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Reviewed by Liz Konkel for Readers' Favorite
Marrow Charm by Kristin Jacques is the first book in The Gate Cycle series. Azzy lives in the world Below with her brother Armin and their guardian, but their lives are quickly derailed when the Rot infects everyone, and her family is cast out to the world Above. Her brother and guardian face an uncertain and terrifying future at auction when they’re carted away by the Snatchers. Azzy must face the dangers of Above if she stands a chance at saving them. A witch sends Azzy along a path with the help of a mysterious wolf. As the two fight for their lives, Azzy discovers a fine line between the humans and the creatures, and she’s not sure which is worse.
This dark fantasy adventure from Kristin Jacques is riveting, suspenseful, and surprising as a journey through a deadly world pushes one girl to her limits. The story weaves between two parts with two perspectives that follow the journeys of Azzy and her brother, Armin. Azzy’s story is woven with elements reminiscent of the darker elements of fairytales which are prominent through the mysterious wolf, the witch, and the dangerous use of magic. Through Armin’s perspective, Jacques delves into the more twisted reality of this city where these inhuman lords are bidding on people, and looks closer at the infection that is twisting Armin into something else. The world is a deadly and terrifying place filled with dark and horrific creatures that will haunt your nightmares. Jacques uses these darker elements to delve into a look at the twistedness of humanity.
As Azzy is sent upon the path to find her brother, she gains an ally in Kai, a wolf that crosses her journey in an interesting way. The two have a knack for saving each other and their connection is explored throughout with a slow build-up of their friendship into one of trust and loyalty. Jacques delivers a poignant read with dark themes in Marrow Charm which brings to life stunning descriptions, a terrifying world, and fairytale elements woven into the journey of a girl and a wolf in a fight to save her brother.