Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 21 Apr 2019

Member Reviews

I was sent an eARC of this books from Hachette Children’s Group and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review
When I saw the beautiful cover of this book it instantly attracted me and when I saw it was a pirate book, I was sold! And this book did not disappoint! I loved it so much and I’m really looking forward to the next book.

This book is fast paced, action packed and very brutal and bloody and right from the beginning we see how brutal Marianne’s father is and the type of people she has grown up around. Yet, despite growing up like this, seeing all the violence, she still is unwilling to murder someone, which makes her a disappoint to her father. She defies her father in small ways despite knowing she will be punished, and I loved her from the first chapter.

When I started reading I quickly realised that not only is this a story of pirates but of pirate assassins! And I fell in love even more. I will warn you though, it is very violent and there is lots of suffering. It’s a lot darker than I thought it would be. Yet there is still hope in the characters despite everything they go through.

Marianne has to go through a lot to stand up to her father. She doesn’t know who she can trust or who will help her achieve her goal. I loved her determination and how kind she was. She wants to be a healer not a killer yet she is definitely capable of being a killer, she chooses not to. I loved her story as she discovered who she was and who she wanted to be and what she’s capable to being. She chooses her own destiny despite one being laid out in front of her.

One of the things I loved was how distinct each island was that Marianne visits. That we actually get to spend time on the island too and explore them with her. And just like the islands, the people who live there are equally as diverse. And the time spent on the waters was so interesting too, from seeing how powerful her father’s ship and crew is to learning about the sea creatures that are just as scary as the pirates themselves.

I don’t want to say too much about the characters as it will spoil some of the plot for you but I will say that there are several characters that help Marianne and I loved all of them! I hope we get to see more of their stories in the next book.

If you love pirates or assassins and action packed books, I highly recommend picking up Viper when it releases on April 18th.
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Marianne has grown up on the ship belonging to the Viper, the King's Assasain. Raised and trained to take his place, she has always known that this life is not for her. But lately things have grown worse. The Viper is crueler, angrier, and he's turning his back on the people he's supposed to protect, using Marianne as a bargaining tool. She knows he must be stopped if she and her people are ever going to be free. But it's difficult to stand against her own father...

Wow. I wasn't sure what to expect from this; there are a lot of variations on 'young girl uses mysterious power to overthrow tyrant'. This was really enjoyable. I liked the characters, the action moved along at just the right speed, and though I know very little about boats I Was able to follow everything that was going on with ease. I'll be looking forward to reading the next two installments; I'm eager to know what will happen to Marianne and the rest of her friends and allies. The tiny sample in the back of this book has only whetted my appetite.

I can't wait to learn more about the Twelve Isles.
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I am SO excited about UKYA fantasy this year – I feel like YA fantasy is really overlooked in British publishing, which is bizarre when you think about how a) this is the country that birthed Harry Potter and b) American YA fantasy authors such as Sarah J. Maas, Holly Black, Cassandra Clare, Leigh Bardugo, Tomi Adeyemi etc. are hugely popular here to the point that they have events with hundreds of attendees. But I’m really hoping that’s beginning to change – I’m desperate to see more YA fantasy from UK authors, especially by BAME and queer authors.

So, naturally, I got very excited at the news that Orion were publishing a new UKYA fantasy trilogy from debut author Bex Hogan, and requested a proof as soon as I could. I mean, PIRATES! And look at that gorgeous cover! I’m so glad to say that it lived up to my expectations and I tore through it in a matter of hours.

VIPER is the first book in the ISLES OF STORM AND SORROW trilogy, and follows Marianne, a young woman who is the daughter of the Viper – a man who serves the king by defending the Twelve Isles, although “defending” isn’t exactly the right word when he seems to spend more of his time attacking and plundering the innocents…

Naturally, Marianne isn’t a fan of her father’s methods or motivations, and she’s regularly humiliated by him in front of the ship’s crew for daring to show mercy or empathy towards his victims. She’s supposed to be taking over from him one day, but she’s not convinced it’s the right path for her. When her doubts come to a head, it’s time for her to escape the life she’s known on her father’s ship and take her freedom into her own hands.

VIPER is a fast-paced, bloody story which is wraught with danger and action, but there’s also time for a well-developed friendship between Marianne and Grace – another member of the ship’s crew. I was pleased to see this as I sometimes find that platonic female relationships in fantasy YA can feel tacked on in comparison to the romance, but the friendship is strong with plenty of ups and downs and complications.

THE ROMANCE. It was a little predictable but managed to swerve neatly past a love triangle (which I don’t really mind, though I appreciate it when authors don’t use the simple “girl caught between two guys” because it’s so overdone at this point), and was a sweet slow-burn with a lovely pay-off. It didn’t overtake the main plot, which I appreciated – it actually helped feed into Marianne’s own reservations about how to handle the crew of the Maiden.

I quickly became attached to Marianne. She’s the victim of a ton of emotional and physical abuse by her father and some of the crew and yet remains empathetic and caring – my heart broke for her several times, as she becomes quickly attached to people who show her kindness, only to see them cruelly snatched from her. She’s both scared and intrigued by the power within her – she wants to learn healing, and it seems that she may possess magic, but every time she gets close to learning more, she’s halted in her tracks. It’s a really sad story of a girl who just wants freedom from her abusive situation and wants to understand herself and find peace, but she never can – not with her father and his crew chasing her across the seas until she can be punished for daring to leave.

I really loved the world of VIPER – most of the action takes place at sea, but we also get to visit several of the islands of the kingdom. Marianne’s first adventure alone takes her to an isle covered in flowers – the soft beauty of it contrasts horrifically with the violence that takes place later. All of the isles have their own cultures and trades and I’m excited to see more of them in the sequels. The Eastern and Western isles have been divided for years, with Mages rumoured to be living in the West, and water-raptors dwelling in the ocean that divides them. The water-raptors are fantastic sea monsters – I really loved the scenes where we got to see them in action!

VIPER is an immensely fun, swashbuckling story with a crew of diverse characters (there’s a sweet and sad queer romance between two characters that I loved) and plenty of action and bloody danger. The details of the world really make it stand out – from the crew of the Maiden being known as fierce warriors called Snakes, and the distinct features of the Twelve Isles, and even touches like the horrific binding ceremony Marianne goes through when she’s forcibly betrothed in the early chapters (it involves white-hot chains and burning flesh). It’s a vivid, pacy read that will appeal to anyone who enjoys action-packed YA fantasy stories with pirates, kickass girls, sea monsters, slow-burn romances and lush worlds. I’m so excited to read the rest of the series, and I can’t wait for this to hit shelves and show everyone that UKYA fantasy kicks ass too.
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