Viper

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 21 Apr 2019

Member Reviews

Wow! 

PROS:
--Viper has the perfect ingredients of magic, pirates, assassins, romance and action! It was a wild, thrilling ride that had me on the edge of my seat rooting for Marianne. 
--Lots of tension, drama and suspense!
--The world building was great! I loved the idea of the Isles and the Maiden ship stalking the seas.
--The characters were believable (Crying gifs for all the great characters who died! :( Hogan kills her darlings, don’t get attached to anyone!)
--Grace was a sweetheart, Torin was a brave cutie pie, and Tomas was an angel!
--The romance was a slow-burner and utterly perfect.
--Exciting, fast-paced plot with a great ending. Looking forward to Venom, I enjoyed the snippet at the end. 

CONS:
--The magic system wasn’t explained a lot, but I’m guessing that’s because Marianne didn’t really know much about it. 
--I wanted to know more about the Western Isles and what made them so great. 

Overall, incredible! 5 out of 5 stars!
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Rep: LGBTQ+, DISABILITY, POC | TWs: CHILD ABDUCTION, BRUTAL MURDER, DEATH, TALK OF POTENTIAL SEXUAL ASSAULT

The world:

The story takes place in the Eastern Isles. There are 12 in all, but we only really get the eastern 6 in this story. Most of the tale is on The Maiden, Adler's ship, but also on a few of the isles. My favourite was the Sixth Isle, but followed closely by the Fourth. The world was rich in detail and multi-faceted, so much so I could clearly visualize them. The isles sounded amazing - mostly - and there are a few I wouldn't mind visiting. Everything is explained beautifully and I am hooked on Hogan's writing!

The characters:

Marianne has lived her whole life on a ship under her father's command. He's the Viper, which is basically the King's hand of justice on the sea. Marianne has been pretty oppressed her whole life because she's not a killer like the rest of the crew. Her compassion and capacity for forgiveness is inspirational and I really loved her. She had loads of depth and was flawed, but so well-written. Definitely a favourite heroine. Her best friend (if you can call her that), Grace, is the best woman on the ship. She's a highly skilled assassin who is usually assigned to look after Marianne. Grace is also in charge of Marianne's training, so they are as close as can be on a ship full of secrets. Torin, the prince, is also a pretty major character, interestingly enough. I really loved his role in the whole story and look forward to getting more of him in the next installation. Bronn, Marianne's ex-best friend, and also a Snake, was surprising! Hogan wrote him so well! I really didn't like him in the beginning, which is exactly what she wanted, I believe, but then my opinion of him changed. The Viper, Adler, was such a phenomenal villain. I actually hated him! So well done, Hogan! Amazing writing.

The plot:

Essentially, this was a coming-of-age tale about a girl who discovers things are not all they seem on the surface. Once she begins to uncover the truth, there's a lot more hiding than she initially expected and it turns out her entire world is upended. It's a really good thing she has so many great friends at her back. The Viper expects her to succeed him one day, but only if she can get over her aversion to brutal murder. The real question is: will Marianne find her strength in time to save the isles and avoid getting herself killed?

Final thoughts:

This wasn't what I expected at all. In fact, it's absolutely 100 times better than I ever could have imagined! It has an amazing heroine, pirate life on the high seas, betrayal and deceit, and phenomenal supporting characters. The story is well-paced and such a fast read, but it was never boring and everything contributes to furthering the story. I was shocked by one of the scenes at the end and was highly upset about it, but won't tell you why because that would be a spoiler! WAH! Anyway, I really loved this story and cannot wait to get more of Marianne and the gang.
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I really enjoyed this book! The world building was done in great detail and Marianna was an interesting character that I really wanted to follow after the last page! I'm excited to see the rest of the series as Hogan is such a promising writer. The characters are well created and Hogan creates a bond between reader and character that hurts at time because of what is happening.
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When I first read the synopsis for Viper I was instantly intrigued. Having not read any YA Fantasy featuring pirates before I went in to it looking forward to seeing how it was going to be tackled and I must say I was pleasantly surprised. This book was one full of action, suspense and thrills. The tension that builds up throughout the story does have you at times, captivated.

