YA Fantasy

My Review: Where Dreams Descend (Kingdom of Cards #1): by Janella Angeles

Publish Date: August 25th, 2020

Number of Pages: 464 Pages

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Genre(s): YA Fantasy

Total Star Rating: 3 Stars

It was William Shakespeare who made this quote:

All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players: they have their exits and their entrances; and one man in his time plays many parts, his acts being seven ages.”

I fully am always behind it whenever I come across it; we all really do have our parts to play, and our character can change over time along with the company we share it with in a specific moment of time. So, who are we, really? How many people can say they truly know themselves when they take the masks off, when they exit stage left, and they no longer have the spotlight shining on them or have to put on a performance for an expectant audience?

One thing I’ve always been curious about is the idea of being in the audience of a live production, and while I’m sitting back and enjoying the show, I never get to glimpse what’s going on behind the curtains, backstage, in the dark recesses of the unlit hallways and what the performers are all up to back there when all eyes are not on them. How is the whole show put together? How were they able to pull it off? I feel like there’s the possibility of many stories to be formed by playing with that idea and taking it many different ways in order to procure an incredibly riveting and exciting story. Also, being someone who’s been on both sides of said curtain, it’s certainly given me a newfound respect for the performing arts and what all goes into any sort of production in the theatre.

Where Dreams Descend is a mysterious, magical, romantic, daring, and dark tale that will fill most reader’s hearts with glee and satisfaction if they loved tales such as Caraval by Stephanie Garber or The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. Its being advertised as a mix of “The Phantom of the Opera” along with “Moulin Rouge,” and this published debut has everything readers who loves about those titles with two people with everything stacked against them end up falling in love and facing a mysterious and unseen evil that threatens their world. It’s got the splendor, the glamour of the circus and the theatre, and the whole “The Show must go on!” mentality that we’re all familiar with.

I will be honest though, I only thought this book was okay… I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t love it either. The prose were absolutely spectacular and seemed like they were written by someone who has many years of the craft under their belt, and I was also a fan of the romance, but I was just never fully invested into the story or really blown away by it. Nothing in the plot really gave me those “Oh yeah… now it’s really getting good!” chills down the spine. I feel like the author just played it too safe, and could’ve gone further with the dark & creepy vibes with the mirrors and threatening messages written in riddles in order to make it a more memorable read.

I’m also very much not the target audience for this book, so the fact I thought some aspects of the book seemed juvenile can be taken with a grain of salt.

The beginning opened up on a fine note with introducing us to the main protagonist of the story: Kallia. She’s a showgirl who wows every night as she performs under the employment of Jack, a young and rather charming man with a dark shadow trailing behind him. He’s got a nice enough smile, but you feel like there’s a few cracks along the edge and possibly something rather unsettling swirling behind it. The author introduces Kallia’s predicament in a straightforward way despite how Kallia’s small world is anything but. One thing I want to point out at this point is the relationship between Jack and Kallia. It’s a rather interesting one that is never fully revealed what it exactly is, but my impression is they might’ve been exes or at least former lovers; there’s an intimacy there that drew my eyebrows together, but like I said, it’s never explained and is left up in the air.

The middle expanded way farther as Kallia enters a competition, gets an assistant in a street thief named Aaros, and she meets Demarco, who is one of the judges but has a reputation that’s also cloaked in mystery as being a former showman himself. The story becomes more eventful by this point, as any novel should, but there are also plenty of slower moments that diminish the faster paced plot points. More and more develops and I should be enthralled by now, but it just never fully happens except for scenes with Demarco and Kallia. I found myself antsy only to read scenes where it’s the two of them and their relationship develops.

The end was obviously the most exciting part of the whole book—I’d second guess any book where it isn’t—and the most shocking events occur here, and leaves a lot up in the air with quite a cliffhanger of an ending… Not as much was explained as I’d hoped there’d be, and you’re really left with a whole lot of “What does this mean? Why is this happening?” type of questions. That’s all I can really say on it without revealing too much; it certainly leaves room for a lot more reveals to occur in the next book of this duology; hopefully those who read this book can withstand that doozy of a cliffhanger and be able to wait for next book that’ll most likely to be released August 2021…

Also, I want to personally thank Owlcrate, the monthly YA Fantasy subscription box, for my own exclusive copy of this title! I didn’t just receive a copy for an honest review like if I were to have received an ARC from the publisher, but Owlcrate did get some sort of sweet deal where they were able to include this book in their July box themed “The World’s a Stage,” and release it a month earlier than the actual publication date! Here’s an image of their exclusive design:

The foiled design is etched into the actual book with no dust jacket

What It’s About:

The Official Blurb:

In a city covered in ice and ruin, a group of magicians face off in a daring game of magical feats to find the next headliner of the Conquering Circus, only to find themselves under the threat of an unseen danger striking behind the scenes.

As each act becomes more and more risky and the number of missing magicians piles up, three are forced to reckon with their secrets before the darkness comes for them next.

