Monsters Of Verity by Victoria Schwab Review

Monsters Of Verity by Victoria Schwab Review

This time last year, I bought a trilogy called A Darker Shade Of Magic by an unknown author to me – V. E Schwab, and I quickly became obsessed with them, devouring every word, feeling like I couldn’t get through it quick enough and find out what happened.

Since then, I’ve had this desperate urge to read more of her work, to see what other stories Schwab could tell, and so, I decided to start 2018 with her duology Monsters Of Verity. 

All I have to say is wow. 

I’ve spent this week essentially binge reading This Savage Song and Our Dark Duet, and both are simply incredible. In concept, storyline, world building, and just about every other way possible.

The books tell the story of Kate Harker and August Flynn. Kate is a human from North City, the daughter of Callum Harker, who keeps monsters as pets and demands payment from citizens for their protection.

August, on the other hand, is a monster, a very rare form of monster, from South City, the adopted son of the leader of the FTF – a group trying to protect humans from the monsters bite. The two meet in school, and soon find themselves on the run, hunted by the monsters Kate’s father is supposed to control, as the cracks of so-called peace start to appear.

What follows is an incredible story, one I couldn’t help but adore every single second of.

At first, I was slightly wary of this duology – it’s a YA, whereas A Darker Shade Of Magic is a more adult series. So I was worried that there was going to be something missing from Schwab’s writing, that it could be dumbed down a bit, possibly sanitised for a younger, more impressionable audience.

Not true.

Not true in the slightest.

This duology is dark, dealing with murder and massacres, fights and fear, bombs and blood. It’s thick with it and doesn’t shy away from talking about it. About the consequences of violence, the sacrifices people make in war, of the ruthlessness of humanity and what that can create. It’s all there, never once talking down to the reader, never treating the reader like they’re anything but intelligent human beings.

From the first page, I was swept up into the story, constantly wanting to read more, entirely engrossed in events unfolding on the page. Just a quarter of the way through book one, I was already telling my mum and best friend to read the books. By the end, I’m not going to let it go until they do.

These books are a must read for any fan of Schwab’s more adult work. They’re a must read for urban fantasy readers. They’re a must read for anyone who likes reading about monsters and violence.

They’re simply a must read.

And, they’re also proof of V. E. Schwab’s writing power. She’s a powerhouse who produces two books a year on average, all high quality, well thought out, and utterly engrossing. I cannot speak highly enough of her writing skill. She’s in my top 3 favourite writers, fighting with the big guns Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett.

I cannot recommend this duology enough, it is rare that I find a series I want to devour so fast, and this was definitely one of them. If you ever get the chance to read these books, do it. You will not regret it.


Golden Kingsman

The Kingsman Are Golden

Suit jackets are buttoned, ties are tied, the Oxfords are on, not the Brogues. That can only mean one thing – the Kingsman are back!

Last night, the second outing for the Kingsman debuted, and what an adventure it was!

Robots, psychopathic villains and character resurrections define The Golden Circle, in one of the maddest, out of this world films I’ve seen this year.

Think Kingsman 1, but bigger, better, and all round crazier, and you have the vaguest idea of this film.

The Golden Circle follows Eggsy (Taron Egerton) and Merlin (Mark Rylance), the only surviving members of the Kingsman, after every hideout is blown to pieces, as they travel to America to find the US version of their organisation – The Statesman.

The two could not be more different, the Kingsman are the definition of stylish, discreet, and gentlemanly. The Statesman are quite a bit louder, brasher, and just about every stereotype an American secret service organisation could be – but with some very cool toys.

Naturally, Eggsy and Merlin clash terribly with Statesman agents Whiskey (Pedro Pascal), Champs (Jeff Bridges), and Tequila (Channing Tatum), but have to work as best they can to take down The Golden Circle, who have a plan to kill millions with infected drugs.

