Cover Image: Year of the Reaper

Year of the Reaper

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Member Reviews

What a book to get me out of my reading slump - I flew through this in a day!

I was cautious going into this, not knowing if I would connect as well with a male main character, but I worried for nothing. It wasn't a problem in the slightest - Cas was a great mind to follow. I am (as is everyone else, I think) getting a bit bored of reading the same old YA fantasy regurgitated, but this was well done, felt like something new, and was thoroughly enjoyable. 

While it's nice to find a standalone in this genre, I really do wish this was longer! Quite a few things were only touched at surface level (<spoiler>how Cas survived the plague, what the rest of the world is like, why he sees ghosts</spoiler> and I hope this gets extended to a sequel. 

Thank you to Netgalley & Hodder & Stoughton for an arc in exchange for an honest review.
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Year of the Reaper is a wonderful and compelling YA/crossover fantasy. It is one of those books that you simply can’t put down once you’re immersed in them – though I should add that it is set in the context of a Black Death-like plague, so it might be triggering for some to read in the current climate. At its centre is the recent political marriage between two countries that have historically been at odds – and Cas returns home from captivity to find his king married to a princess from the country that abducted him, his brother installed close to the couple and somehow, ends up rescuing the couple’s newborn – and thus also finds himself in a place of honour as he tries to navigate this new situation, the return to normal life and the threat to all of them.
And then there is Lena. A woman after my own heart. The king’s sister, but more interested in writing the country’s history in her grandfather’s footsteps. She is strong-willed, does not really conform to any sort of mold that may be expected from a woman of her status and yes, I may have been slightly in love with her. As you can tell, The Year of the Reaper has wonderful characters – not just Cas and Lena, but the whole cast is nuanced and they really explore what is right and wrong in difficult situations. 
I don’t want to give away too much of the plot, but this is really one of the most fun YA books I’ve read this year. It’s clever and it respects all of its characters – there is no reduction to stereotypes found anywhere here, which is wonderful to see. And no damsels in distress. This is one that I will keep recommending to people.
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A plague that sweeps the land and kills indiscriminately. A young Lord coming back to life after three years' absence. A mysterious assassin targeting people close to the new Queen.

Cas is on his way back to his lands after a three years absence and presumed death. He arrives to Palmerin, his home city, just in time for the naming ceremony of a little prince, who is a fruit of the marriage that ended a fifty-year war ravaging the kingdom. But just as a nurse carrying the child crosses a bridge, her arm is pierced by an arrow and they both fall into a river. Fortunately, Cas rescues them both and thanks to the attention is recognized as the missing Lord. With the help of a king's sister he starts looking for the assassin while navigating the court politics and the relationships recovered after his return.

I've thoroughly enjoyed this story and blew through it in few days. The reality of the plague and its aftermath served as the background of the story, so be aware going in there is a lot of bodies and decomposition. Cas, on the other had, has been in prison for two years and bears physical and mental scars as a result. This set up is rare in fantasy and I really appreciated it for its originality and execution. It wasn't too grim or shocking (nothing like the 'Poppy war'), but rather served as a context. I didn't even know about the mystery going in, but it was a pleasant surprise - it drove the story and kept me engaged and curious. I also didn't see the reveal coming! What's more, the characters were endearing and fun to follow and the author didn't shy away from writing them broken, suffering or making questionable decisions. On the other hand they were all good and noble, driven by the desire to serve their kingdom, the king and do the right thing, so if you're looking for morally gray characters, you won't find them here. And let's not forget the paranormal aspect of the book - it complimented the story so well for me, like a cherry on the cake.
All in all, it was a truly enjoyable, easy read. As I was nearing the end I found myself wishing it was a series, so I could follow these characters some more.
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What more could you want in a fantasy?

Absolutely LOVED this from start to finish. The characters and the world building is sublime. 

Reading about Cas following his journey is one you won’t want to put down. 

One I would highly recommend lovers of fantasy to sink their teeth into.
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This is such a  a fantastic read , Year of the Reaper is probably one of my favourite reads this year.  I loved the fact this was told from Cas’s POV when so many YA Fantasy are from the female MC POV, I loved the brothers relationship so much, it was so well done. The slow burn romance is perfect, I love and hate that it’s a stand-alone as I want more but at the same time I think it’s perfect. Absolutely and thoroughly recommended read.

Thanks to netgalley and the publisher for a free copy for an honest opinion
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Wow, I really enjoyed this one!

Although I felt like the synopsis doesn't really match the content of this book, out main character was fierce, headstrong and I loved reading about her! This book is dark and gory, and overall quite aa compelling read. I'm not sure if it's a debut, but wow the writing was so intriguing!
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I am so grateful for this book, I’m going to jump right in with that. I’ve hit a bit of reading slump where books aren’t really satisfying me and then I pick up Year of The Reaper and it takes me somewhere wonderful again. 

