My Least Favorite Books from 2021

 

Since I did a post on My Favorite Books from 2021, I also wanted to look back and share My Least Favorite Books from 2021. These were the books that didn’t meet the hype, disappointed me, were problematic, or generally weren’t my cup of tea.

 

A Court of Silver Flames

A Court of Silver Flames (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #4) by Sarah J. Maas
Published by Bloomsbury on February 16th 2021
Genres: FantasyLove & Romance
Pages: 757
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My Full Review Here

Nesta Archeron has always been prickly-proud, swift to anger, and slow to forgive. And ever since being forced into the Cauldron and becoming High Fae against her will, she’s struggled to find a place for herself within the strange, deadly world she inhabits. Worse, she can’t seem to move past the horrors of the war with Hybern and all she lost in it.
The one person who ignites her temper more than any other is Cassian, the battle-scarred warrior whose position in Rhysand and Feyre’s Night Court keeps him constantly in Nesta’s orbit. But her temper isn’t the only thing Cassian ignites. The fire between them is undeniable, and only burns hotter as they are forced into close quarters with each other.
Meanwhile, the treacherous human queens who returned to the Continent during the last war have forged a dangerous new alliance, threatening the fragile peace that has settled over the realms. And the key to halting them might very well rely on Cassian and Nesta facing their haunting pasts.
Against the sweeping backdrop of a world seared by war and plagued with uncertainty, Nesta and Cassian battle monsters from within and without as they search for acceptance-and healing-in each other’s arms.

 

Sadly, I have never felt more let down by Maas book than I was by A Court of Silver Flames. Despite what the novel tells us, not all stories are worth telling. That is not to say that Nesta’s story was not worth telling at all, but the manner in which it was told was a disservice to all of the characters and the message of female empowerment that the other novels in the series pushed through its main character Feyre. For fans of the A Court of Thorns and Roses series, I recommend skipping this novel entirely, or at most, borrowing it from the library or a fellow reader to find out what happens to the characters if you really must experience it firsthand—I honestly wish I hadn’t.

 

Read more from my review here.

 

The Excalibur Curse

The Excalibur Curse by Kiersten White

The Excalibur Curse by Kiersten White
Published by Random House Children’s Books on 2021
Genres: Young Adult FictionFantasyWizards & WitchesHistoricalMedievalArthurian
Pages: 368
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one-half-stars
Source: NetGalley

My Full Review Here

The gripping conclusion to the acclaimed Arthurian fantasy trilogy from New York Times bestselling author Kiersten White finds Guinevere questioning everything–friends and enemies, good and evil, and, most of all, herself.
While journeying north toward the Dark Queen, Guinevere falls into the hands of her enemies. Behind her are Lancelot, trapped on the other side of the magical barrier they created to protect Camelot, and Arthur, who has been led away from his kingdom, chasing after false promises. But the greatest danger isn’t what lies ahead of Guinevere–it’s what’s been buried inside her.
Vowing to unravel the truth of her past with or without Merlin’s help, Guinevere joins forces with the sorceress Morgana and her son, Mordred–and faces the confusing, forbidden feelings she still harbors for him. When Guinevere makes an agonizing discovery about who she is and how she came to be, she finds herself with an impossible choice: fix a terrible crime, or help prevent war.
Guinevere is determined to set things right, whatever the cost. To defeat a rising evil. To remake a kingdom. To undo the mistakes of the past…even if it means destroying herself.
Guinevere has been a changeling, a witch, a queen–but what does it mean to be just a girl?

 

The Excalibur Curse is the final entry in The Camelot Rising trilogy. I wish I could say I was surprised by how disappointed I was by the ending, but I’ve had a feeling I wouldn’t like the ending since The Camelot Betrayal. I guess what was more shocking to me was why I didn’t like the ending. After two other books in the series placing Guinevere in a love triangle with King Arthur and (his nephew, in this retelling) Mordred, Guinevere finally decides she’s in love with Lancelot.

