Book Review: Detox in Letters (Crowns & Ash Book 2) by Cheryl Low

 
 
Life in the Realm has continued on as mostly normal for Vaun, even though he no longer lives in the drug-induced ignorance he once did. But now rebellion is brewing, and Vaun fears for the safety of the rebellion leader, his defiant sister, and all the subjects in the Realm. When the Queen makes a demand of him, he'll have to decide how much is worth sacrificing for the right choice.

Book Review: Detox in Letters (Crowns & Ash Book 2) by Cheryl Low | reading, books, book reviews, fantasy
Title: Detox in Letters
Author:
Publisher:
Series:
Book Number: Book 2
Pages: 399
My Book Rating:
More Info: Goodreads, Amazon, Publisher
 

Review:

*I received an ecopy of this book from the publisher. This has not influenced my review.*

There’s something about this series that is so unique and decadent and interesting. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever read. This review is basically a love letter to this book, so if you just want the short version, here it is:

MUCH UNIQUE! SO MAGIC! VERY TEA! WOW!

Now that that’s out of the way, here’s the long version:

I’ll be honest, I was a little hesitant to continue this series. I enjoyed the first one, but it didn’t blow me away, and my TBR list already has too many books. I don’t say this to insult the first book though; I say it to convince anyone else who’s on the fence that you absolutely should read this one. I am so glad I gave it a chance because not only was this one of the best books I’ve read this year, it was one of the most unique books I’ve read ever! It had the same great world and characters as the first, but somehow I sank into it and appreciated it even more this time.

The realm these characters live in is so complex and different. There are different sections run by different families. There are duels. There’s magic. There’s debauchery. There are murderous pixies and ghostly wolves. There’s a merciless queen ruling over all of it. You have to read the books to truly understand how well it all comes together. The author has clearly put a lot of thought into the Realm, how it works, how it affects the society and the characters and their lives. It’s strange, entertaining, and, at times, comically absurd, but it never feels silly. It all fits. It all works. And this time, we even got to learn more about the Realm, how it started, and how it got to be this way.

Then there’s Vaun, who is so incredibly well-written. He’s over a hundred years old, but he still appears young (as does everyone), and he’s spent his life being rich and spoiled and drugged, basically able to do what he wants since he’s a prince, not caring about much of anything, only having recently sobered and realized there are some messed up things going on. The way he’s written, he actually feels like a hundred-something-year-old who’s lived that kind of life. I just find him really interesting, his voice is as unique as he is, and I love the growth he’s had so far. I love both his superficial, tea-drinking, party-loving side and his deep, serious, compassionate side.

And Vaun isn’t the only great character. Fay, Vaun’s sister, is fierce as hell. She’s confident and powerful. She can make people cower with just a look, but they also adore her. In this book, she fought for what she felt was right and showed that she too has caring side. Samuel Sinol, Vaun’s valet, is one of my favorites as well. He’s so good at what he does, he’s clearly intelligent and observant and probably knows everything that’s going on even before Vaun does, he puts up with all of Vaun’s crap, he goes above and beyond in his loyalty to the point that it’s admirable and shows a hidden strength, he cracks me up sometimes, and there’s just something about him that I love. Grayc Illan is another character who fights for what she believes is right and has a lot of grit. I also quite like Addom and Hammish and Havik Lor, even though their parts were smaller. They seem like mostly good people, and Addom definitely gets some points for his hilariously outlandish suggestion of what weapons to use in the duel. Plus, all of these characters proved to be strong in that they showed compassion and they kept fighting even when it was tough.

I compared the first book to a soap opera because of all the drugs and partying and backstabbing and murder and general debauchery. But this one had more gravity and intensity to it while still also being a little bit ridiculous and fun.

I also felt that this book was more focused. The plot had a more tangible goal, and the unnecessary POVs were cut. (In other words, the issues I had with Book 1 were gone.)

Another thing I loved was the writing. It just fit with the world and the society and the characters perfectly. I don’t even know how to explain it. It’s like every single thing about this book was so completely immersed in the world, including the writing itself, and I LOVED that.

This is completely unnecessary to mention, but I also love the character names. They fit the world so perfectly too. Vaun. Fay. Evan Kadem. AviSariel. Xavian Ren. Saven Bom. Grayc Illan. Evelet. Addom. Hammish. Havik Lor. Trust me, they may seem like “trying too hard” names out of context, but they are perfect.