Sound like enough to be dealing with? Well, there’s another thing to add to that list of problems – Harry is back. That’s right, Harry Hart (Colin Firth), Eggsy’s mentor, previously shot-through-the-head-and-dead agent of Kingsman, is alive. Missing an eye, and all of his memories, but he’s alive. And Eggsy has no idea what to do, he has to complete the mission, but he needs Harry back to his old self, so the old crew are back together.

Hilarious, insane, and ruder than the first, Kingsman: The Golden Circle is an unforgettable thrill ride. Anyone who says it was too long, or suffered from thinking ‘bigger is better’ is entirely wrong, and clearly don’t know what the Kingsman franchise is all about. It’s about massive fight scenes, far-fetched plots, insane characters, it’s escapism in it’s truest form.

I laughed, I nearly cried, and loved every damn second of it. As Eggsy would say – it was fucking awesome – and well worth seeing several times over.

The Defenders Are In Business

The Defenders Are In Business


I’ve just spent the entire day, since 8 am this morning, watching the new Marvel Netflix show – Defenders.

And ohhhh boy, was it AMAZING!

The eight episodes chronicle previous Netflix series heroes – Daredevil (Charlie Cox), Jessica Jones (Krysten Ritter), Luke Cage (Mike Colter) and Iron Fist (Finn Jones), as they team up to finally put a stop to The Hand – an organisation both Iron Fist and Daredevil have faced before.

Without giving away spoilers, of which they are many, the TV show is an absolute thrill ride and brings Marvel’s Netflix world back on track.

Things, for me at least, fell apart a bit during Iron Fist’s first solo outing. The fight scenes did nothing for me, the story wasn’t all that interesting, and, quite frankly, everyone around Iron Fist was more interesting than Iron Fist himself.

But, Defenders brings Netflix back on track. A brilliant story line, excellent fight scenes for everyone, lots of blood, guts and gore, there’s something for everyone.

Also, Marvel has clearly taken the time to improve the character behind the Iron First, Danny Rand. His choreography was far better than before, and while naive (and, admittedly, still annoyingly head strong) Danny almost became likeable. 

Don’t get me wrong, I finished the series still not liking him, but I hated him less after this series. I still laughed at watching him get beaten up, but I wasn’t actively wanting him to get killed like I was in his solo series.

Personally, I think it was all down to how he was presented, and how he interacted with other characters.

His fellow Defenders really offset Danny’s annoying tendencies and stopped him rushing into danger a lot, as well as shut down his naive moments. He still had them, but at least his ideas weren’t followed through with for the most part, so I didn’t feel like tearing my hair out with frustration with him.

As for the other Defenders, they were all still on complete top form. They blended together perfectly in my opinion. They didn’t like each other all that much, and certainly didn’t get along for most of the show, but they still blended together well.

I had been worried that this series wouldn’t work, as the characters are too different in personality and too similar in powers. But it actually worked incredibly well.

Worked so well, in fact, I was near tears by the end. Honestly, I very nearly cried at the end. At the very least, I was terrified that someone wasn’t going to come back.

From the cinematography to the plot, to the comic references, this show is truly bringing Marvel back on track.

If you’re someone who loves Marvel, violence, gore, or just Netflix TV shows, I would highly recommend Marvel’s The Defenders. It’s clever, funny in places, violent to the extreme at points, and restored my faith in Marvel’s Netflix universe.

The Defenders are officially in business, and I cannot wait to see what they do next, individually or together.

Whatever they do next, it will certainly be one hell of a ride.

Logan’s Swan Song


Seventeen years ago, the X-Men burst onto our screens, starting a whole near era in superhero film, one that admittedly has it’s problems thanks to timeline changes, but still a very enjoyable one. Two of the lead roles, were Wolverine, played by Hugh Jackman, and Professer Xavier, played by Patrick Stewart, who have now become iconic in these roles. Logan says goodbye to both, paying tribute to them, as well as giving them one last adventure. An adventure that’s unlike any other X-Men film before it.

