Book Review: The Familiar by Leigh Bardugo


My book review of The Familiar by Leigh Bardugo. Leigh Bardugo has truly outdone herself with The Familiar. It is a book that will stay with readers long after they have turned the last page, a shining example of fantasy literature at its best.

Title: The Familiar

By: Leigh Bardugo

Genre: Fantasy

Pages: 387

Release Date: April 9th, 2024

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Rating: ★★★★★


Summary from Goodreads:

From the New York Times bestselling author of Ninth House, Hell Bent, and creator of the Grishaverse series comes a highly anticipated historical fantasy set during the Spanish Golden Age

In a shabby house, on a shabby street, in the new capital of Madrid, Luzia Cotado uses scraps of magic to get through her days of endless toil as a scullion. But when her scheming mistress discovers the lump of a servant cowering in the kitchen is actually hiding a talent for little miracles, she demands Luzia use those gifts to better the family's social position.

What begins as simple amusement for the bored nobility takes a perilous turn when Luzia garners the notice of Antonio Pérez, the disgraced secretary to Spain's king. Still reeling from the defeat of his armada, the king is desperate for any advantage in the war against England's heretic queen—and Pérez will stop at nothing to regain the king's favor.

Determined to seize this one chance to better her fortunes, Luzia plunges into a world of seers and alchemists, holy men and hucksters, where the line between magic, science, and fraud is never certain. But as her notoriety grows, so does the danger that her Jewish blood will doom her to the Inquisition's wrath. She will have to use every bit of her wit and will to survive—even if that means enlisting the help of Guillén Santangel, an embittered immortal familiar whose own secrets could prove deadly for them both.


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Leigh Bardugo's The Familiar is a masterful work that brilliantly intertwines fantasy and reality, creating a spellbinding tale that captivates from start to finish. Bardugo, known for her rich storytelling and compelling characters, has once again delivered a novel that is nothing short of extraordinary.

What Shines:
Bardugo's world-building is unparalleled. The Familiar introduces readers to a meticulously crafted universe where magic and mystery abound. The setting is vividly described, immersing readers in a world that feels both fantastical and tangibly real. Her attention to detail is evident in every page, from the intricate lore to the vibrant landscapes.

The characters in The Familiar are complex and multi-dimensional. Protagonist Luzia is a particularly standout figure, with a backstory that unfolds gradually, revealing layers of depth and nuance. Her journey is one of self-discovery, resilience, and transformation, making her a character that readers can deeply connect with and root for.

Bardugo's prose is another highlight. Her writing is lyrical and evocative, painting vivid pictures with her words. The dialogue is sharp and natural, adding authenticity to the characters' interactions and relationships. The pacing of the story is expertly managed, keeping readers engaged with a perfect balance of action, suspense, and emotional moments.

Themes and Depth: The Familiar delves into themes of identity, belonging, and the search for one's true purpose. Bardugo weaves these themes seamlessly into the narrative, offering readers not just an entertaining story, but also a thought-provoking exploration of what it means to find one's place in the world. The book's emotional depth is enhanced by its exploration of love, loss, and the power of friendship and loyalty.

Conclusion: In summary, The Familiar by Leigh Bardugo is a literary triumph. It is a testament to Bardugo's skill as a storyteller that she can create such a rich, immersive world while delivering a narrative that is both thrilling and deeply moving. This book is a must-read for fans of fantasy and anyone who appreciates masterful storytelling.

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