Wednesday, 8 September 2021

#bookreview: Spellsmith and Carver series | HL Burke

I figured since I binge-read the whole series, I might as well just put up all the reviews in this post! :) I'll hide the second and third behind the read more so you don't get spoilers, if you don't want them.


Magicians' Rivalry (Spellsmith & Carver #1)Magicians' Rivalry by H.L. Burke
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Auric Spellsmith comes home from the city to find his expected place at his father's business filled by a terrible upstart of a carpenter, Jericho Carver. Jericho just knows that whatever future he thought he had as a magician apprentice is over now that Master Hedward Spellsmith's son is back. But when Hedward Spellsmith disappears and Fey Magic threatens the human world, Auric and Jericho must learn to work together - or lose everyone and everything they hold dear.

Magicians' Rivalry is a fun, engaging, and quick read! The rivalry between the two men is hilarious and poor Rill Spellsmith, Auric's younger sister, is caught trying to placate all the easily riled, arrogant, posturing men in her life - while trying to learn magic without her father's knowledge.

About that - Hedward Spellsmith comes across at first as a misogynic old man but as the story unfolds and his past comes to light, you learn that he is anything but - it's just that he is a terrible communicator and refuses to explain why he's doing the things he's doing...until it's too late.

The one thing that felt a little off was how quickly Auric claims Jericho as his best friend. I mean, well Jericho did save him a few times in the Fey lands...but does that naturally make them best friends? idk.

Anyway, I'm just here for the proud, self-sacrificing idiots who keep landing themselves into trouble because they won't actually talk to each other or admit that they need help. Oh, and of course for Jaspyr, the magical clockwork fox.


Before we get to the rest, Magician's Gift (Spellsmith & Carver 3.5) is free for a couple of days. 



It's a short story that'll give you a preview of the main characters if you're still ambivalent! However, it's set at the end of the series, so might include some relationship-type spoilers if you're fussy about that.


Wednesday, 1 September 2021

#bookreview: Toyols 'R' Us | Terence Toh

TOYOLS 'R' USTOYOLS 'R' US by Terence Toh
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Toyols 'R' Us starts off like quite a normal police procedural then veers quickly into magic. Inspector Khairul is at his wit's end trying to solve a series of deaths (murders, he thinks) that only have one apparent connection: a hacked off big toe and a body drained of blood. Elsewhere in Klang Valley, Harun introduces his cousin Ismail to a secret that can solve all his monetary woes: toyols. On the surface, Toyols 'R' Us aims to help people secure their financial future, albeit in not-quite-legal ways - but what is their super enigmatic owner hiding behind his cheery demeanour?

If you've ever read one of Terence Toh's short stories, you know exactly what to look forward to in his debut novel: an utterly Malaysian story guided by and wrapped in punnery and wordplay. And since puns tend to be somewhat divisive, you may end up laughing your head off... or rolling your eyes so hard it hurts. I think I did a little of both.

In between the wit and the fun, Toh doesn't gloss over the darker side of Klang Valley. There's that one-upmanship, the constant competition to be better, richer. The rampant corruption and cronyism. Religious extremism and cyber trolling. Unwanted pregnancies and abortion. Loan sharks and gangs. In some ways, it feels a little like an extension of the KL Noir series. Both obliquely and blatantly, Toh seems to include an underlying commentary on the social issues that plague Malaysian society today.

The ending lends itself to a possible sequel - and I would definitely pick up the next Inspector Khairul & Detective Fara novel if that materialises!

It's not perfect. There's a little more POV changing than I prefer, and also a bit of an almost romance (as in, it's set up to be romantic I think but isn't quite sure what it is) that felt rather awkwardly staged. But these are really rather minor preferences that don't detract from the enjoyment of the novel as a whole.

I absolutely loved this gem, the winner of Fixi Novo's inaugural Malaysian Novel Contest. A deserving win indeed!

View all my reviews

From Malaysia? Get Toyols 'R' Us from the Fixi store or on Shopee.
Not from Malaysia? Toyols 'R' Us is available on Amazon