Usually, the X-Men films are reasonably funny and lighthearted. But Logan is anything but lighthearted. It would fit more with the Marvel Netflix series’ than the rest of the X-Men canon. The story is dark, and gritty, not holding back on the character’s hardships, or how badly life had hit them.

Professor X is deteriorating mentally, barely able to control his powers, Logan is looking after him, working as a chauffeur to raise enough money to look after them both. There is no-one else that can help, the X-Men are gone, the mansion left unmentioned, mutants are dying out. The world thinks the professor is dead, a terrible accident killing him a year ago. And, possibly most importantly, Logan is also dying. His healing powers are failing him, poisoned by the Adamantium wrapped around his bones. Logan’s body is littered in scars, his wounds don’t heal as fast, he’s drinking to cope.

To say the least, things are bleak. Things get only bleaker when a nurse calls for Logan’s help, to take her and her daughter to Eden, a safe haven for mutant kind. A company is after them, and want to kill the girl, named Laura. Logan and Xavier get dragged into the fray when they discover that Laura is not human – she’s a mutant, one with some very familiar powers indeed.

What follows is still bleak, but brilliant. Despite this being a superhero film, it does not follow the usual tropes. This is more a story about a man learning how to care again, facing the worst adversity he has ever faced, despite the costs to himself. The audience is swept up completely in Logan’s struggle, routing for him more than ever before.

Logan is, in essence, one of the best X-Men films ever made. It’s beautifully shot, beautifully written, and beautifully acted. A bittersweet experience, as you never want this to end, but knowing it has to. Not only will the film end, but these characters are going to be gone forever at the end too.

Yes there were things left unexplained, and there were no appearances from any other famous X-Men, they weren’t even mentioned by name. But if things had been fully explained, if others were mentioned, it would have detracted from what this film is – Logan’s swan song.

While I did not want to see Logan ever go, the same with Professor X, it would do a disservice to this film to demand they bring these character’s back, through a timeline change, or by any other means. This was the perfect ending for the character, the last five minutes nearly bringing me to tears. By far, this was Logan’s best solo film. His ultimate goodbye.

I used to say that David Tennant’s regeneration was the day my childhood ended, but now that has been surpassed. I have spent most of my life watching and loving the X-Men, despite it’s faults and mistakes. Logan though may just now be my favourite, we saw Logan in his true form, in all of his glory. I loved every second.

Thank you, Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart, you and your characters will be dearly missed, and never, ever replaced.

Westworld Goes Down Fighting


Last night, Westworld’s season finale aired in the UK, and showed every other show of a similar nature exactly how to end a season. With plot twists, a lot of questions answered, and more brought forward, the hour and a half long episode had me hooked from the opening second, right to the very end of the credits.

I’ve been a fan of the show since the start, and in fact wrote a piece on the opening episode on this very blog a few weeks ago. After every episode I was looking up fan theories, trying to figure out what The Maze was, who The Man In Black was, and just what the hell was going on. Last night explained it all. It explained, tied everything together, and created mystery for the next season, all in one go.

In many TV shows like Westworld, the writers generally like to keep you guessing constantly, and use season finale’s to create more questions than answers (I’m looking at you, Lost). Sometimes, TV shows like this don’t give you any answers at all, and it’s up to the audience to interpret everything for themselves. This show though, the writers actually answered almost everything the audience wanted to know.

The Man In Black’s identity was revealed, in a plot twist that had me screaming, even after seeing many internet theories which predicted it. The Maze was explained. Robert’s new narrative was revealed. Some characters got what they wanted, others not so much. Everything tied together beautifully, which really speaks to how well the show was plotted by JJ Abrams and his writing team.

But, can things continue on, if everything has been revealed? Where’s the mystery? What’s to keep the audience coming back?

Simple, with Robert’s new narrative. I won’t give away too many spoilers for those who have not seen the episode yet, but let’s just say that The Man In Black got what he wanted, Wyatt is loose, and there’s a lot more Hosts with a thirst for bloodshed running around.