Another great thing (I know this review is super long but there are so many things to love about this book JUST LET ME ENJOY MY EXCITEMENT GOSH) is that most (if not all) of the characters seem to be bi or pansexual. Romance is not the focus, and there have been no explicit scenes, but there are lots of M/M and F/F relationships. Also, they seem to have a lot of open relationships and lots of lovers over time, since they live so long. But despite it not being the focus, I feel like this book showed us more real, loving relationships than the first one did, and I really liked those sweet, intimate moments.

Speaking of which, the emotional moments that were in the book were raw and complicated and believable. Some were negative, some were positive, some moments were between family, some were between lovers, some were between enemies, some were about growth within a single character, but all of them were well-written.

Oh gosh, I just realized I haven’t even mentioned the magic yet! The first book was full of drugged tea and murderous pixies, but this time the magic took a surprising turn that fit with the more intense mood. I don’t wanna spoil it, but I kind wanna say it. *SPOILER* DRAGON MAGIC! *END SPOILER*

Anyway, I’ve just written a thousand words and still I feel like I haven’t managed to do this book justice. Seriously, it blew me away. I absolutely loved the unique world, the complex emotions, the interesting characters, the touch of absurd humor, and the immersive writing, and I’m already looking forward to jumping back into this series!

 
 
Book Blurb

Welcome to the Realm, where magic is your drug, your poison, and your only hope.

An illness is spreading through the city, marking the sick in mysterious letters scrawled across their skin. What is first thought to be madness reveals itself to be an awakening as residents rediscover themselves, their pasts, and their long-forgotten magic… things the Queen wants to remain buried. Things she will sacrifice her own children to suppress.

Mercy has never been a staple of the Realm. Treachery, blood, and magic steeps the city as the rebel leader, Red, seeks to topple the Tower, Princess Fay eyes her mother’s throne, and Prince Vaun must decide whether to submit to his mother’s terrible demand.

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  1. Crystal @ Lost in Storyland

    I love books with unique worlds. It sounds like you’ve found it with the Crowns & Ash books .I haven’t read this series, but the fantasy + darkness + debauchery reminds me of The Cruel Prince, albeit with more mature elements.

    1. Kristen Burns

      I love series that just suck me in more and more as they go on! As long as it’s got the same great characters and writing, I think I’ll continue to love it :-) Thanks!

  2. Greg

    Murderous pixies? That alone has me interested! And *spoiler* as well?? Nice. It’s funny too, as I was reading your review, I was thinking the names were kinda cool- and then you specifically mentioned the names lol. This does sound pretty awesome- debauchery, tea and murderous pixies. Hmm…

    Greg recently posted: Nancy Drew/ Hardy Boys Tag

    1. Kristen Burns

      The pixies were more in the first book, but yep, there’s lots of interesting stuff in this world! I thought the spoiler might intrigue people ;-) I’m so glad everyone else is loving the names too, haha.

  3. Luna & Saturn

    We’ve never heard of this series, but from the sounds of it, it seems like something we’d enjoy. We’re glad you gave it a chance and you ended up really enjoying it. You’re right, the character names seem cool, they definitely fit in a fantasy context – we especially like the names Fay and Vaun. Nice review! :)

    ~ Luna & Saturn @ Pendragons

    1. Kristen Burns

      I love when series get better and suck me in more as they go too! And yes, I love when the issues I had with the first book in a series actually get improved in the second one!

  4. Olivia Roach

    I love that you were able to love this second one so much. Definitely taking note of it because 5 stars from you is something to really be aware of :D It doesn’t happen too often! I have to say that I recently read Blackfish City by Sam J Miller and even though the characters were terrible the world building was so complex and amazing and plausible that i had to applaud the author for that.

    Olivia Roach recently posted: In the Midst of Winter [Book Review]

    1. Kristen Burns

      Thanks! And yes, I’ve given some 4.5 stars, but this is the ONLY book I’ve given the full 5 stars to this year! (I might bump one of the 4.5s up, but yes, this is still a rarity lol.) Ooh I’m totally getting more into interesting world-building, so I’ll have to check that one out!