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Witch's Reign (Desert Cursed, #1) Tekijä:…
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Witch's Reign (Desert Cursed, #1) (vuoden 2018 painos)

Tekijä: Shannon Mayer

Sarjat: Desert Cursed (1)

JäseniäKirja-arvostelujaSuosituimmuussijaKeskimääräinen arvioMaininnat
1175229,750 (3.39)1
"The Witch{u2019}s Reign{u2026}a land of unnatural hellish cold ruled over by the Ice Witch herself, who is in turn guarded by three creatures{u2014}Wolf, Bear, and Raven. Those lovely beasts derive their power directly from their mistress and just happen to kill any who cross their paths. To get there, you first must pass through the Dragon{u2019}s Ground. Full of, you guessed it, dragons who for the record, also do not like trespassers. Sounds like a fun place to go, doesn{u2019}t it? Yeah, not so much. You see the thing is my best friend, Darcy was sent with a team into the Witch{u2019}s Reign to recover a powerful jewel that belongs to our mentor, and they are long overdue to come back. That leaves me, Zamira ?Reckless? Wilson to go after my friend because no one else will. Somehow, I get saddled with a human{u2014}a male no less!{u2014}tagging along for the ride. A human that is as weak and useless as my shifting abilities. Throw in a weapon that might be trying to kill me, and a small dragon that has a penchant for Shakespearean insults, and you{u2019}ve got my life in a nutshell. May the sands of the desert swallow me whole because this is going to be a friggin bumpy ride."--Author's website.… (lisätietoja)
Jäsen:ReadingAdct21
Teoksen nimi:Witch's Reign (Desert Cursed, #1)
Kirjailijat:Shannon Mayer
Info:Hijinks Ink Publishing, Kindle Edition, 370 pages
Kokoelmat:Oma kirjasto
Arvio (tähdet):
Avainsanoja:to-read

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Witch's Reign (tekijä: Shannon Mayer)

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näyttää 5/5
Good story, but Mary Sue character. The thing that kept me reading was my inability to figure out where each character stood. I wanted to know more of each characters intentions in the world. Other than that the main lady’s story was typical of books in this genre, and followed those lines perfectly. ( )
  AbsurdWizard | Feb 20, 2024 |
Obviously a part 1. ( )
  furrykidz | Jul 30, 2020 |
A bizarre form of MarySue

MC has the best horse. Intelligent and tireless. MC has a shotgun and a grenade launcher, which seem to work interchangeably. MC changes into a housecat, but her claws can injure dragons because she has a special weapon. MC befriends a dragon in a frozen forest (at least one tree had burst from freezing), yet that dragon, after flying around, suddenly starts to feel cold.

Worse, I have no idea what is going on. Maybe this is part of a bigger world, but there is no explanation of that world other than ‘there is a Wall’. Distance traveled makes almost no sense. Time meanders aimlessly.

There is some decent writing, but it is tangled up in an indecipherable mess of world building and random plot points. ( )
  wildwily | May 28, 2020 |
This book is riddled with imperfections—the kind that usually cause me to stop reading about 25% in (if I can’t finish a book, it gets 1 star). But, I was able to finish it (2 stars). And, despite its glaring flaws, I am curious enough about the potential of this series to try the next one (2 1/2 stars). Probably not any time soon, as there are other things I’d rather read first, but someday I may see if things improve.

I’ll also note that I listened to the audio version of this. Lauren Fortgang is an excellent narrator, so my ability to finish this book and still be interested enough to read the next one may be due to her performance. Though, I will admit that the last two hours were painful, even with Fortgang's talent carrying it (I’ll explain why below).

****MAJOR SPOILERS****

UNEXPLAINED ODDITIES DUE TO LACK OF WORLD BUILDING

I feel like this world is very built-out in the author's head; however, she is so close to it that she could not explain it in a linear way, nor was she aware of when she was assuming her audience has knowledge they don't have. So, as readers, there is a large amount of context missing and important connections are not made, which means many details in the story make no sense to us.

Basically, I do not understand the entire world or what anything has to do with anything else. I tried to type out all of my specific unanswered questions to really convey my confusion, but it came to 700 words and brought me too quickly to the character limit for this review on GoodReads if I want to cover all the rest.

