Title: The One and Only Crystal Druid (The Guild Codex: Unveiled #1)
Author: Annette Marie
Publisher: Dark Owl Fantasy Inc.
Release Date: September 24th, 2021
Genre: New Adult – Urban Fantasy
My rating in stars:
My rating in words:
I LOVE THIS DAMN DRUID, OKAY?
WHAT IT’S ABOUT:
I’m not your average girl.
My best friend is my switchblade. My favorite hobby is using it on the cruel, the abusive, and anyone who gets on my bad side. I’m a convicted murderer with a chip on my shoulder and a dangerous lack of restraint.
And then there’s Zak.
His rap sheet makes mine look tame. The bounty on his head is worth more money than I’ll ever make, and the deadly fae that shadow his every step wield more power than I’ll ever know.
He’s the Crystal Druid, and his first mistake was setting foot on my turf.
His second was saving my life.
And his final mistake will be failing to realize that however dark, however ruthless, however broken he is…
From the author of the best-selling Guild Codex books comes a new series that delves into the dark, dangerous world of druids and fae alongside two ravaged souls who may be exactly what the other needs…if they don’t destroy each other first.
Unveiled can be read as a standalone series or in conjunction with other Guild Codex series. For the full reading order, visit Annette Marie’s website.
More series in the Guild Codex world:
The Guild Codex: Spellbound
The Guild Codex: Demonized
The Guild Codex: Warped
MY THOUGHTS (spoiler-free):
Note: I received an Advanced Reading Copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
“Have you ever lost everything?” A soft question, his voice low and raspy. “Ever had a moment when you realized everything that matters to you is gone, you fucked up, you lost it. And all that’s left are the worst parts of your life and the worst parts of yourself.”
Oh wow. I was NOT expecting that. This did not only live up to my expectations, it twisted all my expectations and then exceeded them all.
Now, I know you may be thinking “But Lindsey, you rated practically every Annette Marie book 5 stars and now you’re saying you didn’t expect to love the latest one?” True, very true. But I’ll also be very honest – I had a little trouble getting through the first few chapters of The One and Only Crystal Druid. You see, our new main heroine, Saber, is very different than any other Guild Codex main character so far. She’s no sassy Tori, bookish Robin or wise-cracking Kit, that’s for sure. She’s very violent and troubled and dark and twisted. I mean, she’s a convicted murderer who pretends to be normal and nice by day and then hunts down and punishes animal abusers at night. So I just had some issues getting into her head for the first few chapters. BUT THEN. Oh then, somewhere around the time she ran into Zak, it started clicking into place for me, and now I WOULD JUMP IN FRONT OF A KNIFE FOR SABER. (Granted, it would probably be her wielding the knife, but oh well). I mean, I love Saber. Sure, she’s still violent and troubled and dark and twisted, but there’s also a vulnerability to her that got to me. Throughout the story, we slowly get to know her and her backstory through flashbacks. We’ve only just gotten to the start of her story and I already want more. I couldn’t have imagined a better new Guild Codex heroine and a better match for our beloved dark and moody Druid.
Talking about our favorite Druid, I loved getting to know him a bit better in this story (though we still have SOOO MUCH still to learn). I liked how we can see how he’s softened up a bit due to his interactions with Tori and Kit in previous installments, but also how he’s still such an intimidating force to be reckoned with. And also how he’s just a human person with flaws and mistakes and regrets like all of us and that despite all of us readers adoring him, he’s not perfect. But I’m glad for every bit of him we get to unravel, whether it’s a bit of flawed Zak, caring Zak, domestic Zak making coffee or asshole Zak. I love it all and all I can say is I have questions and I can’t wait to get more answers in the next few books.
Also, as much as I loved both Saber and Zak, I want to give a shoutout to one more character and that is Ríkr, Saber’s mischievous fae familiar. Ríkr is a shapeshifter but often takes the shape of a white cat. He’s super clever and speaks in a way that’s both fancy and sassy and I loved his banter with Saber. So yes, get ready for more intriguing characters to fall in love with!
But other than the superb character development that we’re used to in any Annette Marie novel, of course the other big important elements are also super on point, and I’m talking about the worldbuilding, the romance and the action.
When it comes to worldbuilding, I just love how every Guild Codex series focuses a bit more on a different part of this big and intricate world. We’ve learned about the Guilds, the demons, and the MPD aspects and this time around, we focus more on the fae aspect and I devoured it all. It’s just mind-blowing how well written this whole world is and how well it all fits together and there’s still so much to discover, even after about 15 books. I’m just in awe.
When it comes to romance, uhhhh I can only sigh, blush and fan myself. The chemistry is already off the roof, but then also both characters are constantly threatening to kill each other (okay, that’s mostly Saber though), so I’m actually not sure what that says about me. All I know is that I put my full faith in Annette and I’m sure this will be another amazing slow-burn, emotional and sizzling journey and I. AM. READY!
And then there’s the action. I don’t want to give any of the plot away, but I’ll just say this was a fantastic, atmospheric mystery that felt perfect for autumn reading and spooky season. I was super invested in the mystery and rooting for our main characters to find the next clue that would get them closer to solving it. The pacing will keep you on the edge of your seat and unwilling to put down the book until you’ve finished. Also, that ending? I NEED MORE! Already super excited for The Long-Forgotten Winter King.
Alright, did that make any sense? I’m writing this just after finishing the book, so I’m still very pumped and having difficulty reviewing this in a way that’s not just me speaking gibberish with the occasional exclamation of OH MY GOSH I LOVE ZAK SO MUCH in there. Thanks for reading through the whole thing if you did, and honestly, if you haven’t yet, please pick up The Guild Codex series. It’s amazing and you won’t regret it. Get ready to meet a new, deliciously violent heroine, her sassy shapeshifter familiar and of course, the damn druid that stole every reader’s heart already.
His energy was exquisitely, savagely delectable, my familiar added. How does he not have an assembly of drooling fae trailing his every step?
“Were you drooling?” I asked as I scrolled back to the top of the webpage.
I would never drool. Sitting up, he arched his feline back in a stretch. An august entity such as myself salivates. They are quite different things.
“Has anyone ever told you you’re excessively prickly?”
“I thought I was charming, according to you.”
“In your own special way,” he retorted, sarcasm returning in full force. “Do you threaten to disembowel everyone you meet?”
“Only the people I really like.”
And there is an extravagantly tempting druid asleep on my sofa.
I squinted blearily, the fading dregs of my dream swimming through my head. “Tempting?”
The heady scent of his power is making me dizzy with thirst. I am a dormant shrub in the driest desert, and he is the first rain of the monsoons. His allure is like the kiss of summer sunlight after—
“Get a grip, Ríkr,” I groaned.
He abruptly leaned in close. His warm breath stirred my hair over my ear as he whispered, “Am I the sole recipient of your real temper, then? Not sure if I’m flattered or disappointed.”
“Go fuck yourself,” I whispered back in a sugary tone.
He laughed as he straightened. “That’s more like it. See you tonight.”
“Do you get off on near-death experiences?”
“I get off on giving other people near-death experiences.”
His mouth twisted. “Last time I suggested we work together, you attacked me. You might remember. It happened an hour ago.”
When I pulled Dominique’s casserole dish out of the fridge, his voice rumbled behind me. “Are you going to share that?”
“You’re just going to eat in front of me?”
“I brought you lunch.”
My jaw clenched . I shoved the dish in the microwave, opened the cupboard, and stared moodily at my small stack of mismatched dinnerware. Growling under my breath, I pulled out two plates. Damn druid.