That, and the new subtly-hinted-at plot points dotted throughout. Who messed with Thandie Newton’s Maeve’s programming, to make her wake up in the first place? Has Dolores gone completely psycho? Why are the Japanese fighter hosts ‘complicated?’ And possibly most importantly, does this mean that there are more parks than just Westworld? Are there more parks, more hosts, more robots waking up and deciding to revolt?

So many questions, so much more to explore in this captivating world. Things I can’t wait to puzzle over and watch unfold. Westworld was a brilliant series, but the finale was a masterpiece in story telling. Other TV shows, take note.

Good Deadpool? Bad Deadpool? GOOD DEADPOOL!

I’ve literally just come back from watching Deadpool and I have to get out my feelings right now, because my God Deadpool is amazing! I loved every single second of this madcap, fourth-wall breaking, swearing, gory, laugh out loud funny origin film, and I’d highly recommend that everybody go and see it… Unless you’re squeamish, or have a delicate disposition, then I’d say stay away as far as possible. If you’re into this sort of stuff, then you’re going to LOVE this film.
Going into Deadpool, all I knew about him was the basics – he breaks the fourth wall, swears a lot, and is known as the ‘Merc With A Mouth,’ other than that, I knew nothing. I’d seen Wolverine Origins (which gets ripped to shreds in this film, or at least Hugh Jackman does anyway) but my knowledge was so skin thin I could have gone in completely ignorant. What I got in return was absolute genius – a completely new take on the ‘hero origin’ story, where the hero doesn’t even want to be a hero. Wade Wilson (the man behind the mask) just wants revenge on the man who gave him his powers and destroyed his skin, and to save his girlfriend from the same man, he doesn’t want to be a hero, and he makes sure everybody knows it.
To be honest, this is more of a revenge story than anything else, it’s nearly two hours of Wade seeking revenge, with pieces of flashback to explain why Wade is after this guy in the first place. And somehow, that works, and more importantly, you fall in love with Wade as he does this.
From the opening scene, Wade Wilson is having gory shoot outs with his enemies henchman, destroying cars and turning one guy into a shish-kabob. The audience knows straight away that Wade is not a good person at all, and yet, as his story is told, you fall in love with him. It’s all through his wise cracks and his love for his girlfriend Vanessa. He’s ridiculous in so many ways, but absolutely lovable, not in a way that you’d take him home to meet your mum, but still very lovable. His jokes about Hugh Jackman (of which there are many), the X-Men in general, and pop culture are completely on point and hilarious.
At points, he gets a bit near the mark with his sex jokes, but that was the whole point of Deadpool in the first place – he’s not supposed to be correct all the time. He’s supposed to be absolutely insane, rude and dangerous, the antithesis of the anti-hero. And in this film, it’s perfect for him. No other hero could pull this off at all, Wade Wilson is the least politically correct super hero ever, and it’s absolutely perfect.
Deadpool in fact doesn’t pull any punches, or hold back in any shape or form. The fourth wall breaks are everywhere, some so subtle you nearly miss them, and others right in your face. Swear words fly around so damn often you forget that this is a Marvel film, they’re not at all bleeped out like they are in the comics. The blood and guts are absolutely everywhere, hell even the naked shots aren’t held back either. Where other films would use tasteful angles to avoid showing someone’s manhood in the middle of a fight, Deadpool doesn’t shy away at all. Nothing in Deadpool is shy, or chaste, or anything of the sort. It’s loud, in your face, hilarious, and absolutely brilliant. I only have two objections – 1) Hugh Jackman doesn’t actually turn up, and neither does Wolverine, even though both are mentioned, and 2) Deadpool never physically meets Stan Lee, which could have been epic. Oh well, there’s always next time for these two wishes!
In all seriousness though, Deadpool is an incredible film, and the perfect way to start this year’s superhero offerings from Marvel. I can’t wait to see what Wade will get up to next, all I can say is that it’ll be absolutely epic.

