Try a Chapter Tag: Fairyloot Edition

Hello my dear bookaholics 💕

Today I’m doing a Try a Chapter Tag – and I’m incredibly excited about it! This tag was created by Malia @ The Book Paradise and the rules are simple: pick out some books you’ve been meaning to read and read the first chapter of each to decide whether you’d like to read the entire book soon or not. I think reading the first chapter can give me a good perspective on the atmosphere and the writing style. I tend to dislike synopses because they reveal too much about the plot.

I wanted to do a Fairyloot edition of the tag because after having received Fairyloot subscription as a gift for some time, I have fallen behind in reading the books of the month! I want to read all of them, but I can’t decide in what order to do that. So, I’ll be reading the first chapter of each book to help me put them into an order. I’ll then try to read the 1st book on the list every month!

Warning: I’ll be including books from a range of Fairyloot boxes in this post, including books from the 2019 September and August boxes (but not October). If you have yet to receive your box for September or August, you might be spoiled for the book if you keep reading! Otherwise there will be no spoilers at all (I won’t even have any after reading just one chapter 😂 )

Here is my glorious stack of Fairyloot books:

Look how amazing all of their coloured pages are! There are more coloured ones than plain ones!

All the books and the boxes they came in:

  • Beyond a Darkened Shore by Jessica Leake: April 2018
  • Onyx & Ivory by Mindee Arnett: May 2018
  • Circle of Shadows by Evelyn Skye: January 2019
  • To Best the Boys by Mary Weber: March 2019
  • Nocturna by Maya Motayne: April 2019
  • The Beholder by Anna Bright: May 2019
  • Wicked Fox by Kat Cho: July 2019
  • The Merciful Crow by Margaret Owen: August 2019
  • Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin: September 2019

Try a Chapter

Time start reading! I will be reading the first chapter from each and if the book has a prologue I’ll read that in addition to the first chapter. Let’s get started!

First up, The Wicked Fox by Kat Cho. I don’t know anything about this other than it has been said to be perfect for lovers of k-dramas which makes me pretty excited. The first chapter is 8 pages long, and it doesn’t have a prologue.

After reading the chapter: This really feels like a k-drama! There are a lot of mentions of the Korean scenery, food, and the characters occassionally refer to each other as ‘ajumma’ or ‘ajeossi’. I definitely see how this could irritate someone but as I have watched quite a lot of k-drama it creates the same, familiar atmosphere. The chapter wasn’t perfect and I didn’t like how the main character talked about another character’s tattoos (she thought that the guy took tattoos only to look cool and now in his old age they only made him look older), but I tend to be sensitive for things like that. I feel like The Wicked Fox could have a strong character growth arc for the MC which I’m totally on board for! Also, the MC’s best friend is a shaman 😱 YAS.

I’ll move on to Beyond a Darkened Shore next. I have been wanting to read this one for ages, I have really high hopes for it! No prologue, and the first chapter is 9 pages long.

After reading the chapter: Beyond a Darkened Shore has a dark, sea-salty atmosphere to it. The first chapter beginst at Ireland 1035 and we follow Ciera who is the heir to the throne and she is desperate to keep her kingdom and sisters safe, even under the judgemental eye of the villagers and her overly-protective mother. I really liked the chapter and I feel like the story could take a wild turn any which way! I love historical fantasies and I really hope that this one has some magic as well.

Another one that I have been meaning to pick up for forever – Onyx and Ivory by Mindee Arnett! This one’s sequel is out already and it’s cover is gorgeous as well. No prologue, and the first chapter is 14 pages long.

After reading the chapter: A bit similar to Beyond a Darkened Shore, Onyx and Ivory has a kind of historical fantasy setting. But the magic is much more noticeable here already, and the main character can talk to animals and understand them. In the beginning of the chapter I was pretty detached from the story, but by the end I already felt invested in the forbidden magic. This one is great for animal lovers (but tbh who doesn’t love animals?) and I’m excited to see which turn it takes. Also, the MC’s father has done something awful which has mixed up our MC’s life as well. That part of the story brings to mind Skyward by Brandon Sanderson!

Next up is The Beholder by Anna Bright! I have seen loads of mixed reviews for this one, but I have been dying to read it nevertheless. I think the premise is that the main character goes on a long (& reluctant) trip to find a husband or her right to rule her kingdom is taken away(?). I’m not at all certain to be honest 😂 But I’m expecting it to be fun & light & breezy! No prologue and the first chapter is only 6 pages long, let’s do this!

After reading the chapter: This one didn’t have any time to start at all, but I feel like The Beholder already has a nice contrast to all the others I have sampled so far. The main character isn’t a sword-wielding, fearless woman who cuts throats in the middle of the night and defends an entire kingdom by herself. She is normal, she seems to like feminine things and she wants to get engaged. I’m pretty excited about this because I think that women should be allowed to be everything in books, and not just brave and unbreakable; sensitive, delicate, pretty, ugly, normal, large, small, shy, outspoken, fearful, weak… I have high hopes that The Beholder will showcase a woman who isn’t the bravest but she is still strong in her own way (oops when did this turn into a feminist rant).