The plot, every now and then, I found was slightly unoriginal (it felt like a plot that I had read many times before in YA Fantasy) and some parts that you thought were going to end up being important ended up being skimmed over quite quickly, making you lose interest. The world building, however, was been done with extreme precision. I really did enjoy finding out about the different islands, and found each one to be extremely detailed with it's own personality, and I do commend the author for this. I would guess that a lot of time was taken on the building of this unique world and it does certainly show. 

The diversity in Viper is something else that needs to be mentioned. It is great to see a POC as the main character in a YA Fantasy and it's something that has been seen more and more in current times. It is important for everyone to be represented in fiction and this was definitely done in Viper. Also, kudos to the author for adding some casual LGBTQ+ representation into the story. It is always good when this happens and yet again it is something that is becoming more prominent in YA fiction today.

Marianne, as a main character was strong-willed and determined but I did feel like a lot of her personality was taken from other powerful female characters from other YA Fantasies. Mind you, I did really respect her decisions throughout the story. She didn't want to be cruel like her father and wanted to choose her own destiny, which in my eyes in highly inspirational. The Viper on the other hand was a cruel, sadistic character whose actions I found difficult to read about every now and then. He was brutal and was a terrifying but terrific villain all at the same time. 

Viper overall, was a suspenseful, action packed read that has set the table in motion for what looks set to be an exciting trilogy. If you want a story that has pirates, assassins and fantastic world building, this is the book for you.
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Review: Viper by Bex Hogan
    The Isles of Storm and Sorrow #1
    Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
    336 pages
    Published April 18th 2019 by Orion Children’s Books
    You can purchase this book from bookdepository, waterstones, and amazonUK. If you order from bookdepository, I would appreciate if you used my affiliate link
    My rating: ★★★★★ (4.5/5 stars)

I received this proof copy via a trade with Lauren

The Goodreads synopsis of Viper

Marianne has been training to be the Viper for her entire life – to serve and protect the King and the citizens of The Twelve Isles – but to become the Viper and protect the islands she loves she must find the strength to defeat her father. A new fantasy trilogy perfect for fans of Sarah J Maas.

He will make me a killer.
Or he will have me killed.
That is my destiny.

Seventeen-year-old Marianne is fated to one day become the Viper, defender of the Twelve Isles.

But the reigning Viper stands in her way. Corrupt and merciless, he prowls the seas in his warship, killing with impunity, leaving only pain and suffering in his wake.

He’s the most dangerous man on the ocean . . . and he is Marianne’s father.

She was born to protect the islands. But can she fight for them if it means losing her family, her home, the boy she loves – and perhaps even her life?

A brave heroine. An impossible dilemma. An epic new fantasy trilogy set on the high seas.

Have you seen the cover?! There was nothing stopping me from picking up this beauty to read and review. Also, following Bex on twitter, I felt like I needed to read this, so I could understand her as an author a little bit more. I hope this review does the book justice, as I would love to get as many people as possible to read this book. Anyway, let’s get started!
Let’s meet the characters:

Marianne is the protagonist of this story, and this book focuses on her journey of self-discovery, including finding out where she came from and her history. Above all, Marianne has to come to terms with so much during this book, and there were times when I was ready to get on a boat and stand by her side while she fought her demons. I just love her so much.

Bronn is not the typical love interest in this book. I found his past interesting, and look forward to learning more about him in the second and third books. Certainly there were times when I wanted to yell at Bronn to just back off, but then there was the discussion with Scurve and how he protected Marianne and just…my heart.

I knew that Grace had a back story, but I was not expecting that, especially when her back story became aware to the reader. Grace is strong because she has to fight to deserve her place on the ship. Furthermore, being a female who is one of the right-hand men of the captain, she has to overcome a lot of sexist behaviour.
My thoughts

I found this book to be different to the other fantasy books I have read lately. The characters were easy to get along with, and I felt like I was on the journey with them. The pace of the book was quick, and there were a couple of plot twists that kept me guessing.