The Star: Kallia, a powerful showgirl out to prove she’s the best no matter the cost

The Master: Jack, the enigmatic keeper of the club, and more than one lie told

The Magician: Demarco, the brooding judge with a dark past he can no longer hide

Where Dreams Descend is the startling and romantic first book in Janella Angeles’ debut Kingdom of Cards fantasy duology where magic is both celebrated and feared, and no heart is left unscathed…

What I Liked:

  1. Four Royal Families Represent the Suits of Cards in a Deck! It’s a small detail within the world the author created for the story, but I liked it enough to want to point it out. In the city of Glorian, the architecture has four different designs that are representative of the four royal families, who also are fashioned after the four suits of a deck of cards. I wish the author went further with this to be honest! Maybe more will happen in the second book.
  2. Kallia and Demarco’s Relationship Development! Perhaps the biggest highlight of this book—no surprise—was the romance that developed between the two main characters. I thought it developed rather organically and was a nicely drawn out development that had me happy when they finally got together. Demarco and Kallia are more similar than they both would care to admit, and both carry such heavy baggage when they both arrive for the competition, and both felt neither were able to be viewed as desirable to anyone else so they’re both so scared of being vulnerable around each other, plus they were both so focused so solely on their own ambitions towards the plot. You know Kallia’s side of the story much more from the very beginning, but even though you get inside Demarco’s head, you never really know what really happened to him until the end, and I feel like that was a reveal that should’ve happened earlier since it wasn’t really all that big of a twist. Either way, the romance was very well done! I personally am becoming a huge fan of the stiff, uptight guy who lets loose and gets all sexy when he’s macking on his love interest; it’s a verryyy nice aesthetic 😉

What I Didn’t Like:

  1. Very Little WorldBuilding…World-building was definitely not the the heavy focus of this author’s magical tale, and to be honest it’s also not entirely the end of the world. Quite honestly, the story doesn’t necessarily need more work done besides what you learn within the pages, but I’m more focusing on the Magic System that is not ever explained, nor is there much else to it other than one who is able to can just do it before it drains them if they use too much at one time. It’s just there, and I really wish more was explained about it.
  2. Strong Sexism…It’s probably more annoying than a mosquito buzzing in your ear that just won’t go away no matter how many times you swipe at it… the sexism and misogynistic behavior of a lot of the older male characters in this book is just plain old yuck as they continuously try to tear down Kallia simply because she’s a woman trying to make something of herself. I’m not sure if this book heavily exaggerates this behavior or if women really deal with this behavior in such an outward way, but either way, I’m so sorry for it and am glad how today’s world has changed so much from similar behaviors like the ones exhibited in this book. We still have a long way to go, but we’re moving in the right direction.
  3. Purple Prose…Normally I actually don’t mind this style of writing when it’s used effectively, but in this case, I’m going to sound like all the other reviewers who complain about it. The author’s writing was absolutely gorgeous and spectacular, but it was a little too over the top and overly expressive for when the characters were doing extremely mundane things like simply sipping on coffee or standing near the bottom of a staircase. I’m all for the beautiful prose when the story is more high octane or the characters are doing something important, but there’s no need to glamorize simple everyday tasks, I think. It just seemed excessive at some points in the story.


Since this book has been advertised as “Moulin Rouge + Phantom of the Opera + The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern,” I’d definitely recommend Where Dreams Descend to anyone who’s a fan of those whimsical, magical, romantic, adventurous and utterly enchanting tales with just a hint of dangerous thrills. I feel like many fans of the Caraval trilogy by Stephanie Garber will also enjoy this book even though Kallia is a very different protagonist from Scarlett Dragna, but that might be what makes people actually enjoy this one.

Overall, it was an okay read for me; I didn’t hate it but I wasn’t exactly blown away by it either. It’s excellently written and the prose are top notch along with a nice slow-burn romance, but I just never got fully into the story and it didn’t make me overly excited. I can see this book being super popular with the much younger readers and for anyone who has a sudden kick for a circus/theatre type of novel with a magical twist to it. I may or may not read the second part when it comes out; I guess I’ll wait and see what other reviewers say before I give it a go…

Thanks for Reading!

— Nick Goodsell

YA Fantasy

My Review: Incendiary (Hallow Crown #1): by Zoraida Córdova

Publish Date: April 28th, 2020

Number of Pages: 450 Pages

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Genre(s): YA Fantasy

Total Star Rating: 3.5 Stars

They tell me my power is a curse, but they keep presenting me as a gift.”

– Zoraida Córdova, “Incendiary”

While it’s nothing quite really too original or innovative within the YA Fantasy genre, Incendiary was still quite a captivating read that was inspired by Spanish Inquisition era Spain. With its historical influence, this book was incredibly well written and is a great story for anyone to add to their shelves if they like an entertaining book filled with adventure, courtly intrigue, rebels with magical abilities and a cause, betrayal, ambition, love, and war.

For me, Incendiary has been tossed around as one of the most anticipated releases for the YA Fantasy genre of 2020, and I was just so lucky to be able to get my own exclusive signed copy from Owlcrate, a top tier YA Sci-Fi/Fantasy box subscription. It was the mystery book revealed for their May 2020 box theme: “Rebels with a Cause,” and you can see their exclusive cover design in the image below:

I for one am a big fan of this design, and may even like this version better than the two other designs. Owlcrate’s edition is playing off the Disney-Hyperion cover design at the top of the post, but one thing I don’t like for that one is how cartoony the girl looks floating above the title. I think she would’ve looked better if they kept her more realistic and similar to Cassandra Clare’s Lady Midnight cover model with a similar aesthetic.

