Review: Nettle & Bone by T. Kingfisher

A kindle with Nettle & Bone lies on top of a notebook on a table beside a laptop and a Starbucks cup.

Alexis:

I have nothing bad to say about Nettle & Bone. This unique book follows Marra, a princess who has become a sort-of nun. After her older sister marries a cruel prince, Marra is determined to find a way to free her from her marriage–by planning to kill the prince.

Marra finds herself completing three impossible tasks: build a dog of bones; sew a cloak of nettles; capture moonlight in a jar. 

Marra sets off on her journey alongside a gravewitch and her demon chicken, a fairy godmother, and a disgraced ex-knight in order to save her sister.

While I wasn’t sure what was happening in the beginning of this book, which opens on Marra in a land of cannibals building a bone dog from a pit of bones, I loved this wild ride of a book.

It deals with a slew of dark themes (if regicide, abuse, and cannibals weren’t enough of a hint). It’s very much a dark, warped fairytale, and I loved it! Marra is socially awkward and isn’t sure how to respond in a lot of situations, and I loved her character. The whole cast of characters is quirky and hilarious.

There were some absolute gems when it came to lines in this book. For example:

“This won’t do,” said the dust-wife, the third or fourth day. “Your sister will have died of old age before we reach her, and I’ll be so bent over from sleeping on the ground that I’ll be cursing your prince’s kneecaps.”

“It’s a fool’s errand and we’ll probably all die,” said the dust-wife. “Oh, well then,” said Fenris. “I always enjoy those.”

An elderly woman, older than Agnes, went by. She was bent double under the weight of a basket and she went up the stairs twice as fast as either of them. Marra didn’t know if that was inspiring or depressing.

Nettle & Bone is for you if you want a dark fairytale and unique standalone read. (Did I mention there’s a bone dog and a demon chicken?)

VERDICT: 5 ⭐

TW: domestic/spousal abuse, both mental and physical; necromancy, the undead, and desecration of graves and bones; cannibalism; miscarriage and child loss; violence, injury and death; forcible tooth removal

Review: The Selection by Kiera Cass

Alexis:

Here’s the thing: This was a highly entertaining read. It’s basically The Bachelor but in a dystopian America: drama, drama, drama. Once I reached page 140, I was a little more invested, because that’s when the worldbuilding actually started.

The world itself is interesting, and I wish there was even more of it! I think the overall themes and commentary on the current American society are great, including purity culture, self worth based on class, and the US’ relationship with China, despite the main character’s name being too on the nose.

BUT

The writing is…not great. Too much telling. And if felt too unpolished, too unedited.

The dialogue is stiff and too direct. Aspen’s character is such an asshole; Maxon comes off as a little, well, off; America is basically, “Oh, poor me. Everyone thinks I’m beautiful enough to win this contest, but I don’t think I’m good enough and want to go home to my asshole boyfriend.”

I also couldn’t help but compare this to The Hunger Games the entire time I was reading. That might be my own fault, but I think there were just too many similarities (though watered down similarities, to be fair).

This had the potential to be a great commentary on American society, but what can you do!

VERDICT: ⭐⭐.5/5