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Review: The Night Realm - Annette Marie

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The Night Realm by Annette Marie
Series: Spell Weaver #1

My rating: {★★★★★}

Urban Fantasy/Paranormal
Expected publication: October 20th 2017 by Dark Owl Fantasy Inc.

Source: ARC Copy received from publisher
Clio is good at all sorts of things. As a nymph, she’s great at outdoorsy nature stuff. As a nymph living in exile, she’s got the “blending in with humans” thing down pat. As a nymph living in exile because she has the rare ability to mimic magic, she’s had to pick up some unique survival skills.

But stealing from the most dangerous spell weavers in the Underworld? Not so much.

Unfortunately, that’s exactly what she has to do to earn a ticket back home. Conning her way into the night realm may have gone pretty well, but now she’s got a new problem. His name is Lyre and he’s a sinfully alluring incubus, a dangerously skilled spell weaver, and the only thing standing between her and stealing some damn magic.

Maneuvering around him without blowing her cover shouldn’t be that difficult, but chaos has been dogging her every step, monsters hide behind beautiful faces, and Lyre keeps saving her neck even though they’re enemies. Kind of enemies? Either way, her mission is getting complicated fast, and in the Underworld, even one mistake could prove fatal.
4.5 stars

I was so thrilled to receive an ARC copy of this book. I had previously read and LOVED The Red Winter Trilogy by the same author (read: total fangirling adoration and shoving the series in the face of anyone who will listen) and although I haven't yet read the Steel & Stone series it's the very next on my list because this book was ALSO amazing and now I need something to tide me over until January when book two of this series is slated to publish.

To be honest I didn't even know what to expect from this book. I didn't know what the world of Steel and Stone encompassed; I didn't even know that it was Urban Fantasy because that's what I do - when I'm really excited about a book I try to go into it knowing as little as possible about it beforehand so that I can get the most out of it and The Night Realm did not disappoint in any way.

As I've come to now expect from Annette Marie, her world building is superb: It's well thought out, complex and presented so easily that when I was trying to explain the book to a friend I was surprised at just how much information I knew. It can seem dense at times but it's so sophisticated and intricate that you need all the information and I really appreciated that I could dive straight into this book without getting lost because I hadn't read the other series.

There's plenty of action and adventure to propel the plot along and yet it was never too much or too far-fetched and as always, the action scenes are extraordinarily well choreographed with both physical action and magical activity.

The magic system was intriguing and I loved getting to know what I could about the different castes of daemons and their abilities. As with the world building, the magic system is also complex and I am always thankful when an author ensures that there is a cost to using magic and that the magic is not 'all powerful'.

The main female protagonist is Clio - an Overworld nymph who is incredibly relateable. She has a special magical affinity that not many people know about because of her lineage, but she also seems so incredibly human with plenty of flaws. She displays all my favourite female lead characteristics - bravery, loyalty, determination and she really grows into herself.

Lyre is the main male protagonist, an Underworld Incubus and I've since found out that he is also in the Steel & Stone series (therefore I must devour this series ASAP). In this book there's dual third person POVs from both Clio and Lyre and I found that Lyre was equally enjoyable to get to know. He also embodies a lot of my favourite qualities in male lead characters - steaming hot (he is an Incubus after all), powerful yet vulnerable, compassionate and kind and yet still morally grey.

If you've read S&S you may also be interested to know that another of it's characters is in this book - a hugely powerful Underworld daemon named Ash. He's mysterious and reckless - a total 'bad boy' and I loved his dynamic.

I completely adored the interaction between the characters, the snark and the humour and the sass. I found myself laughing out loud a couple of times and there were also times when I found my heart aching. I was completely invested in these characters and the outcome. The chemistry is on point with what I hope is a fledgling romance. In any case it's a slow burn with plenty of swoony moments.

If you enjoy complex worlds, fantasy of any kind, sass and snark and nail biting action then you need to put this on your TBR. Now please excuse me while I totally destroy my carefully planned reading schedule and dive into the first book of the Steel & Stone universe.