Suffice it to say, I know these zillions of things are involved: walls, the three guardians (White Wolf, White Bear who is a shapeshifter, White Raven), jewels, humans, Jinn, the desert (or maybe more than one desert), possibly other biomes that aren’t a desert, the lion prides (from the desert, maybe from other biomes, and the Bright Pride), an oracle, Merlin, Flora, the emperor, several curses and I think a prophecy, the history of anything, the roles of basically everyone involved, the White Queen (also Ish’s sister) who is a shapeshifter, the laws of shapeshifting in general in this world, other supernaturals, sentient horses, an evil flail, dragons and numerous other monsters/creatures, the hierarchies within all of these species and their hierarchies with other species, some sort of disaster.

But, how the pieces fit together is a severely broken puzzle. I don’t understand the world pre-dystopia, I don’t understand what led to the dystopia, and I don’t understand the dystopia itself.

Nonsensical character names. It feels like the author kept a list of names she liked since childhood and worked them all into this book, whether they made sense or not within family systems or locations or spellings. There is no rhyme or reason to it, and I feel more attention paid to this would have actually helped with cohesion of the story itself. Again, given the character limit for this review on GoodReads, I had to cut out my detailed analysis of why these don’t make sense; however, there is one I want to address in particular because my complaint about it is tied to my next point.

What is with the use of "Merlin" as a name? It's a highly recognizable name distractedly added in for no reason. We aren’t given the impression that this Merlin is supposed to be The Merlin. Did the author think it just sounded cool for a warlock? Or, is it a nod toward Arthurian legend as a personal interest of hers, even if this Merlin isn’t The Merlin? Or, perhaps it’s more than a nod and the author is trying to draw some sort of parallel between her story and that legend (if so, it fails)?

Mysterious literary references. Along the same lines as the Merlin thing, we have random Shakespearean references thrown in. Once again, I was left wondering if the was author trying to draw some sort of parallel between her story and the plays (if so, it fails).

But, beyond that, there is another problem. While it could be argued that the references “make sense” as a mechanism for Zam and Lila to find common ground and to introduce the tiresome “she is tiny but fierce” theme, it was still completely nonsensical because it’s not clear to the reader how or where Zam even learned these things (the educational system is not addressed). Moreover, it’s not clear why would they be so meaningful to her when we are never given the impression that reading or theater are a part of her general interests (or would even be accessible to her, if she were interested). Still further, it’s not clear why literary references of any kind in this world would be accessible or meaningful to A DRAGON, HOW WOULD A DRAGON BE LEARNING ANY OF THIS STUFF (especially if the humans aren't)??

By this point, I was beginning to feel like the author was trying to work in references to her favorite literature because they are relevant and fundamental to her, not because they are relevant and fundamental to the story—and, in fact, they do the story harm by bringing to light further world-building that was not tended to.

Open-ended questions.There aren't just unanswered questions about the world, there are weird statements and circumstances throughout that are never addressed. Eventually, I realized that I think the author is trying to do some “foreshadowing,” but it is clumsy, so instead of just planting a subtle seed they came off as huge glowing neon red signs that only left me wondering if not closing these loops was purposeful (attempt at foreshadowing) or just forgotten (too much chaos to keep track of). Examples include:
- When they are fighting the vultures, Zam thinks, "I didn't have the breath in me to ask why she [Lila] wasn't using her acid," like that was a significant mystery or plot device, but then it is never spoken of again.
- After when Merlin "heals" Maks, Merlin says Maks will "owe" him, but that was never explained.
- The satyr that Zam meets in the beginning who pointedly tells her “he thinks he’ll see her again,” but he never comes back into the story.

Random "goddess" mentions. Zam keeps cursing to the goddesses: "sweet baby goddess" and "goddess of the desert" and once sort of alludes to "praying to the desert goddess." But there is no real explanation about these spiritual beliefs or how they fit in to everything else. Any time she says these things they come off as an affectation. I considered that perhaps it was a way to build in an inoffensive swearing method for Zam, but I don't think that's it considering Zam's fondness for the F-word.

"Rare" plastic. Knowing what I know of this world, which isn't much, it is apparently a dystopia based (however loosely) on our Earth. But, for some reason, plastic in Zam's world is "the most expensive material out there because it was so hard to find." Really. REALLY? The plastic of our world is so pervasive and such a huge problem because it's cheaply manufactured and used for a lot of things but it also isn't biodegradable, which would indicate that it would be one of the most common materials to be found, even in a future dystopia.