Next I’ll pick up a book that has been hyped like crazy: Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin. This one is absolutely gorgeous and I hear that the insides should match the outside. I know it has a witch and a witchhunter and I’m ready for some witchyness! The first chapter is 14 pages long.

After reading the chapter: At first I was mightily confused about what was happening in the book. However, I did pick up the pace somewhere in the middle of the first chapter. The story is set in France during a time when witches are being hunted. There are magical artefacts and our main character is tailing an important one, a magical ring. I’m worried that this one might take a turn to a quest storyline which I’m not very into. But from the first chapter it seemed like this would be a fun read with a lot of banter and high stakes!

I almost preordered To Best the Boys by Mary Weber when I first came across it, but stopped myself when I started thinking that the clues Fairyloot was giving might point at this book. I was so happy to find it in the box! I was so excited to read it and now it’s getting shameful that I still haven’t picked it up. I know it’s about a girl who wants to be a scholar in a world where that isn’t possible. To Best the Boys starts with a prologue, followed by an 8 page first chapter. I’ll read both!

After reading the chapter: Woah that was not what I was expecting! First, the prologue opens with an invitation to boys to compete in a labyrinth to get into a prestigious school, and then we are suddenly in a cemetery with Rhen and Bellur who are stealing blood from corpses. I have a feeling that I know where this book is going and I still think I would enjoy it. It gives me a bit of a Caraval vibe with the invitation and everything.

The Merciful Crow by Margaret Owen is next! I don’t know why but I somehow feel the most excited to sample this one. The cover is so striking and magnificient – I’m expecting a lot of magic. This book is so beautiful that it just can’t be meh. The first chapter is 9 pages long, let’s do this!

After reading the chapter: This one was definitely the trickiest to follow so far of the ones I have sampled. The Merciful Crow feels the most like a high fantasy, the worldbuilding is thick already in the first chapter and I had trouble figuring out what was happening. I tend to love high fantasies because once I have conquered the steep learning curve, they are easy to get immersed into. I feel like this is one of the few for which judging by the first chapter isn’t really fair, I’ll learn to understand all the different castes, families, towns and birthrights as I read along.

Only two books left! Next up I have Nocturna by Maya Motayne. I honestly know nothing about this one, other than that it is very beautifully blue. This one has the longest first chapter so far, 16 pages!

After reading the chapter: Nocturna has elemental magic! That’s such a great surprise and now I cannot wait to read this one. The first chapter was long but I felt intrigued right from the beginning. We follow Alfie whose brother, the crown prince, disappeared in odd circumstances and everyone believes him to be dead. The magic was abundant and I loved the colourful descriptions!

Last book in this try a chapter tag is Circle of Shadows by Evelyn Skye. I read the author’s The Crown’s Game and I really liked it and her writing style. I know that Circle of Shadows follows ninjas but other than that I’m going in completely blind. The first chapter is 14 pages long.

After reading the chapter: I think this book will turn into an epic battle, but the first chapter didn’t really hype me up. It was a scene in which Sora and other apprentices were giving an exhibition of a historical event to the empress. The chapter was heavy on historical detail but I also had a feeling that the main character might be annoying. But I feel like the book will definitely get better once I get to know the characters better.

The Verdict

Now I’ll try to put all of the 9 Fairyloot books into an order based on my interest to read them! I hope that sorting the books will make it easier to pick them up in the future. But the actual ordering seems very difficult, these books are so different! I liked them all!

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1. Beyond a Darkened Shore by Jessica Leake

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2. Nocturna by Maya Motayne


3. Onyx & Ivory by Mindee Arnett

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4. The Beholder by Anna Bright

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5. The Wicked Fox by Kat Cho

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6. To Best the Boys by Mary Weber


7. Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin

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8. The Merciful Crow by Margaret Owen

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9. Circle of Shadows by Evelyn Skye

This was so much fun to do! I felt like I got a good idea of the books by reading their first chapters, a much better view on them than by just reading the synopses.

I’m quite surprised by how much my order seems to resist hype! I’m usually very susceptible to it, but here I placed Serpent & Dove and The Merciful Crow at the bottom although I have seen them everywhere. Also, I have never heard anyone say anything about Beyond a Darkened Shore and it’s my first pick!

I think my order definitely reflects my current craving for an easy-to-approach, immersive fantasy. I want something atmospheric and entertaining to put a proper contrast to my time at the university. That means that the order might change according to my mood.

What do you think about these books? Have you read any of them, or are they on your TBR? Which ones should I move up and prioritize? Should I avoid something?

Also, would you pick your TBR by reading the first chapter? I was suspicious of this but I think it can definitely work!

Thank you so much for reading!

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