I’ll admit the title, and the early cover, made me expect something different for this book, something grittier, more violent, instead you get wholesome characters, with sensitive, thought through development, a royal plot of secrets and twists, and a slow burn romance, and it’s a really enjoyable adventure. Plot aside, which is interesting itself with a killer after the royal family and Cas out to investigate, the heart of this book is in the characters. 
Cas, at the start of this book, has spent years imprisoned, tortured and bears the scars, both physically and mentally, because of this. He is a good man, and not the stereotypical broody character, his PSTD is handled delicately and throughout the book he learns to be touched, to be vulnerable and to feel safe again. Cas isn’t perfect, he has a big heart but that doesn’t always mean he does the right thing, but he is such a hero in this book, a gentle teddy bear, that I instantly loved him. The only character I loved more was Lena, oh Lena there are not enough words for this woman. Lena is a free spirit, she’s gentle, intelligent and brave and not merely a character for Cas to swoon over. Lena’s greatest weapons are her intelligence and her kindness and I love characters like her who refuse to be underestimated or boxed. Picture Astrid in EOTV but without the swearing and you get my girl Lena. The slow burn romance, and I mean slow, is also delicious, it’s very understated and intimate and i just loved it.
There are also some really interesting supporting characters; Ventilla, Cas’ brother, you don’t really learn a lot about him but I loved the brother love story in this book, Jehan the princess is a complex character that I can’t say much about here, and then there’s Bittor, a character you are taken on a real journey with. There is a lot of tenderness in this book.

My criticisms are very limited, I will say that there is quite a lot going on and it isn’t perhaps necessary, the plague and Cas seeing the dead don’t necessarily add more to the plot which already has a lots going on, but that said it doesn’t make the plot stodgy either and actually Cas seeing the dead, while unexplained and a bit random, does help the plot or build up scenes,. My main criticism, and I am particularly furious about this, and this is the opposite of my usual thoughts, is that I’m gutted this is stand alone. While usually series are dragged out, I adored the characters so much and wanted more time with them. And I needed more romance!  Again I never say this!!!! That said, I also appreciate that the book is contained and the romance doesn’t become the plot so honestly I can’t stay mad. This book is just such a lovely thing I could have easily had more. I didn’t want it got end.

Thank you NetGalley for the review copy, genuinely one of my favourite reads.
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I LOVED this book so much it is absolutely one of my favourites this year.

I usually feel with standalones that one book isn't enough for me to be really invested because I love a series and the more books the better!

But I was sucked into this story straight away. Cas was the perfect protagonist and his and Lena's relationship was so compelling.

I thought I had guessed the twist but I had not at all! It completely took me by surprise and I just couldn't put it down.

The backdrop of a country consumed by plague felt very poignant and there was just such rich world building I loved soaking up all of the amazing details that were written so beautifully!

A must read for YA Fantasy fans
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Sometimes there are books that you're so looking forwards to that you clear your schedule (as much as possible) when the book arrives so you can just pick it up. But then you find that you're nervous stepping into them. Because what if it's not everything you wanted?

Thankfully, this book did not disappoint.

In the aftermath of a plague, Cas tried to uncover the truth behind a mysterious spate of attacks on the new queen. He's been away for years, and no sooner gets back than is embroiled in politics. It was such a fun, twisty story, full of tangled loyalties and priorities. It was a joy to read (and an experience over all too soon - I suspect I shall be re-reading soon)

Yes, it's about the aftermath a plague, but I'm at that stage of the pandemic where I want to read about the aftermath (to be honest, I also want to read about plagues, the escapism of a book where they end up dealing with it!) I want to see people moving on, rebuilding, healing, and also struggling with the grief of a pandemic. This book absolutely does that for me.

There is a stateliness to Makiia Lucier's writing. The combination of pace and tone, not to mention the deftness with which she employs them, really differentiates her books from a lot of YA fantasies. There's no rush, even in action. Everything is allowed to unfold at a measured pace.

The language choices are also subtle but powerful. YA is a lot more immediate and obviously full of emotion than adult - a consequence of the audience, character age, and conventions. It's usually very overtly emotional language, the character's qualms and inner struggles loud on the page. That is not to say that form of writing is bad - far from it. It's a highly effective, gripping writing style, which is why it's the predominant one in YA (and is starting to find its way into adult.)

However, Lucier doesn't use that style. Hers is a much subtler, but every bit as powerful, technique (as well as Lucier's ISLE OF BLOOD AND STONE, another brilliant example of this style is Adrienne Young's FABLE). It's all about the subtext and what's not said. There's so much trust in that, that the reader will put the pieces together - which I love. The best word I can think of is "reserved," but that doesn't quite give it credit.