I will be honest, reading through this book was easy for the beginning and end, but the middle really slowed down for me. The initial set up was so exciting and thrilling, and it was the same with the ending but with an elevation of it all because you’re familiar with the characters by then and are (hopefully) invested into the story, but man oh man was the middle kind of a drag… just not as much happens in terms of excitement, swordplay, epic battles, or even romance. It’s more about courtly intrigue and attempting to find out secrets, but none of it was incredibly memorable for me. None of the big reveals were all that shocking or mind-blowing, and I’d say even a huge occurence in the story becomes downplayed as a “shocking” reveal turns out to make it not actually true.

One could also argue that the story was filled with many stereotypical tropes of YA Fantasy, and I do agree with the fact that they’re there, but tropes aren’t necessarily a bad thing. We as readers know what aspects of a story we like, and we continue to find other stories that include those for our own comfort and personal enjoyment. The point of them still being loved by readers is that they are still familiar while bringing something new to the table, but this story doesn’t go far enough on the originality factor, at least with its plot. It’s a variation of so many other stories out there of a young girl who must defeat an evil lord/king in order to save the land, and has several handsome suitors with secrets of their own to help her along the way and make her feel desirable. Like I said, it’s familiar and I have liked stories like that in the past, but this particular title didn’t have anything that explicitly stood out, even if the author’s writing was incredibly well done. This may just be because I have already read so many similar titles before it’s publish date; someone who’s not as familiar are has read a whole lot of Fantasy will enjoy this title tremendously!

Overall, I was intrigued but never blown away by Incendiary, but I can say I am curious enough to want to read what happens next when the next book comes out in 2021. Hopefully the second part of this duology will escalate with more brow raising antics and overall maybe just have more fun with the characters and the plot twists. I felt like this one played it too safe, so my fingers are crossed for the author to go further out with it.

What It’s About:

The Official Blurb:

I am Renata Convida.
I have lived a hundred stolen lives.
Now I live my own.

Renata Convida was only a child when she was kidnapped by the King’s Justice and brought to the luxurious palace of Andalucia. As a Robari, the rarest and most feared of the magical Moria, Renata’s ability to steal memories from royal enemies enabled the King’s Wrath, a siege that resulted in the deaths of thousands of her own people.

Now Renata is one of the Whispers, rebel spies working against the crown and helping the remaining Moria escape the kingdom bent on their destruction. The Whispers may have rescued Renata from the palace years ago, but she cannot escape their mistrust and hatred–or the overpowering memories of the hundreds of souls she turned “hollow” during her time in the palace.

When Dez, the commander of her unit, is taken captive by the notorious Sangrado Prince, Renata will do anything to save the boy whose love makes her place among the Whispers bearable. But a disastrous rescue attempt means Renata must return to the palace under cover and complete Dez’s top secret mission. Can Renata convince her former captors that she remains loyal, even as she burns for vengeance against the brutal, enigmatic prince? Her life and the fate of the Moria depend on it.

But returning to the palace stirs childhood memories long locked away. As Renata grows more deeply embedded in the politics of the royal court, she uncovers a secret in her past that could change the entire fate of the kingdom–and end the war that has cost her everything.

Maybe when I take everything from them, they’ll take a little piece of me.”

– Zoraida Córdova, “Incendiary”

What I Liked:

  1. The Beginning! The beginning was honestly perfectly done for anyone to instantly be pulled into the thick of the corrupt kingdom, and then following the small group of rebels as they fight and plot for their freedom. Violence and death happen within the first chapter, even the prologue, and meeting Renata, Dez, and the other rebels was thrilling and exciting with complex relationships and the danger they all face. For people that rely on the very first few pages in order to decide if a book is worth reading, the author did an amazing job of providing an obvious YES to that within the first chunk of this story.
  2. The Ending! Just like the beginning, the last chunk of this book was so incredibly fast paced, full of betrayal and broken alliances, so much more excitement, and plenty of well done characterization too. Prince Castian was surprisingly a big component of all that I loved about how this book ends, but I’m not going to give too much away on that!
  3. There’s Plenty of Secrets & Betrayal! Like any good fantasy story, you can’t trust anyone. Everyone has an agenda, some more obvious than others, and Renata struggles to see who she can rely on or who she should seriously watch her back against. It made the book so twisty and fun!

What I Didn’t Like:

  1. Lack of Prince Castian…For such a key character, the wicked prince has a major hiatus within this book because he’s off at some undisclosed location for the entire middle of the book. You see him in plenty of flashback scenes, but nothing in present time until the big climax of the sun festival. As he makes his reappearance back into the story, he really shows some unexpected depth to his character and proves there’s MUCH more than meets the eye, so it made me disappointed we didn’t see him as much.
  2. THERE’S NO MAP…I will always point this out when it’s missing from a Fantasy novel! Especially when the story refers back to the history of the land and the many cities, battles, territories, etc. like this one does. It says the stories based off the Spanish Inquisition era Spain makes me just fall back on a map of Spain to use as a map, although it’s not canon whether that’s true or not. Maybe there’s not a map in the Owlcrate edition I own, I don’t know… all I know is, I don’t have an official map, so I’m gonna say something about it!