The magic in this book was only just touched upon, so seeing where it all goes from there will be interesting, especially as I think Bex has some secrets up her sleeve.

There was the issue of toxic masculinity. I mentioned earlier that Grace has to fight harder to be appreciated and respected. However, when the captain is a man, and the majority of his crew are men, being a woman makes living on the ship a daily struggle.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. Bex wrote a cracking debut, and I cannot wait until it is in the shops and hands of fellow readers. However, I only rated it 4.5 stars as I predicted the plot twists, and wanted more of the magic. I can definitely see this being a series I will enjoy. Bring on book two!
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Oh gosh, Viper was a book I fell in love with from the moment I first saw it. Things I adore on covers are intricate graphic design, metallic foil, and snakes, so this really hit the jackpot for me! Then I realised it was a swashbuckling, piratical adventure with fantasy politics and a kickass heroine, and I was completely sold.

Ah, this book is just so much fun! I fell in love with Marianne, our main character, almost immediately as I watched her navigate through her complex relationship with her father and his crew. As the daughter of the feared Viper, a bloodthirsty pirate captain tasked by the king with keeping the seas under control, she’s had a very tough upbringing as her father tries to shape her into his perfect successor. She’s so strong, but not in the ways that the Viper wishes she was – she doesn’t see the point in ruling through fear and cruelty. It’s easy to root for her to find her own way, and I loved getting to know her and seeing her find her strength. I loved her fascination with gaining medical knowledge (I’ll never not be a sucker for magic-plant-healing!), and I love the subtle magic that she begins to experience – but that’s for you to find out about when you read!

This is pretty brutal in places, but it’s definitely not a dark or heavy read – there’s a lot of danger and peril, but the feel that I got overall was just ‘ADVENTURE’! It’s a real page-turner that almost brushes on nostalgia for the pirate stories that enthralled you when you were younger, but with a fresh and feminist take on things that brings it up-to-date. One thing I really loved was that very little of the Viper’s disappointment with Marianne was due to the fact that she was female (there is one comment made that he wishes that she was a boy, but it’s definitely not in a context where that’s okay). One of the single most competent people on the ship is a woman, and gender seems to be no barrier in the pirate world. You also know I love a bit of politicking in my fantasy, and the slow unfolding of Marianne’s small ship-based life into a huge, world-crossing tangle really bodes well for the sequels, which I can’t wait for! I don’t want to spoil a single twist of this plot, but though the nautical swashbucklery continues throughout, this is so much bigger than one girl finding her place in the world.

The settings are amazing, too! You can feel the sea-spray as you read, and I thought that the descriptions of the different islands was just brilliant. This is the kind of world-building that keeps me enthralled – although each island has a different speciality and culture, you get the sense of how things are all tied together, particularly in terms of the economy. It’s really refreshing to see a world that doesn’t fall at one end of the scale (from a land with one city with ALL industry and everyone else is farmers, to a land where people are arbitrarily separated by trade etc but everyone seems to have everything). Although each island has different natural resources, it’s clear that there’s a real, functioning world here, and that the piratical shenanigans are actually affecting people’s day to day lives. I could ramble about this for hours, but it’s just a really well-textured world.

Though I adored the whole book, I think it’s going to blossom even more as a full trilogy, and could well be one of my favourite YA fantasies of all time. I mean, pirates, badass women, hints of magic and medicine? It’s INCREDIBLE. Look, if you weren’t already suckered in by that amazing cover, then put this one on pre-order for its story. It’s a great debut, and a great start to the trilogy. Five out of five cats!
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Assassins, pirates, magic… Viper is a seriously impressive collection of basically most of my favourite things! Our main character, Marianne, has been raised at sea by the notorious Viper, who basically has a ship full of assassins who kill for the “good” of the Eastern Isles.

With this in mind though, we quickly see that Marianne isn’t treated fairly by her father or any of the crew because… she’s female. So she’s consistently bullied, ridiculed and suffers emotional abuse from the Viper, Adler. Very quickly though we find out that all isn’t as it seems and suddenly Marianne decides to take action and try to help the Isles, which are suffering from an influx of bandits and terror.

