job at creating a unique and scary world filled with danger and various terrifying creatures. This is what I call the famous “atmospheric” atmosphere and I really enjoyed discovering this world. I think that this first book has very nicely built up for the next books in the series, there is a lot to find out about what happened to the world as we know it, where magic came from and how it tainted people, and how these new civilisations such as Caletum and Avegard were created.

Overall, this was a really well thought out and executed first book in a series that I am now very invested in and will definitely continue. The writing style was very fluid and had me captivated throughout. I thought the pacing also flowed well and it kept me turning the pages. The only little qualm I have with this book is that although I did like the multiple POVs for the insight they gave me of the other characters, I don’t think they advanced the story and actually backtracked on some events we had already seen through Azzy’s narration and therefore they pulled me out of the story and confused me a little. Other than that, I think that this book was set up really well and it has given me a lot of questions I’m hoping will be answered in the sequel.

I gave this book 4 stars and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I loved the world-building, the characters and the subplots. I wasn’t that much of a fan of the actual plot, that is Azzy finding her brother because I was much more interested in the magic system, Kai and how the Above and the Below became what they are. However, I do think that the main plot set up the series really well and we will get a lot more insight into my preferred parts soon. Well, I hope so at least, ahah!

If you like YA fantasy which leans towards atmospheric dystopia and grimdark, then I guarantee that you will enjoy this book, especially if unique magic systems are your cup of tea. You won’t be disappointed.

Trigger Warnings: cannibalism, illness, seizures, dead/absent parents, torture, absent loved one, slavery, blood, gore, violence.

My full review with my thoughts on characters and themes will be up on my blog in the next days!
Profile Image for Pattricia Mesa.
120 reviews32 followers
November 4, 2019
Yesterday when I completed this book, I had a panic attack; not because the book ended in a cliffhanger, but because the last author’s note informed that Azzy (the leading character) needed more readers for her story to continue. I still don't know if that's the case since I got an e-ARC, but before I proceed to write my in-detail review, I want to invite everyone reading my words to please give this story a try. I promise that by the end of it, you're going to be thankful you were introduced to this beautiful world full of magic. And if you read it, please leave a review; even if it's a short one, I bet everything will help in saving Azzy.
ℑ𝐭 𝐰𝐚𝐬 𝐚 𝐟𝐨𝐨𝐥𝐬𝐢𝐡 𝐦𝐚𝐧 𝐰𝐡𝐨 𝐨𝐩𝐞𝐧𝐞𝐝 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐆𝐚𝐭𝐞. 𝐋𝐮𝐬𝐭𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐩𝐨𝐰𝐞𝐫 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐝𝐨𝐦𝐢𝐧𝐢𝐨𝐧 𝐨𝐯𝐞𝐫 𝐚𝐥𝐥. 𝐇𝐞 𝐝𝐢𝐝𝐧'𝐭 𝐤𝐧𝐨𝐰 𝐰𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐰𝐚𝐬 𝐰𝐚𝐢𝐭𝐢𝐧𝐠. 𝐌𝐚𝐠𝐢𝐜 𝐢𝐬 𝐧𝐨𝐭 𝐚 𝐬𝐭𝐫𝐮𝐜𝐭𝐮𝐫𝐞𝐝 𝐞𝐧𝐭𝐢𝐭𝐲. 𝐈𝐭 𝐥𝐢𝐯𝐞𝐬 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐛𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐬 𝐢𝐧 𝐛𝐞𝐚𝐢𝐭𝐮𝐟𝐮𝐥, 𝐜𝐫𝐮𝐞𝐥 𝐜𝐡𝐚𝐨𝐬. 𝐈𝐭 𝐜𝐨𝐫𝐫𝐮𝐩𝐭𝐬 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐥𝐢𝐯𝐢𝐧𝐠. 𝐀𝐧𝐝 𝐢𝐭 𝐛𝐫𝐞𝐞𝐝𝐬 𝐜𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐭𝐮𝐫𝐞𝐬 𝐨𝐟 𝐜𝐞𝐚𝐬𝐞𝐥𝐞𝐬𝐬 𝐚𝐩𝐩𝐞𝐭𝐢𝐭𝐞."
Marrow Charm is set in a world where a door was open and magic was brought into the human realm. As a consequence, humans started to get sick, and to avoid the transformation into monsters, underground cities were created to prevent more individuals from getting infected.
Azure Brimvine or Azzy, as everyone knows her, is one of the inhabitants of this underground world. She lives with her caretaker, Brixby, and her brother, Armin. Unfortunately, Armin holds magic inside of him, and after an episode brings it out, Armin is cast into the above where Azzy follows him. Nonetheless, the situation gets out of hand, and Armin and Brixby end up captured by some individuals of the above while Azzy gets to escape. Determined to rescue her brother and be there for him no matter the consequences, Azzy embarks on a journey to find him.

I can't even describe the spectacular world Kristin Jacques created. I have to admit that the beginning was a little bit too slow for my preference, but after twenty percent in, I was blaming life's duties for keeping me away from reading. Jacques's clear writing makes it easier to follow the story. You become consumed by the magic of the world she built. Azzy's journey brings out all types of magical creatures, including herself, who is different from everyone else.

My favorite part of this book is that it has a little of everything. It features romance, but the story is not consumed by it, on the contrary. Jacques slowly builds a bond between Azzy and her love interest, and it makes the reader desperate for more. We also get to know every important character in detail since the book is narrated through various points of view. Still, they are not hard to follow.
But most importantly, Azzy is not distracted from her goal, which is to find and save her brother. I personally hate stories where the mc is supposed to be following a path and gets sidetracked by everything she encounters. Throughout her journey, Azzy faces many obstacles, but her bond with Armin is much stronger.