Definitely a more well written YA Fantasy title to add to the collection, this one will surely be well received by many who read it! It honestly doesn’t offer anything too new or have many memorable characters, but it’s still enjoyable nonetheless; I know I will checking out the sequel when it comes out in a year from now, which will hopefully have some more fun and go a little more wild the next time around.

I recommend this to anyone who loves the female led fantasy series/books where with the help of friends and several love interests, they rise up against an oppressive ruler like Throne of Glass, Truthwitch, and Ash Princess. It’s brutal, there’s genocide and torture, but together they can rise and make their world a better place.

Thanks for Reading!

— Nick Goodsell

YA Fantasy

My Review: Wicked Saints (Something Dark and Holy #1): by Emily A. Duncan

Publish Date: April 2nd, 2019
Number of Pages: 385 Pages
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Genre(s): YA Fantasy

To see my Fancast/Dreamcast of the series – Click HERE

Total Star Rating: 3.75 Stars

Heavily compared to the Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo, this YA-Fantasy trilogy has also been said by fans who shipped Alina Starkov with The Darkling will really enjoy this story, to which I can definitely agree with!

Fans of the genre have been drawn to this darkly gothic tale of a nation torn in half because of a holy war, and even Owlcrate created their own special editions of the books that honestly look even better than the originals. It’s got some Russian (Kalyazin) and Polish (Tranavia) inspiration in the ways of the two sparring countries, and fellow readers are really drawn to the different types of religions and how they’ve been such a huge driving force of the larger, outer conflict this story represents.

It starts off as a typical good-vs.-evil type of story, but as you read on, you realize its more of a group of morally grey characters, which to me, always makes for a more interesting story. Nadya is obviously supposed to be the hero of the story, but Serefin takes a little longer for you to feel the same way about him, and you honestly don’t know what to think about Malachiasz; the boy is an enigma. With just about any other fantasy story, you know all their own motivations involves gaining power and helping end the way by any means, but the more interesting part of that is the different ways they try to go about achieving that goal. Nadya could use a little more personification and personality in my opinion, but I did really enjoy the other two male characters; I could tell the author outdid herself with them as main characters.

**Spoiler Warning but also Trigger Warning!**

While it wasn’t a problem for me personally, there are some trigger warnings for more sensitive readers to be weary of before opening the pages of Wicked Saints. There are countless times in the book where characters induce self-harm on themselves by drawing blood. In Tranavia, blood magic is their game, and the mages keep sharp razor blades sewn into their sleeves to wipe into their spell books and cast spells to attack their enemies. Other trigger warnings include torture and parental abuse.

I would say my favorite aspects of this book were the two male main characters, Serefin and Malachiasz. Out of the characters, I felt they had the most fleshed out arcs and showed the most personality, and I hope the other characters—especially Nadya—catch up with them. I do have some disappointment with the romance of this story and how I just didn’t seem to really connect with all the other cast of characters. They were there, but there wasn’t anything quite so memorable about it.

What It’s About:

Some gods require blood.”

— Emily A. Duncan, “Wicked Saints”

The Official Blurb:

For almost over a century, Kalyazin and Tranavia have fought in a holy war, all based off one nation’s fear, but both sides have suffered major loss since its inception.

Nadya, a Kalyazin cleric who can commune with all their gods, is training in supposed secrecy at a monastery deep in the mountains by priests who sought to wield the power inside her into the one that could save Kalyazin from sinking to its knees. A sudden Tranavian attack on them destroys any sense of safety she’s had; the war now at her front steps…

Serefin, the crown prince of Tranavia and a powerful blood mage, has very little interest in anything but alcohol but now finds himself forced back home after being out on the war frontlines for many years, not looking forward to seeing his father once again, nor the new allies he’s sold his soul to…

And then there’s Malachiasz, a Tranavian defector with a lot going on behind his pale blue eyes, but it’s far from anything good, that much is certain.

Together, Nadya and Malachiasz form an uneasy alliance, and soon discover that dark and monstrous forces are scheming to find a new source of power that will help end the war, but the results could be catastrophic for everyone, and her duty as the cleric to help the gods once again spread their influence on the new world is definitely called into question.

We’re all monsters, Nadya,” Malachiasz said, his voice gaining a few tangled chords of chaos. “Some of us just hide it better than others.”

— Emily A. Duncan, “Wicked Saints”

What I Liked:

  1. Malachiasz! A monster behind pale blue eyes, the defected Tranavian was definitely a noteworthy character to remember. He’s got a unique look to him too that makes him stick out amongst the many other YA-Fantasy anti-heroes, and not to give too much away, but also has a lot more going on beneath the surface. There was a specific chapter with him in an abandoned church when him, Nadya, and the others are on the run and he reveals another side of him; it was then when my intrigue grew for the book and said to myself “Okay…now this story’s gotten interesting!”
  2. Serefin! Another character I did enjoy was the crown prince of Tranavia; I’d even go as far as to say he’s also the character who had the most personality amongst the cast. He’s been out on the frontlines of the war for many years, and can usually be found with a half-drunk bottle of booze and making snide remarks about everything. What he also has going for him is how tired he is. This holy war has completely exhausted him, and it just really shows in his character with his actions and reactions to others. Considering how you meet him in this story, I didn’t think I’d like him as much as I ended up doing, but it happened!
  3. The Vultures! I’m not talking about the actual large, winged scavengers; they’re a mysterious and powerful cult of magical beings in Tranavia where not much else is known about them other than anguish and destruction follow them like a ripper in the dark. They’re heretics that never show their faces, and where ominous and unsettling iron masks, and I really enjoyed the creepy factor they added to the story!