It's not an emotional disconnect, but a different way of feeling and showing emotions. I think I connect to this style so well because it feels more like how I experience emotions. I'm autistic, and I know I process and emote differently - honestly, sometimes loud, very public emotions from others can be overwhelming or confusing. This writing styles feels more like how I experience emotions - every bit as strongly and powerfully as others, but internally and not expressed "the normal way."
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Thank you to Netgalley and the publishers, who provided me with a digital copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 

Year of the reaper is a fantasy about a man named Cas, who survived a war and a rapidly spreading plaque. Just as he wants to return to his home and to his family, he gets mixed up in monarchy intrigues and in a murder mystery taking place in his own home. To protect the queen and her son, he has to face an unknown enemy whilst battling his own past.

I loved this book. It had everything I want from a fantasy. The storyline was intriguing, there were magical aspects to the story (the protagonists is able to see spirits) and a sweet romance. The pace of the story was great, and the writing kept me interested. I definitely have to check out some of the author's other works, because this story left me wanting more. 

The publication date is today, so you can get your hands on a copy as well.
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Thank you to Hodder and Stoughton and NetGalley for an E-ARC in exchange for an honest review.

I- I am speechless. This book is sooo good. It's not something I would usually go for, but when I read the synopsis it intrigued me so I requested it. I read this book in one sitting, it was that good. I rarely read books in one sitting so that's saying something. I loved the sibling dynamic and that there was a male main character, something I'm not really used to so it was something new! I will totally be recommending this to everyone and anyone.
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I read this book as part of the 24 hour readathon which, in hindsight, may have not been the best plan. I don't think this is the kind of book one ought to read in one sitting, as everything has now sort of blended together in my head and I don't have many distinct impressions of this story. 
I liked a lot of the ideas in this book, the Lord who went to prison and can now see ghosts, the plots and plans and subterfuge, politics and so such...there was a lot about this story that ticks boxes for me personally. 
I think part of the reason that this book didn't totally work for me is that the story starts after Cas has been to prison and we don't really get a sense of what he was like before that. A large chunk of this story requires you to feel that things have changed and yet since we never saw them any other way it just feels a bit lacking. I can see why you might not include those moments and that it is an interesting place to start the story but overall I think I would have preferred a bit more build up to the later story. I never really felt like I got to know Cas or the setting particularly well and I think my enjoyment, and retention, of the story suffered from that. 
I will say, that I would perhaps like to reread this book, which is not something I say of bad books - so there must be something going for this one. I think I would probably read it a bit more spaced out rather than in one sitting so those wanting to pick this up may wish to keep that in mind. 
Overall, I wouldn't say that I had a negative reading experience with this book, in fact there are a lot of aspects that I did enjoy, but the lasting impression is of a somewhat familiar fantasy book that didn't give me enough that I was left wanting more. Perhaps a future reread will unlock something for me but I will have to wait and see!
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I really enjoyed this story. An equal mix of great character and development and a great plot. I loved the plot twists and element of mystery as well as Cas’ personal story too.
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This is a weird one to review because I think the title or the covers (both the UK and the US ones) I saw so far do not reflect the contents of the story or atmosphere at all. But you know what they say, never judge a book by its cover or… title, in this instance. 

Year of the Reaper tells the story of Cas, who comes back after three years to his home. He was imprisoned by the rival kingdom of Brisa, and everyone in his home thought he was dead. The world is overcome by a plague that is decimating and impoverishing the population. An attempt at the newborn prince’s life brings Cas to being involved with the investigation and unravelling this mystery.

I think when you start to read this story you clearly understand the story will still discuss the effect of this deadly plague on the world, but it will be mainly about Cas trying to find who is trying to attack the closest members of the cortege of queen Jehan. The whole plot is mainly about Cas trying to solve this mystery but also about how he will deal with PTSD. 

One of the main reasons why I liked this story is Cas. I haven’t had the pleasure of reading many YA fantasy stories with a male main character. I really enjoyed Cas’s emotional journey to reconnect with his past and present home, while he also sees actual ghosts everywhere and talks with them – one of the effects of healing from the plague. Overall, this story was not too gory or brutal as the title may suggest, and nothing too creepy. As I said, it was more of a mystery story, with light fantasy elements. I have to admit that personally, I had a hunch about who was behind the murders of queen Jehan’s court members (yes, I am annoying like that). However, I haven’t seen the reasons behind everything, which made it more intriguing. The writing was exceptionally captivating, and the story never failed to keep my interest. 

