Fantasy, Fiction, Magic, Retro, Steampunk

Want a Retro Fantasy about magic and mythology? The Breedling And The City In The Garden by Kimberlee Ann Bastian

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★★★✬☆  3.5 stars

“So, writer, what sort of tale will you tell me tonight?”

“Well, reader, get yourself some strong tea and a nightlight, because I have a warm retro tale about street urchins in the 1930’s and… magic.”

“My my, writer, that sure sounds swell!”

“Brace yourself, reader, it truly is, even despite the somewhat cheesy dialogue.”

Okay. So you might be wondering why I’m starting the review like that. I just wanted to give you a taste of the dialogues in this book. But really, apart from the slightly weird tone and the fact that everyone uses everyone’s name in, like, every sentence, the book was good! It was that warm mixture of sepia photos, old coke ads, Chicago orphanages in the 30’s, smart-aleck minority gangsters in pinstripe suits and immortal magical cats that change face color when they feel emotions. And hey, with all that vintage feel going on, maybe even the dialogue makes sense? We can all think of that tone of voice in a mock-pre-war radio ad.

So the story goes something like this. Bartholomew is an ageless being, made for god knows what, downcast from god knows where (not in a bad way, though.)

Really, the mythology in this book is quite complicated, but done quite well. It comes across like American Gods – loads of different things, the pantheon and the rules of the world vast and mighty, but somehow still connected with the thing here or there you might have heard it, perhaps in an old Irish nursery tale. Yes, it is complicated, but it makes you feel like this isn’t the end and you’ll find out more in the coming books. Which is all fine.

Another thing I found truly refreshing was that our two main characters are young boys – teens, but not YA teens (I mean the tone). They are not girls (95% of the books right now seem to be about girls. It’s good that we’re reversing history, but… you know. I haven’t read about boys in soooooo long!). They are also not grown women, nor are they grown men or superheroes. They are two lost orphan boys, not too special, just shabby, and I like reading about that. It was something I’ve forgotten people wrote about! (Is it just me..?)

The story does fumble sometimes, sometimes it drags. The immortal being is clearly denser than you and me, because he can’t see through things we can clearly see are going to happen in the story. The gangsters and thugs happen to unluckily be of my nationality, but hey. These flaws are mostly debut-related (apart from the gangsters, of course) and they don’t get in the way of enjoying your reading experience. This is a quick good fantasy, moreover – a strong start to a series. Which is why I know that I’ll be looking forward to the sequel as soon as it shows up. And if you’re a fantasy fan, especially retro – go for it. I’m sure you’ll enjoy.

My thanks to W.I. Creative Publishing and NetGalley for giving me a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Have you heard of The Breedling? And have you also missed books with boys as protagonists? Do you like retro reads?

I’m Evelina and I try to blog about books that matter, with a bit of fun there too! Disability and equality will be topics you see a lot, but there’s also a lot of scifi, fantasy and… GIFs. I’m also the proud founder of #ARCsAnonymous.

34 thoughts on “Want a Retro Fantasy about magic and mythology? The Breedling And The City In The Garden by Kimberlee Ann Bastian

  1. Evelina, thank you kindly for the review! I am delighted you found the story refreshing. Book Two is on its final edit! 🙂 Kimberlee Ann Bastian

  2. Oh no, I have to admit, it kind of really aggravates me when people use each others’ names or relations in every sentence. I get especially annoyed when characters are like, “Thank you, uncle.” “Are you having a good day, brother?” “How are you feeling, lover?” “What did you do today, friend?” Just—no! Nobody talks like that! But other than that, this does sound pretty cool 🙂
    Kristen @ Metaphors and Moonlight recently posted…Book Review: Real Vampires Take No Prisoners (Real Vampires Don’t Sparkle Book 3) by Amy FecteauMy Profile

    1. Haha, I found the dialog pretty much the only gruelling part 😀 but yeah, it got to me as well. In the end I thought it’s even a little funny 😀