CHARACTER BUILDING FOR ZAM

Zam is the most wishy-washy, martyred, woe-is-me, victimized, un-self-aware, crybaby character I’ve encountered in a long time. I think the author wants her to be viewed as a strong woman (or to grow into a strong woman), but the fact is that she is the total opposite. Zam does not think for herself, she has no self-identity, and she lets other people and circumstances define her. She takes no responsibility for her choices, but why should she when she has so many other convenient things to blame them on? Her curses (yes, two curses!), her “submissive” nature as a pride cat, her abusive exhusband, her brother, her friends and traveling companions, her foes and enemies, the evil flail, her father’s ring, her mother's early death, the list goes on and on.

The endless, endless waffling about everything as she tried to "find herself" grew tiresome and made Zam’s inner dialog is just… painful at times. Usually this surrounded her “certainty” about people, situations, and thoughts that are predictably disproven a short while (sometimes just three sentences!) later. It comes off like the author read a book about creating "tension" and instilling "character growth," then used this technique of “certainty” over and over but didn’t execute it well, so instead of making Zam strong, it is the crux of her weaknesses and creates a character flaw of insurmountable proportions.

BLATANT INCONSISTENCIES

Unaware of events that just occurred. After she’d beaten the White Wolf, Zam says “Time to find my friends and get our asses through the next chunk of territory and hope to hell it went better than this one.” But, SHE LIVED THROUGH IT AND KILLED THE WOLF and hadn’t expected to do either of those things, so isn’t that a good thing and they should hope it goes just as well as, if not better than, this one?

Her father and humans. Zam is constantly referring to things “her father taught her.” When she and Maks almost sleep together, her inner dialog talks about how much her dad didn’t like humans and how aghast he would be if he knew she almost slept with one. Then later she is having a flashback with Darcy about rescuing some helpless humans and Zam tells Darcy that “her father would help them” and so she is going to help them (hehe, just her being "reckless" again!! ugh). I didn't get the idea that her father would ever help humans, even if they were in trouble, because they are so untrustworthy (OMG THAT TRUST THEME SERIOUSLY GIVE IT A REST) and he hated them.

Merlin's "healing" of Maks. When Maks gets hurt and Merlin appears again, he tells Zam he will help Maks, but can't do so with magic, so Merlin uses his hacka paste on Maks and before doing so tells Zam that "He [Maks] will owe me something, but you do not." If all Merlin is going to do is use the paste that Zam already has available from her own supplies, why allow Merlin to tend to an unconscious Maks who cannot say for himself whether he wants to owe Merlin? Zam could have just been like, "Forget it, Merlin, I'll just use my own paste." Instead, she allows Merlin to minister to Maks and then acts like it's a complete and total magical miracle when ALL HE DID WAS USE THE PASTE.

Absolutely THE most confusing exchange I have ever read in a book. Before we get to the exchange, I should explain where my frame of mind was when I got to it. In a nutshell, my understanding was that all of how Zam looks is basically the exact opposite of how a desert lion looks (she is dark and has green eyes, where desert lions are light and have golden eyes), and this is due to her taking after her mother, who was not from the desert or the Bright Pride.

With me so far?

Then, there is this exchange at about 60% in:

"Do you not have questions for me?" Merlin asked as we walked.

I snorted. "Would anything you tell me be the truth?"

"How did you know who she is?" Lila piped up.

"I knew her [Zam's] father," Merlin replied. "Many years ago, before he came to the desert to find more people like him."

[Zam's inner thoughts] “He could be telling the truth, but my coloring alone gave me away as a desert-born. If you discounted my green cat eyes, and pale skin. I favored my father there.”


Wait. Back up. What?

Just follow me for a second as I break this down. Absolutely nothing about this exchange makes any sense at all. I can't even tell you how long it took me to logically organize my thoughts about these five baffling lines to explain my utter bewilderment—and even then I'm not sure I have been successful.