We have a couple of key characters join Marianne on her adventures, including Grace who has acted like a mother figure to her on the ship. Teaching her valuable things like how to fight whilst also telling her stories of the Western Isles. Grace was probably my second favourite character after Marianne, she may be a deadly assassin but her love for Marianne was easy to see. There’s also Bronn, who had originally been very close to Marianne when they were children. He’s another of my favourites but I can’t say that much because, spoilers.

That’s another thing I really enjoyed about Viper too – so many twists and turns! There was a point when Marianne was happy and it was obvious it wouldn’t last (it was less than halfway through) but even the way this happens was shocking. If you didn’t know that this was a debut, you honestly wouldn’t be able to tell. The writing and character development was perfect and Hogan has created a seriously exciting world to match. I’ll definitely be checking out the next books in the series!
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Thanks to Orion Children's Group and NetGalley for the Advance Review Copy in exchange for an honest review.

I wasn't sure what to expect when I went into this. I have read some meh YA seafaring related novels recently *cough*The Beholder and To Kill a Kingdom*cough* so wondered if this would be a similar experience.

HOW WRONG I WAS.



This main character of this book is the seventeen year old daughter of 'The Viper' a pira...nope, a PRIVATEER. Sorry, this history teacher has to be pedantic. The Viper is charged by the King to defend the Twelve Islands with his merry band of assassins, The Snakes. Each island is different geographically and economically e.g. one is known for its medicinal plant life, one is known for its mining etc. Marianne chafes against her father's rules, and struggles to live up to his (completely messed up) expectations.  

There are a lot of really cool things about this novel. I liked, nay loved, Marianne immediately. She seemed so much more rounded and believable as a character than the usual YA heroine. Her motivations, actions and emotions made sense to me given the context of her upbringing and what she has gone through. The author has also done a great job at researching the realities of life at sea and its clear that she's done her seafaring homework.  

The story was fast paced and didn't have that mid story slump that many YA novels can suffer from. Something that also really surprised me with this novel was how brutal it could be. Some of the events were genuinely shocking and the plot has lots of twists and turns and heart thumping moments. The romance doesn't take away from the plot and isn't overbearing and twee. The author has taken some risks with this story and I think its really paid off.

What didn't I like? Well nothing I can think of to be honest, it was all pretty damn great. This is quite simply the best new YA novel I've read so far this year and I can't wait for the next one.
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This is easily a 4.5 stars.
From the very first page, Viper had me hooked. I was immediately pulled into Marianne's perspective by Bex Hogan's captivating writing. Marianne is an easy protagonist to fall in love with and root for. She's struggling on board the Maiden, her ruthless father's ship that dominates the six isles. From the very beginning, even in subtle ways, Marianne is defiant against the life her father wishes for her. Her father, Captain Adler, is cruel and a terrifying character as you are unsure on how he will retaliate against her. The only thing you do know as you read that it be brutal. 
The characters in this YA Fantasy are written so well. Bex Hogan manages to create well depth characters that you can't help but love them or hate them. Even minor characters in this novel will pull at your heart strings and will have significant impact upon our main characters like Marianne, Bronn and Grace. What I loved most about Bex Hogan's characters was that they were diverse, interesting, and made a mark upon the reader. Also, these characters are not black and white like in typical fantasy novels. They're all in this grey area where they have flaws and weaknesses that make them that more fascinating. For example, Bronn,  Marianne's childhood friend and her father's most prized assassins blurs the lines in the novel. 
Viper is an action packed first novel in this trilogy. Bex Hogan builds tension throughout the piece so much so that I was constantly nervous to turn the page and find out what lurked next for these characters. The novel is filled with heart wrenching moments that pulled tears to my eyes and violent fights that were thrilling to read. Honestly, this book had everything that I love about fantasy; an amazing heroine, a kingdom, royalty, a prince, a slow burn romance, action, drama, loss. It truly is an amazing read. 
I loved this book so much I've pre-ordered the final copy and I can't wait for it to arrive so I can reread Viper again. Bex Hogan's writing is truly something special, it's spell binding and leaves you completely immersed in the world. I have a feeling this trilogy will quickly become one of my favourites of all time.
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Content warning: Descriptions of parental abuse.