What I Didn’t Like:

  1. I Didn’t Connect with Most of the Characters…Besides the two main characters listed above, I honestly didn’t really feel much for any of the other characters, including the heroine of the story, Nadya. I just didn’t catch up on any of their actual personalities, nor do I think they were really shown in the writing. There was potential for them, sure, but I feel like the author could’ve gone further and made them show a little more, or give them more attention into their backstory’s or agenda.
  2. The Forgotten About Competition…Now, I have just missed something in the book, but there’s a part of the story where there’s a competition amongst the female suitors vying for Serefin’s hand in marriage; Nadya hidden amongst them. It felt like this just got dropped or was forgotten about once certain information was discovered about the evil plots going on behind closed doors. Like I said, I could’ve missed a line where the reason this aspect didn’t continue, but I thought there was potential to have some more fun with it, but it just disappeared from the story after a certain point.
  3. The Forced Romance…A big story arc of this book was the enemies-to-lovers trope that forms between Nadya and Malachiasz, and while I am normally a big fan of this trope in fiction, this maybe wasn’t the best handling of it. Sure, they’re both on opposite sides of how the war came to be, they form an uneasy alliance to go into the capital of Tranavia and kill the king, and they realize there’s a growing attraction for each other. It just comes out of nowhere…no wait, actually more happens that should logically send the girl running away screaming into the cold night. She witnesses a glimpse of the monster underneath his skin, and while part of her is terrified and convinces herself the world would be safer without him, she can’t help but also feel something else, something that makes her drawn towards him all the same. Besides meaningful looks, I wasn’t entirely convinced about the romance buildup, and wished there was a deeper exploration of it. Maybe a scene or two more of them talking to understand each other more, perhaps put them in danger to have her save him in some way…I don’t know, just something! I also felt like Nadya became just too obsessed with Malachiasz, like she focused more on the contours of his face instead of remaining weary and worrying about the future of her country, or even the wellbeing of the monks who may or may not be dead from when the monastery gets ambushed. Part of me rolled my eyes at this, but I also remember that Nadya is only a sheltered 17-year-old girl who’s experiencing all this for the first in her life, and thats a big theme with YA-Fantasy, when these younger characters don’t always know how to handle these angst-filled situations.


Overall, I liked but didn’t love Wicked Saints. It’s pretty impressive for a debut novel, and it’s filled with major potential to become one of the top trilogies YA-Fantasy has to offer, but I really hope for more in the sequel, Ruthless Gods.

I do say I agree with the comparisons to Leigh Bardugo’s Grishaverse, even if this story is heavily more religiously influenced, and I do think that most readers who enjoy her books will enjoy this one too.

While I didn’t love everything about it, I can say I am drawn enough into the story to want to keep reading on and seeing what happens next. The book ends with a little bit of cliffhanger after a sort of anti-climatic big confrontation, but it certainly raised some questions that I’m interested enough to want to seek answers for!

Thanks for Reading!

— Nick Goodsell


My Fancast/Dreamcast: Something Dark and Holy Trilogy by Emily A. Duncan

Image courtesy of Instagram profile @queenofthefaebaes

So I’ve started these books because it seems like they’ve gotten a lot of attention from the YA-Fantasy fandom since the first book, Wicked Saints, released in 2019. Heck, even the monthly subscription box, Owlcrate, has made their own exclusive editions (pictured above) for us readers to enjoy! It’s been said that this trilogy is perfect for those that shipped Alina Starkov and the Darkling from Leigh Bardugo’s Grisha Trilogy, and it was that comparison that had me sold to dig into these, and not just because of the gorgeous covers!

Here’s the blurb of book #1, Wicked Saints:

A girl who can speak to gods must save her people without destroying herself…

A prince in danger must decide who to trust…

A boy with a monstrous secret waits in the wings…

Together, they must assassinate the king and stop the war.

In a centuries-long war where beauty and brutality meet, their three paths entwine in a shadowy world of spilled blood and mysterious saints, where a forbidden romance threatens to tip the scales between dark and light.

My book reviews are coming soon!


Here’s my official Fancast/Dreamcast:


Serefin Meleski: Christian Balic, or Tomas Skoloudik

Image courtesy of the model’s Instagram profile
Image courtesy of the actor’s Instagram profile

In my honest opinion, both of these models have the look of the Tranavian Prince who attacks Nadya’s monastery in the very first chapter of Wicked Saints, but is just so tired of war. He’s an interesting character, plus he’s snarky with the dark hair/light eyes combo, so is anyone really surprised that I love him?

