The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss

The Wise Man’s Fear is the second book of the Kingkiller Chronicles, a trilogy that is probably never going to see its final book published. I don’t understand the hype. It took me three months to finish The Wise Man’s Fear, and towards the end, I was only reading for the accomplishment of having finished that 1,347 page book. Overall I had the same feeling as I did with The Name of the Wind—the books didn’t feel like their own stories; they were obviously written to be part of a series. That said, I don’t feel too invested in the trilogy, and I think I will survive if the third book simply never comes out. (However, if the third book does get published by some miracle, I would still read it.)

Let’s talk about The Wise Man’s Fear more. Although I finished The Name of the Wind in a significantly shorter amount of time than I did The Wise Man’s Fear, I enjoyed the events in the second book more. Although the first book introduced us to this interesting new world, I liked that Kvothe was more established in the second book. His interactions with his friends were fun to read, and his adventures had more consequences to them. He now had some things (bar money) to lose, and he needed to take more calculated risks. However, similarly to the first book, some events dragged out. While the events at the university were interesting, I found myself asking when the rest of the story would unfold. I also felt his conquests in the Fae dragged out, but I did enjoy reading about his training with the Adem. It’s always interesting to learn about different worlds and cultures.

Despite the number of pages I’d read, I still don’t like Kvothe. There’s something off about his personality that, while I am impressed by his accomplishments, I simply don’t find myself rooting for him. I did love his interactions with people—Wil, Sim, Devi, and Tempi were all interesting characters (Tempi is probably my favorite supporting character, but Devi is an obvious favorite, too), but I didn’t particularly like Kvothe’s arrogant air and dramatic flair. (This is one of the reasons why I couldn’t get too invested in the trilogy.) So let’s see. If a third book does get published, I’ll read it and see if I still feel the same way about Kvothe. If not, meh, oh well.

The Secret Commonwealth (The Book of Dust #2) by Philip Pullman

As I’d mentioned in my review of La Belle Sauvage (The Book of Dust #1), I decided to (finally) read the series when I saw paperback copies of The Secret Commonwealth (The Book of Dust #2) in bookstores. What? There were already paperbacks of book 2 out, and I still hadn’t read book 1?! OK, time to read. And then after reading book 1, I tried to hunt down hardbacks of book 2, but couldn’t find one. Thankfully, my friend introduced me to Book Depository, from where I ordered this specific edition. (Having consistent editions sparks joy in my life.)

The events in The Secret Commonwealth occur twenty years after La Belle Sauvage and eight after His Dark Materials. I admit that I could benefit from rereading His Dark Materials (I read it more than ten years ago…), but Philip Pullman tied all of the characters and events so well in The Book of Dust #1 and #2 that I was able to recall the backstories as I read on.

The Secret Commonwealth was almost perfect, except that it felt too much like a lead in to a third book. But I appreciate. I’m going to rave about certain events in the book, so I will tell you now that this post has spoilers.

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The Near Witch by VE Schwab

Leave it to VE Schwab to come up with a strong female protagonist. Lexi Harris is adventurous, and, in skill and attitude, she takes after her father. I like her spirit, but, as a young person, she doesn’t seem to think of the consequences of her actions. Then again, we wouldn’t have this story if she actually thought things through…

The story is set in a small village, and I like the small-town dynamic. There’s a council of elders with an interesting origin story and a set of folk songs passed on from generation to generation—these are the little things make small towns unique, even if they share general characteristics. Knowing this, of course, something dark lurks nearby. We can’t live somewhere perfect, after all.

So yes, there’s a dark side to the story. And no—it’s not in the form of the mysterious male stranger that arrives in town. It’s more of an eerie type of darkness, one that reminded me of Coraline. I admit that I am quite easy to scare, which is why I avoid horror movies like the plague. But it was only at one point in the book anyway. (I was reading late at night and finally got creeped out, so put the book down and went to sleep instead. I finished the rest of the book in the morning—you know, while the sun was up.)

But my favorite part about The Near Witch is the magic. I loved that the magic is rooted in nature and that there was no need for wands, spells, or incantations. Verdict: I’m all about a nice community story. Yay, yay, I say read this book when you can!