    1. Good point, and the 1920-30s as well, so maybe the dialogue is well placed. Oh you have it as well! Well, then I’ll be curious about your review 🙂

  3. This is a new book to me. I’m glad to see your review! I am on the fence about historical magical realism/fantasy myself. I am always drawn to these sorts of books, but I am almost *consistently* betrayed. I guess that’s because nothing will ever hold up to The Night Circus. 😉

    I haven’t heard of this book before, but it sounds up my alley. I’m soooo glad to see male protagonists! Particularly ones who aren’t buff 18-year-old hunks. Ugh. I’m so over that. I am definitely drawn to this novel, but your comment about pacing makes me a bit anxious to pick it up. Poor pacing can quickly turn a novel into a DNF for me. O_o
    Jackie B. recently posted…Anne of Green Gables ReviewMy Profile

    1. I still haven’t read the Night Circus! But I also have a complicated relationship with magical realism. Most books just do it in a very cringy way and I usually dislike it xD so I can definitely second those feels.
      And yeah, the protagonists were so different from the typical ones, I loved it. This book did have problems, but in the end the good just outweighed the bad for sure. I can say that the word “quaint” fits it quite well, in the good sense, of course. And yeah, the pacing isn’t that good with this one. But I’m hoping the next ones in the series will pick it up 🙂

      1. You should read The Night Circus. It’s one of my favoritest books of all time. You’re welcome to dislike it, but I think you might enjoy it… 🙂

        We always take a risk with a debut novel. I am not nearly as brave as you are; I don’t read debuts that often. Pacing, characters, plot– these could all be forfeit! We never know! I’ll keep an eye on this author and see how the next book does. I am always willing to wait. 😉
        Jackie B. recently posted…Anne of Green Gables ReviewMy Profile

        1. One day I’ll read it, it’s on my TBR 🙂
          To be honest, I never pay attention to whether it’s a debit or not. I just read what it’s about and usually just miss anything author related. Not knowing is the best sometimes 😀

    1. Yeah, I normally like strong females as well 🙂 but it’s just that nobody writes about boys, you know? They only write about new adult men or men in general 😀 where are the boys?? 😀
      The second part will be released quite soon, hope you get a chance to check out this one 🙂

    1. Well, it’s very hard for writers to write from different perspectives. I’m not sure everyone should, I mean, maybe you’re best off writing what you know, right? Although you do have sons, so you kind of have at least part of that experience. Have you read The Girl With All The Gifts? That’s an instance of a male author writing females SO WELL I initially thought he was female. Ha! Now that’s skill.
      BTW, whatchoo writin’? 🙂

      1. oh… male writers writing female characters is…interesting! LOL coincidentally my next post talks about that 😉 I went to add the Girl With All The Gifts and it was already on my TBR! It says “perfect for fans of Stephen King, Justin Cronin, and Neil Gaiman.” SO WOOOOOOW I just put it on the “reading next” shelf! thanks for the recommendation!

        Aww thx for asking about my writing!

        So… my first WIP is a dark urban fantasy/apocalyptic that spans from the end of WWII 1945 to 2020 and includes locations around the world like Spain and the Amazon but it’s mostly set up in Israel and the US [write what you know LOL! I agree!]. I haven’t been to Israel [YET! it’s in my list] but I’ve been to the other 3 places 🙂 Though it’s NOT about Jewish people it touches on some Jewish mythology, the Holocaust and the creation of the state of Israel. Something that happens in a and concentration camps is kind of an inciting incident. 🙂

        Then about two weeks ago I started another WIP that is also a dark urban fantasy set up in the Caribbean [South Florida, Cuba, Haiti and Mexico) and has some “brujeria”, “santeria” and voodoo 🙂 This new one is driving me crazy!, I hope to stop taking and outlining so I can finish the first one and send it to Beta readers!
        Dragonfly @ Our Familiarium recently posted…#AmReading & #AmWriting… Some!My Profile

        1. Really? Is your next post posted yet, or is it just scheduled? I sure hope I don’t miss that, quite curious about what you have to say about that topic 🙂

          Ooh, your WIP is about some really tough topics! Brave of you, it’s hard to write about stuff like that. I’m sure you’ll do great 🙂 I don’t know if I would be brave enough to write about that though, it’s very easy to say something off on accident and then all the rage from the public 🙁

          The voodoo sounds pretty damn interesting 😀 do you intend to publish? When and how?