Ostyia: Marcella Tanaya

Credit to owner

This model from Indonesia has been a top fancast name for Amren from author Sarah J. Maas’s bestselling series A Court of Thorns and Roses, but I think she also makes a great choice to play Serefin’s second in command. Her looks alone can kick some serious ass!

Kacper: Mena Massoud

Image courtesy of daman.com

The face of the live-action Disney favorite, Aladdin, this actor once mentioned how he hasn’t found much work since that film released, so maybe he’d find a role as Serefin’s buddy if they decided to make Wicked Saints into a movie?

Anna: Billie Lourd

Image courtesy of Ramona Rosales, for THR annual class photo

The daughter of the late Carrie Fischer, I’ve loved her ever since she’s joined the recurring cast of American Horror Story, plus she’s been in the show Scream Queens, and the recent film, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.

Rashid: Flamur Ukshini

Image courtesy of the model’s Instagram profile

Flamur is a gorgeous Instagram model who was discovered because of his uncanny resemblance to former One Direction singer, Zayn Malik. To keep things not so mainstream, lets pick this model instead to play the Akolan who befriended Malachiasz.

Parijanham: Shiva Negar

Image courtesy of modelmayhem.com

She was most notably seen in the Vince Flynn novel-turned-movie American Assassin, and I think she’d be a great pick for the role of the strong and brave female Akolan in the series.

King Izak Meleski: Mark Strong

To be honest, I’m not too familiar with this actor or any movies he’s been in, but another book-blog (booksrealwhenshared) fancasted him as the King of Tranavia, and after I’d met the character in the book myself, I could definitely agree with their choice of actor! I also totally agree with their similar casting of Mena Massoud as Kacper!

Zaneta: Meaghan Rath

Image courtesy of the actress’s IMDB profile

This actress has been in shows like the Hawaii 5-0 remake, Being Human, and she’s guest starred on two of my favorite shows: New Girl and Schitt’s Creek!

Nadya Lapteva: Elle Evans, Sophie Turner, or Jennifer Lawrence

Image courtesy of elleevansofficial.com
Image courtesy of Elle Magazine
Image courtesy of VOGUE Magazine

I would be happy with any of these three gorgeous blondes being our MC of this gothic YA Fantasy trilogy. Elle is a model that just fits the physical descrption of Nadya, Sophie does too and was an amazing Sansa Stark in HBO’s Game of Thrones, and maybe the odds are ever in Jennifer Lawrence’s favor if she wanted the role if this book was ever turned into a movie!

Malachiasz: Nicholas Hoult, or Arthur Gosse

Image courtesy of http://www.theplace2.ru
Image courtesy of the model’s Twitter profile

Malachiasz was easily the hardest character to cast for these books! I couldn’t find anyone who perfectly matched the physical description of my favorite character, so I’d be more than okay if either of these two men were to be casted as him; let’s just slap a long-haired wig on them and call it good! Nicholas Hoult is an extremely versatile actor who I adore; he’s been in movies like Warm Bodies, Mad Max: Fury Road, X-Men: Dark Phoenix, and Tolkien.

So, there you have it! Now this is a fancasting made only based off the first book, so I’m sure there will be other notable characters that appear later on that I haven’t personally met yet. Be sure to check back, as I will add more characters as I continue to read the series!

Thanks for Reading!

— Nick Goodsell

Editorial Articles

Digital Artists You Absolutely Need To Follow!

As a strong advocator for the arts, I’ve thought to myself at starting an article here on my website—even though it’s mainly for book reviews and fancasts—to share some names of artists that I feel like everyone should know. Now, I know this is a hard pill to swallow, but I love to read….I know, I’ll let you take a few to process that shocking bit of information on my book review website…

…Now that your mind is no longer officially blown, let it also be known that there are a lot of artists out there who love to read as well, and it’s even better when those artists commission artwork of books I’ve read and also enjoyed! It adds a whole new layer to the fandom of the books themselves, and I want to celebrate their beautiful work, and possibly even give them some free exposure to maybe even let more people discover them too.

Over the years, a few specific artists have stayed in my mind since I’d discovered them either on Pinterest, Instagram, or even through word of mouth from my friends. A lot of them are pretty prolific when it comes to fanart of popular book fandoms, and if you’re an avid reader like myself, will probably recognize quite a few names yourself. They are all noteworthy graphic designers, digital artists, video game artists, commissioners; pretty much anyone who uses a drawing tablet. Enjoy the beautiful work, and hopefully be inspired for your own creative content, no matter what that may be!

Enjoy this list, it is in no particular order!

*I do not own any of this artwork, and have no rights towards any of it. If any of the artists listed below come across this article and wish for their work to be taken down, please let me know!*



Monolime Art

This artist has a unique style that has caught my eye ever since their work was showcased in a special edition of Sarah J. Maas’s “A Court of Thorns and Roses” series inside the cover. As you can see, they’ve also done amazing artwork for “The Folk of the Air” trilogy by Holly Black, the “Shades of Magic” trilogy by V.E. Schwab, “Nevernight” by Jay Kristoff, and even “Six of Crows” by Leigh Bardugo.

