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The single biggest barrier that prevents me from being the frantic book inhaler I want to be is sleep. No matter how excited I am to read my book, once I get all snuggled up and cozy, it’s just a matter of time before I nod off like Grandpa in front of the TV after turkey and stuffing. Last week I was on vacation from work and determined to use the time to read as much as possible, so I broke out the big guns--I sat in an uncomfortable chair. And through this ultimate sacrifice, I finished this delightfully dark fantasy novel!

I love court intrigue, and Forest of a Thousand Lanterns is court intrigue on steroids. Add a heroine who wants power more than she wants a man, and I’ll be a fan for life. Xifeng is beautiful, but she wants to trade on more than just her looks. She has a thirst for power and prestige, and her aunt Guma teaches her to consume the power of other living things (in a really gross way, too! Like I said, this book is dark!). But what Xifeng hasn’t accounted for is that magic has its cost.

Still, I’ve never seen a character more motivated to claw her way to the top, and it makes me really like Xifeng despite her at best selfish, at worst sociopathic behavior. Super glad this is the first in a series--I am definitely on board for the next installment.

Find it at your library!

Have you ever been in a meeting at work and wished you could just blurt out all the snarky thoughts in your head and damn the consequences? If so, Leona Lindberg is the cop for you. She’s an outspoken misanthrope with a dark past who manages to keep her job on the Stockholm police force because she’s a good detective--and decidedly not because anyone likes her.

Her latest case is a weird one: banks are being robbed by a young girl who comes in naked and covered in blood. Leona’s colleagues don’t want the case because robberies are small potatoes compared to murders, but Leona’s motivations for volunteering to add it to her caseload are...complicated, it turns out. Very complicated.

I like “cop with a dark side” stories as much as the next girl, but you have to really be okay with darkness to be a fan of Leona. If you can’t get behind an antihero, maybe give this one a pass, especially because at 450 pages, you’re going to have to spend a lot of time with her. If you don’t mind your detectives on the shady side, though, step right up.

By the way, I intended to credit the translator here as this book was originally published in Swedish, but after a thorough Internet search and a study of the print copy, I came up empty.