And Then There Was One Massive Plot Twist

Hey everyone, I hope your Christmas’ were fun and you got everything you wanted! I had a pretty good time, and have mostly been sitting on my arse doing nothing all week. Well, when I say nothing, I mean watching TV, and my God did I stumble upon one hell of a TV special.
Of course, I’m talking about And Then There Were None, the BBC’s latest adaption of Agatha Christie’s novel, and over three nights I was utterly hooked on it. I’d been looking forward to watching this show ever since I saw the advert for it a while back, to be honest, I probably would have watched anyway because a) Aiden Turner is in it and I love that man a lot, and b) it’s a murder mystery. If there’s one thing I love to watch, it’s a murder mystery, or really anything to do with murder. So, I sat down and watched it, and I fallen in love.
First of all, the plot is amazing, ten strangers are invited to an island, each one with a secret, and slowly they get killed off one by one, not knowing who is behind it. Each person is killed according to poem that hangs in every persons room in the house, and when a body is found, the ten statues in the dining room reduce numbers. This could have gotten very monotonous after the third murder, possibly even predictable, but it never did. I was on tender hooks the entire time, wondering who was going to die next, and how it was going to be done. For the first two episodes, I resisted looking up the whole poem, but I had to by the end episode, just to see if I could get any clues from it, all I got instead was the creepy factor amping up further.
Secondly, the characters were incredibly cleverly written. Each one is hiding a common secret – they’re all guilty of murder in some way or other, and none of them have been caught for it. Between a doctor who drunk on the job during a surgery, to a cop who killed a gay man simply for being gay, every single one has killed at least one person and none feel the least bit guilty for it. And while some characters are sort of likable, you as the audience don’t really warm to anyone. Not to say that they all deserved to die (though let’s be honest, Douglas’ Booth’s character was a complete asshole and was pegged to be ‘the first to go’ from the start) but you don’t actually route for anybody, not really. I found myself liking Aiden’s character, not just for his face (or his body, dear lord that towel scene was a nice edition, thank you producers that one) but because he was honest. He admitted to his killings, and while showing no sign of remorse, he did show some brain, and some kindness at times. He didn’t just think of getting himself off the island, he did try to help the others he trusted to. So I liked him. Which (spoiler alert) made his death quite painful in the end, at least he was second to last to go, so it wasn’t too bad.
Nothing is all too obvious in plot line either, nothing is revealed straight away. You have to watch all three episodes to get everyone’s story, and to figure out who is behind all this. It is never made clear, or even hinted at, whether the killer is part of the ten or if they is another player in the mix. Trying to figure it out is nigh impossible, as at every turn you find out something new that creates a new theory. I had so many I lost count, and never once was I right in my deductions. At one point I went so far as to think that maybe this was all happening in someone’s head, and that this was some sort of psychotic break Shutter Island style, which seemed very plausible. Every theory seemed plausible as I went along, and I never expected the plot twist at the end.

At the end, just when I thought I would never find out who was behind all the murder (let me tell you right now, if that had happened, I would have hit the roof in anger and this review would be very different) to find out that it was the judge all along – I never saw that coming in a million years! In hindsight, I probably should have, judge/jury/executioner and all that, but I honestly didn’t! I immediately discounted him after he faked his death, thinking him as just another victim, and possibly the sanest one of the lot. So to see him actually reveal that he was behind all of it, as a sort of ‘get the uncaught bad guys’ before dying himself, wow I had never even considered it. I actually screamed a little when I did if I’m honest.

Truly, And Then There Were None was a brilliant thrill ride of a TV show. Combing suspense, gore, murder and wonderful plot twists into a beautiful three hours. It distinctly reminded me of an old fashioned How To Get Away With Murder mini series, set in the space of a few days instead of a few months. I love every single second of it, and wish to see more things like this in the future! BBC get right on it, I need more!
Did anybody else see anything good over the holidays? If so, let me know, I need more things to watch to distract me from my essays and currently not much is working. Also, if you watched this show, let me know some of your theories, were you as shocked as I was when the killer was revealed? Let’s start a discussion going, I sure as hell don’t want to let this show end so soon!