Instagram: @monolimeart

Tumblr: monolime


Charlie Bowater

Charlie’s work is simply breathtaking, and she definitely deserves a spot on my top three favorites out of all the artists I’ve included. She does some of the best work for Sarah J. Maas’s books, and her artwork has also graced book covers, and on the inside of dust jackets for exclusive editions. I only hope to see her work showcased even more as time goes on!

Instagram: @charliebowater

Tumblr: @charliebowater



Kayla Nyre

Kayla Nyre has a style unlike any other artist mentioned in this article. The UW-Stout Animation alumni has taken to social media to showcase her line of prints dubbed “PotHeads” which are an infused style she’s created because of her love of plants and art, and has been a great way for her to focus more on figure drawing!

Instagram: @kaylamnyre



Daniel Kordek

As a big fan of Ariana Grande, this led me to discovering this artist on Instagram. Daniel has a pattern of turning towards fabulous, fierce females of pop culture. I really enjoy the caricature-like style he has with his work, and his ability to cover all aspects of who are considered to be influential, powerful women in both contemporary times and through history.

Instagram: @danielkordek


Ivan Belikov

I’d discovered Ivan with his stunning artwork that’d become the cover of the fantasy novel: “The Priory of the Orange Tree” by Samantha Shannon. While I was disappointed by the book, one thing thats held my adoration was his artwork—hint, hint: it’s the blue dragon below. His attention to detail is utterly magnificent, and I definitely recommend checking him out on his website or social media to get an even closer look, it’s simply mind-blowing!

Instagram: @further_up



Ngozi Ukazu

Ngozi is an artist I’d discovered through her incredible graphic novel, Check, Please! It’s about about a young figure-skater—who loves to bake, and has a vlog—going to college on a Hockey scholarship. Going from Georgia peaches to hockey pucks is already a big transition for a new college freshman, but it gets even worse when he’s got a big crush on the captain. I love her cartoony yet crisp style, and her Graphic Novel is a Sports LGBTQ+ romance to defs give a read-through!

Instagram: @ngoziu

Tumblr: @ngoziu



Justin Totemical

Just a few words that come to mind when I look at Justin’s artwork: colorful, radiant, transcendent, other-worldly, and trippy AF. His work looks straight out of a vision while on some sort of hallucinogen or out of some crazy video game, but is definitely worth remembering! He’s a computer artist, and is always looking forwards to the latest in whatever technology has to offer in order to create more visually stunning masterpieces!

Instagram: @totemical



Niru Sky

I’d first come across this freelance artist for their work on Julian and Legend from “Caraval” by Stephanie Garber, and they’ve also done amazing work for Nikolai Lantsov and the Darkling from the Grishaverse, and even the wicked king Cardan Greenbriar from “The Folk of the Air” trilogy by Holly Black!

Instagram: @niru.sky

Tumblr: nirusky.tumblr.com



Like many of the artists on here, this artist—who also doesn’t have much about them on their profiles—have done great artwork commissions for books I love, like “A Court of Thorns and Roses,” “Six of Crows,” and “Vicious” by V.E. Schwab. They’ve also done some fanart from Disney movies and even some OC work of their own. Their work definitely gives me some Disney Animation Studios-esque style!

Instagram: @icandrawthingz


Natalia Dias

Natalia does some brilliant work with colorful female portraits. They can either be realistic and contemporary or more on the fantasy side, but their most notable work comes from the colorful hair they seem to be a master of commissioning! Her work takes on a euphoric vibe with women of all shapes, sizes, and skin colors to enjoy!

Instagram: @nataliadsw



Gabriel Picolo

Kayla Nyre, a close friend of mine—remember her potheads from earlier?—recommended this comic artist to me that they’d found on Instagram. I love his style, especially his work with DC’s “Teen Titans.” His scenes with them perfectly capture the fun, youthful vibes of the teens of our culture today, and even does so with Snapchat captions/filters! He can tell a whole story in a single image, and I’d read the first Graphic Novel for Raven, and while the author’s writing was sub-par, his illustrations were what truly shined!

Instagram: @_picolo


Maya Danuta

Maya has a fun, lighter toned style of work that focuses mainly around the world of Harry Potter. She goes all over the place with Harry, Ron and Hermoine but also goes even further with some artwork centering around James Potter and the rest of the marauders during their years at Hogwarts! While any potterhead will appreciate their work, there’s also a few non-HP related work worth checking out too!

Instagram: @wingedcorgiart


Tara Spruit

Tara is a brilliant illustrator who’s work is used in exclusive YA-Fantasy subscription boxes like Fairyloot and Owlcrate on a regular basis. She’s done work for just about EVERY fantasy book fandom there is, and that’s too many names to list! If it’s a popular YA Fantasy book/series, odds are she’s created some beautiful artwork for everyone to enjoy!

Instagram: @taratjah

Twitter: @taratjah

Tumblr: @taratjah



Kira Night

A fellow Minnesotan like myself, Kira is a great artist who loves to use her work to explore whimsical lands with many interesting characters. I was first drawn to her work through some amazing artwork of characters from V.E. Schwab’s “Shades of Magic” Series, but she’s also done Tarot card designs of the “Six of Crows” characters too!