As the first in a series, Marrow Charm is a story full of twists that keeps the reader on edge and biting their nails while questioning who is more humane, those non-magic, or those whose appearance leaves much to be desired.

Free ARC provided via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Tracy Auerbach.
Author 5 books107 followers
August 28, 2019
Wow! This was such an unexpectedly wild ride, full of heart-wrenchingly tragic circumstances, exotic creatures, and complex relationships.

Marrow Charm springs off its pages with beautifully descriptive writing and an interesting, unique tone. After reading so many books, it’s rare that I find a truly fresh voice, and Jacques did not disappoint in that area.

I found myself continually drawn back into Azzy and Armin’s world, enjoying both perspectives and equally captivated by what was slowly revealed to me of their backstory, and what I am still itching to find out.

I’m waiting with bated breath for the second book in this series!
Profile Image for Monica.
40 reviews3 followers
August 15, 2019
Wow. Just wow. I was so excited when Parliament Press sent me this book to review, and it did not disappoint.
Kristin Jacques weaves a world that is full of horror and beauty in this dark sci-fi/fantasy novel. Azzy is an incredible character that you begin to root for from the very first chapter. Weaving in magic and a post-modern world that has been destroyed by war isn't an easy task, but Kristin walks the line of science fiction and fantasy seamlessly.
The tension is this book is incredible, I couldn't put it down and now I'm left wanting more. I'm not sure when the next book will be released, but it's already on my TBR list.
Profile Image for Cat Strawberry.
694 reviews20 followers
March 24, 2021
Oh wow, I can’t believe how much I have enjoyed this story! Azzy lives with her brother and their guardian in the Below, a world below ground where humans dwell, safely distant from the magic that’s above. The world of Above is tainted with magic that is so powerful it destroys and turns humans into strange and horrid creatures. Azzy has to venture into the world of Above briefly in order to collect necessary supplies for her apothecary guardian, but there are terrible dangers and creatures lurking in the world, and soon the magic of Above seeps into her brother, causing him to become tainted and cast out.

This is such a brilliant fantasy story and one which I just couldn’t stop reading! Azzy’s brother, tainted with magic, is soon cast out from the human city Below to be in the world Above which is filled with dark and strange magic. Azzy is determined to go after her brother, to rescue him, and soon enters the cold, harsh and dangerous world of Above, and while she’s sneaked into the world Above before, this time she must cover a long distance in the harsh world to find her brother. I love how this story sucked me in, the world of Above and Below being so eerie and different to other fantasy books I’ve read. Going after her brother isn’t so easy and it isn’t long before Azzy finds herself alone and confused by the magical world around her. There are so many brilliant and dark creatures in the story, I just love how creative and different this world is. The contrast with the world of Below is interesting and Azzy’s adventure soon becomes even more interesting when she encounters a lone wolf, one she’s seen before.

Although I loved the creativity and world building I have to admit that I wasn’t sure I was going enjoy the book when first I started reading it. The first pages lead you straight into the fantasy world that Azzy lives in but there was so much happening that I wasn’t sure I could get my head around it all. But this didn’t last long and I soon felt myself sucked into this story completely, unable to put it down. This really feels like an epic fantasy adventure and I love how Azzy comes across different characters and creatures on her journey and what happens with them. A lot happens in the story but it was never confusing and in fact several times my heart jumped during certain moments and when certain events happened.

The book is separated into three parts with each chapter having its own title. The whole story is written in the third person perspective and follows Azzy, for the most part, before later following other characters. The detail in the story is something I loved, in the end it felt almost like a fantasy movie, the story felt so vivid in my mind! The fantasy world of Above and Below and all the magic that inhabits the world is very interesting and I love the adventure that Azzy and the other characters go on, although the story is clearly not finished yet in this first book of the series. As well as the fantasy world there are hints of a past world, one like our own, and this made the book even more interesting for me. There wasn’t too much about this past world in book one though, so I’m hoping there will be much more about the past and what happened to it book two.

The story builds to an exciting conclusion, with so much happening to all the different charcters, that it leaves you desperate to read the next book in the series to find out what happens to everyone. Although the ending leaves you with more questions about what will happen rather than finishing the adveture, it did feel like a satisfying one, and one which makes you eager to read the next book in the series, which is already available to read and buy at the time of writing this. 😀 The book does have some eerie and creepy descriptions of creatures as well as mentions of blood, bones and some violence. While some of these descriptions might be a bit too creepy for some, it didn’t feel too gory although there were a couple of moments where I felt shocked, including one near the start of the story that left me both shocked and feeling a bit sick/creeped out at what was happening, though in a good way, it made the story even more eerie!

I have loved every moment of this book. It’s such a creative story and a wonderful fantasy adventure that’s only just begun. I loved the creepy and dark world of both Below and Above and all of the characters, especially Azzy and Kai. I just loved what happened with him, his character and story and I can’t wait to see what happens in the next book. I’ve loved reading this so much that I’m going to buy the next book as well as the paperback of this one as soon as I can! I have just loved this so much and would recommend it as an interesting and different read for any fantasy fan.
-Thanks to the publisher for a free copy for review.
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455 reviews12 followers
February 23, 2021
Thank you to The Write Reads, BBNYA, and the author for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

“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!
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