Book Reviews: Marrow Charms by Kristin Jacques

Thanks to NetGalley and Parliament House for an e-arc in exchange for an honest review.

Title: Marrow Charm
Author: Kristin Jacques
Genre/s: Young Adult, Fantasy
Publication Date: October 1, 2019

‘In his pursuit of the occult, the Third Reich opened the Gate to a realm of magic and brought the world to ruin. The Gate was eventually closed, but They were already in our world and They were hungry.’

-The Lost History, Library of Avergard

Azure ‘Azzy’ Brimvine lives in a world decimated by magic, where humans have retreated underground from the overwhelming dangers of the surface. But Below is no safer than Above.

Magic borne plagues continue to eat away at the remaining human cities, a sickness that doesn’t merely kill, but creates aberrations from the stricken: people twisted by magic into something dark, dangerous, and powerful. It is an existence of fear and constant dread. When Azzy’s brother, Armin, is infected and cast out into the Above, she sets out after him, determined to be there for him no matter what he becomes.

The world Above is full of monsters, both wild and cunning, some more human than Azzy was led to believe. Armin is captured and bound for the Auction block of Avergard, a ruthless city of inhuman lords and twisted creatures. To reach him, Azzy must brave the perils of the Above and the chaotic life forms created by the Gate. To reach him, she must find allies and forge new bonds in this broken world.

And Azzy must reach him, before Armin’s new power is used to open the Gate once more.

For a Dystopian-Fantasy book, I never expected Marrow Charm to have such a lyrical, beautifully descriptive prose. It was probably one of the most excellent things I liked about this book. Kristin’s writing style is poetic but not tedious in any way. On the contrary, aside from being lyrical, the book is also dark, broody and atmospheric. It sets the overall tone and mood of the book. It also gets gory and creepy at times, which sets it at a different bar from the usual YA books. The horror themes are sensational, I specially love how Kristin describes the monsters, how they look and the terror they bring to the protagonists.

Another aspect of Marrow Charm that I enjoyed is the family relationship. Azzy and Armin are orphans, who were taken is by Brixby, the Apothecary of the Heap. The familial bond between Azzy and Armin are so admirable and beautiful, I absolutely adore these connections within YA books.

I’m gonna be honest, with the blurb I saw on GoodReads was so different compared to the actual story of the book. The blurb mentioned something of opening Gates but found very little to no mention of such things. However, the plot and story were really great despite this. I really enjoyed the fast paced plot and the unique world building, but would have loved for a deeper backstory on how the world ended. The magic system was also fascinating, but also needed more explanation and information.

Another aspect that I found iffy was when the perspectives suddenly shifted to multiple instead of only Azzy’s. I found it confusing and a bit of a whiplash at first because I wasn’t sure what head I was looking over at, but eventually I got over it due to the fast-paced nature of the book and the constant danger everyone was in.

Personally, I think the most important question this book poses is, what are the qualifications of humanity? As magic mutate and reconstructs human beings, do we call a cruel, normal person full of humanity, rather that someone who has changed physically but is compassionate and kind? Overall, I quite enjoyed it, there were personal preferences that made me read it a little slower and some scenes that got me wiggling in my seat as well. If you’re into YA and dark-atmospheric themes, I would definitely recommend for you to try it out.