 

Read more from my review here.

 

Cytonic

Cytonic by Brandon SandersonCytonic by Brandon Sanderson
Published by Random House Children’s Books on 2021
Genres: Young Adult FictionAction & AdventureSurvival StoriesDystopianScience FictionGeneral
Pages: 432
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two-stars

My Full Review Here

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Reckoners series, the Mistborn trilogy, and the Stormlight Archive comes the third book in an epic series about a girl who will travel beyond the stars to save the world she loves from destruction.
Spensa’s life as a Defiant Defense Force pilot has been far from ordinary. She proved herself one of the best starfighters in the human

enclave of Detritus and she saved her people from extermination at the hands of the Krell–the enigmatic alien species that has been holding them captive for decades. What’s more, she traveled light-years from home as an undercover spy to infiltrate the Superiority, where she learned of the galaxy beyond her small, desolate planet home.
Now, the Superiority–the governing galactic alliance bent on dominating all human life–has started a galaxy-wide war. And Spensa’s seen the weapons they plan to use to end it: the Delvers. Ancient, mysterious alien forces that can wipe out entire planetary systems in an instant. Spensa knows that no matter how many pilots the DDF has, there is no defeating this predator.
Except that Spensa is Cytonic. She faced down a Delver and saw something eerily familiar about it. And maybe, if she’s able to figure out what she is, she could be more than just another pilot in this unfolding war. She could save the galaxy.
The only way she can discover what she really is, though, is to leave behind all she knows and enter the Nowhere. A place from which few ever return.
To have courage means facing fear. And this mission is terrifying.

 

Cytonic didn’t work for me, and actually made me feel like a grumpy, jaded adult who had outgrown the series and maybe even young adult novels. Dramatic, I know, but really not a feeling I enjoy getting from any novel, let alone one by written by one of my all time favorite authors and when I can still manage to enjoy children’s novels just fine.

 

Read more from my review here.

 

The Broken Sword

The Broken SwordThe Broken Sword by Poul Anderson
Published by Open Road Media on December 30th 2014
Genres: FictionFantasyEpicDark Fantasy
Pages: 223
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one-half-stars

My Full Review Here

This acclaimed fantasy classic of men, elves, and gods is at once breathtakingly exciting and heartbreakingly tragic.
Published the same year as The Fellowship of the Ring, Poul Anderson’s novel The Broken Sword draws on similar Scandinavian and Anglo-Saxon sources. In his greed for land and power, Orm the Strong slays the family of a Saxon witch—and for his sins, the Northman must pay with his newborn son. Stolen by elves and replaced by a changeling, Skafloc is raised to manhood unaware of his true heritage and treasured for his ability to handle the iron that the elven dare not touch. Meanwhile, the being who supplanted him as Orm’s son grows up angry and embittered by the humanity he has been denied. A pawn in a witch’s vengeance, the creature Valgard will never know love, and consumed by rage, he will commit a murderous act of unspeakable vileness.   It is their destiny to finally meet on the field of battle—the man-elf and his dark twin, the monster—when the long-simmering war between elves and trolls finally erupts with a devastating fury. And only the mighty sword Tyrfing, broken by Thor and presented to Skafloc in infancy, can turn the tide in a terrible clashing of faerie folk that will ultimately determine the fate of the old gods.   Along with such notables as Isaac Asimov and Ray Bradbury, multiple Hugo and Nebula Award winner Poul Anderson is considered one of the masters of speculative fiction.
This edition contains the author’s original text.

 

I picked up The Broken Sword because I read several articles that called it as good as or even better than its contemporary, The Lord of the Rings. In fact, The Broken Sword is even referred to as the “first great American epic fantasy.” Seeing as it had such high praise, my expectations for The Broken Sword were high.  Unfortunately, without a better rivalry, character development, and or a more believable story, the novel utterly fails to hit the mark of the doomed love story it so wished to be.

 

Read more from my review here.