I was expecting to find that this book had been overhyped, that I would find myself utterly dissapointed. I am delighted to say that wasn't even close to being the case. This book was utterly amazing, far better than I could have ever imagined.

For a start, this book was far darker than I would have thought. There are some quite graphic descriptions of various torture methods that at times had me physically recoiling from the page they were so well done. I won't spoil anything for you but the other thing I will say is that this book isn't afraid to put its characters through the wringer. Do not go in expecting a friendly seafaring story or you may find yourself coming out a little shellshocked. This was the main way in which this book defied my expectations. I think this was really well handled. It didn't feel like violence or tragedy for the sake of it, more like this was a genuine depiction of what happened to these characters and it is just horrible at times.

What this book manages to do, which I talk about in reviews a fair bit, is it manages to balance out the good and the bad. There are these moments where everything is so horrible, but that isn't the whole book. There are also some truly positive moments and some real breakthrough character moments tied up within the plot that kept it from feeling unnecessarily bleak as well as ensuring that those moments of sadness had some contrast. A well-balanced book is something we can all love.

I thought that Marianne was a great character, I hugely enjoyed reading her perspective, though there are some side characters who I hope will get a bit of additional page time in later books in the series. Marianne is written as such a lonely person but still manages to feel like someone with whom you might want to be friends (I mean, she would absolutely end up beating me up but I can dream).  With relatively few characters who are what one might consider morally 'good', I found Marianne impressively interesting despite her goodness.

Romance, it is something of an unavoidable factor, isn't it? This book has a fairly nice slow burn romance in it that I have no doubt will build into something more complex in later books - I thought that it was handled in a good way. It manages to avoid any particularly clichéd aspects while still feeling comfortable and familiar in terms of YA fantasy tropes.

This book definitely delivers on its promises. It gives you the grit and the glamour of seafaring and promises to be the start of a truly spectacular series that I will certainly devour. For anyone needing a fix after reading such amazing books as Daughter of the Pirate King I would have to say that Viper makes a great read!

My rating: 5/5 stars

I received a free digital advanced review copy of this book from the publisher. All opinions are my own.

Viper is out in the UK in April 18th!
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Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for an advanced reading copy of this book.

Seventeen-year-old Marianne is fated to one day become the Viper, defender of the Twelve Isles.

But the reigning Viper stands in her way. Corrupt and merciless, he prowls the seas in his warship, killing with impunity, leaving only pain and suffering in his wake.

He's the most dangerous man on the ocean . . . and he is Marianne's father.

She was born to protect the islands. But can she fight for them if it means losing her family, her home, the boy she loves - and perhaps even her life?

Review:

I hadn't heard much about Viper before I picked it up, other than that it was one of the upcoming reads in the Fairyloot box but I'm so glad to have been approved to read it, as I loved it.  Highly original idea and a very likeable main character made it a quick read for me as I could barely put it down.

I loved Marianne, she is absolutely fantastic and I was rooting for her from the get go.  Bronn and Torin were also favourites of mine.  I thought that the setting of the book was really cool and I could see myself there alongside the characters.  I loved that it wasn't too 'YA' - it was violent and there were alot of on page deaths, something that tends to be fade to black for alot of YA novels and this was refreshing to read.

I cannot wait to read more about Marianne and her crew, and from Bex Hogan.
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Marianne is next in line to become the Viper, defender of the Twelve Isles. But the deadly and most dangerous man, the current Viper, stands in her way…and he’s her father. She was born to protect, but in order to save her home, the boy she loves and her family she may have to risk destroying it all, including herself.

I love me some pirates in YA! I tried really hard to not read anything about this book before hand because I really didn’t want to start having an opinion on it before I’d read it. I’m so glad I did! Because Viper is amazing.