Instagram: @kiranight_art



Laura Casara

Another artist who does absolutely brilliant artwork of characters from books by Holly Black and V.E. Schwab that I’ve mentioned before. At first, her work is light, whimsical, and full of color until you peer closer and see the character’s dark expressions. She does a wonderful job of sneaking darkness into her characters to it more of a wicked edge!

Instagram: @loweana.art


Salome Totladze

Much like Tara Spruit, Salome has done artwork for just about EVERY major book fandom out there when it comes to Fantasy novels/series. I’ve been following this fashion designer, illustrator, and comic artist on social media since their earlier days of posting characters from the “Throne of Glass” series, and it’s been an absolute joy to see them continue to improve with every work of art posted for the world to see!

Instagram: @morgana0anagrom

Twitter: @morgana0anagrom

Tumblr: @morgana0anagrom


Gabriella Bujdoso

Another incredible artist to add to this collection, they do a lot of commissions for popular book fandoms. Along with titles I’ve mentioned for other designers, they’ve also done work for “An Ember in the Ashes” by Sabaa Tahir, the “Captive Prince” trilogy by C.S Pacat, and “House of Earth and Blood” by Sarah J. Maas. Gabriella also has a distinct style that places them amongst who are considered the best of book fandom artists!

Instagram: @gabriella.bujdoso

Twitter: @gabibujdoso



Diana Dworak

Diana is another book fandom artist that’s worth mentioning because their work is also gorgeous! They’ve made art for many popular book series, and she’s also done work for “Children of Blood and Bone” by Toni Adeyemi and “Mistborn” by Brandon Sanderson.

Instagram: @dianadworak

Twitter: @DianaDworak



Nolan Harris

Nolan is a different kind of artist on here who’s not known for commissioning for popular book fandoms, or really even their own character/environments. He’s actually a freelance illustrator that makes pieces of the professional wrestlers of World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), and has been hired by the company for many merchandise opportunities. His style is so much fun to look at, and captures the essence of each superstar perfectly while infusing it with his caricature style.

Instagram: @nolanium



Coralie Jubénot

Coralie is by far my favorite digital artist amongst all the names I know…I mean, I’m not sure I need to explain why when you look at their gallery below. Her art is instantly recognizable amongst all the book fandoms for their uniquely drawn characters and their distinctly sharpened facial features. She can really draw those Sarah J. Maas males like Chaol, Dorian, Rowan, and Rhysand to perfection!

Instagram: @merwildandco

Twitter: @Merwild



N.C. Winters

N.C Winters has artwork that feels incredibly surreal. Whether it’s a beautiful dream or a complete nightmare, the imagery packs a wallop and leaves a lasting impression. They love to focus on beautiful disaster and the windows to the soul; some of their work really reminds me of the cursed crew of the Flying Duchman from “The Pirates of the Caribbean” movies!

Instagram: @ncwinersart




One of the first digital artists I’d ever discovered on Instagram, they were also one of the first artists to showcase fanart of Holly Black’s “The Folk of the Air” trilogy. Their style is more simplistic than some of the other names mentioned in this collection, but that doesn’t deteriorate from their work at all! What I can appreciate about their art is how they’re willing to try different styles and different choices of mediums while maintaining their key characteristics that fans can still recognize. Check out their stuff on Instagram if you don’t believe me!

Instagram: @phantomrin

Tumblr: phantomrin.tumblr.com


Fab Ng

Some key words for this artist’s work is gay, erotic, and Fabuloooooous! They’ve recently gone more in the direction of creating sexy male mermaids, but what initially drew me in was their collection of overly sexualized male superheroes. They do a lot of different types of freelance work with contemporary models, DC and Marvel characters, mermaids and other mythological half-creatures, and also draw up some fierce females too! They have a Patreon page to view their raunchier work, since Instagram unfortunately doesn’t allow such art on their platform.

Instagram: @artbyfab

Tumblr: artbyfab.tumblr.com


Jemlin Creations

A digital artist that started their little business by designing bookmarks showcasing popular YA and Adult Fantasy characters for fans to add a gorgeous little visual for their reading adventures. They’ve recently gotten more popular for their colorful style, and so they’ve been posting their art on Instagram for all of us to enjoy!

Instagram: @jemlincreations



Mitch Aseltine

A more recent addition to this collection, I’d discovered this freelance concept artist through @phantasyarts on Instagram: a collection page of amazing concept art and matte paintings for fans of sci-fi/fantasy imagery. He’s got amazing style, and his artwork looks like it should be showcased in video games; I feel like he’s going to be a name to remember!

Instagram: @mitchaseltine



So, there you have it! So many names, and so much amazing artwork to enjoy and inspire. I wanted to create an article to collect names and profiles not only for me to refer back to, but for others as well for any reason: to discover more artist names, for inspiration on your own artwork, or even for fellow writers who want to use art as a prompt.

I plan to continuously add more and more names as time goes on, so feel free to bookmark this page and refer back to it from time to time too. I want this to be a great resource for interested parties, and please please please please please reach out and talk to me if there are names not on here that you feel like they should be! There are so many artists out there, not even I am aware of everyone out there. Thats kind of the beauty of it; it’s a constant hunt to find them all.


Thanks for Reading!

— Nick Goodsell