ARC · Reviews

Below by Alexandria Warwick

Author Alexandria Warwick
Publisher Wolf Publishing | 2020
Pages 320

5 stars

In the heart of the frigid North, there lives a demon known as the Face Stealer. Eyes, nose, mouth—nothing and no one is safe. Once he returns to his lair, or wherever it is he dwells, no one ever sees those faces again.

When tragedy strikes, Apaay embarks on a perilous journey to find her sister’s face—yet becomes trapped in a labyrinth ruled by a sinister girl named Yuki. The girl offers Apaay a deal: find her sister’s face hidden within the labyrinth, and she will be set free. But the labyrinth, and those who inhabit it, is not as it seems. Especially Numiak: darkly beautiful, powerful, whose motives are not yet clear.

With time slipping, Apaay is determined to escape the deadly labyrinth with her sister’s face in hand. But in Yuki’s harsh world, Apaay will need all her strength to survive. Yuki only plays the games she wins. (from Goodreads)

ARC provided by the author! All opinions are my own. 

OK I am SO excited to talk about this book!! Alexandria reached out to me about reviewing her book a couple months ago, and after finishing it in two days, I’m sad that it sat unread on my shelf for as long as it did! I’ll be completely honest and say that I was a bit skeptical about this after first reading the synopsis, but I could not resist the chance to check it out with such a beautiful cover. I’m SO glad I gave it the benefit of the doubt because I loved it so much! 

“The North had taught her the world was always changing. Remain rigid like ice, and you would crack. Allow yourself fluidity, like water, and you could not be broken.”

The world of this book is so fascinating. There’s so much rich detail about the different territories and societies throughout the land, but since much of this book takes place in one area, we don’t get to see much (though I hope this changes in future books, since there’s so many great ideas to expand on). The magical qualities of the Yuki’s labyrinth were constantly evolving and though I still don’t have a completely firm grasp on what Yuki and the Face Stealer’s powers are, it was really fun to read about. 

“She was not Ila or Chena or Mama or Papa or Masuk or Eska or Silla. She was Apaay. She was enough.”

The characters in this are AMAZING. AMAZING! I originally rated this four stars because the plot is a tad slow and confusing at times, but after starting to write this review, I realized that the characters are just too good to not bump it up to five. I LOVE APAAY AND WANT TO PROTECT HER. Apaay was such a strong and passionate protagonist and I loved her from the beginning. She only got more interesting as the book went on and it was heartbreaking to read about all the suffering and hardships that she endures throughout this story. Her love for her sister was evident in every choice she made and it only made me love and admire her more. ILA! I ADORED ILA!!!!! She was such a gem and a true friend and I love her to pieces. It was so great to see Ila and Apaay’s friendship grow and they are absolutely perfect. Friendship FTW. 

“…Ila shouldered both their weights, and shushed her, and poured love into the hole in her chest, and Apaay did not have to worry anymore, because here was someone who would carry her. How lucky she was, to have friends to pick her up when she had fallen.”

HEY DEMONS, IT’S ME, YA GIRL. This book made me realize how frickin’ obsessed I am with book demons. Like, if there’s a demon in a book… I love that book. I love that demon. Give me all of the demons. The Face Stealer was no different and he was SUCH an interesting character that I am SO. FRICKIN’. EXCITED. to learn more about. I can already tell this bitch has SO many layers (you’re so wrapped up in layers, onion boy *shout out Shrek*) and I can’t wait to delve in deeper. Also, is that ENEMIES TO LOVERS I AM FEEEEEEEEELIN??!?!? Chef’s kiss, honestly. Yuki was an absolute villain and she was evil and I hated her so she did her damn job. UGH, SO GOOD.

ALSO, I mean, THAT PLOT TWIST! I was super shocked and it made me go back and re-read parts because it brings a totally different perspective to the characters and their words and actions. Seriously, I’m so happy to have gotten a copy of this and it makes me so thankful for this blog because otherwise, I probably wouldn’t have ever discovered this gem of a book! I’m super hyped for the rest of this series and can’t wait to spend the rest of the year spreading the love for this book around so you can all read it when it as soon as it gets released! Yay 😀

Trigger warnings: death, abuse, animal death

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