Emma in the Night by Wendy Walker

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Emma in the Night
By Wendy Walker
Publisher: St Martin’s Press
ISBN13: 9781250141439
Pages: 320
Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Synopsis:

From the bestselling author of All Is Not Forgotten comes a thriller about two missing sisters, a twisted family, and what happens when one girl comes back…

One night three years ago, the Tanner sisters disappeared: fifteen-year-old Cass and seventeen-year-old Emma. Three years later, Cass returns, without her sister Emma. Her story is one of kidnapping and betrayal, of a mysterious island where the two were held. But to forensic psychiatrist Dr. Abby Winter, something doesn’t add up. Looking deep within this dysfunctional family Dr. Winter uncovers a life where boundaries were violated and a narcissistic parent held sway. And where one sister’s return might just be the beginning of the crime.


(New) Thoughts

Emma and Cass Tanner disappear one night without a trace. Three years later, Cass arrives at her mother’s doorstep, alone. Desperate to find her sister Emma, she shares her incredible story of the events leading up to her return. What ensues is a tale that much darker and twisted than even forensic psychiatrist Dr. Abby Winter has imagined, and she has a few theories of her own since she original began the case three years ago. Just how deep can family secrets run?

Mysteries are always hard to review for me. Those worth reading are cherished for that elusive truth that one must work to uncover. Revealing too little or too much can be detrimental. And that is where Emma in the Night shines. Wendy Walker has established an unnaturally rewarding balance between the known and unknown. The reader is supplied with just enough ammunition to formulate several working theories, but left to ponder endless possibilities. The end result is an experience that is hard to walk away from and draws the reader further in with each page.

Told through the alternating points of view of Cass Tanner and Dr. Abby Winter, we are slowly exposed to both sides of this mysterious case. Cass is brilliant in terms of a protagonist. To label her as strong feels unjust. While she is not without insecurities and flaws that build her up as a credible character, she is a survivor. Her ability to acknowledge her own weaknesses and her family’s dysfunction with raw truth and play on these facts, weaves a fantastic tale full of questions that beg to be answered.

I found Abby to be less desirable as a main character, but not without merit. At times she felt too open and almost desperate. But her own history with a narcissistic parent played well into her role and provided some insight, albeit limited. I feel like saying she was without value is not warranted. But make no mistake, this is Cass’s story.

The world building is confined to an island and the Tanner’s home, but felt much larger in the grand scheme. The narration establishes an environment that is a familiar as it is foreign. Cleverly implementing elements of the known and uncertain, the likable and unlikable, Walker plays on the reader’s many emotions, engaging them on multiple levels.

The writing is perceptive and sharp. This is a prime example of a well-developed plot that has been executed flawlessly. It reads with an incredible ease and delivers a suspenseful tale that will leave readers thinking and rethinking with each new development.

Emma in the Night is for anyone who loves a dark story full of twists. If you enjoy a good dysfunctional family and mystery, this will be a welcomed and necessary addition to your shelves.

Untitled design Enjoyed with a warm cup of Earl Grey and a splash of milk.

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One Dark Throne by Kendare Blake

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Available 9/19/17
One Dark Throne (Three Dark Crowns #2)
By Kendare Blake
Publisher: Harper Teen
ISBN13: 9780062690456
Pages: 464
Genre: YA Fantasy

Synopsis:

The battle for the Crown has begun, but which of the three sisters will prevail?

With the unforgettable events of the Quickening behind them and the Ascension Year underway, all bets are off. Katharine, once the weak and feeble sister, is stronger than ever before. Arsinoe, after discovering the truth about her powers, must figure out how to make her secret talent work in her favor without anyone finding out. And Mirabella, once thought to be the strongest sister of all and the certain Queen Crowned, faces attacks like never before—ones that put those around her in danger she can’t seem to prevent.

In this enthralling sequel to Kendare Blake’s New York Times bestselling Three Dark Crowns, Fennbirn’s deadliest queens must face the one thing standing in their way of the crown: each other.

(New) Thoughts

I contemplated a reread of Three Dark Crowns before diving into One Dark Throne, but my curiosity and anticipation won, as is nearly often the case. But I fared surprisingly well! Picking up this continuation was like returning home (if home is shrouded in betrayal and death). I was instantly taken back to Fennbirn and the deadly ascension to the throne. Oh how good it is to be home!

The Ascension year has begun and the three sisters continue their “imposed” rivalry to reign. Only this time they have returned with even more ferocity and determination. Tables have turned and realities have set in. The girls now understand what must and will happen. Pitted against one another and uncovering new strengths and secrets, the stakes are at an all-time high. But only one queen can survive. Only one queen can occupy the throne. Who will rise to the top?

Please let it be Arsinoe!

OK, now that we know who my favorite is, let’s talk characters for a moment. Three Dark Crowns did an excellent job of setting this elaborate stage and exploring the sisters at great lengths. We learned of their fears, weaknesses and personal desires. We connected. One Dark Throne takes all of those facts and evolves them into something much larger. Katherine, Arsinoe and Mirabella now understand that there is no escaping their fates but this doesn’t mean they have all accepted this.

There is nothing left for these young women to do but grow on personal levels and make some hard decisions. And that is exactly what they do. Faced with an uncertain future, they seek answers and a means. The complexity of their situation allows for tremendous character depth. There is a multitude of emotions surfacing and each sister handles them in her own, unique fashion. This brings a lot of questions to the forefront as we soon formulate our own theories on each. Who deserves the throne? Who deserves to live? Add some new twists and developments that really expand on the supporting characters and you have intricate and engaging experience. So while the plot is stellar, for myself, One Dark Throne remains a character driven read.

But about that plot.. It is fierce and ambitious! Three young women raised together as siblings and then separated and trained in preparation to fight one another to the grisly, bitter end. Many heightened emotions are abound, feelings run amok and you know dark  secrets are likely to be revealed. As complex as it all is in theory and concept, Kendare Blake still executes it with incredible ease and finesse.

Incorporating a dynamic magic system and elaborate world building, One Dark Throne begs to be savored. It is ever evolving and with the constant element of surprise. Blake’s writing is smart, vivid and atmospheric. Eloquently detailed, she effortlessly creates a distinct mood and setting that lands you deep within the pages, fully immersed in Fennbirn.

The truth of the matter is that I entered One Dark Throne with some very high standards in place and they have all been surpassed. The story has not only improved but has progressed into so much more than I anticipated. I struggle to capture the full enthusiasm I hold for this book and the sisters. Blake’s ability to establish a solid connection between the reader and all three young women is a rarity and a testament to her writing.  A masterful and rewarding series that continues to deliver for fans of YA and fantasy alike!

*I would like to thank BookSparks and the publisher for this advanced copy. The review above is of my own, honest and unbiased opinion.

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Learn more about the author at kendareblake.com.

Purchase Links:

Amazon US  Amazon UK  Book Depository

Happy Reading!

Danielle ❤

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