{ARC Review} Below by Alexandria Warwick

Below

North #1

Alexandria Warwick

From the author of The Demon Race comes a YA dark fantasy series inspired by Inuit mythology.

In the heart of the frigid North, there lives a demon known as the Face Stealer. Eyes, nose, mouth—nothing and no one is safe. Once he returns to his lair, or wherever it is he dwells, no one ever sees those faces again.

When tragedy strikes, Apaay embarks on a perilous journey to find her sister’s face—yet becomes trapped in a labyrinth ruled by a sinister girl named Yuki. The girl offers Apaay a deal: find her sister’s face hidden within the labyrinth, and she will be set free. But the labyrinth, and those who inhabit it, is not as it seems. Especially Numiak: darkly beautiful, powerful, whose motives are not yet clear.

With time slipping, Apaay is determined to escape the deadly labyrinth with her sister’s face in hand. But in Yuki’s harsh world, Apaay will need all her strength to survive.

Yuki only plays the games she wins.

Publisher: Wolf Publishing

Publication Date: February 4th 2020 

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Mental/Physical Torture, Animal Death, Murder, Grief

I won’t lie: my interest in this was purely superficial… that cover is gorgeous. But, the premise also caught my interest, Intuit mythology and face sraling demons and sister-love?It’s unique and a great way to start the new year.

And at first, I settled for a three star review- I wasn’t feeling any strong emotions, but I enjoyed the read… yet, the longer I sat in this, the longer I felt the half rating I gave it had to be bumped up… I put away my petty feelings and was honest I’m still very mad and I’m not forgiving you ma’am.

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Because this book was a lot deeper than I was anticipating? It’s a book about self love and acceptance and who you become when you’re left with nothing to lean on. It’s about finding your inner strength and acknowledging that you are enough.

And I think that’s what made me stay with the main character Apaay throughout her journey, because between everyone around her invalidating her and having a sister who was good at everything she did and sister jealousy and love wrapped in one complex knot and going through everything she went through to make things right, it wasn’t an easy journey. She hit her lowest and it was satisfying seeing her find her way.

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Before the halfway mark, the pacing was confusing me, I’ll admit. On one hand, things were happening quite quickly- her sisters face got stolen, she went on the journey, got captured and failed her task way before the 30% mark. And I was a bit confused seeing as I went into this thinking the entire book would be her trying to finish the task given to her by the villain before the conclusion (keep in mind again I didn’t realize this was a series until the very last minute.)

However, things then started to feel as if it was moving too fast. I’m not really using that as a complaint based on my initial confusion see above, but also because this book handled a theme that really hit close to home.

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Something I did appreciate in the book was that sign language is very present in the story, from Apaay’s grandmother being deaf to the friend Eska she made in captivity losing her hearing. It wasn’t there for convenience and forgotten later on in the story and I’m here for it.

Now, it’s rare that a villain really catches my interest and doesn’t let go, but  Yuki and the face stealer intrigued me a lot more than anything else. Their tumultuous relationship and the power dynamic, the way that Yuki is almost a mirror image of Apaay’s insecurities and doubts and the face stealer isn’t as he seems. If I could have a story of just Yuki alone, I’d take it in a heartbeat.

Look; this is just one of those book that was really enjoyable and may or may not have made me cry YOU KNOW WHAT YOU DID. I’d recommend (of course) and I’m looking forward to the sequel… way more than I thought I would… Cheers.

4 thoughts on “{ARC Review} Below by Alexandria Warwick”

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