Thank you to the author for providing me an ARC in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. All quotes are taken from the ARC and are subject to change.
Overall: 4/5 Stars
Plot and Themes: 3.5/5
Awesomeness Factor: 4/5
Review in a Nutshell: Below is cold and dark, a story rich with culture and told in beautiful prose.
“The night is long, but the sun will soon greet you.”
// Content Warning: Violence, Torture, Animal Death, Suicide Mention //
Release Date: 2/4/2020
Publisher: Wolf Publishing
Page Count: 308
When Apaay’s sister, Eska’s face is stolen by the legendary creature known as the Face Stealer, she travels to where no one dares to go, the Face Stealers lair, to take it back. But her journey does not go as planned, and she finds herself trapped in a labyrinth by a girl, Yuki. Yuki promises her freedom if only Apaay can find Eska’s face, and a face Yuki is searching for. But the labyrinth, and those inside, are not what they seem. Including the Face Stealer himself.
“Does one crush a flower in winter?”
Writing & Setting
Alexandria Warwick’s writing is beautiful and enthralling. I found myself stopping every once in a while just to admire the writing and the choices Warwick makes in telling this story. Even what could be simple statements have a fairytale-esque feel that adds so much to this book. The writing also perfectly matches the atmospheric setting. The cold of this world seeps into your bones, chilling you as you follow Apaay’s journey. The world and culture are inspired by Inuit mythology. Alexandria Warwick managed to pull from a mix of reality and fantasy to ground her world and make it feel fleshed out and tangible, while also unique and imaginative.
“Power was temptation. Power was the question: to hurt or heal?”
This book is definitely not a fast-paced, action-focused epic. Instead, it moves slowly, emphasizing the character’s journeys and development. If you aren’t a fan of slower reads, this book may be hard to get into, but trust me, if you’re patient, you will find yourself absorbed by it. It may take you 50-75 pages or so to get into it, but once you are, you’ll be hooked.
“You love so fiercely. With your whole heart. That’s where your strength comes from.”
Apaay is a strong protagonist, loyal and dedicated, with corny jokes and fantastic development. I really loved her love for her sister and the relationship between them. As for the antagonists, we have two: Yuki and The Face Stealer. Yuki is a pretty run-of-the-mill villain— I don’t not like her as a character but she also didn’t really do anything for me. The Face Stealer (Numiak) on the other hand? Oh my god, I love him. He’s exactly my favorite type of character- a villain with unknowable motives and a backstory you’re desperate to unlock. I really can’t wait to learn more about him. We get glimpses in this book, but I need so much more! He’s such a compelling character, stealing every scene he was in. Usually, I prefer books with a romance plot, but these characters were so strong on their own that I wasn’t upset that we didn’t have one. Although, I will most definitely not complain if we get one in the next book (especially if it involves Numiak. I really just want a whole book about him).
Also, this book also features deaf characters and utilized sign language!
[ Related: My November + December Favorites, And My January TBR ]
“”People like us?” he said, voice hard. “We’re not meant to be loved.””
Pros- Atmospheric, beautiful writing and setting
Cons- A little slow
Overall- 4/5 stars.
Below is a stunning novel, atmospheric and beautiful, that is sure to stick with you.
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What book do you think has the most beautiful writing?