ARC Review: The House of Always by Jenn Lyons

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What if you were imprisoned for all eternity?

In the aftermath of the Ritual of Night, everything has changed.

The Eight Immortals have catastrophically failed to stop Kihrin’s enemies, who are moving forward with their plans to free Vol Karoth, the King of Demons. Kihrin has his own ideas about how to fight back, but even if he’s willing to sacrifice everything for victory, the cost may prove too high for his allies.

Now they face a choice: can they save the world while saving Kihrin, too? Or will they be forced to watch as he becomes the very evil they have all sworn to destroy.

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Thank you very much to Macmillan-Tor/Forge for providing me with a review copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

The House of Always is out now!

Buy the novel:
Macmillan Dymocks | Amazon | Booktopia

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He still looked at me like I was every sunrise the world had ever seen.

The fourth instalment in The Chorus of Dragons series is perhaps my most anticipated novel of 2021 and it did not disappoint in the slightest. From past memories being unveiled to romantic intentions finally being declared, this book kept me on the edge of my seat from start to finish.

Weeks after the failed Ritual of Night where the eight gods were slaughtered and Vol Karoth is closer than ever from escaping his prison, Kihrin and his friends find themselves in Shadrag Gor. Together, they face Vol Karoth at his strongest and most diabolical in the magical mindscape that he has created. As they contend with the looming threat of Vol Karoth’s release, the group becomes trapped and forced to experience a myriad of memories as Vol Karoth and Kihrin battle it out for the last time.

As compared to the previous three books in the series, The House of Always is far more character focused than plot, allowing the reader to fully understand these beloved characters, especially the side characters. I thoroughly enjoyed this decision as it opened up a new side of characters that we haven’t seen before. While fantasy is my favourite genre by far, I adore character-driven stories; I’d honestly be happy to just read a book about characters talking about their feelings — no plot, just vibes. And to an extent, that’s what The House of Always delivers — up until the second part, that is.

A primary part of this series is the growth of Kihrin’s relationship with Janel and Teraeth and in The House of Always this relationship reaches a climax that we have all been waiting for with bated breath. I can’t even begin to explain how remarkable it is to read a book with a polyamorous relationship, especially a fantasy book at that. Kihrin, Teraeth and Janel’s romance is stunningly developed over the course of the series: from hate to love, tentative allies, major crushes and flirtation to, finally, an admission of love. I sincerely hope we get even more beautiful scenes in the final novel, out later this year.

(Speaking of romance, there’s a lovely romantic subplot that definitely comes out of nowhere, but as the story progressed, I began to hardcore ship it. I won’t say who the romance is between — no spoilers! — but prepare to be a bit shocked as I was, and then fully invested.)

Another relationship that The House of Always wonderfully develops is between Galen and Sheloran. The pair are married but have an intense friendship where they view each other as siblings, as they are both attracted to the same sex. The wlw/mlm solidarity is strong in this book! Galen and Sheloran are incredibly supportive of one another and would go to the ends of the earth to protect the other. The same can be said for Talea and Xivan, lovers who are separated for a brief period, but whose love becomes stronger than ever once they’re reunited. I consider myself to be a pretty strong reader, able to easily pick up foreshadowing and subtext in books, but Lyons’ plot twists come completely out of left-field but still somehow make so much sense. And the path that Talea and Xivan’s find themselves on is one such plot twist, one I never saw coming but feel silly for not having picked up sooner!

At times the novel dragged as it focused a lot on flashbacks in the form of memories, but you soon find out how important these flashbacks are, especially when the plot comes to a head in part two. Everything is leading up to a fantastic conclusion in the final book and I cannot wait until I get my hands on a copy.

The House of Always is an incredible instalment to an already amazing series. I highly encourage everyone to pick up this wonderful queer and tropetastic series that will keep you guessing right up until the last page. It’s truly unlike anything I’ve read before.

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