For me, a standalone always gets extra points. With Year of the Reaper, the writer managed to bring both the main plot and all the characters’ stories to a clean end. The ending wrapped up nicely everything, with no loose ends. I think some readers may find the action scenes too short, but I personally thought they fit well with the overall pacing of the story. I strongly recommend this book if you love mystery stories, set in a fantasy/medieval world. The romance was there but it wasn’t the main point of the plot, so it found a nice balance in this plot composed of characters dealing with grief and the process of healing from traumatic events. I will definitely try to read more books from this writer because the writing was what made this book so good.
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3.5⭐️ I really enjoyed this book! I love historical fiction and have a particular fascination with the history of human diseases so this was perfect. I would highly recommend this book to anyone that likes historical fiction or mysteries with a bit of romance thrown into the mix. 
The book takes you on a journey following the MC’s escape from a 3 year long imprisonment. Plague has ravaged the country and the MC finds himself seeing the recently deceased. The king’s new wife and child end up in danger, the MC end up entwined and sets out to find  who is behind it with more people turning up dead. 

This was a nice quick easy read and wasn’t overly complicated which I enjoyed. Overall the plot of the book was good and I loved reading about the MC’s journey. I was however a little baffled about how the MC’s ability to see ghosts was relevant in the book. There was no major plot developments due to this and I felt like this was just thrown into the book without any explanation as to why this was possible and left me with a few unanswered questions.
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Standalone goodness
A gripper

I got on board with Year of the Reaper in a handful of pages. This story in the context of a waning plague didn't jar me at all from a COVID perspective. So, I want to say that if you have that worry, this isn't pandemic-y. This was a historical fantasy with great depth, all encapsulated in a standalone. I romped through the pages, not wanting to put it down.

Cas was a young man battling with the psychological scars of captivity and returning home after a long absence. He returned to a home and city recovering from the plague, there were new incomers to his home, old allegiances and plenty of secrets to unravel. Those secrets, the shocking events that occured and the twists in the plot were fantastic.

Buddy reading this was a great idea (thanks for your company, Steph) because we could chat through the things that happened. The pacing was fast but also very well metered out. There was a smattering of romantic connection but it was in the background and I was satisfied with how that was pitched. I would have liked just a little more about Cas' special ability.

This book has everthing you want, a standalone, twists, great characters that have depth and a story you don't want to put down. I'm excited to read more by Makiia Lucier.

Thank you to Hodderscape for the review copy.
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Overall, I thought this was a really solid debut with a great main character, romance and setting. I just wish the ending hadn't felt so rushed.

Starting off with the writing. I thought the writing was pretty consistent throughout the novel in terms of pacing and dialogue. One stand out thing is that I wish the mystery was structured better. Everything else was structured and paced really well but the main core mystery started off super strong but sort of felt rushed by the end of it. When it came to the big confrontation at the end I was disappointed with how quickly it finished as we had worked so hard to reach this moment. I did really enjoy the pacing of the romance. I am slowly becoming a romance fan more and more with each book I read but the romance was actually the part I was the most invested in. It was written really well.

The plot itself was interesting. I really enjoyed all the political elements of the novel, as I am getting older I am loving political drama in my novels more and more. I really enjoyed learning about the lore/history of the world and civil war that is the background of this novel and I felt that it was weaved super well throughout the book. Like I mentioned above, I wish the mystery part had been structured better. We spent a lot of time working up to the big final moment and it just fell flat. It was over as quickly as it started and certain elements felt quite convenient to the plot. There were other elements that genuinely took me by surprise which was super enjoyable but I feel the second half of the novel didn't do the justice the first half set up which was a shame.

Cas as a protagonist was super enjoyable. I really liked his POV. I felt that the exploration into the effects his time in prison had on him were discussed and represented really well. I liked how the book showed how he had changed due to the trauma he faced but didn't excuse any rude or bad behaviour but also gave grace to his past experiences. There is only one thing that I wasn't sure on. He has an ability in this novel that never really gets explained and I never really understood why it was important to the novel. It felt like a weird addition to me as you could easily have removed it and it wouldn't have affected the plot at all. But apart from that I really liked him as a character.
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A really great fantasy read.
The world building is so well done and even though reading about the aftermath of a plague while we deal with this pandemic wasn't ideal, the story was gripping enough that I didn't want to stop reading!
The characters where well written and never felt underdeveloped!
The pacing was good and didn't feel draggy and super slow. 
Nothing fell short or underwhelming! 
Really looking forward to where the rest of the series goes.
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My Rating:3.5⭐

Year of the Reaper is a fantasy that deals with a plague and its aftermath. It's said to be based on the Black death and also resonates with our pandemic situation. I thought I was done reading about the pandemic or plagues last year but the book kept me immersed in the story. Overall, it was a story about healing and rebuilding one's life with what was left after the plague. Definitely recommend it.

(Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for the eARC)
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I liked what this did with the story it set up and the world-building. Cas and Lena were a great pair to follow and I liked how their story developed throughout the book. I liked how the world the kingdoms was in was created and the way it was built up with layers of political intrigue. This had a lot of intrigue and deception in this and i thought that was written well and the book kept me hooked all the way through. I would love a follow-up book in this universe to see what happens to the characters next.
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