  4. I love how you started the review 😛 😛 But boy that would be tiring to read! People repeating names and relations in every sentence; like guys we’re not gonna forget you are his cousin or she’s your mom or she’s your once removed cousin? 😛 But the story itself sounds wonderful except for the draggy parts! I love mythology in books <3

    Also is it just me, or has this style of cover and title font been used in any other book? it just feels really familiar 🙂 And great great review 😀
    Uma @ Books.Bags.Burgers. recently posted…The Blog Squad – Part 11My Profile

    1. Yeah, I also felt the same about this 😀 especially because it was mostly those two characters talking like that, hilarious 😀
      Yeah, the mythology is totally invented as well, so it was quite hard to track and understand, but that’s what makes it feel so real, like you just don’t know the full scope of it.
      Thank you! And yeah, I feel like this cover style has been popular lately. But that’s good, cause it’s beautiful 🙂 thanks for dropping by, Uma!

  5. Hallo, Hallo Avalinah! 🙂

    I’m glad you liked reading this one! I read it last December during a period in my life where I wasn’t sure I could attach myself into epic worlds of Fantasy such as the genre-bender Ms Bastian created for us to entreat inside. I also hosted her for a guest author feature & was quite taken by how she captured her world + the structure of how it was free to be it’s own uniqueness in the open dimension of Fiction. There were a few things I remember I didn’t fancy about it — but ooh. Wait. You were the original commenter on my review! Wow. Talk about a blank space of memory, there! I sort of forgot some of the things that occurred between end of year 2016 + beginning of 2017 – as per what I spoke to you about previously (ie. my Dad)… so forgive! Let me rephrase this reply!

    You’ve read it, now! 🙂 Go you!

    I was hoping you might get round to reading this as you had said you didn’t want to read my review in full until you had a better understanding of the story’s components. If you re-visit me, I’d love to know if you think we matched each other (regarding how it resonated with us) or if we took out different bits of the story & enjoyed the adventure.

    I’m looking forward the sequel – as I spied your other post about sequels – yes! You’re quite right on that score – sequels either make/break my love of the authors’ collective works! Sometimes you cannot continue forward & other times — your so itching to continue devouring the installments it’s HARD to wait the months/years it takes for them to release! 🙁 Definitely understand you!!

    And, here I was coming to commend you for reading an innovative book which alighted on my shelf when it was I who tipped your hat to know about it in the first place! *oy vie* Forgive me!
    Jorie recently posted…Blog Book Tour | “The Belle of Two Arbors” by Paul Dimond feat. poetry by Martha Buhr GrimesMy Profile

    1. Oh wow, such a long comment! Thank you!! 🙂

      Hahah, no worries 😀 I always forget things! Sure, I’ll go check out your review again (I hope I can find it? 🙂 )

  6. Great review.

    This looks very good and very different. It is generally a very good thing when an author bucks trends. There are way too many books that are formulaic these days.

    I tend to lick books with complicated mythologies or backgrounds. When well done it adds to the fun for me.

    I love this book’s cover too.
    Brian Joseph recently posted…Fictional MatriarchiesMy Profile

    1. Thanks! Yes, like one of my friends just put it, it is quite a genre-bending book. I like that! And the cover love is definitely there!

  7. Evelina! What an incredible conversation. Just to note, I am certainly stock piling the critics so I can make things even better for Book Two, especially as the mythology of the story unfolds. It’s off the Proofreader as I type this message, so the waiting won’t be too much longer! 🙂 Thank you again for the “love” and spreading the word! KAB

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