 

Witchshadow

Witchshadow (The Witchlands, #4) by Susan Dennard
Published by Tor Teen on June 22nd 2021
Genres: FantasyFantasy & MagicGirls & WomenLGBTQYoung Adult
Pages: 464
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two-stars

My Full Review Here

Susan Dennard’s New York Times bestselling, young adult epic fantasy Witchlands series continues with Witchshadow, the story of the Threadwitch Iseult.
War has come to the Witchlands . . . and nothing will be the same again.
Iseult has found her heartsister Safi at last, but their reunion is brief. For Iseult to stay alive, she must flee Cartorra while Safi remains. And though Iseult has plans to save her friend, they will require her to summon magic more dangerous than anything she has ever faced before.
Meanwhile, the Bloodwitch Aeduan is beset by forces he cannot understand. And Vivia—rightful queen of Nubrevna—finds herself without a crown or home.
As villains from legend reawaken across the Witchlands, only the mythical Cahr Awen can stop the gathering war. Iseult could embrace this power and heal the land, but first she must choose on which side of the shadows her destiny will lie.

 

It pains me to admit this, but Witchshadow was my least favorite of all the books in The Witchlands series so far. Perhaps I was just too hyped for Iseult’s entry in the series and was simply cruising for disappointment. Whatever the case, I found Witchshadow to be a bit of an inconsistent and confusing mess with a lot of wasted opportunities. Though I did like the overall darker tone of this novel and the fact that characters were faced with higher stakes than ever, I found that Witchshadow actually made me like Isuelt, my favorite character in the series, less.

 

Read more from my review here.

 

Half Sick of Shadows

Half Sick of Shadows by Laura Sebastian
Published by Ace on July 6th 2021
Genres: FantasyFantasy & Magic
Pages: 448
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one-half-stars
Source: NetGalley

My Full Review Here

The Lady of Shalott reclaims her story in this bold feminist reimagining of the Arthurian myth from the New York Times bestselling author of Ash Princess.
Everyone knows the legend. Of Arthur, destined to be a king. Of the beautiful Guinevere, who will betray him with his most loyal knight, Lancelot. Of the bitter sorceress, Morgana, who will turn against them all. But Elaine alone carries the burden of knowing what is to come–for Elaine of Shalott is cursed to see the future.
On the mystical isle of Avalon, Elaine runs free and learns of the ancient prophecies surrounding her and her friends–countless possibilities, almost all of them tragic.
When their future comes to claim them, Elaine, Guinevere, Lancelot, and Morgana accompany Arthur to take his throne in stifling Camelot, where magic is outlawed, the rules of society chain them, and enemies are everywhere. Yet the most dangerous threats may come from within their own circle.
As visions are fulfilled and an inevitable fate closes in, Elaine must decide how far she will go to change fate–and what she is willing to sacrifice along the way.

 

Unfortunately, Half Sick of Shadows, with its non-linear timelines, unlikeable characters, strange takes on Arthurian legend, and constant telling and not showing, which was highlighted by Elaine telling us the same visions repeatedly, was not the most enjoyable read for me. I think the premise of retelling the rather dark tale of The Lady of Shalott as a feminist, modern tale was a really interesting and promising, but sadly, the novel just didn’t stick the landing. For me, I was more than half sick of this novel and considered DNF-ing at several points.

 

Read more from my review here.