Bex Hogan sets an incredible atmosphere and tone right from the first pages. It has the perfect flow. I read over 70% of this book in one sitting whilst travelling on my kindle and it wasn’t until I looked did I realise how much I’d read at once, because it really didn’t feel like I’d read that much. Nothing feels useless or like a filler. Every part has a meaning, but it isn’t all intense or break-neck. It’s an immensely readable pace and story.

I love the characters! Marianne is definitely the type of character that, go too far one way and they become annoying, too far in another direction and they become very stereotypical. Hogan is definitely toeing a thin line but she’s doing it so well. Marianne is a great character and I’m very invested in her story. Another thing Hogan has done so well is avoid the basic love-triangle that we see so many times nowadays and it’s perfect. Bronn is amazing and never gets annoying. He has a purpose and strengths so he isn’t just there to be a love interest and it really shows. Torin and Grace were also amazing and I love them both dearly. It’s rare that I read something and don’t find anyone annoying. Adler was a great villain and he never softened once. He was a continuously brutal antagonist.

I loved the story line. Yes there are a few aspects that are a bit unoriginal but Hogan does great things with it making it interesting and exciting throughout. All the action scenes are very well written and I don’t have to go back and reread things to try to understand what’s happening. I love the world Hogan has started to create. I can’t wait to see what else Hogan has in store for the rest of the trilogy. I’m hoping to see more of the Western Isles and Hogan has only just started to explore the magic within it and it’s making me very intrigued.

In all, Viper was readable and intriguing. Hogan does an amazing job introducing the world and characters and giving many possibilities for the rest of the trilogy. I hadn’t realised it was going to be a trilogy, duology yes, but not a trilogy so I’m even more curious as to what Hogan will do. I hope we’re going to get more political and go even deeper into the magic. Whatever happens I am 100% here for it.

I received a digital copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest feedback.
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This was a real page-turner of a tale.  I personally found it a bit too violent, with a very high body-count.  I'm sure it will be really popular with young adults, who will want to read the series to the end.
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Firstly, YA Fantasy covers are knocking it out of the park so far this year, Viper has colour and foiling and it's just wonderful. Whilst I read this as an Arc via Netgalley, I then received a copy in my Fairyloot box which was amazing as I absolutely loved this book and to have that cover in my grabby hands is awesome. Viper is the kind of book that grabs you with both hands from the opening lines and pulls you under the waves so you are totally immersed in the story. I knew immediately that this would be a book for me, as the characters, the setting and the use of language were perfect. I found that the author writes in a way that I would speak so the words just worked for me on every level, it truly is a wonderful debut.

Marianne is an amazing character, struggling under the will of the patriarchy but holding her own under the weight of parental irresponsibility. I loved how defiant she was, even in the face of the most feared of men she stayed true to herself and her beliefs, although her recklessness did on occasion bother me as she knew the ways in which her father would be cruel. Life on deck is vivid and brutal, yet she manages it all in full skirts and corset and whilst we know that as the captains daughter she is off limits, there is still a read dread as the crew circle like sharks waiting for her (in their minds) inevitable failure.

Bex Hogan is so good at building up tension, there were parts that I was scared to keep turning the page on as I was willing things I was rightly or wrongly anticipating not to happen, the sense of anticipation was real. Topics aren't shied away from and it gets pretty graphic at times, so I would suggest that this is more of an upper YA age range read. It's also a tough job to world build when your story is set on the ocean but again, I felt that not only were the tumultuous seas wonderfully crafted but I loved the imagination that went into the islands too. They are small but each one is beautifully unique bringing a valued purpose to the story. 

The book itself had a YA Game of Thrones vibe and also, this is going to sound weird, a little Assassins Creed: Black Flag as the sea battles are pretty epic. If you enjoy amazing characters, great world building, and high seas adventure then you will love Viper, it's actually a book that I'm happy to know is going to be a trilogy as I can't wait to come back to these characters.
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I was sent an eARC of this books from Hachette Children’s Group and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review
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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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