Lila asked Merlin how he knows who Zam is. Merlin replies he met Zam's father "before he came to the desert to find others like him." Okaaay, but now this opens up a bunch of other questions. How exactly did Merlin know about Zam? He only met her father once, and even then why would simply meeting him indicate anything about Zam being his daughter? Merlin doesn't go on to say, "Oh, we chatted and he told me about his daughter, blah blah blah." And, if her dad already wasn't in the desert (which is where I presumed he had always lived), where was he before that? And if he had to go to the desert and search for more people like him, does that mean he isn't from the desert at all (and, if not, how can he be colored like he is?) or does it mean that all the lions in his desert went away/died/were killed so he went out to find more in a different desert? And, if that's true, how does any of this fit into the Bright Pride things? Honestly, that sentence reads like it was written about Zam's mother, not her father—that Merlin met her mother before she came to the desert to find more people like her.

Then, Zam thinks to herself about how Merlin could be telling the truth about meeting her dad. I thought she would follow that up with something like, "He could be telling the truth, but my dad never mentioned him, so I can't know for sure." Nope. Instead, she goes into how skin color alone is apparently supposed to indicate whether Merlin knew she was her father's daughter or not. I just... what? I think she is trying to imply that Merlin could be lying about meeting her father because her coloring gives her away as desert-born without Merlin ever having had to meet her father. Except that we've established that desert-born are pale and Zam is dark, so why would her coloring give her away as desert-born? If anything, it gives her away as not being desert-born. Then, she goes on to say we should discount her green eyes (maybe that kind of makes sense), but then says to also discount her PALE(??) skin and further tells us she FAVORS HER FATHER IN BOTH SKIN AND EYES, BUT SHE DOESN'T FAVOR HER FATHER IN EITHER SKIN OR EYES AND EVEN IF SHE DID NONE OF THIS IS PROOF THAT MERLIN EVER MET HER DAD OR HOW HE KNOWS ABOUT HER SO WHAT THE BLEEDING F SERIOUSLY. I DON'T GET IT. AT ALL. Again, this reads like this whole exchange was written about her mother, not her father, and key details did not get switched around—Zam's eye and skin colors wouldn't mark her as her father's daughter, they would mark her as her mother’s daughter. And, even then, it still wouldn't explain why this would be so significant to Merlin to figuring out who Zam is, particularly because presumably there are other dark lion entire prides around--unless the dark lion thing is the singular "curse" placed on her mom and her offspring, and so if Merlin ran into a young lion with these traits he would know it could only be her offspring, but that is only true if I am right that this whole exchange was originally about the mother and even then it doesn't explain why Merlin would even know about her mother to begin with.

POOR IDEA EXECUTION

Backward and ineffectual way of overcoming prejudice. It became clear that there is something “special” about Maks and that he’s not human early on because we get a million obvious and awkward red neon "foreshadowing" signs about it. The idea that he wasn't human after all, I had no problem with. Until I realized that, if this is the case, using him as a mechanism to have Zam get over the prejudice and racism instilled in her about humans and to discover tolerance toward them makes no sense; in fact, it disproves it altogether because it means the only way Maks “proved” humans' worth to Zam was by NOT BEING HUMAN AFTER ALL AND THEREBY NEVER PROVING HUMANS' WORTH TO HER. It could be argued that he still helped her get over her prejudice of the Jinn because by the time she realizes he is basically the son of her worst enemy she already loves him so being "human" was a red herring to lead us away from his surprising true identity, but since so much of the book was about her struggling with prejudice against humans specifically, it just doesn't make sense... UGH.

The "curses." Curses are... very hard to execute well. This book is a prime example of why. They were just… ludicrous to me. They were too complicated in an already grossly over-complicated plot, relied on too heavily to formulate (or, rather, eliminate) Zam's personality and excuse her actions, and did not do anything for the book that couldn't have been done without them. A curse is only as effective as the context, parameters, and purpose built around it, and both of these curses fail in that regard.

Let’s talk about the first "curse."

Eventually we learn it came from her mom's side. But, we don't ever really find out what it is or why it is, exactly. Is the "what" that she is small and a house cat? Is it that she is dark-colored instead? Is it that she will be "alone" in life? Which is it, or is it all three, and are they supposed to be interconnected somehow in some grand scheme? Why isn't her brother cursed? Is it genetic, but only towards females? Why did the Jinn bother cursing her mother in the first place? I kept waiting for these things (and many others) to be clarified and connected, but they never were.

Let’s talk about the second "curse."

“Everything you do in life will fail.” That is basically the curse.