 

Our Dark Duet

Our Dark Duet (Monsters of Verity, #2) by Victoria Schwab
Published by Greenwillow Books on June 13th 2017
Pages: 533
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one-half-stars

My Full Review Here

The sequel—and conclusion—to Victoria Schwab’s instant #1 New York Times bestseller, This Savage Song.
Kate Harker is a girl who isn’t afraid of the dark. She’s a girl who hunts monsters. And she’s good at it. August Flynn is a monster who can never be human. No matter how much he once yearned for it. He has a part to play. And he will play it, no matter the cost.
Nearly six months after Kate and August were first thrown together, the war between the monsters and the humans is a terrifying reality. In Verity, August has become the leader he never wished to be, and in Prosperity, Kate has become the ruthless hunter she knew she could be. When a new monster emerges from the shadows—one who feeds on chaos and brings out its victim’s inner demons—it lures Kate home, where she finds more than she bargained for. She’ll face a monster she thought she killed, a boy she thought she knew, and a demon all her own.
A gorgeously written dark fantasy from New York Times-bestselling author Victoria Schwab, and one to hand to fans of Holly Black, Laini Taylor, and Maggie Stiefvater.

 

After being somewhat surprised with just how much I liked This Savage Song, the predecessor to this novel, I rushed to purchase Our Dark Duet so I could find out what happened next. To my dismay this sequel just plain did not work for me. I found the entire struggle in Our Dark Duet a step backwards from the previous novel, with villains flat and uninteresting, and the major conflict similarly unexciting.

 

Read more from my review here

 

The Stolen Kingdom

The Stolen Kingdom

The Stolen Kingdom by Jillian Boehme
Published by Tor Teen on March 2nd 2021
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 320
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Goodreads
one-star
Source: NetGalley

My Full Review Here

For a hundred years, the once-prosperous kingdom of Perin Faye has suffered under the rule of the greedy and power-hungry Thungrave kings. Maralyth Graylaern, a vintner’s daughter, has no idea her hidden magical power is proof of a secret bloodline and claim to the throne. Alac Thungrave, the king’s second son, has always been uncomfortable with his position as the spare heir—and the dark, stolen magic that comes with ruling.
When Maralyth becomes embroiled in a plot to murder the royal family and seize the throne, a cat-and-mouse chase ensues in an adventure of dark magic, court intrigue, and forbidden love.

 

If The Stolen Kingdom, which had so much potential in the root of its idea, had simply spent more time on creating its universe, bigger repercussions that did not concern violence between love interests, giving characters more of a role outside of each other, and writing with a more set audience in mind, I would’ve liked it a lot better.

 

Read more from my review here.

 

Winterlight

Winterlight (Green Rider Book 7) by Kristen Britain
on September 7th 2021
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 845
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Goodreads
two-stars
Source: NetGalley

My Full Review Here

This seventh novel of the Green Rider series follows the adventures of messenger, magic wielder, and knight Karigan G’ladheon as she fights to save king and country from dark magic and a looming war.
After her capture at the hands of Grandmother and the Second Empire, Karigan G’ladheon is making halting progress towards recovery. Karigan takes on increasingly dangerous missions, haunted by the specter of her torturer, Nyssa, and sinking ever further into the mire of her recollections of the past and the losses she’s sustained.
Meanwhile, the forces of the Second Empire are moving on Sacoridia and their primary target is a vulnerable garrison that guards a crucial mountain pass. Faced with new fatherhood and a country on the verge of war, King Zachary sends a contingent of soldiers and Green Riders to the pass–but his own recovery from the events of the north is not yet complete either.
Reunited with her fellow Riders at the pass, Karigan takes on a leadership role, but quickly finds that the Riders are not as she last left them. As tension mounts and war draws ever closer to the heart of Sacoridia, Karigan must discover what it truly means to be a Rider and a hero of the realm–and what sacrifices must be made to truly heal from her past.

 

I am a little alarmed at the prospect of the series trying to tie up all these ends in the next release. Winterlight definitely felt like it was hurtling to this conclusion at top speed, and in some cases, throwing its character development and the plot it has built up over the series to the winds, while adding extraneous other plots to tie up on top of it. Despite not being the strongest book in the series by far, I’m still interested to see how the series will manage to wrap up in the final entry of the Green Rider series.

 

Read more from my review here. 

 

 

There you have it, my least favorite books from 2021! What were your least favorite reads from last year?

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My Least Favorite Books from 2021

Posted January 14, 2022 in Book Reviews

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