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Audio ARC Review: What Souls Are Made Of: A Wuthering Heights Remix by Tasha Suri

Just look at this *gorgeous* cover!

Publication Date: July 5, 2022

Synopsis:

What Souls Are Made Of, British Fantasy Award-winning author Tasha Suri’s masterful new take on Brontë’s Wuthering Heights, will leave readers breathless.

As the abandoned son of a Lascar—a sailor from India—Heathcliff has spent most of his young life maligned as an “outsider.” Now he’s been flung into an alien life in the Yorkshire moors, where he clings to his birth father’s language even though it makes the children of the house call him an animal, and the maids claim he speaks gibberish.

Catherine is the younger child of the estate’s owner, a daughter with light skin and brown curls and a mother that nobody talks about. Her father is grooming her for a place in proper society, and that’s all that matters. Catherine knows she must mold herself into someone pretty and good and marriageable, even though it might destroy her spirit.

As they occasionally flee into the moors to escape judgment and share the half-remembered language of their unknown kin, Catherine and Heathcliff come to find solace in each other. Deep down in their souls, they can feel they are the same.

But when Catherine’s father dies and the household’s treatment of Heathcliff only grows more cruel, their relationship becomes strained and threatens to unravel. For how can they ever be together, when loving each other—and indeed, loving themselves—is as good as throwing themselves into poverty and death?

My Review:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

My favorite of the Remixed Classics series thus far!

I wasn’t a fan of Wuthering Heights when I read it some years ago. There was too much tragedy, and the characters were all awful people. But I still jumped at the chance to read this because Tasha Suri is a fantastic writer, the synopsis is intriguing, the cover is stunning, and I have absolutely loved every installment of the Remixed Classics series thus far.

And it absolutely lived up to and exceeded every one of my hopes and expectations. I loved the split narration between Cathy and Heathcliffe. I loved their distinct voices and the way the narrators performed their chapters. I loved how, though they were distinct, their childhood belief that they shared one soul felt true. I especially loved how this story deviated from the original.

The character growth of both Cathy and Heathcliffe is immense. They do not start the book as ‘likeable’ people, either of them, but I was rooting for each of them to find themself from the beginning, and by the end I loved them.

The ending is a satisfying conclusion and very obviously a new beginning and I would happily read more books exploring where Cathy and Heathcliffe go and how they choose to pay the debts Cathy’s father owed as they set their ghosts to rest.

Speaking of ghosts, I loved the fantastical elements to the story. They were at once jarring and a natural extension of the plot. They felt right and true.

The discussion of the East India Company’s atrocities in India, colonialism in general, the way rich white men viewed all non-white foreigners, expecting them to be grateful to serve them, was sickening. The revelations about Cathy’s father were blows to Cathy and to the reader.

This story was hard-hitting and the language was gorgeous and kept the haunting gothic atmosphere of the original. I was riveted and couldn’t stop listening. I loved that I never knew what was going to happen. There were points where one of the characters would face a choice, and I could see where one choice would lead – to something like the plot of the original Wuthering Heights – and I would desperately hope they would choose the other path, even though it wasn’t clear what lay at the end of it.

I loved the element of found family that Heathcliffe stumbles into — I’m a sucker for a found family plot — and I really wish there could be a sequel where Cathy gets to meet them. I would love to see what she would make of Heathcliffe’s life and choices in Liverpool. At the same time I love where Tasha Suri chose to end the story. It felt… right.

This is my favorite of the Remixed Classics series thus far. Highly recommend.

I also highly recommend the audiobook because it is absolutely gorgeous and the narrators really bring the story to life. It is emotional and haunting and gothic and perfectly matches that gorgeous cover.

*Thanks to NetGalley, Feiwel & Friends, and Macmillan Audio for providing an audio arc for review.

ARC Review: A Clash of Steel by C.B. Lee

A Clash of Steel by C.B. Lee

Synopsis

Two intrepid girls hunt for a legendary treasure on the deadly high seas in this YA remix of the classic adventure novel Treasure Island.

1826.
The sun is setting on the golden age of piracy, and the legendary Dragon Fleet, the scourge of the South China Sea, is no more. Its ruthless leader, a woman known only as the Head of the Dragon, is now only a story, like the ones Xiang has grown up with all her life. She desperately wants to prove her worth, especially to her mother, a shrewd businesswoman who never seems to have enough time for Xiang. Her father is also only a story, dead at sea before Xiang was born. Her single memento of him is a pendant she always wears, a simple but plain piece of gold jewelry.

But the pendant’s true nature is revealed when a mysterious girl named Anh steals it, only to return it to Xiang in exchange for her help in decoding the tiny map scroll hidden inside. The revelation that Xiang’s father sailed with the Dragon Fleet and tucked away this secret changes everything. Rumor has it that the legendary Head of the Dragon had one last treasure—the plunder of a thousand ports—that for decades has only been a myth, a fool’s journey.

Xiang is convinced this map could lead to the fabled treasure. Captivated with the thrill of adventure, she joins Anh and her motley crew off in pursuit of the island. But the girls soon find that the sea—and especially those who sail it—are far more dangerous than the legends led them to believe.

My Review

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I loved this book SO much. It’s so much more than a retelling of Treasure Island — it’s the pirate adventure I’ve been craving, with a delicious side of f/f romance, found family, and a thorough grounding in Vietnamese and Chinese history and culture. I had planned to pass my copy along after reading it, but nope; keeping this one for sure.

I was annoyed with Xiang for the first quarter of the novel because she was SO naive. And she missed some really, really obvious clues about who her mother actually was. It was almost like she didn’t want to see, and so she didn’t.

But she grows SO much once she’s left to sail with Anh. That was the best part of the novel for me – the slow passage of time as Xiang grows more confident, more capable, and freer with every task she sets her willing mind and hands to. She comes into herself aboard that ship, and it gives her the confidence and courage she needs to face the events of the latter half of the book.

The romance was slow and subtle and hinted in the corners, and I loved it. It’s my favorite kind of romance in fantasy novels. The closeness that comes with familiarity and time spent together.

I would desperately love a series of Xiang and Anh’s adventures. The ending was excellent, but it definitely left me wanting more. And really, that’s the best kind.

*Thanks to Bookishfirst and MacMillan Children’s Publishing Group for providing an advanced copy for review.