We don’t find out what this is until very late in the book; instead, we endure repetitive generic references to it. When we finally learn what it is about 80% in... we then wish we hadn’t. I said earlier that the last two hours were painful. It is the point where Zam “loses” her “protective” ring that is supposed to shield her and all those around her from the terrible Jinns' curse. At this point, there is basically an hour of internal dialog where Zam mourns the loss of her ring (which I am convinced is a placebo, anyway) then tries to learn to use the curse to her advantage but then (of course) endlessly waffles about that over and over again. Seriously. PAINFUL.

Zam’s true curse is that she can’t or won’t think for herself and take responsibility for her own life and choices. Honestly, I think this may be what the author was trying to imply, but the execution of teaching this lesson through the curse does not work. Instead, Zam doesn't learn to trust herself, what she "learns" is that she should do the opposite of her impulses in a Costanza-like experiment. Meaning that, to avoid the curse, she must, at all times, wish for the exact opposite of what she wants to happen. The idea that this would be sustainable for any amount of time, or that it is teaching a valuable lesson, is preposterous! Instead of just learning that life is life and you do the best you can with what you’re given, Zam learns to constantly live in expectation always assuming that what she wants to happen is the right thing and then wishing for that not to happen so it will happen.

BOTTOM LINE

This feels like a work of love to me; meaning that, I don’t think any of these things are necessarily due to lack of effort or care on the author’s part. I think they are due to a lack of outside input. Perhaps there were no betareaders or editor. Or, if there were, maybe they did not provide honest feedback, were too close to the material to see the flaws, or the author chose not to incorporate any of their feedback. I have no idea. But, lack of outside input is the only explanation I can think of for the kinds of errors described above. The author was lost in her own head, held some ideas too closely, and kept trying to incorporate things that didn’t work, all of which left her unable to maintain or execute the story properly. Essentially, this reads like an unedited second draft to me. ( )
  wordcauldron | Aug 7, 2018 |
If I'm to be honest, I must start off by saying that If I had known that WITCH'S REIGN was part of the Venom world, I would not not have given it a chance. Thankfully there is only one mention of 'super dupers' in WITCH'S REIGN.

WITCH'S REIGN is part of the same world as Shannon's Venom series—even has some of the same characters—, but it feels different. Which in my book is actually a good start. Unfortunately I feel that we are missing a lot of information. Some backstory is explained and some secrets are revealed, but I always felt like something was being left out.

Let's talk about some of the characters. Zamira is an interesting character that I need to know more about before I can say if I really like her. I mean, for the most part I like what I know so far, but I feel like I need all the information that hasn't been revealed yet. I actually liked Maks—her 'partner' for most of the book— even with his secrets and look forward to finding out more about him. I also want to know more about Zamira's brother, I hope he has more of a spot in book two. I hated Steve from the start and won't be the slightest bit sad if he's killed off quickly along with his 'mate'. I love a good sidekick, but i felt that Zamira was a little too attached and trusting of Lila a little too quickly. I thought Lila was neat and definitely has potential, but I would have just liked to see a little more time go by before there was blind faith there. Especially due to what Lila was and who her loyalties ultimately are to.

I defiantly feel like WITCH'S REIGN has potential, but I'm not hooked yet.

* This book was provided free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. ( )
  STACYatUFI | Jan 27, 2018 |
näyttää 5/5
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Englanninkielinen Wikipedia

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"The Witch{u2019}s Reign{u2026}a land of unnatural hellish cold ruled over by the Ice Witch herself, who is in turn guarded by three creatures{u2014}Wolf, Bear, and Raven. Those lovely beasts derive their power directly from their mistress and just happen to kill any who cross their paths. To get there, you first must pass through the Dragon{u2019}s Ground. Full of, you guessed it, dragons who for the record, also do not like trespassers. Sounds like a fun place to go, doesn{u2019}t it? Yeah, not so much. You see the thing is my best friend, Darcy was sent with a team into the Witch{u2019}s Reign to recover a powerful jewel that belongs to our mentor, and they are long overdue to come back. That leaves me, Zamira ?Reckless? Wilson to go after my friend because no one else will. Somehow, I get saddled with a human{u2014}a male no less!{u2014}tagging along for the ride. A human that is as weak and useless as my shifting abilities. Throw in a weapon that might be trying to kill me, and a small dragon that has a penchant for Shakespearean insults, and you{u2019}ve got my life in a nutshell. May the sands of the desert swallow me whole because this is going to be a friggin bumpy ride."--Author's website.

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