Shades of Rust and Ruin
A. G. Howard
Published September 6, 2022
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About Shades of Rust and Ruin
Embrace the mysterious. Invoke the magical. Enter the Mystiquiel…
Phoenix “Nix” Loring knows her family is under a Halloween curse. When she was three, her parents tragically died on October 31st. Eleven years later, her twin sister Lark suffered a similar fate.
Ever since, Nix has battled survivor guilt. She can’t even find comfort in Clarey, Lark’s boyfriend and the one person who understands her pain, because Nix’s hidden feelings for him go far beyond friendship. All that remains are her sketches, where she finds solace among the goblins and faeries in her imaginary world of Mystiquel. When her depression starts affecting her ability to see color, Nix all but gives up on her art, until her uncle goes missing on Halloween day. Hot on his trail, Nix and Clarey step through a portal, becoming trapped inside a decaying version of their town filled with Nix’s own sketches come to life.
As Nix and Clarey search for her uncle within the sinister and dangerous world of Mystiquel, Nix discovers there’s more to her family curse and otherworldly artwork than she ever imagined—and unless she can solve the Goblin King’s maze before the clock strikes midnight, her life won’t be the only one the curse claims next.
Set in a gritty, steampunk-inspired fantasy world, New York Times bestselling author A.G. Howard launches a thrilling new duology full of romance, twists, and betrayals.
SHADES OF RUST AND RUIN is the first book by A. G. Howard that I’ve ever read. I have ROSEBLOOD, and I really want to read it, but haven’t managed to yet. All that to say, I went into this book without really knowing what to expect other than the information in the cover copy.
I liked the writing a lot. It’s emotive and dark– more spooky than creepy. The story world was pretty immersive. I definitely found myself getting lost in Mystiquiel. SHADES OF RUST AND RUIN is a retelling of “The Goblin Market” by Christina Rosetti, and I loved the references to the poem and the way the goblin market lore was used in the book.
If you know me at all, you know I absolutely adore sister books. The cover copy kind of undersells this part of the book because it makes it sound like Nix’s guilt and grief are spread over all her losses. But Lark wasn’t just Nix’s sister, she was her twin. Nix was the one who found her after she’d died. That’s the loss that has destroyed her. She spends a lot of the book still struggling to orient herself after her sister’s loss. I thought that was one of the most powerful parts of the story.
From what it says in the cover copy, I thought there would be more of a blossoming romance between Nix and Clarey. There’s a bit of a story there, but I thought it was a lot more understated than the cover copy led me to believe it would be. The last chapter of the book makes it seem like the second book in the duology is going to involve the romance a lot more, though.
I think readers who enjoyed DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE by Laini Taylor or SEA WITCH by Sarah Henning will enjoy this book.
Recommended for Ages 12 up.
Characters are white. Nix and her sister are said to be part albino. Clarey has panic attacks and trouble with spaces with a lot of people. His dog has a mechanical leg.
Profanity/Crude Language Content
Brief kiss between boy and girl.
The story contains goblin and fairy-like creatures who have some magic abilities. In their world, Nix has some magic herself.
Situations of peril. Brief battle violence. Descriptions of Lark’s death.
The story references fruit from the goblin market and its affect on humans. It’s supposed to be very addicting. In the story of “The Goblin Market” one sister nearly dies after consuming fruit from the market because she can’t stop craving it.
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